R'hllor

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R'hllor, also known as the Lord of Light, the Heart of Fire, the God of Flame and Shadow,[1] is a prominent god in Essos, but has only a few followers in Westeros, where he is more commonly known as the red god.[2][3] His symbol is a fiery heart.[4] Red priests lead prayers to R'hllor at red temples.[5]

R’hllor

The religion is based on a dualistic, manichean view of the world: R'hllor, the god of light, heat, and life, and R'hllor's antithesis the Great Other, the god of ice and death.[6] They are locked in an eternal struggle over the fate of the world; a struggle that, according the ancient prophecies from the books of Asshai, will only end when Azor Ahai, the messianic figure, returns wielding a flaming sword called Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and raises dragons from stone.[6]

R’hllor is also called the Lord of Light, the Heart of Fire, the God of Flame and Shadow.[1][6] His nemesis, the Great Other, whose name may not be spoken, is known as the Lord of Darkness, the Soul of Ice, the God of Night and Terror.[6][7]

The Lord of Light is worshipped primarily in Essos.[4] R’hllor is worshipped in Asshai[8][9] and red temples can be found in most of the Free Cities; In Lys,[10] Braavos,[11][12] Myr,[13] Pentos,[14] Tyrosh, [15] Qohor,[16] and Volantis.[17] the city Selhorys, ruled by Volantis,[17] contains a red temple as well.[5] The red temple in Volantis is exceptionally large, said to be the greatest in all the world; According to Archmaester Gramyon it is about three times the size of the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing.[17]

In Westeros, there are only few followers of the Lord of Light.[4] Red priests can be found in Dorne,[18] Oldtown,[19] on Dragonstone,[1] and in King’s Landing.[20]

Organization

At least in one location, Volantis, all those who serve at the red temple are slaves, bought as children and trained to become priests, temple prostitutes, or warriors.[21] Whether this is also the case at other temples is unknown. Thoros, a red priest of Myr, states he was given over to the Red Temple as a young child.[13]

Priests

Red priestess performing the night ritual by Jen Zee©

In Volantis, home to the largest red temple in the world, resides the High Priest, who holds the titles Flame of Truth, Light of Wisdom, First Servant of the Lord of Light, and Slave of R'hllor.[5]

Numerous priests, both male and female, are trained in the temples. The priests of the Lord of Light wear loose red robes.[20][1][10][22] Because of this, they are called “red priests”.[23] As is the custom of Volantis, the red priests of the Volantene temple, all slaves, have flames tattooed across their cheeks, chin and forehead.[21][24][25][26] Other red priests do not have such tattoos.

The red priests are taught prayers and spells, and trained to see things in fires. It takes many years of training to see the shapes beyond the flames, and even more years to learn how to interpret them.[13][27]

Temple prostitutes

The red temple of Volantis trains some of their slaves to become temple prostitutes.[17][21]

The Fiery Hand

In Volantis, a thousand slave soldiers (never more, and never less), guard the red temple. They are known as the Fiery Hand. These slave soldiers wear ornate armor over their orange robes, and wield spears with points shaped as writhing flames.[21] As per custom of Volantis, these slave soldiers have flames tattooed across their cheeks.[28]

Practices

The priests of R’hllor associate fire with life. They see shadows as creations of the Lord of Light, who are the servants of light and the children of fire.[29] According to the priestess Melisandre, the Lord of Light cherishes the innocent, making them the most precious sacrifice.[30]

Prayers

Worshippers asking R'hllor to bring back the dawn - by Magali Villeneuve. © Fantasy Flight Games

Followers of R’hllor pray before a nightfire, thanking R’hllor for ending the day, while beseeching him to bring the dawn and banish the darkness.[27] The nightfires are lit at sunset, and the prayers for more than an hour afterwards.[27][23] Fires are also lit each morning at first light, where the red priests welcome the sun.[19] Other red priests might attend to their fires during the entire night.[24] A common phrase of prayer is "the night is dark and full of terrors".[1][19] A typical prayer sequence goes as follows: "Lead us from the darkness, O my Lord. Fill our hearts with fire, so we may walk your shining path . . . R'hllor, you are the light in our eyes, the fire in our hearts, the heat in our loins. Yours is the sun that warms our days, yours the stars that guard us in the dark of night. (Lord of Light, defend us. The night is dark and full of terrors. Lord of Light, protect us.) R'hllor who gave us breath, we thank you. R'hllor who gave us day, we thank you. (We thank you for the sun that warms us. We thank you for the stars that watch us. We thank you for our hearths and for our torches, that keep the savage dark at bay.)".[27] The sentences in parenthesis are responses from worshippers present at the nightfire.

Red priests might also pray before a trial by combat: "Lord of Light, look down upon us. (Lord of Light, defend us.) Lord of Light, protect us in the darkness. (Lord of Light, shine your face upon us.) Light your flame among us, R'hllor. Show us the truth or falseness of this man. Strike him down if he is guilty, and give strength to his sword if he is true. Lord of Light, give us wisdom. (For the night is dark and full of terrors)".[31]

Marriage customs

At a wedding ceremony, a priest or priestess recites ceremonial prayers, which are answered by the wedding guests. The priest and groom await the bride by a ditchfire. The bride is escorted to the priest, who first asks the bride to identify herself, and next asks who comes to claim the bride. Both bride and groom are asked whether they will share their fire with their spouse-to-be, to warm him/her “when the night is dark and full of terrors”. Bride and groom are to leap over the ditchfire together, to emerge as one. Following this, the groom removes the maiden’s cloak and places the bride’s cloak around the bride’s shoulders.[32] Following the ceremony comes the wedding feast.[32]

Death

The red priests administer death rites to deceased worshippers, called “the last kiss”. The priest fills his mouth with fire and breaths the flames inside the deceased person, down his throat to his lungs, heart, and soul. All red priests are required to perform the rite.[33]

Priests of R’hllor believe that “life is warmth, and warmth is fire, and fire is God’s and God’s alone.”[33]

Visions

Red priests are trained to see visions in the flames of their nightfires. These visions could be about the past, the future, or things happening far away from the location of the priest.[13] Visions cannot always be seen in the flames, however, [34][13][10] and even though the visions are never wrong,[6] it is not always easy to see the vision.[2]

It takes years of training to see the shapes beyond the flames, and even longer to learn to distinguish visions about the past from visions about a certain future and a possible future.[27] Even after such long training, it remains difficult,[27] and priests might still err in their interpretation;[30][32] many priests have been brought down by such incorrect interpretations.[35]

R'hllor is also said to give his priests the power to see through falsehoods, as “the Other's servants oft hide black hearts in gaudy light”.[6]

History

A prophecy found in ancient books of Asshai claims that after a long summer an evil cold darkness shall fall on the world. Azor Ahai, wielding the sword Lightbringer, shall be reborn to combat this darkness.[10]

In an attempt to gain more followers in Westeros, the red priest Thoros of Myr was sent to the royal court of King's Landing. There, he was to try and convert the fire-obsessed King Aerys II Targaryen. However, Thoros was unsuccessful and even started to question his own faith.[13] Thoros remained in King’s Landing, and as such was present during the immediate aftermath of the Sack of King’s Landing.[31] He remained at court during the reign of King Robert I Baratheon, becoming the king’s frequent drinking companion.[13]

The red priestess Melisandre travels to Dragonstone on her own initiative[36] in search of the prophesied prince Azor Ahai.[37] She is convinced that Dragonstone is the place of smoke and salt amidst which Azor Ahai shall be reborn.[6][38] She comes to believe that Stannis Baratheon, the Lord of Dragonstone, is Azor Ahai reborn,[37] and eventually becomes a confidant to Stannis's wife, Selyse Florent.[39]

Like other types of magic, the magic of R'hllor seems to have faded after the last Targaryen dragons died.[40]

Recent Events

A Clash of Kings

At Dragonstone, the red priestess Melisandre wields fire magic and convinces Stannis Baratheon to claim the mantle of Azor Ahai. Followers of R'hllor at Stannis's court are known as queen's men.

A Storm of Swords

Thoros of Myr explains to Arya Stark that he surprisingly resurrected Beric Dondarrion after performing the last kiss. Many of the brotherhood without banners now worship the Lord of Light.

A Feast for Crows

In Qohor, the followers of R'hllor try to burn the Black Goat.[16]

Ser Daven Lannister informs Ser Jaime Lannister that his scouts have spotted night fires in the high places and villages near the siege of Riverrun.[41]

A Dance with Dragons

In Volantis, Benerro preaches that Daenerys Targaryen is Azor Ahai reborn and encourages many to support her.[21]

Melisandre believes that her power is stronger at the Wall than it had been in Asshai.[35]

According to the High Sparrow, the new High Septon, Stannis has turned from the truth of the Seven to worship a red demon, and his false faith has no place in the Seven Kingdoms.[42]

Known red priests

Quotes by believers

R'hllor is the source of all good.[6]
Melisandre to Davos Seaworth


There are no gods but R'hllor and the Other, whose name may not be said.[26]
Moqorro to Victarion Greyjoy


Your Drowned God is a demon, he is no more than a thrall of the Other, the dark god whose name must not be spoken.[26]
– Moqorro to Victarion Greyjoy

Quotes by non-believers

May the Others bugger your Lord of Light.[4]
– Ser Cortnay Penrose to Melisandre


Light our fire and protect us from the dark, blah, blah, light our way and keep us toasty warm, the night is full of terrors, save us from the scary thing, and blah blah blah some more.[24]
Tyrion Lannister's thoughts


Red Rahloo means nothing here.[43]
Hugo Wull to Godry Farring


Corliss: You northmen brought these snows upon us. You and your demon trees. R'hllor will save us.

Artos: R'hllor will doom us.[43]

Corliss Penny and Artos Flint


The red god's choir only knows a single song.[44]
Asha Greyjoy to Stannis Baratheon

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  2. 2.0 2.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
  3. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 31, Catelyn III.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 22, Tyrion VI.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 25, Davos III.
  7. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 76, Jon XI.
  8. So Spake Martin: Gods of Westeros (November 18, 1998)
  9. The World of Ice & Fire, The Bones and Beyond: Asshai-by-the-Shadow.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos I.
  11. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 6, Arya I.
  12. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
  14. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion I.
  15. The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: The Quarrelsome Daughters: Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh.
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: Volantis.
  18. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
  20. 20.0 20.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29, Sansa II.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion VII.
  22. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya VII.
  23. 23.0 23.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 33, Tyrion VIII.
  25. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 63, Victarion I.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 63, Davos VI.
  28. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 47, Tyrion X.
  29. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 42, Davos II.
  30. 30.0 30.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
  31. 31.0 31.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 34, Arya VI.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 49, Jon X.
  33. 33.0 33.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 39, Arya VII.
  34. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 3, Jon I.
  35. 35.0 35.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 31, Melisandre I.
  36. So Spake Martin: Asshai.com Interview in Barcelona (July 28, 2012)
  37. 37.0 37.1 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Melisandre.
  38. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 53, Jon XI.
  39. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 15, Tyrion III.
  40. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion XI.
  41. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.
  42. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
  43. 43.0 43.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 62, The Sacrifice.
  44. The Winds of Winter, Theon I

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