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Black Crow

Heresy 220 and the nature of magic

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3 hours 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.

I like the red herring town theory, it is clever,  but I think it is wrong. 

Popsicles didn't come for sheep.   Someone, who is alive and human, ate Craster's sheep and is using his sons to bring back the Others. 

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The use of sheep as a substitute is proof that Craster didn't knowingly sacrifice his sons to create white walkers. It's also proof that Craster viewed his actions as true sacrifices and that he was doing it to 'get right with the gods'.

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17 hours 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.

Yes, that's pretty much as I see it.

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

The use of sheep as a substitute is proof that Craster didn't knowingly sacrifice his sons to create white walkers. It's also proof that Craster viewed his actions as true sacrifices and that he was doing it to 'get right with the gods'.

So, let's view this from the perspective of a "god". A son is very valuable to Craster, that's why a son is demanded. To prove his loyalty. But then is a sheep the second most valuable thing for Craster ? If yes or if the sheep is valuable to him, why shouldn't a sheep qualify ?

From the perspective of a god, it is also about his faith. And it doesn't really matter who gets or eats the sheep or the sons. 

Edited by SirArthur

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

The use of sheep as a substitute is proof that Craster didn't knowingly sacrifice his sons to create white walkers. It's also proof that Craster viewed his actions as true sacrifices and that he was doing it to 'get right with the gods'.

This harks back to Matthew's point in #73 and also to something we've talked about in the distant past; namely who knows what?

Craster, believes that he has to keep right by the Gods, which is why he sacrifices something of value: his own sons. We're also told by Gilly that if there are no boys he offers sheep, noting that he's fond of mutton and so implying that he's still offering something of value to him.

At no point is it suggested that he might offer up a girl child, but why? Surely they must be of more value than sheep?

But so far as Craster goes as a source, that's all we do know - in fact he himself doesn't actually say how he keeps right with the Gods.

The Watch, or at least some of them, know that he gives the boys "to the wood", but if any of them know more than that they aren't saying.

Its the women who are more interesting. Gilly describes how the boys are taken by "the Cold Gods, the ones who come in the night" and while JNR disputes that "she has seen them", its actually a pretty odd comment if she hasn't. The Ranger belief that he gives the boys "to the wood" could be covered by their being taken by the Three-fingered Tree-huggers who are certainly known of by the Free-folk, or he could make a proper sacrifice, with bells and whistles, like that business at Whitetree [which could easily see the substitution of a sheep or lamb]. Yet we're very specifically told that they are given to the White Walkers.

Its also the women who refer to Craster's sons returning and the fact that they are referred to as the the boys' brothers suggests it isn't a metaphor.

And finally going back to Gilly and those wretched sheep. Craster isn't offering his sons to the Gods in the normal run of sacrifice. He neither waits for a short time and then tools off into the woods, nor offers them up at the full moon or whatever part of the calendar is deemed propitious, but gives on demand - when the white cold comes, and its been coming more often which is why he doesn't always have a boy available when the cold gods come knocking.

Now, that's where we come to Matthew's point. Do the women know more about what's going on than he does? And is Craster really in charge or is he cursed to preside over a shit heap in the middle of no-where?

Edited by Black Crow
various

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17 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

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?

Some of the stories about the Nightfort imply that there were Andal captives, but this business of cultural change is a lot more complex than it might appear - in real life at least.

Very broadly speaking GRRM has constructed an historical framework around the model of what happened in early Britain, with a number of precursor races substantially overlaid by the Celtic civilisation. Then there comes the Anglo-Saxons or Andals, and finally Bill the Conqueror in 1066, which 300 years or so later brings us to the Wars of the Roses around which the Game of Thrones is purportedly based.

What's relevant here is that Scotland/the North isn't actually conquered as such, by the Anglo-Saxons/Andals. They tried and failed to gain a foothold north of the Forth/Neck [Stirling - reversed - is Moat Caillin], but yet Anglo-Saxon influence spread by non'military means, reinforced in the North-East by Flemish incomers - a good and probably conscious parallel being offered by the Manderleys and White Harbour.

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

This harks back to Matthew's point in #73 and also to something we've talked about in the distant past; namely who knows what?

Craster, believes that he has to keep right by the Gods, which is why he sacrifices something of value: his own sons. We're also told by Gilly that if there are no boys he offers sheep, noting that he's fond of mutton and so implying that he's still offering something of value to him.

At no point is it suggested that he might offer up a girl child, but why? Surely they must be of more value than sheep?

But so far as Craster goes as a source, that's all we do know - in fact he himself doesn't actually say how he keeps right with the Gods.

The Watch, or at least some of them, know that he gives the boys "to the wood", but if any of them know more than that they aren't saying.

Its the women who are more interesting. Gilly describes how the boys are taken by "the Cold Gods, the ones who come in the night" and while JNR disputes that "she has seen them", its actually a pretty odd comment if she hasn't. The Ranger belief that he gives the boys "to the wood" could be covered by their being taken by the Three-fingered Tree-huggers who are certainly known of by the Free-folk, or he could make a proper sacrifice, with bells and whistles, like that business at Whitetree [which could easily see the substitution of a sheep or lamb]. Yet we're very specifically told that they are given to the White Walkers.

Its also the women who refer to Craster's sons returning and the fact that they are referred to as the the boys' brothers suggests it isn't a metaphor.

And finally going back to Gilly and those wretched sheep. Craster isn't offering his sons to the Gods in the normal run of sacrifice. He neither waits for a short time and then tools off into the woods, nor offers them up at the full moon or whatever part of the calendar is deemed propitious, but gives on demand - when the white cold comes, and its been coming more often which is why he doesn't always have a boy available when the cold gods come knocking.

Now, that's where we come to Matthew's point. Do the women know more about what's going on than he does? And is Craster really in charge or is he cursed to preside over a shit heap in the middle of no-where?

 

You make a good point about the timing of the sacrifices, but Craster does distinguish between the old gods 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 the only wildling that we know of that practices regular sacrifice. If sacrificing your sons protects your family from the 'white cold', why don't the other wildlings mention it or adopt that practice?

Even if Craster's wives believe their sons are given to white walkers, Craster is giving his sons to the woods, which implies he thinks he's giving them to the old gods. All the little bones littering the cave where Bloodraven is hints at a final destination for these offerings.

1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

Some of the stories about the Nightfort imply that there were Andal captives, but this business of cultural change is a lot more complex than it might appear - in real life at least.

Very broadly speaking GRRM has constructed an historical framework around the model of what happened in early Britain, with a number of precursor races substantially overlaid by the Celtic civilisation. Then there comes the Anglo-Saxons or Andals, and finally Bill the Conqueror in 1066, which 300 years or so later brings us to the Wars of the Roses around which the Game of Thrones is purportedly based.

What's relevant here is that Scotland/the North isn't actually conquered as such, by the Anglo-Saxons/Andals. They tried and failed to gain a foothold north of the Forth/Neck [Stirling - reversed - is Moat Caillin], but yet Anglo-Saxon influence spread by non'military means, reinforced in the North-East by Flemish incomers - a good and probably conscious parallel being offered by the Manderleys and White Harbour.

Not to wander too far off topic...what is the connection between the Scots and the French (Franks)? And is there a ASOIAF parallel? And who might be the Westerosi Brittons? Are they the crannogs? 

Edited by Feather Crystal

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The timing bc brought to me is very significant.   This is more like the mafia than any religion.   The WW gang shows up periodically demanding 'protection money' and Craster pays out of fear. 

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4 hours ago, Black Crow said:

And finally going back to Gilly and those wretched sheep. Craster isn't offering his sons to the Gods in the normal run of sacrifice. He neither waits for a short time and then tools off into the woods, nor offers them up at the full moon or whatever part of the calendar is deemed propitious, but gives on demand - when the white cold comes, and its been coming more often which is why he doesn't always have a boy available when the cold gods come knocking.

Precisely--when the white cold comes, and he has no son, he's desperate to maintain his protection, so he gives sheep, and if he had no sheep he would presumably move on to something else. Something, anything to demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice.

Craster and his wives, like every other character, probably occupy a gray area when it comes to what they 'know' about the metaphysics of Planetos, a gray area between absolute knowledge and being totally incorrect. The Red Priests, for example, have real magic at their disposal, which they attribute to an interventionist fire god; that they might be incorrect about the mechanics of why their magic works doesn't invalidate the rituals themselves. 

Asking "what use do the Others have for sheep?" seems a bit like asking "what use does Fire have for king's blood? What use does Fire have for Nissa Nissa?" or "what use do the spirits in the weirwood have for guest right?" It seems an overly utilitarian, worldbuilding-centric perspective when the actual underlying premise is one of theme and narrative: magic demands a price, and the more one is willing to 'pay,' the greater the magic.
 

5 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Do the women know more about what's going on than he does? And is Craster really in charge or is he cursed to preside over a shit heap in the middle of no-where?


I wonder if we'll get any elaboration from Gilly. In particular, when they talk of the sons returning, is that inherited lore, or something that has been invented on the fly (eg, that they "feel" that their sons are out there)? If its the former, then I'm put to mind of Old Nan's tales of "terrible half-human children," which might be a bastardized, south-of-the-Wall version of Free Folk lore regarding the price that was paid to endure the Long Night.

This is hardly a fresh take within Heresy, but the eerie circumstances of Whitetree, and the suggestion that Craster's mother was a woman of Whitetree, seems potentially relevant; we've seen that the Free Folk are a diverse people, and that they (presumably) have varying degrees of quality when it comes to their lore, and while it may seem geographically paradoxical, I'm tempted to say that those living closest to the Weirwood, the Wall, and the Haunted Forest have more pertinent Long Night lore than, say, the Thenns or the Ice River Clans.
 

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32 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

Precisely--when the white cold comes, and he has no son, he's desperate to maintain his protection, so he gives sheep, and if he had no sheep he would presumably move on to something else. Something, anything to demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice.

If I recall correctly she suggested that once the sheep gave out he would move on to the dogs.

Were the girl-children regarded as unworthy - or taboo?

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36 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

Asking "what use do the Others have for sheep?" seems a bit like asking "what use does Fire have for king's blood? What use does Fire have for Nissa Nissa?" or "what use do the spirits in the weirwood have for guest right?" It seems an overly utilitarian, worldbuilding-centric perspective when the actual underlying premise is one of theme and narrative: magic demands a price, and the more one is willing to 'pay,' the greater the magic.

I disagree.  What use Fire has for King's blood is an interesting question.   Again, the bloodlines are important, but here, the price is low.  Melisandre is not giving up anything of personal value when she burns Alester Florent.  And we don't see dramatic results from any of her burnings.

We are told only life can pay for death.  My own theory is Melisandre has extended her life unnaturally, and that requires these deaths.

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9 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

Were the girl-children regarded as unworthy - or taboo?

I think Craster thought he'd need all the women he could impregnate to increase the production of male sacrifices.

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10 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

If I recall correctly she suggested that once the sheep gave out he would move on to the dogs.

Were the girl-children regarded as unworthy - or taboo?

Craster seems paranoid about other men sleeping with his wives.   Either he values them, or knows his 'gods' will be displeased with a sacrifice he didn't father.  If he values them, why aren't they accepted as sacrifices?  And why hasn't the WW gang tried to extract tribute from anyone else?

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3 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

I think Craster thought he'd need all the women he could impregnate to increase the production of male sacrifices.

Yet Craster shows no interest recruiting additional wives from unrelated wildlings. 

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The women are needed to provide sons, so he can't go sacrificing them. Short term fix would lead to long term problem. Plus they are both his 'entertainment' and his workforce. If Gilly's idea of brothers is to be taken at face value, the WW are the boys. They need real humans to make WW. Am I correct in believing the CotF made the WW from a human by a magic inspired stabbing to turn them into something else. The others are just vessels possessed by 'something' WW controlled, they are the canon fodder the troops for the war. The NK (or great other?) needs his captains or WW to fight a large scale war. They have being collecting them from Caster for a number of years now in preparation. The real question is perhaps how Caster got the idea in the first place. He must have started with one wife and build up his 'wives' over a number of years. Therefore the supply of sons would have grown from one every couple of years to perhaps several a year. If he is now running out of sons the demand is rising perhaps because whatever is behind this sees a more urgent need as the war is coming. But who gave him enough knowledge to figure out that these WW which he must have known about to sacrifice to in the first place would be satisfied with his sons. Lets face it the WW don't seem overly chatty and no one else among the Wildlings are doing this. Someone human enough like coldhands or similar figure that is a go between. The idea was planted there not a specific instruction as I'm sure the WW don't really want sheep.

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You know that at times I intrude here to crack a pot, unrelated to the ongoing discussion. Here we go again, apologies:

Arthur Dayne: "Now it begins."

Ned Stark: "No, now it ends."

Is this a (mirrored?) replay of how the last hero won and does it indicate when the White Walkers rise again?

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18 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

Yet Craster shows no interest recruiting additional wives from unrelated wildlings. 

Well among the Wildlings, you need to steal a wife. I don't think that Craster could steal anyone at his age. Plus he seems like he is tolerated in Wildling society. Him stealing someones daughter is likely to change that. The gods won't protect you from man. 

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Posted (edited)

Well that again is one of the mysteries about Craster. There is on the face of it no reason why he shouldn't be faced with angry mobs of peasants with pitchforks, flaming torches, cloves of garlic and all the all traditional trappings. Yet he's unmolested, and at the very least tolerated. Not all of the women are his children.

This is why I've suggested in the past that Craster may have been akin to a sin-eater, giving up his own sons so that the rest of the surrounding community doesn't need to give up theirs.

Edited by Black Crow

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3 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

This is why I've suggested in the past that Craster may have been akin to a sin-eater, giving up his own sons so that the rest of the surrounding community doesn't need to give up theirs.

I could buy into that. Or least buy into that being their thoughts on the matter. 

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On 4/9/2019 at 7:14 PM, Feather Crystal said:

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.

Seriously, Feather.  He dumped his infant sons in the woods for decades. 

Let's not call that anything but kinslaying, no matter what deluded concept was in his head about the Popsicles being gods.   If you stab your mother in the heart because you're on narcotic drugs and are convinced she is a Klingon, you're still killing your kin.

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