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Topic: The Everlasting Darkness

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: Sep 10, 2013
The Everlasting Darkness

Feanor and his sons call upon themselves the Everlasting Darkness if they break their oath. But what is this Everlasting Darkness that they should be doomed to if "their deed faileth"? 
Why I think this may matter is because the Everlasting Darkness may have to do with the torment that the oath does to the Feanorians.
 
So, is the Everlasting Darkness the Halls of Mandos forever? 
It seems it can be a very different thing. For one, the Halls of Mandos might not be too scary. Miriel's fëa is there (as is well known to Feanor) and wouldn't leave Mandos. Melkor spent a few ages there and nothing happened to him. 
 
More directly, the Everlasting Darkness is mentioned in The Lay of Leithian the following way:
 
'May darkness everlasting old
that waits outside in surges cold 
drown Manwe, Varda, and the sun!' 
 
(Thu/Sauron says this to disguised Beren, Felagund, and their companions). From this it is clear that the Everlasting Darkness has nothing to do with the Halls of Mandos - if of course it is the same one as mentioned in the oath.
 
The Valar knew exactly what the oath was about, including the Everlasting Darkness part. From the very beginning the oath-takers were treated by the Valar differently from the other Noldor. 
It may be suggested (as a pure speculation of course) that the Valar would not want to make their Prophecy of the North in any way similar to the oath (and would want still to differentiate between the oath-takers and the rest of the exiles), and therefore the threat in the Prophecy (of staying forever in the Halls of Mandos) should not be the threat of the Everlasting Darkness.  
(As a side note, yes it is a prophecy and not a deliberate threat, yet it is in the power of Mandos (or Manwe) to keep certain fëar or release them and give them new bodies.)
 
According to the curse of Mandos, if any of the exiled Noldor die, they will stay in his halls:
"...your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos. There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you. And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after. "
 
However, it seems that Maglor equates the Halls of Mandos with the Everlasting Darkness when he argues with his elder brother for the last time. He says that if they fulfill their oath they will still go to the Everlasting Darkness - apparently he does not expect to survive. But his words also imply that if they break the oath, they will go to the Everlasting Darkness because the oath says so. And if they break the oath and survive, but are still taken by the Everlasting Darkness, then it shouldn't indeed be the Halls of Mandos.
Opinions are welcome and critique is even more so.


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Lórellinë

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Lorelline,

Just a suggestion but look up Eru's use of the "secret fire."
Might be the same metaphysical "fire" that Gandalf tells Durin's Bane that he is a servant of ...



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Yes, Eru uses the Flame Imperishable to give life to the World... And before he does that, there is a vision of the World - and when Eru takes that vision away, the Ainur perceive Darkness for the first time. Perhaps it is that same Darkness. Maybe Ungoliant's Unlight (which is said to be void) is of the similar nature. Anyway, it also occurs to me that Halls of Mandos aren't by any means everlasting.
Now thinking of the 'technical aspects' (as I cannot help doing) I at once have difficulties - how really was the Everlasting Darkness supposed to take the oath-breakers?..

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Lórellinë

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I wonder how the thought of the Everlasting Darkness occurred to Feanor. Perhaps it is the Unlight made by Ungoliant that gave him the idea.

"...but the Darkness that followed was more than loss of light. In that hour was made the Dark which seems not lack but a thing with being of its own: for it was indeed made by malice out of Light, and it had the power to pierce the eye, and to enter heart and mind, and strangle the very will" (The Annals of Aman, Morgoth's Ring).

So maybe the Everlasting Darkness was supposed to have this same effect. Otherwise how could the Everlasting Darkness 'take' oath-breakers?

Or, could Feanor mean Unlight when saying 'Everlasting Darkness'? Well, Ungoliant herself is thought to have come 'out of the darkness of Ea'. That could be the Everlasting Darkness. There could be other creatures there capable of producing Unlight. So a thought of the Everlasting Darkness should be horrible.

It was suggested that the torment of oath-takers/breakers should be some sort of mental anguish. Suppose the oath-takers can try to fulfill the oath but they don't want to because (for example) they know this will result in another Kinslaying. So they find excuses and postpone their actions. Then the torment starts. In humans, it commonly happens that someone who has to do something but who tries to avoid it can quite succeed in not doing it. First there are excuses and then the task is forgotten (pushed out of consciousness). We are told that Elves do not forget, but not that they cannot put something out of mind. In this case, the oath-takers are tormented when they try to do that. Maybe the Everlasting Darkness somehow (but how?) penetrates their minds and causes horror and despair; maybe this is the way it 'takes' them. Or maybe it is just the thought of the Everlasting Darkness and that is enough?

I am sure this point is left intentionally vague, but that doesn't mean one shouldn't try to understand. If others have any ideas about this, it would be interesting to compare.

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Lórellinë

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My first instinct would be the Void, but (if I recall) isn't the Void basically "Space", with stars? It wouldn't be Everlasting Darkness if there were stars. Plus, it is the Void that Eärendil sails into (I think?). I would have to say it would be it is wherever Numenor was swallowed up into - not just the Sea but if I remember correctly, Iluvatar tore open the fabric of Arda, which is why Sauron's body was literally destroyed and turned him to a spirit; he didn't just "drown" (if Maiar can drown).



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Ok, so there are two problems, one is, "What is the Everlasting Darkness?" and it seems that it is Void/Unlight (not the Halls of Mandos). And the other question is, "How does it work?". I think it does work but the mechanism eludes me. Any hypothesis?

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Lórellinë

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Absence of "light" is not equivalent to "darkness."
If you dare ... go to a closet and seal every crack that lets in light. (caution seal light not AIR!) the best method is in a closet in a room with all the lights blocked out. Set a time limit ... a half hour is great ... an hour better.
Close your eyes.  Just sit and breathe in and out slowly and deeply.  Tell yourself not to dream.
Try and maintain that simple mantra ... open your eyes to the darkness ... you will see splashes of light ... electrical energy created by your nervous system ... some will see more than others ... we have vivid memories ... and a hunter/gatherer/warrior psyche ... it functions in the darkness ...

(part of this information comes from veterans who have lost their sight and are recovering from post traumatic stress. ~ this mental phenomena is one that Tolkien from his tours of duty in the First World War would be familiar with. He may even have had nightmares about being blinded by gas.)

My point is that our own definitions of darkness may not be Tolkien's at all.  His religious upbringing would have held the image of ultimate darkness as separation from God ...

as Socrates asked ... define your terms ...
What is darkness?  What is light?  What is the absence of darkness?  What is the absence of light?

And regardless of your answers or "not" answers what you really want to know is "what is shadow?"

We assign values to physiological phenomena ... metaphysical values like good vs evil, right vs wrong, god vs non- god, or even existence vs non- existence ... just about any dichotomy can be assigned ...

Perhaps it is exactly what Lorelline explains; "...but the Darkness that followed was more than loss of light. In that hour was made the Dark which seems not lack but a thing with being of its own: for it was indeed made by malice out of Light, and it had the power to pierce the eye, and to enter heart and mind, and strangle the very will" (The Annals of Aman, Morgoth's Ring)

It certainly sounds like "Everlasting Darkness" is much more than absence of "The Flame Imperishable."

Can we understand "Everlasting Darkness" without a deeper understanding "The Flame Imperishable"?

"And it came to pass that Ilúvatar called together all the Ainur and declared to them a mighty theme, unfolding to them things greater and more wonderful than he had yet revealed; and the glory of its beginning and the splendour of its end amazed the Ainur, so that they bowed before Ilúvatar and were silent.

Then Ilúvatar said to them: 'Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I will sit and hearken, and be glad that through you great beauty has been wakened into song." (The Silmarillion, Ainulindale ~"The Music of the Ainur", pg 15)

 

And then we are left with the question is absence of "The Flame Imperishable" as punishment? Or is it something completely different like "Everlasting Darkness."

Perhaps we would all gain if we defined our terms ...

 

 (with some apology I was working on this before Teralectus and Lorelline last posts and my computer did not update before my posting.   I still think we need deeper and more far reaching definitions of "Everlasting Darkness" and "The Flame Imperishable.")

 

 







-- Edited by Bear on Thursday 19th of September 2013 08:54:15 AM

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Bear,
As to the Flame Imperishable, I am gathering it is not really a 'physical' fire or light but something quite different:
'The Flame Imperishable is the creative activity of Eru, by which things could be given real and independent (though derivative and created) existence. ' (Author's note 11 to Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth).

Is the Everlasting Darkness a physical darkness without light? Or is it without Flame Imperishable (and therefore without life?). Or worse, something evil made out of Flame Imperishable like Unlight out if light? Hopefully not because only Eru has the Flame Imperishable. I haven't really seen much on the nature of this mysterious Everlasting Darkness. I wonder what Feanor knew about it.

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Lórellinë

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This Everlasting Darkness keeps troubling me. Tolkien describes the Flame Imperishable on a few occasions, but all I saw on the Everlasting Darkness was those three lines from the Lay of Leithian (cited above). Of note, it can (or can it really?) "drown Manwe, Varda, and the sun". Does that mean that it can extinguish the Flame Imperishable (which doesn't even sound possible) set in those Valar? Is the idea that it doesn't just kill but (for example) can destroy an Elven fea? Fëar exist because of the Flame Imperishable as I understand, and are not normally destructible - 'cannot be broken or disintegrated by any violence from without', and each fea is 'imperishable within the life of Arda' (Of death and the severance of fea and hrondo [>hroa], The later Quenta Silmarillion (II)). Now can the fëar be broken 'from within'? And can the Everlasting Darkness get involved in that? (Hroar are of course destructible, but is that what the Everlasting Darkness is supposed to do? Seems unlikely.)

It also occurs to me that Bear and I are looking at the Everlasting Darkness from very different points of view (not that we can see through it, at least not I). Bear's approach is fundamental and mine is (or was originally) entirely applied and pragmatic - I was simply trying to see if the Everlasting Darkness was something real in the context of the oath and whether its mention in the oath entailed consequences, as opposed to just sounding scary.

And I am now thinking that the answers to my questions are not to be had until this Everlasting Darkness clears up a bit... I mean, the nature of the Everlasting Darkness is better understood. If that is possible at all - so far it remains an inscrutable mystery.


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Lórellinë

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Let us see ...

How do some sources define "Everlasting Darkness?"

Seems they link it to The Void ...

"The Void, Avakúma, Kúma, the Outer Dark, the Eldest Dark, the Everlasting Dark ... An abstract uninhabited region of nothingness described as existing outside the Timeless Halls, Arda, and all of Eä. It is possible that the Void outside of Eä and the one surrounding Arda were different, but this is not clearly defined. Nothing of any power or strength can be used within the Void. Melkor was cast into The Void after the War of Wrath, and Sauron was also cast into the void after the destruction of the One Ring but legend predicts their return to the world before the end."
(Wikipedia ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle-earth_cosmology)



    "Lost and forgotten be, darker than the darkness,
    Where gates stand forever shut, till the World is mended" - Tom Bombadil,
(The Lord of The Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter VIII ~ "Fog on the Barrow-downs", pg 142)

"The Void, or the Timeless Void was a term used in various ways.
Cosmologically, it describes the uninhabited regions of existence outside the World, the absence of the Flame Imperishable.
Melkor used to wander in the Void to look in vain for the Flame Imperishable.
The Timeless Halls of Ilúvatar seem to be apart from the Void; Eä is created amidst the Void but is not a part of it.
After his defeat in the War of Wrath, Melkor was cast out into the Timeless Void, but legends predict that he will return to the World before its end.
The Void was also known as the Outer Dark (or the Outer Darkness), the Everlasting Dark, the Ancient Darkness. Quenya names were Avakúma, Oiakúma[1], and Kúma.[2][3]

   1.  J.R.R. Tolkien, "Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies - Part Two" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter and Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 46, July 2004, p. 8
   2.  J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The History of Middle-earth Index, p. 31
   3.  J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", p. 379
(The Tolkien Gateway; http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Void)


"Void ~ The emptiness beyond the World
A term used by Tolkien in various ways, but that in general seems to describe the uninhabited regions of the universe. In particular, the Void is that part of existence outside the World, but the Timeless Halls of Ilúvatar seem to be apart from the Void, too. After his defeat in the War of Wrath, Melkor was cast out into the Void, but legends predict that he will return to the World before its end."
(The Encyclopedia of Arda ~ http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/v/void.html)

"Circles of the World ~ The boundaries of the Earth
    A general term that seems to refer to the boundaries between the World and the Outer Void, though its usage is vague and does not seem to be completely consistent. In its earlier uses, it appears to be a completely inclusive term, describing the entirety of the World and its surrounding seas and airs, and explicitly including the Undying Lands of Aman. The region beyond the Circles is the place where Ilúvatar dwells (presumably with those of the Ainur who did not descend into Arda), and it is the fate of Men to pass out of the Circles of the World after death.
    After the Downfall of Númenor, the term becomes more narrow in meaning. After the Bending of the World, and the taking away of Aman, the lands of the Uttermost West are said to be no longer within the Circles of the World, though they are clearly still part of the World in some sense. After this point, it seems that the Circles of the World are simply the boundaries of the Mortal Lands of Middle-earth."
(The Encyclopedia of Arda; http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/c/circlesoftheworld.html)

These are but a few of the references available about Tolkien's Cosmology or Circles of the World.
One source that was too lengthy for me to transcribe is an article titled "Darkness" by scholar Joseph Pearce (published in J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, Scholarship and Critical Assessment, Michael D.C. Drout. Editor, published by Routledge - Taylor & Francis Group, 2007)
Basically it compares the Everlasting Darkness  to the Void mentioned in the Bible and correlates this to a separation from light (which he equates is the absence of the Flame Imperishable) and nothingness ... a physical, mythological, and spiritual void.
 
Perhaps a new direction may be an exploration of Tolkien's cosmology ... which connects "Everlasting Darkness" as "The Void" beyond the boundaries of Ea and  the absence of the Flame Imperishable.


Any speculation may be fiction ... or knowledge lost.  It was taken by Tolkien to his grave.

 



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Thanks, Bear,
So it appears that broadly speaking there is not much dissension between us as to what the Everlasting Darkness is. Now, from all that, is it possible to deduce what kind of danger to the oath-breakers was associated with it? I am inclined to think that the threat of it was real. The sons of Feanor are not at all excited about it. "...And by Iluvatar we swore in our madness, and called the Everlasting Darkness upon us, if we kept not our word. Who shall release us?" They perceive that it will really come upon them. In very practical terms, what do they think will happen to them if they break the oath?

The only glimpse, and very imperfect, is that Maglor, after casting his Silmaril into the Sea, is left in eternal despair (isn't that some sort of spiritual void?). (In my current opinion he is one of the oath-breakers, but this is to be discussed later and my view may change.)

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Lórellinë

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Lorelline,
As Melkor was "thrown into The Everlasting Darkness" as punishment and to protect the circles of the world I am inclined to believe that while the Ainur were bound, Eru himself, could extend mercy ...
As in our real ives we create our own heaven and hell (excuse me ... this is my own opinion) Eru would extend the options of Repentance and Redemption. (as they were part of Tolkien's own personal cosmology)

As Maglor, after casting his Silmaril into the Sea, falls into despair we are not told if he is doomed for the void or the halls of Mandos.

But I look to Galadriel when she is offered the One Ring by Frodo ...

"You are wise and fearless and fair, Lady Galadriel,' said Frodo. 'I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. It is too great a matter for me.'

Galadriel laughed with a sudden clear laugh. 'Wise the Lady Galadriel may be,' she said, 'yet here she has met her match in courtesy. Gently are you revenged for my testing of your heart at our first meeting. You begin to see with a keen eye. I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired to ask what you offer. For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands, and behold! it was brought within my grasp. The evil that was devised long ago works on in many ways, whether Sauron himself stands or falls. Would not that have been a noble deed to set to the credit of his Ring, if I had taken it by force or fear from my guest?

`And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!'

She lifted up her hand and from the ring that she wore there issued a great light that illuminated her alone and left all else dark. She stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful. Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad.

'I pass the test,' she said. 'I will diminish, and go into the West and remain Galadriel.'

(The Lord Of The Rings,The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter VII ~ "The Mirror of Galadriel", pgs 365-366)

Repentance and Redemption!

Tolkien writes even more consequential acts of Repentance and Redemption. .. and a clearer treatment of oath breakers ...
Long had the terror of the Dead lain upon that hill and upon the empty fields about it. For upon the top stood a black stone, round as a great globe, the height of a man, though its half was buried in the ground. Unearthly it looked, as though it had fallen from the sky, as some believed; but those who remembered still the lore of Westernesse told that it had been brought out of the ruin of Númenor and there set by Isildur at his landing. None of the people of the valley dared to approach it, nor would they dwell near; for they said that it was a trysting-place of the Shadow-men, and there they would gather in times of fear, thronging round the Stone and whispering.
To that Stone the Company came and halted in the dead of night. Then Elrohir gave to Aragorn a silver horn, and he blew upon it and it seemed to those that stood near that they heard a sound of answering horns, as if it was an echo in deep caves far away. No other sound they heard, and yet they were aware of a great host gathered all about the hill on which they stood; and a chill wind like the breath of ghosts came down from the mountains. But Aragorn dismounted, and standing by the Stone he cried in a great voice:
Oathbreakers, why have ye come?
And a voice was heard out of the night that answered him, as if from far away:
To fulfil our oath and have peace.
Then Aragorn said: The hour is come at last. Now I go to Pelargir upon Anduin, and ye shall come after me. And when all this land is clean of the servants of Sauron, I will hold the oath fulfilled, and ye shall have peace and depart for ever. For I am Elessar, Isildurs heir of Gondor.
(The Lord Of The Rings, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter II ~ The Passing of the Grey Company, pgs 789-790)

The Oathbreakers? Those who waited among the Paths of the Dead?
        Over the land there lies a long shadow,
        westward reaching wings of darkness.
        The Tower trembles; to the tombs of kings
        doom approaches. The Dead awaken;
        for the hour is come for the oathbreakers;
        at the Stone of Erech they shall stand again
        and hear there a horn in the hills ringing.
        Whose shall the horn be? Who shall call them
        from the prey twilight, the forgotten people?
        The heir of him to whom the oath they swore.
        From the North shall he come, need shall drive him:
        he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.
                                               Prophecy of Malbeth the Seer
(The Lord Of The Rings, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter II ~ The Passing of the Grey Company, pg 781)

The opportunity for Repentance and Redemption is a long wait in coming.

"But Aragorn halted and cried with a great voice: Now come! By the Black Stone I call you! And suddenly the Shadow Host that had hung back at the last came up like a grey tide, sweeping all away before it. Faint cries I heard, and dim horns blowing, and a murmur as of countless far voices: it was like the echo of some forgotten battle in the Dark Years long ago. Pale swords were drawn; but I know not whether their blades would still bite, for the Dead needed no longer any weapon but fear. None would withstand them.
Then he let sound a great concourse of trumpets taken from the enemy; and the Shadow Host withdrew to the shore. There they stood silent, hardly to be seen, save for a red gleam in their eyes that caught the glare of the ships that were burning. And Aragorn spoke in a loud voice to the Dead Men, crying:
Hear now the words of the Heir of Isildur! Your oath is fulfilled. Go back and trouble not the valleys ever again! Depart and be at rest!
And thereupon the King of the Dead stood out before the host and broke his spear and cast it down. Then he bowed low and turned away; and swiftly the whole grey host drew off and vanished like a mist that is driven back by a sudden wind

(The Lord Of The Rings, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter IX ~ The Last Debate, pgs  876 - 879)

.Tolkien's faith and education as a devout Catholic would mean he would be familiar with concepts of transgression, repentance, and redemption ...
And in all that I have read I have found contradictory and inconclusive evidence of what was the fate of Feanor and his sons.  But if the prophecies claiming that Melkor and Sauron will reappear before the end ...
"Melkor was cast into The Void after the War of Wrath, and Sauron was also cast into the void after the destruction of the One Ring but legend predicts their return to the world before the end." (Wikipedia ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle-earth_cosmology)... my best educated guess is Feanor and his sons will have already done the deeds for their own repentance and redemption .





-- Edited by Bear on Saturday 21st of September 2013 06:22:32 AM

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I read your post and felt very dim (that's the second time his week - I will blame it on the Everlasting Darkness) - but after reading it twice in the broad daylight I guess I got it. It doesn't answer my question and it does.

So, had Maedhros and Maglor submitted to the summons of the Valar, foresworn their 'unbreakable' oath, and agreed to face the perceived consequences of its breaking, Eru would have released them. They could not count on being pardoned, but if they had Estel they would have done that nevertheless.

And in 'practical terms' the Everlasting Darkness becomes a non-issue.

(Interesting to mention though that when Maedhros tries to foreswear the oath in some versions he gets tormented. So should he have persevered and endured the torment? Yet again?..)

Well, great - something to talk about when I get to the "outcomes".


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Lórellinë

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Lorelline,
I'm not so sure about you with a new job and some wonderful posts but I could use a little vacation in "The Everlasting Darkness!"

The subject is tough because I am not sure we have a definitive answer from Tolkien himself.

What we do have is dozens of folks (including Tolkien himself) speculating what the "Everlasting Darkness" is.

I looked to find a reference through the Quenya names: Avakúma, Oiakúma, and Kúma. And basically it defines it as "the Night without form or time in which the world is set." (The Tolkien Gateway; http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/K%C3%BAma)

It is certainly frustrating with no clear answer.
So as a true Jungian I thought to find an opposite which may clarify it at least a little ... so I focused on "the Flame Imperishable."
What I found was a reference in The Encyclopedia of Arda. (and especially in the "Notes)

"Flame Imperishable ~ The source of life

 

A creative principle or essence of Ilúvatar, used by him to bring the Ainur into being, and also to bring life into the World of Arda. Tolkien's own definition is found in volume 11 of The History of Middle-earth (Morgoth's Ring): 'This appears to mean the Creative activity of Eru (in some sense distinct from or within Him) by which things could given real and independent (though derivative and created) existence.'

 

At first the Flame was with Ilúvatar in the Void, but after the creation of the Ainur, and the Vision of Arda, it was sent to dwell in the heart of the World. By this means, Ilúvatar was able to grant creative power within the World without entering into it Himself. This apparently explains how the Ainur were able to descend into Arda from their own mysterious plane of existence, and how the various rational incarnate races of the World were given independent life.

 

Melkor was always jealous of the power of the Flame Imperishable, and desired it for himself, but it remained beyond his reach. For this reason, he was unable to create beings of his own, and so his armies were therefore filled with beings he had twisted or corrupted to his own ends.

Notes

1

Actually, it is not entirely clear what happened to the Flame Imperishable at the beginning of the universe. The most direct reference is from Ainulindalë, where Ilúvatar tells the Ainur, '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.' From the phrasing here it is unclear whether 'the World' means 'the entire universe' or 'the Earth', and other similar passages seem to show the same ambiguity.

Perhaps the most plausible explanation is that this is a creation story in the mythical mould, where the Earth occupies an overwhelmingly central role in the cosmos, so that the two meanings of 'World' are fully intertwined with one another. We see this idea illustrated elsewhere: for example, Varda 'paints' stars onto the sky with the dews of Telperion - a notion that only makes sense in a fully geocentric universe.

If we follow this line of thought, the 'mythical' universe was lost, and the physical came into being, at the time of the Downfall of Númenor, when the West-that-was was taken away from the World, and the World itself was made 'bent' (that is, round). What this profound separation would have meant for the Flame Imperishable, we are not told."

  (The Encyclopedia of Arda; http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/f/flameimperishable.html)

Whether this clarifies or adds to the confusion I am not sure.
But if the Flame Imperishable is what gives substance to the Ainur and the "World" would the "Everlasting Darkness" or "Void" be absence? And if it is without form or time is it still Eru's creation?  And if it is beyond Eru's creation doesn't imply there is a power greater than Eru?. 

Yes my friend! You bring up some wonderful speculations ... and definitely has me reading and re-reading The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and digging through the volumes of The History of Middle-earth.

Where we go next I leave up to you ... I find this stuff fascinating ... and leads me to looking for the psychological influences of Eru and Tolkien.
Well Done Lorelline!

 

 



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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Thanks, Bear (it's not only a new job, but a new state and everything, but so far I don't mind). If the Everlasting Darkness is beyond Eru's creation, then things could be more difficult and even Eru might not be able to release the oath-breakers. It is emphasized many times that the oath is unbreakable. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we are never explained how that works. I was just wondering if the Everlasting Darkness (if it ever gets a chance) takes the oath-breakers only if they are alive, but if dead they can escape to Mandos?

Things are all the more confusing when the cosmology gets revised and Arda is set within the World which itself is within the Void, and the Sun exists from the beginning ('the Sun of the Little World is kindled') and the Moon is made from the portion of the Earth by Melkor. The Everlasting Darkness is then far away, and we don't know if it still would have been named in the oath. It hasn't been in the early versions.


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Lórellinë

Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Tolkien's world is a place I would love to visit ... but I'm not sure I would want to live there ...



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Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit
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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Exactly... Any rash word and then go figure what will happen.

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Lórellinë

Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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To my knowledge the 'Everlasting Darkness' is the Outer Void - the void which is outside of Ea (the Universe) itself, not just outside of Arda. It is 'beyond Eru's creation' in regards to it being beyond Ea. In other words outside of his creation. But Eru himself is not inside Ea, and the 'Halls of Iluvatar' we hear about in the Ainulindale are also 'outside of Ea', somewhere in the 'Timeless Void'. So it doesn't mean the 'Everlasting Darkness' is 'beyond Eru's power, or separate from it, just that it is outside of Ea which Iluvatar made.

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