Eagle-eyed Game of Thrones viewers noticed a familiar sight in the Season 8 premiere. The recognizable spiral at the end of the episode also appeared in season 7's "Spoils of War." After Dany allows Jon to start mining for dragonglass in the caves of her ancestral home, he leads her down to the caves to show her something many viewers realized bares a lot of visual significance. While Jon shows off ancient cave drawings that show the Children of the Forrest and the First Men uniting to defeat the White Walkers, savvy viewers honed in on the huge spiral on the cave wall. If you've watched enough Game of Thrones, this symbol has become a notorious sight.
Spirals in Game of Thrones have popped up consistently, leaving many viewers wondering if they're symbolic of something. Could they provide clues as to how the show is going to end? Are they a significant to finding out who the Prince Who Was Promised is going to be? Symbolism in Game of Thrones is tricky to unravel, but the fans are nothing if not determined to do so.
The notorious spiral made an appearance in perhaps the darkest moment of the season 8 premiere, "Winterfell." Tormund Giantsbane, Beric Dondarrion, and Eddison Tollett enter Last Hearth, the home of the House of Umber. They come across an apparently deceased Ned Umber who, earlier in the episode, was ordered by Sansa to bring his people to Winterfell in an attempt to protect themselves from the Night King's army. Lord Umber is strung up and surrounded by human limbs. He opens his eyes, prompting Beric to light him on fire. The flames spread to the body parts around him, emphasizing the enlightened spiral symbology.
Fans are stumped as to the true meaning of the spiral, but its significance is not lost. Little Lord Umber's demise is a calling card for the Night King's army, warning those in Winterfell that regardless of their efforts, they must prepare for war.
Redditor whichonespinkterren has noted the spiral symbols are a creation of the show. They haven't been mentioned in the books (yet), but they have cropped up on the series with enough frequency they shouldn't be disregarded. They’re bound to be significant. Game of Thrones co-showrunner David Benioff has mentioned that symbols carry meaning, and that they're placed on our screens for a reason:
"There are certain symbols and patterns that recur throughout the show. The first time we saw that was in one of the very first scenes in the pilot, when Will the ranger sees the Wildling body parts in an odd pattern displayed by the White Walkers. We see it again north of the Wall with the dead horses displayed in a spiral pattern, and then you see it again here and learn where these patterns come from, that they're ancient symbols of the Children of the Forest used in their rituals, and the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers."
The circular symbols appear in the very first episode when a member of the Night's Watch comes across a number of dead wildlings who have been chopped up and arranged in the (now familiar) circle-with-a-line-through-the-center pattern. In Season 3, Jon Snow and Mance Rayder discover dead horses arranged in the same spiral pattern. Rayder even comments that the White Walkers are "artists" when it comes to this kind of thing.
The symbol appears again in the Season 6 episode "The Door," and this time we learn it has something to do with the Children of the Forrest. You might remember seeing the Children of the Forrest creating the White Walkers in one of Bran's visions. During that vision, there's an overhead shot which shows stones in the spiral formation, with a weirwood tree smack dab in the middle. Next time both the spirals and the circle appear, they're in the cave with Dany and Jon in the Season 7 episode "The Spoils of War."
At first blush, this theory seems a little wild. After all, Game of Thrones is a show set in a fantasy, feudal world. How would aliens fit into that? A couple of fans are pretty convinced, however, the show could take its plot twists to the next level by incorporating creatures even crazier than dragons.
Redditor bestnameyet thinks the spirals and circles seen on the cave walls are reminiscent of signs and symbols used in sci-fi movies to signify that aliens are among us. Another reddit user, who has since deleted their account, theorized that Game of Thrones exists in the same universe as the Star Wars movies, a franchise where aliens are everywhere.
We probably won't see Jon Snow wielding a lightsaber in the near future, but, as Donna Dickens points out, there has been mention of a "third race" that was lost to the ravages of time. Are they preparing to make an appearance again? Did they know the Children of the Forest, and is that why the Children can't stop drawing spirals?