The Grey Havens

Galadriel2911
Posts: 17

The Grey Havens

Post#1 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:22 pm

I just wondered what other people's views were on the Grey Havens.. Its something ive always thought about.. Was it a version of heaven in Middle Earth, where only the chosen few were allowed to travel to.. Did they go there to die or just live their lives in a different, magical place, when it was their time? I know Frodo & Bilbo were allowed to go there, being Ring Bearers, along with the Elves & Gandalf of course.. I hope this doesn't seem like a silly question, I just genuinely want to hear other people's opinions :)

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Gandalfs Beard
Posts: 2311

The Grey Havens

Post#2 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:57 pm

No, the Grey Havens isn't Heaven or a representation of Heaven. The Grey Havens is a port for ships departing for or arriving from Valinor, the original home of the Elves and Earth-bound Ainur, across the Western Sea.

Some have suggested that Valinor represents Heaven, but this is entirely untrue too. I think it is in the Silmarillion that discussion of the fate of Elves and Humans after death are discussed. And Elves do not know the fate of humans as they are "immortal" and part of Nature. Only Eru Illuvatar knows that, which explicitly suggests that if Heaven does exist in Middle Earth it is not Valinor. Valinor is actually based on the myth of Avalon, where King Arthur's body was sent to rest (a possible source for the misunderstanding that Avalon was a Celtic "Heaven" and hence that Valinor might be also).

The misconception that the Grey Havens or Valinor might be Heaven is most often based on the fact that Bilbo and Frodo go to spend the rest of their Earthly life there, and it is known as The Undying Lands. Frodo has wounds that will never fully heal and Bilbo is near death. In Valinor they will be more comfortable and at peace, something many people equate with Heaven. But make no mistake, Bilbo and Frodo (not being Elves or Gods) will die there eventually, and go to Hobbit Heaven ;) .

GB

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Beren
Posts: 276

The Grey Havens

Post#3 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:36 pm

Although I think you have the Grey Havens and Valinor mixed up, I'm glad you asked the question. I know that many people have a misconception about Valinor, especially if they haven't studied the Silmarillion.

Once, in the early ages of Middle-Earth, the world was flat and there was one huge ocean in the middle of it. The land on the right side of the map was Middle-Earth and the land on the left side was Valinor. Valinor was where the Valar lived, and that is where they brought some of the elves so that the elves wouldn't be exposed to the brutality of Morgoth in Middle-Earth.
Then, when the world was reshaped (which almost always happens at the end of one age and the beginning of another), it was made round, but Valinor stayed on the same plane. I best explain things by illustration:
[img]http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb201/macforum/illustration.jpg[/img]
So Valinor was hanging there in space, and, as Tolkien described it, one could sail and sail and sail in Middle-Earth and never reach Valinor, because one would just be going around the circle. One had to find the secret path that would enable them to leave the circle and travel a TRUE straight line.

So, with all that said, Valinor is a physical country. Since Elves are immortal, they cannot spend eternity in Middle-Earth. They need rest. So they can go to Valinor. That is their final resting place. And on VERY rare occasions do they let others come with them.
As GB said, this is not to rule out the possibility of a heaven. No one knows where the men, dwarves, hobbits, etc. (but especially men) go when they die. Some people think they go to Mandos' halls (in a different region of Valinor), some think they go to another waiting place where they wait until the final day, and some think that they go to be with Illuvatar.

Galadriel2911
Posts: 17

The Grey Havens

Post#4 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:50 pm

Thank you for a very thoughtful & indepth reply about the Grey Havens GB.. Am glad I know so much more than what I originally knew.. Also glad to know theres a Hobbit Heaven too!
Thanks..

Have just read your reply Beren, thank you.. I bought The Silmarilion many years ago, but never finished it.. So I would probably know much more about Valinor if I did.. I must say, you really know your stuff here.. I only know the basics in comparison, lol.. It just amazes me how much Tolkien imagined & created.. But im so glad he did :)

Galadriel2911 :)

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Bargolwash
Posts: 37

The Grey Havens

Post#5 » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:22 pm

Didn't Legolas and Gimli also sail to Valinor?

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Gandalfs Beard
Posts: 2311

The Grey Havens

Post#6 » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:39 pm

Ummm...you've got me there Bargo :oops: . I don't remember for certain. But I am fairly sure Legolas would have as he's an Elf and the Elves were all leaving Middle earth at the end of the Third Age (except for Arwen, and i suppose there might have been a couple of other stragglers ;) ).

GB

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Bargolwash
Posts: 37

The Grey Havens

Post#7 » Sun Sep 13, 2009 5:09 pm

I don't remember where I read it once, appendices maybe that Legolas and Gimli went back to Fangorn and the Helms Deep caverns and after Aragorn died, Legolas built a boat and went to Valinor with and aged Gimli. My details may be mixed up a little, but that's what I remember.

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Show
Posts: 138

The Grey Havens

Post#8 » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:07 am

They did (Legolas and Gimli). At least that's what I remember as well.
As to Valinor as Heaven, I'll take a different route that what has been presented thus far.

Is Valinor/the Gray Havens, is this heaven?
What is heaven?

I know that second sentence looks like a question, but it's actually my answer. Or even better, what is heaven to you?
As I do from time to time, I am going to point you (Galadriel and any other readers) to my signature block. I love that quote from Tolkien.
As GB and Beren noted, according to how Tolkien wrote the Silmarrillion, it would appear that Valinor is not heaven.
But, if the question is "Is Valinor Heaven?" or "Is Valinor Heaven according to Tolkien?"; the difference in an answer is monumentally different!
While GB and Beren's answers are right, they are not by definition right for you.
I for one consider a good book, a comfortable chair, and a front porch to enjoy them on during a light rainstorm to be heaven. I also believe I could find these things in Valinor. When I'm lucky, I can find them at my home as well.
So the question really becomes, “Do you see heaven in Valinor?”
I suspect a number of people might see purgatory in Valinor, or at least in the Halls of Mandos. The Halls are when Elves go after they are killed. There to await the end of time when Eru will bring his children before him (elves and men) to make music.

What is more important in Tolkien’s work is not so much what he wrote, but what you see in his words.

Galadriel2911
Posts: 17

The Grey Havens

Post#9 » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:57 am

I think I see what you mean Show.. If that is how ive interpreted the Grey Havens, then that is my answer.. For other people who see it differently, they are also right.. There is no wrong answer.. But what has been said in this thread has made me think & that can only be good :)

You would think that me being an elf, I would know far more, but I don't, lol..

Galadriel2911 :)

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Beren
Posts: 276

The Grey Havens

Post#10 » Mon Sep 14, 2009 1:06 pm

At the very end of Appendix A, it states:
"Here follows one of the last notes in the Red Book
We have heard tell that Legolas took Gimli Gloin's son with him because of their great friendship, greater than any that has been between Elf and Dwarf. It this is true, then it is strange indeed: that a Dwarf should be willing to leave Middle-earth for any love, or that the Eldar should receive him, or that the Lords of the West should permit it. But it is said that Gimli went also out of desire to see again the beauty of Galadriel; and it may be that she, being mighty among the Eldar, obtained this grace for him. More cannot be said of this matter."

About your comment, Show. Merriam-Webster defines "Heaven" as:
a: the dwelling place of the Deity and the blessed dead
b: a spiritual state of everlasting communion with God.

So, although many people compare extreme comfort and satisfaction (physical and spiritual) to Heaven, it is not, in itself, Heaven. The definition of Heaven requires the presence of the Deity. You must be in real and tangible communion with God to be in Heaven. So, when one applies this to Middle-earth, Valinor is NOT Heaven. The place where Iluvatar (Eru) dwells is Heaven. The place where the events of the Ainulindale (the beginning of the Silmarillion) take place is heaven. Eru created the world, and the Valar went into it. Eru is in a different place, and that place is Heaven.

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