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Topic: Necromancers

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Date: Oct 19, 2007
Necromancers

What exactly were the Necromancers? I know that it was said that the Wise thought the shadow in Dol Guldur was a Necromancer before they found out that it really was Sauron but what is a Necromancer? I know they are evil spirits of sorts but is there any other information on them?hmm

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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Necromancer probably because of his old reputation as master over the werewolves.

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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To give a more satisfactory answer one must look into Morgoth's Ring...

The Necromancers were spirits (most likely Elvish) who had long since abandoned there bodies and refused the summons of Mandos.

"This  command  was,  nonetheless,  at  all  times  greater  than it has  ever   been  among   Men.  From   their  beginnings   the  chief difference  between  Elves  and  Men lay  in the  fate and  nature of their spirits. The fear (spirits) of the Elves were destined to dwell  in Arda for  all  the  life  of  Arda,  and the  death of  the flesh  did not abrogate that destiny. Their  fear were  tenacious therefore  of life 'in the raiment  of Arda',  and far  excelled the  spirits of  Men in power over  that  'raiment', even from the first days (28) protecting their  bodies  from  many ills  and assaults  (such as  disease), and healing  them  swiftly  of  injuries,  so  that  they  recovered from wounds that would have proved fatal to Men."

"As  ages  passed  the  dominance  of  their  fear  ever increased, 'consuming'  their  bodies  (as  has  been noted). The end of this process  is  their  'fading',  as Men  have called  it; for  the body becomes at last, as  it were,  a mere  memory held  by the  fea; and that  end  has  already  been  achieved  in  many regions  of Middle- earth,  so  that  the  Elves  are  indeed  deathless  and may  not be destroyed or changed.(30) Thus it  is that  the further  we go  back in the histories, the more often do we read  of the  death of  the Elves of  old;  and  in  the  days  when  the  minds  of  the  Eldalie were young  and  not  yet  fully   awake  death   among  them   seemed  to differ little from the death of Men."

"As  soon   as  they   were  disbodied   they  were summoned  to  leave  the places  of their  life and  death and  go to
 the 'Halls of Waiting': Mandos, in the realm of the Valar."

Here it says how and what happens if an Elf-spirit refuses the summons of Mandos:

"The  fea  is  single,  and  in  the  last  impregnable.  It  cannot be brought   to   Mandos.   It   is   summoned;   and   the   summons  proceeds  from  just  authority,  and   is  imperative;   yet  it   may  be refused.   Among   those   who   refused   the   summons    (or   rather invitation)  of  the  Valar to  Aman in  the first  years of  the Elves, refusal  of  the  summons  to  Mandos  and  the  Halls  of  Waiting  is, the  Eldar  say,  frequent. It  was less  frequent, however,  in ancientdays,  while  Morgoth  was  in  Arda,  or   his  servant   Sauron  after him;  for  then  the  fea  unbodied  would  flee   in  terror   of  the Shadow  to  any  refuge  -  unless  it  were  already  committed  to the Darkness   and   passed  then   into  its   dominion.  In   like  manner even  of  the  Eldar  some   who  had   become  corrupted   refused  the summons,   and   then   had   little  power   to  resist   the  counter- summons of Morgoth.

But  it  would  seem  that  in  these  after-days  more  and  more  of the  Elves,  be  they  of  the  Eldalie in  origin or  be they  of other kinds,  who   linger  in   Middle-earth  now   refuse  the   summons  of Mandos,   and   wander   houseless   in   the   world,*   unwilling   to leave it (40) and unable  to  inhabit  it,  haunting  trees or  springs or hidden  places  that  once they  knew. Not  all of  these are  kindly or  unstained  by  the  Shadow.  Indeed  the  refusal  of the  summons is in itself a sign of taint.

It  is  therefore  a foolish  and perilous  thing, besides  being a wrong  deed  forbidden  justly by  the appointed  Rulers of  Arda, if the  Living   seek  to   commune  with   the  Unbodied,   though  the houseless  may  desire  it,  especially   the  most   unworthy  among them.  For  the  Unbodied,  wandering  in  the  world, are  those who at the least have refused the door of life and  remain in  regret and self-pity.  Some  are  filled with  bitterness, grievance,  and envy. Some  were  enslaved  by  the  Dark  Lord  and  do  his  work  still, though  he  himself is  gone. They  will not  speak truth  or wisdom. To call  on them  is folly.  To attempt  to master  them and  to make them  servants  of  one  own's  will  is  wickedness.  Such practices are  of  Morgoth;  and  the necromancers  are of  the host  of Sauron his servant.

Some  say  that  the  Houseless  desire  bodies,  though  they  are not  willing  to  seek  them  lawfully  by  submission to  the judgement  of  Mandos.  The  wicked  among  them  will  take   bodies,  if they  can,  unlawfully.  The  peril  of   communing  with   them  is, therefore, not only the peril of being deluded by fantasies  or lies: there  is  peril  also  of  destruction.  For   one  of   the  hungry Houseless, if it is  admitted to  the friendship  of the  Living, may seek to eject the fea from its body; and in the contest  for mastery the  body may  be gravely  injured, even  if it  he not  wrested from its  rightful  habitant.  Or  the  Houseless  may plead  for shelter, and if it is admitted, then it will seek to enslave its host  and use both his will and  his body  for its  own purposes.  It is  said that Sauron  did these  things, and  taught his  followers how  to achieve them."

So we see that of the Elves who chose to remain in Middle-earth after there bodies had perished and there Spirit unhoused were sometimes vulnerable to the Dark. Those that became enslaved by the Dark may try to inhabit the bodies are the living (thus is why Men had just cause to fear the Eldar in later Ages).Morgoth taught Sauron, and Sauron thereafter taught his servants how to enter into the bodies of the living the bodies.
Thus the Necromancers are the spirits of corrupted, Houseless Elves who's bodies have long sinse perished and have shunned the Light of there Origin and became vulnerable to corruption and try to take over the bodies of the living.

I do not belive Men were ever able to do this. There fate is not to dwell in Arda until The End like the Elves but to leave it once they perish. They may be rare exceptions however. I am not sure.

Read more of Morgoth's Ring, Of Re-birth and other dooms of those that go to Mandos, for more information. It is very interesting.



-- Edited by mouth of sauron at 20:31, 2007-10-19

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Alot of things I didn't know there mos. Thanks for the info. It appears there is alot in Morgoth's Ring I haven't read. I read that post on the 'Tale of Adanel' which was very good as well. So I suppose even Elves (after death) can become corruptable especially if they shunned the Light of Valinor in life? Poor Elves.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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What exactly were the Necromancers? I know that it was said that the Wise thought the shadow in Dol Guldur was a Necromancer before they found out that it really was Sauron but what is a Necromancer? I know they are evil spirits of sorts but is there any other information on them?



One doesn't have to be dead or be a spirit to be a Necromancer, as the term means 'one who interrogates, or communicates with the dead'. Necromancy can have two meanings: 'a method of divination through alleged communication with the dead; black art' or more generally 'magic in general, especially that practiced by a witch or sorcerer; sorcery, witchcraft; conjuration.'

Hammond and Scull also note the text that MOS notes but yet conclude with the comment that Tolkien seems to have used the word (in reference to Sauron anyway) in the more general sense 'wizard, magician' noting the Necromancer is later called a 'black sorcerer'.


In the MR essay, the 'necromancers' appear to be the living beings attempting to communicate with or master the Unbodied: 'It is therefore a foolish and perilous thing, besides being a wrong deed forbidden justly by the appointed Rulers of Arda, if the Living seek to commune with the Unbodied, though the Houseless may desire it, especially the most unworthy among them.' (...) To call on them is folly. To attempt to master them and to make them servants of one's own will is wickedness. Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant.'


So to my mind the 'necromancers' here are living servants calling on the dead and attempting to master them; indeed those who communicate with the dead. Of course we could get into a grey area if an Elf-spirit takes over a body and uses the living host to itself engage in necromancy! In that sense the 'living' Elf, though now not in its right body, becomes a necromancer.

In his note to translators (people translating the book into languages other than English) JRRT indicates that the word 'Necromancer' should be translated, without explanation or suggestions on which words might be chosen.


-- Edited by Galin at 15:06, 2007-10-23

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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"So to my mind the 'necromancers' here are living servants calling on the dead and attempting to master them; indeed those who communicate with the dead. Of course we could get into a grey area if an Elf-spirit takes over a body and uses the living host to itself engage in necromancy! In that sense the 'living' Elf, though now not in its right body, becomes a necromancer." Galin

The Necromancers therefore are the Elven spirits using the hosts body for there own will. Once the spirit takes over the body, if the original occupier was foolish enough to let it, then the elf, not the original occupier becomes the necromancer. Is this what you meant?

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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I mean it's possible that some necromancers were really elven spirits who had taken over a living host, given the paragraph about possession.

But the initial message (as I read it) is that the 'necromancers' were living beings attempting to communicate with the dead -- not the dead themselves (or unbodied elves in this case), but those who wanted to call on the dead, to master them and etc. It is foolish and perilous if the Living seek to commune with the Unbodied, but this is exactly what a 'necromancer' does.

But, as I say, as Tolkien adds that possession was possible, the possessed being, if itself indulging in further communication with the dead (if itself indulging in 'necromancy'), could then be called a necromancer (I guess).



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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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So necromancers are the Elvish spirits prevailing to take over the body of the one attempting to contact them or are they living beings who have somehow mastered control over the Elvish spirits?

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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This is how I would sum up in general... though I don't assume you're asking me specifically, it does (at least) give me a chance to post again after a number of days.

wink

The Houseless: Elven spirits who linger in Middle-earth and refuse the summons of Mandos: they wander in the world 'haunting trees or springs or hidden places that once they knew.' Not all are kindly or unstained by the Shadow and it is foolish and perilous for living people to seek to commune with them.

Necromancers: living people under Sauron's influence that did attempt to call on the dead and master them, despite this being perilous.

Lingerers: not houseless though they may seem to be (they are faded Elves). They do not desire bodies nor strive for mastery over a body or mind.

Now Sauron taught 'his followers' how to eject the fea from a living body, or to enslave its host and use both will and body for its own purposes. Question A: could any Elven spirits (the dead) that seek to do these things be called 'necromancers'? They are indulging in 'black sorcery' in a sense, and it's too fine a hair to try to split even if the OED only reserved the word for living beings (nor did I even check the OED in any case). 

Question B: can any possesed beings who then further seek to communicate with the dead (if they do) also be called 'necromancers'? Arguably yes. So I guess it's a matter of emphasis when someone tries to sum up these passages from Morgoth's Ring in a general way -- with finer details that go beyond a general description in any case.

-- Edited by Galin at 18:21, 2007-10-30

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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What does OED stand for Galin? I probably sound novice but not sure what it means.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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'Oxford English Dictionary'. Sorry, I should have typed it out anyway.

smile

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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I wonder whether an Elvish spirit who did take over a hosts body would then be classed Dead or Living?

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Maybe they take over the dead and become folkloric vampires

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Dave
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So is it possible that the barrow-wights might have been necromancers?

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To bid on the original question.  Necromancers were those who could command the dark arts (or Anti-life, driven by some dark purpose) Sauron was obviously the first one mentioned in Tolkien's books.

Wizards on the other hand could "hold court", (like Radagast with Avian creatures), or manipulate plant life or anything considered living, by enhancing, growth and/or renewal (Via terms of Goodness); These, I consider Wizards(or The Good Guys).

     I think the role of a Necromancer, by title, is the exact opposite of such endeavors. I think the term: Necromancer should only be used when a powerful wizard or spell caster chooses to exact ill deeds with his/her power...period! Our friends "Bear" or even "Galin" or "ArwenLegolas" could definitely help us out here with their learned experience, with this (half-brained) definition:

"Necro"- meaning dead or death
and "mancer" would probably have an implication towards 'crafter' or even 'maker'. (Not versed on Etymology) Help!!!


     Tokien refined a lot of creature classes from Mythology and Legend. I think he incorporated a slew of creatures which enhanced Gygax's handbooks; Necromancer, Lich, Undead King (Just to name a few). Is there a lot of difference from the Witch King of Angmar vs. any captain of the undead we can find in the logs of D&D? Example: High in intelligence and experience, Low in Hit points or fragile...(Hmmm. Interesting.)

     By the By...They're (when I say "they" I mean the powers that be) are giving Gary Gygax a monument. I think this is good. But, (and yes, there is a BUT) he has been quoted as never utilizing Tolkien's writings as reference for his creation (D&D) or so he says. He said it in the early 80's.  I fail to see how he found parameters for these creatures as a DM without Tolkien. I might be a doting child (for Professor Tolkien) when it comes to this topic, yet I still would love to hear the opinions of the members of this site...

     I was introduced to the Fantasy Realm (or RPG, D&D) by friends who loved D&D, of which; I was part of many-a-campaign, yet earlier than that, it was Tokien who wrote his manuscripts and later-books which predate the birth of Mr. Gygax.

     Gary Gygax deserves a place but only if he recognizes his influence, but seeing as he is no longer with us, I hope his Chief or Power of Attorney finds a way to render some kind of redaction.
Sorry if this reads as callous. I am a fan of D&D and Tolkien both, but in lieu of longevity... my vote goes to the Professor!



-- Edited by Jaidoprism7 on Monday 22nd of August 2011 08:29:33 AM



-- Edited by Jaidoprism7 on Monday 22nd of August 2011 08:48:34 AM

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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To open up an old topic...
A question went unanswered that I have wondered about too. What exactly were the Barrow-wights? Were they necromancers, and if so what were their plans for the hobbits? Sacrifice?

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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The Barrow Wights were spirits - probably the spirits of men manipulated into his service - that animated the bones of slain men. The Witch-king sent them to the barrows during his war against the remains of Arnor.

This from the Wikipedia article:

"Evil spirits of some kind (perverted Maiar or possibly spirits of Orcs, fallen Avari, or evil Men), they were sent to the Barrow-downs by the Witch-king of Angmar in order to prevent a resurrection of the destroyed Dúnedain kingdom of Cardolan.

They animated the dead bones of the Dúnedain buried there, as well as older bones of Edain from the First Age which still were buried there."

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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Presumably then, the Wights were planning on killing the hobbits and using their bodies. But, it doesn't sound like they ever left the Downs, even with bodies. Were they bound to a particular spot?

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