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The Blood Motif in ASoIaF/Symbolism/Analysis/Patterns

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AN: I apologize for the length of my analysis!

Welcome! I need some perspective on a project I have been working on for several months that has been turning into a monster. Even though I narrowed my topic and focused on evidences that appear early in the series, in the first novel primarily, I still find the blood motif extensive and exhausting. Not all of the blood Martin mentions is evidence of a recurring language pattern or of a developing symbology. However, I still “carry over” the evidence to the next POV’s “just in case”!

Anyways, I hope that following the “blood trail” Martin leaves for his readers might be fun to explore as a group. I love threads where everyone seems to click and collectively brainstorms, collaborates, educates, inspires, and/or expands upon each other’s assumptions, inferences, deductions, and conclusions.

What follows is an excerpt from my composition that discusses Martin’s simile comparing “blood” to “summerwine”, which is in Bran’s first POV, the first chapter of AGoT following the Prologue.

Feel free to assess the strength of my evidence as I offer up analytical commentary.

I will continue to share parts of my project, but I hope others will contribute analysis and evidence that addresses all the blood symbology and overlapping motifs I am unable to cover. My thesis is multifaceted as it is, but plenty remains.

SAMPLE

Martin sets up the groundwork for a complex and daunting symbology associated with blood that dominates motifs in AGoT and in the collection of novels that are part of ASoIaF. Because blood is vivid "red" and a necessity to human and animal life, the "blood motifs" command many symbolic meanings.

A few “random” textual examples follow: Khaleesi eats a stallion’s heart to make her son “strong and swift and fearless” (489). Maester Aemon compares ravens to men: “Most ravens will eat grain, but they prefer flesh. It makes them strong, and I fear they relish the taste of blood. In that they are like men . . . “ (661). Mormont tells Jon: “All I know is that the blood of the First Men flows in the veins of the Starks. The First Men built the Wall, and it’s said they remember things otherwise forgotten”.

Blood symbology embraces a volume of traditional meanings, including but not limited to the following: blood may represent the life force or the divine life force, magical powers, food or sustenance for supernatural beings, brotherhood, procreation, vengeance, passion, death, war, sacrifice, guilt, race, heritage, and genetics (http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/B/blood.htm.)

The spilling of blood accompanies Lord Eddard Stark’s first appearance in the novel A Game of Thrones as he assumes the roles of Lord of Winterfell, Warden of the North, and executioner: he administers the King’s justice by wielding his Valyrian steel greatsword Ice to decapitate a deserter from the Night’s Watch. Martin employs a simile to compare the intense red of “summerwine” to the blood spatter resulting from Stark’s stroke of his blade:

“Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine” (15).

The vibrant blood "sprays" out and across the white "SNOW", a sharp, even frightening contrast. The blood symbolizes DEATH, and the SNOW symbolizes WINTER, as well as symbolizing the STARKS, the BASTARD, and the NORTH; hence, the arrival of “WINTER” brings DEATH, the STARKS, SNOW and the NORTH, all part of a unity that delivers death to enemies.

Furthermore, Martin chooses to link blood with “summerwine” through figurative language. Readers may trace Martin distinguishing “summerwine” from ordinary “wine”, a particular detail in Jon’s first POV in AGoT: at the feast held in honor of King Robert’s visit to Winterfell, the Stark host serves summerwine to the royal guests. The Stark family imbibes too, with Ned allowing his children a glass to commemorate the event: “In honor of the occasion, his lord father would doubtless permit each child a glassful of wine, but no more” (49-50). Benjen identifies the wine when he speaks to Jon: “Summerwine . . . Nothing so sweet” (52). Benjen senses that his nephew has over-indulged in drink since he sits in the “nosebleed” section of the great hall, far from the head table and the seats of honor near the royals where Jon’s half-brothers and sisters proudly sat. The watchful eye of Lord Ned Stark is far away; hence, Jon consoles his ill-mood by reminding himself that “Down here on the benches, there was no one to stop Jon drinking as much as he had a thirst for . . . . And he was finding he had a man’s thirst . . .” (50)

If we trace Martin’s language choice(s), the Starks collectively, and Ned specifically as the lord and host, all share joint responsibility for pouring the beverage [summerwine/blood] to the Baratheons and to the Lannisters; consequently, the Starks “eventually” [in subsequent novels] will serve “blood” to their enemies, the symbology suggesting “revenge” and “death”.

Moreover, the “summerwine” and the “blood” allude to the Starks themselves, who “symbolically” ingest blood for a deliberate purpose. Martin reveals how the Starks may taste “blood” through their direwolves that kill an animal or disable a victim. Later evidence in ADwD insinuates that Bran samples hot blood through the heart tree’s roots after an unidentified white haired woman uses a sickle to spill the blood of an alleged “human sacrifice”.

Does this intimate a way to awaken the collective spirits of the Starks [and others] in the weirwood?

Martin comparing blood to summerwine is evocative of the Catholic Mass, which the author Martin experienced “first hand” at a time in his past when he practiced the faith. The “BIG” mystery that attends Holy Communion is a highly symbolic part of the sacrament entitled the Transubstantiation of Christ. Before receiving the “allegorical” representations of the BODY AND BLOOD of Jesus Christ the Savior, the priest saying mass whispers words that once had been the stately Latin to call forth the godly blessing many children associate with “hocus-pocus”: the priest prays to Jesus Christ asking Him to make a miracle that only occurs several times Sunday morning in the presence of the well-trained congregation.

Children receive their First Holy Communion at seven to eight-years-old, or in the second grade. If the child does not attend parochial school, then he or she attends catechism classes on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings to prepare for the receiving of the sacrament. Through prayer each Stark asks for divine assistance. The Holy Eucharist, or the sacrament of Communion, involves a flat piece of leavened bread in a circle called the “host”, or “wafer”. More whispered words, followed by the priest holding the wafer high over his head, asking Jesus Christ to forgive her sins and to answer the prayers that are a way to transform the host/wafer into the representation of the “body” of Christ. Then the priest focuses on the wine, swirling it in the golden chalice as he chants for an assist to make the red liquid a symbolic representation of the “blood” of Christ.

During Communion, churchgoers approach the altar for the purpose of eating the wafer, or receiving the ultimate blessing of “the body of Christ” and then sipping the wine from the chalice, or drinking the ultimate blessing from Jesus Christ, “The blood of Christ”. Usually children in the second grade do not comprehend the “transubstantiation”. The whole idea of “eating” the “body” and “drinking” the “blood” of the savior crucified on a cross so that mankind’s sins are forgiven, borders on cannibalism. The complex symbology is lost on elementary aged children who may revisit a stronger understanding at some point later in eighth grade when the youth are “Confirmed” into the faith at the command of the Bishop.

The Catholic sacrament of the Holy Eucharist pairs “blood and wine” with symbolic intent in classical literature. According to the Online Dictionary of Symbology in Literature says, “Blood and WINE are interchangeable symbols; in Chinese symbolism, blood and WATER are associated as complementaries, as THE YIN AND THE YANG. The term cold blood refers to unfeeling. When used in reference to Christ, represents atoning for all humanity” (http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/B/blood.htm.)

Last of all, through personification, Martin humanizes the weirwood and its immediate area: As Lady Catelyn steps upon the deep humus covering the godswood floor, the sound of her footsteps is “swallowed” up by a buffer: “A thousand years of humus lay thick upon the godswood floor, swallowing the sound of her feet . . .” (AGoT, Catelyn’s POV #1). “Swallow” is a word associated with eating or drinking as well as the mouth, teeth, breath, and lips. In this instance, Martin personifies the godswood floor by attributing to it the ability to swallow. If the floor “swallows” sound, it can swallow blood as well to feed the roots buried deep within the earth.

If it comes to pass that blood sacrifices are part of a ritual meant to free people from the cruelties of winter by appeasing a force with blood that may prove to be “human”, or “animal”, or a symbolic transforming from one elemental to another. Patience is a virtue Martin fans exercise daily, speculating what may come to pass in The Winds of Winter while hoping that the next installment will be in Santa’s sack come December.

END OF SAMPLE # 1

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ADDENDUM

The following information includes references and source materials that identify an extensive literary symbology associated with “blood”, which then can be compared with instances from the novels. Likewise, a Google search might offer even more associations with blood, or Martin may invent a unique blood symbol to trump the traditional – and sometimes trite – references to blood that extends the meaning beyond AGoT.

Blood, writes Michael Ferber in his reference book A Dictionary of Literary Symbols, is “A substance so vital to human life and so striking in appearance [it] is bound to have many symbolic meanings. . .” (http://www.academia.edu/1052805/A_DICTIONARY_OF_LITERARY_SYMBOLS_By_Michael_Ferber).

Since the symbology of blood is so diverse, Ferber separates blood into into three distinct categories, all of which can be identified in Martin’s ASoIaF series:

One) Blood as the source of “life”, sometimes called the “lifeblood”, the substance that circulates throughout the human body in veins until death interferes, stopping the heart and stopping the transportation of blood.

Example: The Starks, historically and symbolically, are currently and have been in the past, a part of the grey stones of Winterfell, the crypts below, and the weirwood tree in the godswoods. Through personification, Martin humanizes them. To illustrate, since Winterfell is built over a natural hot springs, “scalding water rushed through its walls and chambers like blood through a man’s body” (58). The water from the hot springs is compared to blood, the substance that sustains life in humans who without blood circulating in their bodies will expire. Thus, Catelyn observes that “in winter, the hot springs and pools are the difference between life and death”.

Two) Blood as family or ancestry:

Example A): Mormont tells Jon: “All I know is that the blood of the First Men flows in the veins of the Starks. The First Men built the Wall, and it’s said they remember things otherwise forgotten”. Example B): The Targaryen’s refer to their bloodlines as “blood of the dragon” or the blood of old Valyria.

Three) Blood as sacrifice:

Bran’s vision of a man’s blood spilling beneath the WF weirwood has generated speculation regarding human sacrifices made beneath the weirwood to appease the forces of the old gods believed to bring and prolong winter.

Later I will present “in segments” how the direwolves empower their respective Stark siblings, evidencing specific events that occur after a direwolf tastes the blood of a kill or of a victim in AGoT.

A few observations regarding Martin’s language patterns: Martin describes individuals – or stone statues – as weeping tears of blood. What do these bloody tears symbolize? Who does Martin parallel – or define – with the tears?

Martin often employs red to describe a sunrise or sunset. When the comet appears near the end of AGoT, Martin applies red to his descriptions and “blood” to the comet’s composition. Moreover, Bran seeks answers regarding the meaning behind the arrival of the comet, and he finds no two people who share the same answer (ACoK).

“Bloody rain” falls on several POV characters – why does Martin modify rain with “bloody”?

Each Stark sheds his or her blood in AGoT.

Martin develops another motif that overlaps with the blood motif: “The HAND” represents a variety of “things”. How does “blood” as a symbol unite the evidences referencing a/the “hand” from the text?

What “symbolic” role does blood play in Old Nan’s stories?

Blood with a unique genetic profile defines a noble House, the family of characters, and/or their relationships with their ancestors.

Martin personifies otherwise inanimate objects by attaching the life-giving forces of blood.

Martin explores the dark side of family relationships wherein shared bloodlines do not equal positive results.

Weapons and blood.

Hearts and blood.

Poison and blood.

Blood as a source of nutrition.

Wolf’s blood and the Starks.

Near fatal and fatal events that avoid bloodshed.

Sensory details and blood: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Blood aligning manner of death, starting with the beheading of the Night’s Watch deserter and closing with the beheading of Ned and Septa Mordane.

Traitor’s blood.

A bastard’s blood / tainted /Tyrion is trueborn but he is a bastard in his father’s eyes. Jon is illegitimate but proud of his paternal sire the honorable Ned Stark, yet ashamed that he does not know the identity of his mother.

Blood as food stuff for ravens and crows

Skins/pelts/fur from slain animals.

Blood, the boar, wine, and the death of a king.

“blood brothers”

“in cold blood”

“the bloody mummers”

“blood of my blood”

“blood thirsty”

“hot-blooded versus cold-blooded”

Blood and water: Rhaegar and Robert on the Trident, one on one combat. Catelyn’s corpse retrieved from the river.

Menstrual blood/fertility/dragon eggs/procreation

Blood arousing fear in humans and animals

Blood as an agent to awaken magical powers

Blood as a food source for supernatural beings, evident with Melisandre’s belief that feeding her fires with “king’s blood” will enlist powerful magic to defeat the Great Other.

A Night’s Watch brother loyal to his “crow” family is said to have “black blood” that runs true.

Blood shed that results from seeking revenge against an enemy symbolizes vengeance.

A rapidly beating heart causes blood to course through a person’s veins, and instead of fear and panic paralyzing the victim, love, attraction, and lust are hot contenders that evoke passion.

Battlefields are the recipients of bloody pools, pale corpses, and odiferous decomposition. Blood symbolizes war.

Bloodstains symbolize a guilty conscience.

Bloodlines indicate the race of a people, and in AGoT, readers learn of the First Men, the Andals, and the CotF are separate races, but within each group, representatives share an ancestral blood and share a significant heritage.

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Good evening,

Such a magnificient thread certainly warrants a good read (perhaps two) to fully understand it. Before anything else, allow me to thank you and congratulate you on a well-structured and well supported argument. Since your OP mentioned a desire to have a collective discussion, I will present you with the following theory which actually in a thread I started about Templar and Masonic references. It has to do with a connection I found between the parentage of Jon Snow and the theory that Jesus has children and that his bloodline could be traced.

First off, in case you are not familiar with the theory itself, I will offer a somewhat concise version of it (so as to not derail your thread). If you want a more complete explanation, I suggest you refer to the book The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail by Michael Baigent et al. (I do not want to debate here, the merits of the book, but simply compare its theories to ASOIAF, namely with the possibility of Jon's parents being Rhaegar and Lyanna).

Here is a summary of the relgious theory behind the bloodline of Jesus. The Holy Blood and The Holy Grailas well as several other books have claimed that, contrary to what is in the accepted Gospel of the Bible, that Jesus was actually married to Mary Magdalene and that, before his death, he gave her one (or many children) and that after Herod dispersed the Jewish population from what is modern-day Israel, that Mary Magdalene found her way into France and that her children become the Merovingian dynasty of French kings.

Now one of the many pieces of evidence demonstrated by this theory is that the name Holy Grail actually means Holy Blood and that it was a translation error from French to English (the word used was sangreal which then became Saint Graal which when translated was Holy Grail, when rather the words meant Sang Real or Holy Blood in English). Now translate that into ASOIAF and the situation at the Tower of Joy and I offer the following theory about the Holy Blood of Westeros:

First let us go back to the Tower of Joy events. It is widely assumed that R+L = J is true and my theory both relies and adds credence to the argument. The best of the Kingsguard (whom I compare to the Arthurian Knights), are there defending the allegedly abducted Lyanna and Rhaegar’s bastard son. I do not believe this to be true. If the Kingsguard stayed it was to protect the heir to the throne and something far more valuable than the bastard son of the crown prince. They were protecting the wife and legitimate heir to the throne. They were defending the Holy blood of Westeros, the blood of ice and fire. Are lore and behold, the person doing it is named Arthur and he has a sword that is "alive with light" (in Grail mythology, the defending of the Grail is King Arthur and Excalibur is known to blind its ennemies with light).

I believe that the Holy Grail of AOSIAF is not indeed a religious relic, but rather, as claimed in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail represented, in the context of ASOIAF, by Lyanna Stark’s womb and her descendant Jon Snow. That in fact what we see here is that, in the case of ASOIAF, the Holy Blood and The Holy Grail are also one and the same in the person of Jon Snow.

Crazy stuff I know, but thank you for giving me a chance to link this theory to yet further elements of the story.

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Blood Motif in other cultures: Mesoamerica

Human sacrifice and the powerful blood motif are found also in other cultures. I think the best comparison to Brans visions of what might actually "power" the weirwood trees is similar to the Druid traditions of Human sacrifice and the ability to transcend the soul.

But, we also see similar traditions in Mesoamerica and the Inca empire, particularly the Aztec and their famous, (or infamous), "blood magic" and sacrifices.

According to Aztec tradition, they would offer up the blood of captured tribesmen, sacrificed with an obsidian knife made from volcanos, to the god Acolnahuactl where he would "drink" until he was no longer thirsty.

In the Aztec "Legend of the Five Suns," all the gods sacrificed themselves so that mankind could live. When the Franciscans challenged the Priests to stop they answered, " Life is because of the gods; with their sacrifice they gave us life...They produce our sustenance....which nourishes life."

Because of that central Mesoamerican belief in the idea of a great, on-going sacrifice sustains the Universe, everything is "tonacayotl," the "spiritual flesh-hood" on earth. Everything sprang from the severed bodies of the sacrificed gods to life, so sacrifice, and human sacrifice as a the highest honor, had to be repaid.

Given that Martin lives in New Mexico surrounded by those cultural influences and tradition, coupled with the Celtic traditions, I can see him making similar parallels between man and the environment, particularly blood sacrifice giving life to the great trees and atonement, as well as themes of man out of harmony with the Universe.

(Am I correct to speculate that part of Harrenhals curse could be related to the weirwood trees cut down to build it)?

Blood held an important function in Mesoamerican cultures. According to The Florentine Codex, one of the creation myths, Aztec god Quetzalcoatl offered up the blood extracted from a genital wound as a sacrifice to humanity, and there are several other myths in which the Nahua gods offered up their blood for humaity.

So, it appears that just like other cultures around the world that deal with blood and sacrificial themes, atonement is the common denominator.

For the Targaryens, "Fire and Blood" may have been the war cry for conquest, but for the Starks as hinted in their dark past, blood may have been actually been the source of their power.

Thoughts?

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A couple of things, first, I think when exploring symbolism, you should avoid imagining the symbols where they don't exist, such as referring to Jon sitting in the 'Nosebleed' section. When you start getting into second and third levels of association, it just doesn't work. Symbolism can be subtle, but it shouldn't approach Cockney Rhyming slang in terms of obsfucation.

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Good evening,

Such a magnificient thread certainly warrants a good read (perhaps two) to fully understand it. Before anything else, allow me to thank you and congratulate you on a well-structured and well supported argument. Since your OP mentioned a desire to have a collective discussion, I will present you with the following theory which actually in a thread I started about Templar and Masonic references. It has to do with a connection I found between the parentage of Jon Snow and the theory that Jesus has children and that his bloodline could be traced.

First off, in case you are not familiar with the theory itself, I will offer a somewhat concise version of it (so as to not derail your thread). If you want a more complete explanation, I suggest you refer to the book The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail by Michael Baigent et al. (I do not want to debate here, the merits of the book, but simply compare its theories to ASOIAF, namely with the possibility of Jon's parents being Rhaegar and Lyanna).

Here is a summary of the relgious theory behind the bloodline of Jesus. The Holy Blood and The Holy Grailas well as several other books have claimed that, contrary to what is in the accepted Gospel of the Bible, that Jesus was actually married to Mary Magdalene and that, before his death, he gave her one (or many children) and that after Herod dispersed the Jewish population from what is modern-day Israel, that Mary Magdalene found her way into France and that her children become the Merovingian dynasty of French kings.

Now one of the many pieces of evidence demonstrated by this theory is that the name Holy Grail actually means Holy Blood and that it was a translation error from French to English (the word used was sangreal which then became Saint Graal which when translated was Holy Grail, when rather the words meant Sang Real or Holy Blood in English). Now translate that into ASOIAF and the situation at the Tower of Joy and I offer the following theory about the Holy Blood of Westeros:

First let us go back to the Tower of Joy events. It is widely assumed that R+L = J is true and my theory both relies and adds credence to the argument. The best of the Kingsguard (whom I compare to the Arthurian Knights), are there defending the allegedly abducted Lyanna and Rhaegar’s bastard son. I do not believe this to be true. If the Kingsguard stayed it was to protect the heir to the throne and something far more valuable than the bastard son of the crown prince. They were protecting the wife and legitimate heir to the throne. They were defending the Holy blood of Westeros, the blood of ice and fire. Are lore and behold, the person doing it is named Arthur and he has a sword that is "alive with light" (in Grail mythology, the defending of the Grail is King Arthur and Excalibur is known to blind its ennemies with light).

I believe that the Holy Grail of AOSIAF is not indeed a religious relic, but rather, as claimed in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail represented, in the context of ASOIAF, by Lyanna Stark’s womb and her descendant Jon Snow. That in fact what we see here is that, in the case of ASOIAF, the Holy Blood and The Holy Grail are also one and the same in the person of Jon Snow.

Crazy stuff I know, but thank you for giving me a chance to link this theory to yet further elements of the story.

Not crazy at all, and very intriguing.

I hope you have more. :)

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AN: I apologize for the length of my analysis!

Welcome! I need some perspective on a project I have been working on for several months that has been turning into a monster. Even though I narrowed my topic and focused on evidences that appear early in the series, in the first novel primarily, I still find the blood motif extensive and exhausting. Not all of the blood Martin mentions is evidence of a recurring language pattern or of a developing symbology. However, I still “carry over” the evidence to the next POV’s “just in case”!

Anyways, I hope that following the “blood trail” Martin leaves for his readers might be fun to explore as a group. I love threads where everyone seems to click and collectively brainstorms, collaborates, educates, inspires, and/or expands upon each other’s assumptions, inferences, deductions, and conclusions.

What follows is an excerpt from my composition that discusses Martin’s simile comparing “blood” to “summerwine”, which is in Bran’s first POV, the first chapter of AGoT following the Prologue.

Feel free to assess the strength of my evidence as I offer up analytical commentary.

I will continue to share parts of my project, but I hope others will contribute analysis and evidence that addresses all the blood symbology and overlapping motifs I am unable to cover. My thesis is multifaceted as it is, but plenty remains.

SAMPLE

Martin sets up the groundwork for a complex and daunting symbology associated with blood that dominates motifs in AGoT and in the collection of novels that are part of ASoIaF. Because blood is vivid "red" and a necessity to human and animal life, the "blood motifs" command many symbolic meanings.

A few “random” textual examples follow: Khaleesi eats a stallion’s heart to make her son “strong and swift and fearless” (489). Maester Aemon compares ravens to men: “Most ravens will eat grain, but they prefer flesh. It makes them strong, and I fear they relish the taste of blood. In that they are like men . . . “ (661). Mormont tells Jon: “All I know is that the blood of the First Men flows in the veins of the Starks. The First Men built the Wall, and it’s said they remember things otherwise forgotten”.

Blood symbology embraces a volume of traditional meanings, including but not limited to the following: blood may represent the life force or the divine life force, magical powers, food or sustenance for supernatural beings, brotherhood, procreation, vengeance, passion, death, war, sacrifice, guilt, race, heritage, and genetics (http://www.umich.edu...tml/B/blood.htm.)

The spilling of blood accompanies Lord Eddard Stark’s first appearance in the novel A Game of Thrones as he assumes the roles of Lord of Winterfell, Warden of the North, and executioner: he administers the King’s justice by wielding his Valyrian steel greatsword Ice to decapitate a deserter from the Night’s Watch. Martin employs a simile to compare the intense red of “summerwine” to the blood spatter resulting from Stark’s stroke of his blade:

“Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine” (15).

The vibrant blood "sprays" out and across the white "SNOW", a sharp, even frightening contrast. The blood symbolizes DEATH, and the SNOW symbolizes WINTER, as well as symbolizing the STARKS, the BASTARD, and the NORTH; hence, the arrival of “WINTER” brings DEATH, the STARKS, SNOW and the NORTH, all part of a unity that delivers death to enemies.

Furthermore, Martin chooses to link blood with “summerwine” through figurative language. Readers may trace Martin distinguishing “summerwine” from ordinary “wine”, a particular detail in Jon’s first POV in AGoT: at the feast held in honor of King Robert’s visit to Winterfell, the Stark host serves summerwine to the royal guests. The Stark family imbibes too, with Ned allowing his children a glass to commemorate the event: “In honor of the occasion, his lord father would doubtless permit each child a glassful of wine, but no more” (49-50). Benjen identifies the wine when he speaks to Jon: “Summerwine . . . Nothing so sweet” (52). Benjen senses that his nephew has over-indulged in drink since he sits in the “nosebleed” section of the great hall, far from the head table and the seats of honor near the royals where Jon’s half-brothers and sisters proudly sat. The watchful eye of Lord Ned Stark is far away; hence, Jon consoles his ill-mood by reminding himself that “Down here on the benches, there was no one to stop Jon drinking as much as he had a thirst for . . . . And he was finding he had a man’s thirst . . .” (50)

If we trace Martin’s language choice(s), the Starks collectively, and Ned specifically as the lord and host, all share joint responsibility for pouring the beverage [summerwine/blood] to the Baratheons and to the Lannisters; consequently, the Starks “eventually” [in subsequent novels] will serve “blood” to their enemies, the symbology suggesting “revenge” and “death”.

Moreover, the “summerwine” and the “blood” allude to the Starks themselves, who “symbolically” ingest blood for a deliberate purpose. Martin reveals how the Starks may taste “blood” through their direwolves that kill an animal or disable a victim. Later evidence in ADwD insinuates that Bran samples hot blood through the heart tree’s roots after an unidentified white haired woman uses a sickle to spill the blood of an alleged “human sacrifice”.

Does this intimate a way to awaken the collective spirits of the Starks [and others] in the weirwood?

Martin comparing blood to summerwine is evocative of the Catholic Mass, which the author Martin experienced “first hand” at a time in his past when he practiced the faith. The “BIG” mystery that attends Holy Communion is a highly symbolic part of the sacrament entitled the Transubstantiation of Christ. Before receiving the “allegorical” representations of the BODY AND BLOOD of Jesus Christ the Savior, the priest saying mass whispers words that once had been the stately Latin to call forth the godly blessing many children associate with “hocus-pocus”: the priest prays to Jesus Christ asking Him to make a miracle that only occurs several times Sunday morning in the presence of the well-trained congregation.

Children receive their First Holy Communion at seven to eight-years-old, or in the second grade. If the child does not attend parochial school, then he or she attends catechism classes on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings to prepare for the receiving of the sacrament. Through prayer each Stark asks for divine assistance. The Holy Eucharist, or the sacrament of Communion, involves a flat piece of leavened bread in a circle called the “host”, or “wafer”. More whispered words, followed by the priest holding the wafer high over his head, asking Jesus Christ to forgive her sins and to answer the prayers that are a way to transform the host/wafer into the representation of the “body” of Christ. Then the priest focuses on the wine, swirling it in the golden chalice as he chants for an assist to make the red liquid a symbolic representation of the “blood” of Christ.

During Communion, churchgoers approach the altar for the purpose of eating the wafer, or receiving the ultimate blessing of “the body of Christ” and then sipping the wine from the chalice, or drinking the ultimate blessing from Jesus Christ, “The blood of Christ”. Usually children in the second grade do not comprehend the “transubstantiation”. The whole idea of “eating” the “body” and “drinking” the “blood” of the savior crucified on a cross so that mankind’s sins are forgiven, borders on cannibalism. The complex symbology is lost on elementary aged children who may revisit a stronger understanding at some point later in eighth grade when the youth are “Confirmed” into the faith at the command of the Bishop.

The Catholic sacrament of the Holy Eucharist pairs “blood and wine” with symbolic intent in classical literature. According to the Online Dictionary of Symbology in Literature says, “Blood and WINE are interchangeable symbols; in Chinese symbolism, blood and WATER are associated as complementaries, as THE YIN AND THE YANG. The term cold blood refers to unfeeling. When used in reference to Christ, represents atoning for all humanity” (http://www.umich.edu...tml/B/blood.htm.)

Last of all, through personification, Martin humanizes the weirwood and its immediate area: As Lady Catelyn steps upon the deep humus covering the godswood floor, the sound of her footsteps is “swallowed” up by a buffer: “A thousand years of humus lay thick upon the godswood floor, swallowing the sound of her feet . . .” (AGoT, Catelyn’s POV #1). “Swallow” is a word associated with eating or drinking as well as the mouth, teeth, breath, and lips. In this instance, Martin personifies the godswood floor by attributing to it the ability to swallow. If the floor “swallows” sound, it can swallow blood as well to feed the roots buried deep within the earth.

If it comes to pass that blood sacrifices are part of a ritual meant to free people from the cruelties of winter by appeasing a force with blood that may prove to be “human”, or “animal”, or a symbolic transforming from one elemental to another. Patience is a virtue Martin fans exercise daily, speculating what may come to pass in The Winds of Winter while hoping that the next installment will be in Santa’s sack come December.

END OF SAMPLE # 1

Cracking good subject! I'll definitely contribute more--already great stuff here. On your linking of blood and wine together. I recall that at least one of the Patristic Church Fathers referred to the death and atonement of Jesus as, "The wine of suffering." I'll track down the reference--by asking a fellow religion department colleague.

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Cracking good subject! I'll definitely contribute more--already great stuff here. On your linking of blood and wine together. I recall that at least one of the Patristic Church Fathers referred to the death and atonement of Jesus as, "The wine of suffering." I'll track down the reference--by asking a fellow religion department colleague.

Looking forward to the contribution. :)

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OK, wonderful work, OP. I really enjoyed reading this and for appropriate reply, I needed some time...

I like how blood motif diverges from person to person. We have Dany's obsession with blood magic, we have blood in its natural form in killings, and then we have blood motif as sexual awakening in Sansa's storyline. The importance of the blood motif is simply undeniable whether we talk about Targaryen grandeur, or women's bleeding.

Cracking good subject! I'll definitely contribute more--already great stuff here. On your linking of blood and wine together. I recall that at least one of the Patristic Church Fathers referred to the death and atonement of Jesus as, "The wine of suffering." I'll track down the reference--by asking a fellow religion department colleague.

Interestingly, with talking about Sansa's sexual awakening, you have to make connection between "sour wine" Sandor smells of, and blood that represented the growth. Then, in the night of Blackwater battle, there is significant union of these two motifs - Sansa smells both blood and wine on Sandor... Quite interesting parallels can be made here...

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OK, wonderful work, OP. I really enjoyed reading this and for appropriate reply, I needed some time...

I like how blood motif diverges from person to person. We have Dany's obsession with blood magic, we have blood in its natural form in killings, and then we have blood motif as sexual awakening in Sansa's storyline. The importance of the blood motif is simply undeniable whether we talk about Targaryen grandeur, or women's bleeding.

Interestingly, with talking about Sansa's sexual awakening, you have to make connection between "sour wine" Sandor smells of, and blood that represented the growth. Then, in the night of Blackwater battle, there is significant union of these two motifs - Sansa smells both blood and wine on Sandor... Quite interesting parallels can be made here...

And you know I can't wait for your input. :bowdown:

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wow, talk about an ambitious project! your discussion of Communion is quite funny-- I myself was confused by this as a child and my mom had to explain that no, we were not drinking blood, it was symbolic. However, when serving Communion to his disciples, we are told that Jesus asked them to do it "in remembrance of me". As an act, it is an invitation to identify with, join, and affirm oneself as a member of this group. Why do you think the Starks are (symbolically) serving blood to their guests?

also, as an observation, from what you have written so far I see a strong correlation between blood, sacrifice, inheritance and memory. I wonder what might be significant about that.

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Great thread.

Im of the mind that Azors blood or more likely the reanimated blood of either nissa or AA himself is what made the red sword so potent ala beric.

I posted a thread about this some time ago but didn't get any bites and in glad it dove tails into this much wider idea.

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Not crazy at all, and very intriguing.

I hope you have more. :)

This is an extract from this thread:

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/88469-masonic-and-templar-references-in-asoiaf/

Which has kind of died out but feel free to contribute. Its a very specific topic (hence to the low level of replies) but very very interesting and certainly made better by the contribution of some very smart posters.

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This is an extract from this thread:

http://asoiaf.wester...nces-in-asoiaf/

Which has kind of died out but feel free to contribute. Its a very specific topic (hence to the low level of replies) but very very interesting and certainly made better by the contribution of some very smart posters.

Wow, what an awesome thread, and I don't know how I missed it.

I am not as familiar with the Masons, (though my father-in-law was apparently a member), so I'll do my research.

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Good evening,

Such a magnificient thread certainly warrants a good read (perhaps two) to fully understand it. Before anything else, allow me to thank you and congratulate you on a well-structured and well supported argument. Since your OP mentioned a desire to have a collective discussion, I will present you with the following theory which actually in a thread I started about Templar and Masonic references. It has to do with a connection I found between the parentage of Jon Snow and the theory that Jesus has children and that his bloodline could be traced.

First off, in case you are not familiar with the theory itself, I will offer a somewhat concise version of it (so as to not derail your thread). If you want a more complete explanation, I suggest you refer to the book The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail by Michael Baigent et al. (I do not want to debate here, the merits of the book, but simply compare its theories to ASOIAF, namely with the possibility of Jon's parents being Rhaegar and Lyanna).

Here is a summary of the relgious theory behind the bloodline of Jesus. The Holy Blood and The Holy Grailas well as several other books have claimed that, contrary to what is in the accepted Gospel of the Bible, that Jesus was actually married to Mary Magdalene and that, before his death, he gave her one (or many children) and that after Herod dispersed the Jewish population from what is modern-day Israel, that Mary Magdalene found her way into France and that her children become the Merovingian dynasty of French kings.

Now one of the many pieces of evidence demonstrated by this theory is that the name Holy Grail actually means Holy Blood and that it was a translation error from French to English (the word used was sangreal which then became Saint Graal which when translated was Holy Grail, when rather the words meant Sang Real or Holy Blood in English). Now translate that into ASOIAF and the situation at the Tower of Joy and I offer the following theory about the Holy Blood of Westeros:

First let us go back to the Tower of Joy events. It is widely assumed that R+L = J is true and my theory both relies and adds credence to the argument. The best of the Kingsguard (whom I compare to the Arthurian Knights), are there defending the allegedly abducted Lyanna and Rhaegar’s bastard son. I do not believe this to be true. If the Kingsguard stayed it was to protect the heir to the throne and something far more valuable than the bastard son of the crown prince. They were protecting the wife and legitimate heir to the throne. They were defending the Holy blood of Westeros, the blood of ice and fire. Are lore and behold, the person doing it is named Arthur and he has a sword that is "alive with light" (in Grail mythology, the defending of the Grail is King Arthur and Excalibur is known to blind its ennemies with light).

I believe that the Holy Grail of AOSIAF is not indeed a religious relic, but rather, as claimed in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail represented, in the context of ASOIAF, by Lyanna Stark’s womb and her descendant Jon Snow. That in fact what we see here is that, in the case of ASOIAF, the Holy Blood and The Holy Grail are also one and the same in the person of Jon Snow.

Crazy stuff I know, but thank you for giving me a chance to link this theory to yet further elements of the story.

:bowdown: :bowdown: CONGRATULATIONS, THEWINGEDWOLF, on such a beautifully composed response to my efforts, complete with evidences from other texts and Martin’s. I am familiar with much of what you are sharing, especially after once being a Dan Brown fan. [Martin has since replaced him in my heart].

I simply adore how you related the similarities between Jon’s parents with the Christ/Mary M’s mythology. Thank you so very much for sharing, and I will respond in greater length as I have time to sit and mull over all the particular details you outlined. MOST IMPRESSIVE EFFORT! :thumbsup:

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A couple of things, first, I think when exploring symbolism, you should avoid imagining the symbols where they don't exist, such as referring to Jon sitting in the 'Nosebleed' section. When you start getting into second and third levels of association, it just doesn't work. Symbolism can be subtle, but it shouldn't approach Cockney Rhyming slang in terms of obsfucation.

I do apologize for my humor - as a director of theatre, some expressions come forth unbidden. It was a poor "call" considering my subject matter. However, my "nosebleed section" is "theatre" originated, and not "cockney" - neither did I attempt a rhyming scheme to communicate Jon's "poor seating". If I had written "cheap seats", then there exists some internal rhyming with similar sounds.

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OK, wonderful work, OP. I really enjoyed reading this and for appropriate reply, I needed some time...

I like how blood motif diverges from person to person. We have Dany's obsession with blood magic, we have blood in its natural form in killings, and then we have blood motif as sexual awakening in Sansa's storyline. The importance of the blood motif is simply undeniable whether we talk about Targaryen grandeur, or women's bleeding.

Interestingly, with talking about Sansa's sexual awakening, you have to make connection between "sour wine" Sandor smells of, and blood that represented the growth. Then, in the night of Blackwater battle, there is significant union of these two motifs - Sansa smells both blood and wine on Sandor... Quite interesting parallels can be made here...

:bowdown: :bowdown:

EXCELLENT POINTS! The blood associations with sexual awakenings is worthy of its own subheading! I get a headache just thinking about the "virgin's blood" in the past and to come in the future!

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wow, talk about an ambitious project! your discussion of Communion is quite funny-- I myself was confused by this as a child and my mom had to explain that no, we were not drinking blood, it was symbolic. However, when serving Communion to his disciples, we are told that Jesus asked them to do it "in remembrance of me". As an act, it is an invitation to identify with, join, and affirm oneself as a member of this group. Why do you think the Starks are (symbolically) serving blood to their guests?

also, as an observation, from what you have written so far I see a strong correlation between blood, sacrifice, inheritance and memory. I wonder what might be significant about that.

:bowdown: :bowdown: THANK YOU for the great response. I have some theories that I will share later regarding the blood and its relationship with sacrifice. The inheritance and memory I also touch upon in regards to "inheriting" aspects of a collective memory. Simply, the direwolves are the agents that are helping the Starks to realize their potential as wargs, skinchangers, greenseers, etc. The Starks need to remember what the First Men knew now forgotten in Winterfell.

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Blood Motif in other cultures: Mesoamerica

Human sacrifice and the powerful blood motif are found also in other cultures. I think the best comparison to Brans visions of what might actually "power" the weirwood trees is similar to the Druid traditions of Human sacrifice and the ability to transcend the soul.

But, we also see similar traditions in Mesoamerica and the Inca empire, particularly the Aztec and their famous, (or infamous), "blood magic" and sacrifices.

According to Aztec tradition, they would offer up the blood of captured tribesmen, sacrificed with an obsidian knife made from volcanos, to the god Acolnahuactl where he would "drink" until he was no longer thirsty.

In the Aztec "Legend of the Five Suns," all the gods sacrificed themselves so that mankind could live. When the Franciscans challenged the Priests to stop they answered, " Life is because of the gods; with their sacrifice they gave us life...They produce our sustenance....which nourishes life."

Because of that central Mesoamerican belief in the idea of a great, on-going sacrifice sustains the Universe, everything is "tonacayotl," the "spiritual flesh-hood" on earth. Everything sprang from the severed bodies of the sacrificed gods to life, so sacrifice, and human sacrifice as a the highest honor, had to be repaid.

Given that Martin lives in New Mexico surrounded by those cultural influences and tradition, coupled with the Celtic traditions, I can see him making similar parallels between man and the environment, particularly blood sacrifice giving life to the great trees and atonement, as well as themes of man out of harmony with the Universe.

(Am I correct to speculate that part of Harrenhals curse could be related to the weirwood trees cut down to build it)?

Blood held an important function in Mesoamerican cultures. According to The Florentine Codex, one of the creation myths, Aztec god Quetzalcoatl offered up the blood extracted from a genital wound as a sacrifice to humanity, and there are several other myths in which the Nahua gods offered up their blood for humaity.

So, it appears that just like other cultures around the world that deal with blood and sacrificial themes, atonement is the common denominator.

For the Targaryens, "Fire and Blood" may have been the war cry for conquest, but for the Starks as hinted in their dark past, blood may have been actually been the source of their power.

Thoughts?

:bowdown: :bowdown: ALIA OF THE KNIFE: OUTSTANDING ANALYSIS! WOW! LOTS OF GOOD STUFF. My thesis points directly show how the 'blood' nurtures the Starks through their direwolves tasting blood. I will organize my next post to illustrate what I mean by this, using specific textual references as evidence.

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:bowdown: :bowdown: ALIA OF THE KNIFE: OUTSTANDING ANALYSIS! WOW! LOTS OF GOOD STUFF. My thesis points directly show how the 'blood' nurtures the Starks through their direwolves tasting blood. I will organize my next post to illustrate what I mean by this, using specific textual references as evidence.

Thanks Evita, it seems the idea of "atonement" is a big part in all of the cultures. :)

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