This website contains archives of the Tolkien Discussion Group from 2009 to early 2013.

The discussion group continues to meet
in Second Life in Alqualonde the Swanhaven. Contact AelKennyr Rhiano in Second Life.

Monday, December 27, 2010

“Fana” Body of a Maia/Ainu -- Reading Material

Continuing in Parma Eldalamberon xvii, with highlights from the 7½ pages of variations on the root PHAN-, in which JRRT discusses quite a bit about the Valar.  In this case, his ideas seem fairly consistant in all versions.
(Root) PHAN- The basic sense of this was 'cover, screen, veil', but it had a special development in the Eldarin tongues. This was largely due to what appears to have been its very ancient application to clouds, especially to separate floating clouds as (partial) veils over the blue sky, or over the sun, moon, or stars. This application ... was so ancient that when {Quenya fana, Sindarin fân, and related words were} applied to lesser, handmade things this was felt to be a transference from the sense 'cloud', and words of this group were mainly applied to things of soft textures, veils, mantles, curtains and the like, of white or pale colours.
In Quenya, owing to close relations of the Eldar in Valinor with the Valar and other lesser spirits of their order, fana developed a special sense. It was applied to the visible bodily forms adopted by these spirits, when they took up their abode on Earth, as the normal “raiment” of their otherwise invisible being. In these fanar they were seen and known by the Eldar, to whom glimpses of other and more awe-inspiring manifestations were seldom given. But the Elves of Valinor asserted that unclad and unveiled the Valar were perceived by some among them as lights (of different hues) which their eyes could not tolerate; whereas the Maiar were usually invisible unclad, but their presence was revealed by their fragrance.
[Footnote:] This applied only to those uncorrupted. Melkor, they said, was invisible, and his presence was revealed only by great dread and by a darkness that dimmed or blotted out the light and hues of all things near him. The Maiar corrupted by him stank. For this reason neither he nor any of the evil Maiar ever approached one of the Eldar that they wished to persuade or deceive except clad in their fanar. These they could still make to appear beautiful to Elvish eyes, if they wished – until after the great treachery of Melkor and the destruction of the Trees. After that Melkor (Morgoth) and his servants were perceived as forms of evil and enemies undisguised.
Lihan remembers Sauron fooling the Elves of Eregion and the Humans of Númenor, during the Second Age.
... Since these fanar usually appeared 'radiant' (in some degree), as if lit by a light within, the word fana acquired in Quenya an additional sense as 'shining shape', and this addition of radiance affected other {related words, including the now-usual Quenya word for cloud: fanya.} ... But this was used only of white clouds, sunlit or moonlit, or of clouds reflecting sunlight as in the sunset or sunrise. ...
[Footnote:] The fanar of the great Valar were said by the Eldar who had dwelt in Valinor usually to have had a stature far greater than that of the tallest Elves, and when performing some great deed or rite, or issuing commands, to have assumed awe-inspiring height.
... No doubt this use aroused in the minds of the Sindar who had not seen the Valar in their own sacred land of Aman a mental picture of a majestic figure robed as if in shining cloud seen far away. ...
{Then he spends a long paragraph explaining that the firstborn Sindar had met Oromë, that King Elwë/Elu Thingol had visited Valinor, and Queen Melian was herself a Maia} ... so that, at least among the 'wise' of Doriath, much was known about the Valar.
The fanar of the Valar were not 'phantoms', but 'physical': that is, they were not 'visions' arising to the mind, or implanted there by the will of a superior mind or spirit, and then projected, but received through the bodily eyes.
[Footnote:] Or mainly so: the power of the presence of one of these spirits no doubt affected the reception and was responsible, for instance, for the impressions of 'radiance' with which the 'vision' was endowed.
The Valar had a command, great individually, almost complete as a united council, over the physical matter of Eä (the material universe). Their fanar which were originally devised out of love for the 'Children of Eru', the Incarnate, whom they were to guard and counsel, had the properties of the material of which the koar (or bodies) of the Elves (and also of Men) were formed: sc. they were not transparent, they cast shadows (if their inner luminosity was dimmed); they could move material objects, and were resisted by these, and resisted them. These fanar were, however, also personal expressions (in terms suitable to the apprehension of the Incarnate) of their individual 'natures' and functions, and were usually also clad in vestures of similar purpose.
But it is often mentioned in the legends that certain of the Valar, and occasionally of the Maiar, 'passed over the Sea', and appeared in Middle-earth. (Notably Oromë, Ulmo, and Yavanna.) The Valar and Maiar were essentially 'spirits', according to Elvish tradition given being before the making of Eä. They could go where they willed, that is could be present at once at any point in Eä where they desired to be.
Subject only to special limitations taken upon themselves or decreed by Eru. Thus after the final establishment of Arda, when the Valar, the spirits destined to be most concerned with this chosen stage for combat with Melkor, took up their abode on Middle-earth, they no longer passed beyond its confines. That is, according to Elvish tradition they remained, usually clad in their fanar, in physical residence on earth as its guardians.
Two of the references state that the Istari, the Five Wizards, “in the likeness of old Men” were examples of fanar. That would suggest JRRT did not make a strong distinction between a Maia's fana and a fully organic natural body.

No comments:

Post a Comment