The Forgotten Magic of Game of Thrones: Greenseers and Wargs

By Lisa Jade

Here in my little slice of Canada, it’s begun snowing again, in what I can only assume is an entire country hyped up for Season 8 of Game of Thrones. Winter has come back to Nova Scotia.

Recently my dear friend and amazing writer Cyndi of Keeping Her Keys spoke about the magic and witchcraft types within the Game of Thrones world at a broad level. I want to dig into what isn’t known. And that’s most of the magic of the north.

In this installment I’ll get into Greenseers and Wargs. Let’s journey down this rabbit hole, shall we?


Greensight, and those who have it. 

Greenseers (those with the Sight) are the wise men of the children of the forest. They were the people who carved the faces into the weirwoods (the trees I would say are most like a world tree for journeying through location and time).

Where wargs (skinchangers) are quoted at about 1 in 1000 men born skinchangers, only 1 skinchanger in a 1000 are born greenseers. Most of these are children of the forest, and some of the Crannogmen of House Reed.

In ASOIAF books, green seers and green men are more clearly differentiated. There is only one green man left when Bran goes north of the wall, and that’s Brynden Rivers, decaying, and rotting, feeding the Weirwood while it also feeds him. At his death Bran is the only remaining Green Man. Greenseers however have an unknown number within the Children of the Forest, both beyond the wall (3 score quoted in the books at the cave with Brynden Rivers), and an unknown number at the Isle of Faces, with the largest concentration of weirwood trees. With both greenseers and the green men, blood sacrifices are made in some form to the trees to maintain their abilities, and many of the Northerners also offer blood sacrifices to the trees.

Image result for ned cleaning sword by weirwood
Season 1 Episode 1, Ned Stark unknowingly giving a blood offering to the weirwood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relating this magic to modern witchcraft, the most obvious connection is through ecstatic journeying through a world tree to look into your past, present, and future for divination. If you’re into pop culture magic, try a meditation where your world tree is a Weirwood.

This video from the GoT official page speaks a bit about the differences, and you could of course go down the rabbit hole I have with theory videos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrxY2B00mLI

Shapeshifting Wargs

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More common than Greenseers, the Wargs are people who enter into the consciousness of other animals and merge with them through control. This technique of shapeshifting isn’t foreign with the world of witchery and ecstatic indigenous practices, but in ASOIAF it has the high fantasy blended in.

Beyond the wall, these abilities are still known and understood well. Varymir Sixskins is one of the most famous wargs north of the Wall, and controls 3 wolves, a shadowcat, a snow bear, and an eagle. He speaks of the discipline needed for warging, and warns of what can happen with your mind.

“Once a horse is broken to the saddle, any man can mount him. Once a beast’s been joined to a man, any skinchanger can slip inside and ride him. Orell was withering inside his feathers, so I took the eagle for my own. But the joining works both ways, warg. Orell lives inside me now, whispering how much he hates you. And I can soar above the Wall, and see with eagle eyes.” —Varamyr, to Jon Snow (A Storm of Swords, Chapter 73)

Throughout the books, the type of creatures that can be warged into are reviewed – dogs are one of the easiest creatures to warg into, where wolves and direwolves are harder to warg and control without a bond. Even with a bond, direwolves cannot be tamed as we see with most of the Stark’s direwolves that roam on their own. However, the Stark children are also undisciplined wargs with merely uncontrollable abilities (Bran being the exception). Birds are also mentioned heavily in book more than the show, and one warg north of the wall in particular is killed while he is in an eagle. Brynden Rivers (the Three Eyed Raven) wargs into crows frequently to track the Army of the Dead, which has now become Bran’s job.

When the human is killed while the mind is in animal form, eventually the beast takes over again unless that mind can continue to transfer, ultimately going mad in the process. Among the Northern people, there are ethics and codes of conduct on warging that help prevent the dangers of warging.

So what’s the magical lesson of warging? Be mindful of your ego and controlling anothers’ mind, and journeying so long you forget who you are. In modern witchcraft, this is more related to grounding appropriately in the physical world after ecstatic magickal practice.


Both of these types of magic are related to inherent abilities that can be further trained, and that is certainly a reminder for our own magickal practices. Inherent psychic abilities can become more fully understood and we can seek mastery through study and practice, circling back again and again through the beginner mind.

Until next time, when I’ll get into the Starks, who really need to remember their magic before the end of the season. Stay warm in the long night everyone!

 

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Article 2:

Stark Magic: Wargs, Blood Offerings, and the Dead Kings of Winter

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Hail Unto Thee… Adapting Ceremonial Magick for Hekatean Practice

Known as Liber Resh, the Four Adorations of the Sun in Thelemic practice, written by Aleister Crowley, mark the liminal times of the solar day. At sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight, the suns liminal moments and directions are honoured. This year I adapted these to fit my understanding of Hekate as the World Soul, using her epithets to connect to the energy of the liminal times of day. 

While I tried the Liber Resh as written, it wasn’t really resonate with me. Working with the Egyptian deities isn’t something I’ve done so there’s no connection or history for me there. This presented an opportunity for me as I wanted to continue practicing the Four Adorations as a part of my study and witchcraft practice. (Witch tip: working with an uncomfortable practice that isn’t actually causing harm can help you understand yourself, understand other practitioners, and connect to the gods in a new way).

In some Thelemic practice, the Four Adorations are performed daily. This doesn’t work for me personally, however I love aligning the solar energy. So I work with it at the 8 Sabbats of the Witches’ Wheel of the Year. The Four Adorations help us connect to the solar wheel, and the wheel of our life here on earth. 

One of the most profound experiences of this practice was on the summer solstice, because I was staying up to drum down the sun, and was able to do all 4 adorations as timed with the liminal times of the solar day.

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Sunrise March 25, 2019

If you want to try working with a Hekatean Four Adorations, I share it with you here. Many thanks to Sara Neheti Croft for her fantastic epithets list, which I have drawn upon for years of magickal practice. I also mention particular grades used at each direction, which may be different than what others who practice Thelemic magick do – I am not a thelemic witch so I work with it as I need to. If you aren’t familiar with grades and their positions, you can always hold your arms up as though reaching toward the sun.


Chosen Epithets:

Sunrise/East/Fire: Hekate Erigenea, daughter of the morning

Noon/South/Air: Hekate Iokheaira, one who shoots arrows (the arrow energy reminded me of that of wands/Air, and the directness that air and words can provide)

Sunset/West/Water: Hekate Einalian, of the sea

Midnight/North/Earth: Hekate Khthonia (of the underworld/ of the earth)

*I work with this orientation of the elements most of the time. If you don’t, Witch, Do You.


At sunrise, face east (philosiphus grade/ Fire):

Hail unto thee, Hekate Erigenea in thy rising

Hail unto thee, daughter of the morning.

Hail to you who hast traveled the heavens to bring the dawn.

I welcome you into my soul, at the rising of the sun in the east.

(Sign of silence)

At noon, face south (practicus grade/air):

Hail unto thee Hekate Iokheaira, in thy midcourse

Hail unto thee who’s arrow blazes in the sky

Hail unto you who’s far shooting arrow directs the sun to my brow

I welcome you into my mind and my words, at the height of the sun in the south.

(Silence)

At sunset, face West (theoricus/ Water):

Hail unto thee, Hekate Einalian, at thy setting

Hail unto thee, queen of the sea

Hail unto you who’s horizon swallows the downgoing sun

I welcome you into my heart, at the ending of the day in the West.

(Silence)

At midnight, face north (zealator/earth):

Hail unto thee Hekate Khthonia, in thy hiding

Hail unto thee of the underworld in thy silence

Hail unto you who travels the depths of heavens in the darkness,

I welcome you into my home and my dreams, in the witching hour of the hidden northern sun.

(Silence)

 


Want to read more about Liber Resh and Thelemic Practice? Start here. And here for indepth conversations about ceremonial magick and qabala.

For a qabalistic practice that incorporates Witchcraft, check out Christopher Penczak’s book, The High Temple of Witchcraft. 

You can follow more of my work at Living the Liminal on Facebook.

Why Liminal Space?

Welcome new followers! As I begin to set up my new website, I’m sharing a few of my older blogs and moving them here. This blog comes from Nov 2017, originally written for Hekate’s Day.

Liminal Space is Key in Modern Witchcraft

I’ve been reflecting on why it is that Hekate has drawn so many followers. What I have come to realize is that in today’s world, and in modern witchcraft, we are in fact yearning for liminal space. On today, a day when many modern witches celebrate Hekate as Goddess of the Crossroads, some might argue that we avoid those liminal spaces and think of them as negative experiences. But what I have discovered, and I hope you have as well, is that liminality, the space between, is where the magick happens.
Liminal space is where growth happens. It is where life, death, and rebirth happen. It is where cycles begin and end. And so, we need it. We need Hekate, and She is calling us all into these spaces within ourselves and our communities so that we can bring about growth, and decay when needed.
I remember once when I was a young budding pagan, and only recently had discovered Hekate’s presence in my life, that I was so keen and eager to get involved in the local pagan community. I pushed (okay, barged) my way in , created and was a part of some beautiful magick along the way, and like a bull in a china shop, broke things as well. Sure it worked for a number of years, but eventually, I broke my own hope for a community among other things. I have since found my witchcraft community with the Temple of Witchcraft, but the lesson of this beautiful disaster sticks with me – growth and decay cannot happen when we are just plodding forward. We need liminal space in which we can stop and reflect on where we are going.
Liminal space, as I learned from the above experience, wasn’t just an individual phenomena. Liminal space occurs within altered brain states (like when you can meditate, daydream, work ritual, etc), and I have to tell you it requires total disconnection from screens of any sort. I have found (as have a multitude of researchers) that having a phone in the room, and on, is enough to keep your brain’s focus elsewhere. It is a way to get a hit of dopamine and pull you out of that liminal space, and so I suggest leaving the screens elsewhere. If you’re a fan of music for ritual, I’d suggest any method of listening but your phone (iPod with the playlist, a CD, etc).

Liminal Space is Natural Law

The Hermetic Principle of Correspondence reflects this natural law – the part reflects the whole, and the whole reflects the part. We are a part of the cosmos itself, and so this liminal space is in fact a part of the natural law.
We as individuals pause, when we meditate, offer silent prayers, and experience personal growth in the crossroads of our lives. Communities (including families, towns, etc) experience liminal space, most often following breaks, deaths (and the subsequent death rites), and continued marking of rites of passage (for example, graduations, births, etc).
Our world experiences liminal space when we advance on a global level. Peace at the end of a war. A shift of consciousness toward healing the planet. Tragedies that affect the whole world.
Our cosmos experiences liminal space as well. Planets station. Eclipses have profound impacts. So, friends. If our world and cosmos experience liminal space, who are we to say “I’m too busy”. It is part of the natural order to honour this space. As above, so below. As within, so without. To honour this space and liminality, within ourselves and in others, we must go forward with forbearance, and patience. We must allow the growth. It can be messy, but, oh, dear Gods, is it ever beautiful. And it is sacred.
I therefore put forward to you a charge to find a space of liminality within your life. Build it into your day for growth and personal reflection. Build it in that you can find ways within your community to honour liminal space, find ways to connect to liminal times within the cosmos (solar festivals, solstices/equinoxes, etc). You can also use sacred days to connect to that liminality, using the correspondences of that time/space to deepen the connection.
Today is a holy day for Hekate of the Crossroads. Therefore all of my acts within liminal space are in devotion to her. My gratitude for the life I live and love are for Her. My acts of charity are offered up to honour Her. My fight for justice are offered up to honour Her. My love and pleasure are offered up to honour Her. My joy, fear, passions, and pain, are offered up to Her. My tears are offered up to honour Her. May I be blessed in the liminal space that she offers us, within the embrace of Her dark cloak of the starry heavens.
May you too find ways to Work within the liminal towards your true Will, for the Highest Good, Harming None. Blessed Be.