Game of Thrones religions: From the Faith of the Seven, to the Lord of Light, which would you choose?

Amy Blumsom
Which Game of Thrones religion would you choose?

Religion can be confounding at the best of times, and in Westeros it seems even more perplexing. There's no denying that faith has played a huge role in Game of Thrones, from Melisandre's sacrifices in the name of the Lord of Light (RIP, Shireen Baratheon), to the Faith Militant humiliating Cersei and incurring her wrath.

If you’ve ever found yourself feeling lost in the House of Black and White, confused about talk of the Mother and Maid, or baffled by Bran’s visions, here is a quick guide to the gods of Game of Thrones, should they play a part in season 8.

The Faith of the Seven

Where? This one is the main religion of Westeros, the only region where this hasn’t spread to is the North who still worship the Old Gods. When the Andals invaded Westeros long ago, they also brought the Faith of the Seven.

Gods? There are, unsurprisingly, seven gods in this religion, who each represent different aspects of life.

Father: represents justice, he is depicted as a bearded man who carries scales.

Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow, with Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones

Mother: represents motherhood and nurturing, and embodies the concept of mercy.

Warrior: is prayed to for courage and victory, he is depicted carrying a sword.

Maiden: represents innocence and chastity.

Smith: God of craft is prayed to for strength and is depicted with a hammer.

Crone: carries a lantern and represents wisdom.

Stranger: represents death and the unknown, the Stranger is rarely worshipped. 

Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow in season five of Game of Thrones

Temple? The Seven are worshipped in temples known as septs, which can be found throughout the Westeros.

Priests? Septons, who are only ever male. The High Septon, based in Kings Landing, is sort of like the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Sept of Baelor (where Cersei began her walk of shame) is the main cathedral. There are also female equivalents called Septas, who tend to work as governesses in noble houses — or serve on judging panels during trials conducted by the faith.

Fanatics? The Poor Fellows, nicknamed “the sparrows”, mostly comprise of common folk who live in poverty and have armed themselves to enforce piety among the people. When the position of High Septon was left vacant (after the previous one had been conveniently disposed of by Cersei) the sparrows pushed for their especially pious candidate known as the High Sparrow. Cersei’s cousin (and former lover) Lancel Lannister is one of these sparrows, who sport brown tunics and bare feet.  

Weird rituals? Making sinners take naked walks through the streets of King’s Landing.

Key families who follow the religion: The Lannisters, Tullys, Martells… basically everyone in Westeros other than northerners such as the Starks.

Any real-life parallels? In terms of structural organisation, the faith is very similar to Catholicism, with its religious orders such as the Silent Sisters (who are the equivalent of nuns) and the Begging Brothers (who are similar to monks). The idea of different gods corresponding to different areas of life has echoes of the religions of ancient Greek and Rome — for instance the Smith is not dissimilar to the Greek god Hephaestus. 

Is this the religion for you? If you are particularly indecisive then this is the faith for you. Those who can’t quite make up their mind about who to worship have a choice of seven.

The Drowned God

Where? Iron Islands

Gods? A religion which worships only one sea deity, the Drowned God, who lives in a great hall beneath the waves. His enemy is the Storm God, who resides in the clouds, and they are said to be in constant combat. When a man drowns, it is said he joins the Drowned God for an eternal feast.

Temple? None.

Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones

Priests? Clergy are known as “drowned men”, and they are ordained by being drowned and brought back to life through resuscitation — although it doesn’t always work. They wear roughspun robes, carry driftwood cudgels into battle (they're definitely not peace-loving hippy priests) and carry a skin of saltwater for emergency rituals (always good to be prepared). 

Fanatics? Your have to be pretty fanatical if you're prepared to risk dying just to become a priest to start with…

Weird rituals? Drowning.

Key families who follow the religion: The Greyjoys

Any real-life parallels? Newborn babies are “drowned” as part of a ritual shortly after birth and “reborn” — sort of like a baptism.

Catchphrase: “What is dead may never die”

Is this the religion for you? Only if you really, really like swimming. And fighting.

The Lord of Light

Carice Van Houten as Melisandre in Game of Thrones

Where? Mostly in Essos, but the religion has gained a few followers in Westeros thanks to the likes of preachers Melisandre and Thoros of Myr. 

Gods? Only one is worshipped, the Lord of Light, but he goes by many names (R’hllor, God of Flame and Shadow, Heart of Fire, Red God). They believe that the Great Other is the Lord of Light’s rival god of darkness, and Azor Ahai was the hero who defeated him according to legend.

Temple? There are red temples in Volantis, Braavos and Pentos

Priests? Clergy are known as Red Priests thanks to their crimson robes, the most recognisable for Game of Thrones fans is the sultry Melisandre of Asshai. Thoros of Myr, who resurrected Beric Dondarrion is also a red priest. Chosen priests can speak to the Lord of Light through fire, according to Melisandre (although we know she’s not always right). 

Fanatics? Melisandre managed to convince Stannis that burning his own daughter was a great idea… if that’s not fanaticism I don’t know what is.

Weird rituals? Burning people, creating shadow babies, and bringing people back to life. It’s certainly one of Westeros’ more colourful religions.

Key characters who follow the religion: Stannis Baratheon, Beric Dondarrion

Any real-life parallels? Like a lot of religions, such as Judaism and Christianity, followers of the Lord of Light believe a saviour will defeat the Lord of Darkness. The main religion that it parallels is Zoroastrianism, one of the world's oldest faiths. Ascribed to the teaching of prophet Zoroaster, it exalts a deity called Ahura Mazda -- the Wise Lord. One of its primary symbols is fire. 

Catchphrase: “For the night is dark and full of terrors”

Is this the religion for you? Definitely if you’re afraid of the dark. Less so if you’re afraid of fire (that's a no from the Hound, then).

The Old Gods

Bran Stark has used weirwood trees to travel back in time Credit: HBO

Where? This ancient religion originally dominated Westeros, but now it is only practised by northerners, crannogmen and the wildlings.

Temple? None, the old gods are worshipped outdoors in godswoods.

Gods? The old gods are a sort of nebulous concept, nameless deities of stone, earth and tree, originally worshipped by the children of the forest. Men worshipped the gods through weirwood trees, which have eyes carved into them and are believed to possess strong magic. It is said the Old Gods only have power were weirwood trees still grow — hence they have no power in the south, where all the trees have been cut down.

Priests? The religion doesn’t have priests in the traditional sense, but greenseers were sort of like shamans. Bran is basically being trained up as a greenseer as he has been born with the prophetic gift known as greensight. He uses weirwood trees to look into the past. 

Fanatics? None.

Weird rituals? Bran’s psychedelic glimpses of the past using weirwood trees are as strange as this one gets.

Key characters who follow the religion: The Stark Family and the Wildlings

Any real-life parallels? The connection with nature is sort of like the pagan religions that dominated Britain before the Roman invasion. 

Is this the religion for you? If you’re a tree-hugging nature lover then this is the faith for you.

The Many-Faced God

Game of Thrones's Jaqen H’ghar

Where? Braavos

Gods? Just the one, with lots of faces (does what it says on the tin, really). The founder of the religion, a former slave, believed that all slaves prayed to the same god of death for deliverance under different guises. The Faceless Men believe that death is a deliverance from suffering.

Temple? House of Black and White

Priests? There aren’t any priests per se, just followers called the Faceless Men who deliver the “gift” of death. They live in the House of Black and White, wear black and white robes and worship the various gods of death, including the Stranger of the Seven.

Fanatics? You'd have to be pretty fanatical to dedicate your life to murdering unsuspecting victims in the name of a religious cult.

Weird rituals? Cutting off the faces of the dead to use as disguises is pretty odd behaviour if you ask me. Impressively crafty, yes, but odd.

 Key characters who follow the religion: Jaqen H’ghar, the Waif and (for a short time) Arya Stark

Any real-life parallels? There aren’t really any religions that worship death itself exclusively, although Mexico has a strong tradition of worshipping female saint Santa Muerte (Holy Death) and celebrate Mexican Day of the Dead. 

Catchphrase: “valar morghulis” (all men must die) and “valar dohaeris” (all me must serve)

Is this the religion for you? If you’re obsessed with death, change your image a lot and don’t mind a bit of hard graft (the training is pretty intense) then yes.

The Dothraki Horse God

Vaes Dothrak

Gods? The Dothraki worship a horse god deity which in the TV show is referred to as The Great Stallion.

Temple? There’s no specific temple, but the ancient city of Vaes Dothrak is respected with an almost holy reverence.

Priests? No priests, although the ancient city of Vaes Dothrak is ruled by former wives of khals known as the Dosh Khaleen.

Fanatics? None.

Weird rituals? Making a pregnant Daenerys eat a horse’s heart to ensure the baby grew up strong. That was pretty grim.

Key characters who follow the religion: Khal Drogo, Doreah, all of the Dothraki basically

Any real-life parallels? There is a horse god in Hinduism called Hayagriva, similarly horses were an important part of daily life for the Mongols (who the Dothraki are loosely based on) even if they weren’t exactly worshipped.

Is this the religion for you? This one is best suited to those who aren’t allergic to horses, it might help if you had a pony club membership at some point. Definitely not one for vegetarians if you plan on getting pregnant.

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