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Help from Varda?


Dec 23 2012, 4:00pm

Post #1 of 14 (1309 views)
Help from Varda? Can't Post

When Frodo and Sam were in Shelobs lair, Sam suddenly knew the right words to say,words he never heared before, to activate the Phial. Now I wonder was it through Galadriel that he knew the words and that it shined so brightly or was it due to Vardas help.

Same with the change of weather, when Sam wished for water and daylight, after some time it happens. Is Galadriel responsable for that? Has she even the power to do so or was that also Varda?

What do you think?


Dec 24 2012, 11:07pm

Post #2 of 14 (894 views)
My bet is on Varda [In reply to] Can't Post

The movie has Galadriel appear to Frodo in Shelob's Lair to encourage him, so that's one possible interpretation, but I think JRR's intent was that it was Varda who was aiding them, and that Jackson didn't want to go into an explanation of Varda for non-book lovers, which I think was the right move.

If you go back to the Nazgul attack on Weathertop, Frodo seems surprised by his own cry of Elbereth, which turns out to be exactly what was needed when everything else was going wrong. I think that was divine intervention. Galadriel wasn't in the story yet, and I don't think it came from Gandalf or Strider.

I think she helped again when the hobbits needed her in Mordor. There was also the last-minute urging that Frodo and Sam both felt without discussing it, the need to move forward despite their exhaustion because Aragorn's army was in peril. Varda may not have been acting alone. Manwe was the Vala of air, and I interpret the winds that blew back Sauron's darkness and helped speed Aragorn's fleet to the Pelennor battle to be his work. But when Sam saw a star beyond the murk of Mordor and felt inspired, that was 100% Varda, Kindler of Stars.

I'm not sure how literally to take each instance and the element associated with each Vala. When Sam hoped for water, was that Ulmo? Ulmo was the most active in aiding the Noldor in the First Age, so wouldn't he be the most likely to help now? Or do the Valar not workly strictly according to their domain of interest, and if you hope that Varda gives you water, or if she's looking after you on her own, can she fulfill a prayer for water directly? My belief is the latter. It seems too mechanical and bureaucratic otherwise. "I'm sorry, Sam, but water is not my department. You need to contact the Vala Bureau of Water and Minister Ulmo for that request, down the hall to your left."

As great as Galadriel was, I don't see her reaching across Middle-earth to help the hobbits. Otherwise she would have been more help in the Sammath Naur, but her phial flickered out there because it couldn't contend with Sauron's power. She could contend with him on her own turf, but not on his.

Though I will admit that I wonder if Sam's box of soil from her garden was more than Elven Miracle-Gro. She said it contained what virtue she still had to bestow. Did it help the hobbits in subtle ways with that virtue? Nothing really points to it, yet it seems possible.

Great question!

(This post was edited by CuriousG on Dec 24 2012, 11:09pm)


Dec 25 2012, 10:36am

Post #3 of 14 (863 views)
With [In reply to] Can't Post

the Phial I wasn´t sure, but you make good points indicating it was due to Vardas help. So do you think that the phial doesn´t work by itself, only with help from Varda? Then it is a meaningless gift, unless Galadriel counted on Varda aiding the hobbits, but I think that is far- fetched. But regarding the rain and sunshine I was pretty sure Tolkien was hinting that it was due to Galadriels help and Galadriel seems to have control over water, in her action sending a mist to Eorl troops which pushed back Saurons darkness, you see a example of that, so I think she can make it rain, or let a mist appear.

(This post was edited by Nerven on Dec 25 2012, 10:42am)


Dec 25 2012, 11:43am

Post #4 of 14 (874 views)
Maybe both [In reply to] Can't Post

I would say some of it must have come from Varda, but didn't Sam actually see a vision of Galadriel at some point (even though in the movie it's given to Frodo)? Unfortunately I don't have the book with me right now to reference it.


Dec 26 2012, 8:25pm

Post #5 of 14 (849 views)
Part of the wonder of Tolkien is that the workings of 'magic' are hidden, but I think both Varda and Galadriel [In reply to] Can't Post

Played a role.

Galadriel put a great deal of thought into her gifts, and while it would not have been possible for her to foresee the specific danger Frodo and Sam would face in Shelob's lair, it would have been pretty logical that they would be going into some pretty dark places in Mordor. So the gift of a special kind of pure, unsullied light would have been a good choice.

Tolkien never describes the details of when or how the Phial was made, but the purest source of light that Galadriel would have had access to was the 'starlight' from the Silmaril of Earendil. This was captured light of the Trees, which in turn came from the pure unsullied light of Eru that was given to Varda. So the Phial itself was a gift from both Galadriel and Varda.

I think also that the words that Sam uses are in fact an Elvish prayer to Elbereth, which is another name for Varda. It wouldn't make sense for Varda to be instructing Sam how to pray to herself, so that part most likely was some kind of intervention by Galadriel. Was Galaldriel watching the whole thing from afar and in telepathic contact with Sam? I doubt iit was that straightforward, but Galadriel may have spent a great deal of time looking into her mirror for hints or glimpses of the Fellowships progress. She may have been able to sense the Ringbearers were in some great danger, and both the Ring and the Phial may have provided enough of a link to suggest the prayer that Sam offered to Elbereth.

There is place in the Valaquenta that says that Varda when seated beside Manwe, can hear sounds from almost anywhere, so Varda (Elbereth) was the one being in creation who could have heard and answered Sam's prayer. It seems to be the way things work in Tolkien's world that good triumph's when beings of vastly disparate work together within a common framework (kind of the corallary to 'oft evil shall evil mar)

The Shire

Dec 27 2012, 12:49am

Post #6 of 14 (840 views)
Eru [In reply to] Can't Post

I think everyone's forgetting Eru himself. His hand is also certainly in play, probably even more than the Valar, since I see the Valar as being almost paralyzed, knowing the events transpiring were Eru's design. The Valar knew Eru had directly intervened with Gandalf, and parting Sauron's clouds would be within his ability too, perhaps even more so, since Sauron might have detected Varda, but certainly Eru could have slipped the cloud-parting incident past Sauron. The Dark Lord would certainly have detected Galadriel projecting power into the heart of Mordor.

I agreee it was most likely Varda intervening when Sam and Frodo called to her, but I see this as Varda jumping at the chance to do something..."What??! They prayed to me!"


Dec 28 2012, 12:23am

Post #7 of 14 (854 views)
Mostly Ulmo, I think. [In reply to] Can't Post

In my view with few exceptions the bulk of the direct intervention by the Valar in the War of the Ring is done by Ulmo or at least under his interference.

Elsewhere I made the argument that Narya is the Ring of Ulmo. It is possible that Círdan gave it to Gandalf at the request of Ossë in a bid to subvert Gandalf into being an agent of Ulmo. It is clear that Gandalf behaves a lot like Ulmo, especially in the way he meddles in all affairs, his never settling, his kindling of hope and his unorthodox actions whose purposes are not very clear to the other Wise. Gandalf as the hand of Ulmo leading the opposition to Sauron makes a lot of sense to me.

Furthermore, the Line of Eärendil is under the direct protection of Ulmo. That includes Aragorn and Faramir, who dwelt in Ithilien behind a waterfall (much like his great-uncle Elrond who incidentally controls the flow of the Bruinen.) and used to have dreams full of presage (that also incidentally is the way of choice for Ulmo to communicate.) As did Frodo and the hobbits (except the sleeping log) near the Withywindle.

From Anduin taking the Ring for itself, to Gollum settling in an underground island surrounded by the waters where Ulmo speaks and doing nothing more than waiting, waiting for the right time to lose the Ring to a Hobbit, who would eventually take as heir a hobbit-boy whose relatives had drowned (or possibly had been taken away by Ulmo for this very purpose.) Well, the list of Ulmo-like actions is immense, including making people speak with the voices of others like Tuor did in Gondolin and Sam did against Shelob.

If Elrond dwells among waterfalls and has foresights, Galadriel dwells between rivers and uses a water mirror to probe the future. It is in water that she captures the light of the Silmaril and it is in a swan-like boat that she presents herself to Ulmo like the Teleri princess that she is. Even though she pretends to be the local Varda, she knows that Ulmo, the great conspirer, is the true emissary sent by Eru to Arda to take all the affairs of Middle-earth under his care.

Do the other Valar help? Yes! Stars and winds and healing sprinkes, to say a few, are all their work. But to put things into perspective consider that every moment the reader feels moved by the heroic deeds done by the peoples of Middle-earth in their struggle against Sauron he feels exactly what the Valar felt. And if his eyes twinkle it is with the light of Varda, and if he sighs it is with the winds of Manwë, and if he weeps it is with the healing tears of Nienna... but whenever he thinks with care about Middle-earth, its peoples great and small, its open places or hidden halls, he thinks with the mind of Ulmo.

PS: it seems very likely that Mandos is the great co-conspirator of Ulmo, but that is supposed to be a secret only known to them and that's why I will not mention it.Angelic


Dec 28 2012, 1:18am

Post #8 of 14 (763 views)
Fascinating argument, and very well-constructed.// [In reply to] Can't Post



Dec 28 2012, 3:04am

Post #9 of 14 (763 views)
Thanks, CuriousG! I see I wrote "relatives" (of Frodo) instead of "parents." [In reply to] Can't Post

It must be a torture reading through my writings.Blush


Dec 28 2012, 6:49am

Post #10 of 14 (812 views)
It [In reply to] Can't Post

is really beautiful written and a nice theory that Ulmo is the one who provides most of the help.

But how would Galadriel know that Ulmo somehow activates the Phial? I would think that it is through her own innate power that the phial shined so bright. I think she gave Frodo the phial cause she knew that he will be in real danger at one point and that he then needs something that saves his life, for that she can´t give him something that maybe will work.


Dec 28 2012, 4:55pm

Post #11 of 14 (802 views)
You know the lore of the Phial. You saw it being made. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Mirror of Galadriel was carrying the water. It was she who chose the right time to perform the Magic. She chose a moment when "the evening star had risen and was shining with fire above the western woods." It is in Ulmo's power to make water carry voices, dreams, fire, starlight. And it is by the trust of Ulmo that Galadriel is permitted to invoke such power. But she doesn't know with certainty what the ringbearer will face in his journey, that's why she lures him to her mirror. But the ringbearer is already strong or wise enough to resist showing himself to her. Better yet then, she lures his faithful servant whose soul is so pure that he himself feels naked under her gaze. She knows that the servant is the earnest guardian of his master and as such she expects that if she probes the fate of the servant she will discover the dangers to the master.

"There's only stars, as I thought." and then the stars went out. In my view, under the command of Galadriel the water for the Phial was mostly produced at that moment. Then the mirror revealed to Sam what it saw, and the first thing it saw was Frodo after Shelob's attack. Therefore the Phial was done mostly with the aim of providing a means to forestall the full attack of Shelob. It is "only stars" indeed.

"Do not touch the water," Frodo. It's been hallowed.

To answer your questions (according to the way I see them):

Ulmo provides the water and allows Galadriel to put in it words and devices that she chooses fit to; Sam provides the clear foresight of the danger of which Galadriel can only suspect; The starlight is starlight, mostly the light of the Silmaril; It is Galadriel who as master of the magic activates the Phial. The waters of Ulmo will answer only to her direct request.


Dec 28 2012, 6:05pm

Post #12 of 14 (758 views)
Au contraire, quite enjoyable to read them// [In reply to] Can't Post



Dec 28 2012, 6:12pm

Post #13 of 14 (788 views)
"Do not touch the water" question [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm never quite sure what to make of her warning. It seems that she could mean, as you say, that the water is hallowed. But I wonder if she means either

1. It's part of a spell, and you don't break spells or they blow up.
2. The mirror's visions are a sort of portal, so if you touch it, you could fall through it into what you see. Imagine Frodo falling right into the Eye of Sauron!

Those are both more traditional things that happen in fantasy stories, and as we've discussed in the thread on Tolkien and magic, he wasn't all that traditional, so maybe he had nothing harmful in mind at all. But I always want to know what would happen if someone did touch the water.


Dec 30 2012, 9:42pm

Post #14 of 14 (933 views)
I think It's mainly a mirror, actually. [In reply to] Can't Post

It reflects the person looking at it. Not exactly the image, but fate, fears, needs, desires. Perhaps the problem of touching it would be that the mirror would then reflect the physical needs of the touching person. That a hobbit touching the mirror would produce an endless stream of scenes of banquets and feasts, and instead of light, a phial made with water touched by a hobbit would generate lots of smoke of Old Toby. Maybe that could work against Shelob, making her a bit more blind, happy and relaxed. Massive smoke rings hovering over Cirith Ungol.Smile

As for someone falling into the Mirror, I thought about the possibility that the water could take something and never release it, perhaps like the shapes on the water in the Dead Marshes, but the Mirror is not black magic. Also, I don't think it could capture a whole person, though people keep saying that those who enter Lorien disappear somehow...


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