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Faith of the Seven political activity facts and theories thread (drafts dump; new p1 tbd)


SaffronLady
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34 minutes ago, Gilbert Green said:

You mentioned the premise.  If we both oppose the premise, then I am happy to be in happy agreement.

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Leaving aside the admittedly attractive and easy response that "GRRM is writing a medieval fantasy, of course there would be an evil church," I believe GRRM wouldn't pile so many pages onto a caricature and an overused trope.

I am sad. Considerably so, since my opposition is literally in the same sentence.

I still can't think of positives to the Fot7 being on the side of Ice though, despite its origin myth indicating it is, except some generic Moorcock-ish "balance is good". 

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3 hours ago, SaffronLady said:

I am sad. Considerably so, since my opposition is literally in the same sentence.

So you reject my offer of happy agreement.  What can I do?  I guess we don't agree after all.

I return to my original interpretation.  Which is that your only dissatisfaction with "the Faith is evil" is that you don't want it to be that simple.  You want the Faith to be monolithically evil, and in league with the Others or something.  You want their obvious evil to be, not just an overused trope, but a clue to future revelations.

Have fun with your theory.  My guess is you are barking up the wrong tree, but who knows?  Neither of us can read GRRM's mind.  If you can reduce your theory to a simple verifiable/falsifiable proposition, maybe we can make a friendly bet re. future volumes.

Edited by Gilbert Green
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44 minutes ago, Gilbert Green said:

So you reject my offer of happy agreement.  What can I do?  I guess we don't agree after all.

I return to my original interpretation.  Which is that your only dissatisfaction with "the Faith is evil" is that you don't want it to be that simple.  You want the Faith to be monolithically evil, and in league with the Others or something.  You want their obvious evil to be, not just an overused trope, but a clue to future revelations.

Have fun with your theory.  My guess is you are barking up the wrong tree, but who knows?  Neither of us can read GRRM's mind.  If you can reduce your theory to a simple verifiable/falsifiable proposition, maybe we can make a friendly bet re. future volumes.

Gilbert, let me try to put this in a polite way.

Have you actually read the whole paragraph I quoted, and got a hang of what I agree with and oppose? I just want to make sure this isn't Aerys all over again, because that would be massively annoying, and in my efforts to get across I got myself a permanent warning because I was too angry or something.

I also distinctly remember not saying the Faith is evil because they are in league with the Others.

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3 hours ago, SaffronLady said:

Gilbert, let me try to put this in a polite way.

Have you actually read the whole paragraph I quoted, and got a hang of what I agree with and oppose? I just want to make sure this isn't Aerys all over again, because that would be massively annoying, and in my efforts to get across I got myself a permanent warning because I was too angry or something.

I also distinctly remember not saying the Faith is evil because they are in league with the Others.

I have this particular poster on ignore, which can be a helpful strategy for avoiding such conflicts.

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6 hours ago, SaffronLady said:

Gilbert, let me try to put this in a polite way.

We're past that.  I offered you happy agreement, and you continue to spit piss and vinegar at me.  Nothing I can do.

6 hours ago, SaffronLady said:

Have you actually read the whole paragraph I quoted, and got a hang of what I agree with and oppose?

I think there is more than one way to read it.  I tried to accept your clarification.  But you were still unhappy.  Nothing I can do.

You now claim to have said and meant that the faith was not evil.  But somehow its okay when you say it but not when I say it?  Makes no sense.  If you really agree, then it should be also okay when I say it.  If you mentioned the premise only to disagree with it, then why cannot I do the same?

6 hours ago, SaffronLady said:

I also distinctly remember not saying the Faith is evil because they are in league with the Others.

There was definitely some line about a hardliner faction of the Faith awaiting the return of the Others like the second coming of Jesus.  But who knows.  Maybe you're one of those who think the Others are not evil, only misunderstood.

But I'm happy to accept your clarifications there too.  All I am saying is I don't think the Faith is evil, or in league with the Others.  If you agree with me you agree with me.  That's great.  I am always happy to agree. 

Edited by Gilbert Green
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The sub-section I thought was unnecessary but may as well write

Look, personally, I keep the entire arrangement of magical alignments and moral judgements separate. Just because I say "The origin myth of the Fot7 clearly links them to a Night's King (13th LCNW) analogue", does not mean I say "the Faith of the 7 is evil, like the Others". I know I am making a leap of faith when I say the Fot7 is an inheritor organization of the 13th LCNW's original believers - HOWEVER, that is still not a moral judgement.

What was that other stock phrase again, "Ice preserves but Fire consumes"? Despite their antagonistic appearance in the Prologue, it is clear GRRM wants to add dimensions to the Ice faction. In fact, all the chivalry and law of the gods business that is the province of the Fot7 makes adding such elements straightfoward, if that is GRRM's plan.

I do also want to point out, due to the Church of Starry Wisdom's mutual connexions with Dany and Euron Crow's Eye, the closest thing current ASOIAF storylines have to a cosmic evil - Euron - is actually loosely on the Fire faction. He wants to crown himself a new god on the corpses of the old, but we have nothing obvious enough to work with further than dreams and proclamations. So, Euron goes with Fire atm.

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12 minutes ago, SaffronLady said:

 

I do also want to point out, due to the Church of Starry Wisdom's mutual connexions with Dany and Euron Crow's Eye, the closest thing current ASOIAF storylines have to a cosmic evil - Euron - is actually loosely on the Fire faction. He wants to crown himself a new god on the corpses of the old, but we have nothing obvious enough to work with further than dreams and proclamations. So, Euron goes with Fire atm.

Euron is a very hard character to understand. He has been in very few chapters, he is eratic and he doesn't let anyone in on his real thoughts.

Still, he has made references to flyinging that come extremely close to Bran being tempted North by the promise he would fly. So Euron has always given off a sinister counterpart to Bran vibe to me. 

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23 minutes ago, Hippocras said:

So Euron has always given off a sinister counterpart to Bran vibe to me. 

An interesting impression. However, I don't do Euron theories, though at the moment he has a (minimal) part in my considerations. It is rather difficult to ignore the fact he plans to attack Oldtown, the heart of the Fo7 for thousands of years, after all.

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13 hours ago, Gilbert Green said:

I offered you happy agreement, and you continue to spit piss and vinegar at me.

Come to think of it, I ... actually didn't. Since apparently me reacting to abusive behavior counts as abusive behavior by Ran's reckoning, I have been exceedingly polite, even though you aren't.

13 hours ago, Gilbert Green said:

You now claim to have said and meant that the faith was not evil.  But somehow its okay when you say it but not when I say it?  Makes no sense.  If you really agree, then it should be also okay when I say it.  If you mentioned the premise only to disagree with it, then why cannot I do the same?

Well, at least this helps me understand you didn't understand what I was saying. Either my English is just that bad or your brain is wired differently.

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18 hours ago, SaffronLady said:

An interesting impression. However, I don't do Euron theories, though at the moment he has a (minimal) part in my considerations. It is rather difficult to ignore the fact he plans to attack Oldtown, the heart of the Fo7 for thousands of years, after all.

Yes, didn't mean to digress . I am enjoying your speculation on the faith without having much to say about it.

I just thought that given he specifically said, how do we know if we can fly if we never try, and given his hidden eye, I feel like he is not on the side of fire at all. A lot of things about him lean the other way it seems.

Including the fact that he is bringing the Qartheen warlocks back into the story and drinks shade of the evening. It is a different kind of tree, but has very apparent parallels to weirwood magic. It seems that warlocks too preserve a distorted form of life long after its best before date, and that they play with time and perceptions of it. Warlocks make me think we should be looking at all those part-black part-white elements more carefully, such as the doors of the House of Black and White, and of Tobho Mott's atelier. 

So maybe there is somehow a black and while element involved with both Ice and Fire, and so there are oppositions within this overarching opposition. Maybe some parts of "Fire" are fighting other parts, while some parts of "Ice" are also fighting other parts, making this a very multi-faceted struggle.

Edited by Hippocras
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1 hour ago, Hippocras said:

So maybe there is somehow a black and while element involved with both Ice and Fire, and so there are oppositions within this overarching opposition. Maybe some parts of "Fire" are fighting other parts, while some parts of "Ice" are also fighting other parts, making this a very multi-faceted struggle.

While I agree and entertain this notion, I could barely grasp the intra-faction struggles. There are so many kinds of magic users in ASOIAF, after all, it is difficult to sort them neatly. And perhaps, maybe some of them just cannot be sorted out cleanly in the end. Like water magic - simultaneously linking Ice and Fire and posing a huge classification problem if the only categories are Ice and Fire.

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22 hours ago, Alester Florent said:

I mean I would have hoped the joke was obvious even without the reference. But if Spinal Tap is considered obscure now, that makes me doubly sad.

I've never seen "This is Spinal Tap", though I've heard of it since decades past.  But I enjoyed the clip.  So thanks.

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6 hours ago, SaffronLady said:

While I agree and entertain this notion, I could barely grasp the intra-faction struggles. There are so many kinds of magic users in ASOIAF, after all, it is difficult to sort them neatly. And perhaps, maybe some of them just cannot be sorted out cleanly in the end. Like water magic - simultaneously linking Ice and Fire and posing a huge classification problem if the only categories are Ice and Fire.

It is probably one of those situations where every faction, be it Fot7, weirnet, R'hllor, etc. is just as full of both good and evil as humanity itself. The big struggle may seem to be fire vs. Ice but in the end each side needs to deal with its own negatives.

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19 hours ago, SaffronLady said:

Come to think of it, I ... actually didn't. Since apparently me reacting to abusive behavior counts as abusive behavior by Ran's reckoning, I have been exceedingly polite, even though you aren't.

Well, at least this helps me understand you didn't understand what I was saying. Either my English is just that bad or your brain is wired differently.

I'm not sure what this is about.  I certainly did not report you for abuse.  And my offer of happy agreement remains open.

I only disagreed with a particular premise, and not with you as a person.  Whether or not I mistakenly thought you subscribed to the premise seems rather beside the point.  And whose blame it is, whether bad English, or differently wired brains, also seems beside the point.  I was happy to accept your clarification.

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I think it's weid to suggest that the faith is united in the story when we literally have the opposite in the main series- the High Septon gets violently deposed in what basically amounts to a coup. So even though they are not the focus of the story, we do get hints of religious disagreements in the margins- it's the same with the Red Priests, who seem pretty united (there don't seem to be different churches of R'hollor, at least), but despite this Mel goes pretty much rogue when she seeks out Stannis. And the whole stability thing is a general problem- if one wants to treat it as such-  in the story. All the great houses are ridiculously old, for example, the faith being "the faith" is no less believable than there being a Stark in Winterfall since the Dawn Age. 

I think the similarity to the catholic church is only superficial. While all the talk about heaven and hell does remind us of christianity, it seems in-universe to be much more connected to believes like those in the drowned god/storm god or R'hollor/the great other- it's probably an offshoot of the Church of Starry Wisdom, after all, and as much an offshoot of the Dawn Age as pretty much every other religion. 

As such I'm also not sure if the faith is connected to Ice Magic, per se. It seems to follow the same dualistic worldview as the R'hollorists and Drowned Priests. Now, as they are probably an offshoot of the CoSW that seems to worship the Bloodstone Emperor it may be the case that they are on the opposing site of the conflict, but they may also not be- there are theories that legends of Azor Ahai and the Bloodstone Emperor are alluding to the same person, after all. It's very questionable that Ice and Fire even represent opposing factions in the grand scheme of things. 

What really sets the faith apart to me doesn't seem to be the alignment on the ice to fire chart, but the outwardly opposition to magic. It's probably not a coincidence that they are close to the Citadel, which seems to be opposed to magic as well. But what does it mean? Or does the Faith also have some Glass Candles stored away somewhere? There is a at least one prophecy attributed to a High Septon, after all, when Oldtown submitted to Aegon, so maybe there are some magical roots there still to be explored. But there's probably a reason why Oldtown seems to be so opposed to it while pretty much every other faith is so deeply connected to it. If you subscribe to the theory the faith is related to the CoSW (I do) it's even weirder, since that faith seems to be deeply connected to magic, at least in origin. 

What's also weird are a few things about the backstory, like when exactly did the Andals leave for Westeros, where exactly did they come from, how are the CoSW and the FotS related. 

On 11/22/2023 at 6:25 AM, SaffronLady said:

... And Theories

Anyone with a basic understanding of religious history's first question about the Faith should be "why is it so stable?" Leaving aside the admittedly attractive and easy response that "GRRM is writing a medieval fantasy, of course there would be an evil church," I believe GRRM wouldn't pile so many pages onto a caricature and an overused trope. The Fot7 has its own part to play in the Song of Ice and Fire, and unlike the obvious "balance & cooperation" theme of the Rhoynar (thank you, water magic, being melted ice and a very obvious link between ice and fire), this part may be as difficult to parse out properly like House Stark in general.

As Lenin concisely stated,"the goal of" the Fot7 "is to ensure its own survival", but we aren't looking at that in particular. People tend to get themselves into other things once the belly is no longer growling, such as reading a book. So, what "book does the Faith read", what further goals does the Faith attempt to accomplish when its survival is secure? We must try to decipher their origin myth for clues. From the myth of Hugor of the Hill we could extract certain elements: falling stars, blue-eyed maiden, king and sons. Of course, these elements alone aren't enough to build a theory off of, but let us look a little further into the Faith's practices.

Not only do members of the Faith liken lives to flame, they also remove bowels and organs and drain corpses of blood. The Faith - the silent sisters, specifically - reduces corpses to empty husks. As an add-on, the Seven-Pointed Star mentions wights too, specifically "It is stated in The Seven-Pointed Star that spirits, wights, and revenants cannot harm a pious man, so long as he is armored in his faith".

We could derive a theory based on these, and it is connected to some collective memory of the Others and wights. We need to comb through the elements of this collective memory though:

The 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch's actions (corpse queen stunt, among others) had repercussions so serious even the Andals remember him. Yet for some reason, instead of remembering him as a villain, the Andals revere him, and called him ancestor. I think GRRM intends for us to make this connection by letting Tyrion visit the Wall then travel to Essos, taking up the pseudonym of ... Hugor Hill. 

Folks who have done theory-crafting often enough probably would have noticed I have not explained the "falling stars" part. To me it could be one of two things:

1. A mangled Andal collective memory of the fall of the "bloodstones", which caused the Long Night;

2. That the 13th LC was trying to "call down the stars" again, and it was included in the warnings sent out to other peoples by Starks & co.

I don't have enough facts to disprove either (I don't even have enough facts to tell if the Andals knew these were different events), so I'll leave both here for folks.

GRRM clearly wants us to connect the Fot7 to the Long Night too, to the "king crowned by stars called down" - the Bloodstone Emperor, instigator of the Long Night, by making a parallel character in Hugor of the Hill. But of course there is more than that to unpack. The sons, or more importantly, we are given a specific number (44) of Hugor's sons. Now, numbers in mythology ... aren't an exact thing. For the most well-known example, archaeology does not support the notion of 12 tribes of Israel, but that has not stopped "the ten lost tribes" becoming so popular with latter-day myth-makers. But Mormon reworking of Jewish numeral symbology is beyond the scope of this thread. The point is, by mentioning specifc numbers in a religious text, it becomes a symbol. Exhibit A: John who wrote Apocalypse (or Revelations, depending on the version of your Bible). He mentions in Apoc 7 and Apoc 14 "one hundred and forty-four thousand" men inscribed with the name of god on their foreheads, which equals 12 times 12 times 1000, or twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes.

I will wrap up the actual theory of the Fot7's ultimate goal and what it tries to do after the age of myths in a later post.

Just concerning the fire/ice-alignment: 

 

- There is a theory that the Night's King was a Stark himself. So I don't really see how you can put the Starks and the Faith as opposing forces with such certainty. 

- Hugor of the Hill seems to be connected to an Azor/Ahai figure (seems etymologically connected to Hyrkoon the Hero and Huzr Amai, after all), which lends credence to the theory that the prophecised hero may not be so different from the villain. 

- The faith likening lives to flame and draining corpses of blood could just as easily be related to fire magic. R'hollorists liken lives to flames, after all. The same can go for the draining- we know that fire and blood magic seem connected (or rather, that blood magic seems to be used all over where magical rituals are concerned), so that custom might be related to magic use as well. Or, perhaps more interestingly, it's done to avoid using a corpse for magical rituals, which would mean the Faith has been opposed to magic, specifically blood magic, for a very long time indeed. 

The point about wights would apply to all kinds of magic- there are fire wights, after all, and drowned people that seem to have been resurrected as well. 

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1 hour ago, John Doe said:

As such I'm also not sure if the faith is connected to Ice Magic, per se. It seems to follow the same dualistic worldview as the R'hollorists and Drowned Priests.

GRRM has said that the Old Gods are loosely based on animist/pagan/druidic religion; that the Faith of the Seven is based on Monotheistic religion such as medieval Roman Catholicism; and that Rh'llorism is based on Dualistic religions such as Cathars/Zoroastrians.

The Drowned Priests do not appear to be Dualists.  Certainly Aeron Damphair does not seem to believe that the Storm God and the Drowned God are equals.  He appears to have faith that the Drowned God is the more powerful.

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1 hour ago, John Doe said:

its probably an offshoot of the Church of Starry Wisdom, after all, and as much an offshoot of the Dawn Age as pretty much every other religion.

The Church of Starry Wisdom is borrowed from HP Lovecraft, in which the ancient Cult of Starry Wisdom purchases a Christian church in Providence, RI, and uses it as a cover for its cult activities.  All the local Christian churches preach against it. The cult seemingly has origins in Ancient Egypt.   They worship Nyarlathotep.  The story ends with Nyarlathotop, in a particularly gnarly monster form, getting banished by a lightning bolt from heaven, seemingly in response to prayers from Catholic immigrants.

The implication seems to be that GRRM's Church of Starry Wisdom, also previously known as the Cult of Starry Wisdom, and also associated with an ancient pre-Andal empire, and also associated with a curious stone, has a similar history.

1 hour ago, John Doe said:

Now, as they are probably an offshoot of the CoSW that seems to worship the Bloodstone Emperor ...

If HPL's story is any indication, the CoSW don't worship the Bloodstone Emperor.  They revere the Bloodstone and the demon that emerges from it.  As, I suppose, did the Bloodstone Emperor.

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Stance on Human Sacrifice:

Old Gods:  Pro?

Rh'llor:  Pro.

Drowned God:  ??

Storm God:  Pro?

Starry Wisdom Cult:  Pro

Black Goat:  Pro

Faith of the Seven:  Con.  Hence the septons stop Sistermen from throwing dwarfs into the sea; Davos stands between Davos and Mel; and (as in the Christian legend of Saint George) the True Knight stands between the maiden and the monster.

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