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Brandon Ice-Eyes V1

Did the Starks practice blood sacrifice?

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Did the Starks practise blood sacrifice?

So we know from Brans visions that there has been blood sacrifice at the Winterfell Godswood before but do we have any idea if this happened often? The World Book mentions blood sacrifice persisting in White Harbour 500 years ago yet it seems to have vanished from The North.

So basically did House Stark once partake in Blood Sacrifice and are we given any idea as to why they stopped if they did?

 

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What Bran saw was a woman killing a man in front of the weirwood. We do not know what was her intention, we have no grasp of what was happening. Killing in front of a weirwood tree might be just a ceremonial execution, for example. What makes killing "sacrifice" is expecting something in return from the deities that life has been offered to. As an example, in this world where capital punishment is the norm, if someone who has committed a crime and has been judged guilty is the executed in front of a weirwood, is that "blood sacrifice"? If there is a duel in the godswood that leaves one person dead, was that "blood sacrifice"? 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

What Bran saw was a woman killing a man in front of the weirwood. We do not know what was her intention, we have no grasp of what was happening. Killing in front of a weirwood tree might be just a ceremonial execution, for example. What makes killing "sacrifice" is expecting something in return from the deities that life has been offered to. As an example, in this world where capital punishment is the norm, if someone who has committed a crime and has been judged guilty is the executed in front of a weirwood, is that "blood sacrifice"? If there is a duel in the godswood that leaves one person dead, was that "blood sacrifice"? 

Exactly this. Maybe they brought the man before the weirwood to be judged by a greenseer, who could actually look into his past and see whether he was guilty or not. Both Jeor and Jon attest to their fathers claiming "you cannot lie before a heart tree", sounds like people sought the greenseers to find out if someone claiming to be innocent of a crime spoke the truth or not. And Ned's "if you cannot listen and watch a man die who you condemn, then maybe you shouldn't take his life to ebgin with" can also be applied to that scene that Bran witnesses via the weirwood.

If it was a judgement via greenseer, and the greenseer condemned the man, then maybe they killed the man in front of the weirwood, so that his judge would have to watch and listen to the man's dying pleas he (or she) had just condemned to death, as a type of balance check on giving a greenseer power over life and death.

Even the White Harbor "sacrifice" can be compared to judges such as Joffrey putting heads on spikes. Davos' jailor at the Wolf Den relates the story of slavers who sailed up the White Knife and enslaved people of the North, keeping them as prisoners in the Wolf Den before shipping them off. The Stark King attacked, but gave the enslavers to the many they rescued from the chains and abuse and had them decide whether these men ought to die or not. They killed their enslavers, and then hung their entrails in the weirwood branches. Is that an "offering" or is it "heads on spikes" (but with entrails)? It sounds more like it was the latter.

Edited by sweetsunray

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32 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Of course. Magic is powered by Life Force. They learned it from the Children.

Do you think it’ll make a return in the coming books or is it probably gone for good. (Weirwood blood sacrifice)

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21 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Exactly this. Maybe they brought the man before the weirwood to be judged by a greenseer, who could actually look into his past and see whether he was guilty or not. Both Jeor and Jon attest to their fathers claiming "you cannot lie before a heart tree", sounds like people sought the greenseers to find out if someone claiming to be innocent of a crime spoke the truth or not. And Ned's "if you cannot listen and watch a man die who you condemn, then maybe you shouldn't take his life to ebgin with" can also be applied to that scene that Bran witnesses via the weirwood.

If it was a judgement via greenseer, and the greenseer condemned the man, then maybe they killed the man in front of the weirwood, so that his judge would have to watch and listen to the man's dying pleas he (or she) had just condemned to death, as a type of balance check on giving a greenseer power over life and death.

That’s actually a really good idea, never thought that maybe they brang them before a Weirwood and waited for a sign from a greenseer to see if they were guilty or not. Didn’t they used to hang the entrails of criminals from Weirwood?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Brandon Ice-Eyes V1 said:

That’s actually a really good idea, never thought that maybe they brang them before a Weirwood and waited for a sign from a greenseer to see if they were guilty or not. Didn’t they used to hang the entrails of criminals from Weirwood?

Yeah, George set the reader up to believe and see it as "human blood sacrifice". He even used the image of an "old woman with a sickle", but after this vision, we witness Bran communicating with Theon via the weirwood: Theon talks about his crimes, what he didn't do, what he did do, and begging for death. So, we can see how it would have gone during the days when there were still many human greenseers. Tales of sacrifice have been around earlier in the books, but by people who do not understand what a greenseer can truly do, or do not even believe in such powers. Maesters don't recognize the existence of magic, nor that greenseers had any type of power, so to them killing a man before a heart tree or putting entrails in the branches of a tree to whom people pray to the Old Gods cannot but be human sacrifice. Maesters are like anthropologists making assumptions and transferring them onto certain practices, but it still comes down to prejudice, and imposing their own beliefs and culture upon another. 

It's not the first time that George would do this. In Seven Times Never Kill a Man, an artifact dealer trades with the local furry people (Jainshi). He has this hypothesis that all religion and culture will use similar imagery and attributes to classify their gods. The Jainshi have "carvers" and he trades to get his hands on their carvings, which are statuettes of godesses looking like Venus, Athena, etc... He considers them proof of his anthropological hypothesis. But over the course of the story, you learn that the Jainshi carvers who live near a type of mind reading and mind controlling pyramid only carve what that pyramid plants as image in their head, and that these pryamids mindread both the artifact dealer as the mind of colonizers (who are religious fanatical followers of Bakkalon). So, basically, the artifact dealer who is genuinely interested in the Jainshi (whereas the colonizers want to disperse the Jainshi and destroy their pyramids, initially) only sees what he wants to see. At the end of the story, his business liaison who attempts to sell his gathered artifacts on other worlds, considers the statuettes fakes, a type of badly done art fraud.

George uses "what it appears to be" in the minds of the reader and the non-insider characters as a misdirection. Only through Bran's interactions with Theon in aDwD in the godswood do we start to see what is happening, because now we the readers have some type of insight on a greenseer's abilities, and this moves weirwood "sacrifice" more into the realm of "justice" and "confessing crimes". Meanwhile "injustice" has been a theme from the start of the story:

  • Well meaning Ned lopping off the head of Gared, dismissing his rambles as that of a lunatic (George avoids relating to the reader what Gared actually said)
  • Joffrey lying in front of his father over the Trident incident, and Sansa not daring to speak the truth, to avoid having to choose a side, with Robert feeling that Arya is more than likely speaking the truth, but still giving in to Cersei's demand to execute Lady, and poor Mycah already hunted and killed before the case was brought before Robert.
  • Joffrey's judgments based on sadistic pleasure with Ned's execution after confession as a result
  • Tyrion's trial before judges with bribed and threatened witnesses
  • Tyrion's trial by combat of the Mountain versus Oberyn.
  • Sandor's trial by combat against Beric

.... etc

Justic is heavily corrupted or relies on a combination of luck and prowess, whereas greenseers solve the biggest issue: that even the most honorful man like Ned cannot know the truth of it, and judges a man based on assumptions, but greenseers can. So, it seems quite reasonable that once the First Men understood that greenseers could see whether the man they apprehended was actually guilty of the crime, FM pushed them into the roles within society as that of the judge.

Edited by sweetsunray

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39 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Yeah, George set the reader up to believe and see it as "human blood sacrifice". He even used the image of an "old woman with a sickle", but after this vision, we witness Bran communicating with Theon via the weirwood: Theon talks about his crimes, what he didn't do, what he did do, and begging for death. So, we can see how it would have gone during the days when there were still many human greenseers. Tales of sacrifice have been around earlier in the books, but by people who do not understand what a greenseer can truly do, or do not even believe in such powers. Maesters don't recognize the existence of magic, nor that greenseers had any type of power, so to them killing a man before a heart tree or putting entrails in the branches of a tree to whom people pray to the Old Gods cannot but be human sacrifice. Maesters are like anthropologists making assumptions and transferring them onto certain practices, but it still comes down to prejudice, and imposing their own beliefs and culture upon another. 

It's not the first time that George would do this. In Seven Times Never Kill a Man, an artifact dealer trades with the local furry people (Jainshi). He has this hypothesis that all religion and culture will use similar imagery and attributes to classify their gods. The Jainshi have "carvers" and he trades to get his hands on their carvings, which are statuettes of godesses looking like Venus, Athena, etc... He considers them proof of his anthropological hypothesis. But over the course of the story, you learn that the Jainshi carvers who live near a type of mind reading and mind controlling pyramid only carve what that pyramid plants as image in their head, and that these pryamids mindread both the artifact dealer as the mind of colonizers (who are religious fanatical followers of Bakkalon). So, basically, the artifact dealer who is genuinely interested in the Jainshi (whereas the colonizers want to disperse the Jainshi and destroy their pyramids, initially) only sees what he wants to see. At the end of the story, his business liaison who attempts to sell his gathered artifacts on other worlds, considers the statuettes fakes, a type of badly done art fraud.

George uses "what it appears to be" in the minds of the reader and the non-insider characters as a misdirection. Only through Bran's interactions with Theon in aDwD in the godswood do we start to see what is happening, because now we the readers have some type of insight on a greenseer's abilities, and this moves weirwood "sacrifice" more into the realm of "justice" and "confessing crimes". Meanwhile "injustice" has been a theme from the start of the story:

  • Well meaning Ned lopping off the head of Gared, dismissing his rambles as that of a lunatic (George avoids relating to the reader what Gared actually said)
  • Joffrey lying in front of his father over the Trident incident, and Sansa not daring to speak the truth, to avoid having to choose a side, with Robert feeling that Arya is more than likely speaking the truth, but still giving in to Cersei's demand to execute Lady, and poor Mycah already hunted and killed before the case was brought before Robert.
  • Joffrey's judgments based on sadistic pleasure with Ned's execution after confession as a result
  • Tyrion's trial before judges with bribed and threatened witnesses
  • Tyrion's trial by combat of the Mountain versus Oberyn.
  • Sandor's trial by combat against Beric

.... etc

Justic is heavily corrupted or relies on a combination of luck and prowess, whereas greenseers solve the biggest issue: that even the most honorful man like Ned cannot know the truth of it, and judges a man based on assumptions, but greenseers can. So, it seems quite reasonable that once the First Men understood that greenseers could see whether the man they apprehended was actually guilty of the crime, and that one of their roles within society was that of the judge.

Thanks.  That's very insightful.

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It seems that in Westeros price of magic is blood. So anyone who wants to use any spells would have to sacrifice something. For instance when ET called home he cut out and burned testicles of Varys. I assume that price of using more powerful spells would be much higher.

So if Starks used any magic during their conquest and reign of the North they almost certainly sacrificed many people just to gain enough power to conquer and to protect themselves. Besides those sacrifices could be used as a mean to remind their potential  enemies what would happen to them and their kin if they made something that king of Winter did not like.

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Posted (edited)

Well I would certainly not put it above the Starks of old.

Edited by frenin

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Of course this was a blood sacrifice. The ancient First Men were brutal, savage people. And they will do that again to fuel Bran's magic. He can taste the blood of that poor fellow despite the fact that it was hundreds or thousands of years ago. Those weirwoods and their greenseers have to be watered with blood to grow tall and powerful, and the Northmen have to do just that to have a chance against the Others. And perhaps the people down sout, too. Thankfully, there will soon be enough poor fellows to sacrifice - Freys and Boltons and other Northmen who choose to stand with Roose rather than Stannis and his allies. Also, of course, the wildlings under the Weeper after they invade the North and are defeated and captured.

It is certainly possible that back in ancient days people fit for sacrifice were judged by the old gods/greenseers themselves - who could point out guilty/evil people by means of their near omniscience. But that doesn't change the fact that said people were then bled out in front of a weirwood and their blood used to water the tree, strengthening the greenseer behind it.

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7 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

And Ned's "if you cannot listen and watch a man die who you condemn, then maybe you shouldn't take his life to ebgin with" can also be applied to that scene that Bran witnesses via the weirwood.

I dont see the correlation

6 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

. Tales of sacrifice have been around earlier in the books, but by people who do not understand what a greenseer can truly do, or do not even believe in such powers. Maesters don't recognize the existence of magic, nor that greenseers had any type of power, so to them killing a man before a heart tree or putting entrails in the branches of a tree to whom people pray to the Old Gods cannot but be human sacrifice. Maesters are like anthropologists making assumptions and transferring them onto certain practices, but it still comes down to prejudice, and imposing their own beliefs and culture upon another. 

Maesters arent the only ones who say that

Quote

When old King Edrick Stark had grown too feeble to defend his realm, the Wolf's Den was captured by slavers from the Stepstones. They would brand their captives with hot irons and break them to the whip before shipping them off across the sea, and these same black stone walls bore witness.

"Then a long cruel winter fell," said Ser Bartimus. "The White Knife froze hard, and even the firth was icing up. The winds came howling from the north and drove them slavers inside to huddle round their fires, and whilst they warmed themselves the new king come down on them. Brandon Stark this was, Edrick Snowbeard's great-grandson, him that men called Ice Eyes. He took the Wolf's Den back, stripped the slavers naked, and gave them to the slaves he'd found chained up in the dungeons. It's said they hung their entrails in the branches of the heart tree, as an offering to the gods. The old gods, not these new ones from the south. Your Seven don't know winter, and winter don't know them."

Davos could not argue with the truth of that. From what he had seen at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, he did not care to know winter either. "What gods do you keep?" he asked the one-legged knight.

"The old ones." When Ser Bartimus grinned, he looked just like a skull. "Me and mine were here before the Manderlys. Like as not, my own forebears strung those entrails through the tree."

"I never knew that northmen made blood sacrifice to their heart trees."

"There's much and more you southrons do not know about the north," Ser Bartimus replied.

He was not wrong.

 

11 hours ago, Brandon Ice-Eyes V1 said:

So basically did House Stark once partake in Blood Sacrifice 

Almost definitely.

11 hours ago, Brandon Ice-Eyes V1 said:

are we given any idea as to why they stopped if they did?

Judgmental Andals Id say. I think they'll continue the practice soon

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2 hours ago, Loose Bolt said:

It seems that in Westeros price of magic is blood. So anyone who wants to use any spells would have to sacrifice something. For instance when ET called home he cut out and burned testicles of Varys. I assume that price of using more powerful spells would be much higher.

So if Starks used any magic during their conquest and reign of the North they almost certainly sacrificed many people just to gain enough power to conquer and to protect themselves. Besides those sacrifices could be used as a mean to remind their potential  enemies what would happen to them and their kin if they made something that king of Winter did not like.

Well, depends on what type of magic no?

BTW, the sorcerer who cut Varys did so in Myr, which is Essos, not Westeros.

Skinchanging is not a magical talent that requires blood sacrifice to acquire it. People are born it. Now, you may wonder how families happened to acquire that magical gift to begin with, but it seems more likely this was via other ways than grab a third person and kill them. I will explain why in a minute.

The same is true for green dreamers and greenseers. They're born with this talent, but it seems certain circumstances are necessary to tap into the talent: trauma and being near death (coma for Bran, high fever for Jojen). This indicates something close to self-sacrifice, rather than sacrifice of a third person.

I can hear some argue with: but what about Jojen Paste. Jojen Paste is a fandom theory/hypothesis. It is not confirmed. And to me and others it makes little sense. Why would a green dreamer's blood who is not a greenseer enable Bran to skinchange a weirwood basically? It makes far more sense that the paste is partially what it's claimed to be, but that the sap or blood is actually Bloodraven's, instead of Jojen's. Again that would fit the self-sacrifice to share component of green magic.

Personally, I think the people amongst the First Men who had innate psy-talents were selected and that the CotF greenseers shared their blood to enable these psy-talents to become greenseers. These First Men had children, some of which became green dreamers, others skinchangers, and only the rare one with enough talent to become a greenseer.

That such innate talents exist, we know also through Mel and Thoros. They just learned to use their talents via flame watching. But no blood sacrifice of a third person was necessary for them to be born with it. And had they grown up in the Neck, North or beyond the Wall, they would have been green dreamers, instead of fire scriers.

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20 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

It is certainly possible that back in ancient days people fit for sacrifice were judged by the old gods/greenseers themselves - who could point out guilty/evil people by means of their near omniscience. 

The thing is, plants cant talk.

Sure Jon was able to listen to the Hearttree, but that was while he was asleep/tripping. Definitely not a lucid moment, which one would expect from their jury and executioner.

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2 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

I dont see the correlation.

Ned repeats the wisdom that has been passed on for generations.

When Bran sees the old woman kill the man, Bran screams "no!". But Bran did not hear what exactly he was witnessing, as he was not the actual greenseer to whom the ritual was performed, nor did Bran see into the man's past. As far as Bran knows when he witnesses the act, an innocent man is killed. Bran could not bear to witness the dying man's throes. This directly harks back to the first execution that Bran ever witnessed and where Ned told him that. What Bran witnessed had an impact on him during his interactions with Theon. He did not need to look into Theon's past to know most of the heinous things Theon had done during his short reign at Winterfell: broke every promise to Bran, drowned Septon Chayle, and had killed men that Bran had known all his life. If he did check per tree all that Theon did, while Bran and Rickon were hiding in the crypts, he'd see even worse than that. And yet, Bran shows compassion to Theon and weeps for him. That very vision of the long ago past (be it sacrifice or execution), when the weirwood was still a mere sappling, sapped him from feelings of vengeance against the one man he has every right to feel vengeance towards.

2 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

Maesters arent the only ones who say that

Well, Ser Bartimus never uses the phrase "blood sacrifice" himself. Davos uses it, and Ser Bartimus answers southerners don't know much about northerners. Notice that Ser Bartimus phrases "as an offering to the gods" in a "it is said" framework. The question is thus "who says?", but it ain't Ser Bartimus.

 

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1 minute ago, Hugorfonics said:

The thing is, plants cant talk.

Sure Jon was able to listen to the Hearttree, but that was while he was asleep/tripping. Definitely not a lucid moment, which one would expect from their jury and executioner.

And yet Theon hears his name. And the tree strokes him. The face of the weirwood reminds Theon of Bran, as does the voice he hears. He also hears weeping.

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Ned repeats the wisdom that has been passed on for generations.

That the executioner and judge is also the jury, sure. But if the Heartree is the jury, then who cares who swings the sword?

And this whole, "if you cant condemn them then they shouldnt be killed" shtick was not taught to Bran but to Jon. And Eddard clearly doesnt follow their own rules in that regard

17 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Well, Ser Bartimus never uses the phrase "blood sacrifice" himself. Davos uses it, and Ser Bartimus answers southerners don't know much about northerners. Notice that Ser Bartimus phrases "as an offering to the gods" in a "it is said" framework. The question is thus "who says?", but it ain't Ser Bartimus.

Hanging entrails on a weirwood is a blood sacrifice to a tree. What else could it be, christmas decorations? 

Bartimus wasnt around during Ice Eyes, his ancestors were though. This story came from somewhere.

15 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

And yet Theon hears his name. And the tree strokes him. The face of the weirwood reminds Theon of Bran, as does the voice he hears. He also hears weeping.

True, but again, not very lucid

Edited by Hugorfonics

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40 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

I can hear some argue with: but what about Jojen Paste. Jojen Paste is a fandom theory/hypothesis. It is not confirmed. And to me and others it makes little sense. Why would a green dreamer's blood who is not a greenseer enable Bran to skinchange a weirwood basically? It makes far more sense that the paste is partially what it's claimed to be, but that the sap or blood is actually Bloodraven's, instead of Jojen's. Again that would fit the self-sacrifice to share component of green magic.

Exactly. To the bolded: Jojen paste makes no sense. But it’s like Martin isn’t dark enough for some, and many readers will always assume the darkest possible/most convoluted and complicated must be true. 

To the underlined: yup. None of that is required, Bloodraven clearly tells Bran that it’s Bran’s own blood that makes him a greenseer. Furthermore, Bran was already seeing through the heart tree before he ate the paste, so there’s that to consider as well. 

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We can expect that powerful greenseers can/could talk through the faces in the trees in a manner others understood - either telepathically or by actually moving the mouths of the trees. Bloodraven can't, but he might simply not be strong enough because very few people ever sacrificed people to him.

The fact that the trees receive(d) human sacrifices is not in question. Just remember the giant weirwood in Whitetree where burned human remains are found in the mouth of the weirwood. We do know that the wildlings don't usually bury their normal dead in this manner - they are burned, too, but not put into the mouths of the tree. Meaning that chances are pretty good that the fellows whose bones the NW find was sacrificed in front of the tree, the body burned thereafter, and the remains put into the mouth of the tree to further signify to the gods that this person's life now belonged to them.

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