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Marina Targaryen
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PostSubject: Religions and religious groups/organisations   Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:24 pm

The Drowned God

The Drowned God is the deity worshiped on the Iron Islands.

The belief system of the Drowned God justifies the ironborn way of life of piracy and raiding. Followers of the Drowned God believe he brought flame from the sea and that he created the ironborn to reave, raid, and pillage. Much of the religion centers around maritime skills and seafaring ability. It is not simply praiseworthy to kill enemies in battle, it is considered a pious act. A youth in the Iron Islands is not considered a man until he has killed his first enemy. The religion also encourages paying the "iron price" instead of the "gold price" (= it is better not to pay or treat for possessions, but to take them by force from the hands of dead enemies). While to outsiders the Drowned God religion seems like a thinly veiled justification for pillaging and plundering, the ironborn themselves take their religion very seriously, and actually have a fairly well developed cosmology and belief system surrounding it.

Within this belief system, the Drowned God is locked in an age-old struggle against the Storm God. The Drowned God's halls are located beneath the ocean, while the Storm God lives in a castle in the sky with his thunderclouds. The Storm God is constantly trying to send storms to dash ironborn ships against rocks to their ruin.

Resurrection figures prominently in the religion, in the form of being revived from drowning. The Drowned God itself is said to have drowned in the sea, for the sake of the ironborn, but returned to life "harder and stronger". However, drowning is also employed as a method of sacrificing enemies to the Drowned God.

Due to their belief, the ironborn do not fear drowning in the sea. "Godly" ironborn, that is fearless raiders, who drown are believed to be taken to the Drowned God's watery halls to feast on fish and be tended by mermaids for eternity. Thus, whenever a man dies, ironborn say that the Drowned God is in need of a strong oarsman.

The common prayer exchanged by followers of the Drowned God is "What is dead may never die", with the responding line, "But rises again, harder and stronger". If one person begins this prayer, others are usually expected to join in. The prayer involves clutching the right hand in a fist over the heart.

Priests of the Drowned God are called Drowned Men. They anoint devotees using sea water, which is considered to be holy water in the religion. Infants are ceremonially "drowned" during a baptism rite by being briefly submerged in sea water, or by a priest pouring sea water over their head. Adults may also be anointed with sea water in this fashion, when receiving a blessing from one of the Drowned Men. During the blessing ceremony, the following exchange occurs as the priest pours holy sea water over the adherent's head.

Unlike the Faith of the Seven or the worship of the Lord of Light, the Drowned God religion is somewhat sexist: Ironborn men are expected to raid, plunder, kill, and command ships, but it is frowned upon for ironborn women to do any of these things. While the Faith of the Seven and R'hllor have female priests (and the Old Gods of the Forest simply have no priests), the Drowned God's priesthood is all-male.

In the Iron Islands, it is common to execute criminals by laying them on their back on the beach at low tide, with their arms and legs chained to four stakes, so they can see their death slowly creeping toward them a few inches at a time as the tide comes in - an offering to the Drowned God.

As with other major religions in Westeros, the Drowned God religion has several basic social rules against incest, kinslaying, and bastardy. It also upholds the laws of hospitality, which hold sacred the good behavior of a guest and host towards each other.

The Faith of the Seven

The Faith of the Seven is the principal religion of the Seven Kingdoms. It is little-practiced beyond its borders. The Faith of the Seven is dominant in the south of Westeros. The only regions where it is not the majority religion are the North, where worship of the Old Gods of the Forest remains strong, and on the Iron Islands, where the local religion of the Drowned God is most widespread. There are many exceptions in all three areas, however.

The Faith originated six thousand years before the War of the Five Kings in the continent of Essos, specifically in Andalos where, according to legend, the "God of Seven" manifested before the Andal people. Afterward the Andals sailed west and their invasion of Westeros began. Some of the Andal warriors carved the seven-pointed star, the symbol of their religion, into their flesh to demonstrate their devotion. Bearing weapons made of steel, the Andals conquered the First Men and slaughtered the Children of the Forest, viewing their magic as an abomination before the Seven. The Andals burned down most of the weirwood trees in the south, which are considered sacred in the worship of the Old Gods of the Forest Soon all the kingdoms of the First Men, except the Kingdom of the North, fell to the invaders, who intermingled with some of the local dynasties, such as House Gardener, or replaced them altogether, as was the case of Mountain Kings of the Vale. As the Andals asserted their dominance over all regions south of the Neck, they asserted their religion over the First Men they conquered, replacing the worship of the Old Gods almost entirely throughout the southern kingdoms of Westeros. Thus the Andals' Faith of the Seven became the dominant religion on the entire continent, except for in the North and the Iron Islands.

The Faith holds that there is one god who has seven faces or aspects: the Father, the Mother, the Maiden, the Crone, the Warrior, the Smith, and the Stranger. Each aspect represents one part of life or existence.


  • The Father: represents divine justice, and judges the souls of the dead.


  • The Mother: represents mercy, peace, fertility, and childbirth. She is sometimes referred to as "the strength of women".


  • The Maiden: represents purity, love, and beauty.


  • The Crone: represents wisdom and foresight. She is represented carrying a lantern.


  • The Warrior: represents strength and courage in battle.


  • The Smith: represents creation and craftsmanship.


  • The Stranger: The Stranger represents death and the unknown. It is rarely prayed to.



The Stranger is depicted as neither male nor female, thus the number of male and female aspects within the godhead is equal: three males (Father, Warrior, Smith), three females (Maiden, Mother, Crone), and one who is neither. Unlike the other aspects which are represented as human figures in artwork, because the Stranger represents the unknown it is often portrayed in a wide variety of forms, often frightening. Sometimes it is represented as a skeletal figure, or a non-human creature possessing various animalistic features.

Due to its seven "aspects", the deity is often referred to as the "Seven-faced God" or the "God of Seven", but most frequently as simply "the Seven". The Seven are also referred to as "the New Gods" or "New God", in contrast with the "Old Gods" of the Forest worshiped by the First Men before the invasion of the Andals.

In practice, many devotees will refer to the aspects as "Gods" plural, though priests of the Faith will attempt to stress the theological nuance to their followers that there is indeed only one God, the "Seven-in-One" deity. This has not stopped the commonly heard exclamation "Gods be good!" from being used pervasively throughout the Seven Kingdoms.

Due to the "Seven-in-One" nature of the deity, the number seven is sacred in the religion, with symbolism involving the number seven featuring heavily in its belief system. Newborn babies are anointed with seven oils and named in the light of the Seven hours after they are born. In death, the Faith believes that there are Seven Heavens and Seven Hells. The exclaimed curse "Seven Hells!" is commonly heard in Westeros

The Seven Pointed Star is the most prominent symbol of the Faith, representing how each of the seven aspects is one facet of a unified whole. Other common symbols include rainbows, which are often generated by crystal prisms. This is used as an allegory to explain the complex theological concept of a single God composed of Seven persons: just as pure light separates into the constituent seven colors of the rainbow as it passes through a crystal, so too is there only one deity, which appears to men in seven different ways.

Unlike the Old Gods of the Forest, whose worshipers in the North are looked down upon by members of the Faith of the Seven as savages who worship multiple gods, the Faith is based on a number of holy texts and complex social rules. The central holy text of the religion is The Seven-Pointed Star.

Temples of the Faith are seven-sided buildings known as "Septs", with each wall dedicated to one of the seven aspects. Followers of the Faith gather in septs for group prayer, which frequently involves singing hymns of praise to the Seven. One such hymn dedicated to the Mother is "Gentle Mother, Font of Mercy". There are also monasteries, known as "septries", where smaller numbers of worshipers gather who have taken a monastic oath. Septries often have vows of silence or other requirements, and are places of quiet contemplation.

Mounted warriors known as knights dedicate themselves to a code of behavior known as chivalry, heavily influenced by the Faith of the Seven and its principles. The will of the Seven is said to favor the victor in a trial by combat.

Along with the Old Gods, the Faith shares several basic social rules against incest, kinslaying, and bastardy. The Faith of the Seven, along with all major religions, also upholds the laws of hospitality, which hold sacred the good behavior of a guest and host towards each other.

The Faith of the Seven considers homosexuality to be a sin. Therefore, homosexuals in the Seven Kingdoms such must keep their true sexual and romantic behavior secret, or else face significant social consequences.

There are no different denominations within the Faith of the Seven, as all adherents are part of one universal organization. However, different regions of the Seven Kingdoms may interpret and apply its rules more or less strictly than others, particularly Dorne. When the Rhoynar migrated to Dorne a thousand years ago, they brought with them their own social customs from their river-based city-states on the continent of Essos. The Rhoynar converted to the Faith of the Seven, but in many ways they picked and chose which parts of the religion they liked and simply ignored the parts they didn't want to follow. Thus the present-day Dornishmen who descend from them follow the rules of the Faith somewhat loosely. In particular, the Rhoynar were quite tolerant of sexual behavior including homosexuality, and thus homosexuality or bisexuality carries little if any social taint in present-day Dorne, even though they are still nominally followers of the Faith of the Seven. Thus while a knight from the Reach  must hide his homosexuality, several major lords and ladies in Dorne are openly bisexual or homosexual. The Rhoynar also had much less disdain for bastards than the peoples already established in Westeros when they arrived. While bastards in present-day Dorne do have to use the bastard surname "Sand" and are less likely to inherit, it is actually not unusual to see bastards living at the court of their noble parents there.

Unlike the faith of the Old Gods of the Forest, which lacks elaborate ceremonies (including marriage ceremonies), weddings under the auspices of the Faith of the Seven are elaborate and ritualized. These ceremonies typically take place inside of a sept and are presided over by a septon. At the beginning of the ceremony, the bride is escorted to the altar by her father where the groom and the septon await. The groom is then told, "You may now cloak the bride and bring her under your protection" and drapes a cloak bearing his house's colors around the bride's shoulders. The bride and groom then join hands, which are tied together with a ribbon by the septon, who says, "In the sight of the Seven, I hereby seal these two souls, binding them as one, for eternity." He then instructs them to, "Look upon one another and say the words." At this point, the bride and groom turn to face each other are recite the following vow in unison: "Father, Smith, Warrior, Mother, Maiden, Crone, Stranger, I am his/hers and she/he is mine from this day until the end of my days."

Unlike the worship of the Old Gods, the Faith of the Seven has an organized clergy with a complex internal hierarchy. Both men and women can be priests of the Seven. Male priests are known as septons and female priests as septas.

The head of the Faith is known as the High Septon, who resides at the headquarters of the Faith of the Seven, the Great Sept of Baelor in the city of King's Landing. The ruling council of the Faith is known as the Most Devout, who also reside in the Great Sept. The Most Devout rank just below the High Septon, but are responsible for electing a new High Septon when the current one dies.

There are several monastic or devotional orders that believers in the Faith of the Seven may belong to. One of the most prominent of these is the Silent Sisters, a separate all-female monastic order devoted to the Stranger, the aspect that represents death. The Silent Sisters are responsible for dressing and preparing dead bodies for funeral rites, and have taken vows of silence and chastity. Silent Sisters are separate from the regular clergy, and are not considered to be septas.

The God of Death

The God of Death  is referred to as the "Many-Faced God", or "Him of Many Faces", and is deity worshipped predominantly in the Free City of Braavos, particularly by the Faceless Men.

The Great Stallion

The Great Stallion ("vezhof") is a horse god revered as the deity of the Dothraki religion, mirroring the importance of these creatures in Dothraki culture. The religious beliefs of the Dothraki are complex, as there is little division in Dothraki society between what in other cultures might be called "religion" and "custom".

The Dothraki religion is fundamentally monotheistic, worshiping the Great Stallion, and it would be incorrect to describe it as polytheistic. However, the Dothraki also acknowledge the existence of other supernatural beings or spirits. Dothraki religious beliefs are best described as "henotheism" - the belief in and worship of a single deity (the Great Stallion), but accepting the existence of other deities who may or may not be worshipped. These other deities may only have power in specific localities. For example, the Dothraki do not revere or worship the Great Shepherd, which is worshipped by the Lhazareen who live beyond the southern border of the Dothraki Sea. However, they do not deny that the Great Shepherd may exist, they just think its power is only strongest in Lhazar, and even then, that the Great Stallion is assuredly a stronger god than the Great Shepherd, in all times and places.

This is evidenced in the Dothraki language itself: when planning an invasion of Westeros, Khal Drogo declares, "Anha aqorisok chiories mori, vazzafrok yal mori, ma afichak vojjor samva Vaesaan Dothrak!" ("I will rape their women, take their children as slaves, and bring their broken gods back to Vaes Dothrak!"). The word for "gods" which Khal Drogo uses, "vojjor", literally means "statues" - it can be used to refer to simple statues, but can be equally used to mean "gods", depending on context (much as the English word "idols" may literally refer to statues, but can also have religious connotations). As the Dothraki conceive it, every nation or people has their own "idols" or "gods", but the Great Stallion is the best one, and the only one they pray to. By physically capturing or destroying the religious idols of another people's gods, they believe they are defeating those gods.

The stars in the night sky are believed to be the fiery khalasar of the Great Stallion. The Dothraki also believe that when they die, their soul rides with their ancestors in the Night Lands, though only if the body of the newly deceased is properly burned. Burning a Dothraki's body allows his ashes to rise up to the heavens, where his spirit will join the fiery khalasar of the Great Stallion.

The Dothraki believe the moon to be a goddess, the wife of the sun, apparently as part of the starry khalasar of the Great Stallion. This also indicates that the Dothraki conceptualize the moon as female and the sun as male.

Children are considered "blessings from the Great Stallion".

The Dothraki believe that a prophesied leader, the "Stallion Who Mounts the World", will one day unite all of the Dothraki into one khalasar and conquer the world.

The Mother of Mountains, a lone mountain located within sight of Vaes Dothrak, is considered sacred in the Dothraki religion.

The Dothraki are a very brave but also a very superstitious people, believing in a myriad number of signs and omens. A Dothraki khalasar will not go to war until various omens favor it, even if to all outside observers the time seems perfect to strike. While they will honor agreements they have made, it widely known that the Dothraki "do things in their own time", waiting for favorable omens.

The Dothraki religion does not include any restrictions on their lifestyle of pillaging surrounding peoples, killing their men, and raping their women. Nor do there seem to be rules against one Dothraki khalasar fighting another and enslaving the survivors. A successful warrior and mounted raider is highly esteemed.
Dosh khaleen and Daenerys

The closest thing to a priesthood that the Dothraki have are the honored wise-women known as the dosh khaleen, crones who are widows of deceased khals. The dosh khaleen dwell in the only city of the Dothraki, Vaes Dothrak, located deep within the Dothraki Sea. They conduct many religious rituals, interpret all manner of omens, and are held to possess great powers of prophesy.

Carrying a sword or shedding blood within Vaes Dothrak is considered sacrilege, though should the need arise, loopholes such as strangling or burning a man to death are permissible.

The traditional Dothraki wedding ceremony is a daylong feast in which gifts are presented to the new couple. Displays of personal combat, duels to the death, and wild public orgies are commonplace at such a feast. A Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair. Because the Dothraki spend most of their time riding on the open plains, everything of importance in Dothraki culture is done outdoors under the sky. Thus, on their wedding night, a Dothraki couple rides away from the main camp to the open plains, and consummate their marriage under the stars.

The Dothraki traditionally burn their dead in funeral pyres, so that their spirit may go on to the Night Lands. It is considered a terrible dishonor not to burn a dead Dothraki. The prospect of insects and worms eating through their corpse until it decomposes to nothing but bones is considered quite horrifying. Desecrating a corpse by dismembering or decapitating it, as one would cut up an animal, then leaving the individual pieces to rot, is considered tantamount to killing the corpse's soul itself.

Dothraki religion also rejects the employment of blood magic. For this reason, maegi are distrusted and hated by Dothraki.[16]

The Lord of Light/ R´hollor

R'hllor, alternatively known as the Lord of Light and the Red God, as well as the Heart of Fire and the God of Flame and Shadow, is a deity widely worshiped in the continent of Essos. The Lord of Light has been described as a "fire god" and its clergy "fire priests", as worship of the Lord of Light centers around fire and light. It is the majority religion in several of the Free Cities, and extends to Asshai in the distant east. Worship of the Lord of Light is almost unheard of in Westeros.

The religion of the Lord of Light is centered on belief in the existence of a single, all-powerful god. R'hllor is the god of fire, which provides light, heat, and life, and struggles against darkness, cold, and death, represented by an opposing deity, the Great Other.

The Great Other is the god of darkness, cold, evil, fear and death in the faith of R'hllor is also the antithesis to R'hllor. His true name is forbidden to be said. All forces of darkness, cold, and death are believed to be only servants to the Great Other. The Others/The White Walkers are refered as the "cold children" of the Great Other.

Due to the dualistic worldview of this religion, its more fanatical followers believe the Lord of Light is the "one true god", and all other gods from other religions - The Old Gods of the Forest, the Faith of the Seven, the Drowned God, etc. - are demons and false idols that must be cast down and burned.

Adherents believe they receive visions from the Lord of Light by staring into flames.

The Lord of Light's worship involves the idolization of fire and light. Shadows are important too, as they are "created by light". The religion is very focused on prophecy, and on ecstatic visions that are received through communion with the flames.

Unlike the religions of the Old Gods in the North or the Drowned God of the Iron Islands, the faith of the Lord of Light is stated to possess several holy texts, similar to the Faith of the Seven.

While the Faith of the Seven believes in Seven Heavens and Seven Hells, in the Lord of Light religion the current world that everyone lives in now is considered to be "hell", the only hell, but the Lord of Light will save his faithful adherents from this darkness.

The followers of the Lord of Light also believe in the coming of a chosen warrior to combat the coming darkness, The Prince That Was Promised, who is prophesied to be reborn "amidst smoke and salt" and wield the sword Lightbringer.

Most of the worship practices of the Lord of Light involve fire. This can range from simple bonfires, to some extreme cases advocating the sacrifice of nonbelievers by immolation. The symbol of the Lord of Light is a fiery heart. The religion is led by the "Red Priests", though both men and women can join the priesthood. In temples of the Lord of Light, Red Priests conduct bonfires and sing prayers each night, beseeching the Lord of Light to bring back the dawn.

The common prayer of the followers of the Lord of Light uses the line "The night is dark and full of terrors", followed by the response line, "Lord, cast your light upon us." When interacting with each other, Red Priests tend to speak High Valyrian and greet each other with the traditional Valyrian exchange valar morghulis/valar dohaeris, although this probably has more to do with the cultural background of most Red Priests than the religion itself.

The Old Gods of the Forest

The Old Gods of the Forest are a collection of innumerable and unnamed spirits of nature, which are worshiped by many people of the North and small numbers elsewhere in Westeros. It is the old religion of Westeros, supplanted by the Faith of the Seven which was brought to the continent by the Andals and is now the dominant faith of the continent. Though the two religions have coexisted for more than six thousand years, there is still tension between the most devout adherents of the two faiths.

The Old Gods were originally worshiped by the Children of the Forest, the non-human original inhabitants of Westeros, for thousands of years before the arrival of the First Men from the east twelve thousand years ago. It was the Children of the Forest who carved the faces into weirwood trees. The Children and their priests, the greenseers, successfully fought the First Men to a standstill and they signed a Pact of mutual peace and cooperation. It gave the deep forests to the children, but all other land in Westeros to the First Men, who promised never to cut down the sacred weirwood trees again. Over the succeeding four thousand years, the First Men came to worship the Old Gods as well.

After the war against the White Walkers in The Long Night eight thousand years ago, the Children gradually declined throughout Westeros. The worship of the Old Gods remained strong among the First Men in Westeros until the invasion of the Andals six thousand years ago, who brought the Faith of the Seven with them from the east. The Andals slaughtered the Children of the Forest, viewing their magic as an abomination before the Seven. The Andals cut down the weirwood trees in the south, which were sacred to the Old Gods.

The Faith supplanted the worship of the Old Gods in most lands south of the Neck, but it remained strong in the North, where the First Men were able to halt the Andals' advance. After centuries of religious wars and strife, the two religions settled into a – sometimes uneasy – coexistence.

The wildlings also worship the Old Gods, like their distant cousins in the North. Even in the lands of House Stark, there are a few followers of the Faith of the Seven, often southern noblewomen who come to the north to secure marriage alliances. Beyond the Wall, however, the Old Gods are the only gods.

The religion believes in innumerable and unnamed nature gods, the spirits of each tree, each rock, and each stream.

Worshipers of the Old Gods do not have elaborate ceremonies, holy texts, hierarchies of priests, or large structures of worship like followers of the Faith of the Seven. Instead they practice quiet contemplation in godswoods, small areas of forest which have been enclosed within a castle's walls. Worship in a godswood is centered on heart trees, which are great weirwood trees with a face carved into the bark. Weirwoods are considered sacred in the religion, and heart trees are the closest thing to a "shrine" that it possesses. Oaths and promises sworn in front of a heart tree are considered binding.

The faith of the Old Gods is personal and less structured than other religions, though some basic social violations are proscribed by it, such as kinslaying, incest, and bastardy. It also upholds the laws of hospitality.
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