THE UNDYING LANDS
I created this blog to talk about my favourite continent and region of Eä, the Undying Lands.
Blessed, holy, hidden, protected and mysterious lands beyond the Sea, of which Tolkien didn't give us many details, because, I think, he didn't want to 'ruin' the Magic and the unspeakable wonder that permeate them.
Lands where I would surely desire to live, if I could choose among the various places of the Tolkien's Legendarium :)
I find them spectacular and fascinating also for the fact that they are inhabited by immortal beings, and that they are the 'true' homeland of the Elves and their only truly safe place; where the Elves can fulfill fully their nature of immortals and live beside the Light.
Not to mention that the Undying Lands are the motherland of my favourite character and other mighty Elves.
Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Island, is the easternmost land of the Undying Lands, and it is situated in front of the Bay of Eldamar. It was originally a mobile Island, and it was used by the Vala Ulmo as a ferry, to carry the Three Kindreds of the Elves across the Belegaer, to make them reach Aman and establish in the Realm of the Valar.
The largest settlement of this green and beautiful Island is Avallónë, the easternmost port, founded and established by many of the Eldar (mostly Noldor and some Sindar) that sailed back to the West after the War of Wrath, at the end of the First Age; this port thus became the first landfall for the Elves that lingered still in the World in the Second and Third Age, and wanted to return to Aman. The white Towers and Palaces of Avallónë were even visible from Númenor, during the merry days of the Edain, and were often and wrongly considered, by ordinary Men, as Towers and Palaces of Valinor itself.
The Teleri, guided by Elwë's brother, Olwë, were the last ones to cross the Belegaer, and, the Vala Ulmo, being them enchanted and overwhelmed by the beauty of Eressëa, and desiring not to suddenly leave the Sea under the Starry Sky for the Light of Valinor, anchored the Island to the waters in front of Eldamar, and the Teleri established there for many years. When the longing for Aman of the Falmari (the Teleri that had crossed the Sea) was too strong, Olwë led his people to Eldamar upon White Ships guided by flying Swans, that they had been taught to build by the marine Maia Ossë, and founded Alqualondë on the Immortal Shores.
Aman was the westernmost continent and Land of Arda, that emerged from the sea in the last period of the Years of the Lamps, after the destruction of the Two lamps, Illuin and Ormal, and the disruption of the original symmetry of the World (that then would have become the Middle Earth), and thus after the end of the Spring of Arda.
Situated in the Far West of the World, this Land was chosen by the Valar (the 'Archangels') as their new home and realm, after the destruction of their previous residence, the Isle of Almaren.
The Valar were followed by most of the Maiar (the Angels that serve them) and established their dominion and authority in Aman, to find a safe shelter from the terrible dark power of Melkor.
The Valar and the Maiar with their powers made Aman a holy, incorruptible, immortal, bright and blessed Land, and fortified it with the creation of the Pelóri.
In the central region of Aman, the wide green plain protected by this Indestructible Walls, the Archangels concentrated their might and established Valinor, the Blessed Realm; and they gave it the Light with the creation of the glorious and legendary Two Trees of Valinor, the silver Telperion and the golden Laurelin, making Valinor the only enlightened Land in the ancient dark World (apart from the eternal light of the Stars in the sky).
Apart from the Halls of the respective Valar, the main parts and regions of Aman are Eldamar, the Calacirya (the only accessible pass to Valinor, a breach in the Pelóri), Valinor and their cities.
Eldamar, or 'Elvenhome', is the bay and the coastal green region situated between the Walls of Valinor and the Sea.
This region was not inhabited by the Ainur and remained 'solitary' until the arrival of the Eldar, after their great Journey along Middle Earth.
Since the Elves were the first and the only ones that settled there and established their cities, this region can be truly considered as their own glorious land, even though it can't be compared to the Bliss of Valinor.
Eldamar is mainly inhabited by the Noldor and the Teleri, and its main cities are Tirion on the Calacirya and Alqualondë on the coast.
Alqualondë, or 'Swanhaven', is the city and the port of the Teleri; it was the last city to be established in Eldamar and was founded by the Falmari, the Teleri that eventually managed to reach Aman and moved from Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Island. There, with the help of the Noldor, they built their Halls and palaces, made of the pearls that they used to find in the sea or of the jewels that they received from the Noldor.
Thus it is said that this haven shines beautifully at night, and more splendidly used to do it in the Ancient Times, when Eldamar was only enlightened by the light of the Stars, like the other regions of Middle Earth.
This port was also the place in which the Teleri were taught by the marine Maiar Ossë and Uinen to build their legendary Swan-Ships, becoming the most skilled mariners in the World.
Alqualondë is also sadly remembered in the general lore for the cruel and tragic first Kinslaying, one of the most shocking events that happened in the history of Arda, when Fëanor and his people attacked the Falmari, after the Mariners refused to give them their ships.
The King of the Falmari and the Lord of 'Swanhaven' is Olwë, brother of the more famous Elwë, High King of the Teleri and King of Doriath.
Tirion is the main city of the Noldor in Aman and the biggest one in Eldamar, this fortified settlement is situated in the valley of Calacirya, upon the green hill of Túna, guarding this pass as a fortress.
This fair city is famous for its white walls and terraces, and the sand in the streets is said to be of grains of diamond, and white crystal stairs climb from the fertile land beneath to the great gates.
The centre of the city is dominated by the High King of all Elves Ingwë's tower Mindon Eldaliéva, whose silver lantern shines far out to the Sea, as a magnificent lighthouse.
Beneath the tower stands the palace that once belonged to Finwë, first High King of the Noldor.
Here there is also the Great Square, where it was planted the sacred White Tree Galathilion, and later the place of the infamous and disastrous Oath of Fëanor.
Tirion was the birthplace of various extremely mighty Noldor Elves that would have had in the future a pivotal role in the lore of Middle Earth, like Galadriel, Fëanor himself, Fingolfin, Finrod and many others.
The city was established by the Vanyar and the Noldor as their realm at the entrance of Valinor, because the Eldar still didn't fully trust the Valar and were both amazed and intimidated by their might; they then decided to linger at the Calacirya, where they were partially able to contemplate the gleam of the Holy Light of the Two Trees of Valinor that managed to penetrate the Pelóri, remaining at the same time under the 'dark' starry Sky (Calacirya means in fact 'Cleft of Light').
When the Vanyar eventually decided to settle in Valinor, Finwë became the king of the city and then his three sons Fëanor, Fingolfin and Finarfin established their respective Houses.
After the exile of the majority of the Noldor, Finarfin remained in Tirion and became its ruler and the king of the Noldor in Aman.
Avathar is the shadowed and mysterious region situated in the far south of Aman, beyond the Pelóri Mountains, and thus directly connected to Eldamar; a narrow land, characterised by long and dark shores on the coast and a lot of dreary clefts and caverns.
During the Years of the Trees, this region was only enlightened by the light of the Stars in the sky, as all the other regions of Aman beyond the Walls of Valinor and as the entire Middle Earth; but Avathar was subdued to a terrible and greater obscurity, caused by the evil presence that used to dwell there.
Ungoliant was a dark, terrible and very powerful Maia, that was corrupted by Melkor since the Beginning of the World, she then chose to disown him to be independent and fled and hid herself in Avathar, after the destruction of the Two Lamps.
Convinced by Melkor to attack Valinor, she destroyed the Two Trees, poisoning and making them wither with her darkness, marring forever the splendour of the realm of the Valar in the Ancient Times.
She used to take the form of an enormous and horrible dark spider, and, moved by her endless hunger, feed on any source of light (especially the gleams of the holy light of the Two Trees that emanated from Valinor); not only was she able to capture and absorb the light, but also she was able to annihilate it completely, being herself not just the absence of Light, but its ultimate nemesis.
With these terrible dark powers, she managed to repulse the attacks of the guards of the Valar and block temporarily the Vala Tulkas.
Araman is the cold and deserted land situated in the far north of Aman, outside the Pelóri Mountains and along the northern coast of the same continent.
This desolate desert ends with the extremely dangerous and frozen pass of Helcaraxë, that connects Aman with Middle Earth.
It was here that the Noldor, who were willing to leave Aman and chose the exile, were cursed by the Vala Mandos, disguised as a grey figure in the mist, and heard from him their Doom.
The Blessed Realm was established by the Valar in the green plain in the centre of Aman, that was since then called 'Valinor' and eternally consecrated to their holy and blessed powers.
No word or tale could fully describe the wonders present in this realm, we 'only' know that this land is eternally full of joy and life, and nothing withers or is subjected to the ineluctable destiny of corruption of the World, as for the other lands of Aman; but Valinor is obviously superior, because the power of the Archangels intrinsically and deeply permeates it and makes it a Holy and Immortal Land.
In this miraculous region dwell the Valar with the Maiar and have their Halls, like the legendary Gardens of Lórien of Irmo and Estë, the Pastures of Yavanna with their Wheat of the Gods, the Evergreen Fields in which runs fast Nessa, the Woods of Oromë full of life, the ethereal and mystic Halls of Mandos and Vairë, the mysterious Halls of Nienna on the grey shores of the Western Ocean Ekkaia or the Halls of Manwë and Varda on the magnificent Holy Mountain Taniquetil.
Valinor reached the peak of its Splendour and Grandeur when it used to be filled with Light by the Two Trees in the 'Day before days'; after their destruction its splendour diminished a bit, still remaining a Holy and Immortal Land.
Apart from the Ainur, the main inhabitants of Valinor are the Vanyar, the Fair Elves live eternally in the Bliss of this Land.
The Capital of Valinor is the Supreme City of Valimar, where dwells the majority of the Maiar and the Vanyar.
The Vanyar, the Fair Elves, were the first Elves to awaken in Cuiviénen and to reach the shores of Aman after a long and difficult journey; they, then, decided to leave Tirion and eventually enter Valinor and dwell in the eternal joy of Valimar or at the slopes of the Mount Taniquetil.
They are the Elves most loved by Manwë and Varda, and their High King Ingwë dwells with the two Valar on the Holy Mountain and he is recognised as the High King of all Elves.
After their arrival in Valinor, the Vanyar were never seen again in Middle Earth, apart from their return to Beleriand as the Host of Valinor to fight Morgoth in the War of Wrath.
The Maiar, the Angels, are the servants of the Valar and their own people; many of them serve a specific Archangel and have thus powers related to their King or Queen.
They also are the guards of the Valar and the lieutenants of the mighty Host of Valinor.
Eönwë is the most powerful and the chief of the Maiar of Aman, he is also the herald of the Lord of the Air and the representative of his authority in Arda.
The Valar are the Kings and Queens of Valinor and the most powerful of all the Ainur.
The Archangels created and shaped the World with their immense powers and gave life to almost all the fundamental elements of the Reality, like Light, Air, Water, Matter, Plants and Animals; they were also the creators of Universal Feelings and Idealistic Things, as Hope, Sadness, Dreams, Rest and Joy.
They established the Blessed Realm in Aman and are the source of its bliss, eternal joy and 'immortality'.
Manwë, Varda, Ulmo, Aulë, Yavanna, Oromë, Mandos and Nienna are the Aratar, the High Ones of Arda, the supreme Valar and the most powerful among them.
These Eight Valar are held in equal reverence, they represent the most fundamental elements of the physical and spiritual existence and are said to possess a majesty that surpasses even the other Archangels.
Manwë is the High King of the Valar and the most powerful of them in authority, being him the dearest Ainu to Eru Ilúvatar.
Manwë, the King of Arda and High King of the Valar
Valimar or Valmar is the capital of Valinor and the Supreme City of Arda and Eä, situated in the centre of the Evergreen Plain of Valinor.
This Holy City was established in the Ancient Times, long before the Awakening of the Elves, by the Valar, and here they built with the Maiar their Palaces and Halls; and it's really difficult to even only imagine how magnificently Fair and Majestic this Holy City is.
The 'City of many Bells' is eternally Joyful and Radiant, and its inhabitants can hear the holy sound of its bells, that resembles the Ancestral Music of the Ainur.
The Vanyar moved here, after they decided to follow the Light of the Two Trees, and built their Houses.
It is said that the majestic Dwellings in Valimar are made precious with Gold, Silver and Polished Bronze, and that they were lifted with spells and their stones are bound with Magic.
The Valar often visit Valimar and its inhabitants, filling its atmosphere with Eternal Bliss.
Notable places near Valimar are the Ring of Doom Máhanaxar and the Green Mound Ezellohar, where the Two Trees of Valinor were created by Yavanna, watered by the tears of Nienna and hallowed with Light by Varda.
Taniquetil or Oiolossë, 'Ever-Snow-White', is the Holy and White Mountain of Valinor, the highest mountain of Arda, in which Manwë and Varda established their Halls and their Thrones; from this Mountain they contemplate and rule the World and its inhabitants.
The Supreme Palace of the two Valar is also the dwelling of Ingwë, the High King of the Vanyar and High King of All Elves, of many Vanyar and Maiar, and the Great Eagles of Manwë, the Lord of the Air.
The Ring of Doom Máhanaxar is the supreme and majestic Assembly and Council of the Valar, situated outside the Golden Western Gates of Valimar.
Here the Valar sit on their Thrones and discuss about the events that happen in the World and its Destiny.
The Archangels took in the Máhanaxar fundamental decisions for the Destiny of Arda; the Valar decided here to move war to Melkor to preserve the Elves from his evil, to imprison Melkor in the Halls of Mandos, to free him after his Three-Era Captivity and to declare war again to Morgoth in aid to the Noldor in Beleriand, starting the War of Wrath.
Though they are not their Motherland, The Undying Lands are the only Lands in which the Elves can live fully according to their nature of Immortals; they strongly desire to go there because they are attracted to everything that is Eternal, Blessed and Holy, so the Journey through the Sea is felt like a natural path of their life by many of them.
At the end of the Third Age, many mighty High Elves chose eventually to leave Middle Earth for Aman, because they felt tired to live in a 'grey' and disenchanted World, and desired to reach (or return, speaking about Galadriel) the Eternal Bliss of the Undying Lands.