I admit it, like half of the rest of the planet, I have fallen hard for “Game of Thrones” (GoT) that fantastic, medieval fantasy show based on the books of George R.R. Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire” (and which makes Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” look like Sesame Street).
What “Game of Thrones” reminds us
It’s not just the ridiculously attractive cast members.
It’s not the complex,morally ambiguous characters they play. Nice people who do bad things and then bad people who end up doing good things.
It’s certainly not the equal measures of violence…
…and saucy naughtiness.
It’s not the lush, breath-taking locations filmed in Malta, Northern Ireland, Iceland and Croatia.
Though, indeed, they do all help.
I think, for me, there’s a deeper message in George R.R. Martin’s books.
(For fans, who have never read the books, serious spoilers ahead.)
The TV series is a rough interpretation of the original books. Just due to the sheer scope and length of each book (total five titles right now and Martin is hard at work on the final titles, number 6 and 7), basically means that each book is about the storyline of one season. If you’re a voracious reader like I can be at times, where you can easily lose an entire weekend of your life, on your sofa under blankets and endless cups of tea while totally absorbed in a book in the winter or sprawled out on a picnic blanket under the shade of a tree during the hot summer, completely oblivious to the world around you, then you can understand why after watching two episodes of the series, I went out and got the books and read them all in a span of three weeks so I could better understand and prepare myself for the series.
And I’m glad I did. (For those of you with no access to HBO, no access to public libraries which loan out box-set DVD’s, you can watch GoT here.)
I won’t go into too much detail about what GoT is about, the hundreds of characters and all their complex and intertwined histories. You can read the synopsis of all the books on Wikipedia or watch the animated histories on YouTube, and you’ll get it but what I want to point out is the spiritual element of that world and those books.
Executive summary: Two continents, Essos and Westeros. Westeros has seven kingdoms. Top families from all of them are vying for the Iron Throne, the throne which rules them all. Some folks have a better shot than others. Lots of heads rolling. Lots of people getting frisky with each other. Lots of lies, betrayal, head games, espionage, poisoning. Politics, war, sex, complexity, game theory. Dragons, fire made flesh. People are just trying to get by and live but the people at the top of the pyramid are too busy with their power plays and nonsense. Very few people pray anymore. No one believes in magic anymore. The old gods have been forgotten. The Children of the Forest, the original nature spirits have disappeared, some say completely, others say far, far north of the Wall. Few people worship at the Weirwood trees these days. Dragons have died out over three hundred years ago. The world the people live in now in GoT is about survival, pragmatism, practicality. Live by the sword or die by it (unless of course, someone poisons you first).
But then something funny happens in GoT.
As you get deeper and deeper into the books, as the world of Westeros gets bloodier and bloodier, as more and more chaos takes over and even more despair sets in…suddenly, from ancient myth, from long-forgotten stories, magic comes back to life. The old stories end up being true. White Walkers, the eternal undead from the frozen wastelands of the North, are no longer old wives tales to scare little children in their sleep. People have seen them now and they are marching south, by the thousands towards the Wall and towards the rest of Westeros.
Bran Stark, now a cripple becomes a skinchanger, who can literally get into the mind of other animals and people and direct them. Bran also comes face to face with the few surviving Children of the Forest who tell him that the weirwood trees indeed see and hear all and communicate with each other even if they are leagues apart. They even see events of the distant past (think Akashic records), an ability called greenseeing . That is how the Children of the Forest know what is happening in the world.
Dragons, thought to be long-extinct, have now come back to life. Three of them have hatched in the fire with Daenerys Targaryen, the true Dragonborn . As reality gets uglier and harder with each passing day, somewhere, somehow, to only some people, magic finally shows itself.
In many ways, it really is not all that different from our world and what we live in. The war drums have started over Syria, arrogant leaders and businessmen from elite families who have pocketed the politicians play their profiteering war games behind sky-high walls and exclusive compounds, luxurious penthouses, while engaged in debaucheries of all sorts, while the people on the street are the ones who suffer for it.
Who honors the benevolent spirits now? Who believes in the Little People or fairy folk? Who undertakes pilgrimages which may involve sacrifice? Who does ceremony to honor Cosmic Intelligence anymore?
We may very well be headed towards another war. It may very well escalate into a WWIII if these knuckleheads don’t get Syria and get their way eventually and go after Iran …and I wouldn’t put it past them to do it either (and like dominoes, Pakistan, India, Russia and China, all countries who I don’t need to remind anyone are all nuclear powers now).
It may be over oil or pipelines or water or food or forests or currency control. Whatever it may be and whatever form it may come in, never, ever forget the Deeper Magic, the original magic of this planet, the magic which lies beyond this 5th dimension evil. Your magic and in whatever form that is. Some people call it love, others call it consciousness, the Little People, the Fey, angels, Sasquatch, Agartha, Shambhala, bodhisattvas, devas, sylphs, undines, gnomes, salamanders, Pachamama, the Green Man of the Forest and many, many more. Go back far enough and each of us have some tie to one form of it. All the peoples in the world once believed in it in some way. I have no doubt it may come back. It may not. Maybe not in a form we like or understand.
Maybe we need to ask, maybe not. All I know and all I feel, is that it’s still there.
Watching and waiting.