Losing My Religion: The Lion of Night, the Maiden Made of Light, and the God on Earth (Part I)

The “Losing My Religion” series operates on the assumption that none of the religions of Westeros, Essos, or any other continent have anything to do with actual gods. The “deities” and the lore surrounding them are in fact mythologized accounts of the history of Planetos and may give us important clues for what to expect as the next Long Night draws near.

Chronologically, the Lion of Night and the Maiden Made of Light are the first deities we know of in the Planetos mythology.

From The World of Ice & Fire:

In the beginning, the priestly scribes of Yin declare, all the land between the Bones and the freezing desert called the Grey Waste, from the Shivering Sea to the Jade Sea (including even the great and holy isle of Leng), formed a single realm ruled by the God-on-Earth, the only begotten son of the Lion of Night and the Maiden-Made-of-Light, who traveled about his domains in a palanquin carved from a  single pearl and carried by a hundred queens, his wives.  For ten thousand years the Great Empire of the Dawn flourished in peace and plenty under the God-on-Earth, until at last he ascended to the stars to join his forebears.

They are credited with giving birth to the best and longest-living ruler on Planetos, the God on Earth, and through him the Great Empire of the Dawn.

And this is how the Great Empire of the Dawn ends, after the Bloodstone Emperor killed his sister the Amethyst Empress, both of them descendants of the God on Earth:

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.

Both of these quotes talk about the Lion of Night and the Maiden Made of Light as deities, but I don’t believe Planetos really has deities. So what is going on here? What are these two supposed deities based on?

Note: My mentor in ASOIAF mythology obsession, LmL, has a very different idea of what these two deities represent. See my links to his work in the About section if you are interested. 

From Jon III in Storm of Swords:

Maester Luwin had taught him his stars as a boy in Winterfell; he had learned the names of the twelve houses of heaven and the rulers of each; he could find the seven wanderers sacred to the Faith; he was old friends with the Ice Dragon, the Shadowcat, the Moonmaid, and the Sword of the Morning.

Planetos apparently has constellations that look like a big cat and a woman. The shape of a cat that only can be seen at night: a Lion of Night, perhaps? And the shape of a woman made of stars–a Maiden literally Made of Light.

But what would it mean for the God on Earth to be “born of” these two?

My theory: the God-on-Earth derived his power from a magical comet that appeared to come out of the constellation of the Maiden-Made-of-Light. Naturally the father was assumed to be the Lion of Night, since a mystical maiden-deity is not going to be running around wondering who the father of her superpowered child is.

But how can I back up this theory? Is there any text to corroborate the idea of a magical comet coming out of the Moonmaid?

Let’s continue with that Jon III passage:

 We look up at the same stars, and see such different things. The King’s Crown was the Cradle, to hear her tell it; the Stallion was the Horned Lord; the red wanderer that septons preached was sacred to their Smith up here was called the Thief. And when the Thief was in the Moonmaid, that was a propitious time for a man to steal a woman, Ygritte insisted.

A Storm of Swords (Kindle Locations 35452-35453)

We see that same phrase again from Jon, much later, after Ygritte has died, as he returns from swearing in Wun Wun to the Night’s Watch:

They had no moon to guide them home, and only now and then a patch of stars. The world was black and white and still. It was a long, slow, endless trek. The snow clung to their boots and breeches, and the wind rattled the pines and made their cloaks snap and swirl. Jon glimpsed the red wanderer above, watching them through the leafless branches of great trees as they made their way beneath. The Thief, the free folk called it. The best time to steal a woman was when the Thief was in the Moonmaid, Ygritte had always claimed.

A Dance with Dragons (Kindle Locations 73545-73549).

Note that the “red wanderer,” which is Mars/The Smith/The Thief, associated with being “in the Moonmaid”.

What other associations do we have with a red wanderer?

And when the Thief was in the Moonmaid, that was a propitious time for a man to steal a woman, Ygritte insisted. “Like the night you stole me. The Thief was bright that night.”

A Storm of Swords (Kindle Locations 35452-35453) – Jon III, Chapter 26

Here are the first lines from the chapter about that night:

They could see the fire in the night, glimmering against the side of the mountain like a fallen star. It burned redder than the other stars, and did not twinkle, though sometimes it flared up bright and sometimes dwindled down to no more than a distant spark, dull and faint.

A Clash of Kings (Kindle Locations 25122-25124).

It is interesting to note that the phrase “fallen star” only occurs twice in the ASOIAF novels: here and in Bran’s recollection of Ned telling him that the sword Dawn was forged from a fallen star. I’ll talk about Dawn more in Part III.

Later, Qorin gives this instruction:

He turned to Stonesnake. “When it’s done, throw down a burning brand. We’ll come when we see it fall.”

The red wanderer, The Thief, was bright on the night Jon “stole” Ygritte. The first thing we learn about that night is the presence of a fire that looks like a red star, apparently imitating the red wanderer that was exceptionally bright that night, not to mention being in the Moonmaid constellation.

Between the night itself and Ygritte’s memory of the night, we have a bright red star in a maiden made of starry lights, a fire that looks like a bright red star, and references to a falling star.

Now let’s check in with Dany at the end of Game of Thrones, waiting for the right time to cremate Khal Drogo:

Then there was nothing to be done but watch the sun and look for the first star. When a horselord dies, his horse is slain with him, so he might ride proud into the night lands. The bodies are burned beneath the open sky, and the khal rises on his fiery steed to take his place among the stars. The more fiercely the man burned in life, the brighter his star will shine in the darkness. Jhogo spied it first. “There,” he said in a hushed voice. Dany looked and saw it, low in the east. The first star was a comet, burning red. Bloodred; fire red; the dragon’s tail. She could not have asked for a stronger sign.

A Game of Thrones (Kindle Locations 13489-13492)

The Dothraki believe their Khals go up to the stars when they die. Much like the God-on-Earth, son of the Lion of Night and Maiden Made of Light, “ascended to the stars to join his forebears” at the end of his reign.

That phrase–“ascended to the stars to join his forebears”–also implies, to me, that his forebears–his parents the Lion of Night and the Maiden Made of Light–are in the stars; i.e. they are associated with specific stars or groups of stars.

Later the Dothraki associate the red comet even more strongly with a red star:

The Dothraki named the comet shierak qiya, the Bleeding Star.

A Storm of Swords,  (Kindle Locations 16723-16724)

On Dragonstone, Maester Cressen describes the comet to Shireen, who has been having bad dreams about dragons:

“The thing in the sky is a comet, sweet child. A star with a tail, lost in the heavens. It will be gone soon enough, never to be seen again in our lifetimes. Watch and see.”

A Clash of Kings, (Kindle Locations 13900-13901)

Lost…you might almost say it was wandering.

I feel that the associations between the red comet, the red wanderer, and the constellation known to modern Westeros as the Moonmaid are fairly strong.

But my theory is threefold:

  1. A magical comet came out of the constellation of the Maiden-Made-of-Light, known in Westeros as the Moonmaid.
  2. It hit the earth.
  3. Someone used it to obtain massive amounts of power, such that he was able to control all of Essos from the Bones to the Grey Waste and rule it for ten thousand years.

The first point seems likely enough to be going on with. If you aren’t convinced, then I’m afraid you may as well go read something else because my evidence is all very circumstantial. But if you are intrigued, then please read on to my next post where I explore point #2.


2 thoughts on “Losing My Religion: The Lion of Night, the Maiden Made of Light, and the God on Earth (Part I)

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