In the first instalment of this series, I sought to establish the pearl’s importance to the story by examining its more obvious aspects as seen in the narrative. Its symbolism is predominantly feminine; it often turns up in relation to weddings and encompasses both the fertility of women and that of the land; as the ‘pearl beyond price’, it is metaphor for peace. Most intriguingly, it may also be relevant to the themes of immortality and life after death seen in the story.
CHAPTERS: Maiden-made-of-Light – A star with pearl imagery | The Fisher Queens – First Pearls of the Silver Sea | Silver Seaweed and Moonlight | The Magical Weaving of Light | The Link between Purple Eyes and Weirwoods | Floating Palaces | Pearls of Wisdom | Summary
Durran Durrandon has established Daenerys as the Amethyst Princess Reborn, tracing her lineage back to the Great Empire of the Dawn, a theory I fully endorse. We have seen that Daenerys is associated with the pearl and possibly possesses a ‘pearl inheritance’. The emperors were her forefathers, but who were her foremothers? Where did they come from? Here, I add to Durran Durrandon’s work by proposing that at least some Emperors took Fisher Queens as wives. The Genetics of Ice and Fire touches on this idea and I expand on it here to include new evidence.
The main ideas presented here:
- The Fisher Queens are the original “pearls” from whom some important characters descend.
- The Emperors of the Dawn took Fisher Queens as wives
- The Fisher Queens as the original manipulators of light
Please refer to part one – The Pearl of Great Price – for a better understanding of the arguments I make here.
Before we continue, a quick reminder of the symbolism of the pearl:
Everything feminine, the moon, tears, spirituality, immortality, wisdom, innocence, chastity, honour.
Pearls are also intimately associated with dragons (to be discussed later).
In the narrative, pearls also symbolize:
Fertility and children, fertility of the land.
Female characters associated with white pearls tend to suffer treachery and abuse, are often married to men labelled as “monsters”. Female pearl-wearers may be marked for sacrifice or death.
The Black Pearl: female black pearls are independent women who are more in control of their lives, those who have moved from pawn to player.
- Maiden-made-of-Light – A star with pearl imagery
- The Fisher Queens – First Pearls of the Silver Sea
- Silver Seaweed and Moonlight
- The Link between Purple Eyes and Weirwoods
- Floating Palaces
- Pearls of Wisdom
The Maiden-Made-of-Light – A Star with Pearl Imagery
Symbolically, the Maiden-made-of-Light shares much with the pearl. She recalls the goddess Astraea, the star-maiden of Greek and Roman mythology. Astraea presided over the peaceful, progressive Golden Age of Man. Her themes are purity, innocence and justice. She is a maiden, and is associated with knowledge and learning, representing a renewal of culture, poetry and literature. Often described as a winged woman, she carries a torch and the scales of justice. In some texts, she aids Zeus in battle by carrying his lightning bolts for him. In some examples of ancient art, she holds an ear of corn and is associated with agriculture. Astraea also determined the fate of departed souls, deciding which went to eternal bliss or to the Underworld for later redemption. She reflects the utopic conditions prevailing during the time of the first god-emperor of the dawn.
One cannot fail to notice the Fisher Queens in the quest for women who may have appealed to the Emperors of the Dawn, and from the little we know of their kingdom and activities, they sound like they would have been a perfect match for the rulers of a powerful empire. The World Book speaks of the Yi Ti’sh Empire, successor to the Great Empire, as extremely ancient, perhaps even contemporary with the realms of the Fisher Queens beside the Silver Sea. It is entirely possible that both kingdoms maintained contacts during the Dawn Age.
The Sarnori legend of the hero Huzhor Amai is also an important clue to a possible link between the Great Empire and the Fisher Queens.
They [the Sarnori] called themselves the Tall Men (Tagaez Fen). Long of limb and brown of skin they were, like the Zoqora, though their hair and eyes were black as night. Warriors, sorcerers, and scholars, they traced their descent to the hero king they called Huzhor Amai (the Amazing), born of the last of the Fisher Queens.
TWOIAF, The Grasslands
Huzhor Amai, born of the last of the Fisher Queens, sounds like another version of the better-known Azor Ahai of Lightbringer fame, said to have ended the Long Night. Several civilizations recall a hero or heroine who ended the Long Night, confounding us with different names and circumstances, but there is probably a grain of truth in all the legends. We are perhaps not wrong in listing Huzhor Amai as yet another champion who ended the era of darkness. The parallel with Azor Ahai, whose legend comes from Asshai, a region that probably belonged to the Great Empire, suggests Huzhor Amai’s father may have indeed originated there.
That he was the son to the last of the Fisher Queens implies the kingdom of the Silver Sea officially ceased to exist at some point in time. Amai however took three women from three different cultures to wife and as such, the heritage of the Fisher Queens would have lived on in his descendants. Growing in power over the centuries, the Sarnori occupied the same grassland region once home to the Fisher Queens, and now home to the Dothraki. Some maesters also believe that the First Men and Andals originated from lands south of the Silver Sea, including the Grasslands. Their kingdom may have been lost, but the probability that the genetic and cultural heritage of the Fisher Queens survived through the ages in both Essos and Westeros is high.
We shall now have a look at evidence for the Fisher Queens as the first pearls and for their role as ancestral mothers to some of the main characters in the narrative.
The Fisher Queens – First Pearls of the Silver Sea
THE DOTHRAKI SEA
From such we know of the Fisher Queens, who ruled the lands adjoining the Silver Sea – the great inland sea at the heart of the grasslands – from a floating palace that made its way endlessly around its shores. The Fisher Queens were wise and benevolent and favored of the gods, we are told, and kings and lords and wise men sought the floating palace for their counsel.
The Dothraki Sea is our first real clue to Daenerys’ ancestral origins. Their grasslands were once the location of that great body of water, the Silver Sea, home to the Fisher Queens. The Silver Sea has since vanished, reduced to three much smaller lakes, including the Womb of the World from which the Dothraki believe the first man and his horse emerged. The narrative offers a number of parallels between Daenerys, the Dothraki and the Fisher Queens, all of which establish a link between them.
The indicator linking Dany with the Fisher Queens is quite obvious: it’s the Silver. Her title says it all: she is the Silver Queen who spends the most significant formative part of her life wandering the Dothraki Sea. It is the place where she matures from a child-bride into a woman, where her brother Viserys is murdered, where she experiences blood magic and where her dragons hatch. Her bride gift from Khal Drogo is a beautiful filly with a silver mane, matching her own silver hair. Since the Dothraki do not name their animals, she simply calls the filly her “Silver”. It is no accident that this region is so important to Dany’s story.
Isn’t it also interesting that the Dothraki grasslands are consistently metaphorically linked to the sea? That the Dothraki wear silver bells in their hair to denote their victories in battle? That’s a hell of a lot of silver, especially when we consider Dany’s hair, which is silvery-gold; yet most of the imagery surrounding her concentrates on the silver.
THE WOMB OF THE WORLD
After the stallion-heart ceremony, Dany bathes in the Womb of the World. George describes the moon floating on the still black waters, shattering and reforming as Dany bathes. We are reminded of the white pearl, whose symbolism encompasses the moon, shattered by abuse but reforming into a stronger version of its former self, the black pearl. Pregnant Dany emerges from this womb as if born from it. Drogo, supreme leader of his own Khalasar, immediately has sex with her before entire entourage. The scene is a compelling analogy, juxtaposing the Dothraki creation myth with an act of birth and procreation at the site of the Womb. This womb is a remnant of the Silver Sea, once home to the ancient Fisher Queens, the scene a powerful clue to Dany’s ancestral origins. What about Khal Drogo? Connecting the dots shows that some Dothraki traditions may have their origins in the ancient Empire of the Dawn.
Dothraki spiritual beliefs and traditions relate to the stars and sky, indicative of religious principles probably handed down from the Great Empire, where sky-worship (Maiden-made-of-Light and Lion-of-Night) was practiced. Though their deity is a horse god, one could say their gods are the stars themselves:
- The Dothraki believe the stars are spirits of the valiant dead
- The Dothraki believe the stars were horses made of fire, a great herd that galloped across the sky by night.
- The Dothraki believe that all things of importance in a man’s life must be done beneath the open sky.
- When a horselord dies, his horse is slaughtered to accompany him to the night lands. A body is burned beneath the open sky, and the khalrises 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. In Dothraki tradition, there is nothing worse than not receiving a proper cremation after death.
We witness Khal Drogo’s spirit rising to the stars through Dany’s POV, reminiscent of the god-emperors ascension to heaven. Also significant are practices associated with the bloodriders, particularly the custom decreeing that a horselord share everything but his horse with his bloodriders.
In some khalasars, Jhiqui said, the bloodriders shared the khal’s wine, his tent, and even his wives, though never his horses. A man’s mount was his own.
The above tradition links the Dothraki horselords to Valyrian dragonlords, each of which bonds and rides his own dragon to the exclusion of all others. Valyrians descend from the Great Empire, we know; millennia have passed since the Dawn Age, populations have migrated and mixed but here and there, some distinct connections to more ancient cultures are recognizable. The Dothraki practice of cremation, their horselord culture, aggressive warlike nature and involvement in slavery all remind us of the Valyrians. By extension, these folk can be identified as probable distant descendants of the Empire.
Dany’s marriage to Drogo and the scene at the Womb of the World point to a link between the former empire and the Fisher Queens. It is convincing enough to suggest that the Emperors may have taken these Queens as wives on some occasions.
MERMAIDS, WEAVER-WOMEN AND ILLUSION
In the Genetics of Ice and Fire, I trace Dany’s ancestry by examining her hair and the gifts given to her by Magister Illyrio. I will not go through all of that again here but this portion is worth noting:
Her brother held the gown up for her inspection. “This is beauty. Touch it. Go on. Caress the fabric.” Dany touched it. The cloth was so smooth that it seemed to run through her fingers like water. AGOT, Daenerys I
A beautiful gown, so smooth Viserys urges Dany to caress it. All this feminine imagery is set up in relation to water. The fabric is smooth and flows like water. In a following passage, Daenerys gazes at herself in a silvered looking glass as well. Knowing what we do, these references evoke the former Silver Sea, with Dany looking at a reflection of herself in those ancient silver waters. The description of her wedding gown and its association with water also recall Patchface’s comments about merwives weaving gowns of silver seaweed:
“It is always summer under the sea,” he intoned. “The merwives wear nennymoans in their hair and weave gowns of silver seaweed. I know, I know, oh, oh, oh.” ACOK, Prologue
Most will agree that this “prophecy” is a reference to Sansa in her silver satin gown, wearing a net with poisoned black amethysts in her hair. But this statement is much more than that. Sansa is also a pearl-wearer and like Dany, she shares this ancient heritage. The Silver Sea was home to Fisher Queens. It is not that far-fetched to think of them as mermaids, especially for one like Patchface, who has partially lost his wits. When history becomes legend, Fisher Queens become mermaids and civilizations associated with the sea may become merlings or perhaps even “Deep Ones”. The merwives are weavers, and ‘weaving’ is a mythological concept very relevant to the narrative. Weaving and sewing are traditionally a woman’s domain and in terms of deities, only goddesses are weavers. Fisher Queens themselves personified many virtues and were favoured by the gods.
Weaving: The Fates (Moirai) of Greek Mythology embody the concept of weaving in mythology. The Fates are three ugly crones, incarnations of destiny, who control the mother thread of life of all mortals from birth to death. They spin destiny from the moment of birth and each have a role in the weaving process. The crone Clotho spun the thread of life, Lachesis measured the thread of life allotted to each person and Atropos cut the thread of life to mark an individual’s death. In Norse mythology, the Norns fulfil this role. Their task is to shape destiny by weaving it into a web or tapestry. Sansa, Arya and Dany all fit this weaving motif. Sansa is an excellent seamstress while Arya with her Needle and Dany with her flaming dragons represent the cutters of life. In part one, I suggest the pearl relates to immortality.
In myth, the Fates who weave the tapestry of life also have power over its length and may even be able to extend it indefinitely if they leave the threads uncut. The Fisher Queens possessed this magical ability to weave or re-weave destiny. Patchface’s mermaids weave silver gowns, which when we take Sansa’s dress into consideration could imply a wedding gown. Perhaps the Fisher Queens initially only ‘wove’ for themselves. In the narrative however, both Melisandre and the kindly man speak of weaving in terms of magic and illusion:
“Call it what you will. Glamor, seeming, illusion. R’hllor is Lord of Light, Jon Snow, and it is given to his servants to weave with it, as others weave with thread.”
“Mummers change their faces with artifice,” the kindly man was saying, “and sorcerers use glamors, weaving light and shadow and desire to make illusions that trick the eye.
In both cases, light is woven to create a magical effect, a glamour, an illusion. Arya, another pearl-maiden, is the recipient of the kindly man’s teachings here, while Melisandre, though not literally linked to pearls exhibits some attributes of the jewel – like a lustrous pearl, she glows, and shines and like a black pearl, she is an independent player who manipulates others to achieve her goals.
What is an illusion? An illusion is something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality. Thus, the magical Weaving of Light deceives people into seeing the Lord of Bones instead of Mance Rayder. Mel’s sorcery successfully conceals the real identity of the subject, which only those with ‘sharp eyes’ can see through. The magic extends to binding Mance’s soul to Melisandre, essentially making him a slave in spirit. Faceless Men go a step further, actually merging faces of the dead with the living to create a durable and convincing illusion. The change in identity afforded by this method is complete and undiscernible; it is camouflage at its best and well suited to the task of an assassin. Patchface makes his pronouncement while waiting for the White Raven, the bird that announces the end of summer. Maester Cressen explains the bird’s role to a worried Shireen who has questions about winter, which she has never experienced:
“Will it get cold now?” Shireen was a summer child, and had never known true cold. “In time,” Cressen replied. “If the gods are good, they will grant us a warm autumn and bountiful harvests, so we might prepare for the winter to come.” ACOK, Prologe
Note the theme of fertility, also symbolized by the pearl, in connection with Patchface’s silver seaweed ‘prophecy’, which comes right after this statement.
The Grey King also took a “mermaid” to wife. Significant are his exquisite tapestries, woven of silver seaweed. Here we have another link between mermaids and fabrics woven of silver seaweed; it would not surprise me if his mermaid wife descended from the ancient race of weaver fisher queens.
When you examine tapestries in the story, you’ll find them often linked to hiding. Here is a selection of relevant quotes:
Cersei had a sudden vision of the dwarf crawling out from behind a tapestry in Tommen’s bedchamber with blade in hand.
He is as anxious as I am, the queen realized as she watched him prowl the hall, twitching aside the tapestries with his good hand to assure himself that no one was hiding behind them.
Ser Barristan heard a door open, somewhere to his left. He turned in time to see Khrazz emerge from behind a tapestry.
He wiped his sword clean on a curtain and stalked into the bedchamber, where he found Hizdahr zo Loraq, Fourteenth of His Noble Name, hiding behind a tapestry and whimpering.
Additionally, Tyrion discovers Lord Darry’s tapestries, all of which depict Targaryen Kings, hidden away in the cellars after being stripped from the walls of Darry Castle. The probability that ‘tapestries’ or ‘gowns of silver seaweed’ enable one to hide or to disguise oneself from the eyes of others is very high. What far-reaching implications, especially when we consider the Starks and their relationship with silver. Remember the pearl direwolf is also depicted as a silver direwolf in some representations. When Bran skinchanges into Summer or Hodor, his real self is hidden from view. Camouflaged as a wolf, he aids in Jon’s escape from the wildlings; as Hodor, he gains two legs and explores the caves without anyone ever suspecting his presence. Wildlings profit a great deal from their skinchangers, who with the help of their familiar animals, serve as scouts, the real spy hidden from view.
Given the picture emerging here, we can regard the Fisher Queens as the women originally endowed with the gift of magically weaving light into various forms of illusion. Besides simply disguising the physical form (glamours), this magic also extends to ‘soul-magic’ – the ability to leave one’s body and enter another. The final implications include immortality, because the ability to skinchange gives one the option of extending one’s life by seizing and inhabiting the body of another human being (as demonstrated by Varamyr Sixskins’ attempt to snatch Thistle’s body).
SILVER SEAWEED AND SILVERY MOONLIGHT
What does silver seaweed actually represent? In respect of Mel’s and the kindly man’s statements about weaving light, silver seaweed can only be a euphemism for light. Mermaids weaving silver seaweed are weaving light to causes magical illusions of camouflage. The question is what form of light did they use? To answer this, we must go back to the first god-emperor, who sat on a palanquin carved of a single pearl, carried by his wives, his queens. As we shall see, silver seaweed refers specifically to reflected sunlight: moonlight.
The pearl, we know, is closely associated with the moon and like the moon, it creates no light of its own. Both owe their radiance to the ultimate source of light – the sun. Enter the Maiden-made-of-Light. She is made of fire, of light, which other bodies such as the pearl and moon reflect, giving an appearance of shining on their own. George has not drawn on anything supernatural regarding the power of the sun. Warmth and light (in reasonable measure) form the basis for all growth and for life. The play of light certainly causes illusions. But the sun alone cannot guarantee fertility on earth. Water is essential to life and this element is subject to the influence of the moon. The moon’s active role in fertility also extends to farmers and gardeners who plant crops according to the phases of the moon. Again, the idea is to maximize productivity and ensure bountiful harvests.
So we see it makes sense for the first god-emperor to sit on a metaphorical pearl, combining the elements of fire and water. Indispensable to this formula are his wives, his light weavers, the women capable of harnessing and transforming this light energy to benefit the earth and to guarantee him a long life. The ‘pearl’ can therefore be understood as a medium that captures and reflects moonlight. Perhaps it stands for a piece of moonrock or a meteorite, which captured the light of the sun. I’ll indulge in a little speculation at this point:
- Silver seaweed actually represents light
- Tapestries woven of silver seaweed are thus really tapestries woven of light
- A tapestry is similar to a curtain
- We know of one ‘curtain of light’: Bran sees a curtain of light far in the north – he looks beyond this into the heart of winter and is afraid.
- Whatever is beyond this curtain of light may actually be producing this light and from the inferences I make above, it’s clear that this light is magical in nature.
- If my observations are correct, this suggests the driving source of ice-magic lies beyond the curtain, in the heart of winter.
Remember also the swords of pale fire carried by Daenerys’ ancestors in her dream and Dawn, which is ‘alive with light’. In my opinion, all of these are related to the material the god-emperor’s ‘pearl’-palanquin was made of.
The pearl, in its capacity as a palanquin is an example of an “Horoscopical Gem”. The latter are central to ancient beliefs in stellar influences on the fortunes of man and were later incorporated into astrology.
Amongst the methods declared invaluable to harnessing the power of a heavenly body was the notion of wearing a gem associated with the planet, star or constellation. The gemstone was thought to attract and capture visible light and with it, the physical and spiritual properties of the celestial body, which then infused the wearer. Since gemstones were sensitive to particular planets or stars, extra steps were taken to thoroughly impregnate the gem with their influence. This included engraving (carving) a gem with corresponding heavenly symbols. Talismanic power of gems applies even to countries; much like the eras defined by the gemstones of the dawn, even our real world testifies to the practice of assigning national gems. As such, the United States lay claim to the sapphire, England to the diamond and China to Jade. The pearl represents most of the Middle East, as well as France, India and the Philippines. Mexico is the land of obsidian, Myanmar (Burma) the ruby, Spain the emerald.
The blue sapphire eyes of the Others and their wights can also be regarded as horoscopical gems and I believe their main function is to harness magical, possibly celestial light, which drives the magic behind their activities.
No doubt, much of the backstory can be illuminated (pun intended) by studying the gems of the Dawn!
WEREWOLVES, MADNESS AND BLOOD MOONS
There are further reasons for choosing ‘filtered sunlight’ in the form of moonlight relevant to the narrative.
Silvery-bluish moonlight consists mainly of reflected sunlight but it also reflects some starlight and earthlight from its surface. Its properties are thus different from sunlight and in folklore, all manner of phenomena are attributed to its silvery glow. One of the most popular notions is that of transforming into a werewolf by full moon – an idea of course central to A Song of Ice and Fire and relevant to the magical properties of ‘silver seaweed’ itself. Moonlight and madness are firmly entrenched in mythology as well; accounts of moon-induced lunacy and epilepsy may not have any substance but they persist nevertheless – in fact, the word lunatic has its root in Luna, the moon. The Malleus Maleficarum, published in 1486 during the Inquisition, claims even supernatural entities themselves are affected by moonlight and that lunatics are more prone to molestation by devils at full moon. Madness should of course put us in mind of this very Targaryen affliction, notably the madness of Mad King Aerys II.
Despite a lack of scientific evidence, the belief that crazy things happen during a full moon is widespread. The disturbing influence of the moon is also held responsible for the perceived erratic behaviour of women during menstruation (moon-blood).
A “blood moon”, which occurs when the moon is bathed in a reddish hue of refracted light from Earth exudes cosmic significance. Tyrion sees a monstrous blood moon enroute to Slaver’s Bay, glowing red from the skies of Old Valyria:
A dull red glow lit the sky to the northeast, the color of a blood bruise. Tyrion had never seen a bigger moon. Monstrous, swollen, it looked as if it had swallowed the sun and woken with a fever. Its twin, floating on the sea beyond the ship, shimmered red with every wave. ADWD, Tyrion
A portent of doom of apocalyptical proportions, the red blood moon features also in the Bible:
Joel 2:30 and 31:
I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
Also check out LuciferMeansLightbringer’s theory on the breaking of the moon.
I cannot overstress the importance of the moon to the narrative. It follows us everywhere we go. From the Moon Door to Moon Boy, the Moonmaid to the ‘moon of my life’, there is no escaping its significance. The pearl is just another aspect of the moon.
Finally yet importantly, because of the moon’s silvery glow, the ancients believed it was made of silver, and so that metal became one of its symbols.
THE MAGICAL WEAVING OF LIGHT
Moon-of-my life; my sun-and-stars
You are probably wondering how the Fisher Queens accessed the reflected light of the Maiden-made-of-Light to weave their magic. Well, I believe they had two biological features that enabled them to capture silvery-bluish moonlight: The answer is quite simple: they accomplished this with the help of their eyes: light entering the eyes through the pupil strikes the retina, which is lined with light-sensitive rods and cones. Rods are sensitive to the intensity of light, while the red, blue and green cones are sensitive to the wavelengths of light associated with these colours. For the sake of brevity, I’ll spare you the detailed biology of eyesight and I doubt George has modelled his eyes on its exact science. Determining the original eye-colour of the Fisher Queens is a bit tricky but a few helpful clues are worth considering. I think blue is a good candidate, simply because moonlight is described as silvery-blue in most references, making blue eyes a natural choice for absorbing blue light from the spectrum. Since cones pick up a frequency range, green eyes are also possible.
Did the Fisher Queens have blue eyes?
First, we have Sansa, a pearl-wearer and identifiable in Patchface’s declaration. She’s one of the women I deem to have Fisher-Queen heritage. She wears the poisoned black amethyst hair net which evoke Patchface’s ‘nennymoans’. Note the net is of fine-spun silver and in analogy to eyes (think of Dany’s amethyst eyes here) capturing light, the stones ‘drink’ the moonlight.
It was a hair net of fine-spun silver, the strands so thin and delicate the net seemed to weigh no more than a breath of air when Sansa took it in her fingers. Small gems were set wherever two strands crossed, so dark they drank the moonlight. ACOK, Sansa
The fool also talks of ‘always summer’, a warm region, which matches the region where he sees his mermaids. Yes, amethysts are compared to Daenerys’ eyes but the Amethyst Princess of the Dawn was one of the last of the kingly emperors with a mixed heritage handed down the line. We’re interested in the original eye-colour here. Sansa has blue eyes.
Shiera Seastar had one blue and one green eye. She qualifies as a possible Fisher Queen descendant. She has Targaryen roots and silver-gold hair and her independent personality is in line with that of the liberated black pearl (discussed in part one). Her surname, a combination of Sea and Star could be a nod at the Silver Sea and the GEotD respectively. Her mother’s name was Serenei. Could be a play on serene, meaning calm and tranquil. The now archaic meaning of serene related to the weather and denoted an expanse of clear sky or calm sea, again evoking the Silver Sea and its summery surroundings.
Thirdly, consider this song:
I loved a maid as fair as summer
with sunlight in her hair.
I loved a maid as red as autumn
with sunset in her hair.
I loved a maid as white as winter
with moonglow in her hair.
The first couplet indicates blond hair, often associated with blue eyes. Then we have red hair and lastly white hair, described in terms of moonglow. The maid as white as winter puts us in mind of the Night’s Queen, the Night King’s corpse bride. She had bright blue eyes. Incidentally, Tyrion thinks of the third couplet on a visit to Shae. Varys happens to be there, in disguise – another clue linking moonlight with the theme of hiding and camouflage. We can also infer that the original Fisher Queens had silver ‘moonglow’ hair.
So, it’s not quite conclusive but the trend leans towards blue eyes and I’m happy to go with that. At this point, I’ll leave the Fisher Queens to expand on the significance of eye-colour as well as purple eyes and weirwoods in respect of their capacity to absorb light.
THE LINK BETWEEN PURPLE EYES AND WEIRWOODS
The premise: purple eyes are capable of specifically absorbing red and blue light; red light – the fire of the sun – and blue light – the silvery moonlight of the reflected sun (a bluish hue).
To date, people of Valyrian descent are the only group that exhibit this feature. We can assume that individual blue and red eye-colour traits combined, giving rise to purple. From here, we can consider various hypotheses and even unravel some of the greater mysteries of the story.
As established above, blue eyes denote the gift of harnessing silvery-bluish moonlight. Believe it or not, this is central to the magical operations of the Others, as I shall show in due course. The principle of horoscopic gems applies here as well. Just as Mel draws on the energy of sunlight through her rubies, so do the Others capitalize on moonlight through their sapphire eyes. Both stones belong to the same family and are made of the same mineral, differing only in the type of inclusions within. In view of this, knowing that red-eyed Bloodraven and our blue-eyed Bran are working as a team is perhaps comforting and dispels some of the apprehension over Bran’s role and fate. Together, they become ‘purple-eyed’ and will be able to draw on both light sources to fulfil their the task that lies ahead of them. I have to admit, it also makes them incredibly dangerous – we shall see.
FIRE AND RUBY-RED EYES
Given Melisandre’s red eyes and her obsession with fire and rubies, we can conclude that she weaves with the red part of the light spectrum. The red god is a solar god, a god of fire and light. This is of course ingrained in Mel’s entire persona, everything about her is red, she’s filled with intrinsic fire, and she’s a Red Priestess of R’hllor. The religion of the Lord of Light is perhaps an offshoot of the star worship of the dawn, one that concentrates entirely on the fiery power of the sun.
Similarly, characters with ‘eyes like hot coals’ such as the Ghost of High Heart, Bloodraven and the red-eyed CotF also belong in this group. It is the fire principle behind the red-eyes that gives them their supernatural ability to dream the future or perceive it through the trees. See the section on prophetic dreaming and visions in my essay on Fire Magic for further details.
Through her blood of the dragon heritage and her dragons, Dany embodies the principle of red fire but with her purple eyes, she is also of moonlight, encompassing both.
A further detail often specific to red eyes is the blood component. The two are linked in a manner suggesting the involvement of a blood ritual in their origins. Maester Cressen describes Melisandre in very dramatic terms – she is red and terrible:
As ever, she wore red head to heel, a long loose gown of flowing silk as bright as fire, with dagged sleeves and deep slashes in the bodice that showed glimpses of a darker blood red fabric beneath. Around her throat was a red gold choker tighter than any maester’s chain, ornamented with a single great ruby …
Her dagged sleeves and slashed bodice evoke a knife and a stabbing followed by dark red blood flowing beneath. The location of the slashed bodice should put us in mind of Nissa Nissa who bared her breast for Azor Ahai’s sword, and echoes the ‘pearls on the bodice’ theme discussed in part one.
Cressen also notes: … Many called her beautiful. She was not beautiful. She was red, and terrible and red.
The picture painted here feeds directly into Cressen’s perception of the comet in the skies:
The maester did not believe in omens. And yet … old as he was, Cressen had never seen a comet half so bright, nor yet that color, that terrible color, the color of blood and flame and sunsets. ACOK, Prologue
Red eyes are definitely related to sunlight, interestingly here also to sunsets. Note also the reference to the Targaryen words: blood and fire, which we know are the basis of Valyrian sorcery.
There’s more evidence for this relationship between blood, fire and sorcery, notably in the field of prophecy. I believe the ability to absorb red light was a later development, mediated by blood magic. The associated magic may also be strongest at sunset, the time of day when the sun’s rays assume a blood-red hue in the sky.
Purple symbolism extends to weirwoods as well. With their red leaves like five-pointed stars, they gather light from the red spectrum. Plants harness the sun’s light for photosynthesis so the notion that they access red light in particular certainly isn’t far-fetched. That said, I believe they also capture moonlight with the help of their bone-white barks. One could call them the ‘purple eyes of the North’ 🙂
George has hidden the relationship between life-giving red fire and weirwoods in a few places. One such clue can be found amongst Dany’s visions in the House of the Undying:
Ten thousand slaves lifted bloodstained hands as she raced by on her silver, riding like the wind. “Mother!” they cried, “mother, mother!” They were reaching for her, touching her, tugging at her cloak, the hem of her skirt, her foot, her leg, her breast. They wanted her, needed her, the fire, the life, and Dany gasped and opened her arms to give herself to them … ACOK, Daenerys
By freeing the slaves, Dany literally gives them the chance to begin a new life. They are reborn as freedmen and celebrate their new existence by acknowledging her as their mother. Lifting their bloodstained hands, they reach out for her fire, the fire of life, the original fire of life from the Maiden-made-of-Light, returned to the planet via the bleeding star with its prominent magical tail of blood-red fire.
Compare the above to this description of the heart tree in the Winterfell godswood:
At the center of the grove an ancient weirwood brooded over a small pool where the waters were black and cold. “The heart tree,” Ned called it. The weirwood’s bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. AGOT, Catelyn
A thousand bloodstained handlike leaves all reaching for the fire of life. Note that with a few exceptions, weirwoods are always near water. And recalling the theme of immortality, weirwoods are said to live for ever if left undisturbed. Half a corpse, Bloodraven continues to hold on to life because of his union with the tree. He draws life from the tree and nourishes the tree with his blood at the same time. Leaves are unlike eyes and the manner in which a plant absorbs light energy depends on a very different physiological process. So then, it should not surprise us that a blood sacrifice to the plant is required to achieve this feat of sucking up magical red light. Leaves like bloodstained hands. Note also the significance of the hand itself – that of reaching out and taking or grabbing something – reaching out for light in this case. Need I say more?
Of course, we can complete this picture with the Fiery Hand:
“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.” ADWD, Tyrion
The Fiery Hand is only part of the story. It has 1000 fingers of fire but no blood. Bloodraven is a magician of red light with his thousand eyes and one, his one bloody eye, lost in combat. Together with his name Bloodraven, he is the equivalent of a weirwood’s leaves, the five-pointed bloodstained hands. Let’s not forget that Brynden Rivers was a Hand of the King, and that he had a pretty sinister reputation.
PICKING UP MOONLIGHT
Weirwoods absorb moonlight through their silvery barks. Several quotes describe weirwood trunks and branches painted with moonlight. The weirwood door at the Nightfort even glows like moonlight:
It was white weirwood, and there was a face on it.
A glow came from the wood, like milk and moonlight, so faint it scarcely seemed to touch anything beyond the door itself, not even Sam standing right before it.
Other descriptions have the tree’s branches reaching out to the moon:
Pale moonlight slanted down through the hole in the dome, painting the branches of the weirwood as they strained up toward the roof. It looked as if the tree was trying to catch the moon and drag it down into the well.
The above scene takes place at the Nightfort. The tree tries to catch the moon and drag it into the well, which happens to be dry. It’s the same imagery as the bloodstained hands reaching for fire, only in this case, the branches are reaching for the moon itself, confirming the idea that branches and trunks absorb moonlight.
On a side note, it appears likely that the black waters of the Womb of the World and the Winterfell weirwood have some sort of function related to the gathering of moonlight. Perhaps moonlight absorbed by the plant is normally transferred into the water surrounding the weirwood, changing the water’s properties in some way. I have some definite ideas on this as well – more on that in a future essay.
In any case, weirwoods absorb and utilize light from both the red and blue spectrums of wavelength for some specific purpose.
THE THIRD EYE AND THE PINEAL GLAND
At the beginning of this section, I mentioned two biological features unique to the Fisher Queens and their ancestors. I still owe you one: the third eye or its biological counterpart, the pineal gland.
The Third Eye is the sixth chakra (also called the Ajna-Chakra or Brow Chakra), located right between the eyes. It is the centre of perception, the seat of intuition and of direct spiritual vision. It deals with imagination, visualization and telepathy and is the vortex via which a soul may leave or enter a body. Opening the third-eye is analogous to experiencing a spiritual awakening. Bran learns to ‘fly’ when he finally opens his third eye. Flying means spiritually leaving his body behind to become one with his wolf.
What many do not know: the esoteric concept of the third eye has its real counterpart in biology – the pineal gland. It is connected to the optic nerve and thus to the eyes. The gland is sensitive to light and responds to day and night cycles by producing an important hormone related to fertility. Melatonin controls the body’s internal clocks. One such is the sleep-wake cycle, which is synchronised by the pineal gland’s links to factors such as light and darkness, geomagnetism and photoperiods. Fertility in women is also dependent on melatonin. The key mechanism here: sunlight inhibits the hormone’s secretion and promotes fertility, while darkness increases production and reduces fertility. All these are important to the study but too extensive for this essay. I will however explain two features that relate directly to the narrative.
Melatonin is part of group of hormones responsible for mind-altering ability. They are thought to catalyse telepathy and clairvoyance. Indeed, ancient mystics and philosophers identified the pineal gland and regarded it as the seat of supernatural ability. Because of its location in the center of the brain, it has always been associated with the more esoteric third eye. Let’s have a look at some of the proven functions of the pineal.
Aging and disease:
With advancing age, the production of melatonin in humans declines considerably until nocturnal secretion of the hormone is virtually lost. Studies confirm that a lack of the hormone is linked to diverse aging processes, which can be positively influenced by oral administration. Because of its influence on the sleep-wake cycle, it is also prescribed as a sleep-inducing drug. Some cancerous tumours and autoimmune conditions also respond well to treatment with melatonin. Studies on rats showed an improvement in health as well as a lifespan increase by about 20% compared to a control group. Since its natural secretion pattern is cyclical, experiments indicate nocturnal administration of the drug prove most effective.
I’ve been preaching the background theme of immortality for so long and am confident that this finally proves my hypothesis. The pineal gland with its associated melatonin is one of the units of inheritance so important to the story. For good measure, it confirms another premise of mine – maternal inheritance. Mothers pass down the pineal gland’s influence on internal body clocks to their offspring.
We can conclude that the Fisher Queens of the Silver Sea had highly developed pineal glands and were genetically disposed towards the absorption of moonlight in particular. In a biological context, they produced high levels of melatonin, a hormone responsible for telepathy, clairvoyance, youthfulness and most importantly, for the extension of life itself. In the context of magic, the ladies of the waves transformed this intrinsic biological property by weaving it into the fabric of life. How exactly they achieved this weaving is a matter of speculation. Let’s just call it magic. Small wonder the first god-emperor sat on a pearl, carried by a hundred wives! We can also infer that children born to them also possessed this magical inheritance. Despite the passage of time and changes in demography, persons continue to harbour and pass down this property. Lastly, this ‘moonlight trait’ is the secret behind the existence of the Others. As nocturnal humanoids, they produce extraordinary amounts of melatonin and this renders them infertile. It also means they spend most of their time sleeping! Waking giants of the earth anyone?
STARLIGHT AND SEAFOAM
Starlight and seafoam , Dany thought, a wisp of silk that leaves my left breast bare for Daario’s delight. Oh, and flowers for my hair.
Here, Daenerys is fantasizing about what to wear to receive Daario, whom she is expecting in great anticipation. Starlight and seafoam is a revealing choice of words, reflecting her heritage from the Star Gods of the Dawn and the ‘mermaid’ Fisher Queens of the Silver Sea. Note the choice of words also reflect Shiera’s surname: Seastar.
There’s also a fantastic remark by Reznak in which he praises Dany’s beauty and really evokes the first god-emperor sitting on his glowing pearl. But not all is as it seems to be, we know. Dany does not want this wedding, she only agrees to this in the line of duty, to secure peace. This quote is one of the few that hint at the ominous circumstances surrounding the marriages of Fisher Queens to the Dawn Emperors. There will be more on that in a separate instalment of this series.
Reznak mo Reznak bowed and beamed. “Magnificence, every day you grow more beautiful. I think the prospect of your wedding has given you a glow. Oh, my shining queen!”
Glow and shine refer to moonlight and sunlight respectively. Moonlight glows while sunlight shines. As her purple eyes indicate, Daenerys has the capacity to tap into both light sources. We can also infer that her well developed pineal gland or third eye enables her to become one with her dragon. I suspect that light from the red spectrum may also be involved in navigation (geomagnetism) and that this is the key to instinctively riding and steering a dragon’s flight to a desired destination.
What we have here are pieces of a puzzle, all part of the same theme. The pearl belongs to a set of symbols encompassing the Maiden-Made-of-Light, Fisher Queens, mermaids and weaver-women. The key is the Silver, that rare magical unit of inheritance passed down through the female ‘pearl’ line.
In the next section, I present more evidence for the legacy of the Fisher Queens.
THE DEAD SEA
According to legend, the Fisher Queens travelled the shores of the Silver Sea in a floating palace. The implications of this floating palace escaped me for a long while until it occurred to me that the Silver Sea may have once been a saltwater lake. Again, the pearl led me to this conclusion. You will remember that natural saltwater pearls are rare and precious and that they are produced by specific species of marine oyster. If the Fisher Queens (pearl oysters) are the origin of the pearl inheritance, it makes sense for the Silver Sea to have been a saltwater lake, rather than a fresh-water lake.
The floating palace is thus a major clue to this:
consider the most famous saltwater lake in the world, the Dead Sea, a hypersaline inland lake, one of the saltiest in the world with a recorded salinity of 34.2%. The high density of the water allows one to float on the surface. The lake’s waters are very serene, the surface still and calm at all times. There’s no chance of drowning in the Dead Sea’s bouyant waters either. Grab a good book, float and relax! The salt encrusted shores of the lake which gleam like silver in the sun may have inspired George Martin’s choice of name. Follow this link for more images and information.
The Dead Sea is also famous for its therapeutic properties. Chronic skin diseases, respiratory and rheumatic joint ailments all respond positively to the unique solar and mineral properties found only at the Dead Sea. The health benefits offered by this environment are so impressive that healthcare insurance covers the costs for qualified patients in many European countries. Cleopatra herself is said to have bathed in its waters to maintain her flawless, ageless beauty. Indeed, she established the first spa on site to enjoy its therapeutic properties.
In reality, I doubt a palace could float on water but the floating aspect is a real clue to the salty nature of the Silver Sea. On another note, floating palaces could very well have been ships built for recreation, trading or even serving to patrol and secure the safety of the Fisher Queen kingdom. Perhaps the Fisher Queens wisdom and knowledge extended to technological achievements as well. If those legendary palaces were really ships, then they must have been a sea-faring culture. There is some evidence for this via the link between the floating palaces of Fisher Queens and the floating barges of the courtesans of Braavos. The notion that the Fisher Queens held the secrets to ‘weaving’ or dispensing good health and guaranteeing a long life as embodied by the symbolism of the pearl is reinforced by this parallel to the Dead Sea. Of course, we must also see this in terms of magic because mythological weaving is indeed magical.
A NOTE ON SALT AND SMOKE
As a saltwater lake, the Silver Sea is also important to other aspects of the story:
first and foremost, to the idea that Azor Ahai will be born of “salt and smoke”.
I believe the saviour(s) predicted by prophecy is determined by his or her ancestry – disguised in the term “salt and smoke”. When Quaithe prompts Dany to remember who she is, she is undoubtedly referring to lineage. We are not looking for someone born in a place of salt and smoke, neither should we be considering salty tears or hams! Salt and Smoke refer to ancestry; the Fisher Queens and those few women who descend from them are the key to the “salt”. Salt specifically relates to the white pearl, while the ‘black pearl’ is the key to the ‘smoke’. The idea of Salt and Smoke as I think of it lurks in many places: the Brackens (salt) and Blackwoods (smoke) are a good example of this secret inheritance. But I digress. I hope to publish more on this interesting topic shortly.
Arya provides several tit-bits of supporting evidence in this regard. While aboard the Titan’s Daughter on her way to Braavos, she assumes a new identity, naming herself Salty. She also receives a ‘floppy hat‘, essentially a flexible hat that changes its shape, evoking skinchanging. In this context, the silver fork reminds us of a merman’s trident. These are the treasures she gives up to become no one. Arya is another of our pearl-wearers; she comes from the House of the Pearl Direwolf (also the silver direwolf); she sells oysters, cockles and clams (which are also ‘magic words’ and also represent the Fisher Queens, producers of pearls); and of course, she meets the Black Pearl who buys cockles and chats with her. Remember Dany’s ‘floppy ears, the despised tokar’? They can be seen in the same context as Arya’s hat; When Dany wears her floppy ears, she adapts or changes her appearance to please the Meereenese and maintain their support.
Finally, to consolidate the analogy, the Silver Sea really is a Dead Sea in the true sense of the name.
MORE FLOATING CASTLES AND BARGES
Some traditions survive over millennia. They may change but often they are recognisable if one looks closely enough. Thus, the narrative offers some interesting parallels to the Fisher Queens in the story:
The floating barges of the Courtesans of Braavos
Like the Fisher Queens in their day, the courtesans of Braavos are famed across the world, the Black Pearl one of their number. Singers sing of them, goldsmiths and jewelers shower them with gifts, craftsmen beg for the honour of their custom, merchant princes pay royal ransoms to have them on their arms at balls and feasts and mummer shows, and bravos slay each other in their names. Here we have the courtesans of Braavos, as sought after as the Fisher Queens, though in a different way, amongst their number, the Black Pearl.
As she pushed her barrow along the canals, Cat would sometimes glimpse one of them floating by, on her way to an evening with some lover. Every courtesan had her own barge, and servants to pole her to her trysts. The Poetess always had a book to hand, the Moonshadow wore only white and silver, and the Merling Queen was never seen without her Mermaids, four young maidens in the blush of their first flowering who held her train and did her hair. Each courtesan was more beautiful than the last. Even the Veiled Lady was beautiful, though only those she took as lovers ever saw her face.
AFFC, Cat of the Canals
Goldsmiths, jewellers and wealthy princes vie for their attention, evoking the gemstones and wealth of the Great Empire of the Dawn. One of these ladies, the Moonshadow wears only white and silver (more pearl imagery) and we even get a mention the Merling Queen and her Mermaids, recalling the Patchface association above. The Poetess always has a book in hand – does she symbolize a wise and knowledgeable Fisher Queen? To top it all, these famous courtesans are undisputed Queens of their trade and they travel in floating barges. All these suggesive hints again raise the possibility that the floating palaces of the Fisher Queens were indeed ships.
Let’s not forget that Braavos, a bastard daughter of Valyria, is dependent on the sea and associated with water and the sea in the extreme. Theirs is a sea-faring nation, an island perpetually shrouded in fog and riddled with canals, which offer one of the main modes of transportation; sea-food is abundant; the purple dye employed in dying their sailcloth stems from a sea-snail. Their leader is the Sealord. The “water-dance” is a style of sword-fighting unique to Braavos. A poorer suburb of the city is known as the Drowned Town and of course, Braavos is the home of the Black Pearl.
Braavos appears to represent a historical follow-up of the Silver Sea. I think it is the most important of Valyria’s daughter states. I believe the fate of the Fisher Queens and their descendants and how they coped is recorded within the history of this island. Once they wove silver seaweed but like Arya, they now engage in a different kind of needlework:
“Just so.” Those words made her sad. Syrio used to say that too, Arya remembered. He said it all the time. Syrio Forel had taught her needlework and died for her.
Finally, Braavos is also home to the Temple of the Moonsingers, who led the founders of Braavos, escaped slaves, to the secret island shrouded in fog. Because of their importance to the Braavosi, the Moonsinger’s Temple is the largest in Braavos:
That is the Temple of the Moonsingers.”
It was one of those that Arya had spied from the lagoon, a mighty mass of snow-white marble topped by a huge silvered dome whose milk glass windows showed all the phases of the moon. A pair of marble maidens flanked its gates, tall as the Sealords, supporting a crescent-shaped lintel. AFFC, Arya I
The temple with its silvered dome, marble maidens and moon décor is another link to our original pearl maidens.
Greywater Watch is another floating castle that wanders about The Neck in Westeros. Their smallfolk live in accommodation of floating woven reeds as well. Like the Fisher Queens, the Crannogmen live close to water. They inhabit the swampy wetlands of the Neck and even exhibit aquatic tendencies such as breathing mud. They are experts at catching aquatic creatures and are capable of magic, changing water to earth and earth to water. They are also feared for their skill with poison.
They were a poor folk, fishers and frog-hunters who lived in houses of thatch and woven reeds on floating islands hidden in the deeps of the swamp. Mudmen are sneaks, they won’t fight like decent folks, they skulk and use poison arrows. You never see them, but they see you. Those who go into the bogs after them get lost and never come out. Their houses move, even the castles like Greywater Watch. ACOK, Theon IV
Clearly, there is something mystical about the Crannogmen. Jojen experiences ‘green dreams’ which predict future events. Meera is a modern day Fisher Queen, literally, and she is very talented in this regard. Frogs and fish seldom escape her nets and spears. One of her chief weapons is a three-pronged spear, or trident, the weapon of a merman, putting us in mind of merwives discussed above. Those three prongs are made of silver. The Crannogmen are known to have had ties with the Children of the Forest but I suspect they have Fisher Queen ancestry as well. Incidentally, there was once a House Fisher, now extinct, on the Stoney Shore along the western coast of Westeros. The link to invisibility associated with mermaids and tapestries is also there – you never see them, but they see you.
There is a lot to chew on here, yet all the evidence suggests that the Maiden-Made-of-Light, the Fisher Queens, Mermaids and the Pearl are related, if not synonymous with each other. Though we lack specific information, a large number of little clues come together to form a picture of what might have been, all legend and symbolism reflected by the lustrous pearl.
PEARLS OF WISDOM
Links to the pearl are sometimes obscured, especially when not explicitly mentioned, however further correlation can be found in the theme of wisdom. We know the Fisher Queens were wise and benevolent, sought after by kings for their good counsel. Recalling the Silver Sea is analogous with the Dead Sea, note the parallel between wisdom and the library of hundreds of ancient texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, found at Qumran near the north-western shore of the Dead Sea.
Remember that the star-maiden Astraea is similarly associated with knowledge and learning . The World Book mentions that scholars agree that the Golden Empire, which had its roots in the former GEotD, was one of the places where learning first evolved:
… men first climbed from the pit of savagery to civilization … and literacy, for the wise men of the east have been reading and writing for many thousands of years. TWOIAF
Could the leap from savagery to civilization unique to the Great Empire have come about through the culture of the Fisher Queens?
The Crones of Vaes Dothrak
The theme of wisdom also extends to the old crones of Vaes Dothrak, the dosh khaleen, wise women of the Dothraki. The dosh khaleen lay down the law in Vaes Dothrak. Khals listen when they speak. Rival khals meeting in Vaes Dothrak are required to set aside their differences for the duration of their stay.
Ser Jorah had explained that it was forbidden to carry a blade in Vaes Dothrak, or to shed a free man’s blood. Even warring khalasars put aside their feuds and shared meat and mead together when they were in sight of the Mother of Mountains. In this place, the crones of the dosh khaleen had decreed, all Dothraki were one blood, one khalasar, one herd.
Even the mightiest of khals bowed to the wisdom and authority of the dosh khaleen.
As decreed by the dosh khaleen, no one dares draw a blade in the holy city; in fact, Vaes Dothrak is essentially a city of peace, another theme of the pearl. The dosh khaleen mirror the Fisher Queens who were sought after for their wisdom by kings and lords in this respect.
All abide by their rules but the crones fulfil an additional role – they see the future and make prophecies. Perhaps the Fisher Queens were proficient in this capacity as well; I suspect they were. The evidence is circumstantial and requires examining the Rhoynar, who were proficient in water magic as well as translating the whisperings of the Mother Rhoyne.
Even the slaves, the smallfolk of Essos, tell tales of what they imagine Vaes Dothrak to be and they style it in terms of what the original palace of the Fisher Queens might have been like.
“Drogo is so rich that even his slaves wear golden collars. A hundred thousand men ride in his khalasar, and his palace in Vaes Dothrak has two hundred rooms and doors of solid silver.” AGOT, Daenerys I
Vaes Dothrak is unlike a conventional city. It does not even boast a palace, let alone doors of solid silver. It is sprawling, limitless, ancient and empty, evoking a huge region, as boundless as the sea. Dothraki women are also proficient in weaving, creating hats for protection against the sun and weaving huts of grass.
SALT, SILVER AND SEED
Visitors and traders travelling through Vaes Dothrak are welcome as long as they obey certain rules; the dosh khaleen expect to be honoured with traditional gifts:
The riders let them come and go unmolested, so long as they observed the peace of the sacred city, did not profane the Mother of Mountains or the Womb of the World, and honored the crones of the dosh khaleen with the traditional gifts of salt, silver, and seed. AGOT, Daenerys
Traditional gifting is an ancient custom practiced by many cultures the world over. Often, gifting is bound to a specific occasion such as a wedding, baby-shower or a housewarming. Though they can be used by the receiver, the gifts always carry symbolic meaning and are not primarily meant to be seen as ‘consumer goods’. Bread is also popular, signifying that the receiver may never go hungry; coins are for luck, sugar denotes sweetness and wood promotes peace and stability. Salt has been an indispensable gift through the ages, the message being: “May there always be flavour and spice in your life.” There’s a much deeper meaning to the gifting of salt however. Salt was not readily available to all cultures and those who did not have it regularly traded for it. As such, it has represented a binding covenant since antiquity. Covenants sealed with salt were as binding as those sealed with blood. Though not always explicit in the text, the binding character of Guest Right which protects a guest under his host’s roof is invoked through the salt that is eaten with the meal. Catelyn impresses this on her son Robb.
“Robb, listen to me. Once you have eaten of his bread and salt, you have the guest right, and the laws of hospitality protect you beneath his roof.”
By receiving salt, the crones of Vaes Dothrak bind their guests to the law stating that no blood must be shed in their holy city. The gifts of seed and silver represent bountiful food and wealth respectively. Salt, silver and seed are another nod at the Fisher Queens and the remains of their lost culture.
SUMMARY OF THE MAIN IDEAS
The appendix attached to A Clash of Kings summarizes the main features of the Targaryens thus:
The Targaryens are the blood of the dragon, descended from the high lords of the ancient Freehold of Valyria, their heritage proclaimed in a striking (some say inhuman) beauty, with lilac or indigo or violet eyes and hair of silver-gold or platinum white.
The ghosts urging Daenerys on in her ‘wake the dragon’ dream are described in similar terms and indeed this is what Durran Durrandon bases his theory on.
Ghosts lined the hallway, dressed in the faded raiment of kings. In their hands were swords of pale fire. They had hair of silver and hair of gold and hair of platinum white, and their eyes were opal and amethyst, tourmaline and jade.
Daenerys herself undoubtedly descends from the Great Empire. They were her forefathers but children are not born of men alone and the evidence I present for the Fisher Queens is compelling enough to identify them as wives to some of the named Emperors. They are Daenerys’ maternal ancestors and their heritage lives on in a number of important characters of the current age. They were the first ‘pearls’, endowed with a magical ability to weave moonlight into the fabric of life, conferring fertility on the land and longevity on the Emperors themselves.
I postulate that their blue eyes were sensitive to moonlight in particular. The pineal gland, also sensitive to light also played a role in their supernatural ability to weave light, specifically its role in mind-altering activity and the opening of the third eye.
We also looked at the significance of red eyes in terms of absorbing the red spectrum of true sunlight and the dual function of purple eyes, which cover both the blue and red spectra of light. Weirwood trees perform this same function via their red leaves and white barks.
Their unique floating palaces suggest the Silver Sea was a saltwater lake similar to the Dead Sea. Further evidence for the cultural influence of the lost Fisher Queens is thus found in Braavos, specifically among the courtesans, and is indicated by the Moonsingers, whose temple is a representation of the phases of the moon. The Crannogmen with their floating castle and huts are also likely distant descendants of the lost Kingdom.
Now for a tiny bit of speculation: The gods and / or goddesses worshiped by the Fisher Queens are unknown. The Maiden-made-of-Light may have been one of them. Whoever they were, I suspect the demise of the Queens led to the origin of the Drowned God, ironically drowned in the bouyant salt sea.
At the beginning of this analysis, I mentioned Huzhor Amai, the hero born to the last of the original Fisher Queens. In the next essay, I explore likely factors that contributed to their demise. Since we have hardly any information on them, we shall resort to some of the conclusions drawn from the examination of the pearl in part one and supplement that by exploring other indicators in the narrative. Our main pearl-wearers – Dany, Arya, Sansa, Margaery and Jeyne Poole and the trials they face mirror the fate of the Fisher Queens.
Thank you for reading!
Links to related articles:
The Maiden, the Lion and the Weaver Girl – more on weaving in relation to the narrative.
Featured Image “Mermaids” by Whendell on deviantart.com