Beorn and his descendants could change into bears. He is just a human though. I remember reading his line was cursed to be a bear in day and a human in night somewhere. Odd curse however seeing he had no problem being a bear, because his father mastered the controlling the change.
Towards the end of the Hobbit it mentions that in later years Beorn guarded the realm between Greenwood and the Misty Mountains and maintained friendship with those free folk who remained. His sons and sons of sons are mentioned as retaining the Bear shifting ability and that most were good of heart, but some were not so.
Perhaps it was Sauron who created the bear curse, as he did with the werewolves fell bats etc. Perhaps he tried to create a bear type warrior for the dark side or something and it went wrong... or something like that.
I did a lot of research on this but did not glean all that much. I doubt if Sauron had anything to do with it. Luthien and Beren used some sort of aquired knowledge slash magic to turn into creatures in the hunting down of the silmarilion and the taking of it from Sauron, so perhaps Beren had the knowledge passed down to him. In this case he could easily be the only one left of his people, marry someone not specifically of his 'tribe' if you will, but pass to them also the knowledge or magic of becoming a skin changer.I simply do not know and perhaps the professor did not want us to delve deeply into this?
True Lee Lee. Elves powers of transformation and various arts is wisely not delved into too far by JRRT. My favorite use of it is Luthien's hair growth and sleeping spell. Very original and interesting. Back to Beorn though. He seems to have some form of power over animals as well re his various animal friend which serve him, perhaps also his huge size... Another Tolkien mystery for us to ponder...
Ye Lee Lee. I think my fav moment in the Sil is the heartbreaking section where Hurin confronts Melian and Thingol in Menegroth where he throws the Nauglamir at Thingol's feet and accuses him of betraying his family. He then looks into Melian's eyes and Morgoth's spell seems to break, opening his eyes to reality and truth after many years of frozen thralldom in Thangorodrim. Melian's power is showcased here and it is truly heartbreaking. I think its a good axample of how the Good and Wise use there power sparingly in Middle Earth whereas the Dark and Evil seem to relentlessly overuse their power in a totally unrestrained manner.
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