Drowned God

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The Drowned God, also known as He Who Dwells Beneath the Waves,[1] is a sea deity worshipped by the ironborn of the Iron Islands in Westeros. The religion of the Drowned God is old, dating back to before the Andal invasion, and the attempts of the Andal invaders to supplant it with the Seven all failed. The Drowned God religion supports the ironmen's naval, pirate culture.

Drowned God

The faith of the Drowned God is unique to the Iron Islands.[2] He is seen as the creator of the seas and father of the ironborn. The ironborn believe they come from the watery halls of the Drowned God.[3] The Drowned God is said to have made the ironborn in his own likeness,[3] to reave, rape, carve out kingdoms, make their names known in fire and blood and song[4] and to hold dominion over all the waters of the earth.[3]

The ironborn believe that the Drowned God is opposed by the Storm God. This malignant deity dwells in the sky and has hatred for men and all their works.[3] The Storm God resides in a cloudy hall,[5] and sends cruel winds, lashing rains, and the thunder and lightning down upon men.[3] The Drowned God and the Storm God are said to have been at war against one another for "a thousand thousand years".[5]

The ironborn believe that the Drowned God has fewer power the further removed from the sea they are.[6][7] Even in strange lands where other gods are worshipped, some might believe that a large amount of drowned men give the Drowned God strength in the area.[8]

Most ironborn have naught but scorn for the Seven of the south and the old gods of the North.[3]

Organization

Priests

The priests of the Drowned God are ill clad,[3] wearing mottled robes of green, grey, and blue, the colors of the Drowned God.[4][5] Underneath they wear a sealskin clout.[5] The priests use dried seaweed which they braid through their long hair and untrimmed beard, and wear a waterskin on a leather strap.[4] They have an unkempt appearance.[3] For example, Aeron Greyjoy has not cut his hair since having been raised up by the Drowned God and becoming a priest.[5] Most priests do not bathe in any water but the sea, and they often go barefoot. They have no permanent home, but instead wander the Iron Islands, seldom going far from the sea. The lords and peasants on the islands are obliged to give them food and shelter in the name of their god. [3] Priests will drink sea water from time to time, to strengthen their faith,[8] and some eat only fish.[3]

The priests speak with the voice of their god.[9] They wield considerable power over the ironborn, having the power to call a kingsmoot.[3] Most priests are illiterate, so the prayers and rituals are orally taught.[3] The priests and their drowned men primarily make use of those things that can be taken from the sea, such as driftwood for makeshift shelters and sealskin for tents.[5]

A drowned priest is said to be able to sour wells and make women barren with his gaze[10]

Drowned Men

The Drowned Men[6] are the acolytes of Aeron Greyjoy, who is a priest of the Drowned God. They wear mottled robes and carry driftwood cudgels to show their devotion.[5] It is unknown whether acolytes to other priests are called "drowned men" as well.

Practices

People worshiping the Drowned God.
Art by martinacecilia

The Drowned God has no temples, holy books, or idols.[3] "Lord God who drowned for us," is part of the litany of the Drowned God's priests.[5]

The ironborn believe that the Drowned God gives every man "a gift", something in which he excels.[5][10] He helps bold men, but not cowards.[10]

When the sea becomes more rough, with the waves growing larger and the wind rising, some might say that "the Drowned God wakes".[11]

The children of a thrall are born free, as long as they are given to the Drowned God.[10]

Seastone Chair

The ironborn believe that the Drowned God decides who sits the Seastone Chair. This will not be a woman, not a godless man.[5] Priests of the Drowned God can summon all ironborn captains to Nagga's hill on Old Wyk for a kingsmoot in the name of their god.[5]

Baptism

Drowning and resurrection feature prominently in the prayers and rituals of the Drowned God religion.. © FFG

The priests of the Drowned God know how to drown a man and then bring him back to life, using cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which is called the "kiss of life". This is done as part of the rites of the god, consecrating the drowned person to him. Not all men are successfully revived, however.[12][5] While the priest or one of his acolytes uses CPR on the drowned man, other acolytes might pray around them.[5] It is custom to give a newborn child to the Drowned God shortly following his birth. Some priests believe that this should be done in a similar manner, but more frequently the child is simply dipped into a tub of seawater, scarcely wetting the infant's head.[5]

Blessing

When performing a blessing on a person, the priest has the person kneel. He pours a stream of sea water from his waterskin upon the person's head while stating "Let [person] your servant be born again from the sea, as you were. Bless him with salt, bless him with stone, bless him with steel." Then the kneeling person responds, "What is dead may never die." And the priest replies with, "What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger".[4]

Priests of the Drowned God also bless new ships, by speaking invocations and pouring sea water over the ship's prow.[13]

Ritual executions

Several different types of ritual executions exist among the faith of the Drowned God. Blood sacrifice is done by slitting the throat of thralls, after which the bodies are given to the sea.[8][14] Other times, sacrifice might be done by drowning someone, preferably in salt water.[15][16][17] The executioner should be the person in command.[17]

Death

When an ironman dies, it is said that the Drowned God needed a strong oarsman.[13] "What's dead may never die" is a phrase uttered in such occasions.[13] It is believed that the deceased is summoned to the Drowned God's wateru halls, where he can drink and feast for all eternity,[10][5] with mermaids attending his every want.[5] The ironborn believe that “no true son of the sea would want to rot beneath the ground” as it would make him unable to find the Drowned God's watery halls.[10]

Priests of the Drowned God preach that ironborn must not shed the blood of ironborn, though they believe that methods such as drowning are acceptable, as it means no blood is spilled.[5]

A death at sea is considered to be a goodness from the Drowned God.[5]

History

The faith of the Drowned God teaches the ironborn that they came from the watery halls of the Drowned God, and were created in his likeness. The priests preach that the ironborn are related to fish and merlings, and not the other races of mankind. However, some ironborn rather acknowledge the more widely accepted view; that the ironborn descent from the First Men.[3] In his manuscript Strange Stone Maester Theron suggests that the religion of the Drowned God originates from the undersea fathers of the Deep Ones.[18]

The Drowned God is said to have changed Nagga's bones into stone after the Grey King had slain her during the Age of Heroes, so that men might never cease to wonder at the courage of the first of kings.[11] The Grey King's crown was made of driftwood, so all would know that his kingship came from the Drowned God.[19]

The greatest of all the priests of the Drowned God was Galon Whitestaff, who decreed that ironborn must not make war on other ironborn and who forbade them to carry off each other's women or raid each other's shores. He also made the Iron Islands into a single kingdom, by calling a kingsmoot at Old Wyk in which Urras Greyiron was chosen.[20] The priests of the Drowned God refused to allow the ironborn kings to name their successor a third time following the death of Urragon IV Greyiron. A kingsmoot was assembled on Old Wyk, but in the slaughter that followed half a hundred priests and prophets were among the victims.[20]

The Andals eventually reached the Iron Islands during their invasion. According to Archmaester Haereg they at first attempted to force worship of their own god, the Seven, onto the ironborn. The ironborn would not accept it, but did allow the worship of the Seven to coexist with their worship of the Drowned God. Although the Andals intermarried with the ironborn, the Drowned God remained strong on the Iron Islands and in time, most Andals on the isles converted.[21] Harras Hoare was the first Hoare king to marry an Andal.[22]

The priests of the Drowned God saw the Kings of House Hoare as ungodly usurpers.[23] Archmaester Haereg suggests that the priests held that opinion because the Hoares allowed the Faith of the Andals to come to the Iron Islands for the first time. During the reign of Wulfgar Widowmaker the first sept on the Iron Islands was built on Great Wyk, but when his great-grandson Horgan gave his permission to construct a second on Old Wyk a bloody rebellion began, goaded by the priests. The sept was burned, the septon pulled to pieces, the worshippers dragged into the sea to drown. In retaliation, Horgan began to slaughter priests.[23]

King Harmund II Hoare was the first ironborn king who raised his sons in the Faith,[23] although he practiced a self-made version of it. He accepted the Seven as true gods, but also continued to honor the Drowned God. He spoke about "the Eight Gods" and decreed that a statue of the Drowned God should be raised at the doors of every sept. Opposed by adherents of both religions, Harmund eventually decided that the Drowned God was an aspect of the Stranger.[23] The priest known as the Shrike led a rebellion against Harmund II's heir, Harmund III Hoare. Within a fortnight, the king was overthrown. Harmund's younger brother, Hagon Hoare, was crowned in his stead. Hagon denounced the Faith, rescinded Harmund's edicts, and expelled the septons and septas. Within a fortnight every sept in the Iron Islands was aflame.[23] Halleck Hoare, King of the Isles and the Rivers, spent most of his time in the riverlands and only nominally supported the Drowned God.[23]

Following the death of Halleck's son, King Harren the Black, during House Targaryen's Conquest, the priest Lodos claimed to be the living son of the Drowned God. Lord Vickon Greyjoy allowed the Faith of the Seven to return to the Iron Islands in the aftermath of the Conquest, as King Aegon I Targaryen supported the Seven. In 37 AC Vickon's son, Lord Goren, crushed a revolt led by a man who claimed that he was the priestking Lodos, returned from having visited the Drowned God. Goren sent Lodos's head to King Aenys I Targaryen, who in return gave Goren leave to expel the septons and septas from the isles. It would take another century for another sept to open upon the islands.[24]

In Lordsport stood a sept of the Faith at the time of Greyjoy's Rebellion, but it was not rebuilt it after its destruction during the war.[4]

Recent Events

A Clash of Kings

The Ironborn believe that the red comet is a flame the Drowned God has brought forth from the sea, which proclaims a "rising tide" for the ironborn. According to Aeron Greyjoy, it means that the ironborn are meant to go into the world with fire and sword as the ironborn of old did.[4]

A Feast for Crows

The priest Aeron Greyjoy summons the lords and captains of the Iron Islands together on Old Wyk for a kingsmoot.[5] He rejects the claim of his older brother, Euron Greyjoy, to be King of the Isles and the North, insisting the godless Euron is not worthy to sit the Seastone Chair.[5]

Known clergy members

Known priests

Known Drowned Men

Historical clergy members

  • Sauron Salt-Tongue
  • Galon, called Galon "Whitestaff", who lived during the Age of Heroes and unified the Iron Islands under the first High King
  • The Shrike, who led an uprising against Harmund III Hoare
  • Lodos

Quotes

Balon: The lords have gone south with the pup. Those who remained behind are the cravens, old men, and green boys. They will yield or fall, one by one. Winterfell may defy us for a year, but what of it? The rest will shall be ours, forest and field and hall, and we shall make the folk our thralls and salt wives.

Aeron: And the waters of wrath will rise high, and the Drowned God will spread his dominion across the green lands![13]

Balon Greyjoy and Aeron Greyjoy


The god took me deep beneath the waves and drowned the worthless thing I was. When he cast me forth again he gave me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a voice to spread his word, that I might be his prophet and teach his truth to those who have forgotten. For I was not made to sit upon the Seastone Chair ... no more than Euron Crow's Eye. For I have heard the god, who says, No godless man may sit my Seastone Chair![5]
Aeron Greyjoy to his drowned men


The Drowned God raised him up. Let the Drowned God cast him down.[25]
Victarion Greyjoy to Aeron Greyjoy, regarding Euron Greyjoy


'God of my fathers, if you can hear me in your watery halls beneath the waves, grant me just one small throwing axe.' The Drowned God did not answer. He seldom did. That was the trouble with gods.[14]
- thoughts of Asha Greyjoy

References

  1. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 42, The King's Prize.
  2. So Spake Martin: The Drowned God and More (July 14, 1999)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 1, The Prophet.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 26, The Wayward Bride.
  7. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
  9. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 18, The Iron Captain.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 29, The Reaver.
  11. 11.0 11.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 19, The Drowned Man.
  12. The Sworn Sword.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 24, Theon II.
  14. 14.0 14.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 62, The Sacrifice.
  15. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 63, Victarion I.
  16. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 50, Theon IV.
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 37, Theon III.
  18. The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach: Oldtown.
  19. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: Driftwood Crown.
  20. 20.0 20.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: Driftwood Crowns.
  21. The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Arrival of the Andals.
  22. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The IronKings.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
  24. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron ISlands: The Greyjoys of Pyke.
  25. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.


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