‘But I See Evil There’ – Galadriel’s Omission and Wandering

When last we left our telling of Galadriel in the First Age, she had just moved to Doriath with Thingol and Melian. There, she met Celeborn and buckled down to attain her next goal “to rule there a realm at her own will.”

This is pretty important (though, not the Celeborn stuff). Melian completely outclassed Thingol – she was one of the Maiar, above all the Elves (Gandalf and Saruman were also Maiar). It was she who ruled and protected Doriath, and it was from her whom Galadriel learned the ins and outs of realm ruling.

But being under Melian’s tutelage didn’t mean that Galadriel was going to lay all her cards on the table. While the two of them would chat about “Valinor and the bliss of old,” Galadriel would never talk about anything after the death of the Two Trees. Finally, Melian had to ask: “There is some woe that lies upon you and your kin. That I can see in you, but all else is hidden from me; for by no vision or thought can I perceive anything that passed or passes in the West: a shadow lies over all the land of Aman, and reaches far out over the sea. Why will you not tell me more?”

This echoes Galadriel’s questioning of the Fellowship about Gandalf. She even said that there was a grey mist (a shadow) over him. She had tried to read the Fellowship’s minds to discover Gandalf’s whereabouts, but couldn’t, just as Melian had apparently tried and likewise failed.

Galadriel gave a wishy washy answer, saying that the “woe” was in the past and she’d rather focus upon the now, “untroubled by memory.”

Melian, however, wasn’t buying it. When Galadriel and the Noldor first arrived, they claimed to be messengers of the Valar. But Melian noticed that they never spoke about the Valar and didn’t really seem to have any messages from them, which made them kind of crap messengers (and horrible liars).

‘For what cause, Galadriel, were the high people of the Noldor driven forth as exiles from Aman? Or what evil lies on the sons of Fëanor that they are so haughty and so fell? Do I not strike near the truth?’

‘Near,’ said Galadriel; ‘save that we were not driven forth, but came of our own will, and against that of the Valar. And through great peril and in despite of the Valar for this purpose we came: to take vengeance upon Morgoth, and regain what he stole.’

Galadriel continued, telling Melian about the Silmarils and a bunch of other stuff, “but still she said no word of the Oath, nor of the Kinslaying, nor of the burning of the ships at Losgar.”

Melian could tell that there were still some pretty important parts that Galadriel purposely left out, and accused her of casting a “darkness” over their past, “but I see evil there, which Thingol should learn for his guidance.”

Galadriel sort of agreed that Thingol should probably know about it, but held that he wouldn’t learn it from her. This was just plain mean. Or dumb. Here, she could have told all she knew and given Thingol the truth. And because of her silence, the “truth” came to the people of Doriath in the shape of rumors poisoned further by Morgoth, who soon took advantage of the naive Elves (the Sindar). And to Thingol, the truth came from Angrod, Galadriel’s brother, who decided to spill the proverbial beans. Thingol was furious and expelled him, though he allowed Galadriel to stay (whatever). Nevertheless, she moved to Nargothrond for a bit until the heat died down.

It seems like Galadriel had a habit of moving on when things got a bit awkward. First was from Valinor, and now from Doriath. This will definitely become a trend.

The next we hear anything about Galadriel directly is at the end of the Quenta-Silmarillion, the end of the First Age, when the Noldar (and other lines) were again admitted into Valinor with a pardon. She, among others, was unwilling to “forsake the Hither Lands where they had long suffered and long dwelt.” Galadriel was the only Noldo who had been with Fëanor’s group who chose to remain in Middle-earth.

There’s a whole slew of things that happened in between Galadriel moving to Nargothrond and the end of the First Age. For the next four hundred years, cities like Gondolin and Nargothrond were built, the Children of Húrin stuff happened, wars and battles such as the Dagor Bragollach and the Nirnaeth Arnoediad were fought, Doriath was sacked by Dwarves, Nargathrong was destroyed by a dragon, Beren and Lúthien did their thing, there was another Kinslaying, Gondolin fell, and still another Kinslaying, Beleriand fell to Morgoth, and then finally the entire world (which was flat, by the way) was made round and Beleriand wad destroyed, leaving the map of Middle-earth as we know it.

According to the Silmarillion, Galadriel apparently did nothing through all of this. She, of course, survived somehow, but just how is never mentioned. All that’s said is that when she was allowed back into Valinor, she decided to stay in Middle-earth, presumably for the same reason she left Valinor in the first place: “to rule there a realm at her own will.”

Still, we now know quite a bit more about Galadriel’s history than is said in Lord of the Rings: “He [Celeborn] has dwelt in the West since the days of dawn, and I have dwelt with him for years uncounted; for ere the fall of Nargothrond or Gondolin I passed over the mountains, and together through the ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.”

It’s fascinating that now, looking at what she said to the Fellowship, we can better place when she moved. Nargothrond fell in 495 of the First Age (Gondolin fell in 510). So sometime, perhaps during the Children of Húrin stuff, she packed up Celeborn and headed eastbound from Nargothrond.

In Appendix B, we’re told that Galadriel and Celeborn lived in Lindon south of the Lune (Harlindon on the map) at the start of the Second Age. Later, they moved to Eregion (Hollin – on the west side of the Misty Mountains), where the Rings of Power were made.

Camera: Arguc C3 Film: ORWO UN54

Camera: Arguc C3
Film: ORWO UN54

A Few Notes

  • I really thought that I could do all of the Silmarillian‘s Galadriel stuff in one post. Nope!
  • Next we’ll take a look at an outline of Galadriel’s life that Tolkien wrote around the same time as he delved back into the Silmarillion writings. I have two posts scheduled for this, but I’m betting it’ll take three. Is that okay? Too much Galadriel?
  • Also, because of Thanksgiving, I’m taking a little break. The next post will show up on Monday morning. Enjoy the break!

About the Photo
Galadriel and Celeborn seem to move around a lot. They must have been driving one of these the whole time. It’s really the only thing that can explain it.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1044 (130 miles since leaving Lothlórien)
  • 259 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 729 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 19, 3019 TA. (map)

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‘To Rule There A Realm of Her Own Will’ – Galadriel and Why She Came to Middle-earth

The common way to read Tolkien is to tear through The Hobbit, savor Lord of the Rings, and then to read about a third of The Silmarillion before promising yourself that you’ll get back to it someday. This just makes sense. The Silmarillion isn’t an easy read. It’s full of ridiculous stories, a mind-bogglingly profuse amount of names in various made up languages, and virtually no reference at all to Lord of the Rings until the very end.

Many readers believe that Tolkien wrote the Silmarillion prior to writing Lord of the Rings, but never finished it and thus it was never published. That’s not quite true. While he had been writing about Middle-earth since World War I, Tolkien continued working on it long after finishing Lord of the Rings. In the case of Galadriel, he wrote about her until he was literally on his death bed.

How his son, Christopher Tolkien, pieced together the published Silmarillion is confusing and fraught with understandably puzzling decisions. Basically, he cobbled it together by using the last finished version of whichever particular story. Sometimes he had to piece the stories together from several different sources, and sometimes he made mistakes. Very often, he was not able to include his father’s last word on the subject or character because it either wasn’t available to him or was woefully incomplete.

This places the published Silmarillion in a very strange place. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are obviously canonical because Tolkien wrote, revised and published them himself. The Silmarillion, however, was compiled, edited and published without his input after he died. Still, with nothing at all to use in its place, out of necessity, most readers consider it canon or something very close to it.

And so shall we – for now anyway – while we take a look at how the character of Galadriel was changed from her appearance in Lord of the Rings to what we get in the published Silmarillion. As I’ve written before, Galadriel was invented by Tolkien in 1941 while writing the Lothlórien chaptee. Later, around 1948, he added a little to her history while writing the Tale of Years for Appendix B.

Then, toward the end of the 1950s, a few years after Lord of the Rings was published, Tolkien turned again to the Silmarillion material. During his many revisions and rewritings, he decided that Galadriel should play a larger role. Since she was so powerful and important in the Third Age, he must have figured that she’d be just as important long before that. The published Silmarillion, then, is our way of learning the history not only of Middle-earth, but of Galadriel.

We’re first introduced to Galadriel as the daughter of Finarfin, prince of the Noldor. Her uncle, Fëanor, had captured the light of the Two Trees inside the jewels known as the Silmarils. When the Two Trees were destroyed by Melkor (Sauron’s master), Fëanor’s Silmarils were the only light still remaining. The Valar asked him to give the light over so that the Two Trees could be restored, but he refused.

This soon didn’t matter since Melkor had stolen them. When Fëanor found out, he blamed the Valar and swore an oath to track down the Silmarillion at any cost. This sounds all well and good, but mostly it was done with scorn toward the Valar. Fëanor’s sons went along with it, as did many of the Noldor, including Galadriel.

This is where Tolkien essentially added Galadriel to the mix. We’re told in the Silmarillion that Galadriel “was eager to be gone” from Valinor. She had been moved by Fëanor’s words to want to leave, but not enough to swear an oath. She didn’t really care all that much for her uncle, but “yearned to see the wide unguarded lands [Middle-earth] and to rule there a realm at her own will.”

And here is the connection to Lord of the Rings. The reason she left Valinor wasn’t out of anger against the Valar or because she wanted to follow Fëanor. Instead, she saw an opportunity to see the world and become a queen, so she took it.

Fëanor needed ships and knew just where to get them – the Teleri on the shores of Valinor. But they weren’t so keen on giving them over, so Fëanor ordered his men to take them. However, not all of the Noldor were with him and Fëanor went into battle with too few men. When the Teleri fought back, many of them were killed, but they nearly won the day until Fëanor’s reinforcements came. Galadriel was with these reinforcements under the command of Fingolfin, Galadriel’s father (Fëanor’s brother) .

Fingolfin’s soldiers didn’t really understand what was going on, but saw their fellow Noldoran Elves being killed and joined the fight. Most of the Teleri were “wickedly slain”. This was known as “the Kinslaying”.

The Noldar went north in search of Melkor, but came upon the ice of the Helcaraxë. Along the way, many of the ships had been destroyed and conditions were pretty crowded. Unable to continue as a whole group, at the port of Losgar, Fëanor stole all of the ships, taking his people with him, burning the remaining ships, and leaving Fingolfin’s kindred (including Galadriel) behind.

Faced with no other choice, Fingolfin’s people, led in part by Galadriel, passed over the Helcaraxë. “Small love for Fëanor or his sons had those that marched at last behind him, and blew their trumpets in Middle-earth at the first rising of the Moon.” That it took them this long to arrive in Middle-earth is important because while they were marching, Fëanor was killed in a battle with a Balrog. With his death, the two tribes of Noldor were reunited.

Not long after that, Galadriel came to Doriath and stayed with Thingol and Melian. Thingol was a Teleri who, unlike most of the Elves, had never left Middle-earth for Valinor. He was supposed to leave, but met Melian, a Maria from Valinor who lived in Middle-earth, fell in love, and founded Doriath. When Galadriel arrived, she met Celeborn, and decided to stay. “Therefore she remained in the Hidden Kingdom, and abode with Melian, and of her learned great lore and wisdom concerning Middle-earth.”

And we’ll get into why all of that is important and how it connects to Lord of the Rings in our next post. Stay tuned!

Camera: Kodak Pony Film: Weis Quality Color 200

Camera: Kodak Pony
Film: Weis Quality Color 200

A Few Notes

  • Again, this Beleriand/Middle-earth map might help you in your ways.
  • I’ve not read the Silmarillion in a really long time (a couple of years, anyway). Just flipping through it for this post makes me really want to give it the same treatment I’m doing for Lord of the Rings. Someday, I bet.
  • A great summary of the early part of this story can be found here. And one on the darkening of Valinor is here and then go here.
  • I think I need a bumper sticker that says: “I’d rather be reading the Silmarillion.”

About the Photo
This is the light from a hallway in one of the ferries around Seattle. I’ll let you figure out why I picked it (and it’s not only because it was the first photo I saw).


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1034 (120 miles since leaving Lothlórien)
  • 269 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 739 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 19, 3019 TA. (map)

While I was doing some reading for this post, I noticed that Juniper was checking out the Timeline of the Elves print that I have on the wall. No idea what she thought about it, but my guess is that she was trying to figure out which of the Teleri made it over the Misty Mountains.

While I was doing some reading for this post, I noticed that Juniper was checking out the Timeline of the Elves print that I have on the wall. No idea what she thought about it, but my guess is that she was trying to figure out which of the Teleri made it over the Misty Mountains.

‘A Queen She Was’ – Of Galadriel and the Rings of Power, Etc… (Mostly Etc.)

Before moving on to Galadriel’s place within the Silmarillion proper, I thought I’d take a look at her role in “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.” While is this the last chapter in the published Silmarillion, it really belongs more to Lord of the Rings-era than anywhere else.

Just when Tolkien began writing this chapter isn’t the easiest thing to figure out. Early threads of it were wound through the drafts of the “Shadow of the Past” and “Council of Elrond” chapters, which he started in 1940. The next year, while drafting the “Mirror of Galadriel” chapter, he necessarily returned to the Rings of Power. It was during this time that he finally worked out just how the Rings of Power related to Sauron and the One Ring.

Christopher Tolkien believes that much of the notes and scraps about the Rings of Power written through 1940-41 were intended for the “Council of Elrond,” but were ultimately cut for length. As these pieces fell out, they must have gathered, at least virtually, on Tolkien’s floor. After he was finished with the narrative itself, in 1948 he swept them up and folded them into “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.”

How and why this wasn’t included as part of the Appendices, I’m not sure. Some of it was a bit redundant, especially with the “Tale of Years,” but few things in the “Tale of Years” weren’t. There are two clues in a 1948 letter (No. 115) that he wrote to someone wanting to read the Silmarillion.

“I am distressed (for myself) to be unable to find the ‘Rings of Power’,” he admitted. It’s clear by this point that it was more or less complete and now lost. Secondly, he continued, saying that it, along with the ‘Fall of Númenor’ was “the link between the Silmarillion and the Hobbit world. But its essentials are included in Ch. II of The Lord of the Rings.

It wasn’t included because it was either lost or Tolkien thought it already covered in the “Shadow of the Past” chapter. And so, when his son was editing the Silmarillion for publication, he tacked it on at the end creating that mentioned link.

That makes a lot of sense. Except there is no mention at all of Galadriel in the “Shadow of the Past.” So we can see that just as Tolkien went back into the Silmarillion stories to add Galadriel, he also went back into the Lord of the Rings stories to add her as well, he just didn’t include them in the book.

In the Lord of the Rings, it’s implied that Galadriel’s Ring of Power is what’s keeping Lothlórien in eternal springtime. Nothing at all is said of the other two Rings and their relation to their surroundings. But in “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” we learn that after the first defeat of Sauron at the Gladden Fields, the power of the Rings “was ever at work, and where they abode there mirth also dwelt and all things were unstained by the griefs of time.”

Of Galadriel, he wrote:

“A queen she was of the woodland Elves, the wife of Celeborn of Doriath, yet she herself was of the Noldor and remembered the Day before days in Valinor, and she was the mightiest and fairest of all the Elves that remained in Middle-earth.”

This doesn’t quite contradict what is said about Cirdan the Shipwright in Appendix B (“For Círdan saw further and deeper than any other in Middle-earth….”), but almost it does. We can dismiss both claims by simply allowing the fictional writers’ their respective hyperbolies.

It’s Círdan who first recognizes Gandalf as one of the Maiar, but that’s when he (Gandalf) first steps off the boat. Maybe Galadriel would have recognized him too. It’s also Círdan who tells Elrond and Galadriel that the Istari, the Wizards, came from Valinor.

Curiously, when the White Council was mentioned in “Rings of Power,” Galadriel is listed only as a member, not as a founder (or the founder, as she told the Fellowship). It’s said that Galadriel wanted Gandalf and not Saruman to be its head, and from that could certainly be implied that she was, at least, a founder.

When Galadriel was first conceived, Tolkien had her as only a member of the White Council. However, in a later draft (and probably not that much later), he placed her as the one who summoned the Council. It’s strange to see that he didn’t make this perfectly clear in “Rings of Power.” But then, this was completed years before Lord of the Rings was actually published. And as we’ll see (and have seen), her power only grew as time passed.

That’s the last that she’s mentioned in this short chapter, the last in the published Silmarillion. Since the Lord of the Rings, she had grown from a mysterious Elvish woman living in near isolation, who was not even mentioned at the Council of Elrond, to, as we see here, a queen, “the mightiest and fairest of all Elves that remained in Middle-earth.”

Next, we’ll see just how Tolkien folded her into the earlier Silmarillion stories.

 Camera: Kodak Pony Film: Weis Quality Color 200


Camera: Kodak Pony
Film: Weis Quality Color 200

A Few Notes

  • I wrote this post after writing two posts about Galadriel in the Silmarillion. I just thought that this one should come first, especially seeing as how it was completed even before Lord of the Rings was published.
  • Maybe I’m just nervous to dive into the nutty and ever-changing world of Unfinished Tales.

About the Photo
Gandalf arrived by boat. This is one of the ferries around the Seattle area. Probably not as nice as a ship sent from Valinor, but it gets the job done. Plus, you can take your car on it. Gandalf had to leave his ’78 Econoline back in the Undying Lands. What kind of cars do you think Saruman and Radagast have to leave behind?


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1024 (110 miles away from Lothlórien)
  • 279 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 749 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 19, 3019 TA. (map)

Passing the Test and STILL No Valinor for Galadriel!

‘I pass the test,’ she said. ‘I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.’

After refusing the take the One Ring from Frodo, Galadriel breathed a big ol’ sigh of relief. She had passed some kind of test or something and would apparently live out her days as a typical Elf (more or less).

This whole thing is interesting and a bit tricky. While it’s tempting to recall that Galadriel was banned by the Valar from returning to the West, at the time this passage was written (and even after Lord of the Rings was published) this specific ban did not yet exist in Tolkien’s writing. While it’s true that the Noldar had been banned by the Valar from coming back to Valinor after the whole kinslaying thing, after a bit of paper shuffling and the War of Wrath, that ban was rescinded. Everyone who was still alive was pardoned, and most went back.

That is, except Galadriel and Gil-galad (and a relative handful of others). In the Silmarillion we learn that she willingly chose to remain in Middle-earth after all of her kin had returned to the West. Having refused the pardon, it’s not said (or really implied) that she was then barred from ever going back to Valinor.

Especially at the time when Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings and its Appendices, he made no mention at all of a ban on Galadriel. Christopher Tolkien, writing in Unfinished Tales believes that it had not yet come about – and wouldn’t until a decade or so later.

So if the test wasn’t something set up by the Valar to see if Galadriel was able to return to the West, what was it?

Since she was not banned from returning to Valinor, the test she passed was simply the refusing of the One Ring. Taking possession of Sauron’s Ring was something which she had day dreamed about for years and years. If she had taken it, there’s no way she could have returned to Valinor, just as there would have been no way for her to remain Galadriel. And obviously, since she didn’t take it, those things were possible, if not inevitable. But she had to come face to face with the One Ring in order to prove to herself that she could refuse it.

However (and this is a huge however), the water isn’t so clear about this. Just because Tolkien never spoke of a ban against Galadriel’s return to Valinor, that doesn’t mean that she thought she could simply waltz back in. What was barring her way was, more than anything, her ignorance of whether or not she could even get back.

Right as the Fellowship was leaving Lothlórien, Galadriel sang a couple of songs. The first, which can be read here, gives us some interesting clues as to how Galadriel had created and was maintaining Lothlórien: by singing stuff into existence.

It was her own mirror of Valinor on Middle-earth conjured up by a song. In it, she compares Valinor to Lothlórien, but tells of the coming of winter – something Valinor never had to deal with. And while she could create all everyone saw around them – the leaves of gold, the wind – she could not sing up a ship to take her to the West.

But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?

And so even though she passed the test, she wasn’t certain that she could go back by her own designs (and actually seemed pretty certain that she couldn’t).

This theme is taken even further in her following song in which she laments that the years have slipped away from her like too much drink.

Who now shall refill the cup for me?

Galadriel’s cup was near empty, and she could no longer refill it herself. Lothlórien, it seems, was not sustainable, even by her own Ring of Power. No matter what happened to Sauron’s One Ring, whether it was destroyed or found by Sauron, her time was coming to an end. The best case scenario was that she and those Elves around her would “dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten.”

…all paths are drowned deep in shadow; and out of a grey country darkness lies on the foaming waves between us, she sang of Valinor. Galadriel felt shut out, closed off from the West, and it’s not really certain that she was humble enough to accept her part in it. She sang as if this was being done to her. The ways were blocked because “Varda, the Queen of the Stars, from Mount Everwhite has uplifted her hands like clouds….”

Varda was Elbereth, Queen of the Valar. After the Noldor (including Galadriel) fled Valinor, as Tolkien explained in The Road Goes Ever On, “Varda lifted up her hands, in obedience to the decree of Manwë, and summoned up the dark shadows which engulfed the shore and the mountains and last of all the fana (figure) of Varda with her hands turned eastward in rejection, standing white upon Oilosse.”

And yet, there’s no mention at all of a ban. Neither Galadriel nor Tolkien mention it at all in any of Lord of the Rings. He would later decide that there was a ban, after all, but when he wrote this, there was no such idea. Galadriel’s reason for not returning to the West was fully her own.

In closing, she sang specifically to Frodo: Now lost, lost to those from the East is Valimar! Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar. Maybe even thou shalt find it. Farewell!

Here use of “thou,” second person singular, was speaking directly to Frodo. And “maybe” was really a bit more certain, like “May it be that you, Frodo, will find Valinor.” And of course, he did.

And of course, she did, too. But that’s a different story. Mostly.

Camera: Arguc C3 Film: ORWO UN54

Camera: Arguc C3
Film: ORWO UN54

A Few Notes

  • Sometimes I feel like I’m rehashing things or flogging a dead Shaddowfax. But really, I think that though I’m repeating some things, it’s necessary to proving the point.
  • So much of this is explained in The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle, and I really wish I’d have a copy of it. Salty, though it is!
  • I suppose it’s possible that Galadriel immediately knew she was going to go back to Valinor, but decided to serenade Frodo and friends with a couple of her golden oldies.

About the Photo
Looking west from some shore (probably the Grey Havens or something) toward some distance place (totally Valinor). Here, you can see Varda’s cloudy hands drowning everything in shadow. Promise.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1014 (100 miles away from Lothlórien)
  • 289 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 759 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 18, 3019 TA. (map)

‘You Will Give Me the Ring Freely!’ – Galadriel Gets Freaky

Last week, we took a long look at the Mirror of Galadriel, asking, more or less, just what the hell she was thinking? It’s a good question, really, and one that I’m sure will be answered by the time Sam and Frodo leave the hillside of Caras Galadhon. At the very latest it’ll be addressed before the Fellowship leaves Lothlórien, right?

Let’s find out. When we last left Frodo, he had just finished up with his Galadriel-planted vision, she telling him that Sauron, the Eye, “gropes ever to see me and my thought.” She then got incredibly theatrical: “She lifted up her white arms, and spread out her hands towards the East in a gesture of rejection and denial.”

The rays of the Evening Star (aka Eärendil, aka Venus) shown down up her like a giant spot light, glancing off the ring on her finger. It looked like the star itself “had come down to rest upon her hand.” And then Frodo understood. Galadriel knew that he understood from “divining his thought,” which is a clever way of saying that she once again read his mind.

“This is Nenya, the ring of Adamant, and I am its keeper.” Galadriel had one of the three remaining Elven-Rings. Gandalf had told Frodo about them just after Bilbo’s party, even learning the quaint little poem: “Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky.” Then, at the Council of Elrond, he learned about where and why they were made, though he was never told who had them – “it is not permitted to speak of it, and Elrond could not do so.”

Galadriel said that her Ring “cannot be hidden from the Ring-bearer, and one who has seen the Eye.” This maybe answers the question about why Galadriel showed Frodo the Eye. Except that since he was the Ring-bearer, he seemed to already qualify to see her Ring.

It also raises a broader question. If Frodo, being the Ring-bearer, was now supposed to see Galadriel’s Ring, why not the other two? While we as readers don’t learn the keepers of the other two Rings until Appendix B, at this point, both Elrond and Gandalf each held Elven-Rings. And yet, they never felt the need to tell Frodo about it. Galadriel certainly knew about the other two Rings, and she could have told Frodo about them, but didn’t. Maybe it wasn’t her place to do it, but then, maybe it wasn’t her place to do many of the things she did to Frodo and the Fellowship.

Exactly why the Ring-bearer had to know about Galadriel’s Ring was never mentioned. She uses it, however, to continue the story of her plight. Sauron was looking for the Three Rings, but hadn’t found them, though he suspected Galadriel had one of them.

She explained to Frodo what would happen if he failed in his quest. If the Ring was not destroyed, and was taken by Sauron, the Three Rings would then be known to him and the Elves would be “laid bare to the Enemy.”

But if the One Ring was destroyed, the Three Rings would be rendered powerless. And this was incredibly important to Galadriel specifically. While Gandalf’s Ring did almost nothing at all, and Elrond’s apparently kept Rivendell safe, Galadriel’s was incredibly powerful. She used it to keep Lothlórien in eternal springtime, a patch of Valinor in Middle-earth (though Orcs could tramp around it at all hours of the day).

If the One Ring was destroyed, the Elves “must depart into the West, or dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten.” And since many of the Elves had already headed into the West, she was once more thinking only of her isolated tribe. They would choose to remain and diminish, she thought, as they loved the land more than the Sea. They were Silvan Elves, and had never been to Valinor, so they really didn’t care one way or the other. Galadriel, however, was (in this telling) Noldorin and had been to the West, and desperately wanted to return.

But there was a problem, though we’re not exactly told what it is (or even if there was actually a problem). Frodo offered to give the One Ring to Galadriel because she was “fearless and fair.”

Though Frodo offered it to her because he honestly believed that “it is too great a matter for me,” Galadriel seemed to suspect there’s more to it. “Gently are you revenged for my testing of your heart at our first meeting. You begin to see with a keen eye.” But Frodo wasn’t after revenge any more than he was seeing the situation with a keen eye.

Maybe Galadriel was projecting. She admitted that her “heart has greatly desired to ask what you offer.” It’s hard to place a tense on this, and though it’s obviously in the past, it’s not possible to say just how past tense this desire was.

“For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands, and behold! it was brought within my grasp.” So this was something she had considered, planned and daydreamed about for “many long years” – which has got to be an incredible amount of time coming from an Elf who has already lived some 8,000 years. And actually, the One Ring was still within her grasp. She had figured out that even if Sauron was killed and the One Ring remained, she could still use its power.

Then things got dark and she switched from the past tense to the extreme present:

“And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightening! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!”

She wasn’t remembering how she used to feel about the One Ring, but was revealing how she felt at that very moment. Was she simply recalling that Frodo offered her the Ring? Or was she exclaiming: “You will give me the Ring freely!”? Her exclamations continued as she reveled in what was to come. Was this what she had always wanted – to rule and be loved no matter the pain caused to others? She seemed lost in these thoughts.

The light from her Ring shown only on her, placing her again in a spotlight. This light had come from Eärendil, which had shown upon her Ring just before and when she got all freaky, her Ring illuminated her. Was this some kind of protection? Did she drawn strength from it?

Frodo saw her as “beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful.” But then it passed, and she laughed.

‘I pass the test,’ she said. ‘I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.’

Next time, we’ll take a closer look at what this means (and, more importantly, what it doesn’t).

Camera: Holga 120N || Film: FujiChrome Provia 100

Camera: Holga 120N || Film: FujiChrome Provia 100

A Few Notes

  • I take “divining his thought” pretty literally as divination. Otherwise, why would Tolkien use the word?
  • Galadriel was all like, ‘yeah, this ring is Nenya business, Samwise!’
  • When the Fellowship first arrived in Lothlórien, the Elves didn’t seem to know much about Sauron and his new rise to power. By the time of the Mirror incident, however, it seems like they had – “Yet they will cast all away rather than submit to Sauron: for they know him now.”

About the Photo
“In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night!” Okay – not exactly the easiest post to find a picture for. Sorry?


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1004 (90 miles away from Lothlórien)
  • 299 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 769 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 18, 3019 TA. (map)

Frodo’s Vision in the Mirror – Just What the Hell was Galadriel Thinking? (Part 2)

And then it was Frodo’s turn to look in Galadriel’s Mirror. He and Sam had been walking and were beckoned by Galadriel to come take a look in her Mirror (You should read all about that here, first). To get Sam to look, she dug into his mind (or eavesdropped) and learned that he wanted to see Elf-magic, and used that as incentive.

It also softened Frodo a bit. If Sam could do it, why couldn’t he? But with Frodo, Galadriel played it cool. When he asked her if he should look, she even advised against it, saying that she wouldn’t “counsel you one way or the other.” What he would see, if he saw anything, “may be profitable, and yet it may not. Seeing is both good and perilous.”

But she was not done with the pitch. After playing coy and flippant, she slid toward encouragement: “Yet I think, Frodo, that you have courage and wisdom enough for the venture, or I would not have brought you here. Do as you will!” Under all the layers of nonchalance and indifference, she had brought them to the Mirror specifically so they could look in it. And while she certainly didn’t force either to look, she knew what to say to both in order to convince them to do what she wanted them to do.

Frodo agreed to look, and saw a series of things. First was a wizard in white which gave Frodo doubts – was it Gandalf or Saruman? He then saw Bilbo in his room in Rivendell. The table was littered with papers. The vision then turned to history (maybe the history which was written on those disordered papers), reminding him how he was involved in these great stories.

His vision changed again, now to the sea, in a scene that seems like it could be from Elendil’s escape from Númenor. Still in the past, he saw a city next to a wide river (Osgiliath and the River Anduin), and then a white fortress with seven towers (Minas Tirith).

The vision then turned to the future, though Frodo, of course, couldn’t tell one from the other. He saw Aragorn’s ships arriving at Minas Tirith before the Battle of the Pelannor Fields. He then saw the battle itself, with fire and smoke, which dissolved into a mist where he saw a small ship, “twinkling with lights” passing away – Frodo’s own ship sailing to the West.

And just as Frodo was ready to look away, the Mirror went dark and empty like an abyss. And in it “appeared a single Eye that slowly grew, until it filled nearly all the Mirror.” The eye then searched for something, and Frodo knew that it was looking for him (along with many other things). He also knew that the Eye could not see him unless he [Frodo] willed it. The Ring on a chain around his neck grew heavy and weighed him down toward the Mirror, as if it were pulling toward the Eye. The Mirror grew hot and steam came up from it as Frodo drew nearer to it. Galadriel reminded him not to touch the water. The spell was broken, and the vision disappeared.

While Galadriel didn’t address any of the first bits of Frodo’s vision, she had a bit to say about the Eye – “for that is also in my mind.” The Eye wasn’t actually in the Mirror. It wasn’t using the Mirror to look for Frodo. Rather, it was a vision of the Eye looking for Frodo. And since this vision was also in Galadriel’s mind, it’s a safe assumption that she put it there herself after saying she wouldn’t effect the Mirror one way or the other.

She then told Frodo not to be afraid. The Dark Lord, she said, was also looking for her and for Lothlórien, “and he gropes ever to see me and my thought. But still the door is closed!”

This would hardly had stamped out Frodo’s fears, of course. And again, where was Galadriel going with this? For Frodo, the Mirror showed him a wizard, Bilbo, a bunch of Silmarillion stuff, and then a battle. That was everything the Mirror was going to do. Galadriel then commanded the Mirror to reveal her mind, in which was the Eye.

And so Galadriel smoothly got Sam and Frodo to look into the Mirror specifically so she could show Frodo the Eye. Sam was incidental and nearly a casualty. No good came from Sam looking in the Mirror. Even after Shelob, he understood what he saw to be true, but it didn’t help him in any way at all.

As for Frodo’s vision, it also seemed pointless, except maybe to remind him that he was part of a larger history – something that Sam later reminds him of anyway. The only thing that might have been of some purpose was the Eye, which Galadriel herself showed him.

Next time, we’ll take a closer look at the Eye and how it effected Galadriel’s next big revelation to Frodo. Also, we’ll get an even scarier look into Galadriel’s nature. Stay tuned!

Camera: Imperial Debonair Film: Konica Pro 160 (expired)

Camera: Imperial Debonair
Film: Konica Pro 160 (expired)

A Few Notes

  • In Tolkien’s early notes about what Frodo would see in the Mirror, he entertained the idea of having him see Gollum, but made no mention of him seeing Sauron/the Eye. Even in the first draft, Frodo had no vision of the Dark Lord at all. And yet, Galadriel still brought him up seemingly out of nowhere.
  • Hammond & Scull’s Reader’s Companion was pretty helpful, especially with the Silmarillion portions of Frodo’s vision. Thanks!
  • And what would happen if they had touched the water? Sure, it would taint it, but couldn’t she just get more? – it only came from her fountain, which was right over there.

About the Photo
There will be no swimming in the Mirror of Galadriel, please. There’s sure as hell no lifeguard on duty.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 994 (80 miles away from Lothlórien)
  • 309 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 779 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 18, 3019 TA. (map)

Sam’s Vision in the Mirror – Just What the Hell was Galadriel Thinking? (Part 1)

So far, we’ve taken a look at Galadriel and Celeborn’s history as given in Lord of the Rings and its Appendices. Before moving on to the more fleshed-out Silmarillion and the musings of Unfinished Tales, I thought it best to cover Galadriel’s personality. Though Tolkien had only the barest of histories for this Elvish Lady, he would later construct more based upon her personality as displayed to Sam and Frodo during the Mirror chapter.

After staying in Lothlórien for a few weeks, Sam and Frodo were walking at night, talking about Elves and how the Fellowship would soon have to leave and continue their quest. Frodo mentioned his desire to see Galadriel once more, and with that, she appeared. “She spoke no word, but beckoned to them.” They came to her and she led them to the Mirror, telling them, “I have brought you here so that you may look in it, if you will.”

She further explained to the awe-struck hobbits that she could command the Mirror to reveal many things. To some people, though she didn’t mention who, she could show what they wanted to see. The Mirror would also show things that people didn’t want to see, “and those are often stranger and more profitable than things which we wish to behold.”

So apparently, Galadriel had a Mirror that could show some people what they wanted to see, but it could also show (even those people?) things they didn’t want to see, and when it did, it was better for them. This makes some sense. It’s usually better to not have our opinions and feelings reinforced when we’re trying to learn new things. But she went on.

Though she claimed to be able to command the Mirror to reveal many things, she couldn’t or wouldn’t do that now for Sam and Frodo. Galadriel wanted the Mirror to freestyle it on the hobbits. Where before she said that she could command the Mirror, here she wanted them to “leave the Mirror free to work.” And when it did that, she could not tell ahead of time what they would see.

Let’s stop here and ask a very important question – just what the hell was she doing? It seems like she could have tailored the Mirror to the hobbits, to the quest, gaining for them some help by guiding it to show them things they didn’t want to see. She made the claim that she could facilitate that. But instead of doing that – instead of being obviously helpful – it seems as if she just wanted to see what would happen if the hobbits took on the Mirror by themselves.

That’s fine enough, but then she explained what the Mirror could do: “it shows things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be. But which it is that he sees, even the wisest cannot always tell.” And now our question really becomes important – just what the hell was she doing? Even under her guidance, the Mirror would show past, present and future, but it was so muddled that most couldn’t tell which was which! And instead of guiding the hobbits, she wanted them to work it on their own.

How is this not endlessly reckless? How can even the wisest act upon this, knowing that what he perceives as the future, might not just be not the future, but might just as well be the past? How could the one who had gazed into the Mirror even begin to parse its depths? And most importantly, how could Galadriel think this was a good idea?

She first asked Frodo if he wanted to look, but he didn’t answer. She then turned to Sam. Apparently, she had been eavesdropping on their conversation, overhearing Sam say that he wanted to see some Elvish magic before leaving Lothlórien. It’s also probable that she just entered his mind and grabbed something that suited her purpose of getting the hobbits to look into the Mirror, and used it against Sam. That’s pretty creepy.

Sam agreed, saying that he’d “not mind a glimpse of what’s going on at home.” He expected to see the rather boring life of the Shire, but instead saw first a pleasant forest scene. This dissolved into a true future (as it happened) of Frodo after he was stung by Shelob, and Sam’s own actions afterwards. he, of course, had no idea what to make of that. But then it went back to the trees, which were now falling.

He saw what would become of the Shire – another true vision. It was horrible. The trees were cut down, a new mill was erected, and Bagshot row was dug up. Sam immediately wanted to leave, to return home to help save the Shire. But Galadriel reminded him that he couldn’t go home alone, intimating that he was the only one who wanted to go back.

Galadriel then brought up a pretty good point. “You did not wish to go home without your master before you looked in the Mirror, and yet you knew that evil things might well be happening in the Shire.” And she again reminded him that her Mirror could show many things, including the future, so the things he saw might not have happened yet. What’s more, she told him that if he stayed true to the quest, the things he saw might be prevented, adding in the end, “The Mirror is dangerous as a guide of deeds.”

Yes! Yes it is! So what the hell was she doing? Sam sat down and was immediately in despair over having ever come on this journey. Soon, he resolved to continue it, in the hopes of making it back to the Shire someday.

This is a good thing, of course. Sam had some doubts and then quickly turned around and strengthened his resolve. However, Sam didn’t have doubts before looking into the Mirror! Galadriel even said that Sam already knew that evil might be afoot in the Shire. Why nearly crack poor Sam for no good reason? There’s no real proof that his resolve and love for Frodo was any stronger after the Mirror, so again, what the hell was she doing?

Next time, we’ll continue on to Frodo’s vision and try once more to figure out what Galadriel was trying to accomplish with her Mirror.

Camera: Kodak Brownie Hawkeye || Film: Kodak Pro 400 PPF-2 (expired 09/1999)

Camera: Kodak Brownie Hawkeye || Film: Kodak Pro 400 PPF-2 (expired 09/1999)

A Few Notes

  • Tolkien mentioned that the Evening Star had risen and was shining upon them. Usually, the Evening Star is Venus, but since Venus only “rises” in the morning (a fact Tolkien clearly knew), he must have specifically wanted to place Eärendil overlooking the scene. We will definitely find out why soon enough.
  • Originally, this post was to continue through Frodo’s vision, but that was too long (well over 2,000 words) and I found myself trying to edit it down in ways that I didn’t like.
  • We’ll also take a look at Galadriel, her ring and the One Ring before jumping back into her history. Stay tuned!
  • Also, this is my 200th post!

About the Photo
There are tons of old mills around here. And tons of newerish brick ones, like the sort that Sam saw in his vision. Also, look closely. For Sam, this was definitely an “emo site”.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 984 (70 miles away from Lothlórien)
  • 319 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 789 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 18, 3019 TA. (map)

With and Without Galadriel in the Super-Exciting Tale of Years!

In the Lord of the Rings narrative, we are not told much at all about the history of Galadriel and Celeborn – “He has dwelt in the West since the days of dawn, and I have dwelt with him years uncounted; for ere the fall of Nargothrond or Gondolin I passed over the mountains, and together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.”

But in “The Tale of Years,” which appears as Appendix B in Lord of the Rings, we learn a bit more. But it’s not just that we learn more, but that some of it was contradictory to what Galadriel said previously.

Tolkien first wrote about Galadriel in 1941, and finished the final draft of the novel in 1948. About that time, he started work on the Appendices, finally finishing them in the early months of 1955. Through those drafts, he tried to fit her into something larger than simply the latter days of the Third Age as described in Lord of the Rings.

In Lindon south of the Lune dwelt for a time Celeborn, kinsman of Thingol; his wife was Galadriel, greatest of Elven women. She was the sister of Finrod Felagund, Friend-of-Men, once king of Nargothrond, who gave his life to save Beren son of Barahir.”

Though the 1950s readers had no idea what any of this meant, it actually changed both Celeborn and Galadriel’s origin stories. Celeborn might have lived in Lindon, but since he was related to Thingol, he was now Sindarin! And since Galadrield was Finrod’s sister, she was Noldoran.

In the Lothlórien chapters, we assume that Celeborn is Nandorin, and Galadriel is Sindarin. The difference is that before there was no indication that either had ever been to Valinor. Noldoran Elves, such as Finrod (and now Galadriel), had gone to Valinor and then returned to Middle-earth at the start of the First Age. This might seem a bit trifling, but really, all you have to know in the end is that this raised them in stature, making Celeborn one of the higher Middle-earth-bound Elves, and Galadriel one of the High Elves.

There’s, of course, quite a bit of history involved here as to how and why this all happened, but since it’s not really covered in Appendix B, I’ll save it. What can be said is that since she was associated with Finrod, we can assume that she came over with the second wave of Noldoran Elves. But that really isn’t mentioned, either. What we do know about the House of Finrod was that Gildor said that they were exiles, though even that isn’t really explained.

In a letter written in 1954, about the time Tolkien was finishing up the Appendices, he explained the High Elves and touched on the exiled bit:

“The High Elves met in this book are Exiles, returned back over Sea to Middle-earth, after events which are the main matter of the Silmarillion, part of one of the main kindreds of the Eldar: the Noldor (Masters of Lore). Or rather a last remnant of these. For the Silmarillion proper and the First Age ended with the destruction of the primeval Dark Power (of whom Sauron was a mere lieutenant), and the rehabilitation of the Exiles, who returned again over Sea. Those who lingered were those who were enamoured of Middle-earth and yet desired the unchanging beauty of the Land of the Valar.”

In Appendix B, we’re told that Gil-galad lived in Lindon north of the Lune, while Celeborn lived in Lindon south of the Lune. Lindon had been part of Beleriand, but when it was swallowed by the water at the end of the First Age, Lindon was pretty much all that was left. This was when the Grey Havens were established, and Lindon became beachfront property.

So far, Galadriel’s history, though changed, doesn’t really effect the Silmarillion stories. Whereas before she simply wasn’t included, she’s now more or less along for the ride. She still doesn’t do anything or make a name for herself prior to the Third Age.

Still, there are some things from Appendix B that should be mentioned, as Galadriel will later grow into these stories. For instance, in the year 1200 of the Second Age, “Sauron endeavours to seduce the Eldar”. Though Gil-galad isn’t buying his nice-guy act, Sauron manages to win over the Elvin-smiths of Eregion, including Celebrimbor. This is when and where the Rings of Power are made.

By 1590, the Rings are made, and a decade later, Sauron makes the One Ring. Celebrimbor then wises up and Sauron reveals himself. There’s war and in the end, Eregion is laid waste and Celebrimbor is killed, but Sauron is driven out. Galadriel is not mentioned at all. It’s Gil-galad who sees Sauron for what he really is, and Celebrimbor who doesn’t (until it’s too late). What does this have to do with Galadriel? [cue Pee-Wee Herman voice:] I DON’T KNOW!

Well, that is to say, nothing at all, just yet.

However, there’s a hint in Appendix B’s preface to The Third Age that Galadriel might be a bit more important. The Three Elvish Rings created by Celebrimbor in Eregeon had seemingly gone missing. In truth, “they had been held at first by the three greatest of the Eldar: Gil-galad [and then Elrond], Galadriel and Círdan.”

This in itself is telling. If Elrond only got a ring after Gil-galad was killed, this would place Galadriel in a higher place than Elrond (and obviously higher than her husband, Celeborn). And yet, she seems to take no part in anything. Gil-galad, Elrond and even Círdan do all sorts of stuff through the Second and Third Ages. But Galadriel does almost nothing until the end of the Third Age.

It would have been simple for Tolkien to have left things as they were. He had already written much of the Silmarillion material prior to this, and though he would go back and change a lot of stuff, at this point, he really didn’t need to change anything involving Galadriel as she played a very unnoticeable role. But he would. Though he didn’t change either her or Celeborn’s status as Noldoran Elves (probablyish), he made Galadriel into one of the three greatest Elves ever.

Camera: Kodak Brownie No. 2, Model D (1914) Film: Kodak Verichrome Pan (expired 1959)

Camera: Kodak Brownie No. 2, Model D (1914)
Film: Kodak Verichrome Pan (expired 1959)

A Few Notes

  • Next time, we’ll take a step forward and look at the whole Mirror of Galadriel thing. Just what the hell was she thinking?
  • I was going to combine Galadriel’s history as given in Appendix B with that given in the Silmarillion, but after noticing that there are quite a few differences, I thought it would be best to separate them.

About the Photo
Since Galadriel and Celeborn are old and lived by the sea for a bit, I thought I’d post a photo of the ocean taken recently with a 100 year old camera using 50 year old film. The three birds, of course, represent Gil-galad, Galadriel and Círdan. The two tiny bird heads are Elrond and that other guy. Whatever.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 974 (60 miles away from Lothlórien)
  • 329 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 799 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 17, 3019 TA. (map)

Since the Dawning of the Sun – Galadriel’s History in Lord of the Rings

One of the great things about history is that it’s unchangeable – it’s already happened. Approaching Tolkien’s works as history, for me, seemed only natural. There’s one linear story that’s already been written and the author can’t go back and change it. Except, with Tolkien it’s a bit tricky.

What is and isn’t canon sometimes gets fuzzy. For example, what’s in the published Silmarillion isn’t always his final thought on the subject. Concerning the history of Galadriel and Celeborn, Tolkien never stopped thinking about it and changing it, even a few weeks before his death.

Their history, then, can’t be approached as history. What’s recorded in Lord of the Rings, “Appendix B”, the Silmarillion, and a couple of accounts in Unfinished Tales are all dramatically different from each other. Even if you hold Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion as canon, you’ve got three different versions of the same two characters.

Basically, there are four different Galadriel and Celeborns. You have their history as given in the LotR narrative, Appendix B/Silmarillion, the 1960s Unfinished Tales writings, and the 1970s Unfinished Tales writings.

It’s important to remember that Galadriel’s history was written after he finished Lord of the Rings. Even the bits in Appendix B came later, right before publication. In fact, the first mention of their history is brief and really meant nothing to anyone who read the book in the 50s through most of the 70s, until the Silmarillion was finally published.

In “The Mirror of Galadriel” chapter, we are told by Galadriel that Celeborn “has dwelt in the West since the days of dawn, and I have dwelt with him years uncounted; for ere the fall of Nargothrond or Gondolin I passed over the mountains, and together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.”

A strange sticking point is trying to figure out just what Tolkien meant by “the West.” Was it Valinor or the West of Middle-earth (Beleriand)? In the original draft, he wrote that Celeborn lived “here since the Mountains were reared.” And in the Council of Elrond, Elrond says that he has “seen three ages in the West of the world” (meaning the First, Second and Third Ages in Middle-earth).

It makes the most sense that Celeborn lived in Middle-earth since the dawning of the Sun, the beginning of the First Age. It might be assumed that he was around before then, but we’re not told specifically. And so, in Tolkien’s mind at the time of the writing, Celeborn would have been Nandorin.

After the Elves woke, most marched west, these were called the Teleri. Those of the Teleri who refused to cross the Misty Mountains were called the Nandor. It could be figured that Celeborn was one of them, since he was in Lothlórien, east of the mountains, where the Nandor settled.

Galadriel, on the other hand, said that she passed back over the Misty Mountains to join Celeborn. This would make her possibly Sindarin (one of the Grey-elves). There’s no indication that she went to Valinor with the Noldor. She was simply an Elf who at lived west of the Misty Mountains. Since she mentioned both Nargothrond and Gondolin, it’s pretty safe to assume that she lived in Beleriand, which was two large mountain ranges to the west (the Misty Mountains and the Blue Mountains/Ered Luin).

At this point, you really should have a map of Beleriand. You can use this one, which is a combination map that shows the Middle-earth from the Lord of the Rings days, and Beleriand, from the Silmarillion days. Beleriand was the main land in the First Age, but it was destroyed at the coming of the Second Age, leaving only Middle-earth (long story very short).

Galadriel’s backstory of going to Valinor, coming back to live with Melian, the ban, the kinslaying and pretty much everything else that we associate with Galadriel, did not yet exist. It wouldn’t come into being even by the time Tolkien finished writing Lord of the Rings. He decided to work much of this out in the Appendices.

In the previous post, we looked at his very first draft of the Galdriel and Celeborn story. In this, it was said that she and Celeborn had been in Lothlórien since the beginning of the First Age, making both Nandorin, rather than just Celeborn. It’s also possible that he considered them to be exiled Noldoran Elves who came to Middle-earth from Valinor prior to the First Age.

So in the year or so between writing the first draft (1941) and the final (1948), Galadriel had risen in stature from a Nando to a Sinda. Also, in the original draft, there was no mention of either Nargothrond or Gondolin.

These additions follow a trend of Tolkien adding Galadriel to the early Silmarillion writings. When he created her, there was really no thought as to how she might be incorporated into the larger story. But as he went on, he increased her importance until Sam was basically praying to her in Mordor. This was no ordinary Elf – if she was this important, certainly she’d have a role to play in the earlier histories.

We can also look at this version of the narrative – the Lord of the Rings story itself – called the Red Book, as the work of the Hobbits. While they certainly had some grasp of the wider Silmarillion story, they apparently didn’t understand Galadriel’s full role and so didn’t include it in their version.

But the Appendices could be seen to be stories handed down by a variety of sources, though mostly from the Dunedain. The Tale of Years (Appendix B), probably came from Rivendell (I mean, it just makes sense). There’s a good chance these came to be included with Frodo and Sam’s story long after the fact.

The other versions of Galadriel’s history could be seen as either the truth (when it comes to the published Silmarillion/Tale of Years) or as different legends (the Unfinished Tales bits). It all depends how you want to approach the overall story – as a study of Tolkien and his writing, or as part of the greater mythology of Middle-earth. I’ll be mostly focusing on the former, but I’ll mention here and there the latter.

But the most important thing to remember is that Galadriel, in the Lord of the Rings version, was not even important enough to be mentioned at the Council of Elrond. She had nothing to do with the One Ring, no part in the Numenor story, not at all involved in the Battle of the Last Alliance or anything mentioned of any of Middle-earth’s history. She simply played no role in anything, and Tolkien never bothered to go back and include her prior to publishing the Lord of the Rings.

All we can really assume is that she effected nothing in Beleriand and then went to Lothlórien and effected nothing outside of its borders. Her importance was only in the late days of the Third Age. This allowed Tolkien to create a new character without altering in any way his earlier Silmarillion writings. This, however, would soon change.

Camera: Holga 120N || Film: Kodak Ekachrome 64, xpro as C-41, expired in 1989.

Camera: Holga 120N || Film: Kodak Ekachrome 64, xpro as C-41, expired in 1989.

A Few Notes

  • I really hope that it doesn’t seem like I’m needlessly drawing out the telling of Galadriel’s history. If so, I promise that I’m not trying to. There’s just so much to dig into and so much backstory.
  • Just to get the years clear. Tolkien started writing Lord of the Rings in 1939. Galadriel was invented in 1941. The final draft of the main narrative of Lord of the Rings was finished in 1948. The Appendices weren’t finished until 1955 – after Fellowship of the Ring was published. Return of the King, which contained the Appendices, was published in October of 1955. I’ll add to this timeline as we go.
  • Next time, we’ll take a look at the Tale of Years version of Galadriel. This is when she began to become more than a handy plot device.

About the Photo
Since the dawn of the Sun, eh? Well that means you’ve seen dinosaurs! And many dawns, for that matter. Here’s a bit of both. This was taken at Dinosaur park in Rapid City, South Dakota. It’s an interesting town with nothing at all to eat for a hungry vegan aside from some incredibly bad Indian food.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 964 (50 miles away from Lothlórien)
  • 339 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 809 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 17, 3019 TA. (map)

Like a Lance in Starlight – The First Appearance of the Lady Galadriel

When Galadriel is introduced in Lord of the Rings, we immediately understand that she’s someone a bit more mysterious and powerful than most we’ve met so far. Her powers of telepathy and of nature are without rival in the Elvish kingdoms of Middle-earth. But who was she? Where did she come from? And why did she go literally unmentioned until the Fellowship stumble upon Lothlórien?

Most of us know that Tolkien invented Galadriel immediately before writing the chapter where she made her first appearance. She did not come from the old Book of Lost Tales ventures, or from some early Lay or Silmarillion writings. She was not in The Hobbit or even mentioned in the Council of Elrond.

And it was precisely because of these things that Tolkien returned to her story several times after completing the main narrative of Lord of the Rings. Each time he did, she drastically changed. Not only was her history in flux, but so was her status, motives, morals and even personality. Over the next week or so, I want to explore these changes, beginning first at the beginning of Galadriel.

In late 1939, Tolkien came to the end of the Mines of Moria chapter and rested, not picking up the story again until months later, revising what he had already written. Then, in 1941, while revising The Ring Goes South chapter, Gandalf replied to a question about where they would go next: “We must go down the Morthond into the woods of Lothlórien…” This was the first appearance of the word in the narrative. It meant “secret woods”. Still, there was no mention of Galadriel.

Tolkien took some quick notes concerning the Fellowship’s trek into Lothlórien, but at first neither Galadriel nor any specific Elf (named or unnamed) was mentioned. All through the first draft of the “Lothlórien” chapter, still nothing of Galadriel was mentioned. The Fellowship camped by the Nimrodel, Legolas sang of Linglorel and talked about the houses of the Galadrim. Three Elves (Hathaldir – proto-Haldir) greeted them, camped with them, walked them to the Gore of Lothlórien, even blindfolded them, and still nothing of Galadriel was mentioned by anyone.

During the walk from the river toward Ciren Amroth, Tolkien took a break to make some notes for what might happen next. It is here when she is first mentioned, though it’s apparently almost illegible: “[Lord?] of Galadrim [?and ?a] Lady and ….. [?went] to White Council.” Shortly following, he continued: “Lord and Lady clad in white, with white hair. Piercing eyes like a lance in starlight. Lord says he knows their quest but won’t speak of it.”

In continuing the narrative from Cerin Amroth, Haldir says that the messengers came from the Lord of the Galadrim (the yet-unnamed Celeborn), not the Lady (the yet-unnamed Galadriel). Still, the purport was the same – the Fellowship was to be unblindfolded.

Tolkien then stopped again before continuing onto the early “Mirror of Galadriel” draft. In a few notes, he seemed to demote the Lord of the Galadrim to almost nothing, even with a thought to cutting him entirely: “Lord? If Galadriel is alone and is wife of Elrond.”

Continuing the draft of the narrative, the Fellowship was about to meet the Lord and Lady, and it’s here they’re first mentioned by name: “Keleborn and Galadriel”. However, these names are written over “Tar and Finduilas” as well as “Aran and Rhien.” It seems like he stuck with the latter for a few paragraphs before finally deciding upon Keleborn and Galadriel.

From here on out, Galadriel’s role is more or less the same as it is in the final version, though she isn’t quite as insightful. For instance, she doesn’t mention being unable to see Gandalf due to a grey mist. It’s never mentioned at all. Still, she knew of Frodo’s quest. In this early version, she did not found the White Council, but was merely at it. In a second draft, this was changed to the version with which we’re familiar.

We’ll recall from the published version that Galadriel said several times that she would not give the Fellowship counsel. In this first draft, she instead spoke: “Now we will give you counsel.” The ridiculously fun part is that her reasons for both giving and not giving counsel are nearly identical: “For not in doing or contriving nor in choosing this course or that is my skill, but in knowledge of what was and is, and in part of what shall be.” Almost the same dialog, supposedly proving two opposite points. Amazing!

Since I’m going to be digging deep into Galadriel’s ever-shifting history, it would be a good idea to briefly mention Tolkien’s very first inception of it:

“The lord and lady of Lothlórien are accounted wise beyond the measure of the Elves of Middle-earth, and of all who have not passed beyond the Seas. For we have dwelt here since the Mountains were reared and the Sun was young.”

It’s pretty clear then that both Galadriel and Celeborn were Noldorin Elves – those who came to Middle-earth at the start of the First Age, when the Sun first came into being. This would change many times throughout Tolkien’s life. He would change it to the published version sometime during the drafting process. But even before the Lord of the Rings was published, it would change yet again.

Next time, we’ll talk about the changes.

Camera: Argus C3 Film: Kodak Elite Chrome (xpro - expired 2003)

Camera: Argus C3
Film: Kodak Elite Chrome (xpro – expired 2003)

A Few Notes

  • I don’t have a lot of extra stuff to say, but my God am I happy to be doing this blog. I’m learning so much.
  • I really meant to get into Galadriel’s history as it appears in the published Lord of the Rings in this post, and originally wasn’t even going to bother with the drafts, but here we are. Surprised?
  • This doesn’t take into account any of Galadriel and Celeborn’s history as given in Appendix B of Lord of the Rings. I’ll get into that very shortly, I swear!

About the Photo
If you’re going to build yourself a beautiful character such as Galadriel, you better make a stop at Beauty School! Don’t drop out! This was from Twin Falls, Idaho, the beauty school capital of the Potato State.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 954 (40 miles away from Lothlórien)
  • 349 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 819 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 17, 3019 TA. (map)