Forum: Research Questions

Discussing: Elven Magic

Elven Magic

S'up!
This is a callout to anyone who cares to participate, and I think it'll make for an intriguing resource once it's gathered some contribution.

How many instances are there in Middle-earth of Elven magic, and what were the circumstances thereof? The Girdle of Melian doesn't really count, since she was a Maia, but thinking along those similar lines, how many other occurrences of 'magical' phenomena are there on record? Juicy details would be superb!

Perhaps I should clarify, as well, that I use the term 'magic' loosely. I don't think most of the phenomenon we would call magic would have been considered too out of the ordinary according to the Elves of Tolkien's world. So something like the Lothlorien cloaks, for example, or even miruvor or lembas, I think would qualify for inclusion here.

I'll be looking into this myself, and adding the specifics of what I find as I find it. I'm looking forward to what other people come up with as well. It might be a jolly long list, before long... Happy Hunting!

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

Yes, as long as we remember that "magic" is a word of mortals, and we use it to refer, as Galadriel reminds the Hobbits, to all kinds of different things beyond our ken, I don't think we need to stress too much about it.

Here are three of my favorite examples:

The ability to heal by power of voice - though Luthien (half-Maiar) has it, the Lay says her song was one often used by Elven wives during the dark times after Morgoth returned to Middle-earth (Lays of Beleriand) - and this is also demonstrated by Strider her descendent in caring for Frodo, using song to try to tame the Morgul-knife and speaking words of 'magic' (blessing) over the kingsfoil he uses. (FOTR, Flight to the Ford.)

Elrond setting the Bruinen to flood at the moment the commander of the Wraths should enter it. (FOTR, Many Meetings.) The spirit-cavalry illusions and the boulders were however Gandalf's contribution.

Making letters and symbols under encryption, so that they are revealed by moonlight or command: both the Doors of Moria and the Map that is used for the Quest of the Dragon of Erebor with its moon-runes in Rivendell. (FOTR, A Journey in the Dark, and The Hobbit)

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

Then there's the song-magic type thing. Lúthien had it very strongly, but she was half-Maia... yet wasn't there something about Elvish minstrels being able to make that of which they sang visible to the listeners? There are also these lines in the song-duel between Finrod and Sauron -
"The chanting swelled, Felagund fought,
And all the magic and might he brought
Of Elvenesse into his words.
Softly in the gloom they heard the birds
Singing afar in Nargothrond,
The sighing of the Sea beyond,
Beyond the western world, on sand,
On sand of pearls in Elvenland.
Then the gloom gathered; darkness growing
In Valinor, the red blood flowing
..."
(The Silmarillion, "Of Beren and Lúthien")
I won't quote it all, but it does sound as if Finrod and Sauron are "conjuring" up sounds, images and impressions from their singing.
EDIT: Oops, the *entire* song-duel is a form of magic so to speak - forgot about that for a moment!

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

There's also the type with Galadriel's mirror, which enables them to see the future or the past. The lembas would be another thing, though it's been mentioned. The gates of Moria had some kind of magic, only opening when the password was spoken, but that would be considered dwarven.
Also concealment, especially in the case of Luthien and Beren. Perhaps some kind of magic aided them on their journey, because I would have thought it would have been obvious to Morgoth's guards that they were disguised, if it were only human disguise. The elven cloaks (which were already mentioned) might be another example of this.

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

And wasn't there a line near the end of RotK... wait, let me see if I can find it... ah, here.
If any wanderer had chanced to pass, little would he have seen or heard, and it would have seemed to him only that he saw grey figures, carved in stone, memorials of forgotten things now lost in unpeopled lands. For they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind; and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts went to and fro. (The Lord of the Rings, Book V , Chapter 6)
So they seem to have a form of telepathy as well... has it occured to anyone that this thread could end up breeding a great deal of Nuzgul?

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

Whoo-hoo! Contribution. =)
And did someone say Nuzgul?

Seems the power of song is a popular favorite- mine too. I just love the idea. Lots of other interesting points have been made, and I'm going to make a rather obvious one:
The Rings! LOL
The One ring could be disqualified, since Sauron alone made it, and he's a Maia. But the Three, at least, were untouched save by the Elves. So those would be magical things, as we would classify it, made entirely by the Elves.
I wonder; if a human bore an Elven ring in a mortal realm, could he/she wield it as say Galadriel or Elrond could? It seems that the effect of the rings is not lost on mortals; as when the Fellowship dwelled in Lothlorien specifically, time at least did seem to lose its meaning. But in the cases of Rivendell and Lorien, it was an Elf wielding the Ring, and a mortal basking in the glow, so to speak. So I wonder; what if Denethor, for example, had an Elven ring? Would Minas Tirith fall into the same timeless endurance that the Elven realms benefit from? I'm guessing not, but, I wouldn't be breeding Nuzgul if I didn't throw this out there anyway. ;-)

Hithlain, as well, I don't think was mentioned yet. Rope that unties itself? Nifty!


 

 

Re: Elven Magic

I wonder; if a human bore an Elven ring in a mortal realm, could he/she wield it as say Galadriel or Elrond could? It seems that the effect of the rings is not lost on mortals; as when the Fellowship dwelled in Lothlorien specifically, time at least did seem to lose its meaning. But in the cases of Rivendell and Lorien, it was an Elf wielding the Ring, and a mortal basking in the glow, so to speak. So I wonder; what if Denethor, for example, had an Elven ring? Would Minas Tirith fall into the same timeless endurance that the Elven realms benefit from? I'm guessing not, but, I wouldn't be breeding Nuzgul if I didn't throw this out there anyway. ;-)

you should throw this at Dwim or Meg and let them sic it on someone!

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

...it might even make a good challenge!

The Silmarils and plantir, both created by Feanor have not been mentioned yet either. There are many more examples in Mirkwood, though some might be from Sauron. First, the elven fires that Bilbo and the dwarves encounter. Second, if you strayed off the path, you would not be able to find your way back. This could be from the density of the forest, or some other force. The river which made Bombur fall into a deep sleep, and again the doors of the elven palace.

Sorry...i've got too many examples!

~Moriel

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

There are many more examples in Mirkwood, though some might be from Sauron. First, the elven fires that Bilbo and the dwarves encounter. Second, if you strayed off the path, you would not be able to find your way back. This could be from the density of the forest, or some other force. The river which made Bombur fall into a deep sleep, and again the doors of the elven palace

Ooo! And don't forget how Bilbo and Thorin went out like lights when they stepped into the Wood-elves' clearing. There were also a lot of odd animals in Mirkwood -- black squirrels and white deer -- though I don't know if they count as magic themselves, or just...well...odd.

Suzene

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

The gates of Moria had some kind of magic, only opening when the password was spoken

Or perhaps just really good technology. Cf. voice recognition software!

-Aerlinnel

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

The gates of Moria had some kind of magic, only opening when the password was spoken

Or perhaps just really good technology. Cf. voice recognition software!


What's that Arthur C. Clarke quotation? "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"??

All sorts of things, as various people have pointed out, which appear "magic" to Hobbits or Men would simply be a matter of craft and carefully-guarded knowledge to their Elven or Dwarvish makers... like the toys for Bilbo and Frodo's Birthday Party. Or possibly even Gandalf's fireworks...

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

This isn't really a seperate entry, just an extension. It is said in "The Lays of Beleriand", that Felagund (Finrod, Lord of nargothrond) hid the identies of his companions, the mortality of Beren, and the ring of Barahir carriying his device from Sauron when they are captured. Also, before that, he disguised the whole party as orcs, with foul faces and bodies.

 

 

Re: Elven Magic

ALL of the rings of power were made by Celebrimbor, except the One. The other nineteen--the Three, plus the remaining 16--were originally made for Elves.

And you know what happened to the Men who wore them.

Whether that would have happened if Sauron hadn't "perveted" them is an open question. I would suspect that something similar would have happened. The Rings were made to resist change, a very Elven conceit; it becomes a perversion of the natural order for Men to become immortal and not change.

Also, from what we know of the Lesser Rings, their weilders did not, apparently, use them to halt change in their lands. Unlike Imladris, where Elrond kept everything in pretty much the same state as it was when he founded it, the Witch-King had Angmar almost constantly undertaking some sort of expansion and growth. The difference is that one was weilded by an Elf, and the other a Man--and change is a critical part of the makeup of Men.

Should Denethor have obtained a ring, he might have used it to fortify Minas Tirith; but he probably would not have kept it in the same static mode as Lothlorien.

Khazar

 

 

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