We are underway in the Nature of Middle-earth book discussion, covering Section 2: Body Mind and Spirit. Here, you may expect to read about the creatures – the Elves, Men, and the Valar most notably – and how they communicate and interact with one another.
This will be one video on the communication of the characters – though Section 1 should’ve been two, (time and gestation/generation) but due to the copyright of music I had to take down part of the second one and move it to a new video entirely.
I can honestly say, after the LOTRonPrime Drama, it’s been nice to be able to go back to reading and discussions on the lore. While I’m trying to remain hopeful for #LOTRonPrime, I’m glad we can finally put it behind us once and for all, or maybe not.
One thing to note was that there is an introduction, which reinforces the idea that Lord of the Rings is a “Fundamentally Catholic Work.” Of course, being a Christian or Catholic is not a definite requirement or pre-requisite for enjoying the works. While I do believe personally that it enhances it, it’s definitely possible to simply enjoy it without having a religious belief.
There seems to be a movement that tries to separate Tolkien’s work from his faith. But as honest readers, we must accept that the work would be different fundamentally if, say, Tolkien or any author of a story or legendarium were atheist, buddhist, etc. But I do cover on that in my other article.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 1: Beauty and Goodness
We are given 3 terms: √ban, √man, and Aman. The symbol “√ ” behind ban and man, refers to a term in root/stem form. (It is also something we may generally know in our lives to be a “root” of something.)
- √ban – ‘beauty’, with the implication that it’s due to a lack of fault or blemishes.
- √man – ‘good’, meaning something is unaffected by Melkor (Morgoth)’s disorders. Referring to the mind and spirit, being morally good, while referring to the body it refers to good health.
- Aman – ‘Unmarred State,’ for example, Manwë is the Lord of the Valar of Aman, and māna refers to a ‘good and blessed thing.’
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 2: Gender and Sex
The elves don’t typically use more than one pronoun in the Elvish language. They use the term ‘se’ regardless of the gender of the being.
Furthermore, the distinction fell between animate and inanimate objects. Inanimate objects include:
- physical objects
- substances like metal, stone, and gold.
- parts of bodies (living or dead), such as legs, eyes, and hair.
- grammatical abstracts, such as thoughts, deeds, acts, colors, and moods.
In other words, they are usually referred to as physical objects, for they do not include the mind and spirit when thought of integrally. Certain thoughts, like the heart, or even the grammatical abstracts, were not used as seat of thought, but this was as a result of further analysis.
The heart is a physical organ, which had the base ‘khom’ (Q. hón, hom) or an ancient derivative, ‘khondo,’ (Q. hondo). This refers to feelings deeper than our usual seated feelings – such as pity or hate, parallel to ōre ‘innermost mind.’ For example, in Lord of the Rings, this was translated to ‘heart’ in “My heart tells me.” Treebeard refers to the Orcs as sincahonda ‘flint-hearted.’
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 3
There were three texts, regarding the significance of the hand. The Eldar regarded the hand ‘maga’ as a “great personal importance, second only to the head and face,” which Tolkien writes in the first and third texts. The second referred to numerals. There were also several distinctions:
- Tegilbor – one skilled in calligraphy
- Palatā – wide and extended (with several roots)
The fingers and toes (’tille, or taltill’ pl. tilli or taltilli’) are as such:
- nápo (‘thumb’)
- lepetas (‘first or index finger’)
- lepenel or lepende (‘middle finger’)
- lepekan (‘fourth finger’)
- lepinka (‘little finger, pinky’)
- taltol or tolbo (‘big toe’)
- the other toes had no special names but merely counted from the big toe.
For children’s play:
- atto/atya ‘daddy’
- emme/emya ‘mummy’
- tolyo ‘sticker-up’
- yonyo ‘big boy’
- nette (Selye) ‘girl (daughter)’
- wine or winimo ‘baby’
Then, we go through some hand gestures – Mátengwië, the language of the hands:
- plad: hand held up, meaning asking of a gift (when one is raised) or signifies the service or command of another person (when both are raised)
- hand held forwards: prohibition or silence
- both arms open wide below shoulder level with palms upward: For the Dúnadan, means ‘no weapon.’ For the Elves, ‘not in either hand.’
- open fingers and thumbs: distress and urgency of need or poverty
However, there wasn’t much of a distinction between the left and the right hands – the Eldar are ambidextrous, and they didn’t view one as better than the other. The choice of whether to use the left and right hand was a personal one, especially when considering the mentioned gestures.
Lastly, the Common Eldarin Numerals were neter (resembling the fourth finger), and nette (in two-handed display)since the latter was also the name for ‘daughter.’
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 4: Hair
This chapter concerns the hair colors of certain characters such as Finwë, Fëanor, and Finrod. It might also be helpful to note the root of the term ÑAL (√ÑAL) meaning ‘shine, glitter,’ which showers a reference to radiated presence, for example, Gil-galad had silver hair as a result.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 5: Beards
Aragorn, Denethor, Imrahil, Boromir, and Faramir were beardless, not as a result of shaving, but like the Eldar, it was a trait they were born with. However, this was not expressed in the movies, but it was probably hard to express that in film. This was due to the fact that the royal house was half-elven, which meant they had “two strains of Elvish race in their ancestry.”
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 6: Descriptions of Characters
Expect an overview on Gandalf, Legolas, and Gollum. Gandalf was heavily compared to Radagast and Sauron.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 7: Mind Pictures
The High Elves’ had a few main forms of communication: ‘fanar,’ the physical which was adopted by the spirits and other forms of communication in visual forms. They could communicate a desired “vision” direct to another mind. This would mean they’d be able to communicate their vision to one another – and the mind of the recipient would translate it to words and terms, which resembled what Tolkien calls a ‘fana.’
The strength of this communication depended on the power of the mind. In Quenya, these visions were called indemmar, meaning ‘Mind-Pictures.’ Both Men and Elves used it, though for Men, they experience it best during sleep and dreams, as they could be shaky if experienced while awake.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 8: Knowledge and Memory
The Elves distinguish well divining (determination of ‘what if’) and feigning (determination of the desire to know things). Their thinking process is conscious, while their feigning and devising process is unconscious, resembling human dreams. Furthermore, some recall sounds better as others recall color.
For the languages…
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 9: Ósanwe-kenta
Ósanwe-kenta is the enquiry into the communication of thought. This features Tolkien’s essay of the same name, a resume of Pengolodh’s discussion named after the thought process of the Elves and Men.
Tengwesta (‘language’) can be a drawback since it is clearer than a direct reception of thought. This use of language becomes habitual, and ósanwe (‘interchange of thought’) becomes more difficult and thus, neglected – saved for emergencies when lambë (‘speech’) is unavailing. This is because the distance doesn’t affect ósanwe, while it does affect the lambë.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 10: Notes on Órë
The term órë was glossed in Lord of the Rings, in Quenya, and this means ‘heart, inner mind.’
- Common Eldarin, gōrē
- Telerin, ōrë
- Sindarin, gûr
The Elves didn’t think there was a difference between the heart and the mind. The Men, however, had a history apart from the Elves, and so they experience less peace, patience and enjoyment of the present good as a result of the nature of their bodies to become injured or destroyed. Thus, they processed órë, but didn’t pay much attention to it. It is also more difficult to trust in Men than the elves, as the órë of men is open to evil counsel.
I think it’s also why I called my site An Elf-friend – it’s a term recurrently used to refer to characters that were significantly devoted to the Eldar. On a more simpler note, I have a hard time distinguishing whether hobbits or elves have the better life. Hobbits seem to be easy-going and have a nice simple life and culture, while still having the strength to go through tough journeys like the Destruction of the Ring, but the Elves seem to be able to consistently have conversations of substance.
Especially if you think about their mind-pictures – though that could probably go really well or really poorly on second thought.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 11: Fate and Free Will
Tolkien introduces the term MBAR (v.) which means to ‘settle’ or ‘establish.’ This can be referred to setting or establishing in a home permanently, a place or occupation.
Furthermore, the will:
- must be free for the Eldar
- that of the Men can be changed
UMBAR (n.) is the circumstances, which Tolkien describes as the ‘network of “chances” (largely physical) which is, or is not, used by rational persons with “free will.”
AMBAR (n.) is the fixed arrangement which eventually works out.
UMBAR and AMBAR ramify a story or a tale.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 12: Knowledge of the Valar
Tolkien describes the Valar as in direct contact with Eru, though they are usually addressed via Manwë, the King of the Eldar. One absolute prohibition from Eru was that the Valar should not attempt to dominate the Children, even if it’s for good, showing that while their power is immense, it is still limited compared to Eru. All of the Valar followed this instruction except Melkor (Morgoth), according to their wisdom.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 13: Spirit
Tolkien describes the spirit as something that is different from the breath of the lungs. However, this meant that the Eldar were slow to recognize the difference between the spirit and the body. The Spirits could emit their influence exterior to themselves. Manwë was the most powerful in this respect, as he was the Lord of Air and Winds, which were in primitive Eldarin thought.
Additionally, the Eldar didn’t view the breath of the lungs as the same as the spirit. The spirit emits their influence to make contacts.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 14: The Visible Forms of the Valar and Maiar
The Valar had bodily forms, called the fana, the “raiment” or veils which were similar to that of the Elves and Men. They were also personal expressions of their natures.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 15: Elvish Reincarnation
We learn here that the idea of having the Eldar reincarnate had issues. First, it was easier to arrange than it is as a result, as it contradicts the unification of the hröa (body) and the fėa (spirit). Other objections include the unfairness to second parents, and the issues of memory.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 16: From the Statute of Finwë and Míriel
This chapter raises the question of what happens when a bereaved spouse dies. In this case, since the former union is no longer there, the one who dies after that can return to the one who dies first. The one who dies first remains in Mandos.
Body Mind and Spirit Ch. 17: Death
Animals die when their coherence is destroyed, which can be painful to those around them, especially if the shape resembles that of the living.
Body Mind and Spirit Discussion Questions
- What do you think of the idea of Mind-pictures? Does it sound like a good idea?
- In Chapter 12, we see that the Valar followed instructions – all of them followed Eru except Melkor. However, in the Silmarillion, Aulë built the Dwarves without Eru’s consent (though it was resolved later when he repented). What would Aulë’s repentance and Erú’s forgiveness represent in this sense?