Though skinchanger is the general term for the gift, warging can also sometimes get used. However, in many cases, a warg refers to s special skinchanger with the ability to enter the body of a wolf. Another term usually used for skinchangers and wargs is shapechangers. From the greenseers of the Children of the Forest to the Stark Children, wargs played a crucial role in the events of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Wargs are humans blessed with the power to take over the consciousness of an animal. For many with the gift, there are no inhibitions on the type of animal possessed. However, some rules guide those with the abilities. One such is the type of animal with which one bond.
As entering an animal’s mind involves bonding with it emotionally, a person may begin exhibiting the traits of the animals they enter; this could be detrimental to those who enter the body of wild animals, birds, and prey. An untrained warg may slip into the mind of the animal they are closest to while dreaming.
Nature of Death
Though warging is one of the greatest gifts, the ability has many downsides. Besides gradually gaining the nature of the animal warged into, a person can break their mind when they witness intense trauma while in the body of an animal. If an animal gets injured or even dies, though the skinchanger who took control of it would not get killed, they would be intensely traumatized by the event and would even lose a bit of their consciousness to the dead animal; this could eventually lead to them losing their mind. A skinchanger will not die while in the body of an animal. However, they will die when their human body gets killed.
There are different types of animals one could possess. Because there are numerous species, there is no limit to the greatest skinchangers. However, warging can be a difficult task depending on the animal. Dogs are the easiest to warg into as they are the closest to humans. The wilder an animal gets, the harder it becomes to take control of its consciousness.
Though warg abilities were limited to those with greensight and ancient magic, there are rules governing cultures that recognize the power of skinchangers. Though most of Westeros did not acknowledge warging and often hunted those with the power, the free folk were more welcoming of those with the ability as they worshipped the Old Gods of the Forest. An abomination for those with the gift is eating human flesh while in an animal. Other rules include not mating with an animal.
The first evidence of wargs and skinchangers comes from the Children of the Forest. The greenseers of the Children were the first to have the ability. They could also look through weirwoods to see the past and present.
After the First Men arrived in Westeros, they began relating with the Children and started having the ability. With the arrival of the Andals, those with warging abilities got hunted down, leading to a significant reduction in the gift. However, even years later, descendants of the first men, the Northmen, and free folk, still had people who possessed the gift.
Over the years, the Starks fought and defeated many wargs and skinchangers. Formerly known as Kings of Winter, they defeated Gaven Greywolf in the War of the Wolves and killed the Warg King. In recent events, Varamyr Sixskins killed his mentor Haggon.
Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire Novels
When Lord Eddard Stark and his children go to execute Gared, a deserter of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow and Robb Stark find six direwolf pups. After convincing their father, he lets them keep the pups. Ned’s children, including Arya Stark, Rickon, and Sansa, get a direwolf. When Ned learns of Lord Jon Arryn’s death, the King, Robert Baratheon, travels to Winterfell and asks him to become the Hand of the King.
After agreeing, Ned plans on taking his son Bran and his two daughters. However, Bran gets thrown off a tower and finds Jaime and his sister Queen Cersei together. With his accident, Bran starts dreaming in his direwolf. When Ned gets arrested, Robb Stark takes his direwolf, Grey Wind, and marches against the Lannisters. Soon rumors begin arising of him turning into a wolf.
Bran Stark’s wolf dreams continue. Winterfell organizes the Harvest Feast, and Jojen Reed attends the event. When Bran tells maester Luwin of his dreams, the maester gets skeptical and tells the young prince that magic no longer exists in the world. However, Jojen encourages Bran to keep on focusing on his dreams.
Robb, now King in the North, leads his troops along the tracks discovered by his direwolf. With his victories, many rumors start spreading of him leading an army of wargs. Beyond the Wall, Jon Snow kills a wildling skinchanger, Orell, and begins walking in his direwolf, Ghost’s body.
After Winterfell’s destruction, Bran and his friends begin a journey to seek out the three-eyed crow. On the way, Bran wargs into Hodor’s body to calm him down after a thunder strike. With Orell dead, Varymys takes control of his eagle. However, during the Battle Beneath the Wall, Melisandre burns Orell’s eagle, driving Varamyr to madness. Back in Westeros, Arya Stark enters Nymeria and watches when Iggo gets killed by the beast. She dreams of her direwolf recovering her mother’s body from the Green Fork.
Varamyr, a free folk skinchanger, tries to take over the mind of Thistle, a spearwife. However, she resists him but gets killed by wights. Before dying, Varamyr enters the mind of one of his wolves and begins a second life. He later gets forced to submission by Summer.
On reaching the cave of the three-eyed crow, Bran, and his friends get attacked by wights. To fight them off, he enters Hodor’s mind. On meeting Brynden Rivers, the three-eyed crow, Bran learns to enter a raven’s mind. At the House of Black and White, Arya uses the knowledge she gathers after seeing through a cat to impress the Kindly Man. By passing her tests, she gets her sight back.
Relevance in Adaptations
In HBO’s hit tv series, Game of Thrones, wargs played a crucial role in events beyond the Wall. After Bran discovers his abilities, he travels to meet the three-eyed raven. He then uses his power to glance into the past; this makes him see that Jon Snow is Aegon Targaryen. After the Night King and White Walkers get defeated. Daenerys marches on King’s Landing. However, she destroys the city, and in one last act to save Westeros, Jon kills her. He gets banished from the realm, and Bran Stark becomes King.
Wargs: A Double-Edged Sword
Though Warging was an ability feared and coveted by many, it was far from being an ultimate weapon. The power had more downsides than upsides. Though a warg could enter an animal and see through its eyes, there was no use of that ability except if the animal possessed was a wild animal; this made warging appear like a flawed curse.
Who is a warg?
A warg is a person that can possess an animal, particularly a wolf. Also called skinchangers, the Andals killed the wargs leading to their extinction from most of Westeros. However, in the North and beyond the Wall, some people had the power.
Who is the greatest warg in A Song of Ice and Fire?
In ASOIAF, there are many incredible wargs, from Varamyr Sixskins to Haggon. However, the greatest warg is Bran Stark. Because Bran was a warg and greenseer, he was, by far, the strongest warg there was in a long time.
Why did Varamyr Sixskins not die after getting attacked by a wight?
Varamyr did die. He tried taking over Thistle’s body, but she resisted and mutilated herself. His weakened body succumbed to death, but a part of his mind lived in one of his wolves.