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A skinchanger or warg is a person with the ability to enter the mind of an animal and control its actions. It is much easier for a skinchanger to do so if a bond exists between the two parties. The interaction between the skinchanger’s and animal’s mind will influence both personalities, with detrimental effects to the human if the animal’s influence is not fought. As yet, there has only been one known incidence of a skinchanger entering another human’s mind, and only a simple-minded one at that. This incidence was particularly traumatic to the person involved, and difficult for the skinchanger. Such an event proves to be a moral and ethical dilemma.

An untrained skinchanger may unconsciously enter the mind of an animal, especially while sleeping, particularly if a bond exists. It is extremely traumatic if an animal is killed while its mind is inhabited by a skinchanger. If a skinchanger is killed while inhabiting a creature, a part of his consciousness will remain in the creature. Much fear and superstition exists around skinchangers, with many mistakenly believing them to be shape shifters. It is said the greatest of the skinchangers were the greenseers, who amongst many other things could warg. The greatest amongst them could wear the skin of any beast. One man in a thousand is borne a skinchanger, and one skin changer in a thousand could be a greenseer.

Notes about Warging

Nature of the beasts, according to Haggon:

  • Dogs, are easy to bond with, because they are so much like humans and trusting, it becomes easier with time to warg into one.
  • Wolves, are harder, One has to forge a lasting bound much like a marriage. A man might befriend a wolf, even break a wolf, but no man could truly tame a wolf.
  • Birds, are very tempting, you may soon loose contact to the mundane things of earth, and want only to fly.
  • Cats, are cruel and vain beasts and can’t be easily controlled, only forced.
  • Elk and deer were prey, wear their skins too long and even the bravest man became a coward.

Unwritten code of ethic for wildling Skinchangers, as was told by Haggon, forbids them:

  • To eat of human meat.
  • To mate as wolf with wolf.
  • To seize the body of another man was the worst abomination.

Second Life

A skinchanger can experience many deaths while Warged into another body. It is only when the person's human body dies that the "True death" occurs. It is possible for the warg to live a type of second life, a much simpler life inside the mind of an animal he controls. In the second life, the skin changer’s memory slowly fades until nothing of the man is left and only the beast remains. [1]  

Known skinchangers

There have been few known skinchangers in modern times, with most people associating them with the legends of the Children of the Forest, particularly the greenseers.

Stark Children

The skinchanging ability is primarily seen amongst the current generation of Stark children. All of the children and their direwolves are said to exhibit common personalities, although in most instances this is entirely unconscious and is not likely to involve entering the animal's mind.

  • Bran Stark, Despite his young age, Bran is a more experienced skinchanger than any of his siblings. This is possibly due to his enhanced state of consciousness experienced when he was comatose after his fall. Initially he was just entering Summer, his direwolf's, mind during sleep and just believed he was having vivid dreams. Once Jojen Reed arrived at Winterfell and recognised what was occurring, he began to instruct Bran on how to control his abilities. Since this time, he has been able to warg into his wolf during waking hours and control the body, instead of simply experiencing everything the direwolf does. On his journey to find the Children of the Forest, Bran and his companions are attacked by a number of Wights. In order to save his own life and the lives of his companions, Bran enters the mind of his guide Hodor so that he can fight the Wights more effectively. Bran, under the tutelage of Bloodraven, learns to enter a raven and later the Great Weirwood at Winterfell.
  • Arya Stark, Whilst traveling, Arya experienced dreams of her direwolf, Nymeria, leading a wolfpack and attacking some humans. This corresponds to events in the area where Nymeria is believed to be, with the wolves becoming larger and more bold. She also entered the minds of cats when she was in Braavos.
  • Jon Snow, Varamyr Sixskins notes that Jon Snow is a strong skin changer, but untrained in and unaware of his true abilities, he had known what Jon was the moment he saw the great white direwolf stalking silent at his side. Jon Snow's ability has manifested few times, as he Warged into Ghost while scouting for Wildlings with Qhorin Halfhand. Through Ghost's eyes, he spied on the Wildling horde. When an eagle attacked Ghost, Jon woke screaming.
    By A Dance with Dragons, Jon is often having wolf dreams. Melisandre has offered to help him with his abilities, but so far he has turned her down.


  • Orell, was a wildling raider and skinchanger who could inhabit the body of an eagle. This eagle was frequently seen before the main body of the Wildling exodus, providing valuable scouting information. While inhabiting the eagle, Orell was killed by Jon Snow, causing the eagle, or the remains of Orell's consciousness, to despise him.
  • Varamyr Sixskins, is a wildling accompanied by three wolves, a snow bear and a shadowcat. Consequently, he is almost certainly the greatest skinchanger seen by anyone south of The Wall in living memory. After Orell's death, Varamyr took control of his eagle, using it to scout during the battle at Castle Black. This eagle was killed by Melisandre while he was inhabiting it, causing him to go mad.
  • Haggon, was the mentor of Varamyr Sixskins.[1]
  • Borroq, He is a skinchanger who can inhabit the body of a boar.[1]
  • Briar, She was a skinchanger who could inhabit the body of a shadowcat.[1]
  • Grisella was a female wildling skinchanger who could inhabit the body of a goat.[1]

Other Skinchangers

References and Notes

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Organizations in A Song of Ice and Fire. The list of authors can be seen in the page history of Organizations in A Song of Ice and Fire. As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.