The Drowned God, also known as He Who Dwells Beneath the Waves, is a sea deity worshiped solely by the ironborn of the Iron Islands in Westeros. The religion of the Drowned God is old, dating back to before the Andal invasion. Most Andal invaders of the Iron Islands converted to the local religion rather than supplant it with the Seven as they did in the south of Westeros. The Drowned God religion supports the ironmen's naval, pirate culture.
Like the ironborn, the Drowned God is a harsh deity and goes hand in hand with the Old Way. It is said the Drowned God made the ironborn to reave and rape, to carve out kingdoms and to make their names known in fire and blood and song. The Drowned God himself is believed to have brought flame from the sea and sailed the world with fire and sword. The Drowned God's eternal enemy, the Storm God, resides in a hall within the clouds and ravens are his creatures. It is said the two deities have been in conflict for millennia and the sea roils in anger when they engage in battle. However, much like the Drowned God, no one aside from the ironborn believe in the Storm God.
When an ironman drowns, it is said that the Drowned God needed a strong oarsman, and the refrain "What is dead may never die" is used. It is believed he will be feasted in the Drowned God's watery halls, his every want satisfied by mermaids. Libations for those who have died can be poured into the sea by the living. Some ironmen believe that worthy adversaries, even if they do not worship the Drowned God, can go to the god's halls.
Drowning and resurrection feature prominently in the prayers and rituals of the Drowned God religion. Sacrificial drowning is the traditional method of execution for the ironmen, but it is also considered a holy act, and the most faithful have no fear of it. Newborns are "drowned" shortly after birth, being submerged into or anointed with saltwater. This is done as part of rites of the god, committing their bodies to the sea, so when they die they may find the Drowned God's halls. Both the method of execution and the newborn rite are referred to as being "given to the Drowned God".
During the anointment ritual, the priest has a person kneel. Using his skin of sea water, he pours a stream of it upon the person's head. As he does this he intones:
Priest: Let <person> your servant be born again from the sea, as you were. Bless him with salt, bless him with stone, bless him with steel. Response: What is dead may never die. Priest: What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger
- Main article: Drowned men
Clergymen, called drowned men, are drowned a second time in earnest and brought back to life with a crude form of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Not all men are successfully revived, however. Drowned men wear roughspun robes of mottled green, grey, and blue, the colours of the Drowned God. They carry driftwood cudgels to show their devotion in battle, as well as skins of saltwater to perform ritual anointment and occasionally drink from to strengthen their faith.
While priests of the Drowned God must not shed the blood of ironborn, they have no such reservation about other methods such as drowning.
Priests of the Drowned God bless new ships, speaking invocations and pouring sea water over prows. "Lord God who drowned for us" is part of the litany of the Drowned God's priests.
In his Strange Stone Maester Theron suggests that the religion of the Drowned God originates from the undersea fathers of the Deep Ones. Worship of the old gods as practiced by other First Men of Westeros did not occur in the Iron Islands.
During the Andal invasion, the Faith of the Seven was introduced to the Iron Islands with mixed results. In time, even most Andals of the isles adopted the native religion of the Drowned God.
The dynasty of House Hoare, many of whom supported the Faith, was ill regarded by followers of the Drowned God. King Horgan Hoare become known as Horgan Priestkiller when he suppressed drowned men who had attacked followers of the Faith. King Harmund II Hoare worshipped both the Drowned God and the Seven, referring to "the Eight Gods". Opposed by adherents of both religions, Harmund eventually considered the Drowned God to be an aspect of the Stranger. The Shrike led the drowned men in renouncing the Faith and rebelling against Harmund III Hoare.Halleck Hoare, King of the Isles and the Rivers, spent most of his time in the riverlands and only nominally supported the Drowned God.
Following the death of Halleck's son, King Harren the Black, during House Targaryen's War of Conquest, the priest Lodos claimed to be the living son of the Drowned God. Lord Vickon Greyjoy allowed the Faith of the Seven to return to the Iron Islands in the aftermath of the Conquest. In return for the defeat of a second Lodos by Lord Goren Greyjoy, King Aenys I Targaryen allowed the ironborn to again expel the Faith from the lands of the Drowned God.
Lordsport had a sept of the Faith at the time of Greyjoy's Rebellion, but it was not rebuilt it after its destruction during the war. The Drowned God is again the predominant deity worshiped in the islands.
A Clash of Kings
During the harrying of the Stony Shore, Aeron Greyjoy sacrifices Benfred Tallhart to the Drowned God.
A Feast for Crows
Aeron rejects the claim of Euron Greyjoy to be King of the Isles and the North, insisting the godless Euron is not worthy to sit the Seastone Chair.
During the taking of the Shields, Victarion Greyjoy pays tribute to its casualties, whom he hopes will feast in the Drowned God's halls.