Religion

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The setting of A Song of Ice and Fire is one where there are many faiths, and many faithful. Belief in high powers and supernatural threats runs deep through the culture of the known world and influence most aspects of life. In The Seven Kingdoms nearly all children are raised praising either the new gods or the old. Across the narrow sea children are often given to be raised to priesthood of one of the many deities worshipped there. Little is known about the actual deities and their powers, so far only R'hllor has been shown to possess real power and influence the world directly.

Westeros

Westeros has relatively few significant religions. They include:

  • The old gods are nameless deities[1] of stream, forest, and stone.[2] They were worshipped across Westeros by the children of the forest, and eventually by the First Men, sometime after signing the Pact.[3] Following the arrival of the Andals, who brought with them their own religion, the old gods were no longer dominantly worshipped in the south of Westeros.[3] Only in the north does the majority of the houses still worships the old gods. North of the Wall, the free folk continue to worship the old gods. Although some accounts state that there are clans who worship different gods (dark gods beneath the ground in the Frostfangs, gods of snow and ice on the Frozen Shore, or crab gods at Storrold's Point), there is no reliable confirmation.[4]
  • The Faith of the Seven is the dominant religion in the southern part of the Seven Kingdoms. The Faith worships "the Seven Who Are One", a single deity with seven aspects or faces.[5][6][7][8][9][10] For the less educated, however, this concept is often difficult to grasp, causing them to often believe that there are indeed seven different gods.[6] Subsequently, the number seven is considered holy.[11]
  • R'hllor, also known as the Lord of Light, the Heart of Fire, and the God of Flame and Shadow,[13] is a prominent god in Essos with few followers in the Seven Kingdoms, where he is more commonly known as the red god.[14][15] Based on a dualistic, manichean view of the world, R'hllor, the god of light, heat, and life, is eternally at war against the Great Other, the god of ice and death.[16]

Additionally, the Lady of the Waves and the Lord of the Skies were worshiped on the Three Sisters before the Andals introduced the Seven.[18]

Essos

In Essos across the narrow sea, there are numerous different religions. In Braavos, one can find temples and shrines to almost every god one can imagine.[19] Named religions include:

Influences and Theology

See also: Themes in A Song of Ice and Fire

Unlike J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire addresses religion in some detail and portrays several competing religions. More than any other novel in the series, A Dance with Dragons explores the different religions of Westeros and Essos. Each of the religions reflects its culture's temperament. George R. R. Martin based the series' faiths on real religions, tweaking or expanding them a little. However, no religion is presented as the true faith, although there are displays of power on many sides, nor do any have a monopoly on virtue.

Known influences include:

  • The old gods are "based on animism and traditional Pagan beliefs of Wicca and various other Celtic systems and Norse systems", melted into one construct.[20] They nameless and numerous.[21]
  • The Faith of the Seven is based on the medieval Catholic Church, although it borrows other elements as well. The Faith's central doctrine that there is one God who has seven aspects is partly based on the Catholic belief that there is one God who has three aspects: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. With the Seven, instead, you have The Father, The Mother, The Maiden, The Crone, The Smith, The Warrior, and The Stranger, who's the death figure.[22][23] The Faith Militant, the Faith's military order, is loosely based on crusading orders, e.g. Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller.[24]
  • Similarities between the religion of the Drowned God and the Norse mythology can be found; For example, ironborn believe they will feast eternally in the Drowned God's watery halls after they die, similar to Norse warriors, who hoped to feast in Valhalla.
  • The Mother Rhoyne religion is polytheistic worshipping of the Rhoyne and many lesser river-dwelling deities such as the Old Man of the River and the Crab King. The Rhoynar may be inspired by the Roma, to a degree.[25]

Martin tries to slowly reveal in how the many different kinds of magic in the Ice and Fire world may be manifestations of the same mysterious supernatural forces. This leaves readers free to wonder about the validity, teachings and supernatural power of the competing religions, allowing for a sense of wonder, for things that escape the net of explanation in terms of the physical sciences. Martin regards any religion's claim to truth with suspicion, as he does the claims of real religions. The series' gods, he said, are unlikely to appear deus-ex-machina in Westeros.[26]

Prophecy

References

  1. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 70, Jon IX.
  2. The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Dawn Age.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 66, Bran VII.
  4. The World of Ice & Fire, The Wall and Beyond: The Wildlings.
  5. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos I.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 25, Brienne V.
  7. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei VI.
  8. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn IV.
  9. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
  10. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 71, Daenerys VI.
  11. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 36, Cersei VIII.
  12. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 42, The King's Prize.
  13. A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  14. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
  15. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
  16. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 25, Davos III.
  17. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
  18. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
  19. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 64, The Ugly Little Girl.
  20. George R.R. Martin | Talks at Google (Published August 6, 2011)
  21. So Spake Martin: Gods of Westeros (November 18, 1998)
  22. Bullseye: George R. R. Martin, Author of "A Song of Ice and Fire" Series: Interview on The Sound of Young America {September 19, 2011}
  23. Google Talks: George R. R. Martin
  24. So Spake Martin: Faith Militant’s Inspiration and Ice and Fire Dream Cast (April 15, 2008)
  25. Many Gods & Dark Faiths article by Ran and Linda
  26. Anders, Charlie Jane (July 21, 2011). "George R.R. Martin explains why we'll never meet any gods in A Song of Ice and Fire". io9.com. http://io9.com/5822939/george-rr-martin-explains-why-well-never-meet-any-gods-in-a-song-of-ice-and-fire. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 


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