The White Weirwood & The Black Ironwood:
The Tree of Eternal Life and The Tree of Knowlege.
There were two trees that were forbidden trees. “You can eat the fruit of any tree in the place but not of this or of that one.” Tree number one was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of duality. Tree number two was the tree of the knowledge of eternal life.
…God kicked them out of the Garden and put at the gate two door guardians, with a flaming sword between them. And that’s the explanation of why we’re out here in the cold and not in the Garden. Christianity and Judaism are religions of exile: Man was thrown out of the Garden.”
“The tree of knowledge of good and evil [The white Weirwood] is the tree going down into multiplicity, and the tree of eternal life [The white Ironwood] is that of going from multiplicity to unity. It’s the same tree in two directions.”
– Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
Out of the Weirwood come many individual Child of The Forest (aka “First Men”). Out of the Ironwood came the Others or The Undying.
In The Garden of Eden:
Men: Men ate of the Weirwood paste (cough cough) from the Tree of Knowledge and fostered biological life that creates a multiplicity of individuality that have short lives yet giving them the knowledge of good and evil.
Others/Undying: ate of the Ironwood Tree of Eternal life.
The names of the trees may be flipped as Bloodraven is older than he has any right to be and the spirits of the dreamers go into the roots giving them eternal life as weirwoods can live forever if left untouched.
Ironwood and Ragnarok
Norse mythology and Ragnarok in particular is a major influence the series. I think how it ends will be similar to Ragnarok but not quite. Dorian The Historian did a great feat in connecting them. There will be twists, changes and surprises from the original story but they will rhyme.
Here is a description of Ironwood in Norse mythology.
Ironwood is the name of “the forest east of Midguard. In Ironwood lived the wicked witch whose children were werewolves, trolls and the wolves (named) Skoll and Hati, who would devour the sun and the moon at the last battle of Ragnarok.”
-Kathleen N. Daly, Norse Mythology A to Z
Angrboda lives inside the Iron Wood of Norse Mythology.
Who is Angrboda? Lady Stoneheart as well as Melissandre.
Angrboda (whose name means “foreboding”) is known as the Hag of the Iron Wood of Jotunheim. In mythological primary sources, she is generally only known through her marriage to Loki, and the fact that she is the mother of several of his children. She is almost always seen by those who work with her as a tall, muscular woman with reddish hair – “hair the color of dried blood”, as one seeker said – and is passionate, violent, bloodthirsty, and very wise about much old lore. In order to understand her (modernly insulting) title of Hag of the Iron Wood, you can compare the word Hag to the word Hagia, or wise woman. She is the leader of the Wolf Clan, and also the Chief of Chiefs of the Nine Clans of the Iron Wood by right of many battles won, and she is a fierce warrior-woman and werewolf-shapeshifter as well as wisewoman, priestess, magician, seer.
The Mother of Wolves is very choosy about who she will work with. If she doesn’t like you for whatever reason, she will reject you. She is a Mother Goddess in her own way, but her mothering is very wolflike – fiercely protective of her own, but not above growling and biting when then do something stupid. She is skilled in the magic of the hunt, prophecy and divination, shapeshifting, and certain kinds of sex magic from a female perspective. She fulfils her role of Divine Priestess; as a war-leader of her people.
That sounds very much like a combination of Lady Stoneheart as well as Melissandre. There need not be a one-to-one extrapolation from someone in mythology. Multiple people can exhibit parts of one character.
Melisandre is very, very, very old.
Here is her own inner dialog:
Melisandre had practiced her art for years beyond count, and she had paid the price.
-A Dance with Dragons – Melisandre I
It is not book canon but worth noting, Carice van Houten the actress that plays Melissandre had a very interesting off-screen interaction with Oliver Ford Davies the actor that played Maester Cressen. He told her he wasn’t up to speed with the books, he asked her wondered why when both of them drank the poison, he died and she did not?
Carice responded, “I am four hundred years old.” To which he said “Oh.. well, fair enough.”
The Tree of Knowledge
The tree Adam and Eve ate from in the Garden of Eden is the tree of knowledge which is the tree of good and evil. This is symbolically a similar tree to the one Bran ate from which allows him to see deeds good and bad throughout history when looking through their eyes. Bran ate the red (metaphorical or literal) Jojen paste of the tree to be granted the boon of knowledge beyond time and comprehension. “The North remembers” as the saying goes, because the trees do. They watch and remember.
The tree of knowledge, the Wierwood with its red “sap” (probably actual blood) and red leaves, represents the knowledge of moral values (keeping guest right). The fruit of that tree also contained the knowledge of true and false (Northerners are instilled the values to always tell the truth to the trees). This tree also contains the knowledge of night and day. Through the magic of the trees, Bloodraven is able to take Bran beyond the curtain of light into darkness, showing him the darkness beyond.
It is also interesting Campbell calls talks of religions of exile. That is also the case with The Faith of The Seven. The Andals are also exiles, with no country to speak of that practices The Faith in Essos, proper, the birthplace of this Andalous faith. (Braavos doesn’t couldn’t. It is the sailors that worship there.)
It is interesting that the Garden of Eden is guarded by two guardians with one flaming sword between them. Only two people are described in the story thus far as having swords flaming together. It was Jaime, Azor Ahannister and Brienne’s in Jamie’s dream:
As [Jaime] raised the sword a finger of pale flame flickered at the point and crept up along the edge, stopping a hand’s breath from the hilt. The fire took on the color of the steel itself so it burned with a silvery-blue light, and the gloom pulled back.
Brienne’s sword took flame as well, burning silvery blue. The darkness retreated a little more.
Lightbringer is the “Sword of Heroes” but heroes are plural. Why is there is only one sword and multiple heroes? That is because it is Brienne’s life and soul will be sacrificed by Jaime to forge lightbringer. She is the Nissa Nissa true love figure, the final act to forge the blade. Lucifer means lightbringer in Latin. The two quotes above had both Jaimes and Brienne sword burning blue. That blue fire leads us to the second tree… Ironwood.
Black Ironwood as the Tree of Eternal Life… The Shade of The (Long) Evening
It was darker than she would have thought under the black trees.
-A Clash of Kings – Daenerys IV,
Dany noticed as she walked into The House of The Undying surrounded by black Ironwood trees with their blue leaves.
The only “other” people we know that can at least re-forge Valyrian steel are the Qohori. Qohor is basically known for two things, the Black Goat (archetypal image of blood sacrifice) and the great Forrest of Qohor, where I believe more black-barked Ironwood trees grow, aside from The North, Beyond The Wall and the lands of Yronwood (whose words are “We Guard The Way”). The Ironwood and blood sacrifice is used to reforge Valyrian steel.
In contrast to the white bark and red sap of the Wierwoods, Ironwood is a black wood super hard word which (I strongly believe) has blue sap because it ironwood gives off a blue flame and is resistant to burning according to TellTale Games, Game of Thrones officially licensed adaptation that is set up to mirror the show.
As Ironwood uniquely burns blue that leads me to believe it is the black barked magical tree and it has blue sap and blue leaves. This is in contrast or compliment to Weirwoods and their red (blood) sap and red leaves. But even the greatest Greenseers who drank of the red Jojenpaste sap, eventually pass on with new Greenseers taking their place (Bran saw impaled singers). But the Others do not die and multiply like humans do.
“The tree of knowledge of good and evil is the tree going down into multiplicity, and the tree of eternal life is that of going from multiplicity to unity. It’s the same tree in two directions.“ – Joseph Campbell
Human life creates a multiplicity of individual lives. Others have (a) singular life force that raises many from the dead. Weirwoods have one seer like Bloodraven in it but it has a multiplicity of souls of the seers long gone within the roots.
It is from Ironwood that blue leaves of the Ironwood where the Warlocks of the House of the Undying get the blue substance to make the Shade of The (Long) Evening. The name House of The Undying is also a clue that this is the second tree from the “Other” tree from the Garden of Eden, The Tree of Eternal Life.
Long and low, without towers or windows, it coiled like a stone serpent through a grove of black-barked trees whose inky blue leaves made the stuff of the sorcerous drink the Qartheen called shade of the evening.
The “evening” is The Long Night.
So, where have we heard of a grove magic black-barked trees before, specifically ones associated with blue magic? Ironwood. I speculate that The North Grove mentioned in the game may contain “the” magical Ironwood tree that is the singular Tree of Eternal Life. The God’s Eye may contain “the” Wierwood Tree of Knowledge. The Wall is our banishment from the “god” which has eternal Life, keeping us from reaching their Tree of Eternal Life.
There is only one god, and his name is Death. –Syrio Forel
Humanity has eaten of the Tree of Knowledge and The Others have eaten of the Tree of Eternal Life. If either of them eats of both, they become Gods themselves and gain supremacy. ASOAIF has been a cold war thus far. But Mance began snooping around cursed and holy places up North looking for The Horn and that may have gotten the Others suspicious that he would get too close to the Tree of Eternal Life and forced them down, breaking the forgotten pact between Man and Others. The Nights Watch has forgotten why they are rangers against the Freefolk. They were patrolling the region to keep men south of The Wall and to keep Wildlings away from The Tree of Eternal Life.
The House of The Undying, Euron (his blue lips and sigil that has Bloodravens one eye in it) as well as the entire Drowned God religion of The Ironborn (“what is dead may never die”) all seem to be associated with The Others. The Ironborn name may stem from the Ironwood, not the ore, which once grew on the islands. That is how they built such a powerful fleet. Deforestation and wars may have destroyed their Ironwood and other timber deposits, but the name remains. All of this also puts a new spin on The Garden(er) kings that had magical tree thrones.