Flame Imperishable or the Secret Fire

by Arveleg-(V)
July 3, 2007
Powers > Objects > Secret Fire

The Flame Imperishable or the Secret Fire is debatable in terms of its specific nature. These three things Tolkien did mention about it:

1.“The Secret fire was sent to burn at the heart of the World; and it was called Eä.” Eä means ‘It is’ or ‘Let it be’ in Elvish. That would make the Secret Fire the creating will or part of Ilúvatar which holds Eä, the world that is, in existence. The Secret Fire can be considered to be existence in itself in the terms of Tolkien’s universe. The Secret Fire’s intrinsic characteristic is to create and to hold in being what is created.

2. Melkor searched long in the void for the Flame Imperishable but could not find it.

“He (Melkor) had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for a desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Ilúvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Ilúvatar.”

The secret fire is not Ilúvatar himself but is with Ilúvatar, a part of himself. This is also why Melkor can't find it as a separate thing when he did his search.

3. While defending the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm against the Balrog, Gandalf said “I am the Servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Arnor.”

The secret fire is the animation and creation principle of the beings of Eä. In proof of this Iluvatar said to the Ainur: “And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will.” Some receive more of this power than others, as did Fëanor. Míriel, his mother, said this: “Never again shall I bear child; for strength that would have nourished the life of many has gone into Fëanor." Therefore, Fëanor said this about himself: “And it may be that Eru has set in me a fire greater than thou knowest.”

References: The Silmarillion and The Fellowship of the Ring