First and foremost, the show features prominently an organization called “The Night’s Watch”. They are a military order dedicated to holding the Wall, which is an immense fortification along the Northern Border of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros which has 19 castles. They are tasked with defending the realm of men from the threats from beyond the wall, which historically has been a people called “Wildlings” by the people of the seven kingdoms.
However, there is something more sinister that lives beyond the wall as well. Creatures known as the "Others" in the books, and "White Walkers" on the show, who are described in the books as tall and gaunt, with flesh as pale as milk. They have cold blue eyes that have been described as burning like ice or being as bright as blue stars. In the show the “White Walkers” are depicted as emaciated and zombie like with the blue eyes as described above, many of them are dressed in black. They are led in the show by a White Walker called the “Night King”. What makes the White Walkers or Others so dangerous is that they have the ability to resurrect the dead through a form of necromancy which occurs when they touch the corpse. The newly raised undead are called Wights.
The "Others" have not been seen for eight thousand years, when they came from the Land of Always Winter (the area which the wall separates from the kingdoms of Westeros). At this time, the others brought with them cold and darkness which lasted a generation, and this time is known as the Long Night. They were defeated by the first men of the Night’s Watch and the children of the forest, at a battle called the Battle for the Dawn where the forces of men were led by someone called the Last Hero.
The Night’s Watch wear only black and they are known as black brothers. Those who join the Night’s Watch are said to take the black. The Watch consists of three orders, rangers, builders and stewards. They all report to the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and each of the orders are led by its own officer, known as the First Ranger, the First Builder and the Lord Steward. The Lord Commander is responsible for appointing the above officers. While taking the black was once thought of as being an honorable thing to do, and you would see knights, honorable men and nobles taking the black, it has now become a way for some to avoid punishment or death, and you see only disgraced nobles, bastards and criminals taking the black.
The Night’s Watch recruits take vow either in a "Sept" (church for the seven gods of Westeros) or before a heart tree (which is a holy place for the Old Gods). The vows are as taken from A Game of Thrones, Chapter 48, Jon VI.: “Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.” They have their own funeral rights as well, as it is customary to say “And now his watch is ended.” at the end of the deceased black brother’s eulogy.
The similarities between the Night’s Watch and Freemasonry should be pretty clear at this point. Both organizations have vows which are taken before God (or Gods). Both organizations were formed to help keep the darkness of the world at bay. In our case, our allegories revolve around the builders of King Solomon’s Temple, while the builders of the Night’s Watch are responsible for maintaining the Wall. Both organizations have seen declining membership, whereas the Night’s Watch was once able to staff 17 of the 19 castles; it now can only staff 3. Both organizations have left their West Gate unguarded, so that less than honorable men are now members of both organizations. The Night’s Watch has Stewards, and we have Stewards. The Night’s Watch seems to be based upon the Templars, and depending on which Masonic history you subscribe to, there’s a good possibility that some of our ritual comes from the Templars. In fact, you can be a member of the Knight’s Templar body within the York Rite if you desire.
In the next installment, we’ll discuss some of the Masonic Symbolism hidden within the Heraldry of some of the Major Houses. Be sure to check back Next Wednesday!
WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.