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by Irmo-(Valar)

5. Third Age

The Third Age starts happily for Galadriel and Celeborn, who then dwell with Elrond in Rivendell. For in the year 109 their daughter Celebrian is married to Elrond. In 130 the twins, Elladan and Elrohir are born, followed by their sister Arwen in 241.

At the start of the second millennium of the 3rd Age, first rumors start spreading about a shadow reappearing in the East. And not too much later the Istari land on the shores of Middle-earth. The Istari and the chief Eldar then discover an evil presence operating from Dol Guldur in Mirkwood. Their suspicion that Nazgûl might be involved is soon verified, and the Witch-king of Angmar starts his long war against the Northern Kingdom of Arnor.

These developments find their climax at the end of the millennium, when many disasters concur. In 1974, the Witch-king conquers Fornost and the Northern Kingdom ends. In 1980 the Balrog is awoken in Moria, and Durin VI is slain. And in the woodland realm of Lorinand, their Lord is also ended, when Amroth seeks for Nimrodel and is lost into the sea[1].

It is then that the Nandor of Lorinand request Celeborn and Galadriel to become their Lord and Lady. And their request was granted, and Galadriel weaves the lands hence called Lorien (and Lothlorien). And all her talents and powers she now uses to create the enchanted Golden Wood, including Nenya now openly yielded - for The One Ring is still considered lost. Galadriel lets even time run slower on Cerin Amroth, and Lorien becomes a haven for those trusted to live therein. But the world outside is threatened.

Not many years later Gandalf discovers that the necromancer of Dol Guldur is indeed Sauron returned. Aided by the Eldar the Istari chase Sauron away from Dol Guldur. But the Watchful Peace does not last long, and after Sauron’s return, Galadriel forms the White Council in 2463.  Saruman is chosen as its chair, though Galadriel would have preferred Gandalf.

In these years Orcs and other vile things multiplied in many places. Thus it came to pass that Celebrian, wife of Elrond and daughter of  Galadriel, traveling through the Redhorn Pass from Imladris to Lorien, was attacked by Orcs in the year 2509. Tortured and hurt before her sons, Elladan and Elrohir, could come to her rescue, she soon thereafter left Middle-earth to journey away to Aman.

Galadriel perceives many plans of  Sauron, but she makes sure she herself remains hidden to him[2]. During the years that follow Galadriel and the White Council try to counter Sauron's schemes - but they are misled by Saruman the White, who seeks power for himself.

In the year 2953 - twelve years after Bilbo finds the Ring in Gollum's cave - the White Council meet for the last time, and are betrayed by Saruman. Saruman knows that Sauron's servants are looking for the One Ring, but claims his research to show without doubt that it has washed into the sea.

Then, at the end of 3018 Galadriel is told about the Council of Elrond. The ring the hobbit Frodo Baggins is wearing is indeed The One, and he has declared it his mission to go to Mordor and destroy it. A fellowship has been formed to go with him.

The subsequent events are known by many. Here we focus on the role of Galadriel. In January 3019 she and Celeborn receive and welcome the Fellowship of the Ring in Lorien. Aragorn is greeted as having returned to Lorien after thirty-eight years. For in the year of 2980 he had met Arwen - granddaughter of Galadriel -  in Lorien, and they had vowed their troth upon the hill of Cerin Amroth.

Upon hearing that Gandalf has fallen into shadow with the Balrog of Moria, Celeborn's old resentment of the dwarves is awakened, blaming Balin's expedition for stirring up Durin's Bane again. But Galadriel speaks words of soothing to Gimli, words of Khazad-dûm as can only be used by one who has been there and loved it.

Subsequently Galadriel introspects the intentions and courage of the members of the Fellowship. Afterward, only the hobbits Samwise and Meriadoc speak openly of what happened. It was as if each of them had been given a choice between continuing on the path of the Fellowship - with its hazards of grief - or be allowed something they greatly desired if they would but withdraw from that road.

The Fellowship stay in Lothlorien for a month. A few days before their departure Galadriel offers Sam and Frodo the option to glance into her Mirror if they so choose, telling them that that pool shows many things that are in the past and present, and events that might yet come to pass - or not. When Sam looks into the Mirror he sees the scourging of the Shire and his old Gaffer being cast out of his home. Frodo first sees a wizard clad in white, who looks both like Gandalf and Saruman. Then he has visions of the fate of Numenor before eventually he stares into the Eye of Sauron. When Galadriel then tells Frodo that she too has seen and fought that Eye he perceives her bearing Nenya the White, though Sam does not. Galadriel tells Frodo that indeed she is a ringbearer too, and their fates are intertwined; for if Frodo fails she too must fall. But if he succeeds her powers will diminish. Thus his coming is as "the footsteps of Doom" to the Eldar.

Impressed by Galadriel's wisdom and power, Frodo then offers her the One Ring. She admits she has desired the Ring, and often pondered what she would do with it. But Galadriel then shows she has come to understand  exactly what would be the result if she would accept the gift. She shows Frodo a vision of herself as she would become: beautiful beyond comprehension, to be obeyed and worshipped blindly. "All shall love me and despair". And thus Galadriel states she passed the test by refusing Frodo's offer. She will fade and go into the West, but remain Galadriel.

Two days later the time for departure has come. To the Fellowship the elves of the Golden Wood give boats to travel south, with coils of elven rope (hithlain),  lembas for food, and elven cloaks. Then Galadriel and Celeborn come to bid them farewell, Galadriel singing sad and sweet of the fading of Lorien and her longing for the West. And to Frodo she is no longer a vision of power, but indeed a "living vision of that which has already been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time".

Then Galadriel grants her gifts to the members of the Fellowship. To Aragorn she gives a befitting sheath for the blade Anduril,  reforged for him by the smiths of Rivendell before their departure after the Council of Elrond. And also the Elfstone, Elessar, which had been given by her to Celebrian, then Arwen, and which was now bestowed on him as a token of hope. "In this hour take the name that was foretold for you, Elessar".

Boromir receives a belt of gold, Merry and Pippin belts of silver, and Legolas a bow of the Galadhrim. To Sam she gives a box with blessed seeds and earth of Lorien. Urged to make a wish for a gift as well, Gimli stammers his desire for but one strand of Galadriel's hair, and he receives three. To Frodo is given the Phial with the light of Eärendil, to be "a light in dark places, when all other lights go out".

As the boats bring the Fellowship from the Silverlode to the Anduin, Galadriel sings her song in Quenya: Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar. Nai elyë hiruva. Namárië! "Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar. Maybe thou shalt find it. Farewell![3]

It must have been shortly after the departure of the Fellowship that Galadriel sends Gwaihir to bring Gandalf from Celebdil to Lorien. There she heals him and clads him in white to signify his new position as chief Istar and head of the White Council. And she gives messages to Gandalf to be told to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. Her words to Aragorn speak of his need for the Grey Company and the Path of the Dead.[4]

Then she sends word to Rivendell, so that the Grey Company with Halbarad and the sons of Elrond set out for their long journey to meet Aragorn in Rohan[5].

Soon after, Lorien itself is attacked by the forces of evil. Thrice armies of Orcs from Dol Guldur try to penetrate into the Golden Wood, but they are held back, for "the power that dwelled there was too great for any to overcome, unless Sauron had come there himself"[6].

Galadriel appears to Sam in the utter darkness of Shelob's Lair, calling on Sam and Frodo to remember the Phial. And when Frodo invokes the name of Galadriel, Shelob retreats momentarily. And later, after Frodo is captured, Sam invokes her name again, and thereby the words to call on Varda to come to him, and the Phial as a result is lit to such an intolerable light, that Shelob, brood of Ungoliant who slew the Light of the Trees, is demoralized and defeated. Thus Samwise was saved to save Frodo.

After the defeat of Sauron, Celeborn and Galadriel lead the forces of Lorien into Dol Guldur, and Galadriel lays bare the works of evil there, and Mirkwood is cleansed.

Then they travel to Minas Tirith on the occasion of the marriage of Arwen their granddaughter to King Elessar. Afterward they travel to attend the grand funeral of King Théoden of Rohan, and pay a visit to the ent Treebeard at Isengard, to whom she predicts that they will not see each other again in Middle-earth, but might be reunited when "the lands that lie under the sea are lifted up again. Then in the Willow-meads of Tasarinan we may meet again in the Spring.[7]"

Further on the way North, coming from Dunland to the West of the Misty Mountains they meet Saruman and Grima, appearing as beggars on the road. Gandalf and Galadriel offer Saruman a last chance to repent, but he refuses, saying all that awaits them is "a grey ship, full of ghosts".

Coming close to the Gates of Moria, it is time for Galadriel and Celeborn to take their leave, for the road to Lorien goes east[8]. Then, after the hobbits are asleep, Elrond, Gandalf, Galadriel and Celeborn recall the ages past and all their joys and labours in the world. No words are spoken or needed, "grey figures, carved in stone, memorials of forgotten things now lost (…) looking from mind to mind; and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts went to and fro".[9]

Galadriel and Celeborn dwell in Lorien for only two more years before they are parted. Galadriel then sails to Aman, while Celeborn stays in Middle-earth for some more years.

When Galadriel sails into the west on the last day of the 3rd Age, together with the ringbearers Elrond, Gandalf, Bilbo and Frodo, Frodo is holding up her Phial. And then, just when to Sam it seems that the light of the Phial fades, to Frodo it seems just as in his dream in the house of Tom Bombadil: "the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise".

With the sailing of the ringbearers the 3rd Age comes to an end, and the Era of Men starts. With the departure of the rings the elves are diminished, and the world is rapidly changed. But in the descendants of Aragorn Elessar and Arwen Undomiel, the lines of Thingol and Melian, of Turgon, of Luthien and Beren, and of Elrond and Galadriel, still live on in Middle-earth.

[1] As sung by Legolas in Lothlorien in The Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien has laid out manuscripts of this story in more detail (Unfinished Tales). In one version Amroth even appears as the son of Galadriel, to explain her taking dominion of Lothlorien from that time.

[2] An example is to be found in the tale of Eorl, Unfinished Tales, pp. 386-387. During these times, Eorl and his Northmen - ancestors of the Rohirrim - ride to the aid of Gondor in the battle of Celebrant. They are threatened by an evil presence coming from Dol Guldur, when a White Mist conceals and saves them. They say they have been preserved by "the Lady of the Golden Wood".

[3] Some of the wise have interpreted this song as a plea to Varda on behalf of both herself and Frodo. More about this below.

[4] Thus it is told by Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Ch. "The White Rider". These occurrences raise questions of high interest. How does Galadriel know Gandalf has been sent back by the Valar and is revived on Celebdil? By what authority can Galadriel hope to summon and order Gwaihir, eagle of Manwë? More about this under the topic "On the relation between Galadriel and the Valar".

[5] That is was indeed Galadriel who summoned the Grey Company to Aragorn's aid is mentioned in The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Ch. "The Passing of the Grey Company".

[6] Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, Appendix B, The Tale of years, end of 3rd Age.

[7] Which is an exact quote of the first lines of Treebeard's own song on the occasion of meeting Merry and Pippin in Fangorn. But Galadriel here foretells that Beleriand will once more be reinstalled.

[8] Apparently, Celeborn no longer refuses to go into Khazad-dûm. A strong reason can be that at this time he does not want to be parted from his wife. For he knows where she is going and that he can’t go there himself, yet. Thus he states to Aragorn, wishing for him that his Doom will be other than his, and his treasure can remain with him to the end. But we must assume that Celeborn went to Valinor later, cf. the Prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring.

[9] Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, Ch. "Many Partings".

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