Today brings us to the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the awakening of the Elves! But first, we’ll need to form a committee, hold a meeting, give dire warnings, threaten war, and create a few more stars. It’s a big day in Valinor, so let’s get started!
Yavanna and Oromë Return
After their jauntings in Middle-earth, Yavanna came back to Valinor, called the other Vala together, and reminded them that the time draweth neigh – soon the Elves would be awake. This was a fine thing, to be sure, but because of the whole retreat to Aman after Melkor destroyed the lamps and remade the world thing, they were hardly ready.
Because of this remaking, the world was divided into three continents, with Aman (and Valinor) being in the west, and the aptly-named Middle-earth being in the middle. Because all of the Valar remained in Valinor except Yavanna and Oromë (and Ulmo, I suppose, but does anyone really count him these days?), Middle-earth and the Elves were left undefended.
Yavanna cautioned that since Ilúvatar’s vision was cut short, they really had no clue as to when the Elves would rise. All she knew was that the time was coming and Middle-earth was ruled by Melkor and his minions. “Shall they walk in darkness while we have light? Shall they call Melkor lord while Manwë sits upon Taniquetil?”
Yavanna Sort of Gets a Bit of Support…
The only one to really seem to care about this was Tulkas – the Vala who laughed while he fought. He urged them to make war, warning that they had rested too long and it was time to take out this Melkor chap.
But he seemed to be the only one. Mandos, who was representing Manwë for some reason, explained a few things. Ilúvatar had shown Manwë much more than he had shown he other Vala. For instance, the Children, the Elves and Men, wouldn’t be coming along quite yet. Besides, it was their “doom,” their destiny, to be born in the dark.
The Great Light Shall Be For Their Waning.
This is such a strange statement. According to the Annals of Aman, a timeline of pre-First Age events written by Tolkien in the early 1950s, it was 1050 years after the making of the Two Trees when the Elves were awakened. Then, only 450 years later, the Sun and the Moon were created (and Men were awakened), thus starting the First Age. (Morgoth’s Ring, p71, 130)
If the “great light shall be for their waning” was true, that means that the Elves golden years lasted only four and a half centuries. Of course, they were still around for millennia to come, but from the First Age on, it was basically Sun and Men (yow!).
Star Talk with Varda
Though there were some stars in the sky of Middle-earth, it was apparently not enough – they were “faint and far.” So she made more. This was a huge undertaking, called the “greatest of all works of the Valar since their coming into Arda.”
Made from the silver dews from the tree Telperion, she created a whole slew of stars. Tolkien gave them all names, even deciding which constellations were which. Tolkien, in one of the last drafts of the Quenta (from 1958ish), jotted down which stars related to which actual celestial bodies.
We’re given six names of stars: Carnil, Luinil, Nénar, Lumbar, Alcarinquë, and Elemmírë. Of these six, only three have definite ties to our world. Carnil, Lumbar, and Alcarinquë are Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter, respectively. There’s a chance that he wished for Elemmírë to be Mercury, but it’s written in the Silmarillion that these were to be the brightest things in the sky. Mercury seems right out.
However, Christopher Tolkien reasoned that while the names for Mars and Jupiter were definitely settled, he figured that his father just chucked in all the planets (except Venus, of course) for good measure. This would leave Luinil and Nénar to be Uranus and Neptune. Why? Well, Tollers was sort of a completest in some strange ways.
In the Likeness of a Great Bee?
As for the constellations, six were named, and two were glossed. Menelmacar was Orion, and Valacirca was the Big Dipper. The rest are unknown. (Morgoth’s Ring, p434-436)
But there’s something interesting about Menelmacar. With his “shining belt” he “forebodes the Last Battle that shall be at the end of days,” the Dagor Dagorath. This constellation was nothing new to Tolkien. He first wrote about it in 1919, when he called it Telumehtar, meaning “the warrior in the sky.” (Lost Tales I, p200, 256, 268.)
Though it was never fully fleshed out, the constellation was said to actually be Telimektar, the son of Tulkas. He, along with the first Elf’s son, Ingil, “rose into the heavens in the likeness of a great bee.” They chased Melko into these heavens, “and they remain now in the sky to ward it, and Melkor stalks high above the air seeking ever to do a hurt to the Sun and Moon and stars (eclipses, meteors). Telimektar became the constellation using stars given to him by Varda, “and he bears them aloft that the Gods may know he watches; he has diamonds on his sword-sheath, and this will go red when he draws his sword at the Great End.” Ingil became Helluin, Sirius, the Dog Star – the brightest star in the sky. (Lost Tales II, p281.)
But these were only notes, and soon enough, the story disappeared entirely, ultimately evolving into what we see in the published Silmarillion.
Rise and Shine
In our last paragraph, the awakening of the Elves is only mentioned. The long and the short of it are to come next. But here we get the basic outline. They awoke under the starlight by Cuiviénen, “Water of Awakening.” The first thing they saw were stars, and have since been “all for Moon and Stars,” as Sam said (though the Moon wasn’t quite around just yet).
- Menelmacar was also called Menelvagor in Sindarin, and was used in Chapter Three of Fellowship. In Appendix E, Part 1 of Lord of the Rings, it’s also named Telumehtar, as it was in 1919. It’s Menelmacar in Quenian.
- In the next post, we’ll stick around this page for a bit longer. In the Book of Lost Tales version, Tulkas sort of gets his way at the meeting called by Yavanna. I want to delve into that for a spell. Okay?
Pages & Text
- Page 48 (with a bit of 47)
- Chapter: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor, Paragraphs 4-8
- Starting with:
“It came to pass that the Valar held council…”
- Ending with:
“…and have revered Varda Elentári above all the Valar.”