Friday, 22 May 2009

The Two Trees of Valinor

This is the scenario so far. The Valar have fled from the ruin of Middle-earth and have established their kingdom of Valinor in the West. Melkor is now the sole lord of Middle-earth, wielding dominion from his throne in the fastness of Utumno, and since the destruction of the Lamps, the lands of Middle-earth are now wholly dark, cold and dumb, the growth of things is checked, although the great forests remain. The Ainur are basically shut out of Middle-earth, and can now come there only in great secret; Yavanna would wander the great woods of Middle-earth and grieve for them, healing the hurts of Melkor as she passed, the Vala Oromë would ride his great horse Nahar and pursue the creatures of Melkor to the death.

At some distance from the western gates of Valmar, the city of the Valar in Valinor, there was a green mound called Ezellohar. Around this, all of the Ainur gathered and listened to the song of Yavanna, who chanted a song of Power seated on that green mound, and the whole world was silent in that hour - I imagine that that fair song must have been heard in every corner of the world, and Melkor heard it in Utumno and hated it, but listened perforce. The Vala Nienna thought in silence and watered the mould with her tears - an important point which I'll elaborate in some later post. And as the Valar watched, upon the mound there appeared two shoots, and under the song of Yavanna the shoots grew into two slender trees, tall and fair, and came to flower. And so the Two Trees of Valinor were made, the fairest and most beautiful trees that ever were. Around the fate of these two trees, the whole fate of the world would be woven.

The Two Trees of Valinor serve as an archetype for the Sun and Moon; Telperion the Tree of Silver, and Laurelin the Tree of Gold. Indeed, one major point that distinguishes Tolkien's legendarium from other myths is that the Sun and Moon are seen as a second-best thing - it is of course to be noted that in the Genesis account of Creation, God made Light first, and later the Sun and Moon...The trees, as has been said, were beautiful. Tolkien describes them thus:

''The one [Telperion] had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver, and from each of his countless flowers a dew of silver light was ever falling, and the earth beneath was dappled with the shadows of his fluttering leaves. The other [Laurelin] bore leaves of a young green like the new-opened beech; their edges were of glittering gold. Flowers swung upon her branches in clusters of yellow flame, formed each to a glowing horn that spilled a golden rain upon the ground; and from the blossom of that tree there came forth warmth and a great light.''

The reckoning of Time according to the waxing and waning of the Trees is quite a complex business. In seven hours each tree waxed to full and waned again - each tree about an hour before the other. So, twice a ''day,'' there was a period of softer light, where one would be waning, and the other waxing - this period is called the ''Mingling of the Lights.'' Each ''day'' of the Valar has twelve hours - each ''hour'' being equivalent to several hours of our time. One Year of the Trees corresponds roughly to ten years of the Sun; one ''Age'' of the Valar is 100 Valinorean Years. I did know of a table that Tolkien drew up explaining this in more detail, but I can't find it anywhere. O me miserum!

With the creation of the Two Trees comes the Second Spring of Arda (the first being that of the Lamps). Valinor becomes fairer than Almaren was, and the Valar are content. But because of the mountains of the Pelóri, the mountains of defence, none of this Light reaches east over the Sea to Middle-earth, which remains under the tyranny of Melkor.
The above image is a photo I found on Google Images. It does not depict either of the Trees, but I love to look at it. I imagine Telperion looked a bit like it, at least the shape of Telperion has always taken that sort of shape in my mind.

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