Warning: This post will have major spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 1.
At the end of the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones, we saw a crazy symbol on the wall as part of a very disturbing scene. We’ve actually seen this symbol before and it’s connected to the White Walkers’ creation. Read on for details.
First, here’s the photo as we saw it when poor little Ned Umber was nailed to that wall:
We’ve seen this spider-like symbol quite a few times before.
The White Walkers were first created by the Children of the Forest at a great tree that was surrounded by stones which were set up in a swirl pattern, just like the one Ned was nailed onto. When they kill people, they sometimes put the bodies into a similar swirl pattern that emulates where they were first created. In this photo above you can see the swirl of the stones where they were first created.
In this photo above from Season 3, you can see how they imitate this swirl in the way they dispose of dead bodies. And we saw it again tonight.
For comparison, here is the tree where the White Walkers were located, as seen in Season 5. It looks exactly like the swirls of dead bodies that they created.
Here’s a quick review of the White Walkers’ creation.
The Children of the Forest are the creatures who rescued Bran from the White Walkers at the end of Season 4. We didn’t see them again until Season 6. No one is really sure who the Children of the Forest are, or whether their intentions are good or bad. They’re magical creatures with amazing abilities, and the Three-Eyed Raven lived with them before he was killed.
Some speculate that the Children of the Forest may have been created by an otherworldly being themselves, just like they created the White Walkers. Just like the White Walkers seem to be a mesh of humans and ice, with supernatural magical abilities, the Children of the Forest seem to be a mesh of human and weirwood, with supernatural abilities.
When the First Men, the first human inhabitants of Westeros, invaded about 12,000 years ago, they warred with the Children of the Forest, who ruled Westeros with giants who were even greater than the giants we’ve seen in the show. They eventually made a pact and found peace, converting to the Children’s religion that worshipped the Old Gods of the Forest. The Old Gods of the Forest are nameless spirits whose worship centers around sacred weirwood trees that have faces carved in the bark.
In Season 7 Episode 4, we saw that the Children of the Forest had even carved drawings into the caves beneath Dragonstone, showing their allegiance with the First Men.
In Season 6 episode 5, we learned that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers during the war with the First Men. They created them as the ultimate weapon against the First Men, who were slaughtering them and destroying their sacred weirwood trees.
To create the White Walker, they caught one of the First Men and tied him to a tree. Leaf speared him with something (likely dragonglass) and his eyes turned blue as he was transformed into a White Walker (more specifically: the Night King who leads all the other White Walkers.)
It appears that at some point, the Children weren’t able to control their creation anymore. The White Walkers then attacked the First Men and the Children of the Forest about 8,000 years ago in a battle called “War for the Dawn.” Yes, the White Walkers attacked their makers. This is when Bran the Builder created a wall to keep the White Walkers out.
The White Walkers have not forgotten about who created them and how, and it appears that by making these symbols continually, they are never going to let anyone else forget either. The question is just how the symbol was important to the Children of the Forest. This might clue us in more to the symbol’s true meaning.