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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yavanna continued

Shawn Daysleeper 
AelKennyr Rhiano 
Lihan Taifun           
Belenos                     (belenosstormchaser.magic)
Lúthien                     (luthien.braveheart)
Rajani                       (rajani.milton)
Fifi Wickentower   

Last week we told Yavanna's story, up to the creation of the Two Trees. At this point, there is still no sun or moon. First the Lamps and then the Trees were actual major light sources.

Tolkien does a lot with silver/gold pairings. These seem to be significant, though maybe not exactly “symbolic.” Silver is the masculine element of the pair, and gold the feminine.

None of the names of any of Yavanna's Maiar are recorded. She must have had Maia helpers. We do know that there were many more Maiar than the ones whose names are mentioned.

Shortly after Yavanna makes the Trees, the Elves awaken in Middle-Earth, and the Valar evacuate as many as are willing to the Blessed Lands. There, the great Noldor craftsman Fëanor creates his masterpiece: the Silmarils, three jewels that capture the light of the Two Trees. Fëanor does this just because the Silmarils are pretty, and he is talented enough to make them.

Melkor covets the Silmarils. He gets his spider-ally Ungoliant to help him, and they sneak in, poison the Two Trees, and steal the Silmarils. Yavanna and Nienna try to save the Trees, but they fail. Everyone – Ainur and Elves alike – are heartbroken. The only remaining Light now is the stars and the Silmarils.

If Yavanna could sing the Trees into being in the first place, why could she not save them, or create replacements? (Setting aside the fact that this would eliminate the plot of the story.) Yavanna says that the Trees were a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment for her. Perhaps this reflects that the Valar are not all-powerful. Perhaps “creating” was easier at the beginning of time, and matter is now less easy to reshape. We didn't come to a firm conclusion.

The Two Trees tie in with the common archetype of the “World Tree”/“Tree of Life”.

Perhaps in some deeper way, the Trees had to eventually fail, because they only provided light for the Blessed Lands, not all of Middle-Earth. The Trees, like moving the Elves to the Blessed Lands, could be only a temporary solution. The permanent solution had to involve all of Middle-Earth. This continues the theme that the Valar are neither all-powerful nor all-wise.

During the Age of the Trees, the Valar in general were concentrating on the Blessed Lands, and ignoring Middle-Earth. This was not a unanimous policy, and Yavanna was one of the Valar who continued to visit Middle-Earth. She of course would not abandon her creations there

Lúthien:                      Hi everybody, thats is my firts time here...
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Welcome! :)
Lúthien:                      i'm brazillian,. and love tolkien literature. thanks
{Greetings continue.}

Rajani:                        Yavanna and the Ents tonight again?
Lihan Taifun:            last week we hadn't quite finished the story of Yavanna and the Two Trees
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I have to ask...tonight...can we please be a little more chronological? I stayed lost nearly the whole time last week? AelKennyr Rhiano blushes
Lihan Taifun:            yes, that would be good
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Oh, gods, yes! smiles
Belenos nods a lot
AelKennyr Rhiano smiles a little ruefully.
Lihan Taifun:            I ended up writing a summary for the archive
AelKennyr Rhiano:  That has to be hard to do.
Lihan Taifun:            shall I repeat that, from last week?
Rajani kept trying to add to the story and it ended up being very confusing! yes please
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Luthien, we have a blog on the web for this discussion group.
Lihan Taifun:  
AelKennyr Rhiano smiles
Lihan Taifun:            Yavanna:
She is the Vala of plants and animals. You mostly hear about her in connection with plants.
Her name, “Yavanna‚”, means “Giver of Fruits”.
Her title “Kementári” means “Queen of the Earth” -- “earth” in the sense of the flat ground, the soil.
She is the wife of Aulë (the Vala of the materials of which the earth is made ‚Äì rocks and mountains and such).
We have no record of the names of any of the Maiar who assist her.
Lúthien:                      oh, i see. Thanks!!!
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Lihan keeps it current and runs the discussion :)
Lihan Taifun:            The story of Yavanna creating the Two Trees:
At the beginning of the World, the Valar created two lamps to light the World. "Aulë at the prayer of Yavanna wrought two mighty lamps for the lighting of the Middle-earth which he had build between the encircling seas. Then Varda filled the lamps, and Manwë hallowed them, and the Valar set them upon high pillars, more lofty far than are mountains of the later days." One lamp was in the far north of Middle-Earth and one in the far south.

Aulë is the Vala generally in charge of making things.

The Valar held a big party to celebrate finishing all the creation. This was also the wedding of the Valar Tulkas and Nessa. Aulë took a nap because he was tired from all the work of creating, and Tulkas was busy honeymooning with Nessa. While Aulë and Tulkas weren't paying attention, Melkor snuck into Middle-Earth, broke the lamps, and generally smashed up the new world. The entire world is dark again.

The Valar did major repairs. At this time, they built and fortified the continent of Aman for themselves. In Aman, they built the city of Valimar and estates for each of the Valar. When this work was completed, Yavanna went out to the hill outside the city of Valimar, by the circle of the thrones of the Valar, and sang the Two Trees into life, and Nienna watered them with her tears.

The Silver Tree was named Telperion, and was considered male. The Gold Tree was named Laurelin, and considered female. (These Two Trees will, later in the story, be the sources of the Moon and Sun.) Tolkien does a lot with the symbolism of silver and gold. Each tree glowed for half a day, taking turns, and this provided light for Aman. The “mingling of lights at twilight‚” when one tree faded and the other began, was especially magical and beautiful. The liquid light that fell from the trees and collected at their bases was magical, and Varda used some of it to make stars.

Everything is happy and magical in Aman for a long time. It is during this time that the Elves awake, and the Valar evacuate to Aman those who are willing (that is, the Vanyar, the Noldor, and the Teleri).
{This is not the end of the story, but this is where we ran out of time this week.}

Lihan Taifun gives people time to read all that
{Fifi arrives. Greetings}

AelKennyr Rhiano:  What were the lamps supposed to indicate Lihan?
Lihan Taifun:            indicate?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  symbolize?
Lihan Taifun:            nothing was ever said about that
Rajani:                        I think they weren't symbols so much as actual light sources, because, no sun and no moon yet
Lihan Taifun:            yes, actual light sources
AelKennyr Rhiano:  ok
Lihan Taifun:            oh yes, that is very important, the sun and moon aren't around yet
Belenos:                      but you mentioned something about the symbolism of silver and gold?
Rajani:                        Tolkien repeats the motif of silver and gold a lot, but I'm not sure what exactly it is a symbol of....associated with masculine and feminine qualities sometimes
Lihan Taifun:            maybe "symbolisn" is too strong a word, but Tolkien does seem very fond of "silver and gold" pairings
Belenos:                      ahhh... ok, thank you..
Shawn Daysleeper:  nods
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Silver was associated with male, the masculine?
Lihan Taifun:            yes
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Interesting
Belenos:                      so.. we are up to the trees being made
Rajani:                        in some of the other stories you will notice references to trees, and they often are related to the Two Trees....the White Tree in Gondor, for example, is a great great great great great grandchild of the Silver Tree Telperion
Lihan Taifun:            we are up to the Trees being made
Rajani:                        we are up to the Trees being made, by Yavanna \o/
Lihan Taifun:            and it is during the Age of the Trees that the Elves awaken, and the Valar evacuate them to the Undying Lands
ok, so after a long happy time, Melkor starts quietly stirring up trouble. he poisons the minds of the Noldor against the Valar
Rajani:                        nodnod
Lihan Taifun:            and particularly, he poisons Feanor's mind
Rajani:                        Feanor is a great Elvish craftsman
Lihan Taifun:            Feanor is the eldest son of Finwe the King of the Noldor, yes, great craftsman
and his masterpiece is the three Silmarils ... jewels the capture the Light of the Two Trees
Rajani:                        nodnod
Lihan Taifun:            and Melkor totally covets the Silmarills
Belenos:                      why did he make jewels to capture their light?
Rajani:                        the Silmarillion is named after the Silmarils....the book title means "story of the Silmarils"
Belenos:                      what was the need?
Rajani:                        because it was pretty, I think
Lihan Taifun:            yes, because it was pretty, and hard to to
Rajani:                        the Silmarils are kind of like literal stars in gem form....pretty fantastic and pretty difficult work even for an Elf
Lihan Taifun:            exactly
Rajani:                        everybody loves them. the Silmarillion is all about the crazy things people do to get their hands on them :P (there are 3 Silmarils)
Lihan Taifun:            but that is getting ahead of the story :)
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Can we get back to Yavanna?
Rajani:                        yes, erm
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Isn't it odd that there is no record of Maiar attending Yavanna?
Lihan Taifun:            at least none of their names are recorded
Rajani:                        there are only about half a dozen named Maiar in total, so there must be a whole lot we don't know the names of (insert original characters here! :D)
Shawn Daysleeper:  hehe
Lihan Taifun:            the Trees! can we finish the story?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I mean, she has a lot of responsibility, why ...sure
Rajani:                        Morgoth hates the Trees
Lihan Taifun:            Melkor next gets his giant-spider ally to help him, and the two of them sneak in and poison the Two Trees
Rajani:                        nodnod
Shawn Daysleeper:  yes
Lihan Taifun:            now the only Light left is the stars in the sky, and the three Silmarils
Rajani:                        Yavanna and Nienna try to save the Trees, but are unsuccessful
Belenos:                      I imagine Yavanna would have been pretty distressed at that?
Lihan Taifun:            oh yes! everyone was
Rajani:                        Heartbroken I expect :(
Lihan Taifun:            but probably Yavanna the worst
Rajani:                        it's the end of an era yeah :(
Lihan Taifun:            The Valar send a message to Feanor, asking him to give them the Silmarils
Belenos:                      can i ask a question?
Lihan Taifun:            yes?
Belenos:                      If at this point the trees have been poisioned.. and yavanna sang them into being in the first place.. why didn't she just sing some more?
Lihan Taifun:            I think she said it was the kind of masterpiece she could only do once. Rajani, do you remember?
Rajani:                        I think that's right, it was her great work for a lifetime, sort of thing
Lihan Taifun:            I think that because Feanor said something about, the Silmarills were something HE could only do once in his lifetime. yes
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Yavanna?
Lihan Taifun:            yes, the Trees were Yavanna's great, once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece
Rajani:                        Wikipedia says, "Again Yavanna sang and Nienna wept, but they succeeded only in reviving Telperion's last flower (to become the Moon) and Laurelin's last fruit (to become the Sun). "
Belenos:                      interesting thought that she had the power to do it once.. but not a second time.. so her creative abilities are more like an artist who paints (for example).. rather than a 'power' as such
Lihan Taifun:            BUT WE HAVEN"T GOTTEN TO THAT YET
Rajani:                        argh sorry. :(
Lihan Taifun:            yes, I agree, Belenos, it doesn't quite make sense
Rajani:                        I don't think the Valar are limitless in their power though
Lihan Taifun:            it wouldn't make a very good story, though, if Yavanna could just make new Trees
Rajani:                        like, I don't think Varda kept making stars all teh time after the first few rounds
Lihan Taifun:            and there may have been something about "creating" was easier at the beginning of time
Rajani:                        mmm, that would make sense
Belenos:                      yes that's true... but i'm using it as an example of how to form her character's abilities in my RP.. *smiles*..
Rajani:                        :D
Lihan Taifun:            as time went on, the Valar did less and less "creating", and more guiding and guarding and giving advice
Rajani:                        everything fades with time in Tolkien's world, though if that affects the Valar it's a much longer period of power and a much slower decline than for humans or Elves
Lihan Taifun:            oh yes, very relevant questions
Rajani:                        I also kind of vaguely remember that Morgoth's spider friend may have poisoned the ground the Trees were on? is that right? so they couldn't have grown again in any case
Lihan Taifun:            hmmm
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I found something interesting about Yavanna earlier...
Lihan Taifun:            oh?
AelKennyr Rhiano"With Yavanna Tolkien creates a Goddess who resembles the 'Tree of Life' or 'World-tree' myths found in many cultures from all over the world. Not only Yggdrasil in Germanic/Norse tradition - as mentioned above - is an example, also Nyagrodha in the Upanishads, Asvattha in the Bhagavad Gita, even the two Trees in the Garden of Eden are further occurrences of this myth. Depictions of such 'Trees of Life' dating back as far as to the early Sumerian period have been found. "
Lihan Taifun:            ah, ok, so Yavanna and the Trees are tapping into the Tree of Life /Goddess archetype
Belenos:                      so to Tolkien she would have been closely bound to the trees... so their loss would have affected her greatly
Lihan Taifun:            that makes a lot of sense
AelKennyr Rhiano:  yes. if I may share a bit more, please?
Lihan Taifun:            please
AelKennyr RhianoThe cosmic ash of Germanic mythology. Its branches overhung all the worlds and struck out above the heavens. It had three mighty roots: one reached down to Giantland, where stood the wisdom well of Mimir; the second ended in foggy Niflheim, close by the well of Hvergelmir, close by the “the roaring cauldron”, and dragon Nidhoggr, “dread biter”, which gnawed the root from below; the last was embedded in heaven and beneath it was the sacred well of Urdr, where the gods had their judgement seat.

Yggdrasil means “the horse of the terrible one‚, Odin. Since this god discovered the secret of runic wisdom by hanging himself on the cosmic ash” that is, sacrificing himself to himself”, Yggdrasil must have been regarded as a tree of knowledge. Parallel with the Cross, the death of Odin has a separate ancestry, sacrificial trees have existed in northern Europe from earliest times. Christian missionaries like St Boniface (c.674-754) cut them down, to the terror and rage of the people: till he was himself cut down at Dockum near the Frisian coast.

Now as I hear so many expound upon the Christian overtones of Tolkien's literature, I found this interesting.
Lihan Taifun:            quite
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Why would he have linked such an important Vala with such a pagan concept. Why was Yavanna needed in the first place?
Shawn Daysleeper:  it was a vala concept but it did fail them
Rajani:                        Tolkien had a longstanding fondness for Norse myth
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I read over the Silmarillion again, and one could almost make the case that he could have fused Varda and Yavanna into one character?
Rajani:                        hmm
AelKennyr Rhiano:  What do you mean, Shawn? That was an interesting comment :)
Shawn Daysleeper:  in the end the trees were not a permenant substitution for the lamps, not sure where to take it from there hehe
Rajani:                        :D So, even the Valar's solutions don't always work
Lihan Taifun:            and they could never have been a permanent substitute, because the Trees only lit up the Blessed Lands, not Middle Earth
Rajani:                        nodnod
AelKennyr Rhiano:  No, the trees were not, Shawn. Do you think that had a deeper meaning, perhaps?
Shawn Daysleeper:  ya it could, but not sure exactly what
AelKennyr Rhiano nods
Lihan Taifun:            it seems to go with that era when the Valar we only caring about what happened in their own land, not Middle Earth. they moved the elves to Aman, and ignored Middle Earth
Shawn Daysleeper:  it shows the vala are not perfect, both Yavanna and Aule failed in their own ways at times
Belenos:                      it's shows they were not all powerful and all knowing, that's for sure
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Oh, Shawn, I like that observation. yes
Lihan Taifun:            and the whole era was shortsighted
AelKennyr Rhiano:  But...see...wait... Yavanna had to care. she was "Queen of the Earth," right?
Belenos:                      yes.. it was all her creation
Lihan Taifun:            and Yavanna and Orome were among the very few who visited Middle Earth and checked up on things
Rajani:                        oh that's true
AelKennyr Rhiano:  So...yes, I can see where this shows that they were not all powerful, but I can't go with they were uncaring.
Rajani:                        for part of the time, there wasn't anyone else to care about, besides the animals, because the Elves weren't there yet. licking their wounds after the last round of fights with Morgoth maybe :P
Lihan Taifun:            "neglectful"?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  But Yavana was the person who should care MOST about the plants AND the animals.
Rajani:                        Maybe Yavanna always had a plan for how to bring light to the rest of Arda
AelKennyr Rhiano:  in fact, I could try to make the case that there would be little distinction to her between elves and both are animals.
Fifi Wickentower:    nod nod
Belenos:                      they were both living beings
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I think we are shorting Yavanna tremendously.
Lihan Taifun:            the Valar in general weren't paying much attention to Middle Earth, Yavanna was
AelKennyr Rhiano:  We are looking at everything BUT her and her relationship within the community of the Vala and her position among them.
Belenos:                      it is easy to lump all the valar into 'the valar' and assume all were in agreement with actions taken by the group on the whole.. or to not think about how they may have individually thought or felt on those actions
Lihan Taifun:            and in this case, we know that they were not all agreed
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Right
Lihan Taifun:            on a number of topics
Fifi Wickentower:    te unifying factor was the Great Song . . before and after they each had their own concerns and affairs
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Agreed, fifi!
Lihan Taifun:            not all agreed it was a good plan to bring the Elves to Aman
Fifi Wickentower:    nod

{Several people have to leave. We will continue next week.}