Whispers on the wind, spirals in the snow, an Isle of Faces… What do they all mean? The latest entry in Season 6 Revisited takes on the old gods of Westeros.
By Ryan Colantonio // RetroZap’s Season 6 Revisited tackles last season’s biggest reveals and their implications on the story moving forward. This week explores the old gods and why they’re not quite what they seem. Of course, prepare for material from all books and seasons.
There Are No Old Gods
Or rather, THE OLD GODS ARE GREENSEERS. Besides causality and the Night King’s origin, Game of Thrones Season 6 introduced another greensight game-changer. The likeness of the Three-Eyed Raven carved into an ancient weirwood. As a sacred symbol of the old gods, this carving is the first link between greenseers and godhood. Further evidence can be found in in the accompanying Inside the Episode video. Therein, showrunner David Benioff remarks that, “the Three-eyed Raven is not entirely human.” Even George RR Martin seems to consider the idea in the following passage from A Dance with Dragons.
Maesters will tell you that the weirwoods are sacred to the old gods. The singers believe they are the old gods.
Apart from the Lord of Light, greenseers have appeared more godlike than any actual religious figures in Westeros. Fans have already seen greenseers manipulate dreams, travel across time and space, and enter the minds of man and beast. Below are a few reasons why this theory might not be as crazy as it sounds.
Magic of the Forest
Greenseers, wargs, and the Children of the Forest are all closely tied to the old gods. However, these magical beings wield their powers quite differently than R’hllor’s Red Priests. Whereas Melisandre serves as a medium of the Lord of Light, greenseers and wargs can use their powers at will.
As for the Children, their ability to operate outside of a god’s power is confirmed in Season 6’s Histories & Lore. This DVD extra provides the truest telling of early Westerosi history to date. Of particular note, is the Three-eyed Raven’s account of the Breaking of the Arm of Dorne. What’s interesting is that he attributes the breaking of this ancient Essos-Westeros land bridge to greenseers. As a result, the showrunners debunk the single greatest act thought to have been the work of the old gods.
The True “Green Men” on the Isle of Faces
A secret society of antler-wearing tree protectors is a bit too on the nose for Martin. Instead, consider the idea that “Green Men” actually refers to the carved faces of greenseers. For one, multiple characters have sought out the Green Men for their supposed sagely advice. It’s a safe bet that all-knowing greenseers would probably give better counsel than antler-wearing cultists. Another key point, is that the Green Men are said to keep watch over the Isle of Faces. If these faces belong to greenseers, then in a way the Isle is under the watchful eyes of the most powerful beings in Westeros. Quite fitting, given that the Isle sits in the center of a lake called the God’s Eye.
If greenseers truly are the old gods, then the mysteries attributed to their influence become doubly intriguing. Chief among these mysteries, is the six direwolf pups found by House Stark in A Game of Thrones. Characters in A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords credit the direwolves to the old gods. Given a greenseer’s impressive abilities, collecting six direwolf pups seems almost trivial. What’s more, their mysterious arrival harkens back to the governing principles of causality. Besides the coincidence of finding exactly six pups, direwolves had not roamed so far South in hundreds of years. As such, this mystery smells an awful lot like the greensight meddling of a future Bran Stark.
Another major Season 6 reveal was the meaning behind the infamous spiral patterns used by the white walkers. According to David Benioff, these patterns are “ancient symbols of the Children of the Forest used in their rituals.” So far, the patterns have popped up exactly five times. The ranging in the premiere episode, the aftermath at the Fist, the sacrifice of Craster’s son, the Night King’s creation, and Bran’s disastrous vision. Technically speaking, four of these five cases involved blood sacrifices. As it happens, there’s one god who’s known to be quite fond of blood sacrifices: The Lord of Light. In fact, the ultimate act of fire magic to this point (the dragon birthing) involved its own sacrificial pattern.
As the original denizens of Westeros, it makes sense that the Children would eventually learn of R’hllor. It makes further sense that they would discover his penchant for sacrifices. If the old gods truly do not exist, then the only logical conclusion is that these ritualistic symbols are intended for the Lord of Light [and/or The Great Other].
Not surprisingly the abilities of white walkers and Red Priests mirror each other quite well. Like R’hllor’s Red Priests, the white walkers are capable of necromancy, ice magic, and extending their lifespans. It’s unclear whether the Great Other, also known as the Lord of Darkness, actually exists. However, it’s also possible that he and R’hllor are one and the same. Either way, the Children may have called upon the god(s) of ice and fire to help create white walkers.
As Season 6 proved, fans have only just scratched the surface on the power of greenseers and their role in the history of this world. It’s abundantly clear that honing this magical ability brings one closer and closer to godhood. In the coming seasons, the relationship between greenseers and the Lord of Light will be especially interesting to discover. The two greatest supernatural forces in Westeros could make for either powerful allies or devastating foes. Whichever the case, both sides will play a significant part in the Wars to Come.