From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
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 and fear of the Others coming to claim them if they misbehave. 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 has relatively few significant religions. They include:
- The old gods, tied to the earth, are the gods of the forest, mountains and streams. They are nameless deities worshiped by the Northern population of Westeros, symbolized by weirwood trees. They are the oldest religion in Westeros, worshipped by the magical children of the forest before humans even came to the content and later was adopted by the First Men.
- The Faith of the Seven, the dominant religion in the Seven Kingdoms, is built around symbology of the number seven, the seven facets of the one god. Its many institutions and priesthood structure closely mirrors the way Christianity operated in the Middle Ages.
- The Drowned God and the Storm God are the gods of the ironborn. The Drowned God is a harsh deity and his religion is a harsh one, favouring reaving and plundering in its name. Children are initiated into the faith by being drowned in sea water and resuscitated.
- R'hllor, the Lord of Light, is a foreign faith from Essos and is little known in Westeros, though it has gained support in recent times. It holds a very black-and-white view of the world, with R'hllor being the one true god and the rest being demons that must be destroyed. Worship of fire is a key component.
- Mother Rhoyne is worshiped by the remnants of the Rhoynar practicing along the river Greenblood in Dorne.
- The Lady of the Waves and the Lord of the Skies were worshiped on the Three Sisters prior to the Seven.
Across the narrow sea
On the other side of the narrow sea, it seems there are as many gods as there are peoples. In Braavos, one can find temples and shrines to almost every god one can imagine. At least a dozen separate gods have been mentioned in the novel. Among them are the:
- R'hllor and Great Other, The biggest religion.
- Weeping Woman a favorite of old women.
- the Lion of Night preferred by rich men.
- the Hooded Wayfarer a patron of the poor.
- Bakkalon the Pale Child (favored of soliders)
- Many-Faced God of Braavos, believed to be the true face of all the gods.
- The Great Stallion, a deity worshipped by the Dothraki.
- Great Shepherd, Great Shepherd is the deity of the Lhazareen.
Influences and Theology
- See also: Themes in A Song of Ice and Fire
Unlike Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, the novels address religion in some detail, and portray 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. 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 eerie displays of power on many sides, nor do any have a monopoly on virtue.
- The old gods seem like a sort of peaceful animistic religion.
- The Seven, bears some distinct similarities to the Catholic church, in structure and organization. The seven is an analog of the Trinity, that has seven gods in one rather than three (the Father, Warrior, Smith, Maid, Mother, Crone, and Stranger ), and complete with monastic orders, dormant military orders(Faith Militant), and a Pope/College of Cardinals (High Septon/Most Devout).
- R'hllor, is similar in many ways to Zoroastrianism, with a strong dualism between the Lord of Light and the Nameless Other of Darkness, apocalyptic theology, and religious practice that is strongly intertwined with the use and symbiology of fire.
- Virtually every other religion are examples of polytheism, where people in the attempt to understand nature gave forces of nature human shapes.
- Storm God and the Drowned God could be related to Norse mythology, encouraging the lifestyle of raiding and reaving just as the religion of the Vikings did.
- Mother Rhoyne religion is polytheistic worshipping the Rhoyne and many lesser river-dwelling deities such as the Old Man of the River, a turtle-god. It's may also be inspired by the real-life Roma, to a degree
Martin tries to slowly reveal in how far the many different kinds of magic in the Ice and Fire world may be manifestations of the same mysterious supernatural forces.Leaving the 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.
- See list of Prophecies.
Notes and References
- ↑ Many Gods & Dark Faiths article by Ran and Linda
- ↑ 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.