Faith of the Seven
From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
The Faith of the Seven is the dominant religion of the Seven Kingdoms, and is often simply referred to as the Faith. The only parts of Westeros where the Faith is not widespread are the North and the Iron Islands, where the practice of the old gods and of the Drowned God respectively are still strong. The gods of the Faith are sometimes known as the new gods to differentiate them from the old gods.
The Faith worships the Seven, a single deity with seven aspects or faces, each representing a different virtue. Worshipers pray to specific aspects of the Seven for help and guidance depending on their need. This aspects are:
- Father, or the Father Above, representing judgment. He is depicted as a bearded man who carries scales, and is prayed to for justice.
- Mother, or the Mother Above, representing motherhood and nurturing. She is prayed to for fertility or compassion, and is depicted as smiling with love, embodying the concept of mercy.
- Warrior, representing strength in battle. He is prayed to for courage and victory. He carries a sword.
- Maiden, representing innocence and chastity. She is usually prayed to to protect a maiden's virtue.
- Smith, representing crafts and labor. He is usually prayed to when work needs to be done, for strength. He carries a hammer.
- Crone, representing wisdom. She carries a lantern and is prayed to for guidance.
- Stranger. An exception to the other aspects, the Stranger represents death and the unknown. Worshipers rarely seek favor from the Stranger, but outcasts sometimes associate themselves with this god.
The Faith of the Seven is the official religion of the Seven Kingdoms and is heavily integrated into its laws and culture. The Faith has a great many moral teachings. It frowns on gambling, preaches against bastardy, and curses things like incest and kinslaying.
One of the central holy texts of the Faith is The Seven-Pointed Star, which is divided into gospel-like sections, such as the Maiden's Book, also called The Book of the Maiden. Presumably, each of the Seven has his or her own book. "The Song of the Seven" is a song of worship for all of the Seven except the Stranger. "Maiden, Mother, and Crone" is a song about the females of the Seven. Another religious text is The Book of Holy Prayer.
During trials by combat, the Seven are expected to intervene on the side of the just combatant. In order to become a knight, a squire must spend a nightlong vigil in a sept and become anointed in the name of the Seven. For this reason, there are few knights in areas where the Faith is not kept, such as the North. There are only a few northern houses who follow the Seven, focused around the city of White Harbor and its ruling family, the Manderlys.
The number seven is considered holy to the Faith. It holds that there are seven hells as well as seven faces. The seven wanderers in the sky are considered as sacred, and even grace is taught to have seven aspects. The number seven is used to invest rituals or objects with a holy significance. Adherents of the Faith use seven-pointed stars, crystal prisms, and rainbows as icons of the religion. Rites of worship heavily involve the use of light and crystals to represent the seven-in-one god.
The places of worship of the Seven are called "septs", and every sept houses representational art portraying each of the seven aspects. In rural septs, they may merely be carved masks or simple charcoal drawings on a wall, while in wealthy septs, they may be statues inlaid with precious metals and stones. Worshipers light candles before the altars of the symbolizing each of the seven aspects. Ceremonies are lead by the highest ranking male member of the clergy, and hymns are often sung. In the naming of a child, seven oils are used to anoint the infant. Weddings are conducted standing between the altars of the Father and the Mother. Rites of worship held in rich areas and during special occasions can feature embellishments such as choirs of seventy-seven septas.
Titles and Roles
Priests in the Faith of the Seven are known as the godsworn: "septons" if male, "septas" if female. They are the primary servants of the Seven, serving in a capacity similar to priests and priestesses of other religions. The septons and septas follow a system of vows, in serving the various orders devoted to aspect of the Seven.
The Faith is ruled by a council of the highest ranking septons and septas, called the Most Devout. The Most Devout are led by the High Septon, who dwells at the Great Sept of Baelor in the city of King's Landing. Whilst the High Septon is usually elected from among the Most Devout, this is not a requirement, as non-members of the Most Devout have been raised to the office in the past.
Male clergy of the Faith are called "septons", and there are various orders of devotion amongst them, each concentrating their devotion on one aspect of the Seven. For example, there are septons sworn the Smith, and they wear small metal hammers on a thong around their necks. Monastic orders of septons can live in "septries" (plural of "septry"), self-sustaining enclaves of sworn brothers who are called "brown brothers". Septons without a sept wander the countryside ministering to the smallfolk in exchange for food and shelter. They are sometimes disparaged as "begging brothers", and they wear a small metal bowl around their necks. The figurehead of the Faith is known as the High Septon.
Female clergy are called "septas", and there are various orders of devotion amongst them. There are orders of septas, called white, grey or blue septas, but it is unrevealed to which aspect of the deity each of them is devoted. There are convents of septas called "motherhouses", including a large one in Oldtown and another in Bechester. Septas often serve as governesses in the households of the high nobility. A trial of a woman conducted by the Faith will have septas sitting among the seven judges. High-ranking septas are counted as members of the "Most Devout", revealing that they have a voice in the selection of a High Septon.
- See also: Silent Sisters
The Silent Sisters are an order of women sworn to the service of the Stranger, who have taken the vows of chastity and silence. They handle the bodies of the dead, preparing them for funerals. They are not regarded as septas. Silent Sisters are sometimes referred to as 'Wives of the Stranger'. They clothe themselves in grey and keep their faces cowled except for their eyes.
Silent sisters handling the bodies of the dead, include removing bowels and organs, as well as drain blood, from corpses. They may also stuff the body with fragrant herbs and salts to preserve it and hide the smell of decomposition.
Two military orders, collectively known as the Faith Militant, have existed at times in its history. They date from before Aegon's Conquest:
- The Warrior's Sons are an order of knights who have renounced their lands, gold and possessions to fight for the Seven. They swore their swords to His High Holiness. They wear inlaid silver armor over hair shirts, rainbow cloaks, and swords with star-shaped crystals in their pommels. They developed a reputation for fanaticism and implacable hatred for enemies of the Faith. They are the "sword" of the Sword and Stars.
- The Poor Fellows are a more humble order for commoners and women. Acting as a militant counterpart to begging brothers, Poor Fellows wander the realm and escort pilgrims between septs. They are lightly-armed footmen, who carry whatever weapons they can make or find, often axes or cudgels, and wear star badges, red on white. They are the "stars" of the Sword and Stars.
Historically, the orders made trouble for the nobles and royalty of the Seven Kingdoms and were brutally repressed by Maegor the Cruel, who put a bounty on the heads of the members of the orders, a gold dragon for any scalp of a Warrior's Son and a silver stag for the scalp of a Poor Fellow, ultimately disbanding the orders and forbade holy men from taking up arms again.
Begging brothers are godsworn who choose to wander. They are clad in undyed brown robes, beg for alms and grant blessings to the faithful. They roam the roads of Westeros and preach.
They live and work in a monastic community known as a septry. The members of the septry often take a vow of silence. The septry is headed by the Elder Brother, who is often the only one who may speak at all times. The Elder Brother is assisted in running the septry by proctors. The brothers engage in contemplation, prayer and silence. The brother wear brown-and-dun robes with wide bell sleeves and pointed cowls. One such septry is on the Quiet Isle.
The faith of the Seven arose in the Hills of Andalos among the Andals. It is claimed that the Seven walked among the Hills of Andolos in human form. According to The Seven-Pointed Star: The Father brought down seven stars from heaven and placed them on the brow of Hugor of the Hill, the first king of the Andals, to form his crown and the Maid brought forth a girl supple as a willow with eyes like deep blue pools that became Hugor his first wife, the Mother made her fertile, who bore him forty-four mighty sons as foretold by the Crone. The Warrior gave each son strength of arms and the Smith wrought each a suit of iron plate.
The Faith was brought to Westeros by the Andals who invaded from Essos, more than six thousand years ago, where it largely supplanted the local worship of the old gods. The city of Oldtown became the center of the Faith, and the Starry Sept in the city served as the seat of the High Septon for a thousand years until the Targaryens came.
When Aegon the Conqueror, invaded Westeros, he adopted the Seven and gained support of the High Septon, who proclaimed that the Faith Militant would not offer resistance to the Targaryen invasion. However, that changed upon Aegon's death and the passing of the Iron Throne to his son Aenys I Targaryen. The Faith withdrew their allegiance and the Militant orders supported those lords who opposed the Targaryens.
The resulting civil war raged through the reigns of Aenys I and Maegor the Cruel and into the start of the reign of Jaehaerys I. Maegor's brutal repression of the Faith caused tens of thousands of deaths. Eventually, Jaehaerys offered peace to the Faith and House Targaryen's unwavering defense and support in return for the militant orders disbanding to which they agreed. Jaehaerys I appointed Septon Barth the Hand of the King and had forty years of peace and prosperity.
The High Septon and the Most Devout moved the center of the faith to the new capital of King's Landing. Upon the death of King Daeron I, Baelor I, the septon king, assumed the Iron Throne and built the Great Sept of Baelor atop Visenya's hill. Baelor decided not to re-arm the faith, as he was a man of peace who believed the only weapon the faithful should have is prayer. During his reign he had a stonemason named as the High Septon, a man that could carve stonework so beautifully that Baelor believed him to be the Smith in human form. While a fantastic stonecarver, the new High Septon could not read, write or recite any prayers. Rumor spread that Baelor's Hand had him poisoned to end the embarrassment to the realm. Baelor then raised a boy of eight years to High Septon, who Baelor claimed worked miracles, although the boy could not save the king's life on his deathbed. History says Baelor starved himself to death by prolonged fasting to cleanse himself of lust.
A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
The fat High Septon is killed during the Riot of King's Landing. His replacement is appointed by the acting Hand of the King, Tyrion Lannister. The faithful are also said to be outraged by Eddard Stark's execution being performed at the Great Sept of Baelor, as in their eyes, this act of bloodshed profaned the Sept.
A Storm of Swords
Tywin Lannister supplies the Faith with a dazzling crystal crown to replace the one plundered by the mob during the riot. The High Septon officiates the marriage of King Joffrey I and Margaery Tyrell at the Great Sept of Baelor. Hamish the Harper sings "Maiden, Mother, and Crone" at the wedding feast.
A Feast for Crows
In the aftermath of the War of the Five Kings, the Seven Kingdoms see an increase in religious fervor. Many pilgrims and refugees, often called "sparrows", take up the badges and arms of Poor Fellows to protect themselves and other homeless victims of the war. Groups of Poor Fellows take to guarding the Great Sept of Baelor and serving particularly pious nobles. Though common-born, the Poor Fellows show no respect for secular rank or social position.
Through her catspaw Osney Kettleblack, the Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister, arranges the death of the Tyrion-appointed High Septon. The sparrows force an especially pious septon, subsequently known as the High Sparrow, as the new High Septon upon the Most Devout. Numerous treasures, such as the crown from Tywin, are sold by the Faith to provide for the poor. Cersei officially reinstates both orders of the Faith Militant as a concession to the devout new High Sparrow. Many knights, including Cersei's cousin Lancel Lannister, join the reformed Warrior's Sons in the aftermath.
|“||Even Aegon tread lightly where the Faith was concerned . . . it was his son Maegor who broke their power, but even then the Faith came back under kings like Baelor the Blessed.||”|
|“||The old High Septon told my father that kings’ laws are one thing, and the laws of the gods another.||”|
|“||Have you ever noticed that septas always look like prunes? That’s what a life of chastity will do to you.||”|
|“||Faith is like porridge. Better with milk and honey.||”|
|“||Give me priests who are fat and corrupt and cynical, the sort who like to sit on soft satin cushions, nibble sweetmeats, and diddle little boys. It's the ones who believe in gods who make the trouble.||”|
References and Notes
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 46, Samwell.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 59, Sansa.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei.
- ↑ So Spake Martin October 29, 2001, Direwolves and the Seven.
- ↑ The Sworn Sword.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 68, The Dragontamer (Quentyn IV).
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 30, Jaime.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion.
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