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Topic: Beorn?

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Beorn?

What is exactly is beorn? No reasonable description i given by Gandalf. Is he a Tom bombadil kinda creature or simply a man with some enhanced powers? Why would he have such an short temper?

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Valar
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Beorn is a skin-changer..that is the description that Gandalf gives. He is partly a man and partly a bear. Again, this is one of those questions where also i would like have more answers. What are those "powers" or "magic-skills" of his and how he can transform to bear anytime he wants..opinions please...

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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He is certainly an oddball. What actually is a skin changer? Lets say you don't know what an animal is. If i said that i am a maamal, that is not giving you information into what I actually am. It is a sub-catagory rather than the catagory itself.

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Unfortunately Tolkien didn't write very much about the Skin Changers, and the only one that he ever wrote about was Beorn.  Basically they were just beings that had the ability to change their form, although I am not sure if they could only choose between a couple of forms or if they were able to take on the physical form of anything that they liked.  In the case of Beorn he was only described as taking on the shape of a man and a bear.



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Valar
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Yes i agree, there's so little information about Beorn (and beornings) that we cant make any certain decisions who or what Beorn exatly was. Like Kirinki said: he had the ability change his form and that is not so common thing if we think it more better. Sauron is only known shape/form changer that we know. And that makes you think how did Beorn share that same ability than Sauron...

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Incorrect i am afraid Agarwaen. By rule of The One i will provide quotations from here forth when needed. Ungoliant could change form:


"In a ravine she lived, and took shape as a spider of mountrous form, weaving here= black webs in a cleft of the mountains."


This appears that Ungoliant was indeed a Maiar and as you know bound to phisical form on Arda. She took the form of a Spider.


If that is not sufficiant I am sure you know of Melkor being able to configure his shape as a black cloud, as somone fair or as a terrible spirit. i cannot provide the quote but I don't think there is need anyhow.


 


 



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Chief Maiar
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Unfortunatly Agarwaen I have to agree with the Mouth of Sauron (that sentence just sounds wrong). Sauron himself was not the only the person with abilities to change shape as all Maiar and Valar had the ability to take on different forms so through logical extrapolation it would make sense that their form-changing ability was not necessarily confined to humanoid forms. Maybe Beorn is a maiar of Orome?!?!?!?!?!?

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Valar
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Yeah you're both right. I was just writing from my memory and Sauron was only one which came to mind. That shape chancing doesn't seem like something normal and human thing to do..there is certain mystery around Beorn and i dont know if it's the same case with Tom. Deliberate enigma?

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Chief Maiar
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Tolkien did intend for many things to be mysteries such as Bombadil, the Watcher in the water, etc, it is quite possible Beorn is one such thing.

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Rohan peasant - Rank 2
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Very true! Tolkien leaves Beorn a mystery, just like Bombadil and so many other things we wish to discover in his world. He could be a Maiar, or mabey just what he is said to be, a skin changer who turns into a bear, either at will or at sertain times. We will probably never know.

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Orc captain of Thangorodrim - Rank 3
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I'm afraid that I have to disagree when you say that we do not know the race of Beorn.  Tolkien himself says the following: "Though a skin-changer and no doubt a bit of a magician, Beorn was a Man." (Letter 144).



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Orc captain of Thangorodrim - Rank 3
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Bah, you beat me here by a few hours, Elendil. I had that exact same quote.


Anyways, it's very clear that Beorn is a Man, and no more. He is dead by the time of the Fellowship of the Ring and has a number of descendants. He had some very interesting abilities, but he was still a Man.


I also noticed that someone mentioned that they thought Ungoliant was a Maia. I must say that I heartily disagree with this, even though it's rather off-topic. In the Valaquenta, there is no mention of her. She is not mentioned under the section "The Maiar" or "The Enemies", in which the Ainur that appear in The Silmarillion are mentioned, including the Balrogath. The fact is, we do not know what Ungoliant is.



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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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No Ungolaint would not be mentioned in those even if she was one. She disowned her master early on in Ea and did not have the name Ungoliant for a long while. In 'The Enemies' of Valaquenta it only mentions servants who have names such as Balrogs/Valaraukar.


Mistake me if I am wrong but few of the five Istari are listed as Maiar in the Valaquenta either.



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Valar
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I may be wrong here but i kinda remember that Olorin is only "wizzie" who is mentioned in valaquenta. There are other maiar named but he is only one from Istari.

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Yes you are right. olorin is the only istari listed in the Valaquenta:


"Wisest of the Maiar was olorin. he too dwelt in Lorien, but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience." (Valaquenta)


It therefore follows that there were many other maiar perhaps Ungoliant who were not listed also.



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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Also here is another quote:


"For of the maiar many were drwn to his (Melkor) splendour in the days of his greatness, and remained in that allegiance down into his darkness; and others he corrupted afterwards to his sevice with lies and treacherus gifts. Dreadful amoung these spirits were the Valaraukar, the scourges of fire that in Middle-earth were called Balrogs, demons of terror.
Among those of his servants who have names the greatest was that spirit whom the Eldar called Sauron, or Gathaur the Cruel. In his beginning he was of the maiar of Aule, and he remained mighty in the lore of that people. In all the deeds of Melkor, the Morgoth upon arda, in his vast works and in the deceits of his cunning, Sauron had a part, and was only less evil than his master in that for long he served another and not himself. But in after years he rose like a shadow of Morgoth and a ghost of his malice, and walked behind him on the smae ruinous path down into the Void".
(Valaquenta)


This clearly states that only soem of the Maiar who had names are listed above.



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Orc captain of Thangorodrim - Rank 3
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The other four Istari are not mentioned for a good reason - Tolkien himself was still developing the idea and concept of the Istari, and he most likely did not want to include something that was not clear in his own mind into such a masterful work. Tolkien himself knows very, very little about the Blue Wizards save that they went into the East of Middle-earth and did not return. Why include something so sketchy? And if he included Saruman and Radagast, then he would have to talk about and explain the Order of the Istari, and eventually about the Blue Wizards - which, as I said, he most likely did not want to do.


Concerning Ungoliant herself, I am still of the mind that she is not one of the Ainur of any sort. It's said in both the published Silmarillion as well as Morgoth's Ring that she came from "the darkness that lies about Arda" or "the Outer Darkness [...] that lies in Eä beyond the walls of the World." Please realise that it says that Ungoliant came from the Outer Darkness, which lies INSIDE of Eä. The Halls of Iluvatar are located OUTSIDE of Eä and so Ungoliant cannot be one of the Ainur, since they all came from the Halls of Iluvatar.



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Correction - the halls of Eru lied with the confines of Ea and not in the Void as you are suggesting Narguzir:


"But when they were come into the void, Iluvatar said to them: 'Behold your music!' And he showed to them a vision, giving to them sight where before there was only hearing; and they saw a new World made visible before them, and it was globed amid the Void, and it was sustained therein, but was not of it." (Anulindale)


It clearly says here that the Ainur and Eru dwelled not in the Void itself. Therefore this is the same area, called the outer darkness that Ungoliant lay before coming into the world itself and where Melko fled to after his chase by Tulkas.



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Orc captain of Thangorodrim - Rank 3
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The Halls of Iluvatar are in Eä, you say? Then where were Iluvatar, the Valar, the Maiar and all the other Ainur when this happened?


"Then there was unrest amongs the Ainur; but Ilúvatar called to them, and said: 'I know the desire of your minds that what ye have seen should verily be, not only in your thought, but even as ye yourselves are, and yet other. Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be; and those of you that will may go down into it.' And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame; and they knew that this was no vision only, but that Ilúvatar had made a new thing: Eä, the World that Is." (The Silmarillion, The Ainulindalë)


The Halls of Ilúvatar are neither in the Void, nor are they in Eä. If the Halls of Ilúvatar are not in the Void, and they cannot be in Eä since it was created after the Halls of Ilúvatar, then they are a wholly seperate region - outside of Eä. Thus proving why Ungoliant cannot be one of the Ainur.


We are intruding upon this thread though, Glorfindel, so I've started a seperate thread where we can discuss Ungoliant. It's found HERE (<-- link).



-- Edited by Narguzir at 19:23, 2006-03-26

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I don't know about Ungoliant being one of the ainur, but about Beorn


Well everything has been said, he was a man with magic abilities, a bit of a wiz. But I think it was one of the remains from the Hobbit as a children's tale and though this is pure speculation, the Beornings may be something Tolkien wasn't completely happy about.


Then again... there are other such creatures of which origins are unknown.



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Beorn's origins are not unknown, or at least not completely:
“Some say that he is a bear descended from the great and ancient bears of the mountains that lived there before the giants came. Others say that he is a man descended from the first men who lived before Smaug or the other dragons came into this part of the world, and before the goblins came into the hills out of the North. I cannot say, though I fancy the last is the true tale.”
“…and I heard him growl in the tongue of bears; 'The day will come when they will perish and I shall go back!' That is why I believe he once came from the mountains himself.”
These quotes from The Hobbit of course show a mythological and fabulous side of his story saying that he descended from the Bears, but the more likely tale is that he was a Man coming from the North that settled in the mountains but that had to leave when the goblins and giants came.
Also from Lotr, Appendix E:
“Most of the Men of the northern regions of the Westlands were descended from the Edain of the First Age, or from their close kin. Their languages were, therefore, related to the Adûnaic, and some still preserved a likeness to the Common Speech. Of this kind were the peoples of the upper vales of Anduin: the Beornings, and the Woodmen of Western Mirkwood;”
So there is no need to think Beorn's origins were unknown, he was simply a descendant of the Edain, coming from the North.

-- Edited by The Might at 01:48, 2006-04-20

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TM, I think you didn't understand what I tried to ask. With origins I meant, where did the idea come from, the concept of a skinchanger, such an unusual creature even in the world of Tolkien.


About the origins you gave. If Beorn was a descendant of the Edain of the first age that still doesn't explain anything about the ability of the Beornings.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Maybe you didn't ask your question well enough.
Anyway, about this question, I have absolutely no idea, perhaps Beorn is the equivalent of some skin-changers in other cultures, like something mythological.
But of course, considering how much tolkien studied this idea could have come from various sources.
Maybe someone has an idea.

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Were-bear? These skin-changers appear to be known to the Maiar and probably fall under the strange creatures category. Some aberration in the music of the Ainur that produced things like the watcher in the water and hobbits and probably a host of other unexplained mortal creatures in Arda.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Andu wrote:



With origins I meant, where did the idea come from, the concept of a skinchanger, such an unusual creature even in the world of Tolkien.





Beorn's external inspiration must be linked with the Norse Hrólfssaga Kraka, noting two characters: Bjorn, who was cursed to be a bear during the day and a man by night, and Bothvar Bjarki, Bjorn's son, who appears in the saga's last battle as a great bear -- noting here that Bothvar's human shape remains (in another place) while the bear fights. Sources H. R. Ellis Davidson Gods And Myths of Northern Europe and Jonathan A. Glenn 'To Translate a Hero: The Hobbit as Beowulf Retold.'


One can note too, from Volsunga Saga, Sigmund and his son were outlawed and put on wolf-skins and spoke in wolf-language.


I think in general the tradition of the 'Berserks' inspired, warriors so full of the ecstasy of battle as to be impervious to wounds: 'they bit their shields and were as strong as bears or boars; they slew men, but neither fire nor iron could hurt them.' Ynglinga Saga The Berserks of Odin H. R. Ellis Davidson (Gods And Myths of Northern Europe).


About Beorn in the frenzy of battle '... no weapon seemed to bite upon him'. There's a bit of the tradition in Helm too (in my opinion): it was said he slew many men with his hands, and it was believed that if he bore no weapon no weapon would bite on him. Stalking like a Snow-troll, the Dunlendings said that if Helm could find no food he ate Men.


Anyway, I think Bjorn and his son are of worthy mention here. 



-- Edited by Galin at 12:28, 2006-11-17

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It's quite clear that Beorn was indeed a man as has been said several times.  Tolkien considered him a man and the dwarves considered him (and the beornings) a man. 


TM, I think you didn't understand what I tried to ask. With origins I meant, where did the idea come from, the concept of a skinchanger, such an unusual creature even in the world of Tolkien.~Andu


I would like to expand on what Galin said a bit...


I don't necessarily agree.  If we look at Beorn's characteristics, what Tolkien does with him is he plays off the history and myths of the berserkers and also the evolution of the etymology.


I'll start with the etymology of Beorn, as it did evolve over the years.  At first the old english word 'beorn' meant bear, however over time it evolved to come and mean 'warrior.'  Tolkien is playing with this etymology change about Beorn's story.  Beorn's ability to change into a bear, and his 'warrior' status:


’Frodo learned that Grimbeorn the Old, son of Beorn, was now the lord of many sturdy men, and to their land between the Mountains and Mirkwood neither orc nor wolf dared to go.

’Indeed,’ said Gloin, ’if it were not for the Beornings, the passage from Dale to Rivendell would long ago have become impossible. They are valiant men and keep open the High Pass and the Ford of Carrock. But their tolls are high,’ he added with a shake of his head; ’and like Beorn of old they are not over fond of dwarves.'~Many Meetings


Then just by reading the part he played in the Battle of Five Armies we can just see why 'warrior' is a good name to describe Beorn.


Then comes the ties to berserkers.  The 'berserkergang' was the practice of the berserkers...or the elite fighting Viking warriors.  Meanings of 'berserker' tend to vary from place to place, but the two most common are:


1) 'bare a sark' - which refers to the berserkers who did not like to wear any armor.


2) And I think this one is closer to Beorn - meaning 'bear-shirt' - as berserkers would like to get bear skins and wear them into battle...where they actually believed they turned into bears and had all the strength/fighting qualities of a bear.


There are some other one's for example...'ulfhednar' means 'wolf-coats' which would be similar to the meaning of 'bear-shirt.' For an example Kveldulfr was described as a berserker in Egin's Saga who could change into a wolf.)


If we look at descriptions of Beorn fighting, we can see Tolkien playing off of two common beliefs about the berserkers.  The 'frenzy/fury/madness' (perhaps even insanity) of the berserkers, and their invulnerability to weapons.  Both were common myths about the berserkers, both which describe Beorn:


’Swiftly he returned and his wrath was redoubled, so that nothing could withstand him, and no weapon seemed to bite upon him.'~The Battle of Five Armies


So, if we think about it, Beorn as a skin-changing berserker man, it wouldn't be all that uncommon.  As Tolkien is playing off the evolution of Beorn's etymology and the qualities/tales of the berserkers.



-- Edited by Lord Lórien at 18:20, 2006-11-16

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Lord Lórien wrote:




I would like to expand on what Galin said a bit...


I don't necessarily agree.  If we look ...





Nice post. Just wondering what it is that you don't necessarily agree with though 



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Valar
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I'm sorry for the confusion...I see why it is.  I meant that I didn't agree with Andu thinking it was 'unusual' even in LOTR.  Not that I disagreed with what you said.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Ahh...


I'm glad the linguistic aspect is added. Names and words were indeed important with regard to Tolkien's inspiration. I'll add (though most folk might already know), that bjorn 'bear'  cognate -- OE beorn (Bjarki 'Little bear' incidentally).



-- Edited by Galin at 20:54, 2006-11-16

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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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very interesting...I did have a suspicion that the origins of Beorn lied in hte Norse mythology, but I never had any information on this matter.
thank you Galin and Lord Lorien for very well explaining this, great posts from both of you, and a new thing I have learned.

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Yes, thanks to the both of you.

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I am so glad that I found this thread. I have always been fascinated by the idea or concept of Beorn. I only ever studied basic Greek mythology and never knew where the idea for Beorn came from. The shape shifting that is attributed to Beorn didn't strike me as odd because even in the Silmarillion an account at least is given of Luthien and Haun shape-shifting.

"He (Haun) turned aside therefore at Sauron's isle, as they ran northward again, and he took thence the ghastly wolf-hame of Drauglin, and the bat-fell of Thuringwethil. She was the messenger of Sauron, and was want to fly in vampire's form to Angband; and her great fingered wings were barbed at each joint's end with an iron claw. Clad in these dreadful garments Haun and Luthien ran through Taur-nu-Fuin, and all things fled before them." pg.176 Of Beren and Luthien-The Silmarillion

What struck me as odd is in my Tolkien concordance there is suspicion cast on the validity of Bilbo Baggins' report on Beorn even though the dwarves and Gandalf were present with him.

"Beorn- In the late Third Age, Beorn was the chieftain of the clan of Northern Men whose traditional duty it was to maintain the trade routes from Eriador to Wilderland, particularly over the high pass of the Misty Mountains and across the Ford of Carrock. Bilbo Baggins attributed many strange characteristics to Beorn; whatever the truth of these stories, he was certainly a Man of ursine strengh, fiery temper and a suspicious nature.
Like all his clan, the Beornings, he hated Orcs even more than strangers, and thus later came to play a vital role in the Battle of Five Armies, where his opportune arrival and berserker rage helped to overthrow the Goblin army. Beorn personally slew Bolg, the chief of the Orcs. The Beornings were akin to the Eotheod and to the Men of the Vales of Anduin; their language was a Northern dialect related to that of Dale."
pg. 83 The Complete Tolkien Companion by J.E.A. Tyler

Obviously, nothing is said about his ability to shape-shift other than the incredulous note about Bilbo's "stories". I think it odd also that, as far as I've read, both here and my companion, nothing is mentioned about the odd, at the very least, animals that lived with Beorn. Sheep, dogs and ponies, to mention a few, that were able to stand upright and set tables. More than the shape-shifting, I am curious about these animals. Was Beorn's homestead a place for magical or misfit animals; a haven for odd or advanced ME creatures or did it bear some enchantment that allowed himself and his animals to do unusual things? Maybe all the animals on that homestead were posessed of spirits escaped from Valinor. I would love to hear more thoughts on this.

Lomoduin



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Iomoduin, do you remember Tom Bombadil? They said that he shape-shifted as well during the night and he even warned the Hobbits to stay inside and under no cricumstances were they to leave the house lest something terrible would befall them. Do you think Beorn and Tom Bombadil could be somehow related?

-- Edited by ArwenLegolas at 20:27, 2008-08-09

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I didn't remember any implication of shape shifting in the Tom Bombadil story but I'm excited to research it. You do the same and I'll get back to you to compare notes.

Curiously yours,

Lomoduin

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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I don't remember any reference to Tom Bombadil being able to shape-shift. I thought the reason he told them to stay inside after nightfall was because of the strange and perilous Old Forest. Perhaps the trees awakened in the night? Or fell things came out of them? But I can't remember any account of Bombadil being the reason.

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Okay,

I have done 'some' snooping and I still can't find anything about Tom shape-shifting. He is an interestin, to say the least, character but I think that is something for another thread, as this one is about Beorn. I will post there next.

I do think it's very interesting that Beorn and Tom do have some things that are undeniably in common. For instance, both of them have dwellings that are built long and low and have low furniture perfect for sitting Hobbits. Also, they both laid a table with no meat to eat. Not only that, it was the same stuff; honeycomb, yellow cream, white bread and butter!

Weird, huh?

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Okay,
I have done 'some' snooping and I still can't find anything about Tom shape-shifting. He is an interestin, to say the least, character but I think that is something for another thread, as this one is about Beorn. I will post there next.
I do think it's very interesting that Beorn and Tom do have some things that are undeniably in common. For instance, both of them have dwellings that are built long and low and have low furniture perfect for sitting Hobbits. Also, they both laid a table with no meat to eat. Not only that, it was the same stuff; honeycomb, yellow cream, white bread and butter!
Weird, huh?
(Tolkien Forums > Other Tolkien books > Beorn? > lomoduin > August 12th, 2008)

lomoduin,
I think part of the reason that they have so much in common, like their food, is because they are both creatures in harmony with Arda.  
There is some confusion because of what they each are.  And that is exacerbated by how much they have in common.
I think much can be clarified by where they differ.
One is a divine entity and married to a divine entity drawn from older characters created in The Silmarillion.
The other is a creature from The Hobbit who has been nurtured by one of the Istari and possibly evolved from bears

I think that Bombadil and Goldberry are linked together in origin from The Silmarillion.
Frodo, while enjoying Tom Bombadils hospitality, is in a bemused and contented space and he asks Tom who he is.
Whether the morning and evening of one day or of many days had passed Frodo could not tell.  He did not feel either hungry or tired, only filled with wonder.  The stars shone through the window and the silence of the heavens seemed to be round him.  He spoke at last out of his wonder and a sudden fear of that silence:
Who are you, Master? he asked.
Eh, what? said Tom sitting up, and his eyes glinting in the gloom. Dont you know my name yet?  Thats the only answer.  Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?  But you are young and I am old.  Eldest, thats what I am.  Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn.  He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving.  He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights.  When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent.  He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless---before the dark Lord came from Outside.
(Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter 7-In The House Of Tom Bombadil pg 168)

To further investigate Toms response to Frodos question takes us out of the scope of  The Lord of The Rings to seek support from The Silmarillion.  
 In the Ainulindale, The Music of the Ainur, Iluvatar gives vision to musical themes which are the creation of Arda.  Part of this vision is that some of the Ainur will manifest their music and their skills in the creation of the world. (which goes on long past the histories of Elves and Men.) These are called the Valar.
    Now the Valar took to themselves shape and hue; and because they were drawn into the World by love of the Children of Iluvatar (Elves and Men) for whom they hoped, they took shape after that manner which they had beheld in the Vision of Iluvatar, save only in majesty and splendor.  Moreover their shape comes of their knowledge of the visible World, rather than the World itself; and they need it not, save only as we use raiment, and yet we may be naked and suffer no loss of our beingfor at times they may cloth themselves in their own thought, made visible in forms of majesty and dread.
    And the Valar drew unto them many companions, some less, some well nigh as great as themselves, and they labored together in the ordering of the earth and the curbing of its tumults.
(The Silmarillion, Ainulindale- The Music of the Ainur, pg 21)
    So I think this supports Arwen Legolas supposition that Bombadil could assume any raiment he chose.
    It seems that Tom Bombadil and his lady Goldberry (especially Goldberry) are at least two of the many Valar companions who order the earth  and provide direction to the elements of the earth.
Further evidence can be seen when Bombadil is under consideration at the Council of Elrond.
     But I had forgotten Bombadil, if indeed this is the same that walked the woods and hills long ago, and even then was older than the old.  That was not then his name.  Iarwain Ben-adar we called him, oldest and fatherless.  But many another name he has been given by other folk
Elrond, Gandalf, Glorfindel, and Galdor debate sending the One Ring to Bombadil.
     And even if we could, soon or late the Lord of the Rings would learn of its hiding place and would bend all his power towards it.  Could that power be defied by Bombadil alone?  I think not.  I think that in the end, if all else is conquered, Bombadil will fall, Last as he was first, and then night will come.
    I know little of Iarwain save the name said Galdor; but Glorfindel, I think, is right.  Power to defy our Enemy is not in him, unless such power is in the earth itself.  And yet we see that Sauron can  torture and destroy the very hills.
(Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter 2-The Council of Elrond pgs.  318-319)

Here is a copy of a post I did on Beorns character and origins.
The story of the encounter of Gandalf, Bilbo, and the Dwarves with Beorn is one of my favorites.  I count 23 pages in the Hobbit (or There and Back Again) where Beorn is the subject or the supporting character.  These pages seem to ascribe supernatural powers to him. (shape shifter, super strength, ability to converse and control animals & insects, etc.)  And even without the supernatural stuff he has attributes to command respect; great height, great strength, can be kind if humored, appalling when angry, gets angry easily. Beorn so suspicious but  he was also generous. And he is a vegetarian.
    At any rate he is under no enchantment but his own.  He lives in an oak-wood and has a great wooden house; and as a man he keeps cattle and horses which are nearly as marvelous as himself.  They work for him and talk to him.  He does not eat them; neither does he hunt or eat wild animals  He keeps hives and hives of great fierce bees, and lives most on cream and honey.
(The Hobbit, Chapter 7; Queer Lodgings, pg 106-107)
     He was towering tall above Gandalf.  As for Bilbo he could have easily trotted through his legs without ducking his head to miss the fringe of the mans brown tunic. (The Hobbit, Chapter 7; Queer Lodgings, pg 108)
     Even though Beorn was still suspicious he still lodged and fed the company. . .said Beorn.Well, now I know who you are, or who you say you are.  What do you want?(The Hobbit, Chapter 7; Queer Lodgings, pg 109)
     Beorn seems to hold some serious doubt about the wizard especially with dwarves.  But based on his actions in checking to see if the wizards tale is true and finding proof of the groups killing of the Great Goblin, he confesses this later on in the chapter;  It was a good story, that of yours, said Beorn, but I like it still better now I am sure it is true.  You must forgive my not taking your word.  If you lived near the edge of Mirkwood, you would take the word of no one you did not know as well as your brother or better.  As it is, I can only say that I have hurried home as fast as I could to see that you are safe, and to offer you any help I can.  I shall think more kindly of dwarves after this(The Hobbit, Chapter 7; Queer Lodgings, pg 120-121)
 
    Also, he seems to have the respect of a least two wizards, Gandalf and Radagast.
Gandalf makes some remarks about his respect for Beorn;
    The Somebody I spoke of - a very great person. (The Hobbit, Chapter 7; Queer Lodgings, pg 105)
    "I am a wizard," continued Gandalf. "I have heard of you, if you have not heard of me; but perhaps you have heard of my good cousin Radagast who lives near the Southern borders of Mirkwood?"
    "Yes; not a bad fellow as wizards go, I believe. I used to see him now and again," said Beorn. 
(The Hobbit, Chapter 7; Queer Lodgings, pg 109)
    The brief reference in Chapter 18 does even more to enhance and enrich Beorns  character;
    In that last hour Beorn himself had appeared - no one knew how or from where.  He came alone, and in a bears shape; and he seemed to have grown almost to giant-size in his wrath.
    The roar of his voice was like drums and guns; and he tossed wolves and goblins from his path like straws and feathers.  He fell upon their rear, and broke like a clap of thunder through the ring.  The dwarves were making a stand still about their lords upon a low rounded hill.  Then Beorn stooped and lifted Thorin, who had fallen pierced with spears, and bore him out of the fray.
    Swiftly he returned and his wrath was redoubled, so that nothing could withstand him, and no weapon seemed to bite upon him.  He scattered the bodyguard, and pulled down Bolg himself and crushed him.  Then dismay fell on the Goblins and they fled in all directions
(The Hobbit, Chapter 18; The Return Journey, pgs.259-260)


    I am also very interested in the "Radagast Training Beorn" theory proposed by The Might on December 16th, 2006...
    There is however one person in that are who in my opinion taught him - Radagast."
    From the Hobbit we learn that Beorn and Radagast were on good terms at the time of the Quest of Erebor: Radagast's power is well known, and his communion with nature and living beings is also well underlined in the Unfinished Tales.:
    "For Radagast, the fourth, became enamoured of the many beasts and birds that dwelt in Middle-earth, and forsook Elves and Men, and spent his days among the wild creatures. Thus he got his name (which is in the tongue of Numenor of old, and signifies, it is said, tender of beasts."    (Unfinished Tales, Part IV, Chapter 2 ;The Istari, pg. 390)
    Now there are 2 powers of Radagast which seem to be suggested in these quotes:
1. As a friend of all beasts and birds, it is very likely he was able to talk to them. If he had spent so much time living among them, and given his love for beasts and also his power as an Istar, I believe this is quite likely. Of course, he did not need to speak to the Eagles when he asked them to follow Gandalf on his journey, but I am sure he could use this with other beings.
2. He is a "master of shapes and hues". And this is in my opinion the most interesting quote, because it seems to very clearly indicate Radagast as a shape-shifter. Considering his power and connection to the natural world, I do believe that through study he was eventually able to change the form he took when coming from the West, and to transform in one of the beasts he so much loved.
    The very interesting part, is that these are exactly the powers of Beorn. He too can speak to animals and change his shape. Considering that he knew Radagast and was on good terms with him, I believe it is quite likely that Beorn learned these "magic tricks" from Radagast.  (The Tolkien Forums, The Unknown Powers, The Powers of Beorn - The Might December 16th, 2006...)
    I support this idea based on some obscure inferences.
    Gandalf says, Beorn loves his animals as his children; Beorn may be your friend, but he loves his animals as his children.  You do not quess what kindness he has shown you in letting dwarves ride them so far and so fast, nor what would happen to you, if you tried to take them into the forest. (The Hobbit, Chapter 7; Queer Lodgings, pg 124-125)  
    As any parent keeps an open and close relationship with their pediatrician so I think Beorn would keep in touch with Radagast.  How close? I dont think he would tell the whole truth to Gandalf when they first met.
 An intuitive guess would put Radagast at the best place at Beorns  table.  And Beorns bear as Radagasts right hand bear-man.  
    That would certainly could have made another wonderful childrens story.

Then there is this wonderful thread introduced and proposed by Olorin/Gandalf;
    Just had an idea reading this...It wont clarify his origins fully, but it would make some sense. What if, if, Beorn was like Luthien, a descendant of a Maiar, like Luthien was Melians?
    "Then suddenly she eluded his sight, and out of the shadows began a song of such surpassing loveliness, and of such blinding power, that he listened perforce; and a blindness came upon him, as his eyes roamed to and fro, seeking her
    She cast her cloak before his eyes, and set upon him a dream, as dark as the Outer Void where once he walked alone. However Lúthien suddenly became possessed by the ancient angelic power in her blood and forced him into a deep slumber. Suddenly he fell, as a hill sliding in avalanche, and hurled like thunder from his throne lay prone upon the floors of hell."
(The Silmarillion, Chapter 19; Of Beren and Luthien, pgs 180-181)
    So if Luthien, daughter of Melian the Maiar can do such things to a Valar, and a bloody strong one I might add, perhaps Beorn can shape-shift because he is also descended from a Maiar? Would explain why the power faded over time, too...(The Tolkien Forums, The Unknown Powers, The Powers of Beorn - Olorin/Gandalf - May 22nd, 2008)

    While I agree with The Might about Beorn being a man, (after all he does manage to have a son - as well as keeping a pass open in the Misty Mountains - charging tolls)
    Frodo learned that Grimbeorn the Old, son of Beorn, was now the lord of many sturdy men, and to their land between the Mountains and Mirkwood neither orc nor wolf dared to go.
    Indeed, said Gloin, if not for the Beornings, the passage from Dale to Rivendell would long ago have become impossible.  They valiant men and keep open the High Pass and the Ford of Carrock.  But their tolls are high, he added with a shake of his head; and like Beorn of old they are not overfond of dwarves.  Still, they are trusty, and that is much these days.
.(Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter1; Many Meetings. Pg. 276)
     But I also like the idea of Beorn having an ancestor who has the supernatural power, inherited or gifted, from some branch of the Ainur concerned with the animal life of Middle Earth.
    Might it not be possible that as the Valar, with the consent of Eru, sent the Istari, who, say through Radagast, before he went to Middle Earth, had married and had offspring who came ( were sent) to Middle Earth as a were-bear to counter the power of Sauron who had the power to become a were-wolf.
    Perhaps Beorn is the great, great, great, grandson of a much mixed birth line?

This is probably way more than enough from me.
And this is also an example of how your questions and comments triggered for me an opportunity to "dig deep in my Tolkien."
Thank you most sincerely!
Bear an Elf-Friend 



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Bear, nice ideas, but many of them make little sense to me. All this talking about Beorn being someone of divine descent seems quite nonsensical, especially as Tolkien clearly said Beorn is a MAN. A "magician", meaning he knows things others don't and consider magical, but still only a man. The story about the bears is clearly just a myth, and if Beorn did have some special descent, he would not have been said to be just a man.

I do agree with the idea that Bombadil and Beorn ate similar things due to different reasons. Beorn because he would not bear harm an animal and Bombadil because he was a nature spirit, or at least I see him as one. However, nature spirit means he was not a spirit belonging to any Valar, not a companion. Gandalf also knows that Tom had actually nothing to do with the Valar, he was his own master and had always been. Like Goldberry they seemed to be nature spirits that perhaps like Ungoliant were created together with the music.

To support my point here is my entry for the old lore contest here on the TF debating that Tom is a nature spirit:

~ Bombadil as a Nature Spirit ~

Tolkien's own comments in Letter #153 provide support for looking
outside the list of "usual Silmarillion entities" to explain Bombadil:

"Also T.B. exhibits another point in his attitude to the Ring, and its
failure to affect him. You must concentrate on some part, probably
relatively small, of the World (Universe), whether to tell a tale,
however long, or to learn anything however fundamental - and therefore
much will from that 'point of view' be left out, distorted on the
circumference, or seem a discordant oddity. The power of the Ring over
all concerned, even the Wizards or Emissaries, is not a delusion - but
it is not the whole picture, even of the then state and content of that
part of the Universe." Letter #153

One could read this as saying that Bombadil, despite being in nature
similar to the Wizards, falls outside of the main picture because he is
not affected by the Ring. However, an equally natural reading is that
the picture of Middle-earth presented in LotR is incomplete in a more
fundamental way. This 'active' interpretation encourages us to expand
our knowledge of the "content of that part of the Universe" by
identifying a new type of being, of which Bombadil is an example.
Among the first hints that Bombadil could be some sort of nature spirit
is his first mention in Letters: in Letter #19, Tolkien asks his
publisher:

"Do you think Tom Bombadil, the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and
Berkshire countryside, could be made into the hero of a story?" Letter #19

The letter provides a starting point for this theory, showing that Tom
Bombadil was a "nature spirit" when Tolkien first imagined him. It seems
reasonable to wonder if this view remained unchanged.
Canonical support for this claim can be found in Galdor's statement at
the Council of Elrond:

"Power to defy our Enemy is not in him, unless such power is in the
earth itself. And yet we see that Sauron can torture and destroy the
very hills."LOTR, Fellowship of the Ring

Galdor directly associates the power of Bombadil with that of "the earth
itself", and even uses Sauron's ability to destroy the hills as an
argument that Sauron could defeat Bombadil. This may be the strongest
evidence that Tom is essentially related to the natural world.
Also the fact he lived in the Old Forest and had a special power over
all the living things here, also indicates that Tom Bombadil was a
nature spirit. He, as "Master" of the nature in this land, could even
command Old Man Willow to release Pippin.

There are enough other reasons to think he was in no way linked to the Valar.

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The Might,
Your argument is certainly well supported and your point about a magician still being a man I concede 100%. " At any rate he is under no enchantment but his own. He lives in an oak-wood and has a great wooden house; and as a man he keeps cattle and horses which are nearly as marvelous as himself. They work for him and talk to him. He does not eat them; neither does he hunt or eat wild animals He keeps hives and hives of great fierce bees, and lives most on cream and honey." (The Hobbit, Chapter 7; Queer Lodgings, pg 106-107)

But there is too much evidence about Beorn being seen as a bear to ignore that some special power has been visited on him.
"In that last hour Beorn himself had appeared - no one knew how or from where. He came alone, and in a bears shape; and he seemed to have grown almost to giant-size in his wrath.
The roar of his voice was like drums and guns; and he tossed wolves and goblins from his path like straws and feathers. He fell upon their rear, and broke like a clap of thunder through the ring. The dwarves were making a stand still about their lords upon a low rounded hill. Then Beorn stooped and lifted Thorin, who had fallen pierced with spears, and bore him out of the fray.
Swiftly he returned and his wrath was redoubled, so that nothing could withstand him, and no weapon seemed to bite upon him. He scattered the bodyguard, and pulled down Bolg himself and crushed him. Then dismay fell on the Goblins and they fled in all directions."
(The Hobbit, Chapter 18; The Return Journey, pgs.259-260)

But even his bear appearance still supports your point that he is just a man.
My speculation of his roots is just that - speculation just for fun - and maybe way out-of-line.
So I concede.

On the point of Bombadil being a Valar I also agree. He is not a Valar. He is a nature spirit. Your evidence for that is impeccable. I think we both used the quote from Galdor as evidence and as this evidence is a commentary on Glorfindels observations we are both right on.
But we disagree on him being a companion of the Valar for I think that is exactly what a nature spirit is.
The Valar gathered nature spirits to help them order the World and to heal its tumults.
"And the Valar drew unto them many companions, some less, some well nigh as great as themselves, and they labored together in the ordering of the earth and the curbing of its tumults. "(The Silmarillion, Ainulindale- The Music of the Ainur, pg 21)
I think Bombadil and Goldberry fit in the "some less" category. But being less and still being part of the creation of Iluvatar does not mean he is less divine which in my cosmology nature spirits are.
I don't think he is anything like the Istari He seems to have no mission especially connected to the Children of Iluvatar and his interactions with Farmer Maggot are much like the gossip my wife shares with our neighbors about our gardens. (no mushrooms please - we have little Frodos in the neighborhood after my grapes!!!)
I think The Old Forest is very much like Goldberry and Tom's garden.

I think I see your point that they maybe creatures of the music like Ungoliant but I think Ungoliant is a manifestation of Melkor's music while Goldberry and Tom are Illuvatar's or Yavanna's music.

Lastly, may I complement you old friend. Your insight and willingness to challenge and correct, your knowledge and access to supportive evidence, and your gentle way of reproof, are a delight and enriching way of making the forums a place I love to visit.
Thank you!!!
Bear an Elf-Friend








-- Edited by Bear at 18:45, 2008-08-14

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Tom Bombadil
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Maiar had the power the shape-shift, just like the Valar. I cannot give you a quote from where I got it, but I was always under that impression.

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Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
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