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Thread: Witches and Wizards in ME

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This question is more far-reaching than anything else, but I would still want to ask it here. What exactly is the role of witches in ME? It is known that they were connected to dark forces, but was this a general misconception or were ALL witches in Tolkien’s lore evil? The only exception I can think of is Galadriel and I’m not sure one can call her a witch, per say. The question is: how do the different races in ME (dwarves, elves, Men, hobbits) treat witches? Are they immediately spurned or burned like in our world’s Dark Ages? Or are they feared and left alone? Would they be eternally suspicious? Wizards seem to be trusted, to some degree. Maybe the people of ME are intimidated and fascinated by them? I'm fairly sure the same doesn't happen to witches or women who dabble in magic.

Very interesting question.

A few characters definitely were some kind of witches, but none of them were human as far as I remember. I mean, yes - Witchking of Angmar was a Man once, but I'd say that after he run across Sauron's power he wasn't considered human anymore - at least for me. I'd say everyone who were practicing magic for evil purposes, or was accused of doing that (Galadriel and maybe other Elves) would be called a witch in ME realm.

In my opinion Saruman was a witch after he started using his powers for the dark side. Before that he was a wizard.

Witchking definitely was one too - I believe he was interested in sorcery before he became a servant of Sauron, but we don't know if he was succesful in magic as a human being. It's interesting if Men would be able to practice sorcery. I'd say no. Everyone in LOTR (and if I remember correctly also in the other books) who has some kind of magic powers weren't human - we have Istari, Elves, Nazguls, Maia... but not Men. Men could have a gift of foreseeing, but didn't practice magic.

Galadriel would be considered a Witch by those, who didn't know much about the Elves or disliked them. I suppose some hobbits who knew about the Elves only from stories, gossips and superstitions would see them as Witches, as they didn't understood what the Elves truly are.

I think we must first consider this one thing. In lothlorien, sam asks an elf about magic and the elf responds by commenting on the fact that the word magic was used both for the magic of sauron and the magic of the elves. This magic is art, in a letter included at the beginning of the silmarilion tolkien says that elves "magic" is art. so if we are saying that a witch is someone who has the "magic" of the enemy then they would probably not be liked. However if they just have the elvish "magic" then they would most likely not be called a witch.

Agreed Curufinwe. Tolkien states that the Elves (or Wizards) are not magical.  They have powers of perception and in Wizards cases over nature. He seems to be saying that Witches and Sorcerers deal in the dark forms of unnatural power. The Witch King gained a lot of his power over centuries of wearing one of the 9 rings, as humans were easiest to corrupt this ring probably had great effect on The witch King and he would have had plenty of time to practice his skills, with Sauron's help.

Most men fear what they don't understand. Most likely one who doesn't know elves well will consider them witches.
Yes Elves have the power of Enchantment.

What about someone like luthein? she was certainly magical in many ways, she used her hair to put people to sleep and did a number of other magical things. But how do you think men would view her, she certainly isn't evil and I doubt anyone would perceive her that way.

I guess Curufinwe that as Luthien was half Maia, she would have had many powers over and above the other Elves.  The feats of power she showed were all nature based or mental manipulation.

So even though luthein has still got the same "magic" as other good guys, and girls, how do you think that other people of other and the same races would view her?

Tolkien got his inspiration from the study of human history and mythology. It is common knowledge that witches are not well seen in the human history and there is an aura of suspicion about them , while wizards are accepted as wise men who served in the aid of royalty ( see Merlin ). I think he transmitted that perception in his writtings as well to make it more credible in the human subconscious. Even if some witches are good ( like Galadriel ) , they are perceived negatively by the others. Luthien was very beautiful, just like Galadriel , so once a person actually saw them they would change their preconceived ideas about them ( see how Gimli reacted after he met Galadriel, Beren even got in love and married Luthien ).

History and  religion have made Witches evil.  Those pagan healers from centuries past were branded as in league with the Devil in order to convert pagan's into Christian, Jew and Muslim.....

There was a huge anti Women thing going on for centuries.

The Devil, in most religions is based on Bachus, a Greek/Roan God of wine and prosperity, who in Tolkien's world would probably be a nature Maia/spirit, like Tom Bombodil.  He happened to have the legs of a goat.

Women posed a huge threat to Men in early civilization and they were forced down as un educated servants.  Look at Mary Magdelane.....

Elves didnt use "Magic" this is discussed in Loth Lorien in a discussion between Sam and Galadriel, who just happened to be known by some Men and Dwarves as an Elf Witch.

The Elve's powers were probably seen as Magic by most Mortals through their misunderstanding of the law's of creation. Ay least regardin Middle Earth.

So, we are talking about witch-powers as in unnatural dark power, are we ?


( just wanted to ascertain the context )

Does anyone have any biographical info on the witch-king? I mean, we know from the elvish lore " nine rings for mortal men, doomed to die"-he was one of the nine men who became the Nazgul of the tower of the moon. it's just that I can't find much info anywhere on him, and i don't know whether i just can't find it or whether  tolkien was vague on him anyway?


Thanks guys

For myself I have no great problem calling Tolkien's Elves and wizards magical, or saying that Tolkien's Elves used magic.

I would say the Elves are inherently magical; and their art can be 'real' not mere trickery, even though we mortals might use the same word to also refer to the sleight of hand deceptions practiced in the primary world, for example.

Tolkien wanted to make his distinctions, yes, but in my opinion these are, when boiled down, about 'kinds' of magic (given that the English word can be fairly broad in application), or about the intent of magic users, for instance.

It's admittedly simplifying the matter a bit to use the word magic given Tolkien's distinctions, but to me the word still fits nicely enough, along with Tolkien's magia and goetia as well, for examples.

You can not make witches or wizards.Because they are maiar.

Not necessarily Amras, the Witchking of Angmar, for instance, was originally a mortal man.

so was khamul,lost tales reference.

I don't think Khamul was a witch. Wasn't he a king of the easterings?

that's right,he could screech as loud as the witch king.kiss

But once the witch king got his "magic" he was not human. I am not sure he even had a body without his cloak and armor. He couldn't tolerate the sun and was very far from being a man in almost every aspect. Except, of course, he was afraid of death. However we really cannot count him as a human witch because he was no longer a human. The only way for someone to become a wizard/witch would be to become so perverted that they can no longer be called a human. So that kind of "magic" is only one of the arts of the enemies, and the reaction that an average person would probably have would most likely be, "Holy crap he is one scary dude."

To be technical, the title "Wizards" were only reserved for the 5 messengers sent by the Valar to ME in the third age. 

Why did Mandos return Glorfindel to ME,or is it just that he should of let Ecthelion go too?

I believe that Sauron "lent" Angmar a lot of his power, and gave him knowledge which enabled this corrupted and twisted Man enabling him to become powerful in The Dark Powers, enabling him to become almost Maia like in his ultimate power. He had no respect in hiding this power, as Gandalf and the other Istari had to. The Istari worked by rules, laid down by The Valar, so not to enable the Mortals of Middle Earth to rely on supernatural power, rather to strive to use their own innate power to stand against the Dark Forces born from Melkor and his evolved evil.

I think Glorfindel was re-embodied for many reasons. The main reason was probably because he sacrificed himself to save Idril and Tuor.

I'll add that all Elves were, in potential, to be reincarnated. Glorfindel was an exception in that he was reincarnated in Aman during the Exile of the Noldor, as thus he was still forbidden to return to Aman in bodily form.

Later he went back to Middle-Earth of course.

I believe Glorfindel wasn't the only one. Finrod also re-embodied after a short period after his death.

It's noted that Finrod was reincarnated, but I'm not sure a time span, or time frame, is indicated that would necessarily tell us whether it was before, or after, the ban on the Exiles was lifted.

Back to Glorfindel: in Sun Years is wasn't really that long from the Fall of Gondolin to the pardoning of (most of) the Exiles, but in the late Glorfindel texts Tolkien shows a real concern about the issue of Glorfindel's reincarnation before the ban was lifted.

And thus he went into detail as to why Glorfindel could be an exception here.