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Black Crow

Heresy 220 and the nature of magic

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Its a matter of perspective. While the ultimate fate of Craster's sons might be up for debate, he makes the sacrifices to be right with the Gods and in the context in which he speaks, he's seeking their protection, not asking for a curse to be lifted. Furthermore I don't believe that he and his regard it as kinslaying. He gives the boys to the Cold Gods [the ones that come in the night. If there is any significance to Craster in their being his sons then it is in the value of the sacrifice.

What about the curse Ygritte referred to? How can a man who’s cursed have any special value? Craster thought it was acceptable to substitute sheep when he didn't have any newborn sons laying around, so if his offspring has any special value, Craster doesn't know about it.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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22 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

Craster wanted to "get right with the gods". Yes, Ygritte said kinslaying is frowned upon, but how could kinslaying help Craster get right with the gods? You've got a contradiction there.

There really isn't.

When she says "gods," Ygritte means the old gods.  When Craster says "gods," he means the Popsicles

Everything Craster has done involving his sons (sacrifice them) is designed to please the Popsicles.  That's exactly why he thinks he has no need to go with Mance, uniquely among all the free folk.  He thinks dumping his sons in the woods has made him safe.

But that same policy of murdering his sons has, in Ygritte's opinion, cursed him with the old gods, because they hate kinslayers.

4 hours ago, Black Crow said:

He gives the boys to the Cold Gods [the ones that come in the night.

Well, he dumps his sons in the woods and then he imagines that the Popsicles know that, take the babies, and give him points in some sort of holiness ledger.  It's not quite the same thing.

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2 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

Craster thought it was acceptable to substitute sheep when he didn't have any newborn sons laying around, so if his offspring has any special value, Craster doesn't know about it.

Yes, and this hilarious policy also indicts him as any sort of knowledgeable authority on the Popsicles. 

I think we can be confident they don't care about sheep, and if they're transforming the sheep into blue-eyed murderous sheep demons made of ice, we have yet to see one.

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21 minutes ago, JNR said:

Yes, and this hilarious policy also indicts him as any sort of knowledgeable authority on the Popsicles. 

I think we can be confident they don't care about sheep, and if they're transforming the sheep into blue-eyed murderous sheep demons made of ice, we have yet to see one.

Are you going off the assumption that Craster's sons are being used to create white walkers? I'm assuming that is what Black Crow believes, and I'm guessing that you believe this as well? I think that assumption is a red herring. While I do believe human sacrifice is needed to create white walkers, I don't believe Craster's infant sons were being used. I suspect that adults sacrifice their physical bodies in order to be transformed into creatures of ice.

Those wildlings that Waymar, Gared, and Will were tracking were in the process of transformation when Will found their camp. He noticed eight men and women - no children. They had built a lean-to against the rock and had made a fire pit. Some of the wildlings were laying on the ground while some were sitting (leaning) against the rock. Nobody was inside the lean-to and the fire wasn't burning, but they couldn't have died of exposure, because Waymar pointed out that it was warm enough to make the Wall weep. It wasn't cold enough to freeze to death, and Will saw no injuries or blood. There was mention of a woman up an ironwood tree with eyes looking off into the distance. I think she was the priestess conducting the transformation.

Ironwood trees have hard black wood and are used to make shields. Perhaps it also has protective qualities to go along with strength? If so, it might be the reason why that wildling woman chose an ironwood tree to conduct the spell. I posit that she may have been protecting herself from the transformation. Some readers suspect that the black-barked trees with inky-blue leaves where the House of the Undying is located are possibly ironwood. 

The phrasing used to describe the number of white walkers emerging from the woods could be interpreted to be as few as five, or as many as fifteen:

Quote

They emerged silently from the shadows, twins to the first. Three of them...four...five...

 

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1 hour ago, JNR said:

When Craster says "gods," he means the Popsicles

I'm not so sure about that. He doesn't just talk about being a "godly man" or "right with the gods" in the context of offerings, he also says he gives the NW food and shelter because he's a godly man ("else I'd chase you off..."); it seems unlikely that the Others would care about hospitality laws, and less likely still that they'd care about them in relation to the NW specifically, their ostensible enemy. OTOH, guest right is sacred to the old gods, at least within cultural myth (eg, the tale of the Rat Cook).

Furthermore, Gilly speaks as though she believes in the old gods:

Quote

He went to Gilly. "What we did . . . if I could take a wife, I would sooner have you than any princess or highborn maiden, but I can't. I am still a crow. I said the words, Gilly. I went with Jon into the woods and said the words before a heart tree."

"The trees watch over us," Gilly whispered, brushing the tears from his cheeks. "In the forest, they see all . . . but there are no trees here. Only water, Sam. Only water."


Rather than worshiping the Others specifically, Craster appears to be practicing some heterodox form of old god religion, in which the Others are either a part of the old gods, in the broad, animistic sense of the old gods being the innumerable, nameless gods of forest, stream and stone, rather than in the narrow sense of the gods being the heart trees--or, alternately, in which the old gods are the only protection against the white cold.

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4 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

How can a man who’s cursed have any special value? Craster thought it was acceptable to substitute sheep when he didn't have any newborn sons laying around, so if his offspring has any special value, Craster doesn't know about it.

I read Craster's actions more as obeisance than atonement, so questions over whether or not the sheep have some utility to the gods seem off base to me. They are a symbol of his faithfulness and willingness to sacrifice, with food representing a high toll one is willing to pay in a world where winters last for years.

GRRM appears to be following straightforwardly on real world practices like lambs and sheep as burnt offerings--and even more specifically, following on the idea of the sacrificial Passover lamb as a ward against the angel of death.

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

which the old gods are the only protection against the white cold.

This is actually how I interpret Craster's motivation. He believes the old gods are protecting him, because of the sacrifices, which in turn implies that without the sacrifices he would be unworthy of protection. 

In ASOS Samwell II, Craster does claim that getting right with the gods offers protection against the Others and the white cold:

Quote

There had been no attacks while they had been at Craster's, neither wights nor Others. Nor would there be, Craster said. "A godly man got no cause to fear such. I said as much to that Mance Rayder once, when he come sniffing round. He never listened, no more'n you crows with your swords and your bloody fires. That won't help you none when the white cold comes. Only the gods will help you then. You best get right with the gods."

Craster is pretty distinct in his separation between "popsicles" and the gods.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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5 hours ago, Janneyc1 said:

Honestly, I could see Andals getting there quick, but their value not being seen as useful. I could see it taking about a century for them to get someone to start writing everything down. 

The Andals invaded from the South and East and took a long time reaching the neck.  Some of them could have been captured and given a chance to take the black.  But if they did, they would show up as new soldiers, expected to scout and fight and do chores and labor.   They would not have had time to write, their old culture would be looked down on and they would not have ink, quills or paper - none of which were sold for thousands of miles.   How many centuries of that have to go by before the Watch starts writing official records and keeping a library?

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I read Craster's actions more as obeisance than atonement, so questions over whether or not the sheep have some utility to the gods seem off base to me. They are a symbol of his faithfulness and willingness to sacrifice, with food representing a high toll one is willing to pay in a world where winters last for years.

GRRM appears to be following straightforwardly on real world practices like lambs and sheep as burnt offerings--and even more specifically, following on the idea of the sacrificial Passover lamb as a ward against the angel of death.

I agree with what you've said here, but this is actually the foundation of my argument against what BC was saying. He was asserting that Craster's sons were unusually special, because of who he was. Implying that the cold gods would especially desire Craster's sons over any other wilding son. I was disputing that by saying that Craster didn't think or know his sons were unusually special, just that it was a true sacrifice for him to give them up.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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Posted (edited)

Craster was bullied into what he is doing.   He believes the gods will spare him for his sacrifices, but I doubt he feels he has a real choice.  He isn't living where and how he does because he wants to, and doesn't have any real reverence for his gods.  He is appeasing the forces he believes will win, because opposing, ignoring or fleeing them will cost him his life. 

Edited by Brad Stark

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5 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

I agree with what you've said here, but this is actually the foundation of my argument against what BC was saying. He was asserting that Craster's sons were unusually special, because of who he was. Implying that the cold gods would especially desire Craster's sons over any other wilding son. I was disputing that by saying that Craster didn't think or know his sons were unusually special, just that it was a true sacrifice for him to give them up.

If Craster didn't believe his sons were special, why would he not try to sacrifice other wildlings' sons in their place?  And he has to know the gods want his sons and not his daughters. 

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On 4/8/2019 at 11:50 AM, Feather Crystal said:

Exactly. Craster wanted to "get right with the gods". Yes, Ygritte said kinslaying is frowned upon, but how could kinslaying help Craster get right with the gods? You've got a contradiction there. Craster thinks what he's doing is "godly". He's doing what he believes will counter his curse. I don't think Craster views what he's doing as kinslaying. His sons are sacrifices, which means he viewed it as something holy. Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or humans to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship.

Craster doesn't consider what he is doing as kinslaying.  He probably doesn't know the ultimate fate of his sons.   Why would someone ask for his sons only to kill them?  And even if they die and he knows, he isn't killing his own kin, someone else is. 

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

He believes the old gods are protecting him, because of the sacrifices, which in turn implies that without the sacrifices he would be unworthy of protection. 

I don't disagree, save that I don't think that Craster sees himself as being uniquely cursed due to his background (eg, his crow father); rather I think he views the default state of humanity as being one of original sin, and that it is everyone's responsibility to "get right with the gods."

17 minutes ago, Brad Stark said:

If Craster didn't believe his sons were special, why would he not try to sacrifice other wildlings' sons in their place? 

Because then Craster isn't sacrificing anything that he values--it's much the same way that Faceless Men "pricing" is scaled to the individual doing the hiring, or the way that the weak baptisms Aeron witnesses are seen as a poor substitute for a true drowning.


Edit: As a random observation, it's also worth wondering how much of a distinction there is between Craster's beliefs and his wives' beliefs; when they speak of "the sons returning," is that because that is a part of their dogma that comes from Craster (or some other longstanding oral tradition), or something they've intuited independent of Craster?

Edited by Matthew.

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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, Brad Stark said:

If Craster didn't believe his sons were special, why would he not try to sacrifice other wildlings' sons in their place?  And he has to know the gods want his sons and not his daughters. 

Actually Matthew described this pretty well. Other wildling children would not be a true sacrifice for Craster.

33 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I don't disagree, save that I don't think that Craster sees himself as being uniquely cursed due to his background (eg, his crow father); rather I think he views the default state of humanity as being one of original sin, and that it is everyone's responsibility to "get right with the gods."

I can agree that Craster "preaches" to Sam and the other men that they need to atone for their own sins if they're to expect protection from the old gods, but I disagree that he believes in any Christian original sin doctrine. Craster is a bastard, but the wildlings don't look down on bastards if Tormund is to be believed:

Quote

“Do you mislike the girl?” Tormund asked him as they passed another twenty mammoths, these bearing wildlings in tall wooden towers instead of giants.

“No, but I…” What can I say that he will believe? “I am still too young to wed.”

“Wed?” Tormund laughed. “Who spoke of wedding? In the south, must a man wed every girl he beds?”

Jon could feel himself turning red again. “She spoke for me when Rattleshirt would have killed me. I would not dishonor her.”

You are a free man now, and Ygritte is a free woman. What dishonor if you lay together?

“I might get her with child.”

Aye, I’d hope so. A strong son or a lively laughing girl kissed by fire, and where’s the harm in that?”

Words failed him for a moment. “The boy… the child would be a bastard.”

“Are bastards weaker than other children? More sickly, more like to fail?”

“No, but—”

“You’re bastard-born yourself. And if Ygritte does not want a child, she will go to some woods witch and drink a cup o’ moon tea. You do not come into it, once the seed is planted.”

“I will not father a bastard.”

Tormund shook his shaggy head. “What fools you kneelers be. Why did you steal the girl if you don’t want her?”

“Steal? I never…”

“You did,” said Tormund. “You slew the two she was with and carried her off, what do you call it?”

“I took her prisoner.”

“You made her yield to you.”

“Yes, but… Tormund, I swear, I’ve never touched her.”

“Are you certain they never cut your member off?” Tormund gave a shrug, as if to say he would never understand such madness. “Well, you are a free man now, but if you will not have the girl, best find yourself a she-bear. If a man does not use his member it grows smaller and smaller, until one day he wants to piss and cannot find it.”

 

So if bastards aren't offensive to the old gods, then what sin has Craster committed? What curse has caused his black blood? He was born with a type of original sin, but not the Christian original sin of disobedience. He inherited the curse through his father's blood - the blood of an oathbreaker.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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Craster's curse is his bloodline - either Stark or Targaryen most likely, and only his sons, or sons of the same bloodline, can make White Walkers. 

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16 minutes ago, Brad Stark said:

Craster's curse is his bloodline - either Stark or Targaryen most likely, and only his sons, or sons of the same bloodline, can make White Walkers. 

Then his bloodline is Stark. Unless Bran the Shipwrecked founded House Targaryen ...

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Ygritte says Craster's blood is black and that he bears a heavy curse. She specifically says it's because his father was a 'crow' that flew back to his Wall and denied him. She was afraid Jon would do the same thing to her. It has nothing to do with Jon having Stark blood and everything to do with breaking the Night's Watch oath and then denying you ever broke it.

The wildlings believed that Craster was cursed, and Craster must have thought so too, else he would not have taken steps to get 'right with the gods'. Craster sacrifices legitimately born sons which I think is an important detail that supports my assertions that the sacrifices are connected to his bastard status, namely 'who' his father was.

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3 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

So if bastards aren't offensive to the old gods, then what sin has Craster committed? What curse has caused his black blood? He was born with a type of original sin, but not the Christian original sin of disobedience. He inherited the curse through his father's blood - the blood of an oathbreaker.

If Craster's gods are the old gods (and I believe that they are, though I appreciate the fact that it is very much up for debate), then my proposal for why people would need to "get right with the gods" would be in relation to the Pact. Was it truly only a verbal agreement that apportioned land, or did it bind humanity to other obligations as well? Under present circumstances, is it considered to be broken?

I'm repeating certain themes here, but once again, these questions seem potentially relevant to open threads:
- The irregular seasons (which, IMO, will be 'fixed' by series' end, and I consider the fact that they are irregular to be a plot point)
- The return of the Others
- The relationship between House Stark, the Others, and the old gods, which seems particularly pertinent with Jon and Bran

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

Are you going off the assumption that Craster's sons are being used to create white walkers?

No, I'm just saying there is no plausible reason at all that the Popsicles would want sheep... including to transform them into ice demons.

Craster simply has no idea what he's talking about on this subject.

7 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

I don't believe Craster's infant sons were being used.

I agree.  GRRM named Craster after a town associated with herrings; there's a good reason for that.

6 hours ago, Matthew. said:

Craster appears to be practicing some heterodox form of old god religion, in which the Others are either a part of the old gods

There we run into the issue I raised before, though.

The old gods are overwhelmingly shown as opposed to kinslaying... yet Craster clearly thinks sacrificing his male infants is the way to "get right with the gods."  

So if he thinks the Popsicles are part of the old gods, he evidently also thinks they're the gods-in-charge and run the show, and that's why kinslaying is no problem for him at all.

Edited by JNR

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52 minutes ago, JNR said:

No, I'm just saying there is no plausible reason at all that the Popsicles would want sheep... including to transform them into ice demons.

Craster simply has no idea what he's talking about on this subject.

I agree.  GRRM named Craster after a town associated with herrings; there's a good reason for that.

There we run into the issue I raised before, though.

The old gods are overwhelmingly shown as opposed to kinslaying... yet Craster clearly thinks sacrificing his male infants is the way to "get right with the gods."  

So if he thinks the Popsicles are part of the old gods, he evidently also thinks they're the gods-in-charge and run the show, and that's why kinslaying is no problem for him at all.

This is where you are wrong. Sacrificing isn’t kinslaying. He’s giving his sons to the old gods. He himself didn’t personally kill them. He leaves them as a sacrificial offering.

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