the north folk

Girl From The North Country
Bob Dylan
Girl From The North Country

I’m a-wonderin’ if she remembers me at all
Many times I’ve often prayed
In the darkness of my night
In the brightness of my day

Young girl taking part in the Imichil Wedding Festival

Location:  Imilchil, Morocco

Photographer: Bruno Barbey

The town of Imilchil represents a symbol of Berber culture, known for its festival, officially known as Betrothal Festival – the Souk Aamor Agdoud N’Oulmghenni. The legend goes that two young people from different tribes fell in love, but were forbidden to see each other by their families. The grief led them to cry themselves to death, creating the neighbouring lakes of Isli (his) and Tislit (hers) near Imilchil. The families decided to establish a day on the anniversary of the lovers’ death – when members of local tribes could marry each other. Thus the Imilchil Marriage Festival was born. In reality, the region is a large scattering of tiny villages, and when young person needs to find a partner, they can’t simply go and look for one, due to the conservative social norms. Thus, the festival allows for fathers to show their daughters and find husbands for them. When a woman accepts a man’s proposal to marry, she says “You have captured my liver”. (Tq massa n uchemt) Up to 40 couples take their vows on the same day. The festival is rich with music, dancing, feasts, and colorful clothing. The celebrations attracts many tourists to the area, and though contributing to local economy, there are fears that the rituals can be affected by the foreigners.

kemmlerthekitschmaster  asked:

Can you elaborate more on how the Alys-Sigorn wedding was awesome and its like a baby that conquered the world? I just really like Alys/Sigorn and want to hear more about it.

Whew, where to begin? The Alys-Sigorn wedding is IMO a strong candidate for “best scene in the series,” and it’s probably exhibit A in the case for ADWD as the best book in that series (give or take Dany X and the dragontaming). It’s the surest sign that GRRM still knows what he’s doing and that the sedimentary layers of story are producing more powerful moments as he goes. It’s such a narratively dense event with so many resonances that you could spend days teasing it apart. Here’s just a brief overview.  

At one level, the wedding symbolizes and enacts the alliance between the Stark North and the Free Folk, presided over by the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (himself having been raised in Winterfell, but also having ridden with the wildlings). It’s very ceremonial and ritualistic, GRRM taking his time setting it up and lingering on every detail so you really get what a momentous deal this is: a powerful wildling leader and the daughter of a significant Northern house joining to forge something new. This carries such weight with us because we’ve been living with this bitter divide and the knowledge of how longstanding and entrenched it is for multiple books. Climbing this hill seemed nigh-impossible back in ASOS when Stannis proposed it; now, we see a real ray of hope. And of course, this dovetails so beautifully with what happens at chapter’s end: the horn blast announcing Tormund Giantsbane’s arrival to cement that pact. 

This sense of harmonic resolution wouldn’t mean much, though, if it didn’t also extend to the bride and groom specifically. Alys coming to Jon (specifically as Ned’s son) and securing his help against Cregan and Arnolf marks a symbolic reconciliation between Houses Stark and Karstark. Instead of the latter house as an enemy, as they’ve been since early in ASOS, we now see them as a complex family riven by internal conflict, and there’s a chance to set things right. It helps, of course, that Alys is immediately one of the most lovable characters in the story: “Let him be scared of me.” As for Sigorn, his father died at Castle Black thanks to Jon’s defenses, and earlier in ADWD, Sigorn himself opposed assimilation to the point of threatening Jon’s life. Here, however, he brings the Thenns into the larger realm and makes a very moving peace–and of course he, too, is written to encourage empathy in the wedding scene, coming off nervous, awkward, and ultimately good-hearted. 

But what really makes this scene shine, undergirding and emphasizing all of the above, is the imagery. It…glows. 

And Melisandre said, “Let them come forth, who would be joined.” The flames cast her shadow on the Wall behind her, and her ruby gleamed against the paleness of her throat.

Jon turned to Alys Karstark. “My lady. Are you ready?”

“Yes. Oh, yes.”

“You’re not scared?”

The girl smiled in a way that reminded Jon so much of his little sister that it almost broke his heart. “Let him be scared of me.”The snowflakes were melting on her cheeks, but her hair was wrapped in a swirl of lace that Satin had found somewhere, and the snow had begun to collect there, giving her a frosty crown. Her cheeks were flushed and red, and her eyes sparkled.

“Winter’s lady.” Jon squeezed her hand.

The Magnar of Thenn stood waiting by the fire, clad as if for battle, in fur and leather and bronze scales, a bronze sword at his hip. His receding hair made him look older than his years, but as he turned to watch his bride approach, Jon could see the boy in him. His eyes were big as walnuts, though whether it was the fire, the priestess, or the woman that had put the fear in him Jon could not say. Alys was more right than she knew.

“Who brings this woman to be wed?” asked Melisandre.

“I do,” said Jon. “Now comes Alys of House Karstark, a woman grown and flowered, of noble blood and birth.” He gave her hand one last squeeze and stepped back to join the others.

“Who comes forth to claim this woman?” asked Melisandre.

“Me.” Sigorn slapped his chest. “Magnar of Thenn.”

“Sigorn,” asked Melisandre, “will you share your fire with Alys, and warm her when the night is dark and full of terrors?”

“I swear me.” The Magnar’s promise was a white cloud in the air. Snow dappled his shoulders. His ears were red. “By the red god’s flames, I warm her all her days.”

“Alys, do you swear to share your fire with Sigorn, and warm him when the night is dark and full of terrors?”

“Till his blood is boiling.” Her maiden’s cloak was the black wool of the Night’s Watch. The Karstark sunburst sewn on its back was made of the same white fur that lined it.

Melisandre’s eyes shone as bright as the ruby at her throat. “Then come to me and be as one.” As she beckoned, a wall of flames roared upward, licking at the snowflakes with hot orange tongues. Alys Karstark took her Magnar by the hand.

Side by side they leapt the ditch.

“Two went into the flames.” A gust of wind lifted the red woman’s scarlet skirts till she pressed them down again. “One emerges.” Her coppery hair danced about her head. “What fire joins, none may put asunder.”

This is hope rendered in radiant red and gold; this is what endgame looks like. We saw it, just a flash of it, as their leap (like Theon and Jeyne’s, several chapters later) reached its apex. This leap over the flames and everything that goes with it exists in defiance of the Long Night, in spite of the army of the dead. It’s a fire to circle around, a well from which to draw strength, and a foundation for what comes next. House Thenn’s sigil is appropriate; they represent the Dawn.