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lindil 03-19-2003 06:25 AM

Can the 'power' or 'being' of Elves increase over the years?
In the course of the "Galadriel aided by Nenya... as powerful as Melian?" thread the above question came up. I have always assumed that Elves like humans can grow not just in wisdom, but also in 'power' or 'being'. And by that I mean, greater psycho-phsical unity and strength due to accumulation of energy, skill [but not just skill alone], and knowledge [actually not an essential ingredient I would say, but certainly useful for making use of 'power']

I posted the following from the above mentioned thread:

Adanedhel - as regards Elves growing in power, it is something of an assumption on my part, I agree, but I surmise that since Elves and Men are two branches of One race, and as Men can certainly can grow in power and being over time, and I do not just mean maturing into what is naturally their's [in our world at least] I assume the Eldar can also, if the elves 'fea' consumes their bodies over the ages [the fading of the Elves] then is not their fea growing? or is it just 'eating'their bodies ?

A good question for which I as yet hasve not seen JRRT's answer.

And I agree we can not assume that because Galadriel 'studied ' with Melian she was needs be bore powerful than say Glorfindel. Although it is [within M-E at least]an exceptional occurance.

My attribution of her growing in power was due to the earlier argument about Elf/Human nature in general, not reliant upon training.

Also it would help to clarify the differnce [ or my understanding] between skill and power, clearly Galadriel's skill increased over the ages, one is hard pressed to imagine her abilities with Osanwe coming full blore upon her at birth. But is it necessarily tied to an increase of power?

In the case of those living in Lorien during the time of the usage of the ring to hold back time, this seems to have had an extremely rejuvenating effect, so that being the case could/would that not increase one's 'power' over the years?

It is such an intriguing question I will start a new topic on it.

Hopefully others will have comeacross something I have forgotten or overlooked.

davem 03-19-2003 08:49 AM

Doesn't it depend what you mean by 'power'? Power to do what? What kind of Power - physical, mental, spiritual? It all comes down to what the Elves want from the world, what they want to achieve. There's a quote from one of Tolkien's letters which I quoted in another thread - 'Its about death, the inevitability of Death-

''But the Elves are not wholly good or in the right. Not so much because they had flirted with Sauron; as because with or without his assistance they were 'embamlmers'. They wanted to have their cake & eat it; to live in the mortal historical Middle Earth because they had become fond of it (& because they there had the advantages of a superior caste) & so tried to stop its change & history, stop its growth, keep it as a pleasaunce, even largely a desert where they could be artists, & they were burdened with sadness & nostalgic regret''

Its not just about becoming more or less 'powerful'. Becoming more 'powerful' in the sense of becoming better & more powerful 'embalmers' is really to become less 'powerful' in a moral & spiritual sense.
In the light of that quote, you have to ask whether Nenya did really have a rejuvenating effect on Lorien, or whether it just 'embalmed' it, so it couldn't change. But, we've maybe covered this aspect on the 'inevitability of death' thread

Iarhen 03-19-2003 09:07 AM

I do think that elves grow in power, in general terms, as they grow in wisdom and knowledge. Obviously, in time, elves such as Galadriel increased their power after such a long life in strife. I think that even from the moment where she had to cross the Ice on the North (Helcarxe, whatever its name is) and all the battles shes fought, her might, valour and wisdom increased.

Tolkien says that Galadriel and Feanor were the mightiest and greatest of the Noldor, although Galadriel had more wisdom than Feanor. Her wisdom grants her more power, in all terms. More skills, more prudence to know when, where and how to act, etc.

Her power increases so much over the years, that even when she is tempted by the One Ring, she can resist it's temptation. And the temptation that had it's source on the One Ring comes from the malice of Sauron, a maia. Seeing the big picture, Galadriel was able to resist Sauron's greatest power: temptation because of lust for power. Galadriel overcame his power (the power of a maiar), and remained herself.

That's a big proof for me that Galadriel increased in power over the years. When she was younger, she would have taken it. But the power over herself was enough to resist such a great temptation. And that was thanks to her power and being increasing over the long years that she dwelt on M.E.

[ March 19, 2003: Message edited by: Iarhen ]

drigel 03-19-2003 11:45 AM

I always thought that the fea / oswane (similar to natural talent in men) was finite and determined at birth (conception) but the skill, craft and talent to focus and develop the "power" (or the abitlity to manifest it in the physical world) would be learned and improved on over the years.

Can something that is mabye inherently an automatic or involuntary process in a maia like Luthien be taught to someone like Galadriel?

lindil 03-19-2003 01:10 PM

To define our terms [as per JRRT] so that we know we are on the same page.

Fea: essentially equivalant to spirit, often used in contradistinction to hroa, the body.

osanwe: to communicate from mind to mind


Can something that is mabye inherently an automatic or involuntary process in a maia like Luthien be taught to someone like Galadriel?
First off Luthien was a 'permaia' if I may coin a term. While she may not have been 1/2 maia, in terms that the valar would accept her as such, she certainly was not 'just an elf'. She clearly inherited powers from her mother, which we see no other elf ever exercise.

So I think there are definetly limits to how far an elves skill can take them towards 'Maia-ness', however as Galadriel shows, it can be quite far.

I donot think Galadriel would have been able to enchant Morgoth and cause him to sleep, just an opinion.

In terms of some Elves [Ecthelion, Glorfindel, Rog[?], killing Balrog's assuming these conceptions would have survivrd to be revised by JRRT (they all date from the era of the Hobbit/1930) we are dealing with maia who have deliberately enscnced themselves in a body to have more control over Arda [as did Melian, but for vastly different reasons], they thus open themselves to the vulnerablity to being slain by weapons, only Gandalf after his [Fea's?] return from Valinor was ever said to be immune from weapons, magical or no. Presumably at the Morannon, only Sauron could have vanquished him.

This is due to I think a 'resurrection' particular to Gandalf.

The Valar themselves are apparently beyond such 'slayability', as mandos told Feanor as he departed from Aman, 'none of the Valar cans't though overcome ...not if Eru had made thou thrice greater than thou art'.

Why the valar would not be but Maiar are is not fully clear to me.

Nonethelees, there does seem to be a gulf in being that no increase in the power of an elf can bridge.

Even though they may gain enough skill with weapons, and 'warrior spirit' to vanquish a balrog, note however every showdown with a maia resulted in the death of the Elf.
Gil-Galad, the aforementioned Elves of Gondolin and Finrod.

None survived, though Sauron did on the first occasion.

To add abit more about my understanding of the original question let me say, that my question is phrased from a particular point of view of ascetical traditions by and large common to Vedic tradions, Taoism, Eastern Christianity and Sufism.

I do not claim the above mentioned 'paths', share the same beliefs, even re: the said ascetic traditions, but from my study and practice of them, especially the Taoist and more recently the Eastern Christian, there is most definelty a belief and experience of a growth in 'being' and 'power' if the practices are learned rightly and done regualrly [and no other negating factors enter in such as a 'dysfunctional' diet.

What I mean by 'being' and 'power' is this.

The energy that circulates in the meridians of acupuncture increases in quality and quantity, the stamina increases, without aerobic conditioning, the amount of sleep decreases, the health increases [less sickness, eyesight improves etc] and most characterisitically, one gains a greater measure of control and function of ther mind and emotions, without directly exercising these functions.

So it is not a case of skill, that is practicing a technique or craft over and over till it various increases are attained.

No it is a case of indirect and more fundamental changes occuring, and one can become 'super'natural, in the sense that one's whole mode of life, perception and understanding can surpass even thos who have lived a 'natural' life their entire lives.

I hope this clarifies my question.

I have no doubt that men can do this in this world, my question is is there evidence that this could occur for the Elves, over and above a natural maturation process, and apart from any increase in 'skill' from naturally practiced techniques and arts.

We definetly see just such a transformation from the Edain into the Dunedain though. Everything about them 'increases'. Including eventually their pride.

And we see as 'virtue' declines so does the 'being' of the exiled Numenoreans.

It however as in the case of Aragorn, reverse dirction, somewhat.

there may of course be no definitive answer to this, as JRRT may not have considered it, or if he did, did not leave us sufficent writings to form an opinion.

But as I have not read everything,and I do not always recall everything I have read I am curious as to what others understand or guess re: this.

Adanadhel 03-19-2003 09:27 PM

Wow, I never meant this idea to start a new thread.

I think we have to be careful to differentiate power from wisdom. Galadriel passes the test from/because of her wisdom. She knows the risks and doesn't fall into the trap. This is because of her wisdom not power... otherwise, would we say that Sam is as powerful as Galadriel? He was actually a ringbearer and was able to escape its grasp. Though he is not powerful nor learned, Sam has exceptional wisdom and knows his limitations.

What I meant when I made the post in "Galadriel vs. Melian", was can their power, both magical and creational (e.g. silmarils etc.) expand and develop? The science of man increases over time. The magic of the elves does not seem to (Lindil - this "creational" idea doesn't deserve its own thread [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] )

For instance, Feanor creates the best invention of the elves early in their history, and it is never duplicated. This seems to imply that they do not "grow" magically, as men do in science. There are other examples... In one of the versions of the Elessar, the second one creatd by Celebrimbor is weaker than the first. Only though contact with Sauron, can Celebrimbor increase his craft... Even then it is not equal to Feanor, although Celebrimbor has thousands of years to build and grow.

I guess I would put my thesis something like this:

While individual elves can grow in power and craft to a lesser extent, elves in general will be less powerful in magic and craft as time and generations pass.

[ March 19, 2003: Message edited by: Adanadhel ]

lindil 03-19-2003 10:04 PM

Actually as regards the Elessar, it was the sun that had degenerated, the second Elessar was said to be more clear and subtle.

Adanedhel:"I think we have to be careful to differentiate power from wisdom."

by power I mean the ability and energy to create effective action on various planes.

In this specific qurey it is essentially about non-physical [i.e. non warrior/fighting] power.

by wisdom I understand an ability to understand and discern a right course of action, truth from falsehood and a general effective mental benevolance.

The 2 should [and can] be linked, and indeed this is the ideal, as typified in Galadriel. Feanor is the opposite, maximum power, minimum Wisdom.

I thought it desrved it's own thread becuase I have never seen this obscure little subject covered, and it veered away from the Melian/Galadriel topic, though somewhat related.

So if all agreed on the variously defined terms, we can now begin to talk speaking and meaning the same thhings by the same words.

Pukel-Man 03-19-2003 10:06 PM

It would seem appropriate that there would be limitations on the ultimate power of the elves, for no other reason than to prevent one from attempting to "usurp" the power of the Valar. The Eldar, just as Melkor and Sauron, could be corrupted and fall into evil ways. If there were no limitations set in place to limit their power, Middle Earth would have probably been destroyed.

lindil 03-19-2003 11:53 PM

Yes that is a real consideration, but I do not think that it was a real possibility.

Witness the comments to feanor - 'even wast thou made thrice greater than thou art...'

[ March 20, 2003: Message edited by: lindil ]

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