Faith of the Seven
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 older religions.
- 1 The Seven
- 2 Practices
- 3 Titles and Roles
- 4 Orders
- 5 History
- 6 Recent Events
- 7 Quotes
- 8 References and Notes
Members of the Faith worship the Seven Who Are One, a single deity with seven aspects or faces, each representing a different virtue. The less educated may believe there are seven different gods, however. 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, representing 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 predominant religion of the Seven Kingdoms. Practiced by the royal dynasties on the Iron Throne, it is heavily integrated into 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. "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 altars 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 to the Smith, and they wear small metal hammers on a thong around their necks. Monastic orders of septons can live in septries, 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.
- Main article: Silent sisters
The silent sisters are an order of women sworn to the service of the Stranger and who have taken vows of chastity and silence. They are not regarded as septas. Silent sisters are sometimes referred to as the wives of the Stranger. They clothe themselves in grey and keep their faces cowled except for their eyes.
Silent sisters prepare bodies for funerals, including removing bowels and organs and draining blood. 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 were an order of knights who renounced their lands, gold, and possessions to fight for the Seven. They swore their swords to His High Holiness, the High Septon. They wore 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 were the "Swords" of the Sword and Stars.
- The Poor Fellows were a more humble order for commoners and women. Acting as a militant counterpart to begging brothers, Poor Fellows wandered the realm and escorted pilgrims between septs. They were lightly-armed footmen, who carried whatever weapons they could make or find, often axes or cudgels, and wore star badges, red on white. They were the "Stars" of the Sword and Stars.
Historically, the orders made trouble for the nobles and royalty of the Seven Kingdoms. They were brutally repressed by King Maegor I Targaryen, 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. Maegor the Cruel ultimately disbanded the orders during the Faith Militant uprising 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.
Some men of the Faith live and work in a monastic community known as a septry, often taking a vow of silence. The septry is headed by an 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 brothers 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 among the Andals who lived in the hills of Andalos. It is claimed that the Seven walked there 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. 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 when the Andals invaded from Essos thousands of years ago. The Faith 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 until the Targaryens came.
When Aegon the Conqueror invaded Westeros, he adopted the Seven and gained the support of the High Septon, who proclaimed that the Faith Militant would not offer resistance to the Targaryen invasion. A sept called the Sept of Remembrance was built on Rhaenys's Hill during the reign of Aegon I.
The Faith's support for House Targaryen changed upon Aegon's death and the passing of the Iron Throne to his sons, first Aenys I and later Maegor I. The Faith withdrew their allegiance and the Militant orders supported those lords who opposed the Targaryens.
The resulting Faith Militant uprising 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 appointed Septon Barth as Hand of the King and had forty years of peace and prosperity.
Baelor the Blessed
Upon the death of King Daeron I, the septon-king Baelor I assumed the Iron Throne and began construction of a new sept atop Visenya's Hill. This would become the Great Sept of Baelor, the new seat of the High Septon and the Most Devout once they moved from the Starry Sept of Oldtown.
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, Prince Viserys Targaryen had him poisoned to end the embarrassment to the realm.
Baelor then raised a boy of eight years as High Septon, whom 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
During a meeting of the small council Petyr Baelish informs Eddard Stark that the Crown has resorted to borrowing from the Faith. In the aftermath of the death of King Robert I Baratheon, Eddard is executed at the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor upon the order of the new king, Joffrey I Baratheon.
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 having been at the Great Sept of Baelor, as they believe 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 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, 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 sparrows take to guarding the Great Sept of Baelor and serving particularly pious nobles. Though common-born, the sparrows 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, the Warrior's Sons and the Poor Fellows, as a concession to the devout High Sparrow. Many knights, including Cersei's cousin Lancel Lannister, join the reformed Warrior's Sons in the aftermath. The High Sparrow later imprisons Cersei for alleged crimes.
A Dance with Dragons
|“||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.||”|
|“||Jaime: Crippled or whole, a knight of the Kingsguard serves for life.
|“||One god with seven aspects. That's so my lady, and you are right to point it out, but the mystery of the Seven Who Are One is not easy for simple folk to grasp, and I am nothing if not simple, so I speak of seven gods.||”|
|“||Lancel: My faith is all the nourishment I need.
Jaime: 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.||”|
|“||Have you ever noticed that septas always look like prunes? That’s what a life of chastity will do to you.||”|
References and Notes
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 25, Brienne V.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 46, Samwell III.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran VI.
- ↑ Not a Blog: Books for Brains! Halloween in ASOIAF?
- ↑ The Princess and the Queen.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 39, Cersei IX.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 4, Brienne I.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn V.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei VI.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 59, Sansa IV.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion IX.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 30, Jaime IV.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 43, Cersei X.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 65, Cersei II.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
- ↑ So Spake Martin: Direwolves and the Seven, October 29, 2001.
- ↑ The Sworn Sword.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 62, Jaime VII.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion VII.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 68, The Dragontamer.
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