At this time, the Elves who had defied the Valar and journeyed to Middle-Earth were pardoned and those who chose to could return to the Undying Lands to live in peace. Some, however, chose to remain for a while before departing from the Grey Havens in what were now the westernmost lands. Here dwelt Cirdan the Shipwright, a kinsman of the Telerin King Thingol, at the Gulf of Lune. Cirdan was considered one of the greatest of the Eldar in Middle-Earth, along with Gil-galad and, of course, Galadriel. Though the forces of Morgoth were defeated, some of his minions survived the war and fled East. Among them was a certain Balrog who hid deep below the Misty Mountains as well as Morgoth's most powerful servant, Sauron.
Galadriel chose to remain in Middle-Earth indefinitely as an exile. Her decision to remain we will visit later. But first it's necessary to chronicle her travels in Middle-Earth that led her to dwell in Lothlorien. Some of the events of the Second Age are told in more detail in "The Silmarillion", however, almost all of Galadriel and Celeborn's personal history remained in unpublished manuscripts that Christopher Tolkien presents here.
They spent hundreds of years living with Cirdan at the Grey Havens, but in the year 700 of the Second Age, they moved East and founded what was known as Eregion at the Western foot of the Misty Mountains. The land was later known as Hollin and was a rest stop for the Nine Walkers on their journey South in "The Fellowship of the Ring". Eregion became a realm that allied itself with the Dwarves of Khazad-dum and engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship where they shared each others skills in the crafting of beautiful things. Here in Eregion there also lived a Noldorin Elf named Celebrimbor, of the House of Feanor. He was very gifted with the kind of talents that his grandfather, Feanor, had.
On the western door of Moria, the Fellowship come upon a carving with an Elvish inscription that said of those words "I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs". Narvi was a Dwarf who had a strong friendship with Celebrimbor and provided the mithril for the inscription.
Later, Sauron would appear to the Elves in a pleasing form. He called himself Annatar, the "Lord of Gifts", and posed as an emissary of the Valar. Sauron himself was a Maiar so he was able to manipulate his appearance and convinced Celebrimbor to forge the Rings of Power. Over many years, he would help the Noldor Elf craft the Seven and the Nine which went to Dwarves and Men, respectively. The Three - Narya, Nenya and Vilya - were never touched by Sauron. During this time, Galadriel became very distrustful of Annatar. But whether she was able to see through his disguise is not made clear. Sometime between the years 1350 and 1400 she and Celeborn left Eregion and came for the first time to Lothlorien. In the text, it is referred to as "Lorinand". While it has always been assumed that they lived there permanently during the Second Age, it is more likely they only dwelled there as guests for short amounts of time. They did live for some time in Imladris, or Rivendell, with Elrond's people. It was there that their daughter, Celebrian, met and married Elrond.
At the time that Celebrimbor became aware that Sauron had crafted The One Ring he journeyed to Lothlorien to consult with Galadriel. Though they should have destroyed the Rings, Tolkien wrote:
"Galadriel counseled him that the Three Rings of the Elves should be hidden, never used, and dispersed, far from Eregion where Sauron believed them to be. It was at that time that she received Nenya, the White Ring, from Celebrimbor, and by its power the realm of Loriland was strengthened and made beautiful; but its power upon her was great also and unforeseen, for it increased her latent for the Sea and return into the West, so that her joy of Middle-Earth was diminished."
Celebrimbor would give the Ring, Vilya, to Gil-Galad who entrusted it to Elrond. He would also give Narya, the Ring of Fire, to Cirdan.
Though Sauron put Celebrimbor to torment the location of The Three was never revealed. Sauron, however, suspected their whereabouts - believing them to have been entrusted to Elvish guardians. By the end of the Second Age, the Men of Numenor had intervened to capture Sauron. After the Akallabeth (the destruction of Numenor), those Numenoreans who were able to flee to Middle-Earth established the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. When the threat of Sauron again rose, they formed the Last Alliance with the remaining Elves to defeat him by giving battle to Mordor and removing the One Ring from his hand. That Ring became lost and because it was not destroyed as it should have been the spirit of Sauron remained. Though he laid dormant for many thousands of years during the Third Age, Galadriel kept a watch on Sauron's presence in Middle-Earth. The White Council was formed with Galadriel as one of its most powerful members.
There are two other tales regarding Lothlorien that are referred to in "The Lord of the Rings". The first has to do with Amroth. In Chapter VI of Book Two in "The Fellowship of the Ring", Legolas tells a sad tale of the Elf-maiden Nimrodel and Amroth, to whom she was betrothed. Up through the year 1981 of the Third Age, Amroth was the King of the realm of Lothlorien. In one draft, Amroth was to have been the son of Galadriel and Celeborn but Christopher Tolkien notes that this idea was certainly discarded by the time that "The Lord of the Rings" was published. Amroth resolved to return to the Undying Lands by a ship that was to depart from the Bay of Belfalas at the mouth of the Anduin. Nimrodel, however, was lost on her journey to meet him. When a great storm broke the moorings of his ship and cast it out to sea, he dove into the water to swim back but was drowned. Without a King, the people of Lothlorien welcomed Galadriel and Celeborn, both of noble station, to rule as their Lord and Lady.
The harbor from where Amroth was to depart was in what became Southern Gondor and was named Dol Amroth for him. There a group of Sindar Elves lived among the Numenoreans who had settled there. Legolas seems to recognize that Prince Imrahil may indeed have Elvish blood when he meets him at Minas Tirith.
The second story concerns the Elessar stone that Arwen gave to Aragorn for the time when he would come into his birthright as King of Gondor. There were actually two green Elessar stones made with the first being given to Earendil, the father of Elrond and Elros. A second stone, according to one story, was crafted in Valinor and brought to Middle-Earth by Gandalf, who gave it to Galadriel. Another story has the stone being made by Celebrimbor, who gave it to Galadriel as a gift because he was in love with her. In either case, Galadriel passed down the Elessar to her daughter Celebrian who in turn gave it to her daughter, Arwen.
The final lingering question about Galadriel is why she was banned from returning to Valinor and remained so long in Middle-Earth. Actually, at the time that "The Lord of the Rings" was written the concept of a ban wasn't really made clear, though Galadriel's temptation and rejection of The One Ring was given as a catalyst for her taking the journey over the sea. The answer to Galadriel's presence in Middle-Earth at the time of the War of the Ring was one of those things that underwent "continual refashionings".
Though there are multiple accounts of her journey East to Middle-Earth, the common denominator is that, whatever her motivation, she did in fact defy the declaration of the Valar Mandos that any of the Eldar who left Valinor were "banned" from returning. Her decision to leave most likely had to do with her "dreams of far lands and dominions" and was independent of Feanor's rebellion. Other manuscripts mention her anger towards Feanor and her desire to thwart him in any way she could. But by the end of the First Age, those Eldar who had been burdened with the Doom of Mandos were pardoned and allowed to return to Valinor at a time of their own choosing. Galadriel, however, had openly declared that she would not accept the pardon of the Valar.
The reasons for this are varied and sometimes contradictory. Tolkien writes at one point that she would not forsake the love of Celeborn, who did not want to leave Middle-Earth. In other writings he alludes to her farsightedness in resolving to do her part in opposing Sauron should he again come to power. Generally speaking, it is a common theme that Galadriel was ruled by both pridefulness and a desire to have power of her own in Middle-Earth. In fact, had she been offered The One Ring in her youth she almost assuredly would have accepted it. But the accumulated wisdom that she acquired over two Ages led to her ultimate rejection of it when it was freely offered by Frodo. She used the power of Nenya to fortify Lothlorien and create a representation of the beauty that existed in Valinor. But as she and Celeborn fought "the long defeat" against Sauron, Galadriel once again began to miss the Undying Lands.
Her opportunity for pardon had passed but, as a reward for her decision to freely reject The One Ring as well as her critical assistance in the defeat of Sauron, the Valar granted her a seat on the ship that would leave the Grey Havens with the other ring bearers.
No matter how she came to Middle-Earth or whatever reasons she had for remaining there, her role in the War of the Ring was indispensable and her fate ultimately became tied to that of The One Ring.