|| Tarot || Strength ||
Saturday, October 21, 2017
I got violently ill when I was two. The illness was incurable and eventually it will have left me in a wheelchair. I was put on the only (aggressive) treatment there was at that time. My life expectancy on the treatment was about five years. I am thirty-five now because my mother discontinued the treatment against medical advice (she’s a doctor herself).
I’ve been on the verge of dying several times, still. During one of those times, I had an out-of-body experience, feeling my soul leave my body and fly rapidly upward. But I pulled it back.
When my late fiancé Aaron was in hospice, I sat by his side on the bed and I had a vision that I will never, ever forget. I saw celestial sand cascading from the sky in the dusk. I heard the terrible sound of the slowly, heavily falling sand. The world of the living and the world of the dead were colliding. We’re not meant to see this. We are mortals. We are not meant to. I am Persephone.
Maybe I died in his bedroom. Maybe I was reborn.
I wasn’t practicing magical arts at the time, not even tarot. That was November or December of 2015.
It was October 20, 20017, last night, the second night of the new moon. I did a manifesting ritual, addressing my personal deity Dark Heart (death, justice, endurance, transformation, resilience, etc.), The Queen of the Underworld, and The Mother of Night (Hecate). I was looking into the candle, then I closed my eyes, and I saw them. The black spots, squares, slowly turning into dark, shadowy faces, they were all rushing toward me. I knew what they were. The dead, their souls. I was feeling a deep sense of fear. I was getting pretty trance-y and I started repeating, “So many of them. So many. So many,” in dismay and fear. I was Persephone again. They want my help. Or maybe they’re trying to help.
I ended the ritual and tried to return to my normal self, but I was still really spooked. Really spooked.
The second vision was of a dark, not-so-detailed army or figures standing shoulder to shoulder, not too far from and not too close to me. OK, this image might’ve planted in me, but to me they were a dead army. Yet, this time, I felt no fear. They were there for me.
We cleaned the ritual space and the bed with sage and a cupful of salt.
As I was making out with my partner later last night, I ‘switched’ to Persephone the Maiden. For the first time. I closed my eyes and saw bright white light bursting through the darkness. It was so beautiful. So pure and beautiful.
Another vision began to float before my eyes. This time it was a medicinal, very pure, very gentle, plant from my childhood in Russia. When boiled in wine, it cures snake bites. I am surrounded by snakes, but not at home. However, I believe I saw that long-forgotten plant in great detail because I was still Persephone the Maiden, the goddess of vegetation, and it’s the purest, the most innocent, one of the most medicinal plants I’ve ever known.
What the hell does this mean? If I’m this connected to death, what does this say about me, my path, my strengths?
I’ve almost died several times, one of my ex-partners died, my fiancé died, and I feel like Persephone.
Any ideas? Should I try to summon those dark souls when I feel grounded enough?
Thursday, October 19, 2017
The Many-Faced God || The House of Black and White || no one
Jaqen H’ghar’s eyes are usually shaded and he talks in the most profoundly wide generalizations. A girl would do this and a boy would do that. A man has duties. Death is certain. Time is something else. He is a man of mystery, suspense, and a deep spiritual tradition.
He feeds the names of the people who ought to die to the Many-Faced God, the patron saint of assassins in the world of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire.
The guild of the Faceless Men seems to be inspired by the Hashishins, a secret order formed by the enigmatic Hasan bin Sabbah during the Crusades. The group sometimes fought against the Crusaders and sometimes killed for them. They inspired such western secret societies as The Templars, the Society of Jesus, Priory de Sion, the Freemasons, the Rosicrucian Orders and, of course, the secret society to end all secret societies, the Illuminati.
The link between the Assassins and the European Illuminati originated from a flyer from the ever-reliable John Birch Society, which said the Knights Templar and the Freemasons were under Hashishin influence. I first learned about the Hashishin order from the classic science fiction conspiracy novel The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. They theorize that the Bavarian Illuminati was a revised version of the Hashishin system. The Ishmaelian sect of Islam was founded by Hassan ibn Sabbah, the “old man of the mountains.”
Hasan bin Sabbah created a mountain paradise with the most beautiful harem girls in the world and kept his elite warriors high on hashish. He came to the conclusion that assassination was preferable to war in political maneuvering. Why kill thousands of common people when you can get the same result by taking out small group of powerful people? According to accounts from 14th-century documentarian Sir John Mandeville, the Old Man of the Mountain trained men in a fortress paradise. When one of the crusading knights arrived at the gates, the Old Man would give him a spiked drink and tell him he could enjoy his paradise forever if he would kill a target.
Hassan probably mixed an almost pure black hashish with small amounts of belladonna, stramonium, mandragora, opium or bufotinin, which medieval magicians extracted from “skin of toad,” according to William Shakespeare.
“None of the first Faceless Men were born to lords and ladies,” Jaqen H’ghar explained to Arya. “They began as slaves in the mines of Valyria.” The first Faceless Man “was no one.” “The Faceless Men founded the Free City of Braavos. They built a mighty stone structure to house the faces of this first generation, who in death found immortality on their temple’s very walls.”
According to legend, the Ismaelian Sect got their orders from “The Old Man in the Mountain.” The Many-Faced God taught the first Faceless Man how to “shed his face and how to give the gift. The man taught others in exchange for their service. Many served, many more gifts were given. Soon, all the masters and overseers were gone and the Faceless Men fled.” The historical and heretical assassins had a reputation for insinuating themselves into a target’s area for months, long enough to pose as a local or disguising themselves as well as a chameleon.
There are many dissimilarities between Hashshshin and Faceless Men, but there are a few important similarities as well. They are known organizations, but shrouded in mystery to the point to where most of what is said about them is certainly myth or speculation. Most importantly, both are masters of infiltration… to the extreme. Able to change appearances and life stories to get close to their targets. No target was too politically powerful or holy (or small) if the price was right.
Like a guild of assassins, the Faceless Men are headquartered in the House of Black and White, a temple that transcends the faiths of Westeros, from Essos to the Lord of Light. Iconography includes images of the Weeping Woman of Lys; the Lion of Night and the Black Goat. The thing they all have in common is death. People come to the House of Black and White for death, whether they order it as a fate for others or if they choose to drink from the poisoned pools themselves.
“Martin skillfully incorporates the aspects of an older religion, Hinduism, in the mythology of the faceless men,” Marie Bargas, a Kali scholar who works at Mystic Journey Bookstore, replied to in a recent query. “A god of many faces is akin to Panchmukha Shiva, the Indian deity whose wild nature is traditionally appeased with a cannabis and milk concoction (Bhang) alongside his blood thirsty consort Kali, in whose worship the cult of the Thuggees, or ‘Thugs,’ perfected the art of silent murder.”
Murder was both a way of life and a religious duty for the Thuggee. Their killings were a means of worshiping the Hindu goddess Kali, who was honored through ritual at each stage of a murder. Kali demands blood sacrifice given ritualistically through steel. Kali is also known as the goddess of destruction, much like the icons held in the House of Black and White were all depictions of death worship. For the record, Kali is the Hindu goddess of rebirth and time, as well. The Faceless Men have a reputation for biding their time.
Looking at the Faceless Men and their Many-Faced God won’t be so easy. So far as we know, the Faceless Men have neither a religious text nor an oral tradition. Their religion, such as it is, is cloaked in silence and mystery.
Here’s what we do know: the religion of the “Many-Faced God” dates back to the time of the Valyrian Empire. It began after the Ghiscari Wars but before the slave revolt of 500 BC. It was a religion born of slavery. It rose up first in the Volcanic Mines, which were run on slave labor during the height of the Valyrian Empire. What little legend there is says that the first “Faceless Man” heard the praying of the thousands of slaves from thousands of backgrounds and concluded that they all prayed to the same god, one that merely had a thousand faces, and that they all prayed for the same thing: to be released from their suffering. This realization made him decide that he must be “God’s Instrument” and to fulfill their prayers. He started by killing the most desperate slave, and eventually moved on to their masters. Hence the language of the religion comes directly from High Valyrian.
Note the phrases valar morghulis (“all men must die”) and valar dohaeris (“all men must serve”).
Braavos hid itself from the world for 111 years, until it finally unveiled itself in an event known as the Unmasking of Uthero. The event is mostly remembered for the reveal of the Iron Bank, which established credibility by paying back the debts owed to the grandchildren of people whom Braavosi pirates had stolen from over the last century. (They steadfastly refused to pay reparations for the value of the slaves lost, though.) With Braavos and the Iron Bank established in the public consciousness, a third institution peculiar to the city also quickly became famous: the silent guild known less for their religion than for what they could do for those in need: The Faceless Men, who lived in the House of Black and White.
We don’t know who built the House of Black and White, or how the loosely conceptualized religion of the Many-Faced God ordered itself into the strict philosophy followed by the Faceless Men. It was simply there, fully formed, when Braavos revealed itself to the world. A lot must have happened in those 111 years.
Unlike other religions in Westeros or Essos, the Faceless Men are not just a religious order, but a guild. They form a high-profile and profitable business. Using religion as a business is nothing new. For centuries, the Catholic Church was one of the most profitable businesses in medieval Europe.
The Many-Faced God is based upon the idea that all gods are the same, and that the deities of every religion are merely masks worn by one god: Death. This is both an insult to the other religions of the world as well as a rejection of them. And yet, because the House of Black and White is savvy enough to hang the symbols of all these religions around a Great Hall with expressive mood lighting, most of their visitors never put this together. But then again, those who visit the House of Black and White, in today’s psychiatric terms, may not be considered of “sound mind.”
A moon is carved on the door of the House of Black and White.
Those who follow the Many-Faced God did not put their place of worship on a street corner, or in the middle of an impressive square. Their place of worship is separate from the rest of Braavos—if people intend to visit, they really have to want it. That’s because, inside, there is only death to be found, either for themselves or for a loved one, or for an enemy.
The entrance hall in the House of Black and White is designed to emphasize the import of the journey its visitors are taking. Other than the 30 or so statues of gods from other religions around the room, there is only a giant pool in the center, the waters of which are poisonous to all who drink. The pool is the last stop for those looking to end their own pain, or the pain of a loved one who they brought along for the occasion. Those who serve in the House are not just assistants, but also work as full-time embalmers and undertakers. They provide burial services to those too poor to provide their own.
But the acolytes of the Many-Faced God are not just professional morticians. They have an interior guild of trained assassins known as the Faceless Men. (Yes, though the show makes it seem like everyone who works in the House of Black and White are also Faceless Men, this is not the case. They are an elite group within the order.) This interior group is steeped in a type of ancient blood magic that allows them to shed their own identities and wear the faces of those they’ve killed. Though the show glosses over it, the books get into more detail about how the assassins apply these faces—they use their own blood.
If a person wants to hire a Faceless Man, the prices are extremely high, and usually based upon what the person requesting values most. The rich are charged a large portion of their income, while those who value family would be asked to pay with a child.
The price of becoming a Faceless Man may be even higher: one’s own identity. Those who train to join the order do so for years, and are basically asked to negate themselves in servitude.
The Faceless Men are both No One and anyone.
Followers of Him of Many Faces consider death to be part of the natural order of things and a merciful end to suffering. For a price, the guild will agree to kill anyone in the known world, considering this contract to be a sacrament of their god. The price is always high or dear, but within the means of the person if they are willing to make the sacrifice. The cost of their services also depends on the prominence and security of the target.
An elite group of followers within the House, the Faceless Men, are trained to perform this task. Faceless Men are occasionally women. Only rarely would they train a child. They are trained to use all their senses to root out deception and create their disguises, seemingly possessing magical abilities that allow them to change their appearance at will.
The Faceless Men reconvene at the House of Black and White, the temple of the Many-Faced God in Braavos, where they discuss the potential jobs for the month and dole these contract assassinations out through a round table. An assassin only accepts an assignment if they are unfamiliar with the target. They use a variety of methods to kill their targets, including a poison called the strangler. The assassination technique of a Faceless Man must not be haphazard, killing only the intended target. Their fee is for a precise killing, in many cases looking like an accident, rather than an outright murder.
The Faceless Men cure the faces of the dead who come to die in their sanctuary, hanging these in deep vaults below the temple as macabre masks for use in their disguises during assassination contracts. These are more than masks, however, and the wearer assumes the true appearance when applied using a tribute of one’s own blood to moisten the application. In this way, the Faceless Men are using tools as part of their disguise, rather than a reliance on glamours or outright magic for disguises.
“Death holds no sweetness in this house. We are not warriors, nor soldiers, nor swaggering bravos puffed up with pride. We do not kill to serve some lord, to fatten our purses, to stroke our vanity. We never give the gift to please ourselves. Nor do we choose the ones we kill. We are but servants of the God of Many Faces.”
Compiled from different online sources. I do not own the images nor do I profit from them. For educational purposes only.
A Song of Ice and Fire || George Martin
A Feast For Crows
“The old gods are dead, she told herself, with Mother and Father and Robb
and Bran and Rickon, all dead.”
“On their left appeared a rocky knoll with a windowless temple of dark grey stone at its top.”
“At the top she found a set of carved wooden doors twelve feet high. The left-hand door was made of weirwood pale as bone, the right of gleaming ebony. In their center was a carved moon face; ebony on the weirwood side, weirwood on the ebony. The look of it reminded her somehow of the heart tree in the godswood at Winterfell. The doors are watching me, she thought.”
“The temple seemed much larger within than it had without. The septs of Westeros were seven-sided, with seven altars for the seven gods, but here there were more gods than seven. Statues of them stood along the walls, massive and threatening. Around their feet red candles flickered, as dim as distant stars. The nearest was a marble woman twelve feet tall. Real tears were trickling from her
eyes, to fill the bowl she cradled in her arms. Beyond her was a man with a lion’s head seated on a throne, carved of ebony. On the other side of the doors, a huge horse of bronze and iron reared up on two great legs. Farther on she could make out a great stone face, a pale infant with a sword, a shaggy black goat the size of an aurochs, a hooded man leaning on a staff. The rest were only looming shapes to her, halfseen through the gloom.
Silent as a shadow, Arya moved between rows of long stone benches, her sword in hand. The floor was made of stone, her feet told her; not polished marble like the floor of the Great Sept of Baelor, but something rougher. She passed some women whispering together. […] She could smell the candles. The scent was unfamiliar, and she put it down to some queer incense, but as she got deeper into the temple, they seemed to smell of snow and pine needles and hot stew.”
The hooded man was tall, enveloped in a larger version of the black-and-white robe the girl was wearing. Beneath his cowl all she could see was the faint red glitter of candlelight reflecting off his eyes. “What place is this?” she asked him.
“A place of peace.” His voice was gentle.
“Tell me your name, child.”
“Salty. I come from Saltpans, by the Trident.”
Though she could not see his face, somehow she could feel him smiling. “No,” he said. “Tell me your name.”
“Squab,” she answered this time.
“Your true name, child.”
“My mother named me Nan, but they call me Weasel—”
She swallowed. “Arry. I’m Arry.”
“Closer. And now the truth?”
Fear cuts deeper than swords, she told herself. “Arya.” She whispered the word the first time. The second time she threw it at him. “I am Arya, of House Stark.”
“You are,” he said, “but the House of Black and White is no place for Arya, of House Stark.”
“Please,” she said. “I have no place to go.”
“Do you fear death?”
She bit her lip. “No.”
“Let us see.” The priest lowered his cowl. Beneath he had no face; only a yellowed skull with a few scraps of skin still clinging to the cheeks,
and a white worm wriggling from one empty eye socket. “Kiss me, child,” he croaked, in a voice as dry and husky as a death rattle.
Does he think to scare me? Arya kissed him where his nose should be and plucked the grave worm from his eye to eat it, but it melted like a shadow in her hand.
The yellow skull was melting too, and the kindliest old man that she had ever seen was smiling down at her. “No one has ever tried to eat my worm before,” he said. “Are you hungry, child?”
Yes, she thought, but not for food.
Cat of the Canals
“Him of Many Faces.”
“And many names,” the kindly man had said. “In Qohor he is the Black Goat, in Yi Ti the Lion of Night, in Westeros the Stranger. All men must bow to him in the end, no matter if they worship the Seven or the Lord of Light, the Moon Mother or the Drowned God or the Great Shepherd. All mankind belongs to him… else somewhere in the world would be a folk who lived forever. Do you know of any folk who live forever?”
“No,” she would answer. “All men must die.”
A Dance with Dragons || George Martin
The Blind Girl
“You have five senses,” the kindly man said. “Learn to use the other four, you will have fewer cuts and scrapes and scabs.”
She could feel air currents on her skin now. She could find the kitchens by their smell, tell men from women by their scents. She knew Umma and the servants and the acolytes by the pattern of their footfalls, could tell one from the other before they got close enough to smell (but not the waif or the kindly man, who hardly made a sound at all unless they wanted to). The candles burning in the temple had scents as well; even the unscented ones gave off faint wisps of smoke from their wicks. They had as well been shouting, once she had learned to use her nose.
The dead men had their own smell too. One of her duties was to find them in the temple every morning, wherever they had chosen to lie down and close their eyes after drinking from the pool.
This morning she found two.
One man had died at the feet of the Stranger, a single candle flickering above him. She could feel its heat, and the scent that it gave off tickled her nose. The candle burned with a dark red flame, she knew; for those with eyes, the corpse would have seemed awash in a ruddy glow.
The second body was that of an old woman. She had gone to sleep upon a dreaming couch, in one of the hidden alcoves where special candles conjured visions of things loved and lost. A sweet death and a gentle one, the kindly man was fond of saying. Her fingers told her that the old woman had died with a smile on her face. She had not been dead long. Her body was still warm to the touch. Her skin is so soft, like old thin leather that’s been folded and wrinkled a thousand times.
“We give the gift to those marked by Him of Many Faces, after prayers and sacrifice. So has it always been, from the beginning. I have told you of the founding of our order, of how the first of us answered the prayers of slaves who wished for death. The gift was given only to those who yearned for it, in the beginning… but one day, the first of us heard a slave praying not for his own death but for his master’s. So fervently did he desire this that he offered all he had, that his prayer might be answered. And it seemed to our first brother that this sacrifice would be pleasing to Him of Many Faces, so that night he granted the prayer. Then he went to the slave and said, ‘You offered all you had for this man’s death, but slaves have nothing but their lives. That is what the god desires of you. For the rest of your days on earth, you will serve him.’ And from that moment, we were two.” His hand closed around her arm, gently but firmly. “All men must die. We are but death’s instruments, not death himself.
The Ugly Little Girl
“Eleven servants of the Many-Faced God gathered that night beneath the temple, more than she had ever seen together at one time. Only the lordling and the fat fellow arrived by the front door; the rest came by secret ways, through tunnels and hidden passages. They wore their robes of black and white, but as they took their seats, each man pulled his cowl down to show the face he had chosen to wear that day. Their tall chairs were carved of ebony and weirwood, like the doors of the temple above.
I am carved of stone, she reminded herself. I am a statue, like the Sealords that stand along the Canal of the Heroes. The water was heavy, but her arms were strong.”
“Who are you?” plague face asked when they were alone.
“Not so. You are Arya of House Stark, who bites her lip and cannot tell a lie.”
“I was. I’m not now.”
“Why are you here, liar?”
“To serve. To learn. To change my face.”
“First change your heart. The gift of the Many-Faced God is not a child’s plaything. You would kill for your own purposes, for your own pleasures. Do you deny it?”
She bit her lip. “I—”
He slapped her.
The blow left her cheek stinging, but she knew that she had earned it. “Thank you.” Enough slaps, and she might stop chewing on her lip. Arya did that, not the night wolf.
“I do deny it.”
“You lie. I can see the truth in your eyes. You have the eyes of a wolf and a taste for blood.”
“I have no heart. I only have a hole.”
“Can you pay the price?”
“The price is you. The price is all you have and all you ever hope to have. We took your eyes and gave them back. Next we will take your ears, and you will walk in silence. You will give us your legs and crawl. You will be no one’s daughter, no one’s wife, no one’s mother. Your name will be a lie, and the very face you wear will not be your own.”
She almost bit her lip again, but this time she caught herself and stopped. My face is a dark pool, hiding everything, showing nothing. She thought of all the names that she had worn: Arry, Weasel, Squab, Cat of the Canals. She thought of that stupid girl from Winterfell called Arya Horseface. Names did not matter.
“I can pay the price. Give me a face.”
“The Many-Faced God does not weigh men’s souls. He gives his gift to the best of men as he gives it to the worst. Elsewise the good would live forever.”
“A thousand faces were gazing down on her.
They hung upon the walls, before her and behind her, high and low, everywhere she looked, everywhere she turned. She saw old faces and young faces, pale faces and dark faces, smooth faces and wrinkled faces, freckled faces and scarred faces, handsome faces and homely faces, men and women, boys and girls, even babes, smiling faces, frowning faces, faces full of greed and rage and lust, bald faces and faces bristling with hair. Masks, she told herself, it’s only masks, but even as she thought the thought, she knew it wasn’t so. They were skins.”
“Do they frighten you, child?” asked the kindly man. “It is not too late for you to leave us. Is this truly what you want?”
Arya bit her lip. She did not know what she wanted. If I leave, where will I go? She had washed and stripped a hundred corpses, dead things did not frighten her. They carry them down here and slice their faces off, so what? She was the night wolf, no scraps of skin could frighten her. Leather hoods, that’s all they are, they cannot hurt me. “Do it,” she blurted out.
“Sit,” the priest commanded. She sat. “Now close your eyes, child.” She closed her eyes. “This will hurt,” he warned her, “but pain is the price of power. Do not move.”
Still as stone, she thought. She sat unmoving. The cut was quick, the blade sharp. By rights the metal should have been cold against her flesh, but it felt warm instead. She could feel the blood washing down her face, a rippling red curtain falling across her brow and cheeks and chin, and she understood why the priest had made her close her eyes. When it reached her lips the taste was salt and copper. She licked at it and shivered.
“Bring me the face,” said the kindly man. The waif made no answer, but she could hear her slippers whispering over the stone floor. To the girl he said, “Drink this,” and pressed a cup into her hand. She drank it down at once. It was very tart, like biting into a lemon.
“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. These arts you shall learn, but what we do here goes deeper. Wise men can see through artifice, and glamors dissolve before sharp eyes, but the face you are about to don will be as true and solid as that face you were born with. Keep your eyes closed.” She felt his fingers brushing back her hair. “Stay still. This will feel queer. You may be dizzy, but you must not move.”
Then came a tug and a soft rustling as the new face was pulled down over the old. The leather scraped across her brow, dry and stiff, but as her blood soaked into it, it softened and turned supple. Her cheeks grew warm, flushed. She could feel her heart fluttering beneath her breast, and for one long moment she could not catch her breath. Hands closed around her throat, hard as stone, choking her. Her own hands shot up to claw at the arms of her attacker, but there was no one there. A terrible sense of fear filled her, and she heard a noise, a hideous crunching noise, accompanied by blinding pain. A face floated in front of her, fat, bearded, brutal, his mouth twisted with rage. She heard the priest say, “Breathe, child. Breathe out the fear. Shake off the shadows. He is dead. She is dead. Her pain is gone. Breathe.”
The girl took a deep shuddering breath, and realized it was true. No one was choking her, no one was hitting her. Even so, her hand was shaking as she raised it to her face. Flakes of dried blood crumbled at the touch of her fingertips, black in the lantern light.”
Questions & Connections
I. “At the top she found a set of carved wooden doors twelve feet high. The left-hand door was made of weirwood pale as bone, the right of gleaming ebony. In their center was a carved moon face; ebony on the weirwood side, weirwood on the ebony. The look of it reminded her somehow of the heart tree in the godswood at Winterfell. The doors are watching me, she thought.”
II. “Eleven servants of the Many-Faced God gathered that night beneath the temple, more than she had ever seen together at one time. Only the lordling and the fat fellow arrived by the front door; the rest came by secret ways, through tunnels and hidden passages. They wore their robes of black and white, but as they took their seats, each man pulled his cowl down to show the face he had chosen to wear that day. Their tall chairs were carved of ebony and weirwood, like the doors of the temple above.”
Weirwood is the tree of the old gods of the North. Their sap is blood-red, their bark is bone white. They usually have faces carved into their trunks. This was done by the children of the forest in ancient days and now by the free folk as well as other descendants of the First Men, i.e., followers of the old gods in the Seven Kingdoms praying to heart trees in godswoods/places of worship. The weirwood tree will live forever if unharmed.
What’s the connection to the old gods and the North?
It is impossible to lie in the presence of a heart tree. Thousands of years ago, the entrails of the condemned were often placed in the branches of weirwoods. The Skagosi allegedly still maintain this practice.
Skagos is a large island, feared by most travellers. Its name means “stone” in the Old Tongue.
“According to legend, Bael the Bard entered Winterfell under the guise of a singer named Sygerrik of Skagos; ‘Sygerrik’ means ‘deceiver’ in the Old Tongue.”
The ironborn tell tales of Ygg, a demon tree that feeds on human flesh. The Grey King carved the first longship from Ygg’s hard pale wood.
Thus, weirwoods give us a connection to immortality, truth, the condemned, possibly human flesh (the corpses and the ‘faces’), and blood magic (the blood-red sap).
“Seated on his throne of roots in the great cavern, half-corpse and half-tree, Lord Brynden seemed less a man than some ghastly statue made of twisted wood, old bone, and rotted wool. The only thing that looked alive in the pale ruin that was his face was his one red eye, burning like the last coal in a dead fire, surrounded by twisted roots and tatters of leathery white skin hanging off a yellowed skull.
The sight of him still frightened Bran - the weirwood roots snaking in and out of his withered flesh, the mushrooms sprouting from his cheeks, the white wooden worm that grew from the socket where one eye had been. He liked it better when the torches were put out. In the dark he could pretend that it was the three-eyed crow who whispered to him and not some grisly talking corpse.”
The Kindly Man
“The hooded man was tall, enveloped in a larger version of the black and white robe the girl was wearing. Beneath his cowl all she could see was the faint red glitter of candlelight reflecting off his eyes. […] The priest lowered his cowl. Beneath he had no face; only a yellowed skull with a few scraps of skin still clinging to the cheeks, and a white worm wriggling from one empty eye socket.”
“I wish I could change into a wolf and grow wings and fly away.”—A Storm of Swords
Bran is the “winged wolf bound to earth with grey stone chains.”
Braavos was founded by the Moonsingers, fleeing from Valyria, in accordance with their visions. “Each band of the Jogos Nhai is co-ruled by a jhat and a moonsinger…. “The moonsinger is a combination of priestess/healer/judge, in charge of internal domestic affairs. If a woman wants to be a jhat, however, she must dress and live as a man, while if someone born a man wishes to be a moonsinger, he must dress and live as a woman. It is very difficult for outsiders to even tell if a band’s moonsinger was born a man or a woman, as they are treated and referred to as women by everyone else in their band. This actually parallels the real-world practices of several indigenous peoples across the world, where men understood to have supernatural powers must live as women (or as both man and woman). Women having to assume male dress for a leadership or war role is less common, but certainly attested.
The main novels do mention that the Moonsingers are a prominent religion in Braavos, but none have been met in the narrative. It is unknown if, like in their homeland in the distant east, some Moonsingers in Braavos are actually men who choose to live as women.”
The Moon: the wolf’s howl, magic, illusion, the night. The horrors of the Long Night are coming from the deep North.
Thus, Braavos was founded on the lunar principle, i.e., the night, magic, a white disk in the black sky, purity and darkness, the dead, and deep wisdom, but also illusion. The owls are not what they seem.
A Tentative Greek Connection
Hecate, the goddess of magic, the night, moon, the dead, and necromancy, was generally represented as three-formed, which probably has some connection with the appearance of the full moon, half moon, and new moon. Thus, she can see in every direction. A thousand eyes. On top of that, she’s the goddess of transformation, ‘skinshifting.’
She protects children and she helps the dying to make a painless passage into the next life.
Hekate, as keeper and bearer of the keys, has the divine power to unlock the mysteries.
Connections: Arya’s coin is a key or a ‘pass.’ She becomes the master of transformation and she administers to the dying and the dead. She is an outcast herself.
 “Ebony draws from the deeper levels of the mind. A powerful wood used for the defense, reversal, and dispelling of dark magic. Combined with the force of all the elements, earth, fire, wind, and water, this is a truly diverse tool. Excellent for defensive magic. Ebony is considered to be the most powerful of the magical woods. Gabon Ebony is considered to be the most powerful of the magical woods. Extremely durable.”