Galadriel – Lady of Light
Galadriel was born before the start of the First Age, being one of the few elves who saw the Two Trees. She was called Nerwen by her mother Eärwen, and Artanis by her father Finarfin. She was also named Alatariel. She was extremely beautiful and very tall. In the Silmarillion (p. 61) it says,
“Galadriel, most beautiful of all the house of Finwë; her hair was lit with gold as though it had caught in a mesh the radiance of Laurelin.”
After the Two Trees were destroyed by Melkor and Ungoliant, Fëanor gave a powerful speech to the Noldor, convincing many to go to Middle Earth with him. Though Galadriel did not trust Fëanor, she too wanted to leave for Middle Earth. As the Noldor decided to leave Valinor against the wishes of the Valar, they were forbidden from returning. In the Silmarillion (p. 90) we are told,
“But Galadriel, the only woman of the Noldor to stand that day tall and valiant among the contending princes, was eager to be gone. No oaths she swore, but the words of Fëanor concerning Middle Earth had kindled her heart.”
Fëanor and his kin took the first ships to Middle Earth. However, as Galadriel and her kin waited for Fëanor to send the ships back for them, they realized they had been betrayed. Braving the harsh north of Helcaraxe, Galadriel helped lead the remainder of her people across to Middle-Earth. When they arrived there was a great fight between the two groups, and many were slain.
Galadriel from there went to live in Doriath, learning lore and wisdom from Melian, wife of Thingol. There she met Celeborn, the great nephew of Thingol, and married him. They moved several times before settling in Lothlórien, where they eventually became rulers. Over the years they had one daughter, Celebrian, who later married Elrond, the Lord of Rivendell.
In SA 1693 the elven smith Celebrimbor gave Galadriel Nenya, the ring of water, which was one of the three Elven Rings of Power. Throughout the Second and Third Ages she used her powers against evil, for she could see the mind of Sauron without revealing her own.
They repelled Sauron three times, when their land was attacked from Dol Guldur. Galadriel and Celeborn also gave advice and magical gifts to the peoples of Middle Earth where they were most needed, and it was Galadriel who first summoned the White Council. Militarily, after the destruction of Sauron, Celeborn took his force across the Anduin in many boats and took Dol Guldur. Then Galadriel threw down the walls and laid bare its pits and the forest was then cleansed.
The Fellowship of the Ring met Galadriel when they journeyed to Lothlórien after fleeing Moria. She and Celeborn were described as tall, slender, grave and beautiful. Their only sign of age was in the depths of their eyes – which were wells of deep memory. Galadriel was clad in white, and she had deep golden hair. Her voice was clear and musical, but deeper than the average woman’s voice.
The wisdom that Galadriel possessed was made clear through this episode. To Gimli, she acknowledged the loss he felt over Moria, and she gave her love and acceptance to the elves’ traditional enemy. She let Frodo and Sam look in her Mirror, and then comforted them, saying that she too could see the destruction that they saw. She let them know that she perceived the mind of Sauron, or at least the part of his mind that concerning the Elves.
Frodo offered her the One Ring, and Galadriel admitted that she had greatly desired the power it would bring, but refused it knowing that:
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!”
Galadriel knew that Frodo’s quest, if successful, would bring down the Dark Lord. However, she also knew that it would bring to an end the power of Nenya, her enchantment over her realm of Lothlórien, and the time of the Elves in Middle Earth.
“Do you not see now wherefore your coming is to us as the footstep of Doom? For if you fail, then we are laid bare to the Enemy. Yet if you succeed, then our power is diminished, and Lothlórien will fade, and the tides of Time will sweep it away. We must depart into the West, or dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten.”
At the end of the War of the Ring, the Valar granted her permission to return to Valinor because of her constant hard work, her self-sacrifice and her rejection of the One Ring. She came to the Grey Havens with Elrond and Bilbo, riding on a white palfrey. She was robed all in white, and seemed herself to shine with a soft light. In Valinor, she was reunited with her daughter Celebrian, and later joined by Celeborn.
And so it was that Galadriel, the only leader of the revolt of the Noldor to survive the Wars of Beleriand, returned to Valinor.
– The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (FotR, TTT, & RotK)
– The Silmarillion
– Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle Earth*
* Please remember that the stories in this book were not meant for publication and often they do not agree with previously published tales.