the belmore

I came across this poster on Queen St. West in Toronto and I couldn’t look away. Posters such as these, strategically placed around the city are pushing people to question Canada’s dark, colonial history, as is the incredibly critical art being produced by Indigenous artists such as Kent Monkman and Rebecca Belmore. These artists, activists, thinkers and interventionists are destabilizing and dismantling biased, historical Canadian narratives.

In the decade or more of being in Canada, I have recently had the opportunity to establish close allyships with Indigenous friends. Through their research and lived experiences, I am learning about a side of Canada that I was not initially aware of. While the Canadian Citizenship book discusses our shameful history of residential schools, it presents a watered down version, summarized in undignified, short lines, mostly ending with, “Canada has since apologized.”

The abuse that was carried out on Indigenous children at these schools (the last residential school closed in 1996) was horrific and conveniently left out of textbooks. With more awareness around the topic, Canada’s internationally positive reputation is being challenged. Canada’s deputy minister of Indian Affairs Duncan Campbell Scott was quoted in 1920 to have said: “Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic.”

While an apology by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a start, it is not enough. After all, actions speak louder than words. Grave injustices have been committed against Indigenous people. Erasure of language, culture and customs so as to benefit and serve colonial systems of oppression, unsolved cases of thousands of missing, murdered Indigenous women, increased likelihood of sexual assault on Indigenous women, an alarmingly high suicide rate amongst Indigenous youth and deplorable living conditions in some parts of Canada where Indigenous people reside. By deplorable I mean run down schools and homes and no access to clean, drinking water. How can we justify this while being one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a global reputation for excellence in living standards and human rights?

Far too often I hear fellow immigrants from my own community refer to Indigenous people as “drunks” and “criminals.”

“Oh these natives, they’re such a menace to Canadian society.”

“They get so much funding from the government. All their schooling is paid for.”

“They should be grateful and move on from the past. Look at the state of poor people in the third world countries we come from.”

“These people don’t know the first thing about oppression. They take all the money the government gives them and waste it on drugs and alcohol.”

It is ironic to see new immigrants settle on Canadian land while demonizing and othering the original custodians of this land.

Indigenous people have been dealing with institutionalized racism, discriminatory legislation and federal under-funding for over 100 years. As we mark our 150th birthday as a nation today, I hope that we can work toward addressing these important and urgent issues. Indigenous people are bearing the brunt of genocidal, colonial policies while the rest of us immigrating to Canada are reaping immense benefits such as world class healthcare and education, services that many of our Indigenous communities lack full access to. Our indifference and lack of awareness around these pressing matters has dire consequences for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people of Canada.

Today, on Canada’s 150th, I am stating a land acknowledgment for the first time in all these years of living, working, giving to and taking from Canadian land.

***I wish to acknowledge this land on which I currently reside and work. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people and I am grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land. (Please correct me if I have stated this land acknowledgment inaccurately)

As a tribal daughter of the Indigenous Magsi clan in Balochistan, Pakistan, I stand in solidarity with my Indigenous brothers and sisters in Canada.

I wish you a safe, peaceful and more informed #Canada150 long weekend.

Living of Love

Good morning, loves! This is a new fluffy story that I posted on AO3 so you can read it wherever, but I thought I’d upload it here too just for the heck of it. 

James!” Sirius cursed as he opened the door.

His best friend poked his head from behind the corner. “Yes, my lover?”

“Cut the crap. What the bloody hell have you done to my shop?”

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” He exclaimed with a sheepish grin.

Sirius stared wide eyed at his flower shop. Only it wasn’t. It was bedazzled in pink. Paper hearts linked their way across the walls. Red and pink stickers were plastered on the front windows. A jar of heart candies was placed on the counter. Every bouquet had a card with some absurd declaration of love resting in the flowers. Sirius sighed.

“What am I looking at, Prongs?”

“Well, my truly amazing friend, you’re looking at the new and improved Guns ’n Roses!” James raised his arms. “Lily helped me a bit last night. What do you think?”

“I think you’re crazy.”

“It’s a masterpiece.”

“It’s not punk rock at all. I asked you to help prep for the holiday – not to let Cupid come in and throw up on my flowers!”

“Embrace the holiday, Pads. It’s a wonderful thing – love.” James looked off with doe eyes.

Sirius snorted. “Still in your honeymoon phase, I see.”

“You’ll find someone too, you know.”

“Doubtful. The amount of eligible gay men in Hampshire is equivalent to the dignity I have left.” Sirius turned the sign on the front door that stated they were open before shutting it and walking into his shop.

Though it was a minimalist interior, it showcased his best floral arrangements. The black and white framed photographs of old bands rested on the rustic, brick walls. On the left and right walls were white shelves of flowers from peonies, to dahlias, to flower crowns. In the middle sat two maroon loveseats, angled toward each other. There was a round table in between them with Sirius’s favorite flowers in an intricate vase; cosmos atrosanguineus. And towards the back of the store was an L shaped counter with his bouquets of the month placed on it. He walked swiftly behind the counter to the registry, and placed his things on the floor. He surveyed his precious store with another look of disbelief.

“What about that guy you told me about a few weeks ago, the one who recently opened up a bookstore just across the street?” James waggled his eyebrows and followed him around the counter.

Sirius blushed as he remembered the man.

“Are you, Sirius Orion Black, the man who claims to have a ‘heart of steel’, blushing?”

Sirius sacked him in the shoulder in hopes of ending his utter embarrassment. “Sod off, Potter.”

But as James rubbed his shoulder and howled with laughter, Sirius allowed himself to remember the man whom he couldn’t stop thinking about…

Sirius flipped the ‘open’ sign as the first drops of rain began to come down. It was a cloudy day on Belmore Street, but beautiful just the same. The local shops’ lights glowed in the downcast morning. The cobbled road was glistening with the rainfall. The storm was welcoming as it was refreshing.

He looked out his window to see the no longer vacant store directly across the street from his. The sign above the door said, Secondhand Prose. He gave a small smile. There hadn’t been a bookstore here in a long time.

Just as he was about to walk away from the front window, a lean figure in the rain caught his eye. It looked as though the man was trying to carry tons of boxes from a truck into his store. In the rain. With only a t-shirt on. He shook his head incredulously. But he looked upward again at the now downpour. He shifted his gaze back to the struggling man carrying what seemed to be a heavy box. Sirius muttered hateful words to himself as he put up his hood and stepped out into the storm.

He walked quickly across the uneven street. As the man walked out of the store, Sirius approached the truck. The man looked up at him, and Sirius’s steps faltered.

With hair dark with dripping water, a soaked through shirt, and glasses that weren’t helping him at this point, the man was a handsome mess. His warm gaze penetrated Sirius’s.

With the realization that he was staring at the stranger, Sirius cleared his throat, a flush creeping up his neck.

“I couldn’t help but watch your helpless attempt at moving all this shit,” he pointed over his shoulder at the numerous boxes sitting in the back of the truck. “Do you need any help?”

Surprise overcame his face, but looked at his feet and smiled shyly. “That would be great.”

Sirius tore his gaze from him and moved to the truck. It was piled to the brim with cardboard boxes. As leaned over to pick one up, he looked inside to see worn books. He noticed one of his favorites and picked it up.

The Fountainhead. A brilliant book.” Sirius turned around to see the man standing just a few feet away. His gaze quickly snapped up and his cheeks flushed. Sirius couldn’t help but smirk at the fact that the man had been checking him out.

He gulped. “It’s groundbreaking.”

Sirius was about to agree when another box caught his eye, this one filled to the brim with CD’s. A familiar album cover was at the top of the pile, and he picked it up.

Emotionalism? This album is incredible. Do you listen to them?”

Remus’s eyes brightened with passion and he grinned. “Track 10.”

They launched into a discussion about the album and the other music they listen to, somehow ending up discussing where they came from and where they longed to go. At some point, Sirius sat on the edge of the truck, Remus joining him, legs swinging back and forth, all the while the rain continuing to beat down on them as they continued to talk for what felt like hours, never once hitting an uncomfortable silence or an awkward topic. A tether seemed to form between the two men as they connected through words.

“We should probably finish up with these boxes,” Sirius nodded to the books behind him, reluctant to end their conversation.

After that, the two men danced around each other as they efficiently moved all the books into the new store. The rain conveniently stopped just as Sirius brought in the last box. He walked back outside where the man was sitting on the rear of the truck, reading a book. Sirius used this moment to look at him. His hair was nearly dry, and had a glorious golden hue in the curls. He was beautiful.

He looked up as Sirius approached and stood up.

“Thank you so much… I really appreciate your help. It would have taken me twice the amount of time to do all of that,” he waved his hand toward his store and chuckled.

“A handsome man in need of a white knight? My pleasure,” he shamelessly flirted.

The stranger blushed all the way down to his toes. “Er…thanks. Have – have a good day.” He abruptly turned his heel and practically ran into his shop.

Sirius swore at himself. He was so damn forward. He groaned and began walking back to Guns ’n Roses, sans a cute guy’s number.

It wasn’t until Sirius was inside his shop that he realized he never got his name.

He came back to the present to find James shaking his head at him.

“What happened to the Sirius Black I knew, the one who went after anything he wanted?”

“You know what happened to him.”

James tsked at him. “You can’t let one man ruin any chance for others. He was a complete asshole who treated you like scum. You’re better than him, mate. You’re better than what your family believes you to be; better than what you see yourself as.”

Sirius spared a glance at James, who was looking down at him with love.

“Is this the part where we hug?”

James scrunched up his nose and shoved Sirius back on the shoulder. They laughed together and Sirius retreated back to the counter. He picked out a peony from the vase and let out a deep breath. James grinned at his unusually nervous friend.

“Now go get some, my man!” James spanked his butt on the way out.

Needless to say, Sirius bruised his shoulder. Again.

*                      *                      *


A bell jingled as Sirius opened the door to the bookstore. Before he opened the door, however, he noticed a few Valentine’s themed books in the front window. Laughter bubbled up at the sight of erotic romances, and he continued into the shop.

Peering inside, a vintage looking shop with what looked like hundreds upon hundreds of bound words resting on wooden shelves stretching across the majority of the room met his eyes. Toward the back, he could make out a few overstuffed armchairs. He stepped inside and inhaled the scent of old paperbacks and freshly brewed coffee. Not having noticed before, he realized the small bar to the right. It was a bookstore café.

He walked in further, finding no one in sight. He bit his lip in anxiousness.

Was he even here?

Sirius strolled past the bookshelves, glancing into each aisle, but the man from a few weeks ago was nowhere to be found.

Finally, he got to the last shelf of classic novels. He looked down the narrow aisle between the books.

There he was.

Standing on a stool librarians often use, he was leafing through a gently used book. His untidy curls stuck up every which way, and his thickly framed glasses were on the verge of falling off his nose. And they weren’t covered with raindrops this time. Angled toward him, Sirius noticed his sweater. It was pink with a few sewn hearts on it for the holiday, he presumed. He was even more adorable than Sirius remembered.

The man shelved the book with satisfaction. He then stepped down to the box beside the stepping stool to pick up another book. As he grabbed the book and straightened, his gaze caught Sirius standing in the middle of the aisle. His eyes widened with surprise.

“Oh, hullo,” he said, self consciously running his hand through his golden hair, making it stick up even more.

“Hi, I don’t know if you remember, but I helped you move in a few days ago. I’m –”

“Sirius.” As soon as the man said it, he blushed furiously. “Er, your friend came in the other day and mentioned you owned the floral shop across the street.” The only coherent thought in Sirius’s head was, James went into a bookstore? Remus continued. “I figured it was you, seeing as you came in and out of the shop when you helped me that day, so I asked for your name. Did I thank you, by the way? It was really kind…” Sirius watched him with intrigue as he stumbled over his words.

When he finished his rambling, he simply stood there with bright eyes and tousled hair.

“I’m Remus Lupin, by the way. A bit of a late introduction, but …er –”

“Better late than never, Remus,” Sirius finished for him, grinning. Remus loved the way his velvet voice wrapped along the two syllables of his name.

They stood there for a few moments, looking at each other with anticipation.

“This is for you,” Sirius blurted out, reaching out and handing him the flower. Remus’s eyes softened and gladly took the peony.

“It’s beautiful, thank you. I, erm… I was actually just going to bring you something once I finished shelving,” he waved his arm at the pile of books behind him.

“You’re in luck. I’m quite a fan of surprises.”

Remus led him down the aisle, past the dozens of bookshelves, and to the café. Sirius followed him like a lost puppy.

Once they reached the café, Remus picked up a lone mug on the countertop. He turned around and held it out to Sirius. He looked at the cappuccino to see a dog paw designed with milk on the top.

“I saw you walking your dog past my store on Saturday, and well, I thought you’d like it.”

Sirius’s heart squeezed.

“I love it, it’s amazing … I actually came over here to ask you out.”

Not believing his ears, Remus tripped over his own feet as he took a clumsy step forward to hand the coffee to Sirius. Although he steadied himself from falling forward, the contents flew out of the mug and onto Sirius. And as if it were happening in slow motion, the hot liquid splattered Sirius’s white shirt, staining it a muddy brown color.

Remus’s eyes widened in horror.

Sirius looked down at his wet shirt, and back up at Remus’s horrified expression.

“Shit on a fucking stick! Bloody hell, I’m such a fucking wanker.” A long list of expletives shot out of Remus’s mouth.

And Sirius began laughing.

To his chagrin, Remus decided it was a good idea to grab a towel and begin dabbing at Sirius’s shirt with it. He began wiping at his stomach, not-so-subtly feeling his impressively hard muscles, then got to his knees and cleaned the coffee off of Sirius’s shoes and the floor.

“As much as I like the sight of you kneeling before me, I don’t think it’s doing much.”

Remus tilted his head up. Sirius was looking down at him with amusement and heat in his eyes.

Sirius bent down and got eye level with Remus. He grabbed his chin gently with two fingers.

“You’re the clumsiest, most adorable man I’ve ever met,” he whispered, leaning in until their lips almost met.

Before Sirius could move an inch further, Remus shot up on his feet.

“Er, we should… I-I have customers.”

Sirius stood up and looked around at the vacant bookstore and to the lone worker at the coffee bar who was on her phone.

“I think you could manage a five minute break.”

And with that, Sirius grabbed Remus’s pale hand in his warm one and led him out the door to the floral shop across the street.

Sirius held open the front door, extending his hand out to let Remus walk in first. “Gentlemen first.”

Remus walked into the store with Sirius behind him, and before Sirius could open his mouth to welcome and give him a tour, a flash of light blinded their eyes.

“What the fuck?”

Sirius blinked a few times to regain his vision, only to find James standing in front of them, camera poised in front his grinning face. Remus was looking at him, confusion written all over his face as he too readjusted his eyes.

“Aw, look at your faces.” He bought down the camera to look at the picture he just shot. He keenly resembled a proud parent on the night of prom. “You guys are such a cute couple.”

Sirius’s mouth hung wide open, disbelief and embarrassment written over his face. He crossed an arm around himself and hid his head in his heads, face palming his forehead very audibly, shaking his head in defeat.

Remus, on the other hand was smiling, amusement in his eyes. He gave James a small wave. “Nice to see you again, James. But, er, we aren’t exactly dating. We’ve really just been properly introduced.”

James waved him off. “Not yet you aren’t,” he winked suggestively.

Sirius lifted his head abruptly. “James,” he seethed, trying to remain pleasant. “Don’t you have to go do that thing?”

He tapped his chin thoughtfully and frowned. “I don’t think so, mate –”

But one look from Sirius had him running to the back.

Sirius was furious. James was a wonderful friend, no doubt. But he knew what Sirius had gone through with his previous relationship – the pain he had experienced after the man he loved cheated on him. Coming home from the jewelers, a newly bought engagement ring in his pocket. Calling out his name, his heart pounding in anticipation. Hearing sounds from their bedroom, and opening the door to see him fucking another man. Screaming and screaming and screaming until his voice was hoarse and his tears were nearly drowning him. Throwing the ring in his face. The betrayal. The heartbreak.

James knew. He witnessed it all – the breaking, the burning, the healing. He knew that Sirius thought he would never let someone in like that again; that he would never know what intimacy and love would feel like.

Three years gone. He had never been in a relationship since – never found a person that he could open himself up to. And now, with Remus, he felt like he could have that chance of happiness and love.

If James didn’t fuck it all up.

He turned around to face Remus, a long winded apology already on the tip of his tongue, but before he could get out a word, Remus took a long stride forward, wrapped Sirius in his arms, and kissed him, his lips soft and plush and fumbling.

Sirius, completely taken aback, had only one thought running through his mind. Remus is gay. I owe James ten bucks.

But that instantly vanished when he realized, Remus is kissing me.

Once his brain properly functioned, his lips curled into a warm smile and he began to properly kiss Remus back. His slightly shaky hand tentatively slid up to wrap around Remus’s neck, deepening the kiss. The other went around the man’s narrow waist, fingers tightening around his soft and oversized jumper, curling around the material to pull Remus closer to him.

They continued to kiss for what felt like hours. With their bodies pressed tight against one another, they were in their own cocoon of blissful heat. When Sirius pulled back slightly, his stormy eyes met Remus’s, whose were bright and warm like melted chocolate. He brought his hand up to cup Remus’s cheek tenderly, drinking in the flushed face, shy smile, and tousled hair.

“Can I just say something?” Sirius asked, breathless. A nod. “I am a fucked up man. I haven’t had a relationship in three years.” He shook his head, laughing a little. “You make me feel, Remus. I don’t know what it is about you. And I know we’ve only just met, and fucking hell this is cliché, but I feel like I’ve known you forever. Maybe it’s your taste in literature or your adorably crooked glasses, or maybe it’s the fact we connect in this way that I’ve never experienced. But I want to take this chance with you and risk being completely destroyed instead of wondering what could have been. So please take that chance with me because you are like no one I have ever met.” He exhaled a breath and quickly added, “It’s also a bonus that you’re incredibly handsome and witty.”

Remus laughed incredulously and merely nodded, whispering, “Yes.”

Sirius held up a finger, and ran over to the display case, picking up a single rose, and rushed back to Remus, holding it out to him.

He smiled, accepting the flower and pulled Sirius into him, kissing the life out of him.

From a passerby’s view in the cobbled streets, they would simply see two men in a tight embrace, their gazes never wavering.

Two lovers on Valentine’s Day.


Would you Peak over the edge of Belmore Falls?? Pretty risky shot here from @nkenyon91. ⠀

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The Genius of “Alayne II”


Exposition is a finely balanced art in storytelling, one which has to be treated with an overabundance of care. Of course, the audience for a story is not going to enter that world already knowing every crumb of expositional material. Not only would such a story be terribly boring, but it would also be devoid of any surprise or depth to characters’ motivations or views.

That said, exposition is so difficult for storytellers precisely because the audience knows it can be painfully unrealistic. No one in real life turns to his or her neighbor and presents an immediately apparent fact, or a fact the intended recipient would be expected to know (need I remind anyone of “I am Obara Sand, daughter of Oberyn Martell” - said to a man who has every reason to know who she is). Done incorrectly, then, exposition breaks the barrier between story and audience; we, the readers or watchers, get the sense that what is told on screen, on stage, or on the page is done only for our benefit. We’re reminded that we’re reading or watching a story, that none of this is really happening. So, if the audience cannot believe that a character in-universe would not know what is being told to him or her, or would not ask about the subject matter at hand, the exposition does not work.

All of the above is preface to discussion of one of my very favorite examples of exposition in ASOIAF: the end of “Alayne II”, A Feast for Crows. The author had a difficult task in front of him: explaining in greater detail Harry the Heir’s connection to House Arryn and his very high place in the succession to rulership of the Vale. Genealogical tables, while (obviously) fascinating to me, hardly make gripping story points, after all, and even the most talented writer would be hard-pressed to turn tracing lordly descent from a great-grandfather to the heir apparent an exciting experience. How boring it might have been to have Harry’s Arryn lineage revealed in some young Princess Victoria-esque way - a ponderous review of a written chart and subsequent declaration that Harry is “closer to the (weirwood) throne than I thought”.

So how did the author solve the problem? By constructing the narrative of Sansa’s Vale arc so that Littlefinger’s exposition at its end not only fulfills  the promise of Harry Hardyng’s importance, but crowns Sansa’s developing political education as well. The manner in which Littlefinger explains who Harry the Heir is fits perfectly with his own character and develops the dynamic of political calculation established in “Alayne I”. In ensuring that the exposition which ends “Alayne II” springs naturally from the personality and development of these two characters, the author dispels the danger which writing exposition poses.

Keep reading


@_maaad_ enjoying the beautiful Belmore falls - Morton national park, Robertson nsw, Australia.
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The Dark Side of the Moon Door

When we last left Alayne Stone in the Vale, we left her on … an almost surprising and positive note. It’s Day 0 of the Tourney she’s put together for the Lord of the Vale; noting that Sweetrobin takes solace in stories of the Winged Knight, Artys Arryn, Sansa concocts her very first “scheme” as a ‘player’ (a term I use loosely); surround the Lord of the Eyrie with his own bodyguard of “Winged Knights” to give him a sense of security. And what better a way to choose these Winged Knights than to make it a spectacle- invite every young, single knight in the Vale to compete for the positions.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

How does a house go about choosing their sigil? Are there laws saying what you can or can't use? If a house finds that someone has copied their sigil or is using one much too close to theirs could they force that house to change? Are there any requirements, like a certain acreage of land or amount of money before you can have one? Do vassal houses have to clear their choice with the house they are sworn to?

Thanks for the question, Anon.

It’s probably best to start by saying that GRRM, by his own admission, has “played fast and loose” with the rules of real-world heraldry in ASOIAF. So I’m not going to be referencing what the (sometimes very archaic and very complicated) real-world rules are about this broad subject - only how it appears to be treated in the books. Certainly as well, the examples I give here are not supposed to be read as the only instances where these happened in the books.

As it’s presented, when an individual is knighted (whether or not he actually gets lands), he is compelled to choose his own sigil, unless he is a trueborn son of a man with a sigil of his own. So, for example, Prince Baelor tells Duncan the Tall that he must “find a new device … a sigil of [his] own”, since Dunk was using Ser Arlan’s winged chalice; likewise, when Bronn is granted his knighthood after the Blackwater, he takes for his sigil a green and flaming chain on a smoking grey field. But a new sigil is also demanded when a family goes from non-noble to noble status: so, for example, when Janos Slynt was granted the lordship of Harrenhal, he chose for his sigil a gold and bloody spear on a black field. When an individual who already has a sigil comes into possession of a seat, they can choose to create a new sigil. So, for example, although Lancel Lannister could presumably have gone only with the Lannister lion when he was made Lord of Darry (as a male-line grandson of a Lannister lord), he - or, rather, his father Kevan - chose to quarter the Lannister lion with the Darry plowman, to ease the transition of power with the Darry locals. (I wish we knew what Philip Foote, new Lord of Nightsong, was doing for a sigil. Ah well.) Of course, this does not include the various personal sigils seen around Westeros, which do not necessarily belong to a reigning lord or knight; instead, they seem to be used to distinguish members of the same family from one another (like various members of House Frey - see Cleos, Benfrey, or the two fostered Walders) or to single out a single member of a family as special (like Lord Pearse Caron, “as skilled with a high harp as he was with a lance”, who blazoned his shield with a silver harp on gold, while still wearing the Caron nightingale).

How does a family choose its sigil? Well, a family has pretty broad leeway in what it wants to use for its sigil. Often, a family sigil is themed to the House’s geographical area: see, for example, the Mormont bear, the Redwyne grapes, or the scorpions of the desert-dwelling Qorgyles. Sometimes a family’s sigil is reflective of its history (like the Florent fox, as the Florents claim descent from Florys the Fox, clever daughter of Garth Greenhand). Sometimes, a sigil commemorates a specific event, like the flames of the Ullers (marking their immolation of a rival family in their own hall) or the flaming saltire and skulls of Qoherys (commemorating the deaths of Harren and his sons in Balerion’s flames, which gave Quenton Qoherys his lordship). Sometimes a sigil is a play on the family name (like the bells or Belmore, or the candles of Waxley), and sometimes the sigil is the family name (like the red castle of Redfort, or the green field of Greenfield). Sometimes a family’s sigil changes over time (like that of the Darklyns, where presumably a new white shield was added for every Darklyn who joined the Kingsguard), while sometimes, a family changes its sigil entirely in one stroke (like the Tolands, who changed from a ghost to a green dragon biting its own tail - a tribute to their brave fool, who died fighting King Aegon I while the rest of the family escaped). Most often, though, we have no idea why a family’s sigil is what it is. Why did House Rogers choose nine unicorns, or House Stokeworth the lamb and chalice, for example? Who knows. 

As far as “laws” … not really:

There are no “laws” of heraldry per se, no college of heralds for enforcement, no formal regulations about cadency and differencing. So individual knights and lords have a certain amount of freedom to bear what shields they prefer and play around with their house sigils… or not, as the case may be.

That being said, since one of the primary purposes of sigils is to identify men on a battlefield, it seems likely to me that there has to be some process of distinction, and some means of preventing others from appropriating shields to which they have no right. We also hear from young Ser Glendon Flowers that Lord Costayne “told [him he] had no right to put a fireball on [his] shield”, as Glendon could not prove he was Quentyn Ball’s son (and would have been his bastard anyway). So, I would think that there has to be some verification process, at least sometimes, when a lord or landed knight chooses a sigil. 

(Of course, this does not seem to have been the case for young Harry Hardyng. By right, Harry should have at least half his shield be the red and white diamonds of his father’s House, with perhaps the other half quartered with the broke wheel of Waynwood and the moon and falcon of Arryn (as his mother was the youngest daughter of Elys Waynwood and Alys Arryn). Instead, Harry’s relegated the Hardyng diamonds to a measly quarter of his arms, with the Waynwood wheel in another and the moon and falcon of Arryn in a full two quarters. Hmm, I’m sure no one could have whispered in his ear to do that …)

What I’m imagining is, a lord or king decides to grant lands to a knight or otherwise commoner. The commoner then devises a sigil, and maybe also words, for his new House. The new-made lord or landed knight then presents his idea to the lord or king granting him the land, who would then approve or deny. Probably, a maester is there to advise, studying the rolls or family arms to ensure that the proffered sigil is not too close to any another family already bears (especially, but not exclusively, I would think, if there is some greater possibility that this family could be on the opposite side of a battlefield). So long as it is different enough, the lord or king approves, and everyone is happy.

Now, I say “landed knight” because it seems highly unlikely that there is any formal qualification process ordinarily when a landless knight chooses a sigil. After all, no one, including Baelor Breakspear, appears to have cared what Dunk chose when told that he could not use Ser Arlan’s arms. Likewise, given that there were over six hundred knights made in the aftermath of the Blackwater, I really doubt the crown (read: Tywin Lannister) went through every one of their proposed arms and considered it before granting approval. Basically, so long as a knight stays clear of trouble - and the family whose arms his own mimic or outright appropriate - I’m guessing he can do pretty much what he wants in terms of his shield; however, if he starts asserting himself around lords who know a thing or two about heraldry, I assume that, like Lord Costayne tried to do with poor Glendon, he’s going to be knocked down a peg and almost certainly told to stop using those arms (and if he persists … well, a lord can call on backup, and a landless knight usually can’t). I could imagine in the same way, for example, that the old knightly Brunes of Brownhollow - who had driven away Ser Lothor while claiming that he was “no blood of theirs” - might not be so happy to find out that Lothor has taken the family bear paw in his own arms, especially if he came waltzing back near Brownhollow. 

The bottom line is, sigils are a vast, sometimes complicated, and occasionally very vague area of discussion, even in the simplified world of ASOIAF heraldry. 

The Queen Regent (NFriel)


These falls look enormous. Belmore Falls, New South Wales, Australia, Morton National Park.


Surely one of the best waterfalls in Australia.. ⠀

Thanks for sharing another photo of Belmore Falls @ _maaad_ ⠀

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House Words Wednesdays: House Haigh

Welcome to House Words Wednesdays! Each week, I take a House without known canon or semi-canon words and present what I think could make sense as that House’s motto. You’re free to suggest more as well, if your favored House has not yet been suggested; take a look at this link to see what has already been suggested, and shoot me an ask through Tumblr if you have another House you’d like to see done. 

House Haigh is a noble House of the Riverlands, one of the vassal Houses sworn to the Freys of the Crossing. Little is known about the Haighs, although I think the Haighs are landed knights rather than lords (we have yet to meet a “Lord Haigh”, and Perianne Frey, Walder’s eldest daughter, was married to Ser Leslyn Haigh; you might think the eldest daughter of the liege lords of the Haighs could do better among her father’s vassals than a non-ruling knight). The Haigh sigil is known, though: a black pitchfork on a gold bend sinister, on a russet field - an obvious play on their name being a homophone of "hay" (like the Waxleys of Wickenden, who have burning candles, or the Belmores of Strongsong, who have bells).

One of the most defining feature of the modern Haighs - and probably historically true as well, for as long as the Haighs have been Frey vassals - is an open, demonstrative closeness to House Frey. In the story of the Knight of the Laughing Tree, it was a squire to a knight of House Haigh who, along with the squires to a Frey and a Blount, bullied young Howland Reed (and subsequently saw his knight’s ass beat by Lyanna). As noted above, Leslyn Haigh married Perianne Frey, and he, along with his sons Harys and Donnel, attended the Red Wedding; the three Haighs were seen drinking with three particularly loathsome Freys - Lothar, Hosteen, and Raymund - as well as their fellow Frey marital relations and cronies, Lord Lucias and Ser Damon Vypren. During the bloody chaos of the Red Wedding, Harys Haigh was seen wrestling a Vance as Black Walder moved to kill him, while “poor old Leslyn Haigh” lost half an ear trying to subdue the Greatjon. Nor did the Haigh assistance of the Freys end there, as Harys and Donnel joined their cousin Arwood Frey in responding to the raid on Saltpans. Jaime himself counted the pitchforks of Haigh among the banners of the Frey vassals in the siege of Riverrun.

The Haighs, to me, seem real flunkies, eager to show their attachment to House Frey. With that in mind, I wanted words that would reflect that eagerness. Thus, I came up with Sprung From Good Seed. As with the words for the Waxleys (fittingly, “Light in Darkness”), I thought the Haigh words should incorporate the wordplay already present in the House sigil; the best hay would presumably be sprung from good seed. Additionally, this motto reflects the intermarriage between Haigh and Frey: all descendants of Leslyn will have that Frey blood from Perianne, and for the sycophantic Haighs, they might point to that connection as a further example of their being sprung from the “good” Frey seed. Finally, as vassals of the Freys, the Haighs receive all they have at the sufferance of the Freys; I could imagine the Haighs think of the Freys as the tenders of the land and themselves as the sustenance. If it sounds sickeningly sycophantic … well, that’s the Haighs.

Let me know what you think of these Haigh words. Next week House Words Wednesdays looks east, to a family of the Vale on the rise under new management. 

House Belmore lords of Strongsong, sworn to Arryn

Belmore is a noble house from the Vale. They are one of the more powerful noble houses sworn to House Arryn. Their arms are six silver bells on purple, 3-2-1. Their seat, Strongsong, is situated near a series of lakes within the Mountains of the Moon; a nearby glacial river flows east through a valley to Heart’s Home, and is within the southernmost river valley of the snakewood forest.The current lord of Strongsong is Lord Benedar and he was among the powerful Vale lords to sign the document of the Lords Declarant.