Women who wish to become septas train first as novices. There are some great centers of religious training, such as the Great Sept of Baelor. Upon taking her vows and being consecrated in the Faith, a septa sets aside her last name, even if she comes from a noble family. Septas take a vow of chastity. Unlike the silent sisters, septas do not swear a vow of silence.
Septas often serve at motherhouses and in cloisters. They typically dress in white robes, some with a woven seven-color belt. Septas sometimes wear hoods, but not always, and their hair can be seen. Like septons, septas often wear a crystal pendant about their necks.
Septas teach girls how to read, write, and do sums, and they also educate about piety, deportment, and the mysteries of the Faith. Many serve as governesses in noble households, teaching girls needlework and other womanly arts. For example, Septa Roelle served House Tarth of Evenfall Hall, and Septa Mordane serves House Stark of Winterfell. Septas are supposed to serve as chaperones and guardians when their female charges keep company with men.
A woman who scolds another person might be facetiously called a septa, despite not actually being one.
In 44 AC, when his child with Alys Harroway was stillborn, King Maegor I Targaryen had her midwife and septas executed. In 47 AC, Maegor sent Princess Rhaella Targaryen to be trained as a septa in Oldtown.
In 84 AC, Princess Saera Targaryen, and her favorites Alys Turnberry and Perianne Moore, evaded their septas to carry on affairs with men. When the affair became known to Queen Alysanne Targaryen and King Jaehaerys I Targaryen, Perianne said Saera was "smarter than the septas". As a punishment, Saera was promised to the Faith as a novice of the silent sisters in Oldtown, under the instruction of her sister, Septa Maegelle. However, after a year and a half, Saera fled to Lys, taking service in a pleasure garden.
Princess Naerys Targaryen loved the Seven, and might have been a septa if her father, Prince Viserys, had allowed it. But he did not, and instead married Naerys to her brother, Prince Aegon Targaryen, in 153 AC.
Around 270 AC, King Aerys II Targaryen accused his wife, Queen Rhaella Targaryen, of being unfaithful to him, and forced her to share her bed with two septas every night to ensure she would remain faithful.
A Game of Thrones
When Robert dies and his son Joffrey Baratheon takes the throne, Eddard is arrested, and Septa Mordane is executed for alleged treason. Joffrey forces Sansa to view Septa Mordane's decapitated head on a spike on the Red Keep's walls, along with Eddard's.
A Storm of Swords
Septa Nysterica accompanies Lady Margaery Tyrell to King's Landing for her wedding to King Joffrey I Baratheon. Sansa Stark meets Septa Nysterica, along with Margaery's other ladies, when she is invited to a supper at the Maidenvault.
At House Baelish's tower in the Vale, Lord Petyr Baelish instructs Sansa Stark on the background for her assumed identity as his bastard daughter, Alayne Stone. Alayne was entrusted to the Faith when her mother died in childbirth, but at her flowering decided she did not wish to be a septa, and contacted Petyr.
A Feast for Crows
During the wake for Lord Tywin Lannister, seventy-seven septas sing before the altar of the Mother within the Great Sept of Baelor. At midnight during Ser Jaime Lannister's vigil, softly-singing septas emerge through the Mother's Doors.
Queen Margaery Tyrell is accused of adultery, and she and her cousins are taken into custody by septas. Margaery's maidenhead is examined by septas and found broken, and Septa Nysterica is confined to a penitent's cell for failure to do her duty. The High Sparrow then has Queen Regent Cersei Lannister seized by septas and silent sisters, for her own accused crimes of adultery and murder.
A Dance with Dragons
Aboard the Shy Maid, Septa Lemore educates Young Griff about the Seven. Tyrion Lannister wonders if she is a true septa, due to her lack of modesty, and stretchmarks likely indicating a pregnancy.
Septas Moelle, Scolera, and Unella serve as Cersei's gaolers. They are part of Cersei's escort during her walk of atonement for the sin of fornication, ringing bells and chanting, "Shame, shame, shame on the sinner."
After her walk of atonement, Lord Regent Kevan Lannister places Cersei within house arrest in the Red Keep, awaiting her trial for her other accused crimes. Rather than her usual ladies-in-waiting, Cersei is attended by a septa and three novices selected by the High Septon. The novices are highborn girls between the age of twelve and sixteen, and the High Septon insists that no girl spend more than seven days with Cersei, lest she be corrupted. The novices serve as Cersei's handmaids, with one sharing her bed every night to make sure she has no other company. The other two sleep in an adjacent chamber with their supervising septa. The novices report to Kevan that of the hours Cersei is awake, she spends a third of that time with her son, King Tommen Baratheon, another third praying, and the rest in her tub, bathing four or five times a day, scrubbing herself with horsehair brushes and lye soap.
Arya: I hate Septa Mordane.
Eddard: That's enough. The septa is doing no more than is her duty, though gods know you have made it a struggle for the poor woman. Your mother and I have charged her with the impossible task of making you a lady.
Have you ever noticed that septas always look like prunes? That's what a life of chastity will do to you.
Spare me the sermon, septa.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 23, Daenerys II.
- Fire & Blood, Birth, Death, and Betrayal Under King Jaehaerys I.
- So Spake Martin: Various ASOIAF Questions, April 21, 2000
- Fire & Blood, Jaehaerys and Alysanne - Their Triumphs and Tragedies.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 68, The Dragontamer.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 31, Brienne VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 22, Arya IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8, Jaime I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 65, Cersei II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion IV.
- The Sworn Sword.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 43, Cersei X.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 8, Tyrion III.
- Fire & Blood, A Surfeit of Rulers.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 7, Arya I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 9, Brienne II.
- Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne: Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 39, Cersei IX.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 49, Catelyn VI.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Greyjoys of Pyke.
- Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Baelor I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
- See the Tyene Sand calculation.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 39, Jon VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 22, Arya II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 67, Sansa VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 6, Sansa I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei VI.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 22, Tyrion VI.
- A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.