Celebrimbor Loves Galadriel – Jumping the Shark or Fine Idea for a Spin-off Series?

Around the time that Tolkien wrote the portions of Galadriel’s story which appear in the published Silmarillion, he had also written a few other things about her. We’ve already taken a look at one of those writings here, but there was another.

This one mainly concerned the Elessar, which I briefly mentioned here. The Elessar was the Elfstone, a beautiful green gem said to have the sun’s light within it.

Sometime in the late 1950s, Tolkien wrote an essay detailing two different stories of the Elessar’s origins. It’s not clear whether he himself couldn’t figure out which he liked best, or whether he was just attempting to add depth to the legends, but the two stories are incredibly different with some striking similarities.

We’re first told that the original Elessar, made by someone named Enerdhil, was worn by Eärendil when he left Middle-earth. But because there was also an Elessar later in the Third Age, was the cause for the two differing stories. Some said that the original had been returned to Middle-earth by the grace of the Valar, while others said it was a new Elessar cooked up by Celebrimbor, the Elf who forged the Rings of Power.

In the first telling, it’s Olórin who brought the original Elessar with him when he arrived from the West. Olórin was Gandalf’s name in Valinor. When Gandalf found Galadriel, she was living in Greenwood the Great. She confided in Gandalf that her time away from Valinor was beginning to wear on her. Though she wanted news of her family, she was still “unwilling to forsake Middle-earth.”

After Gandalf told her all he knew, said said: “I grieve in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade; and my heart yearns, remembering trees and grass that do not die. I would have these in my home.”

Gandalf asked if she wanted the Elessar, but in reply, she said that it was gone, asking “And must Middle-earth then fade and perish for ever?” Her ire toward the Valar was again expressed: “For surely the Valar are now removed and Middle-earth is far from their thought, and all who cling to it are under a shadow.”

But Gandalf corrected her, explaining that they were still very much a part of things. As a token, he presented her with the Elessar, which he brought from Yavanna. “Use it as you may, and for a while you shall make the land of your dwelling the fairest place in Middle-earth.”

He warned her that it wasn’t actually hers, but that she had to hand it down to one who would come with the name Elessar.

This is the version the meshes best with Lord of the Rings. There, Galadriel gave the stone to her daughter Celebrien, who gave it to Arwen, Galadriel’s granddaughter, who gave it back to Galadriel, who gave it to Aragorn, whose name would later become Elessar. Just how Galadriel got this stone wasn’t mentioned in the narrative.

But there’s another story that was apparently told by the Elves that didn’t involve Gandalf at all. Those who told this version believed the Elessar of the Eldar Days and the Elessar of the Third Age to be two different stones.

The second one was created by Celebrimbor before the forging of the Rings of Power. Galadriel had come to Eregion, where she found Celebrimbor and confided in him, saying: “I am grieved in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade that I have loved, so that the land of my dwelling is filled with regret that no Spring can redress.”

Celebrimbor asked her if she was going to go across the Sea. She said that though her kin had gone, she would remain. “But my heart is still proud. What wrong did the golden house of Finarfin do that I should ask the pardon of the Valar, or be content with an isle in the sea whose native land was Aman the Blessed? Here I am mightier.”

Here we see Galadriel growing a bit darker. The death and dying in Middle-earth bothered her, but she couldn’t swallow her pride and ask the Valar for forgiveness. This version almost hints at a ban against her specifically, since the ban against the Noldor had already been lifted by this point (which was how most of her family had returned to the West).

But of most importance is the reason she was staying: “Here I am mightier.”

And just what she would do in Middle-earth was explained: “I would have trees and grass about me that do not die – here in the land that is mine.” Galadriel, we have learned, came to Middle-earth to “rule there a realm of her own.” And she wanted that realm to be undying, just like Valinor. But not Valinor, because in Valinor, she could not rule. Galadriel was teetering mighty close to Sauron territory with this wanting to rule and be mighty business.

Like Gandalf in the previous version, Celebrimbor asked her about the Elessar, and as before, Galadriel admitted that it was gone. She asked, “But must Middle-earth fade and perish for ever?”

But unlike Gandalf, Celebrimbor wasn’t carrying a spare Elfstone in his coin purse. He was, however, a legendary craftsman.

“But you know that I love you (though you turned to Celeborn of the Trees), and for that love I will do what I can, if haply by my art your grief can be lessened.”

This is just sad. Celebrimbor was in love with Galadriel, who was already married to Celeborn, a lower Sindarin Elf. It must have completely befuddled and deflated poor Celebrimbor, who, like Galadriel, was one of the Noldar.

But it was because of this unreturned love that “he made the greatest of his works (save the Three Rings only).” This Elessar was of a more subtle and clear green color, but had less power than the original. The reason for this is fascinating. The original was lit by the Sun when it was just formed. It was stronger then. But now, even though Morgoth had been cast out, “his far shadow lay upon it.”

For a time, it was the Elessar that made Galadriel’s realm undying, “until the coming of the shadow to the forest.” So, when Sauron entered Dol Guldor around the year 1050 of the Third Age, the power of the Elessar was eclipsed by his, and the forest withered and became Mirkwood.

Once the Three Elvish Rings were forged by Celebrimbor (in the year 1500ish of the Second Age), he sent the ring Nenya, “the chief of the three,” to Galadriel. This contradicts Lord of the Rings, which states that Elrond’s Ring was the “mightiest.” It seems as if Galadriel had the Elessar for a few hundred years before receiving her Ring of Power. But remember, Galadriel couldn’t use her Ring until the start of the Third Age, when the One Ring was lost to Sauron.

From the start of the Third Age, until about 1050ish, when Sauron took over much of Greenwood/Mirkwood, she apparently used both the Ring of Power and the Elessar to keep her realm all flowery.

But anyway, now that she had the Elvish Ring and could no longer hold Mirkwood, she no longer needed the Elessar, and gave it to Celebrían, her daughter, who gave it to Arwen, who eventually gave it to Aragorn. Somehow or another, the prophecy of the Return of the King grew out of this.

A quick note about the whole Galadriel in Greenwood/Mirkwood thing…
For anyone who follows Tolkien’s timeline, this must really not set well. For Sauron in Dol Guldur to have any effect on the Elessar, Galadriel had to have been living in Greenwood/Mirkwood around 1000 of the Third Age. By all accounts, she had nothing to do with Greenwood/Mirkwood ever.

But it really does make sense. In the first edition of Lord of the Rings, Appendix B tells us that Thranduil lived in the north of Greenwood, while Celeborn ruled in the southern part of the forest. This was later changed so that Thranduil ruled all of Greenwood, and Celeborn had Lothlórien.

When Sauron took over Dol Guldur, all of the forest, both north and south, died. When this was written, Tolkien was still going off of the history from the first edition, where Thranduil was in the north and Galadriel was in the south. Once the Second Edition was published, in 1965, this was changed to how it is now.

Camera: Argus C3 Film: Kodak Hawkeye Traffic Surveillance Film

Camera: Argus C3
Film: Kodak Hawkeye Traffic Surveillance Film

A Few Notes

  • Tolkien later went back and changed the idea of Galadriel being “unwilling to forsake Middle-earth” to her not yet being permitted to forsake Middle-earth. Though oddly worded, this is probably a reference to the ban put upon her by the Valar, which I’ll talk about next.
  • This is the only place where Tolkien ever mentioned Celebrimbor’s love for Galadriel. Poor Celebrimbor! What did Celeborn have that he didn’t?
  • In a side note, Tolkien toyed with the idea of Celebrimbor making both the first and the second Elessars. Sorry, Emeryville, whomever you were.

About the Photo
The incredibly sad Celebrimbor bunny hops off in sobs and whimpers. Poor guy.

  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1064 (150 miles since leaving Lothlórien)
  • 239 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 709 miles to Mt. Doom

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


31 thoughts on “Celebrimbor Loves Galadriel – Jumping the Shark or Fine Idea for a Spin-off Series?

  1. You might want to fix your post title. Otherwise you have an odd incestuous thing going on that you probably didn’t intend. Same at the end of the post. I don’t think JRR was that kinky. 😉

    But seriously, Galadriel picked Celeborn over Celebrimbor? What the hell?

    • Oh I don’t know, he might have been… Didn’t he write that crazy Elf/Dwarf love story in the Hobbit, right?

      Thanks sooo much for the catch. My mind gets all twisted around sometimes. It’s really frustrating.

      • Wait, there was an elf/dwarf love story in the Hobbit? I don’t remember that.

        You’re welcome! I know the feeling. It doesn’t help that JRR loved to start character names with “Cel.” They all run together sometimes.

            • Hehehe! Eh, I don’t mind the movies so much. I treat them like the pretty okay fantasy action movies that they are. They’re not involved at all with any Tolkien studies, but they’re good popcorn movies all the same.

            • I’ve found that I’m way more mellow about the movies than most people. I’m certainly no fanboy, but I’m also not calling for Jackson’s head on a pike. Afterall, he made Dead Alive and Basket Case, so the man gets to live.

            • Hey the LotR movies are beautiful. I won’t argue about that. But yeah, I’m one of the cranky fans as far as the liberties he took. Wayne Hammond is another one. His remarks about “Brego the Wonder Horse” still make me smile even though it’s been years since we talked about it.

            • I can imagine that he wouldn’t be a fan. Neither is Christopher Tolkien. And that’s all okay. I am certainly critical of them, especially the second Hobbit. But seeing Ian McKellen act is worth it. Hell, seeing Martin Freeman act is worth it.

              Wow, it’s rare that I have a ‘The Movies’ discussion.

              I *will* throw down over Star Wars, though.

            • And I didn’t mean to be all name-droppy there. I’m just tickled I work at the same place he does and I just love “Brego the Wonder Horse.” 🙂

              No argument on Ian McKellen. I love him. Although he doesn’t always appear in movies I love as much. I hate his “Richard III.”

              Throw down in support or against? I love the first two original films. The rest can get stuffed, as far as I’m concerned.

              Talking about movies in fun!

            • Oh its fine, I love the guys work, so I’d be name dropping all over the place. Hell, John Ratcliff volunteers at the same shelter where we got Juniper and I’m all giddy. Haven’t even met the guy.

              We agree on the movies. I was, however, heavily invested in the expanded universe books. That’s all void now, but I’m still holding out hope that the new universe will be good. Hopefully better (cause there was a lot if stink in the original expanded universe).

            • And now I feel dumb. Who is John Ratcliff? The game developer, by any chance? (googling like crazy)

              Ah, I never read the books. And yes, so much stink. I can’t say I’m hopeful, but you never know, right?

            • My fault! Well, autocorrect is to blame. It’s John Rateliff. He wrote the amazing History of the Hobbit.

              I weirdly trust Abrams with Star Wars. His Star Trek was basically Star Wars without the Force.

            • Aha! That makes more sense.

              I only saw the first new Star Trek film. It was fun, but I had issues with it. Mainly the casting of the young Uhura. As my husband said when watching, “There’s no way that popsicle stick turns into Nichelle Nichols!”

  2. Woot! Another mind-twisting entry, as promised and delivered. Another venture further out into uncharted territory for this humble acolyte.

    You know, I’d rather like to see this darker Gladdys you’ve got here in LotR. 🙂 Poor Celebrimbor though. Now his singlehood made sense!

    To the movie discussion, I’d just like to add two bitses: 1) For what it’s worth, the ME movies prodded me to pick up Tolkienlore that much earlier than I thought I would, so I’ll always have a fondness for them, plus the visuals, and (some of the cast) are, imo, heaven sent; 2) SW4-6 FTW! I have not managed to view any 1-3 from start to finish even now. At.All. Not sure what to think about Abrams’ contribution, but well, having Serkis and other Middle-earth!movies alumni on board can’t hurt his chances in my books.

    • Yay! There are only several more! And humble she is (well, in one of them).

      I really like dark and conflicted Galadriel. She’s a much better character, I think.

      The ME movies were great for getting people into Tolkien. That’s a good thing, though I’m really not one to proselytize. They didn’t have that effect on me, and it was years after seeing them that I picked up The Hobbit. And years after that before I picked of LotR. I came in very late to the game.

      There are some fan edits of the prequels that are actually really good. Especially II & III. Totally not essential viewing though. I’m watching the new cartoon Rebels and really like it. Andy Sekis is a lot of fun, so I’m hoping he’ll add some awesome to the new movies. Even with the goofy ass light saber and roller droid, I’m hopeful.

      • Wow! For one late to the game, I have this to say of what I see: “The Force is strong in this one.” 😀 Much impressed!

        I was following the SW cartoons for a while, not sure if they’re the ones you’re watching now, but I do feel they’re better than the prequels, imo. I’m glad those fan edits aren’t essential viewing *sheepish*

        *at the new SW bitsies* Gah! I didn’t see that! 😛

        • Haha thanks. I do a daily American Civil War history blog where I dig into primary sources and do quite a bit of research. I just applied that to this. There’s also some fake it till you make it going on both there and here. 🙂

          No, the Rebels cartoon is new. Eight or so episodes thus far. I really like it.

          Did you see the trailer for the new movie?

            • We loves and hates spoilers, precious!

              Seriously, I wanna see what everyone else saw already, but sometimes going in blind can be beneficial, as in SW’s case: in my book, it’s got a lot of redemption in the backlog. So fingers crossed!

            • Spoilers really shouldn’t be so fun, and really, I shouldn’t like them. But then, most wouldn’t consider a teaser trailer as spoilage.

              So, what would happen if you went to the movies and the trailer for the new SW came on the screen? And being on any kind of social media could get tough. Hell, I’m a big fan of the Walking Dead, and last week AMC themselves spoiled the biggest event of the finale two hours before it aired on the west coast. I wasn’t happy about that, so sometimes I guess I don’t like spoilers.

              Hm.. it depends, I guess. I’ve read entire leaked scripts before, so sometimes I’m totally okay with being spoiled. But maybe with SW, it’s just so big that no amount of spoilage would take away from the movie itself. Or maybe that’s just my way of saying that I think they’re going to blow the story, but at least it’ll be pretty to look at.

            • Well, if it crossed my path at the movies, which can’t be helped, I’d hope to be as pleasantly floored as my first completely uninformed-beforehand encounter with the FotR trailer. (yup, I can, or could, be that insular; but that was a different decade, I guess it’s much harder to evade spoilers/news so well these days)

              But with reference to your last line… I’m cautiously confident it won’t come close 😛

              I’m just conflicted I guess. As you say, social media is dangerous. It’s like navigating through an orc horde on Pelennor when it comes to spoilers, and you really don’t want to be the deuce in the circle. But then, I want the purity of that big shock/surprise/rage/outrage/delirium of really seeing something at the movies first. Thank goodness for the anonymity of nicks and usernames 😀

            • Back when the prequels and the LotR movies were coming out, social media didn’t really exist (well, okay, there was Makeout Club, but that was totally differentish). I don’t think I saw a trailer for Ep1 at all. I don’t think the net was really fast enough to deliver such things then. I don’t think I even knew what the Fellowship of the Ring was, or even how or why I saw it. But I don’t think I saw it in the theater. I think my friend Brad brought it over to my house once and we watched it before Two Towers was released and then we both saw that at a midnight release. Now, I can’t even stay up past 10pm. So I’ll be seeing Hobbit III at 3pm.

              Deuce in the circle? I’ve never heard that before. I think I like it, but where does it come from?

              I have geeky friends who have done little more than post Star Wars stuff over the past week. I can understand the geeking out. I’m stoked. But first, the Hobbit or something.

            • Sometimes I forget the leaps and bounds technology makes.

              Deuce in the circle was just coined by yours truly on the fly (well, at least I’ve not seen it before). So thanks! 🙂

              Yup, SW can wait. Battle awaits.

            • I actually just looked up the phrase “deuce in the circle” and found basically nothing. One person used it in reference to racing cars, and another in reference to scoring softball. Neither were making a phrase of it though, as you did. Well done!

        • Poke all you like! This is a Tolkien blog, so we’ve all already drunk the Kool-aid, so to speak.

          I see a lot of people say that the movies are only good because they bring people to Tolkien. 1) They’re good for other reasons, of course. And, b) Having taken part in some Tolkien groups (Facebook, a forum or two), I’m not always sure that more people is a good thing. But, I’ll confess to being pretty cranky sometimes. 🙂

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