Tuesday, July 20 – Some More Valar

12:00 PM The Valaquenta: Irmo of the Fëanturi, God of Dreams

The Fëanturi: Irmo – The Text

 Irmo the younger is the master of visions and dreams. In Lórien are his gardens in the land of the Valar, and they are the fairest of all places in the world, filled with many spirits.

Irmo – Discussion

Kimi: Irmo the younger

In what sense is he younger? Were some of the Ainur created after others? Is this an artifact from a time when there were generations of Ainur, with some being born as offspring of the elder?

Luthien Rising: young Ainur I suspect that this is an example of the inability of creatures forced to live in time to stop conceiving of greater beings outside their own terms. We have to clothe them and give them age in order to really conceive them.

Luthien Rising: wanderings through thoughts of Lorien Funny -- I realize now that Lorien never made as much of an impression on me as some of the others. I wonder if that says more about the Sil or about me?

A. How are dreams and visions connected in Tolkien? How are they connected in “real life”?

Aragonvaar: Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream... They can both be expressions of the creative impulse, the will to make things happen: "I have a dream/he had a vision."

Bigidiot: Tolkien's visions I think a guy with an imagination as powerful as Tolkien must have had some intense visions now and then throughout his life.  There's lots of kinds of mushrooms that grown in English fields and going mushroom picking was one of Tolkien's favorite hobbies anyhow

Beren IV: Complex ideas Dreams do prophesize the future, or show things far away, at times, in LotR. Dreams are obviously important in Tolkien, but he doesn't appear to have any rules for them. In the real world, dreams seem to be how the upper brain reacts to random signals from the lower brain. A statistical sample of dreams could thus tell something about how somebody's mind works, but individually, they don't mean a whole lot.

Luthien Rising: Some would say, I think, that this is another continuum: that sleeping dreams and waking daydreams and waking visions are not really different kinds, just different degrees.

B. Is Irmo the God of foresight (i.e. visions) – even though we are told that Námo (the Death God) is the foresighted one?

Aragonvaar: He's not in charge of *that* kind of vision, primarily: see above.

Beren IV: Is Irmo the god of forsight or the god of inspiration?

Luthien Rising: But visions are not always foresight, are they? They can also be visions of past events or of the present elsewhere or of futures that simply might be.

C. The gardens of Lórien are the “fairest places” in the world. How does that relate to dreams and visions?

Aragonvaar: Dunno.  Makes sense though.

Beren IV: They're dreamlands, where one dreams of, where the beauty is so great that it cannot possibly be real...

Estë – The Text

<font face=Times New Roman size=2> Estë the gentle, healer of hurts and of weariness, is his spouse. Grey is her raiment; and rest is her gift. She walks not by day, but sleeps upon an island in the tree-shadowed lake of Lórellin. From the fountains of Irmo and Estë all those who dwell in Valinor draw refreshment; and often the Valar come themselves to Lórien and there find repose and easing of the burden of Arda.

Estë – Discussion

D. Now that you’ve met Estë, Goddess of Healing and Rest, do any parts of Lord of the Rings take on new meaning?

Erather: As for Este, I assume you're suggesting that Gandalf should introduce Frodo to her.

Beren IV: How Frodo gets rested in various places and restores his strength? Well somebody had to do it. That said, I think that meeting Estë may be the only way to finally cure Frodo's wound, and perhaps replace his lost finger while they're at it! :)

Luthien Rising: Well, it certainly made *Loth*lorien seem like just an echo of Lorien.

E. The Valar themselves come to Lórien for its healing and refreshing effects. In what other ways might the Valar serve their fellows with their gifts and powers? Are they obliged to do so?

Aragonvaar: "obliged" might be a bad way of putting it.  Of course they put their gifts at each other's service, I have the feeling they delight in it, but "obligation" implies an absence of charity and an emphasis on strict justice that simply doesn't seem typical of their dealings w/ each other.

Beren IV: Aulë makes armor for the War of the Powers in the Book of Lost Tales, at least (I don't remember for the Sil itself). Varda makes light...

The Fëanturi – Discussion

F. Why are the God of Dreams and the God of Death linked as brothers, The Fëanturi, in Tolkien’s mythology?

Aragonvaar: Namo's province is Fate, not death; Irmo's province is the primal creative impulse, not just dreams.  Creativity drives Fate, Fate drives Creativity.

Estelwyn: The Dreamtime Your idea of dreams/visions as an expression of the "creative implulse" reminds me of how the Koori (Australian Aboriginal) creation stories are set in The Dreamtime.  I don't know much detail about this (I think there was isnging involved too?) so it's an incomplete thought, but there seems a connection here (I just can't quite get hold of it).  Maybe somone who knows more about The Dreamtime can help?

 Aragonvaar: I've seen some conflicting mentions of the Dreamtime... Some mentions as a "period of creation" that actually corresponds to the era before the Valar withdrew to Aman rather handily, some as a state of mind to which mystics can still transcend during "walkabout" or other experiences.  I don't know which is accurate, but it's certainly food for thought.

Erather: Death and dreams

To die to sleep,

To sleep, perchance to dream; Aye, there's the rub,

For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil

Must give us pause.

Who says they're not brothers?

Beren IV: A throwback. In BoLT, all the Valar have fraternal relationships with each-other.

Luthien Rising: Interesting question. Perhaps it's a wished-for continuum: that our better dreams should be a vision of what death will be like (rather than the darkness, the nothingness, of dreamless sleep).

Stanislaus Bocian: Sleep and Death Hypnos (both Sleep and Dream) is brother of Thanatos (Death) in the Greek mythology.


Iliad, translation by Pope, Book XIV:


Then taking wing from Athos' lofty steep,

She speeds to Lemnos o'er the rolling deep,

And seeks the cave of Death's half-brother, Sleep. "


Iliad, translated by Lang, Book XVI:


"Then Zeus

that gathereth the clouds spake to Apollo: "Prithee, dear Phoebus, go

take Sarpedon out of range of darts, and cleanse the black blood from

him, and thereafter bear him far away, and bathe him in the streams of

the river, and anoint him with ambrosia, and clothe him in garments that

wax not old, and send him to be wafted by fleet convoy, by the twin

brethren Sleep and Death, that quickly will set him in the rich land of

wide Lykia. There will his kinsmen and clansmen give him burial, with

barrow and pillar, for such is the due of the dead."


Aeneid translated by Dryden Book VI:


"Just in the gate and in the jaws of hell,

Revengeful Cares and sullen Sorrows dwell,

And pale Diseases, and repining Age,

Want, Fear, and Famine's unresisted rage;

Here Toils, and Death, and Death's half-brother, Sleep,

Forms terrible to view, their sentry keep;  "


Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram

perque domos Ditis uacuas et inania regna:

quale per incertam lunam sub luce maligna               270

est iter in siluis, ubi caelum condidit umbra

Iuppiter, et rebus nox abstulit atra colorem.

uestibulum ante ipsum primisque in faucibus Orci

Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae,

pallentesque habitant Morbi tristisque Senectus,               275

et Metus et malesuada Fames ac turpis Egestas,

terribiles uisu formae, Letumque Labosque;

tum consanguineus Leti Sopor et mala mentis

Gaudia, mortiferumque aduerso in limine Bellum,

ferreique Eumenidum thalami et Discordia demens               280

uipereum crinem uittis innexa cruentis.


Link: Aeneid

G. Death’s wife is Memory; and The Dreamer’s wife is Healing. Do these marriages make sense? Would it make any difference if they swapped wives?

Aragonvaar: Namo and Vaire are conservative/preservative in function, whereas Irmo and Este are constructive in function.

Beren IV: It's Prophecy married to History and Dreams married to Rest. Put that way, it's much more reasonable.

Luthien Rising: (This isn't the last question?) Well, it's nicer to think that we can heal in repose during our lifetimes rather than have to wait for death. And some things are better forgotten -- for a while.

Images of the Fëanturi

Here are some images of the Fëanturi and their spouses.

 H. Is there something about Lórien that resists art (enlarging won’t help here)?

Aragonvaar: yah think? :D

Beren IV: How are you supposed to draw the lord of Dreams? I also think that the pic by Espeleta does not look at all like what I picture.

Luthien Rising: Interesting -- there oughtn't to be. Haven't we all found solace in some sort of garden? Maybe it's just the wrong artists trying this one?

Piled Higher and Deeper

The Valaquenta has its roots in Tolkien’s original sketches of his mythology back in the years after World War I, and he revised the material repeatedly over the years. Here is a chart of the evolution of Irmo and Estë.

I. What changes do you see in Tolkien’s conception of Irmo and Estë?

Aragonvaar: Don't remember.  Haven't been following these charts, as I'm not sure if they'll load properly on my comp.  Been relying on my memories of the Lost Tales.

Kimi: Este gets upgraded as the mythology develops. She goes from being "pale" (anemic? Needs a holiday?) to being a healer, with her own fountains. I wonder if the fountains of Lorien have any connection with Ulmo.

I imagine these two with "The Dance of the Blessed Spirits" playing in the background.

Beren IV: More and more details, as well as name changes. As usual, the wife isn't mentioned in the first version.

Extra Credit

J. Are nightmares just Irmo in a bad mood from too much spicy food?

Aragonvaar: They're Irmo telling you that Taco Bell burritos are uncreative  :)

Beren IV: I get the feeling that Irmo isn't the only one who does dreams. Even then, maybe they aren't supposed to be nightmares - just thrillers - but mortals can't tell the difference! :)

Luthien Rising: No -- they're only nightmares because we are afraid of them. If we ceased to fear, they would cease to be nightmares. (And spicy food makes people happy.)

Discussion Guide and Full Text of the Valaquenta


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