Something that I always found strange in Planetos is the fact that each religion seems united : there is no Eastern Church of the Sevens opposed to a Western Church of the Sevens for example. This is odd to me, as when we see a real life example, as Christianity or Islam, there are lots of different branches, distributed in time and space :

Major branches within Christianity : Major branches within Christianity

Major schools and branches of Islam around the globe : Major schools and branches of Islam around the globe

Do we have any example of such things in Planetosi religions ? And if we don't, have we got any explanation ?

  • Related
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 12:23
  • 1
    In addition to the answers below, it's also worth noting that Melisandre seems to be the only Red Priestess of R'hllor who believes Stannis is Azor Ahai. Others believe it is Dany, but even then it's unclear if that's a universal belief shared by all the others or if there are further schisms centred around the prophesy.
    – delinear
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 17:16

3 Answers 3


"The Faith of the Eight"

King Harmund II Hoare created that heresy and adopted it. He was born an Ironman but was raised at Casterly Rock by the Lannister Kings so he observed the Andal religion very closely and when he came back to rule Iron Islands after his father died, the Andals had left a deep impression on him.

His son Harmund the Haggler shared his love of reading, and became renowned as a great traveler. He was the first king of the Iron Islands to visit the green lands without a sword in his hand. Having spent his youth as a ward of House Lannister, the second Harmund returned to Casterly Rock as a king and took the Lady Lelia Lannister, a daughter of the King of the Rock and "the fairest flower of the west," for his queen. On a later voyage he visited Highgarden and Oldtown, to treat with their lords and kings and foster trade.
TWOIAF: The Iron Islands - The Black Blood

He formed a blend of both faiths and spoke of Eight Gods which were the seven Gods of the Andal faith plus the Drowned god of the Ironborn. According to him, There were eight Gods and each sept should have a statue of Drowned God as well. This offended both the Ironborn Priests and Septons alike. Seeing the things getting intense, the King later rescinded that proclamation but insisted that Like the Seven were different aspects of the same one God, Drowned God was one aspect of the Andal deity, the Stranger.

Though Harmund II accepted the Seven as true gods, he continued to do honor to the Drowned God as well, and on his return to Great Wyk spoke openly of "the Eight Gods," and decreed that a statue of the Drowned God should be raised at the doors of every sept. This pleased neither the septons nor the priests and was denounced by both. In an attempt to placate them, the king rescinded his decree and declared that god had but seven faces...but the Drowned God was one of those, as an aspect of the Stranger.
TWOIAF: The Iron Islands - The Black Blood

Needless to say, his views were not popular and in the reign of his son, Harmund III, all hell broke lose. The Ironborn clergy deposed the King in a popular rebellion and mutilated him in inhuman fashion. This hybrid of the two faiths ended right there and then.

He was considering a measure to end the practice of thralldom on the isles as well when a priest known as the Shrike began to preach against him.

Other priests took up the cry, and the lords of the isles took heed. Only the septons and their followers stood by King Harmund, and he was overthrown within a fortnight, almost bloodlessly. What followed was far from bloodless, however. The Shrike himself tore out the deposed king's tongue, so he might never again speak "lies and blasphemies." Harmund was blinded as well, and his nose was cut off, so "all men might see him for the monster he is."
TWOIAF: The Iron Islands - The Black Blood

The Faith of The Moonsingers

This faith was founded by escaped Slaves of Valyria. They essentially combined the aspects of all the religions observed by the former Slaves who had escaped to Braavos. Quoting GRRM:

Q: Could you give us any information concerning the moonsingers that were key to the founding of Braavos?

As you know, they were slaves who fled from Valyria and they found a place as far away from Valyria that they could get. What basically happened was that a Valyrian fleet, which was rowed by slaves, was taken over by the slaves after they mutined. And they decided to get as far away to the north as they could, sailing through the narrow sea to find a refuge. The founded Braavos and kept the city secret for about a hundred years. For those first hundred years, practically no one knew of the city's existence. Because the city is founded by slaves, it's not a homogenous population, there were slaves from all sorts of different places with different ethnicities, different homelands, different customs, different religions. So they create a new religion, one with one god that can be applied to all the other fatihs and is tolerant of all the other faiths.
So Spake Martin: Asshai.com Interview in Barcelona

Why are different sects not found in Planetosi religions

This part is primarily my own speculation so you may choose to skip this.

The People of Planetos, like people of Medieval world, are very sensitive about the faiths. We see religious wars between Andal and First Men, Civil war fought between the clergy and crown when the crown tried to make an exception for the Royals in the matter of incest, Revolution against Ironborn King who was seen as going against the teachings of his faith.

A new faith cannot really survive and propagate without sufficient Political support. And Political leaders often tend to use the Clerics to their own ends. If common people do end up making a sect somehow, it would have been wiped out by Zealots.

But still it is interesting that we do not see the sects in Planetos really. Take Westeros for example:

  1. It has multiple cultures
  2. A vast landmass
  3. Communication difficulties i.e. traveling taking too long.
  4. General populace more or less ignorant about mysteries of their faiths e.g. Commoners thinking that there are really Seven gods in the Faith of Seven when in fact there is only one who has seven aspects.
  5. There is general discontent about corruption rampant in the Faith

This is ripe ground for emergence of new sects in the remote and isolated communities. But yet we do not see any such developments. We can assume that's probably because the grip of clergy is tighter than we believe it is. And of course, before Jaehaerys I, the Faith had her own swords to sort out Heretics anywhere at will.

But a more logical reason appears to be the Author's choice. He prefers to write more about secular stuff instead of religious one.

Q: How important is religion and myth in your stories?

GRRM: Mythos is important and it can also be very difficult. An author’s beliefs color the character, audience’s beliefs color it. Easier for me to write a secular character or someone who mocks and insults the gods than it is to write a sincerely devout character. It’s a secular society, especially our sf/fantasy readers.
So Spake Martin: Odyssey Con 2008 (Madison, WI; April 4-6 2008)


An example of this where a potential split is happening is in the later books/seasons. After the high septon is murdered in a Feast for Crows, a new movement finds a foothold in King's Landing: the Sparrows.

The new High Septon (or High Sparrow as he is called) is described as follows:

He is a small, thin, hard-eyed, grey-haired man with a heavily lined face. Unlike previous High Septons, he does not wear rich robes or elaborate crowns of crystal and spun gold. Instead, he wears a simple white wool tunic that goes to his ankles. The man is truly devout to his faith and has an iron will.
Westeros.org - High Sparrow

His beliefs are of a very much more sobered down version of the Faith. This in contrast to the vast extravagance that the previous High Septons lived in, with their massive Crystal Crowns:

"We have become swollen, bloated, foul. Brother couples with sister in the bed of kings, and the fruit of their incest capers in his palace to the piping of a twisted little monkey demon. Highborn ladies fornicate with fools and give birth to monsters! Even the High Septon has forgotten the gods! He bathes in scented waters and grows fat on lark and lamprey while his people starve! Pride comes before prayer, maggots rule our castles, and gold is all . . . but no more!
Tyrion V - a Clash of Kings (emphasis mine)


The list of the slain was topped by the High Septon, ripped apart as he squealed to his gods for mercy. Starving men take a hard view of priests too fat to walk, Tyrion reflected.
Tyrion IX - a Clash of Kings

So instead the High Sparrow advocated sobering down the Faith:

The new High Septon begins his term by selling all of the golden crowns, including his own, and robes of cloth and gold. The money earned from this is used to buy food for the sparrows and the poor. He clads himself in a humble wool robe and other Most Devout are forced to follow suit.
Westeros.org - High Sparrow

Some parallels can be drawn between the movement within the Faith that we are witnessing and the split between the Catholic church and the Protestant movement in the 1600s. For now, the Sparrows replaced the High Septon with their own, so it might just be that the church makes a shift altogether, instead of splitting. It is worth keeping an eye on though.

  • The only problem I have with this answer is that the Sparrow is just restarting an order that was previously disbanded, the Faith Militant.
    – Skooba
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 12:47
  • @Skooba While he did reinstate the Faith Militant, I don't think that means that the sparrows are just that, the faith militant. Let me see if I can find anything
    – JAD
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 12:51

There is some evidence of this happening in Westeros, within the faith of the Old Gods. The Northerners, have different beliefs and rituals to that of the Wildlings.



In marriage, the men are expected to be quite forceful with women, going so far as stealing them from their home or clan.


A marriage ceremony takes place in front of a heart tree. The bride's father, or the person standing in his place (usually kin or whoever else is closest to living kin), will escort the bride to her future husband and those presiding over the marriage.

An arguement could be made for this being cultural but the lines between culture and religion have always been blurred, even in our world. I would consider marriage to be religious as asoif is based in a medieval time where marriage would have been considered a so.

Religious Partitions North of the Wall

Most free folk worship the old gods. The Thenns view their Magnar as closer to a god than a lord, however.

This suggests that the Thenns still worship the Old Gods but consider their Magnar akin to some like Jesus or Mohammed.

Cave dwellers allegedly worship dark underground gods.

The Children of the Forrest are part of the Old Gods and we also know that the Children live in underground cave networks. It is not unreasonable to believe that the Cave Dweller Wildings just worship the Children directly, instead of through the trees as Northerns and most Wildings do.

Gilly, one of Craster's wives, speaks of cold gods who take boys.

Which are certainly the Others.

The men of the Frozen Shore believe in gods of snow and ice.

which sounds a lot like the Others, but this is more speculation on my behalf.

  • Your first and second links aren't links.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 15:04
  • @Edlothiad Yep, wikipedia links messed up :( unfortunately, I have had change them all to a single link.
    – josh
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 15:20

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