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Beornings are probably the 2nd most unknown beings with Tom Bombabil the greatest mystery
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Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 18, 4:01pm

Post #1 of 44 (825 views)
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Beornings are probably the 2nd most unknown beings with Tom Bombabil the greatest mystery Can't Post

Men who are skin changers without any explanation of how that ability came to them is another mystery.

Things to speculate about:
Was the ability given to them at some point?
By whom? Possibly Oromë?
The only other Valar that might fit is Tulkas.

"Oromë delights in hunting monsters and evil creatures, riding on his steed Nahar and blowing his great horn Valaróma. He loves horses and hounds as well as all trees and forests. In Yavanna's woods in Valinor he trains his folk and beasts for hunting.[2]"
http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Oromë


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwPHK0wctQU
Who Was BEORN? | History of Middle-Earth | Lore #35


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 18, 5:55pm

Post #2 of 44 (785 views)
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How many Beornings were really Skin-changers? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know that any of Beorn's followers came from his original people. Most, if not all of them, seem to have been Woodmen or other folk dwelling in the Vales of Anduin. We only know that Beorn and his direct descendants such as his son Grimbeorn were able to change their skins. Might Radagast, master of shapes and hues, have had something to do with Beorn's abilities?


Quote
"At any rate he is under no enchantment but his own... As a bear he ranges far and wide. I once saw him sitting all along on the top of the Carrock at night watching the moon sinking towards the Misty Mountains, and I heard him growl in the tongue of bears: "The day will come when they will perish and I shall go back!" That is why I believe he once came from the mountains himself." - Gandalf, The Hobbit


Who might perish? The goblins? An enemy from Beorn's homeland? Did Beorn take a wife from the folk of the Vales? Or did he return to his ancestral home and bring back his bride?

#FidelityToTolkien


Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 18, 6:00pm

Post #3 of 44 (782 views)
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My assumption was that he was referring to the Orcs who infested the mountains. [In reply to] Can't Post

The skin changers are a mystery - with obvious connections to Nordic mythology.

Interesting - "After being affected by the curse of Andvari's ring and gold, Fafnir became a dragon and was slain by Sigurd."

Hmm, I suppose maybe some ancient curse or talisman led to it.

Since they were men, it seems the power had to come from elsewhere....speculation on where is of course endless.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 18, 6:53pm

Post #4 of 44 (774 views)
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Was Beorn under some sort of geas? [In reply to] Can't Post

Beorn seems to be in some kind of self-imposed exile when we first encounter him in The Hobbit. Some outside force might have had a hand in his abilities, yet from Gandalf we are told that "he is under no enchantment but his own". It might be that Beorn didn't trust himself around his fellow men, perhaps out of fear that, as a bear, he would harm the people he cared about. If that is the case then the Battle of Five Armies seems to have assuaged such fears; during the yule-tide following the battle "men came from far and wide to feast at Beorn's bidding".

I agree with you regarding the Orcs, though some other explanation is possible.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Mar 18, 6:59pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 18, 7:46pm

Post #5 of 44 (767 views)
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The closest example are werewolfs [In reply to] Can't Post

"In folklore, a werewolf[a] (Old English: werwulf, "man-wolf"), or occasionally lycanthrope /ˈlaɪkənˌθroʊp/ (Greek: λυκάνθρωπος lukánthrōpos, "wolf-person"), is a human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf (or, especially in modern film, a therianthropic hybrid wolflike creature), either purposely or after being placed under a curse or affliction (often a bite or scratch from another werewolf) with the transformations occurring on the night of a full moon. Early sources for belief in this ability or affliction, called lycanthropy /laɪˈkænθrəpi/, are Petronius (27–66) and Gervase of Tilbury (1150–1228)." Wiki

Now, there were werewolves in Tolkien's world -

"In the First Age, werewolves were servants of Morgoth bred of wolves and inhabited by dreadful spirits (fallen Maiar, or the fëar of orcs), imprisoned so by Sauron. Unlike werewolves of other literature, these did not transform from man to wolf at night, and their behavior had no lunar influences."
https://lotr.fandom.com/wiki/Werewolves

So, is it possible that Beorn was somehow "infected" in some ancient battle? OR, possibly given the "gift" by one of the Valar to counter such beasts?

"Gandalf suggests in his talks with Frodo after the Ford of Bruinen that werewolves survived into the Third Age, and makes a distinction between them and wargs. The latter, though, might simply be descended from werewolves, as they could speak, suggesting they had fëar (souls).[1][2]"

"The werewolves of Arda were not shape-shifters, and were always in the form of great beasts. They were similar to wolves and the later wargs, but were as intelligent as Man, rendering them capable of negotiating and communicating with others."

https://lotr.fandom.com/wiki/Werewolves


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Mar 18, 7:49pm)


InTheChair
Lorien

Mar 18, 8:58pm

Post #6 of 44 (758 views)
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There's a lot of strange thing surrounding Beorn though. All his serving animals for one thing. [In reply to] Can't Post

We only know that Beorn and his direct descendants such as his son Grimbeorn were able to change their skins.

Do we know even this much about Grimbeorn?
Might be suggested in the name of course...



squire
Half-elven


Mar 19, 12:56am

Post #7 of 44 (758 views)
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I wouldn't assume Bombadil and Beorn inhabit the exact same universe [In reply to] Can't Post

There are a lot of aspects of The Hobbit that don't really fit into the more fully-conceived world of the sequel. Beorn is probably one of them - he is remembered, of course, in the brief mention his folkland receives at the Council of Elrond, but after that nothing.

To try to scheme out just how his skin-changing identity fits into the Middle-earth of Lord of the Rings can be entertaining, but seems ultimately futile since that identity plays no role in the story. To me, he is just the most mysteriously-endowed of the endlessly varied and amusing-more-than-scary creatures that populate The Hobbit.

The funny thing about Bombadil is that he occupies a somewhat similar role in the LotR, because he was inserted into the story at a time when Tolkien was pretty much copying his Hobbit formula, chapter by entertaining chapter, character by colorful character (Gildor, Farmer Maggot, Old Man Willow, Bombadil, Butterbur, Trotter/Strider, etc.) But these characters all fit into the enlarged Peoples of Middle-earth that LotR took and expanded from The Silmarillion - except for Bombadil, that cheefully rapping doll from the early 1930s Tolkien nursery. I would say, if pressed, that Beorn isn't the second most unknown (or unknowable) being after Tom; I'd say that Beorn is Tom, in an earlier incarnation in an earlier version of Middle-earth.



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Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 19, 1:04am

Post #8 of 44 (754 views)
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Grimbeorn the Old [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
We only know that Beorn and his direct descendants such as his son Grimbeorn were able to change their skins.

Do we know even this much about Grimbeorn?
Might be suggested in the name of course...


I don't think we are ever directly told that Grimbeorn is a skin-changer, but there is little doubt in my mind that it was so. What we do learn in The Hobbit is: "it is said that for many generations the men of [Beorn's] line had the power of taking bear's shape, and some were grim men and bad, but most were in heart more like Beorn, if less in size and strength." It would be odd indeed if Beorn's first-born (only?) son was not a skin-changer.

I find it interesting that we learn nothing of the women of Beorn's line. Might they have inherited the potential to take an animal shape also, with the ability taking a different form? Perhaps Beorn had female descendants who could take the form of...i don't know...swans, fostering the legends of swan maidens in later folklore.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Mar 19, 1:10am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Mar 19, 1:15am

Post #9 of 44 (754 views)
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Orome or Yavanna [In reply to] Can't Post

Orome for the reasons you cite, and Yavanna because of her connection to Radagast, who was a master of hues and shapes, which sounds close enough to shape shifter to me. Plus, Yavanna was as concerned about animals as plants and managed to derive Ents from trees, so she had a precedent for "playing around with DNA," so to speak.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 19, 1:17am

Post #10 of 44 (746 views)
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Werewolves of Middle-earth [In reply to] Can't Post

You said it yourself, Eruonen; Tolkien's Werewolves were never Men and didn't transform into Men. And the whole idea that Beorn might have been cursed by a lycanthrope runs counter to what we are told by Gandalf himself. If Beorn is under any sort of curse, it is one that he brought upon himself. And the fact that the power is passed on to future generations of his line suggests that it has deep roots.

#FidelityToTolkien


Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 19, 1:22am

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Good points [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 19, 1:27am

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Maybe not one of the Valar. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Orome for the reasons you cite, and Yavanna because of her connection to Radagast, who was a master of hues and shapes, which sounds close enough to shape shifter to me. Plus, Yavanna was as concerned about animals as plants and managed to derive Ents from trees, so she had a precedent for "playing around with DNA," so to speak.


By the time of the Third Age the Valar had ceased to take direct action in Middle-earth. If we are going to look at divine or semi-divine beings that might have played a role in Beorn acquiring his ability, perhaps we could speculate about lesser Ainur or nature spirits. That's why I suggest that Beorn might have been a student of Radagast the Brown, or that the wizard might have bestowed it as a boon upon Beorn for some service rendered.

#FidelityToTolkien


Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 19, 1:28am

Post #13 of 44 (731 views)
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Some other shape shifters of ME [In reply to] Can't Post

Some ME adaptations indicate:

Vampires are described as former Maia patrons of normal bats, but corrupted by Morgoth and transformed into demons appearing as man-sized bats with "the faces of hideous Men or Women", having the ability to change shape.[3] A related creature is also envisioned, the Blood-wight, which is an undead Mannish shapechanger, draining blood from living beings.[4]

The question of Beorn's shape shifting being derived from a good or evil source stands as a question. An origin story in the appendices would have been nice - possibly making a connection to one of the Valar.

"Thuringwethil (perished F.A. 465) was a Vampire servant of Sauron during the First Age. She was Sauron's messenger, but was caught in the battle between her master, Lúthien and Huan at Tol-in-Gaurhoth ("Isle of Werewolves"). She was slain either by the Hound of Valinor or in the collapse of Minas Tirith. Lúthien later used her cloak to sneak into Angband during the Quest for the Silmaril.[1]

Because of Thuringwethil's ability to change forms, she may have been a Maia or some sort of skin-changer."
J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beren and Lúthien"


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Mar 19, 1:33am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Mar 19, 1:34am

Post #14 of 44 (724 views)
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In that case [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder if Beorn is a sort of diluted creature from the original, the way the spiders of Mirkwood were from Ungoliant?


Quote
There agelong she had dwelt, an evil thing in spider-form, even such as once of old had lived in the Land of the Elves in the West that is now under the Sea, such as Beren fought in the Mountains of Terror in Doriath, and so came to Lúthien upon the green sward amid the hemlocks in the moonlight long ago. How Shelob came there, flying from ruin, no tale tells, for out of the Dark Years few tales have come. But still she was there, who was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad-dûr; and she served none but herself, drinking the blood of Elves and Men, bloated and grown fat with endless brooding on her feasts, weaving webs of shadow; for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness. Far and wide her lesser broods, bastards of the miserable mates, her own offspring, that she slew, spread from glen to glen, from the Ephel Dúath to the eastern hills, to Dol Guldur and the fastnesses of Mirkwood. But none could rival her, Shelob the Great, last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world.

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (p. 723). HMH Books. Kindle Edition.



Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 19, 1:43am

Post #15 of 44 (725 views)
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Werebear in mythology [In reply to] Can't Post

https://bears.org/spirit/shapemyth.html

"The English

The story is titled "Beowulf". And almost every high school English class reads it. It is basically the story of a Geatish hero who vanquishes several evils from the world. Beowulf supposedly had the strength of thirty men in his left hand. He is a powerful swimmer and has tremendous endurance. All these traits are commonly associated with the bear.
The Native Americans

These are not the only legends of bear shapeshifters. In fact, one of the earliest legends in human experience concerns a bear-shapeshifter. This legend, that of the Bear Mother, is found in the traditions of many peoples throughout the world, including several Native American tribes."

In regard to the female element -

"In a spiritual sense, the Bear is seen as a totem of healing, or of strength and introspection. She is the Spirit of the West. She represents rebirth and regeneration. In an imitation of death, the bear goes into her den and is gone through the cold months of winter. Then, as spring comes, she returns, reborn. Usually, she comes out with cubs, serving as a symbol of birth.

The Shaman would often dress in the skin of a bear, and call upon Her medicine to heal the sick or guide him to what herbs should be used to cure an ailing tribesman.

Today, followers of modern Shamanism look to Bear for the same reasons. As Spirit of the West, She is one of the Four Great Powers. She encourages Her followers to consider their actions, to think about the decisions that they are about to make.
.........................................


"Therianthropy is the mythological ability of human beings to metamorphose into other animals by means of shapeshifting. It is possible that cave drawings found at Les Trois Frères, in France, depict ancient beliefs in the concept. The most well known form of therianthropy is found in stories concerning werewolves."


Therianthropy refers to the fantastical, or mythological, ability of some humans to change into animals.[5] Therianthropes are said to change forms via shapeshifting. Therianthropy has long existed in mythology, and seems to be depicted in ancient cave drawings[6] such as The Sorcerer, a pictograph executed at the Palaeolithic cave drawings found in the Pyrénées at the Les Trois Frères, France, archeological site.

Skin-walkers and naguals
Main articles: Skin-walker and Nagual
Some Native American and First Nation legends talk about skin-walkers—people with the supernatural ability to turn into any animal they desire. To do so, however, they first must be wearing a pelt of the specific animal. In the folk religion of Mesoamerica, a nagual (or nahual) is a human being who has the power to magically turn themselves into animal forms—most commonly donkeys, turkeys, and dogs—but can also transform into more powerful jaguars and pumas.[citation needed]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therianthropy


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Mar 19, 1:50am)


squire
Half-elven


Mar 19, 1:48am

Post #16 of 44 (727 views)
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If Grimbeorn was Beorn's son, we have another of those glitchy Hobbit/LotR hiccups [In reply to] Can't Post

Anyone who read The Hobbit before LotR came out remembered that the ending was basically 'they all lived happily ever after.' Not just Bilbo, but everyone on the side of good: the Men of Dale and Laketown, the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, the Elves of Mirkwood, and the men of the Woodland dales of the Anduin. All the bad guys were dead, in hiding, or had fled far away.

Naturally Tolkien had to disassemble this universal Golden Age for his new book to provide an adventure in the wild. Sure enough, the first two chapters of LotR tell us that now, many years since Bilbo returned from his quest, things have begun to go sour again: the goblins are back, the trolls are back, Mirkwood is creepy again, and the Necromancer has set up as Sauron in Mordor.

But your quote from the close of The Hobbit about the future rulers of Beorn's realm being all skin-changers of lesser power took me back to that passage. I read this line that comes after your quote about Beorn's descendants being "...less in size and strength":
"In their day the last goblins were hunted from the Misty Mountains and a new peace came over the edge of the Wild." (TH XVIII)
Now in this sentence, "their" refers to the previous sentence's "many generations [of] the men of [Beorn's] line". Clearly, from The Hobbit's telling, the Misty Mountains were cleared entirely of goblins, if not immediately then eventually, by the Beornings and their people.

But that's not exactly how things are when The Lord of the Rings opens. As we are told in Chapter 2, "Orcs were multiplying again in the Mountains" (LR I.2) and as we will find out in Book 2, Moria (in the Misty Mountains) is positively infested with orcs. To allow for this dismaying rewrite of The Hobbit's version of future history, the Beornings' influence is gently and subtly restated:
"Frodo learned that Grimbeorn the Old, son of Beorn, was now the lord of many sturdy men, and to their land between the Mountains and Mirkwood neither orc nor wolf dared to go." (LR II.1)
Now it seems that Beorn's son has not cleared the entire Misty Mountains of orcs at all, nor do his descendants ("many generations") seem likely to do so either. Rather the orcs do not dare to expand beyond the mountains -- to descend into the Anduin valley where Grimbeorn rules. That's a happy situation for the woodmen to be sure, but it's really remarkably different from what The Hobbit said was going to happen in this region of the world.

I don't think there's anything particularly wrong about this contradiction, as it's not the only one to be found, implicitly or explicitly, between the two books. They are best read as separate stories with separate agendas, not as a continuous epic. Tolkien manfully papered over as many of the cracks as he could, but there's only so much one can do with a children-oriented story that ends with "happily ever after"!



squire online:
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Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 19, 1:57am

Post #17 of 44 (724 views)
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I prefer to hammer square pegs into round holes [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think their wanderings took them into Moria. I think more generally on the sunlit slopes and forests they stood guard.

The Moria orcs were not fond of sunlight.....

"‘But what are we going to do at sunrise?’ said some of the Northerners.

‘Go on running,’ said Uglúk. ‘What do you think? Sit on the grass and wait for the Whiteskins to join the picnic?’

‘But we can’t run in the sunlight.’

‘You’ll run with me behind you,’ said Uglúk. ‘Run! Or you’ll never see your beloved holes again. By the White Hand! What’s the use of sending out mountain-maggots on a trip, only half trained. Run, curse you! Run while night lasts!’"

https://middle-earth.xenite.org/does-light-really-hurt-the-orcs/


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Mar 19, 2:02am)


Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 19, 2:19am

Post #18 of 44 (712 views)
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This goes back to the origin of the shapeshifting - was Beorn and his line unique? [In reply to] Can't Post

"As other Northmen, the Beornings descended from Men of the First Age who were related to the Edain,[4] perhaps akin to the Third House.[5] As such, the Beornings were close kin of the Éothéod, the Woodmen of Mirkwood and the Bardings.[6][7]"

Were other Northmen or Woodmen shape shifters or was this a particular trait of one "family" group? If so, it raises the question if Beorn was somehow either given the ability or it was mysteriously native to him (which seems odd since he was human). To your point, was there an ancestor before Beorn who had the ability? His family tree is missing.

I like the speculative idea that one of the Valar played a role....Orome or Yavanna ....etc.

Lacking any other possibility....blame the Blue Wizards.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Mar 19, 2:25am)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 19, 1:27pm

Post #19 of 44 (696 views)
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Might there have been an Ainu in Beorn's bloodline? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
"As other Northmen, the Beornings descended from Men of the First Age who were related to the Edain,[4] perhaps akin to the Third House.[5] As such, the Beornings were close kin of the Éothéod, the Woodmen of Mirkwood and the Bardings.[6][7]"

Were other Northmen or Woodmen shape shifters or was this a particular trait of one "family" group? If so, it raises the question if Beorn was somehow either given the ability or it was mysteriously native to him (which seems odd since he was human). To your point, was there an ancestor before Beorn who had the ability? His family tree is missing.

I like the speculative idea that one of the Valar played a role....Orome or Yavanna ....etc.

Lacking any other possibility....blame the Blue Wizards.


Perhaps neither Vala nor Wizard. Just as Thingol wed the Maia Melian, maybe one of Beorn's ancestors was wed with a spirit or lesser Ainu that had an association with bears. It might even have been a servant of Oromë.

#FidelityToTolkien


Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 19, 2:25pm

Post #20 of 44 (692 views)
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Another good option [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 19, 3:16pm

Post #21 of 44 (694 views)
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Who was Beorn and what were the Beornings? - Lord of the Rings Lore [In reply to] Can't Post

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBQCouf2sjM

I would like to see the quote where Tolkien said magic was involved.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Mar 19, 3:17pm)


Solicitr
Gondor


Mar 19, 6:10pm

Post #22 of 44 (692 views)
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It's [In reply to] Can't Post

not even really a contradiction, just a subtle ret-con that doesn't even rise to "Obi-wan truth." "Generations" is vague enough to include Grimbeorn's sons and grandsons, who may well have cleaned out the last Orc-dens after the fall of Sauron.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 19, 10:43pm

Post #23 of 44 (682 views)
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Letters [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBQCouf2sjM

I would like to see the quote where Tolkien said magic was involved.


My guess is that the reference was to this quote from Letter 144 (The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien; bolded for emphasis):


Quote
Beorn is dead; see vol I p.241. He appeared in The Hobbit. It was then the year 2940 (Shire Reckoning 1340). We are now in the years 3018-19 (1418-19). Though a skin-changer and no doubt a bit of a magician, Beorn was a Man.


Tolkien made a slight slip-up there on the year of the Quest of Erebor, but the point is he calls Beorn a magician (of sorts), implying that his ability to change his shape might have been learned.

If I could "like" Solicitr's last comment above, I would.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Mar 19, 10:49pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Mar 20, 4:06am

Post #24 of 44 (669 views)
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Hmm, interesting use of words - it could conceivably suggest Radagast as a possible [In reply to] Can't Post

source of "learning" - however, in ME "magic" is not neatly defined as to source. Beings such as Sauron, Melkor, Gandalf, Galadriel etc. are able to employ "magic" like powers but their status is higher than man in innate power. However, magic seems to have been more apparent than I originally recalled - https://lotr.fandom.com/...in_Tolkien_Mythology

"Radagast, a knowledgable Istar like all other Istari, states two Ages later during the time of The Hobbit that "...a human sorcerer could not summon such evil", referring to the dark magic within Dol Guldur of the inhuman Necromancer, who was Sauron. Additionally, in The Return of the King, it is written that the Mouth of Sauron had practiced "sorcery" under Sauron himself - implying that the Mouth, being merely a Man, could only learn such arts from him."


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Mar 20, 4:13am)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 20, 1:45pm

Post #25 of 44 (644 views)
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Sorcery in Middle-earth [In reply to] Can't Post

Also, we have the bearers of the Nine, who were great kings, heroes and sorcerers in their day. And we have the example of the enchanted barrow-blades wielded by the hobbits of the Fellowship, forged by the Men of the West to combat the Witch-king and his minions.

#FidelityToTolkien

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