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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mandos and Vairë

Tolkien Discussion Group
September 8, 2010
Topic: Mandos and Vairë

Lihan Taifun
Shawn Daysleeper
AelKennyr Rhiano

Vairë is the historian of the Valar. However, very little is said about her.
Unlike the Norse Norns or the Greek Fates, there is no evidence that she influences future events or interferes with free will.
We don't understand how the "ranking" of the Valar was decided. What makes the Aratar more important than the other Valar? And the Aratar, the "most important" of the Valar, are 8 out of 14 -- over half, which is a strange division.
We can see why Namo, Irmo, Nienna, Vairë, and Estë are related; we can also imagine other ways of matching up the partners that would have worked as well.
Would Vairë be an unbiased historian? How would it affect her that she, as a Vala, knew something of the future?
How would the job change Vairë? Would she tend to burn out, or get bored or frustrated, hearing the same themes over and over again?
Vairë would have the "evidence" needed for Mandos to judge souls. We aren't sure how Mandos' judgment works, or how much he "decides" as opposed to simply informing a soul of its fate.

Shawn Daysleeper: . maybe it is just us three this week
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . it may is a short week for people in the US, and they may be playing catch up at work.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . so do we have things to say about Vaire?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . she was a snazzy dresser? In Quenya her name was Wairë
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . in old Valinorian dialect, probably in Teleri, too
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . She wove the stories of the world
Shawn Daysleeper: . wow, there is only half a paragraph dedicated to her in the Silmarillion
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . late last week we were wondering whether she did any weaving of stories before they happen
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Vairë is counted among the Valier, the Queens of the Valar; though not as great in power or prestige as some. With the passage of time and its many ages, her woven tapestries are expanding and will cloth all of the walls of the Halls of the Dead.
Shawn Daysleeper: . She weaves all things that have ever been in Time into her storied webs. That's his wording. Sounds like past tense to me
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . to me, too
AelKennyr Rhiano nods
Shawn Daysleeper: . so she is not quite like the 3 norns of norse mythology, which represent all three tenses
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . not quite. I think she has the flavor but not the entire embodiment
Shawn Daysleeper nods
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . the Norns seem to conflict with free will. They can override people's decisions
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . To an extent, indeed, they do.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I can imagine Tolkien being uncomfortable with that
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . I find it interesting that Mandos was one of the Aratar, but Vaire was not
Shawn Daysleeper: . as I read this I gather that Vaire's role was quite small actually. She is more like a historian
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Manwe, Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna, Aule, Mandos, Nienna and Orome were all considered to be the greatest of the Valar, but why not Vaire? A historian should be very important, don't you think?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . you would think so
Shawn Daysleeper: . ya, true
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . Orome outranks Tulkas, that wouldn't be obvious to me, either
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . I agree. Why these eight, and Melkor once made the ninth?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I can see Vana and Nessa not making the top cut
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . yes I can see that. But, Irmo and Este? Tulkas? and Vaire
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . It seems somehow imbalanced.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and, 8 out of 14 is already over half of the Valar. That's like being in the top 90% of your class ...
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Although Manwe was high king, all eight seem to be held in the same esteem. Yes, why not all of them? Why would Ulmo be in that list and not others?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . yes, it doesn' t really make sense
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Why did Tolkien choose Vaire as a spouse for Mandos, of all the Valar?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . it makes some sense to me, to connect history and the dead
Shawn Daysleeper: . well, they both have powers that centre on the past
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . true
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . yes, I can see that. But she could have easily been the wife of Irmo
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and Este the wife of Namo
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . yes. I can totally see that
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . or Nienna married to one of them, and Vaire or Este the sister
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . yes to that as well. Although I think it may be very good sense to have her sister to both Namo and Irmo
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . because?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Compassion is a good companion to one who tends the spirits who have left the realm of the living. And it is also a good companion to one who is in charge of dreams and visions. But those two caretakers should not be completely taken over by must be tempered.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and Nienna is such a loner, she would be a terrible wife
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . well, would he not have rewritten Nienna's nature if she were a wife?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and then she would have been someone else
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . yes, actually, she would. But why do we have a Vala of stories? Why is that position important enough to have a Vala but not important enough to be one of the nine?
Shawn Daysleeper: . history was very important to Tolkein, maybe he thought there should have been a Vala with that role
AelKennyr Rhiano nods...I guess that is why it surprises me she is not more important, and also that the Vala is female. Begging Lihan's pardon.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . Varda is powerful
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . yes. So why not Vaire?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . maybe she just never is relevant to the plot
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . well, yes...perhaps we are overthinking her.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . we have so little information about her
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . maybe she is not important because the recorder of history is actually not supposed to be important, just what she chronicles?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and the stories we have are about (living) Noldor. If she is chronicling, is she having any influence on anyone? Who, besides the dead, see that history?
Shawn Daysleeper: . interesting point. No one living sees the history
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . the historian has a profound influence. We always see history through biased eyes. We can never see the events totally in their context...we know what happens next.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . would Vaire be biased? and if so, in what direction?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . How could she not? for she would know all stories that come next? She is a Vala, after all. Of course this begs a question....was she present when the Great Song was sung?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . how could she not be?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Precisely my thought.
Shawn Daysleeper: . I thought all Valar were present singing
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . so she would know the general outlines of future history
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . and so that could influence the recording of future histories
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . true. And yet, what use is history without context?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . no use whatsoever
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . it's not just what happened, but why it happened, and what resulted ... which is the "why" for the next events
Shawn Daysleeper: . ya, cause and effect
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . so, she is merely a device to remind us that history is woven into one's fate?
Shawn Daysleeper: . sorry I am not saying too much, I don't know much about Vaire
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . maybe
Shawn Daysleeper: . history woven into one's fate?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . think of all the greek heroes.Their "fatal flaw" was very much a part of their personal history. Achilles with his heel, that, in turn, determined his fate
Shawn Daysleeper: . ah yes

AelKennyr Rhiano: . . So...I would be a historian change Vaire over the passage of time?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I imagine she sees a lot of certain recurring themes
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . I bet
Shawn Daysleeper nods
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . She would be an interesting character to play in the 4th Age. Would she ever be Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . humans burn out when they keep seeing the same things over and over, especially if they can't do anything about it
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . right! or there is a constant state of crisis without resolution in sight
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . yes, or that, or would she feel, 'oh no, not more of the same old'?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . or would she be bored? Been there, seen that?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and we know what always happens next
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . men buy a new sports car...women in the South write a tell-all book?

Shawn Daysleeper: . I can see Mandos and Vaire making a good judgment team for the souls. Vaire certainly has evidence
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . she knows their stories , and he ...?
AelKennyr Rhiano thinks and slowly nods. You have a very good point, Shawn.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . she does have the evidence :)
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . she has the facts.
Shawn Daysleeper: . we discussed mandos as a judge last time
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . do they make judgments on souls?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . I thought he was more a judge in the sense of pronouncing the sentence not deciding them?
Shawn Daysleeper: . well, elves are reborn eventually, eh? oh ok
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . what sentence is there to be decided? and based on what?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Not Feanor. Well, remember the Doom of Mandos? He was not allowed to return to the land of the living. Was Elu?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . the Doom of Mandos seemed to be a different function than whatever he does with the dead
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . true
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . we only know of one or two elves who even might be returns. We never hear about all the rest of them
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . again, true
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . although, if they chose to go to Valimar, we probably wouldn't hear about them
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . it would not do much for the plot. lol
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I wonder what the decision is based on, whether to allow an elf to return, or when to return
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . My friends, I am afraid, I must be away on another matter. I apologize.

Shawn Daysleeper: . ya we had a problem deciding that last time, what determines when an elf returns
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and we haven't been told. Elven afterlife. How Tolkien would imagine an elven afterlife
Shawn Daysleeper: . true

Shawn Daysleeper: . we did stay mostly on topic tonight. Shawn Daysleeper smiles
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . we did! Do we have a topic for next week?
Shawn Daysleeper: . I remember there were a few suggestions mentioned for future discussion. I do not remember what they were
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I remember Mandos, telepathy ...
Shawn Daysleeper: . ya I suppose we could pick something. We left off at chapter 5 I believe
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . so next is the Feanor soap opera.: I'm not as fascinated with the Noldor as some people
Shawn Daysleeper: . me either
Shawn Daysleeper: . I'd rather not discuss Feanor, but I will if others want to
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I'm not pushing to discuss Feanor
Shawn Daysleeper: . we discussed 10 recently, so maybe we could talk about ch 11
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . that looks like a good one: the sun and the moon