Part III: A Thousand Orange Torches in the Dark

If you have been following my previous essays, you will know that I focus on the symbolism surrounding the specifics of word choices and the potential implications of this. My first essay highlighted the distinct usage of the words fire and flame, which appeared to represent the benevolent/creative and treacherous/destructive forces of fire respectively. My second essay started the series of fiery colour analyses and discussed yellow and gold colour fires/flames: there appeared to be some kind of alchemical transformation from a yellow second sun into the gold fire of the gods. This essay, as the title hints at, focuses on orange coloured fire/flames.

TL;DR: Orange coloured fire/flame is primarily associated with the moon meteors or transformation by moon meteor. It is often paired with darkness or the colour black, indicating the two halves of the moon meteor: the fiery orange moon meteor falling to earth and the rising column of smoke and ash that blotted out the sun when the meteors landed. The idea of transformation by moon meteor is then used to create symbols like the warrior of fire, the person who sets the weirwood tree on fire. By setting the tree on fire, we also have the transformation of Nissa Nissa characters into weirwood trees. Finally, orange fire is associated with the casting of shadows and the transformation of gods, which is in turn associated with resurrecting dead greenseers.

Contents:
The Lights that Caused the Dark
The King’s Banner
The Livery of the Fire Knight
The Burning Tree (again)
The Tiger Bride
Casting Shadows
The Morningstar Monkey
Conclusion

NB: I am a devoted acolyte of Lucifer means Lightbringer’s (LmL’s) Church of Starry Wisdom, and as such, my interpretations are filtered through his “mythical astronomy” lens. In brief, he suggests that there was once a second moon in the sky, and that this was struck and destroyed by a comet (probably manipulated by ‘naughty greenseers’) when in eclipse position, raining down moon meteors on Planetos, and the debris from the resulting impacts caused the Long Night. This is reflected in a variety of in-world myths and legendary heroes, most notably Azor Ahai (the sun) wielding Lightbringer (the comet) against his wife Nissa Nissa (the second moon), whose death leaves a crack across the face of the moon and creates a flaming sword (releasing the moon meteors/transforming the original comet red), thus giving Azor Ahai access to the fire of the gods.  On earth, this equates to Azor Ahai (the naughty greenseer) sacrificing Nissa Nissa (likely a child of the forest) to gain access to the weirnet aka the tree that burns without being consumed aka fire of the gods 2. This sequence of events is reflected in a variety of in-world myths and legendary heroes, such as the forging of Lightbringer, The Blood Betrayal, The Grey King and the slaying of the sea dragon, Garth Greenhand, the Qartheen legend of the second moon giving birth to dragons, and Durran Godsgrief and his marriage to Elenei, to name but a few. Martin alludes to these events throughout the novels using some pretty densely packed symbolism. Given that both myself and LmL are looking at Martin’s use of symbolism generally (although granted from different perspectives and with different aims), there are many crossovers and my interpretations are therefore heavily influenced by LmL’s.

So, on to the main body of my essay. As usual, the associated appendix of the quotes I collated throughout the writing of this essay can be found on my Appendices page.

It is always difficult to know where to begin when trying to coherently analyse Martin’s symbolism – all of the dots seem to connect to one another, so that there is no natural beginning or ending. This time, I have found it easier to begin with my assertion and not the evidence that has led me there. So, I will begin with my assertion: that orange-coloured fire/flame is solely related to the falling moon meteors and the result of the meteor impacts. As such, we should see orange fire/flame occurring around moon meteors symbols: so things like flaming swords, flying torches, rising columns of smoke and ash, wielded by Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai types, that kind of thing. And that is just what we find. You will need to settle in for the long haul on this one, because there is a lot of orange fire imagery to cover.

The Lights that Caused the Dark

Most of the time, George likes to give us subtle hints and clues about symbolism. Other times, he likes to smack us in the face with a symbolism brick:

Full dark had fallen by the time the Yunkai’i departed from her camp. It promised to be a gloomy night; moonless, starless, with a chill wet wind blowing from the west. A fine black night, thought Dany. The fires burned all around her, small orange stars strewn across hill and field. (Dany IV, ASOS)

Small orange stars, you say? Fallen stars are an exceptionally obvious clue about meteors and comets, and this metaphor of “army campfires as a field of fallen stars” has been employed before.

Torches flickered along the walls of Dragonstone, and in the camp beyond, he could see hundreds of cookfires burning, as if a field of stars had fallen to the earth(Prologue, ACOK)

This was analysed as a moon meteor metaphor by LmL, so to see the imagery continued in association with orange is one clear piece of evidence associating the moon meteors with the colour orange. Moreover, it occurs as dark is falling to give a starless, moonless night sky: the moon was destroyed when it produced the moon meteors that blotted out the sun and stars, so seeing fallen stars at the moment that a moonless, starless, night begins heavily symbolises the onset of the Long Night.

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Dragonstone by saphirewings (DA, tumblr)

Another symbolism brick comes from Tyrion during the Battle of the Blackwater:

Finally he rolled over the side and lay breathless and exhausted, flat on his back. Balls of green and orange flame crackled overhead, leaving streaks between the stars. He had a moment to think how pretty it was before Ser Mandon blocked out the view. The knight was a white steel shadow, his eyes shining darkly behind his helm. Tyrion had no more strength than a rag doll. (Tyrion XIV, ACOK)

Any image of a meteor shower shows that this is what one looks like: streaks of fire between the stars. Again, this is associated with the colour orange. It is also associated with green, the colour of the greenseeing fire of the gods i.e. gaining the power to enter the weirnet. This ties together as the moon meteors are another aspect of the fire of the gods, the rain of bloodstone meteors possibly used to forge black, soul-drinking weapons: this is a concept that we will be covering in more detail later in this essay. Once again, the Battle of the Blackwater is fought at dusk, i.e. at the beginning of (the Long) Night. In fact, darkness, dusk and night-time are so ubiquitous in the orange fire/flame quotes that I’m not going to mention it now unless it’s really important to that scene: having said that, I have included it as a subsection of the appendix if you want to check.

One of the more vivid depictions of the devastation wrought by the falling moon meteors comes in Arya IV, ACOK, as the Night’s Watch recruits are taken unawares by Ser Amory Lorch’s men.

For a moment she thought the town was full of lantern bugs. Then she realized they were men with torches, galloping between the houses. She saw a roof go up, flames licking at the belly of the night with hot orange tongues as the thatch caught. (Arya IV, ACOK)

We have already gone into some detail analysing this scene, and LmL also analyses it here, so I will only provide a brief recap. The torch as lanternbug implies numerous meteors falling to earth, and they cause flames to lick at the night sky upon landing (with flame licking implying the destructive procreation, or sex and swordplay, motif). More importantly for this analysis, these tongues are orange: the extent of the moon meteor symbolism surrounding this quote only serves to reinforce my argument that the colour “orange” is associated with this as well.

Indeed, the torch is the metaphor that appears to be utilised most often with respect to the colour orange.

The stallion’s blood looked black in the flickering orange glare of the torches that ringed the high chalk walls of the pit. (Daenerys V, AGOT)

Flickering torchlight danced across the walls, making the faces seem half-alive, twisting them, changing them. The statues in the great septs of the cities wore the faces the stonemasons had given them, but these charcoal scratchings were so crude they might be anyone. The Father’s face made her think of her own father, dying in his bed at Riverrun. The Warrior was Renly and Stannis, Robb and Robert, Jaime Lannister and Jon Snow. She even glimpsed Arya in those lines, just for an instant. Then a gust of wind through the door made the torch sputter, and the semblance was gone, washed away in orange glare. (Catelyn IV, ACOK)

A dozen ironmen hemmed them in, torches in one hand and weapons in the other. The wind was gusting, and the flickering orange light reflected dully off steel helms, thick beards, and unsmiling eyes. (Theon IV, ACOK)

Flickering orange light fell through the ancient iron bars from the torch in the sconce on the wall outside, but the back half of the cell remained drenched in gloom. (Davos III, ASOS)

In and of itself, the torch is a moon meteor metaphor: however, I have chosen some examples that show orange torchlight tends to be flickering. (A complete collection of the orange torch quotes can, as always, be found in the associated appendix.) As I outlined in a previous essay, flickering is often associated with moon meteors by virtue of being equated to fallen stars, Lightbringer weaponry and fiery dancing. All of these images relate to the rain of moon meteors that showered the earth: to see this imagery consistently related to orange torches once again reinforces the idea of orange fire/flames being associated with moon meteors.

Moreover, each of these quotes has other moon meteor associations as well. I’ll go through each one individually. First, I’ll talk about The Last Hero Theon and his twelve companions imitating Rock-born Mithras:

A dozen ironmen hemmed them in, torches in one hand and weapons in the other. The wind was gusting, and the flickering orange light reflected dully off steel helms, thick beards, and unsmiling eyes. (Theon IV, ACOK)

As Schmendrick and LmL go into a lot of detail analysing, a key influence on the Lightbringer and Azor Ahai myth is Mithraism. Rock-born Mithras is a depiction of his birth, or re-birth, where he emerges from a stone egg wielding a torch in one hand and a sword in the other. In the above passage, we can see a similarity in the ironmen holding a torch in one hand and a weapon in the other. There are even allusions to Winterfell being a stone egg, in that it is described as a stone tree (Bran II, AGOT) that cracks open during the Sack, with a fiery winged snake hovering sinisterly above the castle (Bran VII, ACOK). And, as I alluded to in the precursor to this quote, we can see Last Hero maths, as there’s Theon (the Last Hero) and his dozen companions, making the traditional 12 + 1 pattern. So, once again, flickering orange torchlight is associated with the extensive symbolism surrounding the events of the Long Night.

 

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A troubled Theon Greyjoy by gibilynx

Moving on to the Davos quote:

Flickering orange light fell through the ancient iron bars from the torch in the sconce on the wall outside, but the back half of the cell remained drenched in gloom. (Davos III, ASOS)

Here we see the flickering orange torchlight falling, implying the moon meteors that fell to earth. Note that half of the cell remains drenched in gloom, such that it is half black and half orange. I believe this references the two aspects of the moon meteors – the “orange” meteors streaking to earth and the darkness that was the rising cloud of smoke and ash that blotted out the sun. This is a colour pairing that we will see repeatedly today, so I will keep pointing it out where it crops up.

This duality is echoed in the Dany quote as well:

The heart was steaming in the cool evening air when Khal Drogo set it before her, raw and bloody. His arms were red to the elbow. Behind him, his bloodriders knelt on the sand beside the corpse of the wild stallion, stone knives in their hands. The stallion’s blood looked black in the flickering orange glare of the torches that ringed the high chalk walls of the pit. (Daenerys V, AGOT)

Here, the flickering orange torchlight transforms the stallion’s heart’s blood black. As analysed by LmL, blackened blood is a well-established mark of fire transformation (e.g. both Melisandre and Beric have black blood): especially relevant for this analysis, black blood invokes the image of the rain of black bloodstones that fell from the sky as moon meteors. In this scene, the transformation of the blood to black occurs due to the orange torches that I believe represent the meteors falling to earth, so again we have this pairing of the orange light and blackness or darkness, the two halves of the moon meteor.

Finally, the orange torchlight is associated with twisting the faces of gods.

Flickering torchlight danced across the walls, making the faces seem half-alive, twisting them, changing them. The statues in the great septs of the cities wore the faces the stonemasons had given them, but these charcoal scratchings were so crude they might be anyone. The Father’s face made her think of her own father, dying in his bed at Riverrun. The Warrior was Renly and Stannis, Robb and Robert, Jaime Lannister and Jon Snow. She even glimpsed Arya in those lines, just for an instant. Then a gust of wind through the door made the torch sputter, and the semblance was gone, washed away in orange glare.

The smoke was making her eyes burn. She rubbed at them with the heels of her scarred hands.  (Catelyn IV, ACOK)

The flickering orange moon meteor torchlight dances, like the fiery dancers that always show at fire transformation parties, which twists and changes the faces of the Seven. That the gods are only half-alive would reflect the death and resurrection cycle that appears to be a key part of Azor Ahai’s and the Last Hero’s story, and a description of the greenseers. And of course, this happens just before a shadow baby birthed by Melisandre (a weirwood figure) sacrifices the horned lord Renly Baratheon, in his magic armour and his magic castle. Note that these orange torches are smoky, like the orange moon meteors that caused the rising cloud of smoke and ash that blotted out the sun: again, it’s another instance the two halves of the moon meteors.

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A somewhat grander sept – The Great Sept of Baelor by inSOLense

Indeed, this is a motif we see occur over and over again: orange fires smoke.

And now the flames reached her Drogo, and now they were all around him. His clothing took fire, and for an instant the khal was clad in wisps of floating orange silk and tendrils of curling smoke, grey and greasy. (Daenerys X, AGOT)

Dany chose the rightmost, and entered a long, dim, high-ceilinged hall. Along the right hand was a row of torches burning with a smoky orange light, but the only doors were to her left. Drogon unfolded wide black wings and beat the stale air. He flew twenty feet before thudding to an undignified crash. (Daenerys IV, ACOK)

A flight of flickering orange birds took wing from the castle, twenty or thirty of them; pots of burning pitch, arcing out over the river trailing threads of flame. The waters ate most, but a few found the decks of galleys in the first line of battle, spreading flame when they shattered. Men-at-arms were scrambling on Queen Alysanne’s deck, and he could see smoke rising from three different spots on Dragonsbane, nearest the bank. (Davos III, ACOK)

Outside the sun went down. Darkness gathered beyond the walls, but inside the torches burned with a ruddy orange glow, and their smoke gathered under the rafters like a grey cloud. Drunken men began to dance the finger dance. (The Reaver, AFFC)

Note that each of these events appears to be related to the result of the moon meteor impacts. In Dany’s first quote, Drogo is clothed in orange fire and smoke during the birth of Dany’s dragons, one of the more potent manifestations of the Lightbringer moon meteors. In Dany’s second quote, the black dragon, Drogon, crashes to the floor i.e. a black dragon meteor crashes to the ground in the light of the orange smoking torch meteors. In Davos’ chapter, the flickering orange burning pitch pots (which act as moon meteor metaphors, like the torches) cause smoke to rise in three spots, three being a key moon meteor number, as in Dany’s three dragons. And in The Reaver, the smoke rises like a cloud, as in it rises into the celestial realm to blot out the face of the sun and cause the Long Night, with some drunken dancers to go along with it.

The orange-and-smoke pattern is even expressed in sigils:

Ser Addam Marbrand had the command. Tyrion saw his banner unfurl as his standard-bearer shook it out; a burning treeorange and smoke(Tyrion VIII, AGOT)

That it is orange (for the moon meteors) and smoke (for the rising cloud of smoke and ash that blotted out the sun) lends support to my idea of the duality of the moon meteors as both fire and darkness. It also sends us onto another line of “orange fire” symbolism which leads us on to more and more places, so I’ll call a section break now.

The King’s Banner

I’ll return again to that quote about Ser Addam Marbrand’s sigil:

Ser Addam Marbrand had the command. Tyrion saw his banner unfurl as his standard-bearer shook it out; a burning tree, orange and smoke(Tyrion VIII, AGOT)

That particular line, about the unfurling banners, reminds me of this:

Huge orange gouts of fire unfurled their banners in that hellish wind, the logs hissing and cracking, glowing cinders rising on the smoke to float away into the dark like so many newborn fireflies. (Daenerys X, AGOT)

Note that once the orange fire unfurls its banner, cinders begin floating in the air, carried on the rising smoke cloud, a depiction of the moon meteor storm.

This “banner” image is repeated a few times in the series when orange flames are involved:

“Swiftly,” Ser Brynden said. He nocked an arrow, held it steady for the brand, drew and released before Catelyn was quite sure that the fire had caught . . . but as the shot rose, she saw the flames trailing through the air, a pale orange pennon. The boat had vanished in the mists. (Catelyn IV, ASOS)

This would look a lot like a meteor falling to earth: the head of the meteor is a flaming arrow that streaks through the air, bearing a banner (aka pennon) that is the tail of the meteor.

Jon slipped sideways between two sharpened stakes while Ghost slid beneath them. A torch had been thrust down into a crevice, its flames flying pale orange banners when the gusts came. He snatched it up as he squeezed through the gap between the stones. (Jon IV, ACOK)

The cold was so bitter that Sam felt naked. He looked for the other torches, but they were gone, every one of them. There was only the one Grenn carried, the flames rising from it like pale orange silks. He could see through them, to the black beyond. (Sam I, ASOS)

And here we have the torch motif again, two torches wielded by black brothers fly banners (banners, of course, being made of silk). I emphasised the fact that these men are black brothers because that gives us the orange and black colour pairing, yet again.

But whose banner are they all bearing?

“Look out your windows, my lord. There is the sign you have waited for, blazoned on the sky. Red, it is, the red of flame, red for the fiery heart of the true god. It is his banner—and yours! See how it unfurls across the heavens like a dragon’s hot breath, and you the Lord of Dragonstone.” (Prologue, ACOK)

Azor Ahai’s, of course! The wisdom of Lady Selyse says that The Red Comet is the banner of R’hllor and his chosen one. It also unfurls, like Marbrand’s banner and the orange fiery banners in Drogo’s pyre/Dany’s alchemical wedding/Lightbringer’s birth, so the similarity in language suggests that there is a similarity in symbolism. This is reinforced when “unfurl banner” produced seven results all of which pertain to moon meteors in some sense – but most of them are red, so I’m likely to end up covering it in the next essay. So, whilst the banners aren’t all orange, there is a conclusive link that the Red Comet!Lightbringer can be described as a banner, in which case the moon meteor!Lightbringer is likely to carry this symbolism too.

So, who carries the fiery banner for R’hllor? His Fire Knights, of course.

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The Red Comet by aunjuli

The Livery of the Fire Knights

The fire knights are the warriors of fire, warriors who fight on behalf of fire and warriors who are the literal incarnations of fire.

“The old maester looked at Stannis and saw only a man. You see a king. You are both wrong. He is the Lord’s chosen, the warrior of fire.” (Davos III, ASOS)

So, who would be better to bear the banner of R’hllor than the class of slave warriors literally dedicated to defending R’hllor’s temples?

“The red temple buys them as children and makes them priests or temple prostitutes or warriors. Look there.” He pointed at the steps, where a line of men in ornate armor and orange cloaks stood before the temple’s doors, clasping spears with points like writhing flames. “The Fiery Hand. The Lord of Light’s sacred soldiers, defenders of the temple.”

Fire knights. “And how many fingers does this hand have, pray?”

“One thousand. Never more, and never less. A new flame is kindled for every one that gutters out.” (Tyrion VII, ADWD)

As LmL goes in to some detail explaining, the Fiery Hand is a fantastic representation of the moon meteors that fell to earth because there’s a thousand of them and they are clasping fiery spears, weapons that are literally designed to look like meteors. What I want to point out is that they are cloaked in orange. This serves to strengthen my original argument, that orange fire is related to the moon meteors, as these thousand men that represent moon meteors are literally designed to look like orange fire. Ser Jorah even calls them warriors, aligning them even better to the warriors of fire that Mel talks about.

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The Braavosi Temple of the Lord of Light, retrieved from GoT wikia 17/03/2018

It then suggests that we ought to look for orange coloured fiery clothing as an indicator of someone undergoing a fire transformation by meteor. It would be really great if this happened in a Lightbringer forging scene, because that is the definition of transformation by moon meteor. If only…

His clothing took fire, and for an instant the khal was clad in wisps of floating orange silk and tendrils of curling smoke, grey and greasy. (Daenerys X, AGOT)

Drogo is the avatar of Azor Ahai in this moment, is identified with the Red Comet and is undergoing a fire transformation to boot. He is (symbolically) becoming Azor Ahai Reborn and he appears to Dany to be wearing orange fire and smoke: he is a mighty warrior robed in dual motif of the moon meteors. This is actually replicated in Hoster Tully’s funeral: the boat is wreathed in leaping flames” with a flaming arrow (moon meteor), trailing a “pale orange pennon (Catelyn IV, ASOS), the banner of R’hllor. And Tully was a warrior who fought in the War of the Ninepenny Kings and had the famed kissed-by-fire Tully red hair: Hoster Tully is Azor Ahai! You heard it here first! In all seriousness though, the warrior transformed in death by the fire of the gods moon meteors is an idea that keeps recurring.

If you have been following my previous essays, you will know that I have discussed the warriors of fire motif before, and I suggested that firelight reflecting off of armour might be an indication that these men are fire knights or warriors of fire. One of the prime examples of this is during the Night’s Watch battle against Ser Amory Lorch’s men:

Firelight glittered off metal helms and spattered their mail and plate with orange and yellow highlights. (Arya IV, ACOK)

Yes, this is yellow as well, but we know that yellow fire is related to the second sun idea, that of attempting to acquire the fire of the gods, or attempting to be transformed by fire. So, not only are these men wielding orange torches like moon meteors, they are wearing armour that is a reflection of an attempt to acquire the fire of the gods and the orange moon meteors, which is the fire of the gods on its way down to earth.

In the very same chapter we have the son of the horned god with horns like orange fire:

…but Gendry came back, the fire shining so bright on his polished helm that the horns seemed to glow orange. (Arya IV, ACOK)

Fiery horned lords are something that LmL goes in to great detail analysing in his Green Zombies series, referencing the myths of the corn king figures, a term used to describe the very common mythological archetype of a sacrificed male god or king whose death brings about the turning of the seasons (Sacred Order of Green Zombies I, LmL). Gendry is called the Bull, a typical sacrificial animal and the animal that Mithr-Azor Ahai himself sacrifices; he is the son of Robert Baratheon, who is explicitly called a horned god; and he is here representing the Night’s Watch, who may well have been sacrificed horned lord figures. So, who better to wear the moon meteor fire of the gods than the sacrificed and resurrected horned god? This likely ties in to the image I analysed previously, that of resurrected Renly of the flaming golden antlers, as antlers on a stag and horns on a bull are both symbols representative of the horned god figure. This would then offer some kind of equivalence between orange fire and golden fire: this is to be expected if gold fire represents the acquisition of the fire of the gods and orange fire represents the moon meteors that are an example of the fire of the gods come to earth.

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Gendry by chenoan

This fiery armour motif is also seen in the armour of Theon’s dozen ironborn, as it reflects the orange torchlight:

A dozen ironmen hemmed them in, torches in one hand and weapons in the other. The wind was gusting, and the flickering orange light reflected dully off steel helms, thick beards, and unsmiling eyes. (Theon IV, ACOK)

I mentioned earlier that these ironborn are being depicted as the Last Hero’s twelve companions and Mithras, with Mithraism being a large influence on GRRM’s conception of Azor Ahai (Reborn). Unsurprisingly, we are seeing the orange flames from their moon meteor torches being reflected in their armour, suggesting that they are playing in to the warriors of fire motif: exactly what we would expect of people imitating a key influence on the Azor Ahai myth. If these ironborn are meant to represent the Last Hero’s twelve, as the 12 + 1 maths would suggest, then this suggests that the Last Hero and his companions may have undergone some kind of fire transformation. This fits rather nicely into LmL’s Green Zombies series, in which he suggests that the original Night’s Watch, aka the Last Hero + 12, were actually undead: yet again, this is another indication that the warrior of fire underwent some kind of death transformation by the moon meteor fire.

To be clear, I am depicting Azor Ahai being armoured in fire as part of this warrior of fire motif. That’s all very well and good, I hear you say, but fiery armour isn’t a thing that is associated with Azor Ahai or moon meteors. That’s true, there is no explicit mention of that. But we know that Azor Ahai wielded a fiery sword… but that’s just too much to ask for, right?

Jon drew Longclaw from its sheath. Rain washed the steel, and the firelight traced a sullen orange line along the edge. Such a small fire, to cost a man his life. He remembered what Qhorin Halfhand had said when they spied the fire in the Skirling Pass. Fire is life up here, he told them, but it can be death as well. (Jon V, ASOS)

Apparently not! Which is good news for my essay, because it shows that this symbolism is actually related to each other and it’s not just me ranting about something completely random. And Jon is the one holding this flaming sword – Azor Ahai Reborn candidate numero uno. In the section I have bolded, it appears that the rain transforms the steel to make it look like a fiery sword. And what is this rain from?

Toward sunset, however, clouds began to threaten in the west. They soon engulfed the orange sun, and Lenn foretold a bad storm coming. (Jon V, ASOS)

The orange sun within the storm is creating orange fiery swords. Note that this is the only time an orange sun is mentioned in the series proper, so I think its choice here is especially telling: when the sun is swallowed, the thing doing the swallowing tends to undergo a fiery transformation. In this case, it transformed the storm into The Storm of Fiery Swords i.e. the moon meteors that rained down upon earth. The only other occurrence of orange suns that I can see (but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) is in the sigil of House Kenning of Kayce: two orange suns on black and two black suns on orange, countercharged. The old friends, the moon meteors and the darkness. (I do have a further analysis of the Kenning sigil on a comment of one of LmL’s essays.)

Jon wielding a sword set on fire by moon meteor rain gives us the idea of the warriors of fire wielding the moon meteors as weapons. We also see this in the way that Lorch and his men use torches to decimate the town and the holdfast in Arya IV, ACOK. Another way that moon meteors can be weaponised is to make physical swords: think of Dawn being forged from the heart of a fallen star. Obviously Dawn is white, but we do have tales of black soul-drinking swords:

… the men of the green lands told each other that the Ironborn were demons risen from some watery hell, protected by fell sorceries and possessed of foul black weapons that drank the very souls of those they slew. (The Iron Islands, The World of Ice and Fire)

As LmL analyses in ‘The Grey King and the Sea Dragon’, there is ample evidence of a moon meteor landing in the sea very near to the Iron Islands, and there is a suggestion that the Ironborn actually harvested this material in order to forge weapons from it. Moreover, the ironborn as magical demons emerging from some watery hell with moon meteor swords sounds a lot like the Drowned God emerging from the sea to give the ironborn the burning brand, the burning brand being a moon meteor torch metaphor. Think of Theon and his twelve companions in their Mithras pose, bearing the orange torches in one hand, weapons in the other, armoured in fire. This then equates the black soul-drinking swords with the fiery torch, giving us the two halves of the moon meteor again: the (orange) fiery torch and the black sword.

Given that the meteors are frequently symbolised by dragons, what the Ironborn have done is create steel from dragons, i.e. dragonsteel.

“Dragonsteel?” Jon frowned. “Valyrian steel?” (Sam I, AFFC)

This is the first Valyrian steel sword we meet:

Lord Eddard Stark dismounted and his ward Theon Greyjoy brought forth the sword. “Ice,” that sword was called. It was as wide across as a man’s hand, and taller even than Robb. The blade was Valyrian steel, spell-forged and dark as smoke. Nothing held an edge like Valyrian steel. (Bran I, AGOT)

Ice – one of the best Lightbringer symbols going – is dragonsteel and smoke-dark. Smoke, like the smoky counterpart of an orange moon meteor. This is later repeated when Tyrion says that “most Valyrian steel was a grey so dark it looked almost black” (Tyrion IV, ASOS), while describing Oathkeeper – one of the other best Lightbringer symbols going.

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Like father, like son – Eddard Stark by feydrautha81 (DA, facebook, insta) and Jon Snow by liayso

Borrowing yet another idea from LmL, if the sword Ice is so dark it is almost black, then that makes it black ice like Jon’s Azor Ahai dream’ armour:

Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. (Jon XII, ADWD)

Following the logic backwards, to be armoured in black ice is to be armoured in Valyrian steel, by virtue of the shared descriptions of the Valyrian steel sword, Ice. If Valyrian Steel is dragonsteel, then we can equate Jon wearing black Ice/Valyrian steel armour to Jon wearing armour made from moon meteorite material, as moon meteors can be called dragons. This leads to the quite frankly bizarre notion that to be armoured in fire is parallel to being armoured in ice: then again, I suppose the clue has been in the title all along. And it also fits with this quote: [Jon] watched the cracks along the Wall go from red to grey to black, from streaks of fire to rivers of black ice. (Jon XII, ADWD)

There is another depiction of someone armoured in ice wielding a fiery sword:

Ser Barristan pulled his sword from the scabbard. Its sharp edge caught the light from the brazier, became a line of orange fire. (The Kingbreaker, ADWD)

Ser Barristan wears the white armour of the Kingsguard, which he describes earlier in the chapter as hard as ice and bright as new-fallen snow (The Kingbreaker, ADWD). So it appears that being armoured in ice and wielding a burning sword are things that go together. Moreover, as a knight fighting on behalf of the dragon queen, he could be cast as a fire knight or warrior of fire.

So, it seems that the warrior of fire motif is associated with warriors using the fire of the moon meteors as armour and weapons, specifically an Azor Ahai type wearing fiery armour or wielding a fiery sword. But what else is the warrior of fire? Melisandre, take it away:

“The war continues, Davos Seaworth, and some will soon learn that even an ember in the ashes can still ignite a great blaze. The old maester looked at Stannis and saw only a man. You see a king. You are both wrong. He is the Lord’s chosen, the warrior of fire.” (Davos III, ASOS)

The warrior of fire is the ember in the ashes, and the ember in the ashes is the life in the weirnet.

 

The Burning Tree (again)

Anybody with familiarity with LmL’s essays will know of the “ember in the ashes” motif, as he analysed it extensively in In A Grove of Ash’. For those who are not familiar or LmL readers who want a recap, I’ll try to provide a decent precis of relevant concepts from his Weirwood Compendium series, so that this essay can be at least somewhat coherent, because I am going to be applying these ideas liberally to my orange fire = moon meteor hypothesis.

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A depiction of Yggdrasil (copyright-free image)

Weirwood trees, as many in the fandom have noted, are a blatant reference to the mythical Norse tree, Yggdrasil, that connected the various worlds of the cosmos. Yggdrasil is an ash tree, which then means that weirwoods can be considered as ash trees. Furthermore, the leaves of the weirwood tree are described as a blaze of flame (Theon V, ACOK), making it a burning ash tree.

We have already seen the burning tree a couple of times this essay. Remember Ser Addam Marbrand’s sigil, the orange burning tree on a field of smoke-grey? Remember how the banner bearing that sigil unfurled like the Red Comet, which is in turn the herald of fake Azor Ahai, Stannis Baratheon? To me, that suggests that the burning tree is the banner of Azor Ahai too, which fits with everything that LmL has been saying in his Weirwood Compendium: the two forms of the fire of the gods are Fiery Sword!Lightbringer and the Burning Tree!Lightbringer and the forging of both co-occur.

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by LiquidSoulDesign

With this is mind, we can return to the burning tree in Arya IV, ACOK:

The fire leapt from one house to another. Arya saw a tree consumed, the flames creeping across its branches until it stood against the night in robes of living orange. (Arya IV, ACOK)

The tree is wearing orange fiery robes, like a tree being transformed by moon meteor fire. Moreover, it is Ser Amory Lorch and his men, playing in to the warriors of fire motif by bearing their moon meteor torches and wearing their fiery armour, that create the burning tree.

Now, to quote the same Melisandre statement yet again:

“The war continues, Davos Seaworth, and some will soon learn that even an ember in the ashes can still ignite a great blaze. The old maester looked at Stannis and saw only a man. You see a king. You are both wrong. He is the Lord’s chosen, the warrior of fire.” (Davos III, ASOS)

To Melisandre, the ember in the ashes is the same as the warrior of fire, who is in turn Azor Ahai Reborn. This fits perfectly with the Arya IV, ACOK scene: the warriors of fire who are armoured in fire and wield fiery moon meteors create the fiery tree, or the ember in the ashes. This is yet another manifestation of LmL’s key thesis from the Weirwood Compendium: Azor Ahai was a greenseer who set the tree on fire by entering the weirnet.

Obviously, the most important weirwood tree is the heart tree, the trees that have been activated or ‘set on fire’ by the warriors of fire imbuing them with their fiery consciousness. With that in mind, consider Stannis’ sigil:

The device on his sun-yellow banner showed a red heart surrounded by a blaze of orange fire. The crowned stag was there, yes . . . shrunken and enclosed within the heart. (Catelyn III, ACOK)

It is the red heart, for the red-leaved, red-faced heart tree, fiery like the fiery heart of R’hllor. Note that the heart is burning orange: orange for the moon meteors that set it on fire, like Ser Amory Lorch’s men using the moon meteor torches to set fire to the tree in Arya IV, ACOK. Moreover, it is a blaze of orange fire”, like the weirwood is a “blaze of flame” (Theon V, ACOK), the similarity in language echoing a similarity in symbolism. It’s yet another manifestation of the weirwood tree struck by the meteor.

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Speaking of more symbolic manifestations of the weirwood tree, LmL has gone into a lot of detail analysing the fire that Osha lights when under the crypts of Winterfell.

Bran heard fingers fumbling at leather, followed by the sound of steel on flint. Then again. A spark flew, caught. Osha blew softly. A long pale flame awoke, stretching upward like a girl on her toes. Osha’s face floated above it. She touched the flame with the head of a torch. Bran had to squint as the pitch began to burn, filling the world with orange glare. (Bran VII, ACOK)

It’s that pesky orange meteor again, transforming the world with its orange glare. More importantly, this fire fits the shy maid motif, the symbolic manifestation of the burning weirwood dryad. LmL analyses this scene, and I’ll quote his analysis as I can’t precis it:

Osha’s face floats above like the moon, and the long, pale flame girl on her toes acts as the fiery body under her floating head. Take a picture everyone – that’s our Asshai maiden, the lady of the burning ash tree. She is a moon figure, a living flame, and an ash tree all in one. She may be a shy maiden, but you’ll notice that she’s “filling the world with orange glare.” The fiery weirwood woman does that by lightning up in fiery dragon childbirth, and by facilitating the rebirth of Azor Ahai, the ember in the ashes waiting to spark the great conflagration. (LucifermeansLightbringer, Weirwood Goddess 1: The Venus of The Woods: Asshai Maiden)

This is exactly what we have predicted so far, purely from analysing the colour orange: orange for the moon meteors (“fiery dragon childbirth”) that create the burning tree using the spirit of the warrior of fire, who in turn becomes the ember in the ashes.

There are many more examples of people turning into weirwood trees due to the fire of the moon meteors. One of the prime examples is the burning of the Undying Ones by Drogon.

Then indigo turned to orange, and whispers turned to screams. Her heart was pounding, racing, the hands and mouths were gone, heat washed over her skin, and Dany blinked in the sudden glare. Perched above her, the dragon spread his wings and tore at the terrible dark heart, ripping the rotten flesh to ribbons, and when his head snapped forward, fire flew from his jaws, bright and hot. She could hear the shrieks of the Undying as they burned, their high thin papery voices crying out in tongues long dead. Their flesh was a crumbling parchment, their bones dry wood soaked in tallow. They danced as the flames consumed them, they staggered and writhed and spun and raised their blazing hands on high, their fingers bright as torches. (Daenerys IV, ACOK)

A lot happens in this paragraph so let’s break it down. Firstly, there are the moon meteor references. Most obviously, orange fire comes from a black dragon (meteor). However, Drogon usually breathes black flame shot through with red and it’s well-established in universe that dragonflame is the colour of the dragon, and Drogon is definitely not orange. I would argue, therefore, that the reason it is orange in this scene is that the symbolism requires it. If the moon meteors create the burning tree, then we need the black dragon to breathe orange and give us that moon meteor colour pairing. In addition to this, there is also linguistic similarity between Drogon’s fire here and the fire in the Winterfell crypts. Drogon’s fire flew from his jaws to set the Undying Ones on fire and, in the other fire, a spark flew, caught to create the shy maid. Moreover, in doing so, both create an orange glare: “a sudden glare in this case and “filling the world with orange glare in the other.

With these similarities, we can extrapolate that Drogon, as a moon meteor, is setting some weirwood trees on fire here, and that is what the Undying Ones are symbolising in this moment. The most obvious call outs to this is that they are described as papery, like parchment and like dry wood, all products of trees. By likening the Undying Ones to paper and parchment, Martin invokes the idea of the burning book or burning library as outlined by Ravenous Reader: greenseers in the weirnet act as repositories of knowledge, just as books and libraries do, thus something or someone that is equated to a book being set on fire is symbolically equivalent to setting the tree on fire. Additionally, the Undying Ones’ “whispers turned to screams: that’s the greenseers in the whispering weirnet screaming in the moment of their fiery resurrection (presumably this is equivalent to the face carving, given the frequently angry or screaming faces carved on to the trees). The screams and shrieks are also evocative of Nissa Nissa’s cry of anguish and ecstasy at the moment of Lightbringer’s forging. Finally, after being set on fire, they do what all fiery tree sorcerors should do: they dance like the fiery dancers that crop up at Lightbringer forging parties and they do so by “raising their blazing hands on high i.e. by striking a tree pose. Their hands in this instance would be like the leaves of the weirwood tree, which look like hands and a blaze of flame, so that matches.

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Essentially what happens in The House of the Undying – by floraltattoo

This also gives us the fractal imagery that is so prevalent in Martin’s work. The Undying Ones now have fiery hands, like the Fiery Hand of R’hllor, the warriors of fire. This is exactly what we should be seeing: sorcerors attempting to acquire the fire of the gods, getting their hands burned by it, and being transformed. Martin describes the fingers as torches, circling back around to the nigh ubiquitous moon meteor as torches motif. Let’s recap the description of the Fiery Hand:

He pointed at the steps, where a line of men in ornate armor and orange cloaks stood before the temple’s doors, clasping spears with points like writhing flames.The Fiery Hand. The Lord of Light’s sacred soldiers, defenders of the temple.”

Fire knights. “And how many fingers does this hand have, pray?”

One thousand. Never more, and never less. A new flame is kindled for every one that gutters out.” (Tyrion VII, ADWD)

As I recounted earlier, the fire knights here are acting as moon meteor symbols, clasping fiery spears and cloaked in the colour of the moon meteors. Note that each of the guards are called fingers, which equates fingers to moon meteors. This is exactly what we are seeing in the House of the Undying: the Undying Ones’ fiery fingers are orange torches, a key moon meteor symbol.

Another weirwood symbol is the rising cloud of smoke and ash. As LmL points out, a rising column of ash looks like the trunk of an ash tree, the weirwood in A Song of Ice and Fire. As I pointed out earlier in the essay, the orange moon meteor torches are often depicted as smoky, so you can visualise the image of a moon meteor giving rise to the column of smoke weirwood. Drogon’s destruction of the Undying does actually lead to this rising smoke symbol:

When Dany looked behind her, she saw thin tendrils of smoke forcing their way through cracks in the ancient stone walls of the Palace of Dust, and rising from between the black tiles of the roof. (Daenerys IV, ACOK)

Within, we have the fiery sorcerors and fiery dancers enacting the image of the weirwood tree being set on fire by the black-and-orange moon meteor Drogon and without we have the rising cloud of smoke and ash that simultaneously depicts the weirwood tree and the darkening of the sun.

In other scenes, the smoke is the cause of the weirwood stigmata, rather than the consequence (the weirwood stigmata is a term LmL uses to describe characters who acquire symbolism that makes them look like weirwoods such as bleeding eyes, a bloody mouth and bloody hands).

Then a gust of wind through the door made the torch sputter, and the semblance was gone, washed away in orange glare.

The smoke was making her eyes burn. She rubbed at them with the heels of her scarred hands. (Catelyn IV, ACOK)

LmL analyses the two most important scenes in which Catelyn acquires weirwood symbolism in ‘Venus of the Woods’: when she defends Bran from the catspaw assassin and when she dies at the Red Wedding. This scene is but a minor echo of the others but we can still see some of the weirwood stigmata being expressed. Catelyn’s eyes burn, like they burn at the Red Wedding when she is simultaneously crying and clawing at her own eyes, associating these burning-from-smoke eyes with carving a face on the weirwood tree. It also invokes the idea that the face carving is the moment that the weirwood tree is set ablaze i.e. the carving of the face is the key moment in the activation of the weirwood tree. Martin also makes sure to reference Catelyn’s scarred hands, reminding us that she acquired those scars during her fight with the catspaw assassin and so referencing the bloody hands symbol, even if he can’t actually make her hands bleed at this point in time. This gives her the bloody hand symbolism in addition to the burning/bloody eyes, completing the weirwood transformation for this scene. Once again, this is effected by the orange fire of the moon meteors and note that it heralds an army of shadow knights and the sacrifice of a green man stag king wearing magic armour. The confluence of associated imagery is astoundingly consistent.

The weirwood stigmata also occurs in another scene rich with moon meteor references, and it occurs with one of the best incarnations of Azor Ahai Reborn.

The heart was steaming in the cool evening air when Khal Drogo set it before her, raw and bloody. His arms were red to the elbow. Behind him, his bloodriders knelt on the sand beside the corpse of the wild stallion, stone knives in their hands. The stallion’s blood looked black in the flickering orange glare of the torches that ringed the high chalk walls of the pit. (Daenerys V, AGOT)

In the very same chapter, it is mentioned that horses and stallions represent stars in Dothraki culture; in which case, Daenerys is eating the heart of a fallen star. As she eats the horse heart, warm blood filled her mouth and ran down over her chin” and “her cheeks and fingers were sticky with blood giving her the bloody mouth/bloody hands symbolism of a weirwood tree. Some of that heartsblood even seemed to explode against her lips (Daenerys V, AGOT), giving us the idea of the exploding moon that resulted in the moon meteors. In essence, Martin is describing the warrior of fire bringing down a star to turn a moon maiden into a weirwood tree. Consider the fact that Drogo is red to the elbow when he gives Dany the heart: he is caught red-handed pulling down a star, as it were. In doing this, he and his bloodriders also create black bloodstone weapons, extending their warrior of fire symbolism, as the stone knives they use to cut open the stallion are coated in blood that has turned black in the light of the moon meteor torches. This implies that it is the heart of a black bloodstone meteor that is giving Dany the weirwood stigmata, which is exactly what we acolytes of LmL’s Church of Starry Wisdom believe: remember it is the Storm God’s lightning bolt that set the tree ablaze. The fact that the heart steams also references one of Daenerys’ fire transformation dreams, in which a dragon bathes her in fire and she could feel her blood boil and turn to steam (Daenerys III, AGOT). This equates being transformed by dragon with being transformed by the heart of a fallen star horse, thus equating transformation by blood with transformation by fire: given that both dragons and this horse are representing the rain of fiery bloodstone moon meteors, this is an unsurprising link.

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Daenerys’ special protein diet by inthearmsofundertow

Let’s review the picture being painted once again. The warrior of fire uses his bloody, fiery moon meteors to set trees on fire, creating a weirwood, and to give moon maidens the weirwood stigmata. This is a clear reference to Azor Ahai sacrificing Nissa Nissa to open his way into the weirwood tree and may be a specific reference to weapons forged from the moon meteors being the weapons that carved the first faces on the weirwood trees. But, as Bloodraven espouses, to truly become a greenseer as Azor Ahai was, one must first wed the tree.

The Tiger Bride

I have some relevant thoughts about how marriage relates to this essay, but to cover it, we are going to have to meander through fictional time and space, across half a world and almost to the dawn of days.

The Bloodstone Emperor is first introduced to us in The World of Ice and Fire, as part of a rendition of some eastern myths about the Great Empire of the Dawn.

When the daughter of the Opal Emperor succeeded him as the Amethyst Empress, her envious younger brother cast her down and slew her, proclaiming himself the Bloodstone Emperor and beginning a reign of terror. He practiced dark arts, torture, and necromancy, enslaved his people, took a tiger-woman for his bride, feasted on human flesh, and cast down the true gods to worship a black stone that had fallen from the sky. (Many scholars count the Bloodstone Emperor as the first High Priest of the sinister Church of Starry Wisdom, which persists to this day in many port cities throughout the known world).

In the annals of the Further East, it was the Blood Betrayal, as his usurpation is named, that ushered in the age of darkness called the Long Night. Despairing of the evil that had been unleashed on earth, the Maiden-Made-of-Light turned her back upon the world, and the Lion of Night came forth in all his wroth to punish the wickedness of men. (The Bones and Beyond: Yi Ti, The World of Ice and Fire)

In his second Bloodstone Compendium essay, LmL equates this myth to that of the forging of Lightbringer and the breaking of the second moon, and comes to the conclusion that the myth of Azor Ahai is the same as the myth of the Bloodstone Emperor. This assumption forms the basis of the next section.

I want to focus on the tiger woman the Bloodstone Emperor marries. I believe she is an avatar of Nissa Nissa, for multiple reasons. Firstly, she is likened to the children of the forest by virtue of being a cat or cat-like. LmL has recently released an essay looking at all the cat symbolism surrounding children of the forest and Nissa Nissa so go check that out of you want more details on that front. However, it is symbolism that many people picked up on quickly.

Moreover, the tiger woman is linked with skinchanging beyond her links to the children. As many in the fandom have noticed, the further east you go, the more Martin draws his influences from eastern mythology in the real world. So, a tiger woman is highly suggestive of the concept of the were-tiger (hat-tip to Blue Tiger), a concept prevalent in mainland Asia and Indonesia. There are many variations of the myth, but they all boil down to humans shape-shifting into tigers; this mythological phenomena is replicated in Martin’s skinchangers in ASOIAF. So, we can assume the tiger woman is able to skinchange, again reinforcing her connections to the children.

The Isle of Leng is home to ten-thousand tigers and is ruled by a god-empress: if the Bloodstone Emperor, last of the god-emperors, took a tiger-woman to wife, she would become a god-empress, so perhaps their ruler’s titles are an archaic memory of ancient history.

Finally, in Chinese mythology, the tiger aligns with yin and is also associated with the female and the moon: the female moon figure is, of course, the Nissa Nissa moon maiden archetype. And the counterpart? Why it’s the yang, male sun dragon – Azor Ahai in other words.

So, the tiger woman plays in to a lot of ideas that we can recognise in Nissa Nissa: child of the forest archetypes, skinchanging ability and links to being like a moon goddess. Which leads my theorising into a bit of a problem. If Azor Ahai killed Nissa Nissa and brought on the Long Night, and the Bloodstone Emperor killed the Amethyst Empress to bring on the Long Night, that aligns the Amethyst Empress with Nissa Nissa, not the tiger-woman. This is true, but let’s look at the Amethyst Empress Reborn, Daenerys Targaryen.

Daenerys Targaryen marries Khal Drogo, and their relationship has a lot of parallels to the Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa’s. Moreover, there are plans afoot to try to kidnap her and marry her to Euron Crow’s-Eye, who may as well be called the Bloodstone Emperor Reborn. So, she has (potential) marital links to two Azor Ahai/Bloodstone Emperor types, suggesting that the Bloodstone Emperor may have married his sister, the Amethyst Empress. That is not beyond the realms of possibility, given that the Great Empire of the Dawn is set up as a proto-Valyrian civilisation and the Valyrians married brother-to-sister, so they may have gotten their marital traditions from the Great Empire like they got their dragon-riding skills.

Moreover, Daenerys picks up some cat symbolism in her transformation in Drogo’s pyre. I’ll give you the subtle one first, because it’s my favourite and it’s how I named my blog.

[Melisandre] “Any cat may stare into the fire and see red mice at play.” (Davos VI, ASOS)

Tiny flames went darting up the wood like swift red mice, skating over the oil and leaping from bark to branch to leaf. (Daenerys X, AGOT)

A cat staring in to the fire sees red mice playing, and that is indeed the first thing Daenerys sees in the pyre, making Daenerys a cat. After the dragons are born, she goes on her messianic trek through the Red Waste wearing Drogo’s white lion’s skin pelt. She’s wearing a big cat’s skin, like a skinchanger. Whilst not exactly a tiger, the lion is still a big-cat, and places with lions have legends about were-lions much like the eastern parts of the world have legends about were-tigers. Assuming that the lion and the tiger have this kind of equivalency in Martin’s symbolism, Daenerys is wearing a white tiger. The white tiger symbolises autumn and the west which, as Blue Tiger points out on the Westeros.org forum, could indicate the Bloodstone Emperor’s move West to try to find a child of the forest to do his whole challenging the gods thang.

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Daenerys as a big cat by Muffinpoodle

Now, to relate this all back to the essay I’m supposed to be writing on orange and orange fire. I have spent most of this essay trying to convince you that orange and black are the two colours of the moon-meteors, and orange and black are of course the colours of the tiger. I believe this means that the tiger woman represents the moon meteors, or the transformed Nissa Nissa. Given that the Bloodstone Emperor is an inverted solar figure, a dragon who brought darkness, this suggests that we should invert the other half of the traditional Chinese yin-yang dichotomy; this would make his bride the tiger-woman an inverted moon figure, or the destroyed moon. So, the tiger-woman is less Nissa Nissa, more Nissa Nissa Reborn, which actually fits better with the cat-woman symbolism outlined by LmL.

The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai marries this Nissa Nissa Reborn tiger-woman, and I think he would do that because the Nissa Nissa Reborn tiger-woman is the person he uses to create the weirwood tree. Think of how often we have mentioned cat-like women representing weirwoods in the light of the moon meteors: Cat in the sept before Renly’s sacrifice by shadow (Catelyn IV, ACOK), Osha the wildling, described as cat quick and quiet as a cat, is the shy weirwood moon maid in the crypts of Winterfell, and Daenerys acquires the bloody hands/bloody mouth weirwood stigmata when she eats the heart of a fallen star- I mean, the heart of a wild stallion.  More wedding symbolism occurs in Drogo’s pyre, which has led LmL to dub it the Alchemical Wedding:

The flames writhed before her like the women who had danced at her wedding, whirling and singing and spinning their yellow and orange and crimson veils, fearsome to behold, yet lovely, so lovely, alive with heat. Dany opened her arms to them, her skin flushed and glowing. This is a wedding, too, she thought. Mirri Maz Duur had fallen silent. (Daenerys X, AGOT)

In other words, Daenerys shifts from Nissa Nissa to Nissa Nissa Reborn during a transformative wedding that symbolises the moon’s destruction and the creation of the weirwood tree (“logs exploded as the fire touched their secret hearts; Daenerys X, AGOT), and she becomes cat-like in the process.

In which case, the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai marrying the tiger woman Nissa Nissa Reborn is symbolically equivalent to saying that the greenseer used orange fire moon meteors (and blood sacrifice) to wed the weirwood tree. So, do we see wedding symbolism associated with the weirwood creation? There’s a roundabout piece of symbolism contained in the idea of the warrior of fire or fire knights motif. Consider the Fiery Hand of R’hllor:

He pointed at the steps, where a line of men in ornate armor and orange cloaks stood before the temple’s doors, clasping spears with points like writhing flames. (Tyrion VIII, ADWD)

Their cloaks are designed to look like orange fire. I have spent a lot of time arguing that Ser Amory Lorch and his men play in to this fire knight motif, so we can give them symbolic orange cloaks too as they create a weirwood tree:

The fire leapt from one house to another. Arya saw a tree consumed, the flames creeping across its branches until it stood against the night in robes of living orange. (Arya IV, ACOK)

Specifically, they robe the tree in orange moon meteor fire. Almost like the fire knights have used their orange fire cloaks to cloak the tree as part of a wedding ceremony or something.

We do actually see a fire marriage in the wedding of Alys Karstark and Sigorn, Magnar of the Thenns, by Melisandre, weirwood maiden extraordinaire. I had actually forgotten this existed (I’ve not read ADWD recently, sue me 😛) until I had a closer look at cloaking ceremonies in marriages on the wiki, and I got to wondering whether there was some orange fire involved there, because that’s what my theory would predict. Lo and behold:

“Sigorn,” asked Melisandre, “will you share your fire with Alys, and warm her when the night is dark and full of terrors?”

“I swear me.” The Magnar’s promise was a white cloud in the air. Snow dappled his shoulders. His ears were red. “By the red god’s flames, I warm her all her days.”

“Alys, do you swear to share your fire with Sigorn, and warm him when the night is dark and full of terrors?”

Till his blood is boiling.” Her maiden’s cloak was the black wool of the Night’s Watch. The Karstark sunburst sewn on its back was made of the same white fur that lined it.

Melisandre’s eyes shone as bright as the ruby at her throat. “Then come to me and be as one.” As she beckoned, a wall of flames roared upward, licking at the snowflakes with hot orange tongues. Alys Karstark took her Magnar by the hand.

Side by side they leapt the ditch.

Two went into the flames. A gust of wind lifted the red woman’s scarlet skirts till she pressed them down again. “One emerges.” Her coppery hair danced about her head. “What fire joins, none may put asunder.” (Jon X, ADWD)

I’ve highlighted some of the important language choices in this section. The Magnar of Thenn is “dappled by snow, a key child of the forest descriptor. Alys Karstark’s vow to stay with him “till his blood is boiling is a callout to the dragon moon meteor that made Daenerys blood boil and turn to steam (Daenerys III, AGOT): so, we can see that Alys is promising to stick around until her husband is transformed by fire. This fire transformation is brought about by jumping through a wall of hot orange tongues, licking up at the snowflakes. Every single word of that description evokes imagery associated with fire transformation by moon meteor: the colour orange, the flames that lick, specifically licking at the night sky, suggesting a challenge to the gods and so on and so forth.

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Red Hot Wildling Wedding by caffeine2

The weirwood imagery here is twofold, from both of the women present. Firstly, Alys Karstark is an ashy maiden, by virtue of her association to the grey girl prophecy:

She had seen the girl only once. A girl as grey as ash, and even as I watched she crumbled and blew away. (Melisandre, ADWD)

No, I’m not saying that Alys Karstark *is* the prophesied girl, I’m just saying that she is close enough to carry the symbolism, in much the same way that Beric Dondarrion is not Azor Ahai Reborn but he carries the symbolism. So Alys is associated with an ashy maid, thus playing in to the shy maid ash-tree weirwood woman symbolism: specifically, she is an avatar Nissa Nissa Reborn. This matches with the Karstark sigil, a white sunburst on black, as the colourings of the shadowcat, thus giving her a bit of cat symbolism in marriage and invoking the idea of the Bloodstone Emperor’s tiger bride. As such, her union in the fire of the moon meteors is exactly what we would expect.

Then Sigorn and Alys leap the ditch, becoming symbolically transformed by moon meteor fire.  From a plot perspective, it’s their big moment, they’re together, the wildlings have a major foothold in the south and Alys has been saved from her uncle. All things considered, we ought to be focusing on them. Instead, we get Melisandre, and I think that’s because, as a weirwood tree with a heart face, the post-moon-meteor transformation is all about entering the weirwood tree. So, let’s break down that final paragraph a little more:

Two went into the flames.” A gust of wind lifted the red woman’s scarlet skirts till she pressed them down again.

Read as two people were transformed by the moon meteors and are entering the weirwood tree. And yes, I do think that lifting Melisandre’s skirts is an “entering the weirwood woman” sex joke: after all, creating the weirwood tree is a forging of Lightbringer, which is one massive sexual metaphor. Moreover, the weirwood tree acts like a womb, so it needs to be ‘impregnated’ somehow to create the warrior of fire. If that’s a slightly disturbing image, you can just imagine that they are going under the tree, into the caves below the weirwood trees where the greenseers live. Note that it is the wind that does this, wind being the method of communication of the greenseers, their ghostly hand manipulating the world. Given that it seems likely that greenseers were initially sacrificed to enter the weirwood trees, a ghostly weirwind lifting the skirts of the weirwood tree maiden to enter her seems relevant, especially after a man and wife have undergone the traditional moon meteor fire transformation that often associates with death (e.g. Drogo’s pyre and Hoster Tully’s funeral boat).

After entering the tree, what happens to the weirwood?

One emerges.” Her coppery hair danced about her head.

This is like in Drogo’s pyre: Drogo and Dany entered it, but Drogo’s fire filled Daenerys and she emerges as a merged Azor Ahai/Nissa Nissa Reborn character. Here, Alys Karstark and Sigorn of the Thenns have entered the moon meteor fire and the weirwood tree, and now the focus is on Melisandre, the burning tree woman, the one. This is reinforced by describing her hair as dancing. The hair that is blood and flame (Jon I, ADWD) dances like the fiery dancers that are always present at Lightbringer forging parties, and when trees are set on fire then dancers wake in them (Jon VIII, ACOK). As I have argued in the past (although for a different hair colour), having hair equated to fire gives the crown of fire motif that symbolises the acquisition of the fire of the gods: this is an obvious motif that we should see upon the activation of a weirwood tree, given that the power of greenseeing is a potent manifestation of the fire of the gods.

Azor Ahai, the Bloodstone Emperor and warrior of fire, has used his ill-gotten moon meteor powers to sacrifice Nissa Nissa, the Amethyst Empress and tiger woman, and he has successfully married the resulting weirwood tree. What comes after marriage? Babies, only these aren’t the cute kind.

Casting Shadows

We have seen what happens when weirwood maidens and Azor Ahai types hook up.

Panting, she squatted and spread her legs. Blood ran down her thighs, black as ink. Her cry might have been agony or ecstasy or both. And Davos saw the crown of the child’s head push its way out of her. Two arms wriggled free, grasping, black fingers coiling around Melisandre’s straining thighs, pushing, until the whole of the shadow slid out into the world and rose taller than Davos, tall as the tunnel, towering above the boat. (Davos II, ACOK)

[The Ghost of High Heart] “I dreamt I saw a shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag, aye.” (Arya IV, ASOS)

But we know that the burning heart is the symbol of R’hllor, the King’s Banner. In which case, this shadow fits in to the warrior of fire/fire knight motif, as he is carrying the banner of R’hllor. Moreover, he is a dark mirror to Stannis, the result of Stannis’s life-fires being diminished: in which case, this warrior of fire is less the child of Azor Ahai, but a clone of him, his second half. The two halves of the warrior of fire: the flame and the shadow.

melisandre_by_dalisaanja-d4bwfrw
Melisandre by dalisacg

 

To verify this, we should see “shadow” references around key warrior of fire quotes I’ve referenced. So, yet again, returning to Ser Amory Lorch’s men:

Arya looked past him, and saw steel shadows running through the holdfast, firelight shining off mail and blades, and she knew that they’d gotten over the wall somewhere, or broken through at the postern. (Arya IV, ACOK)

These warriors of fire, as marked by their fiery blades and fiery armour, are actually shadows. Arya has the misfortune of meeting steel shadows later in ASOIAF and, again, she meets them in the light of the orange fire of the moon meteors.

When Arya looked around, she saw that there were only two of the huge feast tents where once there had been three. The one in the middle had collapsed. For a moment she did not understand what she was seeing. Then the flames went licking up from the fallen tent, and now the other two were collapsing, heavy oiled cloth settling down on the men beneath. A flight of fire arrows streaked through the air. The second tent took fire, and then the third. The screams grew so loud she could hear words through the music. Dark shapes moved in front of the flames, the steel of their armor shining orange from afar. (Arya XI, ASOS)

These dark shapes are armoured in orange fire again: the two halves of the moon meteor, flame and shadow, the warriors of fire. And, as you may recognise, this is the Red Wedding. That is to say that the warriors of fire are born during a marriage ceremony used to disguise a major betrayal that is considered an affront to the gods… I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like the Bloodstone Emperor’s Blood Betrayal to me. On top of that, this paragraph is full of other moon meteor references. The fire is caused by fire arrows, which are moon meteor references. Moreover, these fire arrows streak through the air, like the pitch pots at the Battle of the Blackwater left streaks between the stars (Tyrion XIV, ACOK). The landing of the moon meteor fire arrows cause the flames to lick up at the night sky, a language choice specific to moon meteors as we’ve already referenced in this essay and as I have analysed before. The three tents falling gives us the key “three moon meteor landings” that crops up elsewhere e.g. the three columns of smoke rising from the Dragonsbane (Davos III, ACOK).

I think these tents are meant to represent the inside of the weirnet, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the concept of arrows setting things on fire is reiterated elsewhere in the Red Wedding – on a weirwood maiden in fact.

Up in the gallery, half the musicians had crossbows in their hands instead of drums or lutes. She ran toward her son, until something punched in the small of the back and the hard stone floor came up to slap her. … Catelyn’s back was on fire. (Catelyn VII, ASOS)

George R. R. Martin has been known to represent the same sequence of events in multiple ways over different chapters if the chapters occur at the same place and time. For instance, Quentyn Martell is roasted when unleashing the dragons on the same night that Barristan Selmy, armoured in ice, uses a fiery sword to give kissed-by-fire heart-eater, Khrazz, some moon meteor injuries (The Kingbreaker, ADWD). Another example is Daenerys gaining the weirwood stigmata when eating the heart of the star stallion (Daenerys V, AGOT), which is the same chapter that Viserys receives his crown of gold from Khal Drogo. So, it makes sense for a fire arrow setting the tents on fire and creating the warrior of fire to be replicated in Catelyn’s back being set on fire with a crossbow bolt before she sacrifices the fool and gives herself the weirwood stigmata: they are symbolic parallels.

Moreover, we have previously seen the shadowy warrior of fire inside of a tent with the moon meteors raining down all around outside.

Fires burned throughout the khalasar, great orange blazes that crackled with fury and spit embers at the sky. She tried to rise, and agony seized her and squeezed her like a giant’s fist. The breath went out of her; it was all she could do to gasp. The sound of Mirri Maz Duur’s voice was like a funeral dirge. Inside the tent, the shadows whirled.

Inside the tent the shapes were dancing, circling the brazier and the bloody bath, dark against the sandsilk, and some did not look human. She glimpsed the shadow of a great wolf, and another like a man wreathed in flames. (Daenerys VIII, AGOT)

The shadow wreathed in flames is the warrior of fire, dancing like it’s a Lightbringer forging party. The sequence of events fits this perfectly. We have the orange blazes of fire, like the orange blaze of flame around the red heart of Stannis’ banner, spitting embers at the sky, simultaneously evoking the image of challenging the gods and of the moon meteors falling to earth. Unsurprisingly, this marks Daenerys’ first contraction: the moon maiden (Daenerys) has to give birth to the moon meteors after all. Moreover, the start of the birth is heralded by Mirri Maz Duur’s voice like a funeral dirge, because the birth of the moon meteors necessitates the death of the moon maiden and her solar husband. This birth-funeral creates the shadows, including the warrior of fire shadow: he is a fiery dancer who has been awoken by blood magic. And we all know where fiery dancers wake:

The tree had been dead a long time, but it seemed to live again in the fire, as fiery dancers woke within each stick of wood to whirl and spin in their glowing gowns of yellow, red, and orange. (Jon VIII, ACOK)

Inside of burning trees, of course: fire and blood and all that jazz. Once again, we see that the dancing is associated with death, this time with a dead tree. In case, there is any doubt as to what the shadows inside Dany and Drogo’s tent are:

“Death was in that tent, Khaleesi.”

Only shadows,” Ser Jorah husked, but Dany could hear the doubt in his voice. “I saw, maegi. I saw you, alone, dancing with the shadows.”

The grave casts long shadows, Iron Lord,” Mirri said. (Daenerys IX, AGOT)

The shadows are literally the dancing dead, which resonates with the description of Mirri Maz Duur’s voice like a funeral dirge. The shadow of a man wreathed in flames would therefore make him a dead warrior of fire awoken once inside the weirnet. Remember that this is indeed what happens to Khal Drogo: “clad in wisps of orange silk and tendrils of smoke, he mounts “his smoky stallion, a flaming lash in his hand and is reborn as a merged Azor Ahai/Nissa Nissa Reborn character, Drogon and Daenerys (Daenerys X, AGOT).

Another example of moon meteor fire creating resurrected shadows comes from the crypts of Winterfell.

A spark flew, caught. Osha blew softly. A long pale flame awoke, stretching upward like a girl on her toes. Osha’s face floated above it. She touched the flame with the head of a torch. Bran had to squint as the pitch began to burn, filling the world with orange glare. The light woke Rickon, who sat up yawning.

When the shadows moved, it looked for an instant as if the dead were rising as well. (Bran VII, ACOK)

The shy maid weirwood/moon meteor fire that fills the world causes the Stark dead to rise in shadowy form. The Starks have skinchanging/greenseeing blood, so that means that these are greenseers risen from the dead by the light of the moon meteors/in the presences of a weirwood maiden. As I have argued before, Bran emerging from the crypts is a representation of a resurrected greenseer, by virtue of emerging from the underworld of the monstrous stone tree that is Winterfell. And now we see what caused that resurrection: the moon meteor/weirwood fire sparking a great blaze (“filling the world with sudden glare).

Similarly, a nightfire on Dragonstone awakens the gargoyles:

Their voices rose like cinders, swirling up into purple evening sky. “Lead us from the darkness, O my Lord. Fill our hearts with fire, so we may walk your shining path.”

The nightfire burned against the gathering dark, a great bright beast whose shifting orange light threw shadows twenty feet tall across the yard. All along the walls of Dragonstone the army of gargoyles and grotesques seemed to stir and shift. (Davos VI, ASOS)

The nightfire is a great bright beast, reminding us of the descriptions of the fire in Drogo’s pyre and Arya IV, ACOK, where fire knights create a burning tree with moon meteors. Because apparently orange coloured fires get sad when there aren’t many moon meteors around, the prayerful voices linger in the air like cinders, that typical description of moon meteors (Daenerys X, AGOT; Arya IV, ACOK). As we have been seeing, this moon meteor fire casts shadows and brings an army of a thousand (Davos V, ASOS) gargoyles and grotesques to life. Gargoyles themselves have been associated to moon meteors by falling from the top of the First Keep of Winterfell, so this ties in to transformation by moon meteor.

asoiaf_night_fires_by_jubah-d5r16rj.png
Nightfires starring Selyse Baratheon by jubah

Moreover, consistently associated with grotesque is the idea of death and rotting:

Halfway along the route, a wailing woman forced her way between two watchmen and ran out into the street in front of the king and his companions, holding the corpse of her dead baby above her head. It was blue and swollen, grotesque, but the real horror was the mother’s eyes. (Tyrion IX, ACOK)

His eyes were fever bright when he said that, and Arya could tell that it was true. His shoulder was swollen grotesquely, and pus and blood had stained his whole left side. There was a stink to him too. He smells like a corpse. (Arya XII, ASOS)

Above him loomed a grotesque fat man with a forked yellow beard, holding a wooden mallet and an iron chisel. His bedrobe was large enough to serve as a tourney pavilion, but its loosely knotted belt had come undone, exposing a huge white belly and a pair of heavy breasts that sagged like sacks of suet covered with coarse yellow hair. He reminded Tyrion of a dead sea cow that had once washed up in the caverns under Casterly Rock. (Tyrion I, ADWD)

Ralf was rotting too. Beneath the furs he was naked and feverish, his pale puffy flesh covered with weeping sores and scabs. His head was misshapen, one cheek grotesquely swollen, his neck so engorged with blood that it threatened to swallow his face. The arm on that same side was big as a log and crawling with white worms. (Reek II, ADWD)

Unsurprisingly, we have an occurrence of grotesque corpses coming back to life:

[Ser Criston Cole’s march south from Harrenhal] In every brook and pool and village well, he found death: dead horses, dead cows, dead men, swollen and stinking, befouling the waters. Elsewhere his scouts came across ghastly tableaux where armored corpses sat beneath the trees in rotting raiment, in a grotesque mockery of a feast. The feasters were men who had fallen in battle, skulls grinning under rusted helms as their green and rotted flesh sloughed off their bones.

… In the village commons at Crossed Elms, another of the ghastly feasts was found. Familiar with such sights by now, Ser Criston’s outriders grimaced and rode past, paying no heed to the rotting dead … until the corpses sprang up and fell upon them. A dozen died before they realized it had all been a ploy. (The Princess and the Queen)

By placing the grotesque corpses under the tree, we can identify them as dead greenseers, and I am reminded of LmL’s suggestion that the Sacred Order of Green Men may have been so-called due to the green of their rotted, undead flesh. From this, we can infer that the grotesque gargoyles on Dragonstone are akin to dead and rotting knights. Given that they are sculptures on Dragonstone, we can assume these are grotesque dragons, which thus makes them fire made flesh and thus fire knights: as expected of a warrior of fire, they are being resurrected by the moon meteor fire as shadows.

Tyrion Lannister carries both “grotesque” and “gargoyle” symbolism. A more comprehensive review of Tyrion’s gargoyle symbolism can be found elsewhere, but few have investigated what his “grotesque” symbolism may entail. Now we have a framework – he is dead and rotting. Bearing that in mind, let’s reconsider the symbolism brick that Martin used Tyrion to deliver:

Finally he rolled over the side and lay breathless and exhausted, flat on his back. Balls of green and orange flame crackled overhead, leaving streaks between the stars. He had a moment to think how pretty it was before Ser Mandon blocked out the view. The knight was a white steel shadow, his eyes shining darkly behind his helm. Tyrion had no more strength than a rag doll. Ser Mandon put the point of his sword to the hollow of his throat and curled both hands around the hilt. (Tyrion XIV, ACOK)

As these moon meteors rain down, Tyrion is described as a rag doll. As LmL describes, rags are things that can be burnt, which gives Tyrion the burning man symbolism that underpins much of the symbolism in the Green Zombies series. In other words, Tyrion is being depicted as the dead and rotting gargoyle awaiting resurrection by moon meteor fire. As he waits, a white steel shadow (Ser Mandon Moore) is about to kill him or, rather, is about to slit his throat and leave him for the jade demon: this is essentially a depiction of sacrifice to the greenseers and weirwood trees, which is the method of resurrection for green men. Luckily for the plot, Tyrion is saved by his squire, Podrick Payne. Symbolically, this works just as well. The sigil of House Payne consists primarily of golden coins, which are called dragons in Westeros, and thus Tyrion’s life is “returned” to him by a golden dragon aka the fire of the gods.

Whoo, we’re nearly at the end of this marathon, but seeing as we’re talking about Tyrion, there is one more (extended) scene of his that summarises this essay beautifully, and it is laden with orange fire moon meteor references.

The Morningstar Monkey

The scene I want to cover in more detail is Tyrion’s escape from King’s Landing. More specifically, Tyrion in the Tower of the Hand. This all fits with themes and tropes we have seen come up time and time again. The morningstar figure (Tyrion) climbs up to the gods and kills the sun king (Tywin) and the moon maiden (Shae) before falling back to earth. This scene is so obviously a metaphor for the celestial forging of Lightbringer that it would be surprising if we didn’t see orange fire cropping up all over the place. I’m going to try to run through this as quickly as possible as it is mainly referring to symbols that we’ve covered above, but I thought it laid out the sequence of events quite nicely.

Tyrion_madguida
Star of this section, Tyrion Lannister, by MadGuida

The first occurrence is of the dim light given off by a brazier at the base of the Tower of the Hand.

An ornate brazier stood to one side, fashioned in the shape of a dragon’s head. The coals in the beast’s yawning mouth had burnt down to embers, but they still glowed with a sullen orange light. Dim as it was, the light was welcome after the blackness of the tunnel. (Tyrion XI, ASOS)

It’s the ember in the ashes motif, but in the shape of a dragon’s head. This is the dragonriding, greenseeing Azor Ahai, an ember in the ashy underworld waiting to ignite a great blaze. Indeed, those embers cast just enough light for Tyrion to see the Targaryen sigil mosaic on the floor and remember Shae’s description of the secret entrance to the Tower of the Hand. This memory and his now burning desire for vengeance lead him on his quest.

Rung by rung, he ascended into darkness. At first he could see the dim outline of each rung as he grasped it, and the rough grey texture of the stone behind, but as he climbed the black grew thicker. (Tyrion XI, ASOS)

The two halves of the moon meteor, the orange light and the darkness it causes. That Tyrion’s ascent is into darkness symbolises just what challenging the gods results in: the Long Night and the darkness that never ends.

At two hundred and thirty, the shaft was black as pitch, but he could feel the warm air flowing from the tunnel to his left, like the breath of some great beast. (Tyrion XI, ASOS)

At the top of the ladder, ie in the celestial realm, we have the familiar great beast. We met it during Drogo’s pyre, when the flames roar like some great beast (Daenerys X, AGOT), and the fire roars “like some monstrous beast during Arya IV, ACOK, and the orange nightfire on Dragonstone that casts shadows and resurrects the dead gargoyles is “a great bright beast (Davos VI, ASOS). It is unsurprising that the breath of the great beast should appear as a morningstar figure attempts to challenge the gods.

As he wanders along the tunnel, Tyrion overhears the two guardsmen and realises that this is a key part of Varys’ information gathering system:

Small wonder Varys did not want me to climb the bloody ladder, Tyrion thought, smiling in the dark. Little birds indeed. (Tyrion XI, ASOS)

The story has heavily equated fire and blood, so we can assume that a bloody ladder is akin to a fiery ladder. And what colour is a fiery ladder?

The firemage had conjured a ladder in the air, a crackling orange ladder of swirling flame that rose unsupported from the floor of the bazaar, reaching toward the high latticed roof.

… When the fiery ladder stood forty feet high, the mage leapt forward and began to climb it, scrambling up hand over hand as quick as a monkey. Each rung he touched dissolved behind him, leaving no more than a wisp of silver smoke. (Daenerys III, ACOK)

It is orange and smoke of the moon meteors, yet again, demonstrating that the moon meteors are a key part of the challenging the gods sequence of events. This is obvious really: the Bloodstone Emperor, Azor Ahai, pulled the moon goddess down to earth in the form of meteors so the moon metoers are the result of challenging the gods. There is also a common description between the firemage and Tyrion: the firemage is described as as quick as a monkey, and Tyrion is repeatedly described as a twisted little monkey demon. I would suggest that this commonality suggests Tyrion as a firemage, or fire sorcerer, remembering that fiery sorcerors are the fiery dancers that wake within the burning tree. If this is the case, we should see some weirwood imagery around Tyrion in this moment and I believe we do. Consider that by climbing a bloody fiery ladder, Tyrion would be giving himself the bloody and burning hand aspect of the weirwood stigmata, like Drogo acquiring the steaming heart for Daenerys (Daenerys V, AGOT) and like the Undying Ones being burnt by Drogon (Daenerys IV, ACOK). In addition to the bloody hands, Tyrion starts the chapter with the bloody mouth of a weirwood tree:

I can still bite and kick. I’ll die with the taste of blood in mouth, that’s something. (Tyrion XI, ASOS)

So, in addition to his grotesque-(un)dead symbolism, Tyrion has acquired the weirwood stigmata. This labels him as an undead greenseer, as we identified in his “rag man about to be sacrificed a white shadow but ends up being saved by a dragon/dragons” scene.

Having identified Tyrion as the Morningstar figure, we should expect him to emerge from the weirwood trees in some sense.

He came to the third door and fumbled about for a long time before his fingers brushed a small iron hook set between two stones. When he pulled down on it, there was a soft rumble that sounded loud as an avalanche in the stillness, and a square of dull orange light opened a foot to his left.

The hearth! He almost laughed. The fireplace was full of hot ash, and a black log with a hot orange heart burning within. He edged past gingerly, taking quick steps so as not to burn his boots, the warm cinders crunching softly under his heels. (Tyrion XI, ASOS)

Let’s play a little game of “How many times can Martin reference a weirwood tree in one paragraph?” Firstly, the fireplaces is full of hot ash: as a weirwood tree can be called an ash tree, having a hearth full of hot ashes is akin to having a hearth full of burning trees, ie. weirwoods. Martin doubles-down on this symbolism by referring to the black log with an orange heart, a reference to heart trees and the warrior of fire/ember in the ashes/tree shadow with a burning heart. And, of course, all of this is in the hearth, which contains the word heart, just in case we didn’t get that this is supposed to be Tyrion, the undead greenseeing gargoyle, emerging from a heart tree. Before I forget, I probably ought to mention that the twisted little monkey demon nickname is actually a reference to Sun Wukong, who has some stunning mythical astronomy attached to him that matches what we see in ASOIAF with Azor Ahai – this is covered in great depth by LmL in his Tyrion Targaryen essay.

As a slight aside, I believe this is a strong piece of evidence to support my equating these two motifs: the black log with a burning heart is a match for Stannis’s shadow baby, a shadow with a burning heart. It is also a match for the two colours of the moon meteor, again supporting my theory that the warrior of fire was transformed by the moon meteors. The fact that this symbolism is yet again converging around weirwood symbolism demonstrates the warrior‘s use of the moon meteor to create the burning tree.

As Tyrion emerges, he steps through cinders. This imagery was rife during and after the Battle of the Blackwater.

He led them through the guttering fires and the soot and ash of the riverfront, pounding down a long stone quay with his own men and Ser Balon’s behind him. Ser Mandon fell in with them, his shield a ragged ruin. Smoke and cinders swirled through the air, and the foe broke before their charge … (Tyrion XIV, ACOK)

They came up the roseroad and along the riverbank, through all the fields Stannis had burned, the ashes puffing up around their boots and turning all their armor grey, but oh! the banners must have been bright, the golden rose and golden lion and all the others, the Marbrand tree and the Rowan, Tarly’s huntsman and Redwyne’s grapes and Lady Oakheart’s leaf. (Sansa VII, ACOK)

From here to the river, only bare black trees remained, a legacy of his battle. Too many banners, he thought sourly, as he watched the ashes kick up under the hooves of the approaching horses, as they had beneath the hooves of the Tyrell van as it smashed Stannis in the flank.  (Tyrion V, ASOS)

The first quote is from the same chapter that Tyrion is equated to a rag doll and thus a burning man. This then makes him play in to the warrior of fire archetype, especially given that he is saved from a white shadow by a dragon person.  The second image is of another resurrected burning green man figure, Renly Baratheon, riding through the ashes and cinders to defeat a dark Azor Ahai type, Stannis Baratheon. Finally, Oberyn Martell and his men ride through the post-battle wasteland, and Oberyn plays in to the warrior of fire archetype as well, by virtue of being the Sun’s snake warrior. Returning to Tyrion’s scene, this indicates that Tyrion is fulfilling the warrior of fire role as he steps through the warm cinders, as expected of one who climbs the fiery ladder to emerge into the celestial realm.

That is the last occurrence of orange fire within the chapter. We do however have a couple of other colours referenced that we have discussed before. Firstly, Tyrion kills Shae with the chain of golden hands:

Tyrion slid a hand under his father’s chain, and twisted. The links tightened, digging into her neck. “For hands of gold are always cold, but a woman’s hands are warm,” he said. He gave cold hands another twist as the warm ones beat away his tears. (Tyrion XI, ASOS)

As I discussed in a supplementary essay, golden hands are akin to fiery hands and thus Tyrion is wielding the fiery hand against the moon maiden who betrayed him. Secondly, we also have some yellow light just before he sees Tywin:

Waddling to the door, he listened a moment, then eased it open slowly. A lamp burned in a stone niche, casting wan yellow light over the empty hallway. Only the flame was moving. Tyrion slid out, holding the crossbow down against his leg.

He found his father where he knew he’d find him, seated in the dimness of the privy tower, bedrobe hiked up around his hips. At the sound of steps, Lord Tywin raised his eyes. (Tyrion XI, ASOS)

Again, as discussed in a previous essay, the yellow flame is a motif of the second sun, the attempt to acquire the fire of the gods. Having killed the moon maiden with a fiery hand, Tyrion now seeks to darken or kill the solar figure, Tywin: he is Tywin’s (nominal) second sun, attempting to become the second sun. In case we are in any doubt about this:

You . . . you are no . . . no son of mine.”

“Now that’s where you’re wrong, Father. Why, I believe I’m you writ small.” (Tyrion XI, ASOS)

He is a smaller version of the sun, in other words, the Morningstar figure or Lightbringer the comet in-universe, coming to challenge his father’s power.

Altogether, this scene shows the orange moon meteor on the ground that leads to the discovery of the fiery ladder. Climbing the fiery ladder leads to an undead (grotesque) gargoyle emerging from the weirwood tree. In emerging, the moon maiden has her face darkened and the solar father is killed by his second son. The undead gargoyle then uses the weirwood to escape.

Conclusion

Thanks for staying with me through my longest ever essay. Unlike previous essays, I wasn’t able to break anything off of this one into a separate, supplementary essay, but I think that just demonstrates how tightly woven are the threads of Martin’s symbolism.

I believe I have demonstrated that orange-and-black is a pairing typically associated with the moon meteor dragons that fell to earth, and that the most frequent manifestation of this symbol is torchlight. This then led to the idea of the warrior of fire archetype using the moon meteors to set the tree on fire i.e. to create a weirwood. Finally, the concept of marriage and birth were woven in to the orange-and-black symbolism, by virtue of the warrior of fire, Azor Ahai the greenseer, wedding the tree to become the ember in the ashes and a shadow with a burning heart.

Next time will hopefully not be such a monstrous long essay – we’ll be discussing all things red fire so tune in for some hefty R’hllor action.

 

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