It's often said that two heads are better than one, and that definitely proved the case for me. On my original "Ragnarök" post (which I would recommend you read first, before any of the other posts, in case you haven't), I had identified Gregor Clegane -- the Mountain -- as the hellhound Garmr, who is said to "guard Hel's gate", and is destined to kill Tyr (Jaime) at Ragnarök (according to the later mythology). But I wasn't particularly satisfied with that connection. In fact, I wasn't too sure Garmr existed in GRRM's telling at all... Until commenter Bram Hannan pointed out the similarities between Hel's Hound and young Rickon Stark.
Excerpt from Bram's comment:
"About Rickon: He may be Garmr. GRRM has characterized Rickon as growing incrasingly wild as he grows further from his family. Consider also that Garmr is bound to Gnippahellir, the 'mountaintop cave'. Rickon is currently stranded on Skagos (a mountainous island with a dangerous coastline) with Osha, so this fit is almost perfect. Add in that Garmr howls as one of the precursors to Ragnarok and you've got a dead ringer for the Rickon/Shaggydog pair filling this role. I'd forecast his 'unbinding' coming as a result of either, or a combination of, his death, Osha's death, or being taken from Skagos to the Wall (Hel's gate, where Garmr is watchdog) by Davos. The bloody part [note: Garmr is said to be the 'bloodstained hound who guards Hel's gate'], well, that could come from anything at all... may be that unicorn for all I know". (FYI: Skagos is said to be the ancient home of unicorns)
Or, could that "bloodstained" bit be in reference to cannibalism? Hmm...
I think he's on to something here. In fact, I like his theory so much, it led me to another connection, and a much larger connection overall, in regards to the Stark children, that, admittedly, has me feeling a little embarrassed I didn't see it before. Because, quite frankly, it's one of the more obvious connections in the series.
The 4 Stark kids with direwolves (Robb, Bran, Arya and Rickon) represent the 4 wargs from Norse mythology (i.e. Garmr, Loki's son Fenrir, and Fenrir's sons Hati & Sköll):
Garmr -- Rickon
Fenrir - Bran
Hati -- Arya
Sköll -- Robb
If GRRM is in fact following the Ragnarök mythology, then Bran is almost certainly the warg (i.e. monstrous wolf) Fenrir -- the Bound Wolf. His binding (paralyzation), comes at the hands (pun intended) of Tyr (Jaime), who loses a hand as a consequence of his actions (FYI: Tyr's hand was bitten off after binding Fenrir's legs with a magical chain -- which will supposedly restrain him until he breaks free at Ragnarök). Similarly, Bran is now bound in a cave, much like Fenrir, and is in contact with Bloodraven, who represents Loki -- Fenrir's father. So, that one's pretty easy to figure out.
Arya's connection isn't quite so straightforward. And that's largely because Hati, one of Fenrir's two sons, doesn't have quite so large a role as Fenrir does in the mythology. But, Hati, whose name means "He Who Hates", is said to chase the moon through the night's sky, and will swallow it come Ragnarök. This is represented, firstly, by the intense hatred Arya displays for her enemies, as she recites a list of names of the people she wants to murder each night before she goes to bed, and secondly, by her quest to join the Faceless Men (FYI: a moon is carved on the door of the House of Black & White, where the Kindly Man trains her to become an assassin). So, in attempting to become a Faceless Man she is "chasing the moon", and in becoming one, she will have caught it (which is a sign that Ragnarök has begun).
Unlike Bran & Arya, Sansa is not a warg (i.e. a monstrous wolf), because her direwolf (i.e. Lady) was killed when Cersei ordered its destruction after Nymeria attacked Joffrey in A Game of Thrones. I therefore linked Sansa, whose name means "apple" (FYI: if you google "Sansa apple", you'll find it's a type of hybrid, much like a Fuji), to Idunn, the goddess of youth and beauty. Sansa is clearly associated with youth, given the silly romantic ideals she dreams of in the beginning of the series, and the fact that we've witnessed her transition into womanhood, by way of her "first blood". What's more is she married her brother's killer (or almost did), which is what Loki accuses Idunn of doing in the Lokasenna (granted, we're not quite sure who this brother was, but Idunn doesn't refute the charge). And, above all, she is smuggled out of King's Landing by Littlefinger and hidden away in a mountain fortress that's represented by a falcon -- almost exactly like the story of Idunn & the jötnar Thjazi. So, given the apples and the Eyrie, I think she's a pretty safe bet.
Jon says it himself in A Game of Thrones -- "I'm not a Stark" -- and I think we're all familiar with the Rhaegar + Lyanna theories linking him to House Targaryen. And, if my theory is correct (that Jon Snow, and Ghost, really are dead), that would send Jon Snow down the path of the fire giant Surtr -- the Black -- who is foretold to break the Bifröst Bridge and lead the Forces of Muspell into Asgard to do battle with the gods. Granted, I should point out that an anonymous commenter suggested that Stannis, rather than Jon, may be Surtr, and Jon may represent Sigurd -- which is a credible theory, but I'm not quite convinced. Because, firstly, Surtr will be working with Fenrir during Ragnarök, and I see Jon as a much more obvious connection to Bran than Stannis. Not to mention, Surtr is destined to attack Freyr (Walder Frey) during Ragnarök, and Jon Snow would have obvious reasons for doing so, whereas Stannis' motivations wouldn't be quite so clear. Plus, Jon was "kissed by fire" in regards to Ygritte, and could be the "song of ice & fire" Rhaegar had mistakenly named Aegon in the House of the Undying prophecy (which would fit Surtr's role -- given the fact he basically serves as Loki's general during Ragnarök -- i.e. Jon would "sing" the "song" of ice and fire). And, A Dance with Dragons has led me to believe he's beginning to replace Stannis in Melisandre's eyes. What's more is I personally believe Ramsay Bolton's letter to be real (i.e. claiming that he killed Stannis & captured Mance Rayder). I know that's controversial, and I could very well be wrong, but if I'm right about that, then Jon Snow will undoubtedly become Mel's latest flavor of the month. And his death at the end of ADwD creates an avenue for her to convert him to the Lord of Light. Of course, if it doesn't play out like that, then Stannis could be a candidate for Surtr. But, for now, I'm sticking with Jon Snow. And, if Jon Snow is dead, the TV show may have foreshadowed the death of Ghost when Jon threatened the wildling warg Orell early in season 3 by saying "When I kill you, what will happen to your eagle? Will he drop dead from the sky?" (paraphrasing). This, of course, didn't happen when Jon killed Orell a few episodes later, because Orell was able to warg into his eagle as he was dying, gaining his "second life" (which Varamyr Sixskins explains in the prologue of ADwD). But, since Ghost is locked up, far away (just as Grey Wind was when Robb was killed at the Red Wedding), and Jon isn't asleep in his wolf dream when he's killed, I'm under the impression he won't be able to warg into Ghost before he dies, and Ghost will drop dead when his warging-bond with Jon is severed.
So, to sum up -- Rickon, Bran & Arya are "wargs" (in the Norse sense -- i.e. "monstrous wolves"), whereas Sansa & Jon Snow are not (I know Jon is technically a "warg" in the Westerosi sense, but as I just explained, he may not be for long -- so bear with me). Which leads me to:
The warg Sköll is the counterpart to Hati. His name means "Treachery" and he is said to chase the sun through the sky, which he will swallow come Ragnarök. I think that bit about treachery is pretty obvious in regards to Robb, given the fact the Red Wedding is still fresh in everyone's minds. And, the phrase "chasing the sun" could be in reference to Robb's war with Joffrey -- if Joffrey represents Baldr -- the Shining One (although it should be said Baldr isn't the embodiment of the sun, strictly speaking, but he is associated with the sun, and light in general, hence his name "the Shining One". And, his hall is said to "shine brighter than the sun". Plus, Baldr's premature death is said to be a precursor to Ragnarök. Supposedly, Baldr's mother, Frigg -- i.e. Cersei -- made everything in the world, animals and inanimate objects included, swear an oath never to harm her precious "shining" son. But, she ends up overlooking the plant mistletoe, which Hodr, Baldr's blind brother, uses to shoot him with after he's tricked into doing it by Loki. The oaths Frigg forces out of all the world's things is representative of Cersei's warning to Joffrey, "Everyone who isn't us is an enemy" -- i.e. she sees everyone as potentially harmful to her precious little "Shining One", just like Frigg feared for Baldr. And Baldr's death, which basically causes Frigg to have a nervous breakdown, is represented by Joffrey's death by poison at his wedding). So, if Joffrey is Baldr, and Baldr represents the sun, then Robb was "chasing the sun" in his war with Joffrey. Or, "the sun" could be a reference to House Karstark, whose sigil is "the sun of winter" (i.e. the beheading of Rickard is a sign Ragnarök has begun).
And, because Sköll & Hati are brothers/counterparts, I theorize that Arya's death will mirror Robb's. Meaning, if Robb's death (i.e. his "catching the sun") is a sign of Ragnarök, then Arya's death (i.e. her "catching the moon") should be the same. So, I'm guessing she'll be killed in her sleep at some point down the line by the Kindly Man after getting inducted into the Faceless Men (i.e. catching the moon), while inside her wolf dream. And, her death will run counter to Robb's in this sense -- Robb was unable to warg into Grey Wind when he was killed, but Arya will be connected to Nymeria via the wolf dream, and will gain her "second life" on the Trident, with a pack of thousands of wolves at her back (the pack she's always dreamed of -- which she will use to reconquer Winterfell during Ragnarök -- i.e. Jojen's prophecy, "The wolves will come again"). This may have been foreshadowed on the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, The Rains of Castamere, when Sandor tells Arya, "You're very kind. Someday it will get you killed" (i.e. someday the Kindly Man will kill her).
Which brings us back to the first connection:
As mentioned by commenter Bram, Garmr is said to be the "greatest" or "most powerful" of wargs, and in Germanic languages, the name "Ric" means "powerful". Similarly, Rickon is being held on the island of Skagos, which means "stone" in the Old Tongue. And it is said to be both mountainous and populated with cannibals (which could be in reference to the mountainous cave in which Garmr resides, and his "bloodstained" teeth, respectively). And, what's more, Rickon's role as Garmr may have been foreshadowed on the Rains of Castamere episode as well, when he tells Bran, "I'm your brother. I have to protect you", being that Garmr's role is to attack the god Tyr (i.e. Jaime) during Ragnarök. As for his "unbinding", I'm assuming Davos will eventually take him to the Wall (i.e. Hel's Gate), where he'll assist Bran & Jon Snow during the events Ragnarök. I'm almost certain he'll survive now that I know he's Garmr, because, as opposed to Hati & Sköll, he does play a prominent role in Ragnarök, like his counterpart Fenrir. So, I'm guessing he too, like Bran, has partaken in cannibalism (while on Skagos), and has thusly strengthened his warging abilities by way of blood magic. Perhaps even more so than Bran, given the fact that he may be doing it regularly, whereas Bran has only eaten Jojen so far (assuming he actually has). That's my best guess for now, at least.
So, add it all up and it makes perfect sense -- the four Stark children, minus Jon Snow (who's not a Stark) and Sansa (whose wolf is dead) represent Loki's pack of wargs. And, when you think about it, it's really the most basic connection to be made -- the foundation upon which the entire story is written. And, now that we've uncovered this much, perhaps some of the other connections may fall into place as well.
And, like I said, two minds are always better than one. So I appreciate your input. Given the fact I hadn't come to this conclusion on my own as of yet, I may never have, so don't hold back with your theories and suggestions in the comment section. I welcome all feedback. And thanks again to commenter Bram Hannan for coming to my aid on this one. I owe you one.
Clarification: Commenters have pointed out that Stannis still appears to be alive, given the Theon sample-chapter from TWoW GRRM posted on his website. But, to clarify, GRRM said that the chapter is supposed to be retroactive to about the middle of ADwD, before Ramsay sends the letter. The chronology is all messed up because of the way he had to split the stories for AFfC and ADwD. Because, if you recall, ADwD does not pick up from where AFfC left off. It starts at the end of ASoS, with Varamyr Sixskins fleeing from the Battle at the Wall. TWoW will start in similar fashion -- rewinding in time to tell Stannis' story on his march to Winterfell.
Edit: In the comment section down below, you'll find that Bram raised an interesting possibility -- What if Jon Snow, or rather Ghost, is Sköll instead of Robb? What if when Jon gets killed at the end of ADwD, he does manage to warg into Ghost and gain his "second life", right before Melisandre resurrects him via R'hllor? In other words, what if Ghost -- with Jon's soul in him -- becomes Sköll, and Jon's resurrected, soulless corpse becomes Surtr? It would firstly fit Melisandre's prophecy, of seeing Jon as both a wolf & a man -- and it would make sense in regards to the mythology, given the fact that treachery was a big part of Jon's storyline (i.e. being first forced to betray the Watch, then subsequently choosing to betray his vows, and Ygritte, etc..). And, although Robb did betray the vows he made to Walder Frey (which ended up being his downfall), Robb was usually the one betrayed, rather than the traitor himself (see: Theon Greyjoy, Catelyn Stark, Rickard Karstark, etc.). So, I'm actually really digging this connection. And, I think that could play out well if that's how it goes down -- Jon & Arya, in the form of Ghost & Nymeria (i.e. Sköll & Hati) retake Winterfell from Ramsay Bolton (i.e. Jojen's prophecy "The wolves will come again") while soulless unJon (Surtr) sets House Frey ablaze with his fiery sword. I'd say you did it once again Bram. If nothing else, that's how I hope it plays out. So, good show.
Another Edit: Granted, that may sound like a pretty far out idea... and it is. But, all I'll say is this -- if you had just finished reading A Game of Thrones for the first time, and I had told you that Arya was going to remove her face, and Bran was going to plug himself into the roots of a weirwood tree, and Renly was going to get killed by a "shadow baby" birthed by a "red woman", would that have sounded pretty far out to you too? So, just keep in mind what we're talking about here. As real as ASOIAF seems sometimes, it is ultimately a fantasy series. The very idea that Jon can even gain a "second life", or be raised from the dead by Melisandre is bizarre in and of itself, so I'm not so sure a "glitch" in that [biological?] process would be as out of left field as you might think. But, of course, I could be wrong about that.
On a side note, here's a tapestry I wove depicting the Red Wedding:
Disclaimer: Not for commercial use. Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire are registered trademarks and copyrights, as are the images used in this post. I do not own them*, nor do I stand to profit from this site. For educational purposes only.
*Excepting my exquisite tapestry, of course.