The Hidden Eden of The Lord of the Rings


You’ve heard of the “Two Towers” of The Lord of the Rings, but what of these “Two Trees”? Also, where else have we heard of two, very consequential trees? This will eventually take us to this tree, the White Tree of Gondor:


 

The first post of this series described the initial connection between the Lembas Bread and the Eucharist, as well as J. R. R. Tolkien’s lifelong devotion to the Eucharist. The last post described the Hidden Manna in The Lord of the Rings, that is, how the origin of the Lembas Bread symbolizes the Manna. Recall Tolkien’s description of the lembas as wrapped in "leaves of silver [...] a wafer of white wax shaped as a single flower of Telperion." What, or Who, was Telperion? 

Laurelin and Telperion: The Two Trees of Valinor and Eden


The first sources of all light for the world of Middle Earth were two enormous lamps. There was a silver lamp in the north called Illuin. There was also a golden lamp in the south called Ormal. 

Think about what Scripture says about “lamps” and “light.” Psalms 119:105 says “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” At the dawn of Creation, as described at the beginning of John’s Gospel, the Word made flesh is the light of the world:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Lastly, Jesus says at John 8:12, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Melkor and Ungoliant – Satan and the Serpent

The lamps of Middle-Earth were struck down and destroyed by Melkor with the aid of Ungoliant. Melkor’s name means “He Who Arises in Might.” Melkor was originally the most powerful of those created by Eru Ilúvatar, the Godhead. Melkor is the equivalent of Lucifer in Tolkien’s mythology. Just as the angel Lucifer fell from grace and became Satan, Melkor became Morgoth, the first Dark Lord. His servant eventually became Sauron. 

Ungoliant was a massive spider, like Shelob. In fact, Ungoliant was the mother of Shelob. She was likely even the first spider. Her origins were said to be from the darkness itself. Being a creature of darkness, she hungered for the light, eventually seeking to devour all light. But … “the darkness has not overcome” the light, as in John’s gospel. 

It is no wonder that we later see Ungoliant’s child, Shelob, drawn to the One Ring that was forged by Sauron, whose master was the former master of Shelob’s mother. But Shelob fails to overcome the bearer of the One Ring, Frodo, who bears the light which “shines in the darkness.” 

In Scripture Satan is depicted as a serpent when he slithers into Eden. Tolkien instead depicts his Satan figure, Melkor, as accompanied by a creature of darkness, a spider instead of a serpent. It should be noted that the Hebrew word for Satan’s manifestation in Genesis is nahash, which is translated into the Greek as leviathan, which is a massive serpent, not unlike the massive spider Ungoliant. Further, the serpent of Genesis is later referred to, in Revelation 12, as a dragon, which are also highly significant in Tolkien’s mythology.

Ezellohar & Eden

Though together Melkor/Morgoth and Ungoliant destroyed the lamps of light, afterward, the Valar went to the Undying Lands and Yavanna hallowed a high, green place. There, she sang into being Two Trees to bear the light of the Two Lamps. The Two Trees that grew in the Undying Lands were the silver Telperion and the golden Laurelin, male and female, respectively. The Trees sat on the green hill Ezellohar located outside Valimar, the city of the Valar.  Ezellohar, which translates as “Green Mound” and was also called Corollairë, stood before the western gates of Valimar.  Not only was it hallowed by Yavanna, it was watered by the tears of Nienna. 



The Two Trees of Ezellohar should immediately call to mind the Two Trees of Eden, namely the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil and the Tree of Life. Not only that, Ezellohar bears many resemblances to Eden. Eden was not just a Garden, nor even just a hallowed place, all like Ezellohar. It was also a high place, as were all the sites on which covenants were made between God and man. How do we know that Eden was a hill or mountain? Scripture tells us at Genesis 2:10 that “A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.” Rivers flow down from high places; therefore, Eden was either a hill or a mountain. Likely, Eden was mountain because it was mother to the four great rivers. 

Also, as Eden was shut following the work of Satan, Ezellohar was blackened.  Melkor/Morgorth and Ungoliant were not finished wreaking destruction. They became jealous of the beauty of the Two Trees. More on that in the next post!

What was the fate of Eden and the Two Trees? For the answer to this, please stay tuned for the next post. 

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