My Theory : Rhaegar Targaryen is Ghost – Part 1
“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” – Albert Einstein
I propose Ghost is Rhaegar’s spirit, currently reincarnated as a direwolf. Since energy never dies, it only changes form, Rhaegar’s cremation closes the door on resurrection, and opens the door for reincarnation. Plenty of opportunity for Rhaegar’s spirit to leave his body long before his cremation.
Reincarnation is the transmigration of the soul from one living being to another living being.
Ghost, by definition, means ‘the spirit of a dead person’. Names and their meanings carry great weight in ASOIAF.
From the moment we meet Ghost as a days old pup, I have noticed a number of ever so intriguing similarities in traits and behaviours between Ghost & Rhaegar Targaryen.
Direwolves are not commonly found in Westeros.
“It’s no freak,” Jon said calmly. “That’s a direwolf. They grow larger than the other kind.”
Theon Greyjoy said, “There’s not been a direwolf sighted south of the Wall in two hundred years.”
“I see one now,” replied Jon.
– AGOT, Bran I (page 18)
This quote speaks to how rare it was to find a direwolf south of the wall, making his presence a unique, rare and interesting occurrence.
Ghost’s appearance coincided with the beginning of a series of very unfortunate events for House Stark, including Jon Snow.
“Direwolves loose in the realm, after so many years,” muttered Hullen, the master of horse. “I like it not.”
“It is a sign,” Jory said.
Father frowned. “This is only a dead animal, Jory,” he said. Yet he seemed troubled. Snow crunched under his boots as he moved around the body. “Do we know what killed her?”
“There’s something in the throat,” Robb told him ………. “There, just under the jaw.”
His father knelt and groped under the beast’s head with his hand. He gave a yank and held it up for all to see.
A foot of shattered antler, tines snapped off, all wet with blood.
A sudden silence descended over the party. The men looked at the antler uneasily, and no one dared speak. Even Bran could sense their fear, although he did not understand.
– AGOT, Bran I (page 18)
The discovery of the direwolf pups was immediate cause for intense concern amongst Ned, Jory and Hullen. They saw the direwolf killed by the stag as a bad omen: the Stag is the sigil of House Baratheon, specifically King Robert Baratheon. The direwolf is the sigil of House Stark, specifically Ned Stark. Here we have a stag killing the direwolf, leaving all of its 6 pups (6 Stark children) to fend for themselves. Since the stag was nowhere to be found and there is no mention of a blood trail, this suggests the stag lived to walk away unscathed, while the direwolf died.
Notice the location of the stag tine, in the throat of the direwolf. The throat represents communication, speech, words. Ned was later executed via beheading, sword through the neck (throat, center of communication). The stag in that situation (Cersei Baratheon) also walked away, unscathed. The timing of Ghost’s arrival was perfect if his purpose was to protect Jon Snow.
Jon was meant to find Ghost, Ghost was meant for Jon and only Jon.
…but Jon was listening to something else.
“There,” Jon said. He swung his horse around and galloped back across the bridge. They watched him dismount where the direwolf lay dead in the snow, watched him kneel. A moment later he was riding back to them, smiling.
“He must have crawled away from the others,” Jon said.
“Or been driven away,” their father said, looking at the sixth pup.
-AGOT, Bran I (pg 21)
Ghost had wandered away from the others, a behaviour that goes against the natural survival instinct. The discovery of Ghost was made by Jon as they were leaving. A few chapters later, Jon is separated from his pack, heading off to the Wall, far away from his brothers and sisters. In those moments before Jon discovered Ghost, the two already had a strong connection of some kind, intuitive or otherwise, as Jon heard and sensed Ghost whereas no one else in the group did.
The words of House Targaryen: ‘Fire & Blood’. Ghost has red eyes, often described as “red as blood” whereas none of the other direwolves do. The quote above continues here……
His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.
“An albino,” Theon Greyjoy said with wry amusement. “This one will die ever faster than the others.”
Jon Snow gave his father’s ward a long, chilling look. “I think not, Greyjoy,” he said. “This one belongs to me.”
-AGOT, Bran I (page 21)
There three important points here to consider. First, eyes as red as blood – Ghost is not an albino, despite Theon’s statement. Albinos have pink or deep pinkish eyes, with a deep pink pupil, which can appear reddish in certain light. Albinos do not have red eyes, nor do they have eyes red as blood. This further supports my theory that Ghost’s red eyes are intentional and symbolic as a link to Rhaegar.
Second, Ghost’s white fur coat is another intentional connection to Jon SNOW, snow being white.
Third, Ghost had his eyes open long before the other pups, long before any pup would. This is another shout out to Jon connection as it is bastard children grow up faster than those of legitimate birth. Ghost is not a bastard but he is growing up faster than his siblings from day one, just as Jon has.
The Old Gods could be behind the reincarnation of Rhaegar’s spirit into Ghost as we see later in the series, Jon compare the red of Ghost’s eyes and mouth to the red sap faces of the weirwood trees, and Ghost’s fur to the color of white bones, also like the white of the weirwood tree, of a heart tree – a direct link to the Old Gods.
The direwolf had no answer, but he licked Jon’s face with a tongue like a wet rasp, and his eyes caught the last light and shone like two great red suns. Red eyes, Jon realized, but not like Melisandre’s. He had weirwood’s eyes. Red eyes, red mouth, white fur. Blood and bone, like a heart tree. He belongs to the old gods, this one. And he alone of all the direwolves was white. Six pups they’d found in the late summer snows, him and Rob; five that were grey and black and brown, for the five Starks, and one white, white as Snow.
He had his answer then.
-ASOS, Jon (page 1092)
In the above quote from ASOS, Ghost returns to Castle Black after being separated from Jon for some time. Jon realizes in this moment the significance of Ghost coming into his life “one white, white as Snow” and that there were 6 pups: 5 of standard birth, 1 unique from the others.
Similarity between Ghost & Rhaegar with respect to “red eyes”: In Daenerys’ fever dreams while giving birth to Rhaego, she sees Rhaegar with red eyes (although Rhaegar had violet eyes in life)
And saw her brother Rhaegar, mounted on a stallion as black as his armor. Fire glimmered red through the narrow eye slit of his helm.
– AGOT, Daenerys (page 753)
Ghost’ & Rhaegar’s Personality: One of the most significant differences between Ghost and the other direwolves, is how quiet Ghost is. Silent. He never makes a sound.
“A very quiet wolf,” he observed.
“He’s not like the others,” Jon said. “He never makes a sound. That’s why I named him Ghost. That, and because he’s white. The others are all dark, grey or black.”
– Benjen and Jon discussing Ghost, AGOT, Jon I (page 53)
Others in Westeros who come into contact with Jon and Ghost, even those who have no past contact with direwolves, are immediately aware of how quiet Ghost is:
And suddenly the wolf was between them. He did not growl. The damned thing never made a sound. He only looked at him with those bright red eyes, and showed him his teeth, and that was more than enough.
– AGOT, Tyrion II (page 125)
Ghost isn’t only quiet around humans:
The bitch growled low in her throat and moved closer. Ghost looked up, silent, and fixed the dog with those hot red eyes.
– AGOT, Jon I pg52
Ghost is always silent, even around other dogs, which is not typical behaviour of a direwolf, wolf, or canine. Perhaps this is because Ghost is inhabited by the human spirit of Rhaegar Targaryen? What would Rhaegar know of the socially acceptable and standard behaviours of a direwolf? Likely that would not be something he would be paying much attention to if he was in fact inhabiting the body of a direwolf, trying to protect Jon day and night.
Rhaegar & Ghost’s Personalities: A human spirit in a direwolf’s body might very well be quiet, especially if that particular human was known to be melancholy, quiet, as Rhaegar was oft described.
“… there was a melancholy to Prince Rhaegar, a sense …… of doom. He was born in grief, my queen, and that shadow hung over him all his days.”
– Artsan Whitebeard, ASOS, Deaneries IV, page 587
Rhaegar was said to be a private person, one who kept to himself. He did not show any interest in playing with other children his own age, preferring books and the company of his harp. Ghost also shows no interest in socializing with anyone other than Jon, and occasionally one or two of Jon’s close friends.
Ghost’s Habits: Ghost often likes to slip away by himself and sit under the stars, suggesting a striking similarity to Rhaegar, who often spent time sleeping alone under the stars, in the ruined castle of Summerhall.
He found Ghost atop the hill, as he thought he might. The white wolf never howled, yet something drew him to heights all the same, and he would squat there on his hindquarters, hot breath rising in a white mist as his red eyes drank the stars.
– Jon commenting on Ghost, ASOS, page 356
Rhaegar’s Habits: Rhaegar would often spend time at the ruins of Summerhall, alone, sleeping under the stars.
“And yet Summerhall was the place the prince loved best. He would go there from time to time, with only his harp for company. Even the knights of the Kingsguard did not attend him there. He liked to sleep in the ruined hall, beneath the moon and stars, and whenever he came back he would bring a song.”
– Artsan Whitebeard commenting on Rhaegar, ASOS, Danaerys IV page 587
A few more associations below involving with Rhaegar, red eyes, and blood, the color and descriptive term “red as blood” so often used to describe Ghost’s eyes:
Rhaegar is associated with rubies (and the color red and blood) throughout the series.
The crown prince wore the armor he would die in: gleaming black plate with the three-headed dragon of his House wrought in rubies on the breast.
– AGOT, Eddard, page 631
In Daenery’s visions in the House of the Undying, she sees Rhaegar associated with rubies and blood.
Rubies flew like drops of blood from the chest of a dying prince, and he sank to his knees in the water and with his last breath murmured a woman’s name …
– ACOK, Daenerys, page 706
I propose Rhaegar is living inside Jon’s direwolf, protecting him, looking out for him, warning him of danger many times throughout the series. A guardian angel of sorts from the Old Gods to help ensure, as best he can, that Jon is around for the final battle against the Others.
Ghost is as crucial a character as Jon Snow is to the ASOIAF story, which is why the HBO show absolutely could not put Ghost in the BotB.
Ghost absolutely must live right to the very end, perhaps even longer than Jon Snow….. but that is a post for another day 🙂
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