One of the most iconic scenes in Game of Thrones history was the revelation that Hodor's name really meant hold the door. Hodor (Kristian Nairn), originally named Wylis, was mentally scrambled when Bran (Isaac Hemptstead-Wright) entered his mind as a child as the older Hodor was dying in the present. Bran's abilities to telepathically control another person or animal is crucial to his survival, and it allows him to explore the world beyond his paralysis.
This ability is called skinchanging, and it is a magical ability that seems to be genetic to the Stark family. In the books, Bran is not the only one who can enter the minds of other beings: other Stark family members also exhibit this gift. It is believed that the Starks possess this power because they are the blood of the First Men.
Before we get into this theory, let's start off by explaining the difference between warging and skinchanging. This information comes to us from the Song of Ice and Fire books, and it does split hairs between the two. Warging is an ability that allows a person to inhabit the mind and body of a wolf. Skinchanging is the umbrella term for being able to inhabit any animal, not just wolves. All skinchangers are wargs, but not all wargs are skinchangers.
In the show, the terms warging and skinchanging are used interchangeably, although the show only presents Bran Stark as a skinchanger. The novel series follows Arya (played by Maisie Williams in the show), who is able to inhabit the mind of cats, which allows her to see while she is blinded at the House of Black and White. She also frequently has dreams in which she is Nymeria, wandering through the woods hunting with her wolf pack.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is also a warg — he dreams that he is Ghost, and once awoke screaming when Ghost was being bitten by an eagle. He's also inhabited Ghost's mind, but he appears to have done so accidentally and does not seem to be interested in expanding his warging capabilities.
The only surviving member of House Stark that has never exhibited warging or skinchanging abilities is Sansa (Sophie Turner). Her direwolf Lady was the very first casualty for the Starks; she was sadly executed by Ned Stark (Sean Bean) in the first book and season of the show. Lady was killed on orders of Cersei (Lena Headey), in proxy of Nymeria, who'd bitten Joffrey and was run off by Arya to save her life. It is entirely possible that Sansa posseses these powers, but never developed them because her direwolf was killed too soon. In any case, Sansa's abilities lay in her own distinct mind, not the minds of other creatures.
We hope the television show explores this mystical side to the Starks, as it seems to have been mainly relegated to the book series. The Stark family is more of a power player than they are given consistently credit for.
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