Pod the God: What happened in the brothel

bronnpod

Also available Here as a video

 

In season 3 episode 3 of Game of Thrones, a miracle happens to Podrick Payne. Tyrion gave Podrick a gift at Littlefinger’s brothel for his loyalty at the Blackwater; a session with three of Littlefinger’s best prostitutes. Podrick returns from his gift and gives Tyrion back the money and when Tyrion protests Podrick replies that the prostitutes refused his money. After some questioning, it’s revealed that the money was not accepted because the virgin Podrick was so stunning in bed that the pleasure was worth more than the gold for the girls.  

Continue reading

Advertisements
Posted in Game of Thrones, Reddit Posts | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Brienne became Pretty

New YouTube video up! A rewrite of my “How Brienne The Beauty became Pretty” theory. I wasn’t very happy with the quality of the original theory, and wanted to redo it. Joined by the vocal talents of Bryndenbfish and the artwork of Sanrixian.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Royal Rumble: Ranking the Kings and Queens of Game of Thrones

Source: The Royal Rumble: Ranking the Kings and Queens of Game of Thrones

 

My latest article from Watchers on the Wall giving grades to all the different Kings and Queens of the show Game of Thrones.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weirwoods: The Wight Trees

The post can also be found here on Youtube

And here on Reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/comments/7ywav1/spoilers_extended_weirwoods_the_wight_trees

The weirwoods, or Old Gods as they are sometimes called, are always watching. They are near immortal, oddly humanoid trees with carved wooden faces, and blood red tears. Even in a world of dragons, mind control, face changing, and shadow babies, the weirwoods stand out starkly. If we could peel back their bark and look inside the great trees, what would we see?
Well, today we will finally understand these bizarre trees and what lies hidden deep within their core. When a new weirwood is planted, the Children ritually kill a sacrifice and then plant the new tree in their corpse creating a “wight” tree. This macabre practice gives them all the traits and magical elements that separates weirwood from all other trees.

nedcat

HBO

As a starting point, let’s begin with an accurate understanding of what the weirwoods are and are not. At first they appear to resemble common trees, like oak, ash, or elm trees with their huge center trunks, large leaves, and long wide branches.

It was the biggest tree Jon Snow had ever seen, the trunk near eight feet wide, the branches spreading so far that the entire village was shaded beneath their canopy. The size did not disturb him so much as the face . . . the mouth especially, no simple carved slash, but a jagged hollow large enough to swallow a sheep.
– A Clash Of Kings Jon II

Oak trees are so similar they have even been used as replacement heart trees in Southern Godswood.

The thick walls shut out the clamor of the castle, and he could hear birds singing, the murmur of crickets, leaves rustling in a gentle wind. The heart tree was an oak, brown and faceless, yet Ned Stark still felt the presence of his gods.
– A Game of Thrones Eddard XII

By all accounts the weirwoods look like normal deciduous trees except for their odd coloring. Deciduous means that they drop their leaves and shed as the seasons change or conditions get inhospitable. It is unknown what causes a weirwood to lose its leaves.
In the Citadel, there’s a half dead weirwood:

The carved face on its trunk was grown over by the same purple moss that hung heavy from the tree’s pale limbs. Half of the branches seemed dead, but elsewhere a few red leaves still rustled, and it was there the ravens liked to perch.
A Feast for Crows Samwell V

And at Raventree Hall is a bare weirwood. Tytos Blackwood tells a tale for how it got that way: Poison.

“The Brackens poisoned it,” said his host. “For a thousand years it has not shown a leaf. In another thousand it will have turned to stone, the maesters say. Weirwoods never rot.”
– A Dance with Dragons Jaime I

weirwood2

HBO

We’ve seen weirwood leaves fall on their own twice: The first is the Weirwood grove where Jon swears his oath to the Night’s Watch.

The forest floor was carpeted with fallen leaves, bloodred on top, black rot beneath. The wide smooth trunks were bone pale, and nine faces stared inward. The dried sap that crusted in the eyes was red and hard as ruby.
A Game of Thrones Jon IV

And second, when Theon is asking for help from the Old Gods in the Winterfell godswood:

The old gods, he thought. They know me. They know my name. I was Theon of House Greyjoy. I was a ward of Eddard Stark, a friend and brother to his children. “Please.” He fell to his knees. “A sword, that’s all I ask. Let me die as Theon, not as Reek.” Tears trickled down his cheeks, impossibly warm. “I was ironborn. A son … a son of Pyke, of the islands.”
A leaf drifted down from above, brushed his brow, and landed in the pool. It floated on the water, red, five-fingered, like a bloody hand. “… Bran,” the tree murmured.
– A Dance with Dragons A Ghost in Winterfell

Weirwoods seemingly ignore their environment, stubbornly refusing all the usual stimuli that make trees go dormant. Ice and snow have little effect on them.

These are not my gods. This is not my place. The heart tree stood before him, a pale giant with a carved face and leaves like bloody hands.
A thin film of ice covered the surface of the pool beneath the weirwood.
– A Dance with Dragons The Turncloak

As mentioned above by Tytos Blackwood the weirwoods seemingly never rot. The only close analogue is petrified wood, a millions of years long process where the organic material is replaced with mineral and turned to stone. This quality of weirwoods makes them excellent and expensive building and crafting material. If what Tytos Blackwood says is true and their wood never rots, a weirwood rafter will never need replacing under normal wear, a weirwood staff or table or door will stay pristine seemingly forever. These traits make them stand out for how odd they are.
In addition, they also never seem to heal. Daemon Targaryen famously slashed at the weirwood at Harrenhal with long lasting results.

When the last of them was gone, Daemon Targaryen walked the cavernous halls of Harren’s seat alone, with no companion but his dragon. Each night at dusk he slashed the heart tree in the godswood to mark the passing of another day. Thirteen marks can be seen upon that weirwood still; old wounds, deep and dark, yet the lords who have ruled Harrenhal since Daemon’s day say they bleed afresh every spring.
– The Princess and the Queen

They don’t heal from wounds, they don’t rot, they don’t die if undisturbed. By all accounts the weirwoods appear undead.
There’s no such corresponding tree and wood in our world, or even in the rest of ASOIAF. Only weirwood have these traits. Why?
The reason is that George R.R. Martin did not have any real tree in mind. In a 2006 response to a fan, he said:

I need to know what the leaves look like to a Weirwood as the only description I have is that they are red and look like hands. Some Oaks have smooth edged leaves while other Oaks have jagged edges. I was thinking them looking like a Maple leaf but having that smooth oak leaf edge. Can you help me please? I just need to put the leaves on and I’m done.

GRRM: Well, when I used the “hands” metaphor, I was thinking that each leaf was divided into five “fingers,” smaller ones on the ends, three longer ones toward the middle. Spread your hand on a piece of paper and trace around it, and there’s your shape. Never gave much thought as to whether the edges would be smooth or jagged. Whatever works best – http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/1657

Although the edge of leaves are important in botanical identification, GRRM’s lack of emphasis on the texture of the leaves—smooth or jagged—shows that this is not the focus. Anthropomorphic language and symbolism instead draw the reader’s attention to the world of myths, fiction and the occult.
The description of weirwood trees is highly anthropomorphic. Their limbs reach out to grab with their five-fingered leaves, their eyes are blood red, full of tears.

tmp_gqEE3y_045d03b223edbe54_TreeFace

HBO

Each one had a face carved into it, and no two faces were alike. Some were smiling, some were screaming, some were shouting at him. In the deepening glow their eyes looked black, but in daylight they would be blood-red, Jon knew. Eyes like Ghost’s.
– A Dance with Dragons Jon VII

It looked as if the tree was trying to catch the moon and drag it down into the well.
– A Storm of Swords Bran IV

Before them a pale lord in ebon finery sat dreaming in a tangled nest of roots, a woven weirwood throne that embraced his withered limbs as a mother does a child. – A Dance with Dragons Bran II

The weirwood’s bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself.
A Game of Thrones Catelyn I

The spooky visual of the weirwood eyes is not mere imagery. We know that weirwoods can have greenseers watching from inside. Theon perceives Bran’s face here in the Winterfell weirwood.

And for one strange moment it seemed as if it were Bran’s face carved into the pale trunk of the weirwood, staring down at him with eyes red and wise and sad. Bran’s ghost, he thought, but that was madness.
– A Dance with Dragons A Ghost in Winterfell

Their limbs are like arms, their leaves are hands, they cradle like a mother, they reach and twist for the moon. The bark is not just white but bone, the sap is blood. If you squint a little, you can almost see them as the face and head of person buried up to their neck. This imagery is called upon by Jon describing the leaves as a crown.

Ahead he glimpsed a pale white trunk that could only be a weirwood, crowned with a head of dark red leaves. Jon Snow reached back and pulled Longclaw from his sheath.
– A Dance with Dragons Jon VII

The idea of the weirwoods appearing human is one that George has almost certainly borrowed from J.R.R. Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings. When Merry and Pippin enter Fanghorn Forest and meet Treebeard, we learn of the species known as Ents. These ents, or tree herders, were made long ago to protect the forests from the other newly awakened species of Middle Earth and over time changed drastically. As they lived with the trees, they become more tree-like. Many of the Ents are often mistaken for the trees they protect.

9eb01-sorrytreebeard

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

GRRM seems to be playing at something similar with Bloodraven’s transformation:

His body was so skeletal and his clothes so rotted that at first Bran took him for another corpse, a dead man propped up so long that the roots had grown over him, under him, and through him. What skin the corpse lord showed was white, save for a bloody blotch that crept up his neck onto his cheek. His white hair was fine and thin as root hair and long enough to brush against the earthen floor. Roots coiled around his legs like wooden serpents. One burrowed through his breeches into the desiccated flesh of his thigh, to emerge again from his shoulder. A spray of dark red leaves sprouted from his skull, and grey mushrooms spotted his brow.
– A Dance with Dragons Bran II

There is, though, another side to the transformation of the ents.

Treebeard_grabs_Pippin

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Before the Ents took care of the forests, the forests used to take care of themselves. Deep in the forests of Middle Earth live the dark and angry and savage trees known as “the huorns.” The only named huorn is Old Man Willow from Fellowship of the Ring, the tree that trapped the hobbits and actually eats Merry and Pippin before the hobbits are saved by Tom Bombadil’s singing. An angry tree that eats people and responds to singing, sounds familiar.

old-man-willow
Anyway, the huorns are like an inverse of the ents: They are trees that have become more humanoid over time. They’ve learned to speak, they can move and grab and kill, and have emotions. It’s these very trees that uproot and butcher the orc army fleeing from Helm’s Deep.

huorns

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

What we’re seeing here is an application of George’s desire to apply more consequences and the famous “Aragorn’s tax plan” to fantasy. The ents and huorns somehow changed to be like each other over time, but the mechanics are more hand waved away by Tolkien. George is taking a much more serious attempt at explaining how this could happen in his world with Bloodraven. So if we take the ents story being adapted as a body being entangled and swallowed up by the weirwood, then the huorns should be the opposite. A tree transformed into a body or growing out of one. But a tree can’t grow out of a body, it would kill it! Well, not if the body is already dead or perhaps freshly sacrificed.
This concept has roots in cultures across the world; the ancient practice of “grave trees.” In England, Yew trees are often planted in church graveyards, a leftover druidic practice that goes back before the coming of Christianity to the islands. Much like we see at Winterfell and Raventree Hall, the dead of First Men are often buried beneath or near a heart tree.

Lucas was murdered at the Red Wedding. Walder Frey’s fourth wife was a Blackwood, but kinship counts for no more than guest right at the Twins. I should like to bury Lucas beneath the tree, but the Freys have not yet seen fit to return his bones to me.”
– A Dance with Dragons Jaime I

There’s also a similar idea in Japanese culture known as the Jubokko or “ghost tree” or “child tree”. From the wikipedia entry,

According to folklore, it appears in former battlefields where many people have died, and its appearance does not differ that much from ordinary trees. Since it becomes a yōkai tree by sucking up large quantities of blood from the dead, it lives on human blood. When a human being happens to pass by, it supposedly captures the victim and, changing its branches into the shape of a tube, sucks the blood out of the victim. A Jubokko that sucks life out of human beings in such a way is said to always maintain a fresh appearance. When a Jubokko is cut, blood trickles out.

Almost a dead ringer, excuse the pun, for the weirwoods even down to the blood-like sap that leaks out from the carved eyes.

https_blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.comuploadscardimage95552Weirwood_tree_face

HBO

For our purposes though, what we’re looking for is a tree growing out of a body. And George delivers with an innocuous scene following the death of Night’s Watch recruit Praed.

They dug a grave of their own then, burying the sellsword where he’d slept. Yoren stripped him of his valuables before they threw the dirt on him. One man claimed his boots, another his dagger. His mail shirt and helm were parceled out. His longsword Yoren handed to the Bull. “Arms like yours, might be you can learn to use this,” he told him. A boy called Tarber tossed a handful of acorns on top of Praed’s body, so an oak might grow to mark his place.
– A Clash of Kings Arya II

A Night’s Watchmen being buried with acorns, with the hope that they will become a tree. Very clever, GRRM. The acorns are tossed in with no one batting an eye, marking it as something all in attendance are familiar with. Here we have a Night’s Watch recruit from whose dead body a new tree will grow and introduces the concept of trees as grave markers. Rather than seeing forests as quiet tranquil landscapes, they can instead be imagined as living lichyards.
The carved faces in the trees also takes on new significance. Rather than being convenient ways for greenseers to see through the weirwoods, the faces can be seen instead as death masks of those the tree grew out from.
The wide variety of facial features and emotions seen on the faces has always bothered me. Why carve a whole face? From Bran and briefly Varamyr Sixskins’ examples all the greenseers use is the eyes.

For a moment it was as if he were inside the weirwood, gazing out through carved red eyes as a dying man twitched feebly on the ground and a madwoman danced blind and bloody underneath the moon, weeping red tears and ripping at her clothes.
– A Dance with Dragons Prologue

“No,” said Jojen, “only a boy who dreams. The greenseers were more than that. They were wargs as well, as you are, and the greatest of them could wear the skins of any beast that flies or swims or crawls, and could look through the eyes of the weirwoods as well, and see the truth that lies beneath the world.
– A Storm Of Swords Bran I

And yet when the faces are described by our author, each one is unique and whole.

IsleOfFaces

HBO

The weirwoods rose in a circle around the edges of the clearing. There were nine, all roughly of the same age and size. Each one had a face carved into it, and no two faces were alike. Some were smiling, some were screaming, some were shouting at him.
– A Dance with Dragons Jon VII

The size did not disturb him so much as the face . . . the mouth especially, no simple carved slash, but a jagged hollow large enough to swallow a sheep.
– A Clash of Kings Jon II

The face carved into the bone pale trunk was long and sad; red tears of dried sap leaked from its eyes. Was that how it looked when we came north? Sam couldn’t recall.
– A Storm Of Swords Samwell III

They crossed the castle’s godswood, where the heart tree had grown so huge and tangled that it had choked out all the oaks and elms and birch and sent its thick, pale limbs crashing through the walls and windows that looked down on it. Its roots were as thick around as a man’s waist, its trunk so wide that the face carved into it looked fat and angry.
– A Dance with Dragons Davos IV

The weirwood’s bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself.
A Game of Thrones Catelyn I

She found Robb beneath the green canopy of leaves, surrounded by tall redwoods and great old elms, kneeling before the heart tree, a slender weirwood with a face more sad than fierce.
A Game of Thrones Catelyn XI

Arya stared at the face carved into its trunk. It was a terrible face, its mouth twisted, its eyes flaring and full of hate. Is that what a god looked like? Could gods be hurt, the same as people? I should pray, she thought suddenly.
– A Clash of Kings Arya IX

These faces being the faces of the dead who became the weirwood provides an elegant explanation for why the Children and George R.R. Martin are going through the effort of giving these trees personality. And personality they do have. From Bran’s visions while he is recovering from Jaime Lannister’s infamous shove, we have this description of the Winterfell heart tree.

At the heart of the godswood, the great white weirwood brooded over its reflection in the black pool, its leaves rustling in a chill wind. When it felt Bran watching, it lifted its eyes from the still waters and stared back at him knowingly.
A Game of Thrones Bran II

As the audience, we don’t have to do more than take the descriptive language and odd moments like these seriously. See past the bone white bark and bloody leaves and instead see the truth George is laying on so thick. The weirwoods aren’t just alive: They are awake.
This is all just literal interpretation of figurative language, right? After all, the crypts of Winterfell have statues that are given similar descriptive language and none of them have leapt down from their thrones brandishing their iron swords just yet. However, we are told something very important about the weirwoods. Like Bran, whose full greenseer powers have to be awoken with the “seed paste” (that is almost certainly not weirwood seeds), the weirwoods themselves have to be “awoken” too.

Nor will your sight be limited to your godswood. The singers carved eyes into their heart trees to awaken them, and those are the first eyes a new greenseer learns to use … but in time you will see well beyond the trees themselves.”
– A Dance with Dragons Bran III

This is implying that, like Bran, there’s a period for weirwoods where they have some abilities but then they have their eyes opened too and “awaken”. And it’s important to point out that the Children of the Forest only carve faces into the weirwoods. All throughout the rest of ASOIAF, there are no faces in any other tree except once. This is when the wildlings carved into a oak after passing through the Wall. If this face carving is merely a tool or convenience that lets the Children see through a tree, why not carve faces in every tree? Awaken the entire forest and have total vision of the world around them. No, the specificity of the weirwoods again marks their uniqueness. It’s not a trick that works with other trees.
And beyond that, what would a tree even know what to do with eyes and a mouth? They could no more know what to do with eyes than a human would know what to do the eight limbs and color camouflage of an octopus or the echolocation of a dolphin. However, if the weirwoods instead contain the dead body and spirit of a being that had those senses in life like a Child of the Forest or a human, then giving the weirwoods a face to use makes perfect sense. Eyes, noses, and mouths would be familiar for them. And when you look at the infamous Black Gate beneath the Nightfort, it all clicks.

Kerry_Barnett_passing_the_wall_II

Fantasy Flight Games

A glow came from the wood, like milk and moonlight, so faint it scarcely seemed to touch anything beyond the door itself, not even Sam standing right before it. The face was old and pale, wrinkled and shrunken. It looks dead. Its mouth was closed, and its eyes; its cheeks were sunken, its brow withered, its chin sagging. If a man could live for a thousand years and never die but just grow older, his face might come to look like that.
The door opened its eyes.
They were white too, and blind. “Who are you?” the door asked
– A Storm Of Swords Bran IV

In support of the idea that the weirwoods are sacrificed people with trees planted in their corpses, there is the well-catalogued practice of blood sacrifice within the story centered around the weirwoods.

And so they did, gathering in their hundreds (some say on the Isle of Faces), and calling on their old gods with song and prayer and grisly sacrifice (a thousand captive men were fed to the weirwood, one version of the tale goes, whilst another claims the children used the blood of their own young). And the old gods stirred, and giants awoke in the earth, and all of Westeros shook and trembled.
The World of Ice and Fire Dorne: The Breaking

Here for the shattering of the Arm of Dorne, the maesters claim that the Child killed hundreds and thousands in a blood sacrifice to destroy the land bridge. And then also from The World of Ice and Fire

Others, with little evidence, claim that the greenseers—the wise men of the children—were able to see through the eyes of the carved weirwoods. The supposed proof is the fact that the First Men themselves believed this; it was their fear of the weirwoods spying upon them that drove them to cut down many of the carved trees and weirwood groves, to deny the children such an advantage. Yet the First Men were less learned than we are now, and credited things that their descendants today do not; consider Maester Yorrick’s Wed to the Sea, Being an Account of the History of White Harbor from Its Earliest Days, which recounts the practice of blood sacrifice to the old gods. Such sacrifices persisted as recently as five centuries ago, according to accounts from Maester Yorrick’s predecessors at White Harbor.
The World of Ice and Fire Ancient History: The Dawn Age

An important part of Old God worship was ritualized blood sacrifices. And from Bran in A Dance with Dragons we see exactly how these were carried out.

Then, as he watched, a bearded man forced a captive down onto his knees before the heart tree. A white-haired woman stepped toward them through a drift of dark red leaves, a bronze sickle in her hand.
“No,” said Bran, “no, don’t,” but they could not hear him, no more than his father had. The woman grabbed the captive by the hair, hooked the sickle round his throat, and slashed. And through the mist of centuries the broken boy could only watch as the man’s feet drummed against the earth … but as his life flowed out of him in a red tide, Brandon Stark could taste the blood.
– A Dance with Dragons Bran III

Game-of-Thrones-Garth-Greenhand

HBO

The legendary figure of the First Men, Garth the Green or Garth Greenhand is also linked with the weirwoods. The Three Singers are a trio of enormous weirwoods at Highgarden that intertwine like an enormous tower. According to legend, these weirwoods were planted by Garth personally. Many associate Garth with fertility and bounties, but there’s a dark side to his legends. The oldest of the legends.

A few of the very oldest tales of Garth Greenhand present us with a considerably darker deity, one who demanded blood sacrifice from his worshippers to ensure a bountiful harvest. In some stories the green god dies every autumn when the trees lose their leaves, only to be reborn with the coming of spring. This version of Garth is largely forgotten.
The World of Ice and Fire The Reach: Garth Greenhand

Garth required the death of his followers to work his magics on their crops. The linking of him with the planting of weirwoods and then blood sacrifice is right in line with what we know of how the First Men worship the Old Gods.
We are also told of how the First Men “decorated” the weirwoods,

The original language of the First Men—known as the Old Tongue—has come to be spoken only by the wildlings beyond the Wall, and many other aspects of their culture have faded away (such as the grislier aspects of their worship, when criminals and traitors were killed and their bodies and entrails hung from the branches of weirwoods.)
The World of Ice and Fire The North

It’s said they hung their entrails in the branches of the heart tree, as an offering to the gods. The old gods, not these new ones from the south. Your Seven don’t know winter, and winter don’t know them.”
– A Dance with Dragons, Davos IV

The Wildlings continue this practice as well in current times, particularly at Whitetree village where they give their enormous weirwood actual meals.

400px-Whitetree_by_dinodrawing

Fantasy Flight Games

Those are not sheep bones, though. Nor is that a sheep’s skull in the ashes.

He knelt and reached a gloved hand down into the maw. The inside of the hollow was red with dried sap and blackened by fire. Beneath the skull he saw another, smaller, the jaw broken off. It was half-buried in ash and bits of bone.
– A Clash of Kings Jon II

The First Men and the Children worship the same Old Gods, the trees, and their followers both offer up blood sacrifices for them. If they are willing to sacrifice blood and lives for existing trees, surely they would have no issues doing the same when they plant new weirwoods. However we see from these examples that the Children used blood sacrifice for specific goals, such as Shattering of the Arm of Dorne and the attempted Shattering of the Neck. The First Men seemingly offer up their blood sacrifices out of religious practice and tradition and don’t seem to grasp what they are doing.
The purpose of the sacrifice appears to be, and this is a bit of a leap, preserving their wisest and most intelligent members of their race indefinitely with new blood. While weirwoods can be found in the wild sometimes and often in castles, they also have been found arranged in large circles at the Isle of Faces, the grove North of the Wall that Jon swears his vows in, and biggest one at High Heart. Each tree with a face, each location considered holy for the Children and First Men.

The great hill called High Heart was especially holy to the First Men, as it had been to the children of the forest before them. Crowned by a grove of giant weirwoods, ancient as any that had been seen in the Seven Kingdoms, High Heart was still the abode of the children and their greenseers.
The World of Ice and Fire The Riverlands

 

The wisest of both races prevailed, and the chief heroes and rulers of both sides met upon the isle in the Gods Eye to form the Pact. Giving up all the lands of Westeros save for the deep forests, the children won from the First Men the promise that they would no longer cut down the weirwoods. All the weirwoods of the isle on which the Pact was forged were then carved with faces so that the gods could witness the Pact, and the order of green men was made afterward to tend to the weirwoods and protect the isle.
The World of Ice and Fire Ancient History: The Coming of First Men

The sun was sinking below the trees when they reached their destination, a small clearing in the deep of the wood where nine weirwoods grew in a rough circle. Jon drew in a breath, and he saw Sam Tarly staring. Even in the wolfswood, you never found more than two or three of the white trees growing together; a grove of nine was unheard of. The forest floor was carpeted with fallen leaves, bloodred on top, black rot beneath. The wide smooth trunks were bone pale, and nine faces stared inward. The dried sap that crusted in the eyes was red and hard as ruby. Bowen Marsh commanded them to leave their horses outside the circle. “This is a sacred place, we will not defile it.”
A Game of Thrones Jon VI

Imagine if you could permanently preserve the consciousness of the greatest members of your civilization. People like Isaac Newton, Einstein, Jesus, Buddha, Alexander alive in a form that you can interact with long after their bodies died. Remember, weirwoods will last nearly forever if undisturbed. These rings of weirwoods could be seen as the pillars of their society, living monuments to their history and greatest and wisest heroes. Literally the “Old Gods”, the best among them ascended from their mortal forms. And perhaps the same is true for the weirwoods that the First Men built their homes and castles around.
When we learn about the pacts the Children made with the First Men, there’s an odd side effect never mentioned in the terms. The First Men promised to stop cutting down the weirwoods and leave the deep woods alone, and the Children gave up claim to the rest of Westeros. But not only did the First Men not cut down any more weirwood trees, they began worshipping them. They adopted the religion of the Children inexplicably. Think again about all the blood sacrifice, how the Children have second lives within the trees and in animals, and how the weirwoods could be the Children’s honored dead. What if the pact was not sealed with a promise but with a marriage. A marriage between man and weirwood.

“Your blood makes you a greenseer,” said Lord Brynden. “This will help awaken your gifts and wed you to the trees.”
– A Dance with Dragons Bran III

We’re told that the faces on the Gods Eye were carved to observe the pact. What if instead the weirwoods were planted there in bodies of the participants to seal the promises forever with their blood and lives. First men literally becoming the Old Gods themselves, their own kind raised up into the Godhood of weirwoods and joining the pantheon of the Children. There’s some hint of this when we look at the faces of the weirwoods in the castles of the First Men.
The Starks are said to have long, solemn faces and melancholy temperaments.

ffs54_main

Fantasy Flight Games

The boy absorbed that all in silence. He had the Stark face if not the name: long, solemn, guarded, a face that gave nothing away.
A Game of Thrones Tyrion II

Robert looked off into the darkness, for a moment as melancholy as a Stark.
A Game of Thrones Eddard I

And then, we look at the face carved into the Heartree of Winterfell.

300px-D8a3b2e009da3ca800295235ca73cbc0

Game of Thrones Comic

A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself. They had seen Brandon the Builder set the first stone, if the tales were true; they had watched the castle’s granite walls rise around them.
A Game of Thrones Jon VI

The face looks like a Stark. The faces of all the Godswood may look like the founders of the castles and communities built around the great trees. That face may even be Bran the Builder or Brandon of the Bloody Blade watching over their family thousands of years later. The same for all the other weirwoods across Westeros. Goes a long way to explaining why the First Men have such affection for these trees that don’t do much for them besides give the Children mass surveillance. The weirwoods are family, their family.
ASOIAF is a world of sacrifice, nothing is free not even the magic. Daenerys gets her dragons but has to lose her husband and child for them. Bran learns to fly at the cost of his ability to walk. Bloodraven can finally see everything but can’t touch any of it. The Children and the weirwoods are no different. The weirwoods, with their ability to withstand time and ignore their surroundings and fed by blood sacrifice and drinking like vampires, of course they would begin with the end of a life. It only makes sense, after all only death can pay for life. The Old Gods are always watching, frozen in time like wight trees having paid the ultimate price for their ascension. Deep within them is some remnant of the body they used to walk the earth and the memory of life before. However, like we see from Bran’s vision of Jon,

his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him.
-A Game of Thrones Bran III

The weirwoods have long since lost their memory of warmth and they stand watch over Westeros, the nameless Gods of the wood.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment