The Valinorean Connection?
May 27, 2002
Part 1 Further and deeper
In The Lord of the Rings we read that Círdan gave Narya, the ruby Ring of Fire, to Gandalf, because Círdan “saw further and deeper than any other in Middle Earth
”. It was Círdan – not Elrond or Galadriel – who gave his ring to
Gandalf, and indeed he chose to give that crucial item to Gandalf, not to
Saruman who was considered by all to be the head of the order of Istari.
History proved that Círdan saw far and deep indeed. What if Círdan
would have kept Narya hidden or – worse – would have passed the Ring of Fire
The Silmarillion is even more specific about the eminent wisdom of Círdan: “
..there appeared in the west of Middle Earth the Istari, whom Men called
the wizards. None knew hence they were, save Círdan of the Havens,
and only to Elrond and Galadriel did he reveal that they came over the sea”.
How are we to explain such superior knowledge and wisdom with Círdan the Shipwright, a “mere” Grey Elf?
Of course, Círdan is not just your average Grey Elf. He is closely
akin to King Olwë, leader of the Teleri in Valinor (Alqualondë)
and King Elwë Singollo, leader of the Sindar in Beleriand. Under the
initial name of Nowë he was among the first generation elves who awakened
at Cuivienen and undertook the great journey westward. But are his lineage
and age sufficient to explain his exceptional far-sightedness?
In the Third Age, Círdan and his people offer their ships and services
to those elves that are weary of the world and want to go to Aman.
They apparently know the hidden way to the Holy Lands and probably the way
back as well. Círdan gave his ring to Gandalf “for he knew whence he came and whither at last he would return
” (Silmarillion 364). And when it is decribed in The Lord of the Rings
how the ring-bearers are at last ready to sail to Aman, Círdan awaits
them with a ship made ready, and “the stars are in his eyes”.
How deep and far precisely goes the link between Círdan and Valinor? And how is this link to be established?
Research into a possible link between Círdan and Valinor leads us
to a footnote to the article “The palantíri” in Unfinished Tales,
p. 535: “Only one [palantír] remained in the North, the
Elendil Stone on Emyn Beraid (…) This stone and its tower were maintained
by Círdan and the Elves of Lindon.”
In Appendix A (I,iii) to The Lord of the Rings we read that the palantír of Emyn Beraid “
was unlike the others and not in accord with them; it looked only to the
sea. Elendil set it there so that he could look back with ‘straight sight’
and see Eresseä in the vanished West.” And in the Silmarillion “
it is believed that thus he would at whiles see far away even the Tower of
Avallonë upon Eresseä, where the Master-stone abode, and yet abides”.
There it is. Combining these three sources (Unfinished Tales, LOTR, Silmarillion)
we can establish a clear link between Círdan and the Undying Lands,
Círdan being the guardian of the palantír of Emyn Beraid, the
stone that did not communicate with the other palantíri, but with
the Master-stone at Avallonë!
Direct communication - by means of a Palantír - between Círdan
and Avallonë is a powerful explanation of Círdan’s deep knowledge
of both what is and what lies ahead, but there is even more. In the History
of Middle Earth, Part 12, we discover that among J.R.R. Tolkien’s Last
Writings is a short manuscript titled “Círdan”. Here Tolkien states
explicitly, that Círdan “seeing further and deeper into the future than anyone else in Middle Earth (…) must include even Elrond, Galadriel and Celeborn.”
Tolkien subsequently tells how Círdan remained behind as the leader
of those Teleri who sought longest for Elwë when he was lost (with Melian
in Doriath). “Thus he forfeited the fulfillment of his greatest desire:
to see the Blessed realm and find again there Olwë and his own nearest
kin. Alas, he did not reach the shores until nearly all the teleri of Olwë’s
following had departed.” Círdan - filled with longing for his
lost kin and the lands of Aman – at a certain time makes ready to prepare
a ship and to sail west.
“But even as he said this he received in his heart a message, which he
knew to come from the Valar (…) And the voice warned him not to attempt this
peril (…) “Abide now that time, for when it comes then your work will be
of utmost worth, and it will be remembered in song for many years after”.
“I obey”, Círdan answered, and then it seemed to him that he saw (in
a vision maybe) a shape like a white boat, shining above him, that sailed
west through the air, and as it dwindled in the distance it looked like a
star of so great a brilliance that it cast a shadow of Círdan upon
the strand where he stood.
As we now perceive, this was a foretelling of the ship which after the
apperenticeship to Círdan, and ever with his advice and help, Eärendil
built, and in which at last he reached the shores of Aman.
From that night onwards Círdan received a foresight touching all matters
of importance, beyond the measure of all other Elves upon Middle-earth.”
I rest my case. When we analyse the war of the Rings, and the hidden role
of the Valar therein, the figure of Círdan cannot be ignored.
During the History of Middle Earth, Círdan the Shipwright playes a
crucial role as a secret “Valinorean Connection”.
Part 2 Highlights from Cirdan’s thousands of years in Middle Earth
Bliss of Valinor
The quendi that follow the call from Oromë to go west from Cuivienen
are the Vanyar, the Noldor and the Teleri. Círdan – who is then known
as Nowë - is kinsman to the Kings of the Teleri, who are Olwë and
Elves of the Teleri - some of whom stayed in Middle Earth out of love for
Elwë Singollo, some of whom were persuaded to stay back by Ossë
- assemble at the Falas under the leadership of Círdan and establish
the havens of Eglarest and Brithombar in Beleriand. Friendly relations grow
between the people of Círdan and the Sindar of Doriath. They fight
together in the first two battles of Beleriand.
After the Dagor Bragollach Círdan comes to the aid of High-King Fingon
against the armies of Morgoth, thus causing a last victory in these dark
days. After The Unnumbered Tears Círdan is forced to give up his harbours
and to retreat to the isle of Balar, where he is joined by High-King Gil-Galad.
He manages to keep a stronghold at the mouth of the Sirion, where later Tuor,
Idril, Eärendil and Elwing find a refuge. After the voyage of Eärendil
and the War of Wrath Círdan and Gil-Galad lead the remaining Eldar
to Lindon. Later some of the Noldor go with Celebrimbor to Eregion.
Círdan and Gil-galad refuse to negotiatiate with Sauron, however brilliant
his disguise. But Sauron succeeds in misleading the Noldor in Eregion.
Sauron discovers that Celebrimbor has sent two of the elvenrings to Lindon
and assails Eriador and Mithlond. He is driven back with help from Númenor.
After the Akkâlabeth Sauron returns to Middle Earth. Círdan
and Gil-galad establish the Last Alliance with the Numenorean refugees Elendil,
Isildur and Anarion.
After the death of Gil-galad there is no more (high-)king of the Eldar in
Middle Earth. Elrond (Imladris), Galadriel (Lorien) and Círdan (Lindon)
lead the elves in their respective regions.
Círdan welcomes Gandalf at the Grey Havens and gives to him Narya, the ring of Fire.
Círdan has a seat in the White Council, where the Istari and the leaders of the Eldar have joined forces.
Glorfindel leads a combined force of Lindon and Imladris to victory against the witch-king of Angmar.
After the War of the Rings the ringbearers join to depart for Valinor and
find Círdan awaiting them at the Grey Havens “and took the
ship that Círdan had made ready. In the twilight of the autumn it
sailed out of Mithlond, until the seas of the Bent World fell beneath it,
and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne into the Ancient
West, and an end was come for the Eldar of story and of song.”
Círdan himself did not take that ship. It is told that he went to
Aman later, accompanying the Last of the Ringbearers, the honorable Sam Gamgee,
taking the very last ship from Mithlond.
And then the Grey Havens were silent and empty.
But is has been rumored that yet Círdan was not the last of the Quendi
to sail for Aman – as would have been proper. For the legends say that many
years later one of the Green Eldar undertook the journey and even that he
was accompanied by a dwarf.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion (ed. Chr. Tolkien)
J.R.R. Tolkien, Unfinished Tales (ed. Chr. Tolkien)
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of Middle Earth (Volume 12 of the History of Middle Earth) (ed. Chr. Tolkien)
(all published by HarperCollins)
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