The 5th Season of Game of Thrones has begun on HBO. Speculation is on a high about the future of the characters. Another round of R+L = J anyone?
Most however treat the speculated Dragon Riders as an almost foregone conclusion. Mainly that Daenerys will be riding Drogon, the black Dragon. But I will state that this may not be so and the reason lies in the Alchemy symbolism in the books.
The three dragons represent the three stages of the Great Work.
I've included a representation of the three headed dragon from the alchemical allegory called Splendor Solis. The three stages of the great work in the artwork are:
1) Nigredo - The Black Dragon head
2) Albedo - The White Dragon head
3) Rubedo - The Red Dragon head
Each stage represents the a transformation of the material into the Philosopher's stone. In literature allegories, the stone is represented as a hero or heroine.
The Alchemist will take the blackened, unpurified stone substance and break it down into it's three essentials. This is called the Nigredo stage. Alchemists use symbols of death and blackness to indicate the first stage of the stone being purified. The death symbols are black dragons, skulls, beheadings, crows, black suns, black kings and images of Saturn. Out of this poisonous, black material the Alchemist will get the three essentials:
1) Salt or Body
2) Sulfur or Heart
3) Mercury or Mind
Each of these materials will be continually purified in what is called The Chemical Wedding or Albedo until they are so pure that they can be recombined in the Rubedo stage into the Philosopher's Stone.
Daenerys' dragons fit into the symbology like so:
Drogon the Black/Red (The hidden stone in the black) - Nigredo
Rhaegal the Green/Bronze (Green Lion eating the Sun) - Albedo
Viserion the White/Gold (Quintessence) - Rubedo
(ETA 4/20/15: To answer the question why Rhaegal is green instead of white lies in the process of alchemical method. There are two materials to work, Plant and Metal and there are two paths, wet and dry. The greening is usually associated with plant matter. This occurs during the albedo phase. According to this site, if the metal method is used the equivalent symbol would be a grey wolf.)
The character of Daenerys is the main Philosopher's child. Her existence drives the events. Her Dragons indicate her as the main stone material being purified.
As she moves through the stages, she will ride all three dragons by the end of the books. At this point in the story Daenerys is still dealing with Ego and Death. So she has an affinity for Drogon. But as she purifies we will see her grow closer to Rhaegal during the Albedo then Viserion during Rubedo.
Each of her dragons will sense when she has moved to the next stage and will respond to her in kind. This brings us back to the Three Dragon Riders and putting it together with the three essentials.
The most popular three riders that fans speak of are, of course, Daenerys Targaryen, then Tyrion Lannister (almost a foregone conclusion at this point) and Jon Snow.
All three of them are following the same path of purification. But when paired together they will embody the essentials in a unique way due to the symbology around them.
The Three Riders:
1) Salt - Body - Tyrion Lannister
2) Sulfur - Heart - Daenerys Targaryen
3) Mercury - Mind - Jon Snow.
The Three Dragons:
1) Salt - Body - Drogon
2) Sulfur - Heart - Rhaegal
3) Mercury - Mind - Viserion
If you go by the representation of the essentials, than it is a simple mix and match. But that is not how Martins is pairing the dragons with the riders. The Dragons will choose the riders according to their place in three stages.
1) Nigredo - Tyrion Lannister - Drogon
2) Albedo - Jon Snow - Rhaegal
3) Rubedo - Daenerys Targaryen - Viserion
More hints that this is so reside in the symbols around them.
Tyrion's story was one of death. He is the earth or salt symbol because of the homeland that he wants to be lord of...Casterly Rock. It is this fact that trumps his Mercury characteristics. Also I highly doubt Martins is aiming for a love story between Daenerys and Tyrion. I rather think the Chemical Wedding will be between Jon and Daenerys. They will be the quarreling lovers and Tyrion will bring harmony between them since he is their conduit, he knows both and has foreknowledge.
As Daenerys emerges from the Nigredo, Tyrion will enter her story. Drogon will sense that Daenerys has reached a higher form of being. He will then choose, of his own free will, to bear Tyrion.
I forecast that Daenerys will first go to the wall to stop the White Walkers. There she will meet both Jon Snow and Stannis. She will be riding the next Dragon in her spiritual journey...Rhaegal. It is here that Jon and Dany will fall in love representing the King and Queen of the Chemical Wedding. At first they will try to stop falling in love, they will fight but they will finally accept one another. The alchemy symbolism shows the King and Queen making love, dying, being buried then being reborn. The result is the albedo, the pure forms of Mercury and Sulfer. Jon Snow is surrounded by white, in his name, in his living...the far north. Ice or Water is also Mercurial equivalent. Because Snow will enter the story during the Chemical Wedding, he represents the Albedo stage. Therefore we will witness the dragon Rhaegal (namesake of Jon's hypothesized father) choose Jon as his rider.
That leaves the final stage, Rubedo. This is when Daenerys will turn into the Queen she was meant to be and rule Westeros. But even still that won't mean Daenerys will automatically get to ride Viserion (namesake of her brother) by default.
No, Daenerys must make a sacrifice in order to become the stone and gain the right to ride the Golden Dragon.
That sacrifice will be to give up Jon Snow and take Stannis Baratheon as her consort. It will be a hard decision, it will mean giving up true love. But I believe she will do it, to ensure that Westeros will survive and live in peace. When she makes that decision, Viserion will allow her to ride him.
Why must it be Stannis Baratheon? Because the symbology of his house. The Stag. In alchemy symbolism, the rubedo begins when the Stag and Unicorn meet.
When Daenerys wins the crown, the three will disperse and so will the Dragons.
Labels: alchemy, analysis, books, commentary, Game of Thrones, symbology