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Varda

The name Elbereth refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Elbereth (disambiguation).
Varda
Vala
NOLANOS - La Dama de las Estrellas.jpg
"La Dama de las Estrellas" by NOLANOS
Biographical Information
PronunciationQ, [ˈvarda ˌelenˈtaːri]
Other namesElbereth Gilthoniel (S)
Avradî (A)
TitlesQueen of the Valar, Queen of the Stars, Lady of the Stars
LocationIlmarin, Taniquetil
AffiliationIlmarë
Family
SpouseManwë
Physical Description
GenderFemale
GalleryImages of Varda
"O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In Windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!
"
Hymn to Elbereth

Varda Elentári, known in Sindarin as Elbereth Gilthoniel, was a Valië, one of the Aratar, the wife of Manwë and Queen of the Valar.

Contents

Attributes

Varda knew all the regions of and rejoiced in light. She was said to be too beautiful for words, as within her face radiated the light of Ilúvatar. Elves loved and revered her most of all the Valar because she created the stars, which the Elves beheld when they first awoke. They called upon her in their hours of deepest darkness.[1] She appeared in shining white fana in visions to the Elves of Middle-earth, and thus was called Fanuilos (Snow-white).[2]

Her handmaiden was Ilmarë, a Chief of the Maiar.[3]

History

Before the Music of the Ainur, Varda saw Melkor's mind, and despised him. Melkor feared and hated Varda the most out of all the Valar. In the beginning, Melkor had been unable to control light, which Varda was most associated with. When Manwë contested with him for Arda, Varda came from the deeps of Eä to his side.[1]

Varda, Lady of the Stars by Jerrel Salvatierra

During the Spring of Arda, she filled the Two Lamps with light. After their destruction at the hands of Melkor, Varda and the rest of the Ainur forsook the outer lands and removed to Aman.[4]

She resided with Manwë in Ilmarin and aided him in the rule of Arda. With her, Manwë saw beyond all eyes, through mist and darkness, and with him, Varda heard all voices from every corner of the world.[1] In Valinor, she kept the dews of the Two Trees in her Wells. When the Valar felt that the Awakening of the Elves was near, Mandos foretold that the Elves would see the stars first and how they would always look to Varda in reverence. Then Varda gazed the darkness in Middle-earth from Taniquetil and began the greatest work made by the Valar since their coming into Arda: taking the dew from the vats of Telperion, she created new and brighter stars. She set many individual stars, but also constellations, the Sickle of the Valar among them. A long time took this labours, and once they were finished, the Elves awoke in Middle-earth and they beheld first the stars which Varda had made. For this, Varda was the Vala most loved and revered by the Elves.[5]

She also hallowed the Silmarils of Fëanor when he created them, so that any being or creature of evil could never handle them without being burned.[6] After the death of the Two Trees, Varda was tasked once again with filling the world with a new light. Therefore she took the remaining flower of Telperion and the fruit of Laurelin and placed them in vessels made by Aulë. Varda bequeathed to them such light and power that they outshone the ancient stars. In doing so, she established the courses of the Sun and Moon.[7] Initially she purposed the Sun and the Moon to be in the sky together, but Irmo and Estë pointed out that she had deprived the world of night-time and the stars, which was still necessary for rest and sleep. Therefore Varda changed her counsel and altered the courses of the Sun so that it should spend a certain time hidden, allowing for the stars to be seen again. At the end of the First Age, she placed Eärendil as a star in the sky.[8]

In Middle-earth, she was revered by the Elves who called her name and sung hymns to her (such as the Elven Hymn to Elbereth) and perhaps answered to prayers, even to Samwise Gamgee.[9] The very mention of her name was said to be deadly to evil spirits, such as when Frodo uttered the name in the presence of the Morgul Lord.

Etymology

Varda is a Quenya name of Valarin origin meaning "Sublime",[10] "Exalted"[11] or "Lofty".[12] It comes from Primitive Quendian baradâ, from the root BARAD, being actually a honorific title used as a name.[13]

In the early Qenya, Varda comes from the same root as vard- ("rule, govern") or varni ("queen").[14]

Other names

  • Elbereth her usual Sindarin name, being more or less equivalent to Elentári ("Star-Queen") in Quenya.[2] Elbereth derives from Primitive Quendian *elen-barathî, being notable that bereth means "spouse", used for one who is "queen" of a king.[15]
  • Tintallë, given to her after she kindled new brighter stars with the dew of Telperion, meaning "Star-kindler"[5] or "she that causes sparkling, kindles lights".[11] Its cognates were Gilthoniel in Sindarin[15] and Gimilnitîr in Adûnaic.[16]
  • Fanuilos, another Sindarin title, which is inadequately rendered as "Snow-white"[2] or "Everwhite".[17] Being a combination of fan ("white cloud, shape, vision") + Uilos (the Sindarin name for Oiolossë) would more precisely mean "Figure (bright and majestic) upon Uilos".[18]
  • Avradî, her name in Adûnaic.[16]
  • Airë Tári, Quenya title for "Holy Queen".[19]
  • Hîr Annûn,[20] another Sindarin title, which is unglossed, but it clearly means "Lady of the West".[21]

Genealogy

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Melkor
 
Manwë
 
VARDA
 
 


Other versions of the legendarium

The Book of Lost Tales

In the earliest version of the legendarium in The Book of Lost Tales, she is called Varda in Qenya, and Bridhil in Gnomish.[14] Her main title "Queen of Stars" is rendered in Qenya as Tinwetári, while its Gnomish cognates were Tinturwin, Timbridhil, Gailbridh(n)ir.[22] She is also called Súlimi as the wife of Manwë Súlimo, while both together are called Wanwavoisi.[23]

In narrative she is refered as Varda the Beautiful. She became the wife of Manwë, the Lord of the Gods, and they had two children: Úrion and Erinti.[24] During the Music of the Ainur, she was the one who thought most on white and silver light, and on stars. When she and Manwë entered the new world, they arose with wings of power that they gathered to travel through Vaitya, Ilwë and Vilna, the three airs. With them came many spirits of the airs that loved them, the Mánir and the Súruli. In those first days there were dispersed lights flowing through all the airs, and while she was playing in the sky, Varda set a few stars. When Aulë and Melko began making two lamps to illuminate all the regions of the world, Manwë and Varda gathered a vast amount of the light, and kindled the lamps with it. After the lamps were destroyed and the Valar built their realm, Varda proposed to gather all the light that remained in the airs and spilled in the earth to make a beacon upon Taniquetil, but instead the light was gathered in two cauldrons: Kulullin and Silindrin. To help Palúrien to make the Two Trees of Valinor, two holes were opened next to the cauldrons and there were buried many magical things brought by the Valar, Varda contributing with a small star in the silver pit.[25]

Years later, when Manwë informed her that the Elves had awoken, Varda rose joyfully and went to Valmar, where Aulë was working with a basin full of light from the silver cauldron. Hearing the news, the Vala struck his hammer, creating silver sparks. Then Varda took the sparks and mixed them with the light of the basin and molten silver. With this, she flew to the sky and set a lot of new stars of great glory and slumbering power, like Morwinyon. Later, during the council of the Valar, she supported the idea of the Eldar coming to Valinor, as she always had the greatest love for them.[26]

Later versions

In his last conceptions for his legendarium, Tolkien considered that the solar system was already created when the Valar entered into Eä. Their power would be limited to Arda and therefore the Stars would not be of their concern. In this version Varda did not create the Stars, at least not in general, but her concern acquires a new dimension, as she is the keeper of the Primeval Light.[27]

Therefore Ilúvatar, at the entering of the Valar into Eä, added a theme to the Great Song which was not in it at the first Singing, and he called one of the Ainur to him. Now this was that Spirit which afterwards became Varda (and taking female form became the spouse of Manwë). To Varda Ilúvatar said: 'I will give unto thee a parting gift. Thou shalt take into Eä a light that is holy, coming new from Me, unsullied by the thought and lust of Melkor, and with thee it shall enter into Eä, and be in Eä, but not of Eä.' Wherefore Varda is the most holy and revered of all the Valar, and those that name the light of Varda name the love of Eä that Eru has, and they are afraid, less only to the name of the One.

Later, after the First War, Varda gave Ari (Arien) a portion of the blessed light to inhabit the Sun, but the Maia is ravished by Melkor and the blessed light was lost.[27] However, the original light of the Sun and Moon had been used to kindle the Two Trees.[28]

Although Varda did not create the Stars, it is said that she designed the patterns of the main constellations as prophetic signs for the Children of Ilúvatar. However, she is still called "Star-kindler", for she made a great dome above Valinor to protect the airs from the spirits of Melkor. This dome was a Nur-menel (lesser firmament), a simulacrum of the true firmament (Tarmenel), and had very bright stars.[29]

Inspiration

The Valar, being divine beings below the ultimate Creator, Ilúvatar, are thought of as being the Middle-earth equivalent of saints and angels; it has therefore been suggested that Varda, in her role as the most loved and prayed-to Vala, may be an equivalent of the Virgin Mary in Tolkien's own Catholic faith. Another suggestion is the goddess of wisdom, Sophia, also associated with the stars.[30]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Valar"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Donald Swann, The Road Goes Ever On, "A Elbereth Gilthoniel", p. 66
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Maiar"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Beginning of Days"
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Shelob's Lair"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: Appendix D. *Kwen, Quenya, and the Elvish (especially Ñoldorin) words for 'Language': Note on the 'Language of the Valar'", p. 402
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Donald Swann, The Road Goes Ever On, "Namárië (Farewell)", p. 61
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 211, (dated 14 October 1958), p. 282
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings: Eldarin Roots and Stems", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 22, 65
  14. 14.0 14.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part I, entry "Varda"
  15. 15.0 15.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings: Eldarin Roots and Stems", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 22-23
  16. 16.0 16.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Part Three: The Drowning of Anadûnê: (vi) Lowdham's Report on the Adunaic Language: Declension of nouns", p. 428
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 211, (dated 14 October 1958), p. 278
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings: Eldarin Roots and Stems", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 26
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor", pp. 363-364, note 45
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "IV. The Lay of Leithian Recommenced", p. 354
  21. David Salo (2004), A Gateway to Sindarin, p. 211
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part I, entry "Tinwetári"
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part I, entry "Súlimo"
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "II. The Music of the Ainur", pp. 58-59
  25. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "III. The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor", pp. 65-66, 69-71
  26. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "V. The Coming of the Elves and the Making of Kôr", pp. 113-114, 117
  27. 27.0 27.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Five. Myths Transformed", "[Text] II", pp. 375-377, 380-381
  28. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Five. Myths Transformed", "[Text] V", p. 390
  29. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Five. Myths Transformed", "[Text] III" and "[Text] IV", pp. 385-388
  30. Rose Thomas, "Is Varda the Wisdom of Eru?", in Amon Hen 245, pp. 15-16