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Heresy 232 Lady Dyanna's Rainbow

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Welcome to Heresy 232, the latest chapter in the long-running thread which takes a close and often quirky look at the Song of Ice and Fire - as written - and what might really be going on; with reasons.

For this particular iteration we kick off with a thought-provoking guest OP by Lady Dyanna:

While watching the sun set not long ago, it began to dawn on me that throughout the course of the day, the sky can be filled with numerous colors, all dependent on the angle with which the sun strikes the horizon (and some other stuff too I’m sure). The closer it is to the horizon the more rapid the progression of color. At both sunset and dawn it cycles rapidly as it transitions through all of the shades of the rainbow between white light and the absence of light. Coincidentally we also see another duality here, that in reality is a Trinity

1.Night 

2.Day 

3.The transition between the two.

This inspired me to take a bit of a closer look at the idea of the symbolism of the rainbow and how it might relate to our tale. 

 

ROYGBIV. It’s one of, if not the very first thing that we learn about rainbows as children.  It spells out for us each of the colors that are distinctively present. The only one of these that we do not see present in the sky on a routine basis is green. But it is present under certain conditions such as during a bad storm. But it’s these seven colors that when combined together form pure white light. Interesting to note here is that the sword Dawn is noted to be “alive with light.”  It’s led many to ask what color the light, believing it to have been intentionally omitted. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it all needs to be working together in harmony to create a pure white light? This seems to fit in well with the descriptions of misty predawn mornings that turn crisp and clear. (Another idea to get back to might be the idea of green being a color that needs special conditions to appear. Seems reminiscent of wildfire)

 

An additional potentially noteworthy coincidence is the number 7. There are 7 distinct colors within one rainbow, just as the Faith of the Seven has 7 faces of the same God. And low and behold one of the symbols of their faith is the crystal which refracts the light into its separate rainbow colors. Seems like it ties together well. Even more interesting, to me at least, is that the number associated with the Old Gods is 9. Coincidentally if you consider the two extremes of the scale, white light, and the complete absence of light you arrive at 9. This seems potentially significant. What do these extremes represent? What could the fact that they have been omitted from the Faith of the 7 yet are still present with the Gods of old signify? Also interesting to note is that there are two traditional chakra systems believed in by different cultures. One focuses on only 7, all of them contained within the human body. But there is also another 9 chakra system. In this style there are two additional higher level chakras included. One is believed to connect us to “source energy” or the universe. The other to other dimensions. Huh. That 9 in relation to the old gods starts to make a lot more sense with that one.

 

Moving on to look at the symbology of rainbows in general, many times Rainbows are used to indicate a passage from one realm into another. A perfect example of this is the Bifrost Bridge of Norse mythology. We also see this when our pets die and we say that they have “crossed the rainbow bridge.”  If we look at the idea of the Wall being a symbolic rainbow, it lines up with the idea that Melisandre floats as it being one of the hinges of the world. The black gate in particular. Is it a portal to the “underworld.”  It seems so as Bran is baptized with his saltwater tear. “What is dead may never die.” Sounds a bit ominous for Bran and his companions. 

 

I believe that there’s much more to explore within the motif of colors and rainbows in general, but think this might be a good jumping off point for now, as there are almost too MANY directions this discussion seems to lead. I’ve had difficulty narrowing it down and it’s still pretty broad. I’m hopeful that if we can put aside our own individual head canons for a moment, that there are many good insights to be found in tasting the rainbow. 

 



 
 
 
 
Edited by Black Crow

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It's an interesting question.  My definition of white is that it is the sum total of all light waves and black is the absence of all light.  I have to think about refracted light and look at the text.  Two colors we don't perceive are infra red and ultra violet.

Edited by LynnS

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Some unconnected thoughts:

- Dawn being alive with light and having been forged from a fallen star hints at it being some kind of crystal.

- UV light used to be called 'black light' when I was young and discoteques were still open for dancing - in the last milennium :P

- White Light, White Heat

 

 

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The thing about swords is that they aren't always literal "swords", which is how I view the three swords forged by Azor Ahai. IMO that's a very symbolic story that shouldn't be taken literally. But I digress, what I wanted to turn attention to is the literal sword, Dawn. We know its a literal sword, because House Dayne has possession of it and was last wielded by Ser Arthur. Dawn is a rainbow sword, a milky-white crystal alive with light forged from the heart of a fallen star. The Daynes assert that the person that wields it should be found worthy, because the bearer is (usually) undefeatable, with Ned Stark being the only man that was able to kill a Sword of the Morning. Jaime claimed that Arthur could have slain five men with his left hand holding Dawn while taking a piss with his right.

Jon notes an actual star hanging in the southern sky named the Sword of the Morning and describes it:

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Jon IV

Ghost was gone when the wildings led their horses from the cave. Did he understand about Castle Black? Jon took a breath of the crisp morning air and allowed himself to hope. The eastern sky was pink near the horizon and pale grey higher up. The Sword of the Morning still hung in the south, the bright white star in its hilt blazing like a diamond in the dawn, but the blacks and greys of the darkling forest were turning once again to greens and golds, reds and russets. And above the soldier pines and oaks and ash and sentinels stood the Wall, the ice pale and glimmering beneath the dust and dirt that pocked its surface.

The sword Ice on the other hand was broader than a man's hand and taller than Robb Stark. A Valyrian steel blade, it was spell-forged and dark as smoke. If you have to be worthy to wield Dawn, what does that say about Ned's ability to kill Arthur? I realize that he attributes his success to Howland, but it also suggests that perhaps Arthur was no longer worthy to wield it.

Edited by Melifeather

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1 hour ago, Melifeather said:

The thing about swords is that they aren't always literal "swords", which is how I view the three swords forged by Azor Ahai. IMO that's a very symbolic story that shouldn't be taken literally. But I digress, what I wanted to turn attention to is the literal sword, Dawn. We know its a literal sword, because House Dayne has possession of it and was last wielded by Ser Arthur. Dawn is a rainbow sword, a milky-white crystal alive with light forged from the heart of a fallen star. The Daynes assert that the person that wields it should be found worthy, because the bearer is (usually) undefeatable, with Ned Stark being the only man that was able to kill a Sword of the Morning. Jaime claimed that Arthur could have slain five men with his left hand holding Dawn while taking a piss with his right.

Jon notes an actual star hanging in the southern sky named the Sword of the Morning and describes it:

The sword Ice on the other hand was broader than a man's hand and taller than Robb Stark. A Valyrian steel blade, it was spell-forged and dark as smoke. If you have to be worthy to wield Dawn, what does that say about Ned's ability to kill Arthur? I realize that he attributes his success to Howland, but it also suggests that perhaps Arthur was no longer worthy to wield it.

Maybe Howland did something to Dawn that made it a normal sword? Then both 'Ned killed Arthur Dayne in single combat' and 'I would have died without Howland' (both paraphrased) would be true.

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5 hours ago, alienarea said:

Maybe Howland did something to Dawn that made it a normal sword? Then both 'Ned killed Arthur Dayne in single combat' and 'I would have died without Howland' (both paraphrased) would be true.

I don't think we should take seriously the "Ned killed Arthur Dayne in single combat" data point.
Its whispered by Ned's young soldiers at Winterfell. But none of them were present and Ned doesn't talk about it - I very much doubt they's talked to HR about the fight either. I think its clear that they are literally making up (gossip) this idea due to only Ned and Howland surviving the fight and Ned then returning Dawn to Starfall.

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11 hours ago, corbon said:

I don't think we should take seriously the "Ned killed Arthur Dayne in single combat" data point.
Its whispered by Ned's young soldiers at Winterfell. But none of them were present and Ned doesn't talk about it - I very much doubt they's talked to HR about the fight either. I think its clear that they are literally making up (gossip) this idea due to only Ned and Howland surviving the fight and Ned then returning Dawn to Starfall.

I'd certainly go with that and indeed still cleave to the suspicion that HR may have been a dirty rotten coward who shot poor Jesse  Arthur in the back :devil:.

Which is rather to get away from the point. The sword Ice is a bit of a red herring in that the one split by Tobho Mott was a spell-forged Valyrian blade - NOT the original and if there's any significance attaching, it attaches to the original and there we come back to ice and its ability to reflect the full colour spectrum of the rainbow.

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18 hours ago, alienarea said:

Maybe Howland did something to Dawn that made it a normal sword? Then both 'Ned killed Arthur Dayne in single combat' and 'I would have died without Howland' (both paraphrased) would be true.

Something happened, Howland intervened in some way to save Ned's life.  This is something that Ned tells us from his private thoughts, so I don't think it can be easily discarded, 

The business of the sword being alive with light.. this is something out of Ned's dream and yet nobody else has described the dawn sword as alive with light.  It's always the white sword.   So is this something that Ned only saw in a dream or did the sword appear this way in reality during Ned's fight with Arthur?  This could have triggered Howland to take action.  However, I think there were other reasons for HR to do so; not the least of which is that Bran is Ned's offspring.  The cotf have been waiting for him a long time.

2 hours ago, Black Crow said:

NOT the original and if there's any significance attaching, it attaches to the original and there we come back to ice and its ability to reflect the full colour spectrum of the rainbow.

Yes, I still think this is a possibility.  Although I've entertained the idea that the Wall is the sword ICE given that Benjen describes it as a sword with  serpent's tail and that the Horned Lord describes magic as a sword without a hilt; there is no safe way to grasp it.  Mel is encouraging Jon to do just that; to use the power of the Wall.  Jon describes the Wall as alive with light:

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Jon III

By the time Jon left the armory, it was almost midday. The sun had broken through the clouds. He turned his back on it and lifted his eyes to the Wall, blazing blue and crystalline in the sunlight. Even after all these weeks, the sight of it still gave him the shivers. Centuries of windblown dirt had pocked and scoured it, covering it like a film, and it often seemed a pale grey, the color of an overcast sky … but when the sun caught it fair on a bright day, it shone, alive with light, a colossal blue-white cliff that filled up half the sky.

   '      

Edited by LynnS

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20 hours ago, Melifeather said:

The sword Ice on the other hand was broader than a man's hand and taller than Robb Stark. A Valyrian steel blade, it was spell-forged and dark as smoke. If you have to be worthy to wield Dawn, what does that say about Ned's ability to kill Arthur? I realize that he attributes his success to Howland, but it also suggests that perhaps Arthur was no longer worthy to wield it.

Or the sword had a taste of Ned's blood and became alive with light.

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23 hours ago, alienarea said:

Some unconnected thoughts:

- Dawn being alive with light and having been forged from a fallen star hints at it being some kind of crystal.

- UV light used to be called 'black light' when I was young and discoteques were still open for dancing - in the last milennium :P

- White Light, White Heat

Just looking at some youtube videos on UV vision.  When looking at objects with UV everything does look more black and white to me. In some cases, UV exposes what is hidden.  And I'm curious about Mel's comment about weaving light or bending it, since light exists as different wave lengths.  Light is bendy. UV light absorbs white light and reflects it back as black light to use your term.  As it turns out rubies that are heated emit UV glow.  |I have always wondered about the role rubies play in Mel's magic especially when it comes to weaving light to create glamors. 

The other end of spectrum has infrared light where heat signatures can be detected in the absence of light which has implications for ice wights who hate everything with hot blood.  In one experiment, a small bag of warm water looked like a white light under IF vision, while the surroundings were pitch black.

I'm not sure that GRRM has given this any thought, but on the other hand, this may not be coincidental.  The refracted colors of the rainbow only reflect what our eyes can see, but the full spectrum includes IR and UV.  And it seems to me that he may be making some use of those wavelengths in his use of fire and ice wights. 

This adds two extra wavelengths to Lady Diana's contentions about the numbers 7 and 9; the unseen light reserved for the old gods.

Edited by LynnS

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4 hours ago, Black Crow said:

I'd certainly go with that and indeed still cleave to the suspicion that HR may have been a dirty rotten coward who shot poor Jesse  Arthur in the back :devil:.

Which is rather to get away from the point. The sword Ice is a bit of a red herring in that the one split by Tobho Mott was a spell-forged Valyrian blade - NOT the original and if there's any significance attaching, it attaches to the original and there we come back to ice and its ability to reflect the full colour spectrum of the rainbow.

Traditionally swords are named for what they do and not necessarily for who the wielder is. For instance Joffrey named his sword Widow's Wail. Apparently he hopes his sword makes lots of widows. Jaime named the sword (half of Ice) that he gave Brienne Oathkeeper. What I'm getting at is Ice wasn't named "Ice", because it had ice properties or that the original was made of ice, but rather for what it can kill. If ice and rainbows are symbolic of magic then the sword Ice can kill magic.

2 hours ago, LynnS said:

Something happened, Howland intervened in some way to save Ned's life.  This is something that Ned tells us from his private thoughts, so I don't think it can be easily discarded, 

Personally, I think Howland got into Arthur's head like Bran into Hodor and caused momentary confusion. Hodor was very scared every time Bran did it. Can you imagine what something like that would do to Arthur? And if Ned was able to kill Arthur while Howland was skinchanging him, then Howland would have felt the killing blow.

2 hours ago, LynnS said:

The business of the sword being alive with light.. this is something out of Ned's dream and yet nobody else has described the dawn sword as alive with light.  It's always the white sword.   So is this something that Ned only saw in a dream or did the sword appear this way in reality during Ned's fight with Arthur?  This could have triggered Howland to take action.  However, I think there were other reasons for HR to do so; not the least of which is that Bran is Ned's offspring.  The cotf have been waiting for him a long time.

Well I guess this speaks to the topic at hand. What is the rainbow symbolism in the story? It's easy to dismiss Renly's rainbow guard as a symbol of gay pride, but perhaps that's not how Renly actually saw it? They could have been his idea of a recreation of Dawn, as if he was trying to conjure a magical protection some how? Dawn is a magical sword. It's supposed to render the Sword of the Morning undefeatable. The Wall is supposed to prevent magical beings from crossing and its said it defends itself, so it seems to me that rainbows are intended to symbolize magic. But I feel like along with that are lightning bolts. Lighting bolts are flashes of brilliant blazing light and come in every color of the rainbow

 

Edited by Melifeather

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On 9/3/2020 at 7:11 AM, LynnS said:

It's an interesting question.  My definition of white is that it is the sum total of all light waves and black is the absence of all light.  I have to think about refracted light and look at the text.  Two colors we don't perceive are infra red and ultra violet.

Martin clearly uses the Seven's crystal to show this.

But also the Wall and Dawn--the Wall can act like a Septon's crystal (according to Jon) in how it refracts light.

So, to @Lady Dyanna's point (hey, old friend!)--yes, the rainbows seem focused on the crystal in the novels--but they also get tied to the Wall by Jon--makes me think  the Faith is drawing on old truths in nature/magic. Whereas the Wall is just . . . engaging in nature like a natural/supernatural force.

On 9/3/2020 at 7:37 AM, alienarea said:

Some unconnected thoughts:

- Dawn being alive with light and having been forged from a fallen star hints at it being some kind of crystal.

Yes--and it's the exact same description given to the sword so the Others in the the Game Prologue.

So, whatever crystal/ substance the Others' swords are made from, likely Dawn is, too.

That said, the other milkglass, glowing with light thingy we have in the novels? The Black Gate--so, my money for the swords is some kind of transformed weirwood--though many have posited that before me.

It may even be tied to why is refracts light--the swords (and Gate) are sill living things, like weirwood (and the Gate).

5 hours ago, LynnS said:

Or the sword had a taste of Ned's blood and became alive with light.

Maybe--though the Others' swords in the Game prologue are alive with light before they start stabbing anyone.

And Ned says Dawn's alive with light right after Arthur draws Dawn--before the fight.

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19 hours ago, corbon said:

I don't think we should take seriously the "Ned killed Arthur Dayne in single combat" data point.
Its whispered by Ned's young soldiers at Winterfell. But none of them were present and Ned doesn't talk about it - I very much doubt they's talked to HR about the fight either. I think its clear that they are literally making up (gossip) this idea due to only Ned and Howland surviving the fight and Ned then returning Dawn to Starfall.

 

7 hours ago, Black Crow said:

I'd certainly go with that and indeed still cleave to the suspicion that HR may have been a dirty rotten coward who shot poor Jesse  Arthur in the back :devil:.

Agreed--though I do think there's a whoppingly good chance that when it came to it, after whatever Howland did, it was Ned that delivered the final blow. And that he did it with Dawn.

Especially after the fact that Ned, too, is killed with his own sword--really feels like a narrative marker, prepping the reader for info.

7 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Which is rather to get away from the point. The sword Ice is a bit of a red herring in that the one split by Tobho Mott was a spell-forged Valyrian blade - NOT the original and if there's any significance attaching, it attaches to the original and there we come back to ice and its ability to reflect the full colour spectrum of the rainbow.

Agreed--though I'd go further and say that I agree with others before me that Ice is the "stand-in" for Dawn.

Dawn, like the Wall, like milkglass reflects and glows with light. Valyrian steel drinks light it. The opposite of "rainbowing" with light (yes, I'm pretending that's a word.)

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On 9/3/2020 at 9:11 AM, LynnS said:

It's an interesting question.  My definition of white is that it is the sum total of all light waves and black is the absence of all light.  I have to think about refracted light and look at the text.  Two colors we don't perceive are infra red and ultra violet.

I’m torn on this idea as infrared and ultraviolet are not visible to the eye, are they actually “colors?” But I’m not entirely sure that it matters. It feels to me as if that might just be over complicating the extremes of the spectrum. That said, to a certain extent it does help to drive home the differences between either end of the spectrum. Hot v. Cold. Light v. Dark. Absorbing/consuming  v. Reflecting. 

To contradict myself even further, I enjoy the idea that there is invisibility at either end of the spectrum. It seems exceptionally symbolic as the true nature of both extremes of ice and fire has yet to be revealed. It also seems relevant in the idea of 7 v. 9 as it feels to me as if the seven is more a reflection of human life, just as the 7 gods are reflective of the aspects of humanity. But with the old gods the path of the soul is accounted for as well. 

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On 9/3/2020 at 9:37 AM, alienarea said:

Some unconnected thoughts:

- Dawn being alive with light and having been forged from a fallen star hints at it being some kind of crystal.

Maybe. To me the symbolism speaks more towards an opalescence like of an opal or mother of pearl. Or maybe the iridescence of a seashell.  I picture a reflective milky appearance to the sword itself. 

On 9/3/2020 at 9:37 AM, alienarea said:

- UV light used to be called 'black light' when I was young and discoteques were still open for dancing - in the last milennium :P

Pretty sure they still exist. :P

I think this is a great observation. Seems to tie into the idea of ice being reflective to me. Plus black light always seems to make color brighter and yet colder somehow In its reflection. 

On 9/3/2020 at 9:37 AM, alienarea said:

- White Light, White Heat

Yup

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On 9/3/2020 at 10:39 AM, Melifeather said:

The thing about swords is that they aren't always literal "swords", which is how I view the three swords forged by Azor Ahai. IMO that's a very symbolic story that shouldn't be taken literally.

I sometimes wonder if we aren’t too quick in assigning symbolic and celestial meaning to the  in world mythologies and getting it backwards. Throughout time people have sought to explain the unexplainable through looking at the stars. But just because the framework for the explanation is as a celestial event it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s describing a celestial event. It seems more likely that the heavens are actually used purely as symbolic descriptions of human centric events. It’s the PEOPLE that are being represented by the tales of celestial events as compared with the tales being about anthropomorphised heavenly bodies. 

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On 9/3/2020 at 12:23 PM, alienarea said:

Maybe Howland did something to Dawn that made it a normal sword? Then both 'Ned killed Arthur Dayne in single combat' and 'I would have died without Howland' (both paraphrased) would be true.

On 9/3/2020 at 5:41 PM, corbon said:

I don't think we should take seriously the "Ned killed Arthur Dayne in single combat" data point.
Its whispered by Ned's young soldiers at Winterfell. But none of them were present and Ned doesn't talk about it - I very much doubt they's talked to HR about the fight either. I think its clear that they are literally making up (gossip) this idea due to only Ned and Howland surviving the fight and Ned then returning Dawn to Starfall.

Though I suspect  that there is much more to the entire story of the battle at the toj than meets the eye, to me it feel like, as readers, we have made entirely too big a deal of one random sentence. In all reality I’m not sure that there is any proof of what this line means or if it in fact means anything. There aren’t really any hints to “how” exactly he had saved Ned. That said, it DOES seem likely that there will be some sort of supernatural twist to it if we ever do get the full story. 

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