Warm and eager was his spirit (and it was enhanced by the ring Narya), for he was the Enemy of Sauron, opposing the fire that devours and wastes with the fire that kindles, and succours in wanhope and distress; but his joy, and his swift wrath, were veiled in garments grey as ash, so that only those who knew him well glimpsed the flame that was within.
Yet it is said that in the ending of the task for which he came he suffered greatly, and was slain, and being sent back from death for a brief while was clothed then in white, and became a radiant flame (yet veiled still save in great need).
I love Gandalf as a Fire-Themed Character, it fits him so well tbh
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Radagast was fond of beasts and birds, and found them easier to deal with; he did not become proud and domineering, but neglectful and easygoing, and he had very little to do with Elves or Men although obviously resistance to Sauron had to be sought chiefly in their cooperation. - Tolkien's note on Der Berggeist painting
Peculiar to [Gandalf] was his love and knowledge of the "Halflings," because his wisdom had presage of their ultimate importance, and at the same time he perceived their inherent worth. Gondor attracted his attention less, for the same reason that made it more interesting to Saruman: it was a centre of knowledge and power. - UT, “The Istari”
I find it kinda interesting how Tolkien mildly negatively judges Radagast for being more interested in "unimportant" animals than in important/powerful Elves and Men, while praising Gandalf for basically the same thing
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Merry and Pippin in Fangorn; Gandalf and Frodo
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Reblogging this bc I just noticed that the essay on the Istari in UT says that Gandalf was “sent back from death for a brief while”, which also supports this interpretation where it’s not only his return to Middle-earth but to life itself (!) that’s only temporary.
Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.
Naked I was sent back – for a brief time, until my task is done.
As others have pointed out, the wording of this passage is a little ambiguous. One might assume from the events of the story that Gandalf is talking about being sent back to Middle-earth for a brief time, before returning to Valinor when his task is done (and I imagine this is what Tolkien actually meant). But in context, being immediately preceded by his description of “straying out of thought and time”, the most intuitive reading is that he was sent back into thought and time (i.e., Eä) for a brief time only. Which would imply that when Gandalf’s task was done, he had to depart again not only from Middle-earth, but from Eä itself.
It would kind of make mythological sense for some tradeoff of the sort to be necessary, though. Beren was brought back to life temporarily at the cost of Lúthien’s immortality. What if Gandalf was forced to make a similar sacrifice – giving up his right to an immortal existence in Eä in exchange for a temporary resurrection until his task was complete?
Supposing this to be the case, where would Gandalf have gone after he left Eä for the second time? There are two obvious possibilities: either a) he returned to the Timeless Halls to dwell among the Ainur who never entered Eä in the first place; or – much more interestingly – b) like Lúthien, he became a mortal and went wherever Men go when they die.
Like I said, I don’t think Tolkien intended this reading, but I find it kind of an appealing idea.
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Gandalf: Oh no! Faramir is riding to his death!
Denethor: That’s so sad. Merry, play “Edge of Night”.
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The hobbit stowed the newly-purloined mushroom cap and started off in search of another. He had been sneaking about for hours, collecting as many of the fungi as he could find. When he returned to Bag End, he would be able to trade the mushroom caps for another Vial of Galadriel.
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Olorin in one of his maia forms or sth
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Shameful secret: for all the terribleness of the Hobbit movies, I enjoyed a lot of the White Council-vs-Necromancer stuff especially the Gandalf whump :|
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Olorin, Bilbo and Frodo in Aman. I like the friendship between Gandalf and hobbits sooo much ;////; it’s beautiful.
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Maiar of Middle-Earth
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headcanon: most of the Valar’s decision making is collective, not in the sense that they all discuss it and then vote but in the sense that they actually just let their thoughts and impulses mingle.
The bodies are a thing they do to be more accessible to the Incarnates, not actually their preferred way of conceptualizing themselves, and they vary widely in the degree to which they actually have a sense of self in the first place (and the sense of self is also highly fluid in the ones who have one).
They would be very hard-pressed to tell you who said what when they’re conferring over something (it wouldn’t even seem like a meaningful question; imagine asking yourself which part of your brain your most recent decision came from). And the transcripts of their discussions are simplified for the sake of the Eldar, with each line of thought or inquiry ‘assigned’ to the Vala whose nature best embodies it. (So, like, enthusiasm for the Eldar will be explained to them as something Aule 'said’ in discussions, because he most embodies it; pity for the suffering of the world will be transcribed as something Nienna said because that’s her part in things).
The Vanyar, being close to the Valar, mostly get this and therefore think that condemning any Vala on the basis of something they are transcribed as having 'said’ in a discussion makes no sense at all
The Noldor were never told this and as a result, whenever a particularly awful/objectionable attitude is attributed to one particular Vala, tend to turn cold on him/her.
The Valar notice this and think that the Noldor are petty and intellectually immature, trying to play their favorite lines in the song REALLY LOUD instead of figuring out how the pieces work together.
The Noldor think that the Valar have free license to say awful things and make awful decisions and then explain them away with 'we don’t process the world like you, your objection literally makes no sense’.
This is a recipe for a problem.
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Some more Mothdalf/ Mothrandir for you! This time with Lady Nienna 😊🦋
If she keeps crying she’s going to get his wings wet!
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I woke up from a dead sleep last night wondering if enough people truly appreciate that when the ringwraiths were consumed by the floodwaters at Rivendell, Gandalf used magic to make the waves look like riders on horseback... just for fun. Like he straight up says Elrond is responsible for the water, but Gandalf went ahead and spruced it up, like it wasn’t, I don’t know, dramatic enough? And then he was worried that Frodo might have blacked out before he noticed it, so he makes sure to describe what it looked like and take credit for it. I just think people need to appreciate this aspect of Gandalf’s character.
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Interesting -- and it might also be relevant that March 25 in the Shire calendar does fall on a Sunday.
A seasonal note on the Lord of the Rings.
I went years after noticing that the Fellowship of the Ring left Rivendell on December 25th, and that the Ring was destroyed in late March, without registering that this was important to Tolkien. Tolkien says in one of his letters (regarding an attempted film version of The Lord of the Rings, whose adaptational choices he strongly disapproved of):
Seasons are carefully regarded in the original. They are pictorial, and should be, and easily could be, made the main means by which the artists indicate time-passage. The main action begins in autumn and passes through winter to a brilliant spring: this is basic to the purport and tone of the tale.
Given this, it is difficult not to also conclude that the Fellowship setting out on their quest on what is (to us, not to the characters, obviously) Christmas Day - and likewise, and the destruction of the Ring and fall of Sauron happening roughly at Easter - is deliberate symbolism on Tolkien’s part. Frodo spends two months in Rivendell - there is no reason, apart from symbolism, why he should set out precisely on Christmas Day.
One could even go further and note that the period from the Fellowship leaving Lothlórien to the destruction of the Ring is about 40 days, roughly corresponding to Lent, but I’m less confident on the intentionality of that.
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Here’s the first bunch of the first oath main characters! I’ve got another three sets sketched out (three - four & five). I feel a little bad at how simple these are but I forgot how much work character lineups present 😂
- all of these characters are canon to Tolkien’s writings, I just pulled them out of the HoME, fleshed them out, and connected them!
- color choices were done via a randomized palette challenge selection, except for Elenwë & Rog (thank you @elesianne), Melian (ty @aipilosse), Morwë (ty @arofili), and Daeron & Erestor (ty anon).
- YT indicates that this was what they looked like in the Years of the Trees; FA = First Age.
- i aimed for low sexual dimorphism in clothing designs; the major differences are either cultural or warrior vs non-warrior (the fighters generally have much shorter tunics/robes so they can run).
- Daeron, Elenwë, and Morwë are really only short by YT standards; they’re considered decently tall by the Second and Third Ages. Everybody else is either a Maia or just ridiculously tall (looking at you, Elmo….) I’m making an effort to standardize the height markers of these images so you can flip between them for comparison purposes.
- crowns/tiaras/headwear are indicators of the first six elves to wake; you’ll notice Imin has a single band, Enel has triple; Tata will have double bands when we finally see him. they’re….made out of bone or something idk
- the Maiar all have marks on their foreheads according to their Valarin parent; i’m playing with the idea of giving the oath-takers marks too? but that wouldn’t work for Valinor or later in the Ages, so there would have to be some choice in it (or later removal….?)
~feel free to comment with opinions! designs are not final (esp because i’m sure all of these elves changed clothing & hairstyles like 50 times every Age lol)~
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Even though Olórin's connection to Manwë is the one Tolkien kinda emphasizes the most, it's personally the least interesting to me out of the different Vala-associations he's given.... like his connections to Irmo & Nienna feel like they’re being used to say something relevant about his character; but the Manwë thing just feels like Tolkien going "well Manwë is Chief Good Guy so the most successful of the emissaries must have been sent by him". Like it's more about making Manwë look good than about any particular connection between them as characters (beyond "they're both chief good guys" I guess). Anyway that's why I kinda prefer to ignore the "he's definitely a Maia of Manwë" stuff (e.g. in Letter 200) and headcanon that he's worked with various Valar at different times but isn't permanently attached to any of them
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A couple settings of Tolkien’s songs to music that I particularly like --
In Western Lands Beneath the Sun - Adele McAllister
Lament for Gandalf - Colin Rudd
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The Balrog reached the bridge. Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm.
‘You cannot pass,’ he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. 'I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.’
The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly onto the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall; but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm.
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Thinking about Olórin and his use of moths in LotR and my brain spat out trueform!Gandalf aka big mothman. That’s why his eyebrows are Like That.
Also he served Manwë, Varda, Nienna, And Irmo (iirc) and they all seem like they’d vibe with moths tbh.
Anyone else vibing with Mothdalf?
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