Galadriel: Globe-Trotter and Realm-Ruler – Beyond the Silmarillion

So far, we’ve taken a look at a few different versions of Galadriel. First, we saw how Tolkien originally came up with her, then how she was in the Lord of the Rings. We poked around at her history as given in the narrative, as well as in Appendix B, and worked our way through the Silmarillion, including “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.”

For most readers, this would be the conclusion. But for Tolkien, he was not yet finished with Galadriel. The latest writings we studied were from the Silmarillion, which was written and (more or less) completed(ish) in 1958.

Around the same time, Tolkien wrote a few other things about her, including a rough outline he called “Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn.” It is important to note two things. First, the Galadriel he wrote about at this time was the very same Galadriel from the published Silmarillion, though there are some differences here and there in the periphery. These writings were made around the same time he added her to the old stories. Second, due to that, it’s essential that we keep in mind her entire reason for leaving Valinor for Middle-earth: she “yearned to see the wide unguarded lands and to rule there a realm at her own will.” Tolkien would fulfill both of these desires in this writing.

Let’s take a look at it. The story picks up Galadriel’s life after being in Middle-earth for a millium or so.

Around the year 700 of the Second Age, it was Galadriel who noticed that the evil things happening in Middle-earth all came from the same source (Sauron, as it happened). She could tell that it came from the East, and so she and Celeborn, along with their children, went towards the danger, stopping in Eregion.

Tolkien supposes that it was possibly because she knew the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm that she selected a place so close to the Misty Mountains. Celeborn didn’t like the Dwarves at all, but Tolkien explained that “Galadriel was more far-sighted in this than Celeborn.” She realized that Middle-earth could not be saved from Melkor’s lingering evil (meaning Sauron) unless it came through “a union of all the peoples who were in their way and in their measure opposed to him.”

She saw the Dwarves of Moria as her own army, and she as their commander. This goes a long way toward allowing us to understand her seemingly out-of-nowhere relationship with Moria as hinted upon in Lord of the Rings. Her fondness for them was because the Dwarves were the children of Aulë, and Galadriel had been a pupil of Yavanna in Valinor, Aulë’s consort (basically).

It’s here assumed that Galadriel was the ruler of Eregion. This is at odds with the Appendix B, which holds that Celebrimbor was Lord of Eregion. The Silmarillion also supports this. In this telling, Celebrimbor wasn’t the ruler, but simply “a Noldorin craftsman”.

In the Silmarillion, we learn that Sauron came to Eregion in 1200 of the Second Age “wearing the fairest form that he could contrive”. He went to Eregion and fooled the Elves into believing that he was a pretty swell guy. He convinced Celebrimbor to to make the Rings of Power.

During all of this, Galadriel was commuting between Eregion and Moria. Through the Dwarves, she came “into contact with the Nandorin realm of Lórinand on the other side of the Misty Mountains.” This was, of course, Lothlórien.

Here, we learn a bit more about the early Elves of Lórinand prior to Galadriel’s involvement. In the first draft of this essay, Tolkien had the Elves ruled by “native princes.” However, on a revision, he made them largely anarchistic: “These Elves had no princes or rulers, and led their lives free of care while all Morgoth’s power was concentrated in the North-west of Middle-earth.”

It’s possible that well before Galadriel moved to Lórinand/Lothlórien, she began to shuffle her followers through Moria and into this new realm.

Meanwhile in Eregion, though Sauron had convinced the Elves he was a friend, he knew that Galadriel would be his “chief adversary and obstacle.” Believing that she didn’t know who he was, he tried to butter her up. This did not work and Galadriel could see through him. However, she didn’t kick him out. No explanation is given as to why.

The simplest reasoning would be that if she had kicked him out, the Rings of Power and the One Ring would never have been made and Tolkien sort of needed those things to happen (since, by the time he wrote this, they already had). However, on the other end, if she had been taken in by Sauron, and fooled like the other Elves (except a few like Gil-galad and Elrond), her powers couldn’t have been all that great. So Tolkien chose the unexplained middle ground. It’s mysterious and really makes no sense. But then, this was only an outline.

Tolkien had Sauron working in secret with Celebrimbor, and even Galadriel did not know this. Sauron convinced pretty well all of the Elves to revolt against Galadriel and Celeborn. There was a coup and Galadriel fled with her two children, Amroth and Celebrían. Celeborn, due to his dislike of the Dwarves, refused to enter Moria and stayed behind as a sort of outcast. When she arrived in Lórinand, she took over as ruler.

The years went by and Sauron oversaw the making of the Rings of Power and made the One Ring in Mordor. When Celebrimbor discovered the One Ring, he finally (finally) saw Sauron for what he was. He went to Lórinand to talk to Galadriel to see what could be done. Here Tolkien writes: “They should have destroyed all the Rings of Power at this time, ‘but they failed to find the strength’.”

Instead, she insisted that the Three Elvish Rings should be hidden. She would take one, and this had a profound effect on both Lórinand and Galadriel herself. Lórinand basically became the Lothlórien we all know and love in its eternal Springtime. On Galadriel, the Ring “increased her latent desire for the Sea and for return into the West, so that her joy in Middle-earth was diminished.”

In a note, Christopher Tolkien points out that Galadriel couldn’t have actually used her Ring until the One Ring was lost to Sauron (after the Battle of the Gladden Fields, about 1,500 years after she arrived in Lothórien). This doesn’t make any sense, really, and is probably an oversight by Tolkien (which might be corrected by the Elessar, as I’ll look into in the next post).

In this outline, Tolkien then narrates the so called ‘War of the Elves and Sauron’ that Sauron brought against Celebrimbor. Everybody, including the Dwarves of Moria, fought against Sauron. It only ended when the Númenóreans came as reinforcements. It’s worth the read, even though Galadriel plays no part in it (her son, Amroth, however, leads the warriors of Lothlórien into battle). This whole thing is finished by 1700 of the Second Age.

Here's a very crappy depiction of Galadriel's 2nd and 3rd Age wanderings.

Here’s a very crappy depiction of Galadriel’s 2nd and 3rd Age wanderings.

After this war, the sea-longing grew unbearable for Galadriel. It was because of this that she left Lothlórien to Amroth, and took her daughter, Celebrían, through Moria. She was looking for Celeborn, her husband (remember him?), and she found him in Imladris/Rivendell.

This was when and how Elrond met Celebrían, whom he would later marry. For some reason, Elrond fell in love with her, but never said anything about it. During this time, a proto-White Council was held (‘proto’ because the Ishtari/Wizards had not yet arrived). Sometime after that, the family moved to Belfalas/Dol Amroth, far to the south. Many of Galadriel’s followers from Lothlórien came to live with them.

After Amroth’s death, Galadriel and Celeborn returned to Lothlórien, but that was much later (in 1981 of the Third Age).

And so, we can see that though Tolkien didn’t actually alter anything we already knew about Galadriel, he added a ridiculous amount of detail to her life. While doing so, he elevated her in stature – she could see through Sauron’s disguise, she wasn’t prejudiced against the Dwarves, etc.

But the other changes, especially those in Eregion, were so huge that they would drastically alter his plans for the Silmarillion stories. Since this was “only” an outline, when editing and compiling the published Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien had to use the more finished drafts in which Galadriel still remained behind the scenes.

Though these changes were important, Tolkien would go on in later years to alter, change and rewrite much of what we know about Galadriel. Stay tuned!

Camera: Ansco Color Clipper Film: FujiChrome 400D (expired 08/1994) (xpro as C-41)

Camera: Ansco Color Clipper
Film: FujiChrome 400D (expired 08/1994) (xpro as C-41)

A Few Notes

  • I don’t mean to imply that the Silmarillion was completed in 1958ish. It was, in fact, never fully completed. However, the Galadriel bits were as finished as they were going to be (save for the notes and tidbits in Unfinished Tales) by the end of the 50s.
  • Tolkien toyed on and off with the idea of Amroth being Galadriel’s son. In the Lord of the Rings he was not, but in this outline he was.
  • At the end of this outline, time in Middle-earth got incredibly fuzzy for Tolkien. It’s unknown just how long Galadriel stayed in Imladris or Dol Amroth.
  • This outline is available in Unfinished Tales as “Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn” in the “History of Galadriel and Celeborn” chapter.
  • It’s not really clear (and maybe not knowable) whether Tolkien wrote this before, during, or after he wrote the bits that were later published in the Silmarillion. Whichever, it was definitely within the same time frame.

About the Photo
The astute readers might notice that I’ve used this photo before. But this is a much better use of it. This is Pennsylvania’s Madonna of the Trail – one of a series of monuments appearing along the National Road from Maryland to California. But doesn’t it make a perfect Galadriel, Celebrían, and Amroth?


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1054 (140 miles since leaving Lothlórien)
  • 249 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 719 miles to Mt. Doom

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

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9 thoughts on “Galadriel: Globe-Trotter and Realm-Ruler – Beyond the Silmarillion

  1. I love that JRR was thinking of making Galadriel Amroth’s mom. That would have been cool and pulls together a few loose threads of the story.

    She should have left Celeborn west of the mountains, though.

    • I think I like it too. It seems like something odd to play around with, though. But then, that’s what he did.

      I live that in this version, she didn’t drag Celeborn anywhere. He refused to go through Moria and she was all like, we’ll that’s the way we’re going. She didn’t even suggest Red Horn Pass. Because, I mean, why bother?

            • Hm… Since going through Mirkwood would probably mean having to deal with Thran (was Thran even there yet?), I’m betting he’s have gone south. Celeborn is Sindarin for “wet blanket.”

            • To be honest, thinking about the different iterations make my head ache, but Ahaha! Celeborn = Wet blanket! It does seem like in every iteration he’s relegated to nothing more than the proverbial trophy hubby (OT: would there be more brownie points if we took it that he was related to Thingol through Elmo?… OOT: why does it seem like names related to Mr C have that tendency for eyebrow-raising?). That is, until that heroic joint military manoeuvre with Thranduil at the end of TA, if that.

            • Well, luckily for you, there are only four or five Galadriel posts left! Yeah, it’s a bit much, but I seriously can’t stop!

              And good news about Celeborn! He will end up not so wet blanketish! I think we see him at his lowest here though, with the decision that even Sauron is better than going through Moria. What a chump.

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