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The History of Middle-earth (chibi version) - Part 122: Judge of the Dead

5th May 2014 (19:03)

As with last week, this is one of several ideas Tolkien had about what happens to Elves after they die, but it's the one that seems to fit best with the other things he wrote. although the logic isn't quite logical:


  • How come Elves have the right to refuse rebirth, but no right to demand it?

  • How come Námo cannot compel the souls of dead Elves to come to Mandos, but can keep them there once they arrive?


Part 122: Judge of the Dead



Next time: Part 123: We regret to inform you

Chibis by tektek.org
Original story by and copyright to J R R Tolkien, ed. C Tolkien: Primarily based on the Silmarillion, but incorporating ideas from the 12-volume History of Middle Earth series.
Questions and comments welcome!

Comments

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2014 15:41 (UTC)

It's one of the ideas he came up with when he was writing 'Laws and Customs of the Eldar' in about 1958. Let me dig up the quotes:

"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. If they obeyed this summons different opportunities lay before them. The length of time that they dwelt in Waiting was partly at the will of Námo the Judge, lord of Mandos, partly at their own will."

"But it would seem that in these after-days more and more of the Elves, be they of the Eldalië 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 and unable to inhabit it, haunting trees or springs or hidden places that once they knew. Not all of these are kindly or untainted by the Shadow. Indeed the refusal of the summons is in itself a sign of taint."

So it's not necessarily that they can't find Mandos without the call, as that they can refuse to go there. The essay doesn't go into what happened before Míriel's death. (It was written from an in-universe, unreliable-narrator position.) I thik Tolkiien was wanting to come up with an explanation for ghosts and nature spirits within the structure of the world he'd outlined.

I particularly liked the way the essay finally explained why Sauron was called 'the Necromancer'. He knew ways to communicate with and control these houseless spirits, and even taught the evil ones among them to possess other people's bodies.

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