The Stain Upon Lothlorien

Lothlorien, by all accounts, was a really swell place. We’re told that “On the land of Lorien there was no stain.” Of course, that was written from Frodo’s point of view just after his blindfold was removed, and indeed it seemed to be true.

But just before that, Haldir said quite a lot about Lorien’s recent changes. It might have been the heart of Elvendom and a ridiculously beautiful place, but all of that was in decline.

For instance, Haldir’s reasoning for the blindfolds was simply that Lorien couldn’t afford to trust anyone not from Lorien (and maybe Rivendell). They blamed it upon the power of the Dark Lord, and also upon the “lack of faith and trust in the world beyond Lothlorien,” but it’s not exactly like these Elves were making a huge effort to find friends outside of their realm.

Haldir’s people were feeling isolated and threatened. The rivers on two sides were no longer a practical defense, and Orcs were clearly moving into the Misty Mountains to the west. Rumor was also playing hell with them. They had heard that Rohan, to the southwest, was no longer friendly.

Even if they wanted to give up on Middle-earth, the mouth of the Anduin was also rumored to be watched, and the Grey Havens were little more than legend, though Haldir suspected that Galdriel and Celeborn knew where they were.

There was also a bit of a divide in Lorien. Some were optimistic, insisting that “the Shadow will draw back, and peace shall come again.” They apparently held that there would come another Elder Days sort of wonderfulness. But Haldir, a bit more realistic, didn’t buy it. Those days were over.

“For the Elves, I fear, it will prove at best a truce, in which they may pass to the Sea unhindered and leave the Middle-earth for ever.”

And by “truce,” Haldir undoubtedly meant the defeat of Sauron, since an actual truce was pretty well out of the question by this time.

All of this seemed pretty bleak. Elves had been diminishing in number since the Second Age, but it seemed like there was about to be a grand exodus sometime soon. Still through all of this, Frodo, even blindfolded, felt “That he had steeped over a bridge of time into a corner of the Elder Days, and was now walking in a world that was no more.”

He had a bit of this feeling in Rivendell. Elrond’s house was a great place to rest. It was a “cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.” But even as he tramped along unable to see, Frodo could tell that Lothlorien was something more.

Frodo saw Rivendell as having “a memory of ancient things.” It was like a really fine museum – complete with Second Age history and a broken sword. There was still planning and intrigue in Rivendell. Elrond was in command in a very realistic sort of way, sending scouts, devising strategy, and actively searching for a way to defeat Sauron.

Lothlorien was turning out to be something much different. It was out of time. The future didn’t seem to be an issue no matter how bleak the present appeared. Though Haldir wasn’t so optimistic, clearly many were, thinking all this Shadow stuff would just blow over – after all, hadn’t it before?

During the War of the Last Alliance at the end of the Second Age, the Elves of Lorien sent a column of troops into battle. But that was before Galadriel and Celeborn took over. Once they were in power, about 1,000 years before our story takes place, little was done by the denizens of Lothlorien when it came to helping others in Middle-earth against Sauron.

When armies of Orcs and other various enemies were storming across Eriador, Gondor and Rohan, the Elves of Lothlorien did nothing. Distance could be an excuse for some of that, but it falls flat when the Orcs took over Moria, not twenty miles away from their borders. Even when the Dwarves were defeated, they did nothing, even though the Orcs were a common enemy. They strongly suspected that there was a Balrog in Moria and did absolutely nothing about it, not even bothering to post a “Beware of Balrog” sign at the gate.

This was because they didn’t have to do anything to ensure their survival. Galadriel had that covered in a very Girdle of Melian sort of way. And, as true isolationists, if they were safe, the rest of Middle-earth could crumble around them for all they cared.

So it’s easy to understand why some of the Elves of Lothlorien were optimistic. This could all blow over because that’s what stuff did. Galadriel, as we’ll see, knew it would not, and had known it would not since joining the White Council around 500 years prior. If she had tried to convince her people that things were bad, she failed miserably (though it really doesn’t seem like she tried).

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on Galadriel. After all, she was the one who started the White Council and tried to get Gandalf to be its leader. She had done quite a bit of good. But she also allowed her people to become closed off xenophobes.

If there was a stain upon Lothlorien, that was it.

Camera: Pentax K-1000 Film: ORWO NP 55

Camera: Pentax K-1000
Film: ORWO NP 55

A Few Notes

  • I didn’t think I’d take on Galadriel so soon. I have some very big issues with her behavior in the coming chapter. Lots of readers love her – I’m not one of them.
  • But before we get to her, we still have a few miles to go. The blindfolds will soon be off and there’s some amazing writing that I want to delve into.
  • Also, Aragorn’s pittery pattery little heart.
  • Oh, and I’m going to be posting on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays to see how that works.

About the Photo
Lothlorien’s walls, though a bit more subtle, had the same effect. Nothing got in that Galadriel didn’t want to get in.


  • Day 182
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 897 (445 from Rivendell)
  • 17 miles to Lothlórien proper
  • 876 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 6, Lothlorien. Entering Lothlorien. January 17, 3019 TA. (map)

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