***I’m not one to allow spoilers to spoil my viewing experience. After all, I’m an expert at creating things I want to experience. But if you take Game of Thrones seriously and you haven’t seen the Battle of Winterfell just yet (although you’re not likely to be a true fan if you still haven’t seen the latest episode more than 24 hours after it first aired), then you need to know I’ll be dropping a few spoilers below.
There are a lot of things that go into a successful manifestation. First, you have to nail down what you really, truly want and go for that instead of the material placeholders we think we want. Second, you have to be able to get into the state of the person who already has what you want and stay there for as long as you can and as often as you can. And third, you have to learn to let it all go, to not obsess over it so much, to allow yourself to enjoy your life now, all the while believing that what you want is already here for you even when you cannot see it yet.
The first two elements are pretty easy to nail with some practice. It’s the third element that trips a lot of people up. That’s because what most Law of Attraction teachers call “letting go” in the process of manifestation is simply having faith. And faith, despite the word having been used and abused so many times in all the wrong places and contexts, is something most people don’t understand.
Faith, for sure, is not belief. Believing in something is holding on to an idea and calling it truth. Someone who thinks ghosts and ghouls are true believes in ghosts and ghouls, and so he hangs rows of garlic, sprinkles salt around his house, and takes other forms of action to protect himself from ghosts and ghouls. He operates on belief, on his certainty that an idea is true.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Belief is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. What you believe you create. If you believe you can create anything you want, there’s nothing stopping you from doing so. Not the government. Not religion. Not other people who think you cannot have what you want simply because they think they cannot have what they want. That’s not the way the Universe works.
But there are times when belief that you can have what you want just doesn’t cut it at all. I’m talking about those times when what you want seems to be unbelievable at the moment and you need to go beyond belief and place everything you’ve got on pure, blind faith. There it goes again, that word. What does faith even mean, anyway?
It’s not religion because religion is simply a system of worship that’s based on a belief. Some religions are borne on a belief in a benevolent man in a white robe sitting in the clouds, others on a league of human-like deities housed in golden temples on top of the world’s highest peaks, others on Mother Nature, beautiful and terrifying at the same time, others on the very human Dr. Jose Rizal, and others still on the flying spaghetti monster. These religions have very different foundational beliefs, but they are all based on that. Beliefs. Ideas that their leaders and followers consider true for now and possibly always. Again, nothing wrong with belief, but belief is not faith.
You want to know what faith is like? Get your HBO subscription or scour the wild Internet for links to leaked copies of Game of Thrones’ “The Long Night.” It’s the third episode in the final season of a series considered beyond epic proportions by the masses. The episode isn’t without its flaws, but we’re not here to focus on flaws. We know better than that. We’re here to take all the good we can get in every experience and savor that. Because, yes, you can rant about the technical missteps or the slip-ups in the writing, which is only ever satisfying if you’re watching with the mindset of a critic determined to pick out the flaws despite so many other good things happening, or you can appreciate damn brilliant TV for what it is, flaws and all.
Anyway, that’s not what this post is all about. This post is all about how pretty much everything about the Battle of Winterfell was built on faith, and pretty good, unshakable faith at that. Jon Snow was the commander who took on the Night King. He had no other choice, to be honest, his stronghold being the northernmost of all and the most likely to fall first in case of an attack of dead men. He knew he didn’t have the resources to withstand an army of un-tiring, un-sleeping, un-dead soldiers, but he went with what he had nonetheless. That’s faith, for sure, bolstered by a conviction that he had to do the right thing, that is keeping Westeros from falling into a never-ending night. He had no idea how to do it—this is Jon Snow we’re talking about—but he and the rest of his crew went into battle anyway.
But if you really want to know what a huge leap of faith would look like, you’d have to look to the Red Woman Melisandre for that. Since her horrendous fail assisting Stannis Baratheon to the Iron Throne and convincing him to sacrifice his daughter in the process, Melisandre found herself deep in a crisis of faith. All throughout the earlier seasons, Melisandre wasn’t operating on faith. She was operating on belief that the Lord of Light will always guide her and protect her and the king she thought she saw in the flames.
Since Shireen, however, Melisandre’s almost impenetrable belief in the Lord of Light’s patronage was shattered. She still knew her god was there. She just didn’t know if her god would help her or fail her. The ultimate test of faith was when the priestess felt called to light the trenches.
You see, that’s how it works. The call to go after what you want never comes from outside of you. it’s a call from the soul, an inner urge to do something you feel like you need to do. Did you see Melisandre’s face as she was saying her incantations? The woman was terrified as hell. And who wouldn’t be? There were hordes of the undead ready to ravage her just as soon as they got through the Unsullied who were protecting her as she prayed for fire. A particularly ravenous one was just inches away from eating her face before the Lord of Light heard her prayer.
She could’ve backed away. In fact, she could have decided not to go to the gates and take charge of torching the trenches. She could have stayed safely inside, at least for a little while longer until the wights breached the wall and entered the castle. But she did none of that and held her hands fast to the wooden trenches until they were on fire, notwithstanding the fact that she was looking literal death right in the face as dead men all around clambered to get to her.
Did she believe that the Lord of Light will come through for her? No, she didn’t, as he didn’t come through for her when she was so sure he will. But she went ahead and did it anyway. She knew that whatever happened, whether she’d be ripped to shreds alive or shielded from the dead just in time, she had to answer her own inner call and go do what she felt she had to do.
That’s what faith is all about. It’s about not knowing what’s going to happen next but forging ahead anyway. It’s about being plagued with fears and doubts but doing it nonetheless because you know you were meant to do that thing you wanted to do.
They say faith is best demonstrated in prayer, but I disagree. Faith is best demonstrated in how you live your life. It’s the actions that you take because you feel compelled to take them even though there’s no rational, sensible argument to back you up. It almost borders on crazy, in fact, to do things only because you know in your heart you have to do them even if you’re faced with all sorts of blocks and obstacles down the road.
While belief entails holding fast to something, faith requires letting everything go. And Melisandre literally let go of everything and plunged into the never-ending unknown when she risked death and becoming undead to do what she knew she had to do. Alan Watts sums it up best in his short but life-changing book “The Wisdom of Insecurity.” “Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go.”