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LampreyPie

What would be your ASOIAF Religion/General ASOIAF religion discussion/theories

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I'm a real-life atheist, but given that magic and such really does exist in the ASOIAF world, I'd be a believer of some sort.

My feelings on ASOIAF religion is as follows:

1) As of the end of Storm of Swords, we've seen no evidence of the Seven being anything close to real, or of that religion containing any sort of truth. Am I wrong? I feel the narrative value of this religion might just be symbolism, but I haven't yet tried to work out what the Seven or other parts of the religion might symbolize. Or maybe it's just a religion held by some characters that happens not be to real.

2) There are fans who think that the Old Gods are very real and that they are not really "gods" but the spirits of the Children of the Forest. I don't know enough about that theory to say whether that's true, but I think this religion has something very real to it, at least.

I think certain people (Starks, Reeds?) can communicate through heart trees once they're passed over or maybe even before, and that Ned Stark has communicated this way to at least one of his children (I can't for the life of me find it in the book, but I think either Sansa or Arya hears her father's voice telling her to be brave. Total brain fart here, can't even remember which sister it was. Can anyone help?). I think the Old Gods have something to do with greenseeing, warging, skinchangers, all that northern-style magic. A lot of Old Nan's magical stories seem to be based in reality.

3) I think we have seen evidence of Rh'llor and the Great Other, or at least of something magical that is being passed off under this religion. Thoros can obviously bring people back from the dead and sees things in flames. Melisandre gives birth to shadow babies and sees things in flames as well. I suspect Melisandre doesn't really work for Rh'llor and is only pretending--as other fans have noted, we never see her bring anyone back from the dead, which seems to be something that real Red Priests can do. There's also a generally evil vibe about her. I think she actually might work for the Great Other, who in turn has something to do with the Others, plural.

I think we will see an Azor Ahai/Prince Who Was Promised (and might have already seen him or her), but this person is not Stannis. The great confrontation between Rh'llor and the Great Other is not only going to happen but is the big showdown of the series.

I'm thinking there may be parallels between the Old Gods religion and the Rh'llor religion. Perhaps believers of both essentially believe in the same thing, without knowing it.

So, in sum, I think the religion of the Old Gods and the religion of Rh'llor are real to a large extent. I think the Seven is a false religion; I think it's adoption across the Seven Kingdoms probably coincided with magic "going out of the world."

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Your First Point: Yes, I think the Faith of the Seven is probably quite useless (if you actually need help) but actually quite useful for controlling the masses. Only those anointed in the Faith may become Knights later on and religion plays an important role in Westeros. Hence those who worship the Old Gods are look at as superstitious. There is confusion among the masses concerning various aspects of each faith. They thinks that the Seven are seven gods when in fact it is one god with 7 attributes or "persons" or maybe even "manifestations". Also, many seem to think that those that worship the Old Gods are tree-worshippers when in fact, the weirwood tree only has symbolic value. I don't think that the faith of the Seven is genuine. Septons may disagree.

Your Second Point: That is an interesting point. GRR Martin has said that he has always been suspicious of religions so I don't think he would make any one "real". What I think is that the points in the story where miracles seem to be occurring are actually points where magic is at work.

Your Third Point: I think the religion from Asshai is basically a magic cult passing off magical events as miracles granted by the Lord of Light. I think that the ruby necklace around the red woman's neck is the source of her power. It's been said that the Ruby glowed at various times that coincided with when I believe she was using magic.

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Your First Point: Yes, I think the Faith of the Seven is probably quite useless (if you actually need help) but actually quite useful for controlling the masses. Only those anointed in the Faith may become Knights later on and religion plays an important role in Westeros. Hence those who worship the Old Gods are look at as superstitious. There is confusion among the masses concerning various aspects of each faith. They thinks that the Seven are seven gods when in fact it is one god with 7 attributes or "persons" or maybe even "manifestations". Also, many seem to think that those that worship the Old Gods are tree-worshippers when in fact, the weirwood tree only has symbolic value. I don't think that the faith of the Seven is genuine. Septons may disagree.

I think this far there's been no indication as to whether there is any "true" or "false" religion, or "real" and "unreal" gods, for that matter. Until around the time the books are starting, it seems to me for some time there has been very little or no "magic" (including miracles) in the world, which is sort of the point of the books, I think. If anything, there was like one person who could talk to trees per hundred years or one magician claiming to be capable of this or that, but you couldn't be sure if he wasn't just performing tricks.

Now suddenly you have dragons and magicians popping up, and even priests are capable of performing miracles (resurrecting people - Thoros) or "magic" (divination, shadows - Melisandre). But the important thing is that it is all vague, it is not said who or which power really does it. For all we know, only the Lord of Light may be real, like Melisandre says, and the magic and miracles beneficial for him come from him and the rest comes from the powers of the unnamed evil opponent of his. Or maybe the Old Gods are real and everything comes from them. Or the Seven are real (I see no reason to disprove that) and everything comes from them (after all, there is this repeated point that the Seven are in fact several aspects of one entity, showed under different names). Or, like the Starks say, the Old Gods have power in the North, then the Seven in the south, some whatever Dothraki gods may have power in the east etc., only perhaps now with all that's happening in the world their powers are overlapping or spheres of influence changing (so just like in the ancient times the weirwoods were cut in the South and the power of the old gods retreated to the West, maybe nowadays it is changing again in another way?).

Your Third Point: I think the religion from Asshai is basically a magic cult passing off magical events as miracles granted by the Lord of Light. I think that the ruby necklace around the red woman's neck is the source of her power. It's been said that the Ruby glowed at various times that coincided with when I believe she was using magic.

I think that is just a random thing. The concept of having "magic items which give magic power to whoever wields them" seems completely alien in ASOIAF to me. I don't remember anything implying that the magic "works" that way, and I don't recall any other object supposed to have such powers there. It just doesn't seem right in this context. Wherever does Melisandre have her power from, I doubt it lies in some random ruby necklace. If it glows, it is a result or "response" to her using magic, I'd think, not the other way around.

Most of all, I think we cannot make differences between "magic" and "divine powers" in GRRM's world. It just depends on how you interpret it. Which is what I like about the books - the stuff is very vague, and open to your interpretation. And that makes it even more interesting.

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Thanks, good points from both of you.

Or the Seven are real (I see no reason to disprove that) and everything comes from them (after all, there is this repeated point that the Seven are in fact several aspects of one entity, showed under different names).

I never really thought about the idea that the Seven is just one entity that is kind of misconstrued as seven different gods. I remember it from the books, just never thought it was important. If so, I wonder if there could be a sort of duality about that religion, with the Stranger kind of representing evil. That would make it more like the Old Gods and Rh'llor with their good/evil conflict.

It's not that there's anything to disprove the "truth" of the Seven, it's more that we haven't seen any magic or miracles that could reasonably be attributed to that religion, whereas we've seen both Red Priests and Bran/Jojen clearly capable of magical things. Septons and septas, for example, don't seem to be capable of any sort of supernatural power, at least so far as we've seen. Sometimes good things or bad things happen that get blamed on the gods but it seems much more likely to be chance.

Somebody in another thread mentioned the possible parallel between Stannis and the Night's King, from that story in one of Bran's chapters. The Night's King was a commander of the Night's Watch. He was a warrior who knew no fear, but a mysterious woman with skin as white as the moon and cold as ice and eyes blue as stars was his downfall; he went after her, they got together, and she somehow manipulated him into crowning himself and calling himself a king. He gave her his soul when he gave her his "seed," and she had control over him and manipulated his Sworn Brothers with dark sorcery into following them.

Now, obviously Melisandre has red eyes, and is very warm, the opposite. But...as I said previously, I think there are signs that point to the idea that she's only imitating a Red Priest and in fact is working for the Great Other, or at least some evil force. Perhaps in reality she is more ice than fire and will eventually be revealed as such, and so she is more like the blue woman from the story.

So I don't think this Asshai religion is just something "random." I think it is part of the key to the main struggle between good and evil forces.

I think Dany is Azor Ahai reborn and her and her dragons will have to fight the Others.

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I never really thought about the idea that the Seven is just one entity that is kind of misconstrued as seven different gods. I remember it from the books, just never thought it was important. If so, I wonder if there could be a sort of duality about that religion, with the Stranger kind of representing evil. That would make it more like the Old Gods and Rh'llor with their good/evil conflict.

I think there is the duality, and more. I think perhaps it is not so easily divided between "good" and "evil", but simply "the known, familiar, friendly etc." and "the opposite". I am not really sure if GRRM meant the division to be so clear (and something makes me think that rather not).

Speaking of that, is there any "good-evil" conflict in the Old Gods religion? I think there is very little said about it, and I think it may not even operate with those concepts, either. I have always thought that the "speciality" of the Rh'llor religion is that it is black and white, unlike the others. The Old Gods were just sort of ever-present, all-embracing, impersonal, closely bound to the nature; the Seven are more oriented towards human society, taking patronage over different aspects of person's life, offering some "personal contact", they are actual individuals one can turn to and talk to - to the Warrior if you are in a battle, to the Smith if you want your work to be blessed, and so on.

It's not that there's anything to disprove the "truth" of the Seven, it's more that we haven't seen any magic or miracles that could reasonably be attributed to that religion, whereas we've seen both Red Priests and Bran/Jojen clearly capable of magical things. Septons and septas, for example, don't seem to be capable of any sort of supernatural power, at least so far as we've seen. Sometimes good things or bad things happen that get blamed on the gods but it seems much more likely to be chance.

Yes, I can see that. Well, I think it's mainly because the faith of the Seven is the most "moderate", "everyday", "down-to-earth", it is a religion for common life and easy times. Rh'llor's religion offers such extreme world picture that it will be hard to maintain in times of peace and calm, but it seems to me that we can see in the books that in times like those it is gaining strength (imagine it - Stannis would never have accepted Melisandre as his counselor if he had not ended up in the situation he had).

But of course, what can we know - maybe the Seven will surprise us still. After all, there probably are some tales of miracles done by the Seven in the past, only we haven't seen any.

Somebody in another thread mentioned the possible parallel between Stannis and the Night's King, from that story in one of Bran's chapters. The Night's King was a commander of the Night's Watch. He was a warrior who knew no fear, but a mysterious woman with skin as white as the moon and cold as ice and eyes blue as stars was his downfall; he went after her, they got together, and she somehow manipulated him into crowning himself and calling himself a king. He gave her his soul when he gave her his "seed," and she had control over him and manipulated his Sworn Brothers with dark sorcery into following them.

Now, obviously Melisandre has red eyes, and is very warm, the opposite. But...as I said previously, I think there are signs that point to the idea that she's only imitating a Red Priest and in fact is working for the Great Other, or at least some evil force. Perhaps in reality she is more ice than fire and will eventually be revealed as such, and so she is more like the blue woman from the story.

That's a good catch, though I don't believe Melisandre is actually imitating a Red Priest. I think she is one, but she is either misguided (believing Stannis being the right one, believing she is doing the "right" stuff where in fact she is serving "evil", whatever that concept might be in this case) or she is just misusing her power intentionally for some purposes of her own. But yes, the basic parallel between her and the Night Watch story is there.

So I don't think this Asshai religion is just something "random." I think it is part of the key to the main struggle between good and evil forces.

I think Dany is Azor Ahai reborn and her and her dragons will have to fight the Others.

I sort of agree with this (even though knowing GRRM, there might be many twists and turns coming still), but I really don't think one of the religions should be preferred as "the true one". I think some bits of this might be true, some bits of that might be true, or maybe everything at once.

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I don't take much that Melisandre says seriously. Apart from the woman's insight into events, all her nonsense about Azor Ahai being reborn as Stannis is merely flattery which works on Stannis to varying degrees at different times. Even Stannis sometimes becomes impatient with Melisandre's theatrics. Melisandre's story about the Other and its battle with her Lord of Light is interesting but I think it could be looked at without necessarily needing to make both of them gods. Perhaps in millennia past, the followers of Lord of Light and the Others were involved in conflict with flames being the natural weakness of the frosty Others. The struggle between these two forces need not necessarily involve gods.

I am still convinced that Melisandre is only using magic and not manifesting miracles from her god. Amidst the three religions, the Faith of the Seven seems the most impotent in terms of it's followers being able to utilise any magic. Even the worshippers of the old gods have used or encountered a little magic.

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I think there is the duality, and more. I think perhaps it is not so easily divided between "good" and "evil", but simply "the known, familiar, friendly etc." and "the opposite". I am not really sure if GRRM meant the division to be so clear (and something makes me think that rather not).

I see and understand your skepticism here since GRRM obviously goes against the typical fantasy archetypes and tends to favour nuance and shades of grey. However, he does acknowledge that there is good and there is evil, just that most things or people don't fall into one category or the other so easily. And I do think that while most of the characters in this story operate in shades of grey, with no clear villains or heroes, I think they are doing so against the backdrop of some kind of epic Manichaean-style dual struggle that has been brewing for a while.

In other words, it may be true that GRRM believes the line between good and evil runs through men and not between them; but he still sees such a thing as "good" and such a thing as "evil," possibly embodied in supernatural forces or entities. That's why I was trying to search for examples of duality in the major religions, but maybe (probably) that's just me projecting that when that's not what GRRM meant to convey.

Speaking of that, is there any "good-evil" conflict in the Old Gods religion?

Well, I kind of took the Others for the evil part of the Old Gods religion, and the Children of the Forest spirits/gods as the good. There's more to it than that, probably, but I still saw a duality there. I could be wrong, as always.

...but I really don't think one of the religions should be preferred as "the true one."

Yeah, I agree. I think I was searching more for grains of truth than for a "true religion," if that makes sense.

About Melisandre, any number of the things you guess are possible. I think the main thing at this point in the story is that we should start thinking she's not what she seems to be. I wouldn't argue the finer points with you too much, I only have suspicions and not evidence.

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I see and understand your skepticism here since GRRM obviously goes against the typical fantasy archetypes and tends to favour nuance and shades of grey. However, he does acknowledge that there is good and there is evil, just that most things or people don't fall into one category or the other so easily. And I do think that while most of the characters in this story operate in shades of grey, with no clear villains or heroes, I think they are doing so against the backdrop of some kind of epic Manichaean-style dual struggle that has been brewing for a while.

Maybe. I also think there is some epic "universal conflict" on the deep level (which, for example, the foolish political players mainly in the South seem not to realise), but I think there remains a lot to be answered about what it is.

Well, I kind of took the Others for the evil part of the Old Gods religion, and the Children of the Forest spirits/gods as the good. There's more to it than that, probably, but I still saw a duality there. I could be wrong, as always.

I really think of all things the Old Gods are very distant from the concept of good and evil. Or, of course there probably is some concept like that, but because all of the stuff is kind of forgotten, it is hard to tell what it is about. But yes, the Others probably are somehow related to it - in time, at least, because when the Others appeared the last time, the Children of the Forest etc. still were strong, unless I am mixing it up.

Yeah, I agree. I think I was searching more for grains of truth than for a "true religion," if that makes sense.

Perfect sense. That's what I am doing as well. I think in a certain way, everyone - the Old way, the septons, even Melisandre (and also the Dothraki stuff and the visions from the magic of the Warlocks of Qarth!) - have some grain of truth in their prophecies and beliefs etc. I am only very curious which parts are the right ones.

I believe the only god is in truth the man-faced god, the god of death!

All else is magic. Why would the omnipotent god want to do anything more than lead people from their mortal lives.

That is as legitimate claim as any. :)

By the way, one god hasn't been mentioned here this far: the Drowned God of the Iron Islanders. Granted, we don't see very much about that so far... but I possibly like that one the most.

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I thought about the Drowned God, but we haven't seen much about that religion thus far. My feeling was that the whole drowning/sea-religion thing was just to add colour to the Iron Islanders and illustrate their brutality and horribleness. But it could have some kind of mystical meaning as well.

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