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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Sunshine Hanfoi
Lihan Taifun
Fifi Wickentower
AelKennyr Rhiano
Shawn Daysleeper
lawrence Blackbart

Elves, especially the Older ones, had some capacity for mental communication. Humans did not, or perhaps could only send brief messages in situations of great distress, to persons to whom they were emotionally close.

It is unclear whether there is a distance limit to Elvish mental communication. Most examples are between people who are within speaking distance.

The palantiri were artificial aids that allowed communication at great distance, even for the unskilled and Humans.

In Tolkien's scheme, this mental communication required willingness from both parties (except in the case of Morgoth, who used forbidden force). A person could perceive only the current thought that the other person wanted to transmit – not everything in the other person's mind or memories.

What then can be said for Galadriel “testing” the Companions? That seems rather non-consensual.

While Morgoth (and Sauron) probably did have some mind-control powers over their minions, that isn't exactly the same as this form of telepathy.

We suspect that some of us know more about the “real world” operation of telepathy than Tolkien did, so telepathy in the Tolkien universe may differ from what one would expect.

Probably the telepathic talent diminished faster among Elves in MiddleEarth than among Elves in the West.

Lihan Taifun:            I didn't sent out any reading material on telepathy, did I?
{Distribute reading material 123}
{Greetings for new person Sunshine}
Lihan Taifun:             and then, after the notecards were written, I found one even better reference

AelKennyr Rhiano:   well let's get started...which notecard first, Lihan?
Lihan Taifun:             “Often after the hobbits were wrapped in sleep they [Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond] would sit together under the stars, recalling the ages that were gone and all their joys and labours in the world, or holding council, concerning the days to come. If any wanderer had chanced to pass, little would he have seen or heard, and it would have seemed to him only that he saw grey figures, carved in stone, memorials of forgotten things now lost in unpeopled lands. For they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind; and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts went to and fro.”
The Return of the King, "Many Partings"

how about that first?
Shawn Daysleeper:   so it seems that the "older" elves can use telepathy, and can talk to maia thru telepathy
Lihan Taifun:             yes
Sunshine Hanfoi:      when you say you mean speaking mind to mind?
Fifi Wickentower:     yes
Sunshine Hanfoi:      I see reference to the Palantir. thank you
Lihan Taifun:             the palantir seem to enhance the ability, and even work for the unskilled
Fifi Wickentower:     there seems to be certain instances or question about whether it was used or always necessary
Lihan Taifun:             whether the palantiri were necessary, or telepathy?
Fifi Wickentower:     the palantir
Sunshine Hanfoi:      in the one card, and I am on the third now, it seems many references to mechanisms or devices that “ assisted some sort of "communication" from afar was why I was seeking clarity
Lihan Taifun:             there do seem to be some devices that enhance perception or communication, although some elves can do it without aids
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Why was the palantir even necessary?
Shawn Daysleeper:   the seeing stones were a gift to men, eh? to the faithful
Lihan Taifun:             I wonder if there is a distance limit on direct telepathy?
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Do Men have telepathy?
Shawn Daysleeper:   it didn't seem like men had telepathy
Lihan Taifun:             wouldn't it have been useful for Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel to have been able to consult earlier? when they were not all together?
Sunshine Hanfoi:      I understood the Palintir were created by Feanor?
Lihan Taifun:             by Feanor, yes
Sunshine Hanfoi listens and works to finish this last page
Shawn Daysleeper:   oh ok
Lihan Taifun:             that is another thing, it isn't clear that ALL elves have skill at mental communication, and probably none at seeing at a distance
Sunshine Hanfoi:      If the Valar could not read the minds of the Children, an only Melkor broke this "rule" perhaps telepathy is a latent gift that arose as a way to try to thwart his power over them. usually I hear the idea of telepathy being used in a negative way
Lihan Taifun:             negative how?
Sunshine Hanfoi:      to control, deceive, coherce, dominate
AelKennyr Rhiano:   They could read minds if the mind were open to them, but they could not force a Child of Illuvatar to open their mind.
Fifi Wickentower:     in telepathy there is sending and receiving, there is broadband and one on one
Sunshine Hanfoi is quiet
Fifi Wickentower:     generally one excells more as a sender and another will be stronger at receiving
AelKennyr Rhiano:   The minds of the Children were not open to the Valar (except by free will of the Children), and could not be invaded or violated by the Valar except with disastrous consequences: their breaking and enslaving, and the substitution in them of the dominating Vala as a God in place of Eru.
Shawn Daysleeper:   maybe Melkor used telepathy to control his armies
Fifi Wickentower:     telepathy shouln't be confused with mindreading, imo. .which does or has negative connotations
Lihan Taifun:             I had the impression that -- except for Melkor using force -- the "telepathy" always required both parties to voluntarily want to communicate
AelKennyr Rhiano:   yes, me, too, but please clarify, Fifi?
Fifi Wickentower:     telepathy is less a way to control . . not really a mind control tool
lawrence Blackbart:  more of a communication tool
Fifi Wickentower:     melkor could well be controlling through various mind control techniques
Shawn Daysleeper:   so mind control does not count as telepathy?
Lihan Taifun:             I would say not all "telepathy" is even attempting to "mind control"
AelKennyr Rhiano:   yes, I'm confused.
lawrence Blackbart:  not entirely, they use similar techniques, however have different uses
Fifi Wickentower:     i don't think so . . .mind control would happen after a period of 'training' or prepping . . through the use of drugs/magic/fear
AelKennyr Rhiano:   no, i mean about mindreading and telepathy not being the same thing.
Lihan Taifun:             for one thing, Tolkien makes it pretty clear in one of those notecards that telepathy only communicates what the "sender" is thinking about sending
Fifi Wickentower:     the ability to send and recieve thoughts is the basic definition of telepathy
lawrence Blackbart:  indeed
Lihan Taifun:             so, no way anyone can detect something the other person isn't currently thinking about
Fifi Wickentower:     yes
Lihan Taifun:             and -- without using forbidden force -- you can't detect a thought the other person doesn't want to send
AelKennyr Rhiano:   and with mind reading they could detect more?
lawrence Blackbart:  yes, if force were used that would be considered mind reading... am i correct?
Shawn Daysleeper:   and it could be that the other does not know what the sender is thinking if the sender is not in the will to transmute his thoughts
Fifi Wickentower:     we see it current life . . ppl who are gifted in broadband telepathy are succesful with 'reading' the moods of groups of ppl . . like in radio, for instance. we have all experienced it when the phone rings and you know it will a moment before it does. or you were thinking of someone and out of the blue you see them or they make contact in some way
lawrence Blackbart:  true
AelKennyr Rhiano listens
Fifi Wickentower:     if you use a focus point . . a palantir, a crystal ball, a bowl of water . . it serves to focus the mortal/conscious mind and allow the higher mind to operate and be heard'
AelKennyr Rhiano:   So, it is a tool to augment.
Fifi Wickentower:     yes. so it would only make sense that the high elves would have a certain amount of natural telepathic talent
Lihan Taifun:             would you consider it "mind reading" to detect something that the other person knows, but isn't thinking about at that moment?
AelKennyr Rhiano:   because it is "in" their mind?
Fifi Wickentower:     it is energy . .all thoughts are energy . .subtle energy but still readable
AelKennyr Rhiano:   So if it exists, it is possible to be detected? Energy is neither created nor destroyed.
Fifi Wickentower:     yes . .and there are scientists currently who have said that have have done just that
lawrence Blackbart:  it can only transformed
AelKennyr Rhiano nods
Fifi Wickentower:     yes . . if it exists, it can be detected . . just consider germs and auric fields for 2 examples
lawrence Blackbart:  its simply a matter of building a device to detect it
Fifi Wickentower:     that's science for ya! always needing to bring it to the purely material, measurable world
lawrence Blackbart:  yep :)
Fifi Wickentower:     smiles
Lihan Taifun:             well, I think having a way to move a computer cursor by brainwaves (which they now have) is going to be a big help for paralyzed people
Fifi Wickentower:     oh yes!!!
lawrence Blackbart nod nods
AelKennyr Rhiano:   The implicatons are astounding
Fifi Wickentower:     the power of the mind is astonishing :)
Shawn Daysleeper:   nods
Lihan Taifun:             I wasn't expecting that in my lifetime
Lihan Taifun:             so, do we understand the difference between "telepathy" and "mind reading"?
AelKennyr Rhiano blushes maybe?
lawrence Blackbart:  telepathy is a means of communication, where as mind reading is a way of forcefully extracting information. am i correct?
Shawn Daysleeper:   telepathy is active while mind reading involves a passive victim?
lawrence Blackbart:  that too
AelKennyr Rhiano:   So is mind reading always forceful?
Shawn Daysleeper:   well, if it isn't would it be telepathy?
Lihan Taifun:             telepathy is active on both people's parts?
Fifi Wickentower:     i doubt it could always be forceful. it may actually come down to semantics . . . telepathy being a transfer of info without using the 5 senses, and telepathy has a sending and receiving element. mind reading is more i tell you what you are thinking . . like a mentalist

Lihan Taifun:             so, one limit to the telepathy, in Tolkien's universe, is that both parties have to be intending to communicate
AelKennyr Rhiano listens
lawrence Blackbart:  indeed
Lihan Taifun:             I haven't found any explicit mention of a distance limit, but it seems like most examples -- without a palantir -- are pretty close range
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Would the emotional state of the sender play a factor? The immediacy of their need to communicate?
Lihan Taifun:             hmmm, I just said both parties had to be intending to communicate -- but what about Galadriel "testing" the companions?
AelKennyr Rhiano:   um....
lawrence Blackbart:  hmmm what if ... what if someone was reading another persons mind who was at the same time actively conversion with someone else using telepathy? Would the mind reader be able to tap into that telepathic communication?
Fifi Wickentower:     probably . .depends how 'clear' the person is
AelKennyr Rhiano:   wow
lawrence Blackbart nods
AelKennyr Rhiano:   I guess what I was saying was that if Fifi were physically far from me, my ability to communicate with her, would it not depend in a large part with how important I perceive it was to contact her?
Lihan Taifun:             to Ael, I think it probably would
Fifi Wickentower:     distance means nothing
AelKennyr Rhiano:   it doesn't?
lawrence Blackbart:  ah yea true as it is simply energy
AelKennyr Rhiano:   the palantir is not to help cover distance but to amplify the strength of hte thought so it can be heard clearly?
Lihan Taifun:             I think I remember somewhere that even humans could occasionally -- in extreme distress -- send a message to someone emotionally close to them
Fifi Wickentower:     if you need to get ahold of me . .you would focus, perhaps visualize me and then with your heart 'send' the thought, and telepathy is more a world of image rather than words
Lihan Taifun:             Fifi, are you talking about the Tolkien universe, or this universe?
Fifi Wickentower:     telepathy is telepathy
Lihan Taifun:             I think you might know more about how it works than Tolkien did
Fifi Wickentower giggles
lawrence Blackbart:  haha
AelKennyr Rhiano:   I was going to say, in the real world, I agree with Fifi, but in Tolkien's literary world, that would depend upon his understanding of it, I think?
Fifi Wickentower:     it's the 4th age after all :)
AelKennyr Rhiano:   YES!
lawrence Blackbart:  indeed
Fifi Wickentower:     yes . . i think i agree with that ael . . it can only go as far as his understanding
AelKennyr Rhiano:   In reading all these notecards, I get the feeling that telepathy diminished in the middle earth elves while it did not in the Elves living in the WEst?
Fifi Wickentower:     and it can seem like magic to ppl who don't understand; once again . . the further they moved from the origin of the Children and thus Source . . the more diminished the gifts became
Lihan Taifun:             we hear about Galadriel using telepathy, but never Legolas
AelKennyr Rhiano:   so the palantir would be of great importance to them.
lawrence Blackbart:  ooh yes most deffinately
Lihan Taifun:             even a human or a hobbit can use a palantir, it takes very little skill, and no innate talent
Fifi Wickentower:     like a telephone . . or a crystal set
AelKennyr Rhiano nods
Lihan Taifun:             like that, yes
AelKennyr Rhiano:   I hope we continue this discussion next week
Lihan Taifun:             we could, if people wanted to
AelKennyr Rhiano:   I think this is a very deep subject, not easily covered in one night
lawrence Blackbart:  it is a very interesting topic :)
Fifi Wickentower:     fine with me *smiles*
Lihan Taifun:             now you can read the notecards at your leisure, and think about them
AelKennyr Rhiano:   nod nod nod, whew, yay
Fifi Wickentower:     yes . . . .thank you very much Lihan for sharing that info :)
Lihan Taifun:             and of course how it affects the roleplay -- telepathy is very tricky in roleplay
AelKennyr Rhiano:   yes! we should have a rp discussion on that
Fifi Wickentower:     fraught with peril i should think . . .ripe for the basic godmod
Lihan Taifun:             very much so
AelKennyr Rhiano:   yes
lawrence Blackbart:  :P
AelKennyr Rhiano:   a very abused rp tactic.
Lihan Taifun:             and so far none of the Ainur have abused telepathy
AelKennyr Rhiano:   No, actually, they have been very careful
Lihan Taifun:             but eventually the question is likely to come up