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Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » What was the Secret Fire that Gandalf said in Moria that he served? (Page 4)
Author Topic: What was the Secret Fire that Gandalf said in Moria that he served?
Lord Aragorn
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Towars the bottom of the second page Fingolfin made this comment:

quote:
What is kind of funny is the term "secret fire was used for the fires of Mt. Doom at one time(The Return of the Shadow pg82 HMC ed):

quote:
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...Feiry Mountain, and drop it down into the Secret Fire, if you really wanted to destroy it.

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Somewhere along the line I either missed the disscussion about it or it got lost in the shuffle. Was the "secret fire/flame imperishable" a tangible fire that was somehow connected to Mt. Doom? Tour made a good comment about it representing free will, but that is something that is intangible. Is it both tangible and intangible in some way?
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Durin's Bane
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Wow this topic is still going on? Makes me feel like a newbie again.

On a serious note, now that I have some background from the Silm, I believe it is the Flame Impearishable, set in the heart of middle earth. Gandalf served Eru for the good of Middle-earth.

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Pour me somthing tall and strong, make it a hurricane before I go insane. It's only half past twelve, but I don't care, it's five-o-clock somewhere.

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Elendil the Faithful
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I know no one has talked in this thread for a while, just thought I'd bring up an idea that no one has offered yet. In Moria, Gandalf says,
quote:
I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor
Now when I first saw the movie I didn't understand what the heck Anor was. Then i got into Tolkien, and well now I'm basically a purist whos torn between the books and movies. Anywho, my idea was that he could be referring to the Sun because Anor is the elvish word for setting sun, as in Minas Anor . And for whoever has read the Sil, Melkor and his minions feared the sun, and he even tried to destroy it but thankfully failed. So he could be referring to the flame of the sun, which all orcs hate as well. As for Gandalf calling the Balrog the Flame of Udun, Udun was also another name for Morgoth's fortress of Utumno of old.

[ 03-31-2005, 12:48 PM: Message edited by: Elendil the Faithful ]

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Anorgil
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quote:
What is kind of funny is the term "secret fire was used for the fires of Mt. Doom at one time(The Return of the Shadow pg82 HMC ed):
Mount Doom held the hottest fire known in Middle-earth, so it might have been believed to have some connection to the earth's core.
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The Witch-King of Angmar
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Actually Melkor destroyed the two trees, from which the light of the sun and moon were saved after Fëanor refused to try to unlock the light of the Silmarils. I don't remember him trying to destroy the sun; nor could he really do it, since he couldn't fly.

Likewise, "Anor" is the term for the sun, not just the setting sun; Minas Anor wouldn't make sense, since the setting sun would be behind Mount Mindolluin, and wouldn't show on the tower at all.

There's some discrepancy about the sun before the Akâllabeth, however, since the Silmarillion states that it passed over the world from the west, and passed back east underground; other writings seem to claim that it passed into Arda through the Gates of Dawn and out through the Door of Night.
After the Akâllabeth, the earth became round, and so the sun simply circled it in Ilmen, now passing from east to west.

As for the "Secret Fire," this probably relates to the Flame Imperisable of Illúvatar, whereby Gandalf was sent to influence the free will of Men in order to help undo the evil of Melkor and his servants. He probably wasn't referring to Narya, since this would be revealing a secret advantage to his enemy.

[ 04-06-2005, 09:54 AM: Message edited by: The Witch-King of Angmar ]

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Halion
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quote:
Actually Melkor destroyed the two trees
Actually, he did not.

The chapter ‘Of the Darkening of Valinor’ in the published Silmarillion follows ‘The Annals of Aman’ and does not follow the Quenta Silmarillion in its latest rewriting (ca. 1959, published in HoMe X: Morgoth’s Ring) in that, in the later version, Melkor is not present when Ungoliant kills the Trees, but goes straight to Formenos.

Christopher thinks the reason for the change was that his father “found it unacceptable that Melkor should have risked allowing Ungoliantë to come anywhere near the Silmarils”.


quote:
Likewise, "Anor" is the term for the sun, not just the setting sun; Minas Anor wouldn't make sense, since the setting sun would be behind Mount Mindolluin, and wouldn't show on the tower at all.
Elendil the Faithful probably got it from ‘The Council of Elrond’:
quote:
And Minas Ithil they [the people of Gondor] built, Tower of the Rising Moon, eastward upon a shoulder of the Mountains of Shadow; and westward at the feet of the White Mountains Minas Anor they made, Tower of the Setting Sun.

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Actually Melkor destroyed the two trees
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Actually, he did not.

This is good info, but the point was that he acted to destroy the Two Trees, not the Sun.
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Elendil the Faithful
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Actually WkoA , if I rember correctly, Melkor sent "dark spirits" to assail the Maiar that carried the vessel of the sun across the sky, but they were defeated. Ill back this up with quotes one I can find my Sil book.

[ 04-11-2005, 11:04 PM: Message edited by: Elendil the Faithful ]

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"Et Earello Endorenna utulien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn'Ambar-metta!"
"Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world."

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Roll of Honor Silmahtar
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Just the Moon:
quote:
But Morgoth hated the new lights, and was for a while confounded by this unlooked-for stroke of the Valar. Then he assailed Tilion, sending spirits of shadow against him, and there was strife in Ilmen beneath the paths of the stars; but Tilion was victorious. And Arien Morgoth feared with a great fear, but dared not come nigh her, having indeed no longer the power;

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Elendil the Faithful
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Oh never mind then srry my mistake. I knew it was one of them.
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The Witch-King of Angmar
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What kinds of spirits of shadow?
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Elendil the Faithful
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Just speculating, but I think they could have been Maiar that Melkor corrupted to his service, just like the spirits he sent to assail the Elves when they first awoke beside Cuivienen. Also the quote Sil provided says,

quote:
And Arien Morgoth feared with a great fear, but dared not come nigh her, having indeed no longer the power;
So that really just supports my original theory; that Morgoth and his servants feared the sun, and that is why Gandalf refered to the sun.

[ 04-13-2005, 04:04 PM: Message edited by: Elendil the Faithful ]

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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That makes sense; however what's less apparent is the spirits that the Witch-King sent to inhabit the Barrow-downs.
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Elendil the Faithful
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I also found this quote from The Encyclopedia of Arda to support my theory:

quote:
"'You cannot pass,' he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. 'I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass."
Gandalf's challenge to the Balrog
from The Fellowship of the Ring II 5 The Bridge of Khazad-dûm

A mysterious power claimed by Gandalf in the face of Durin's Bane. It is nowhere else referred to, and so its particular meaning remains unclear. Anor is the Sun, and so literally the 'flame of Anor' would be the light of the Sun, which originated in the fiery fruit of Laurelin, one of the Two Trees of Valinor. Gandalf seems to be referring, then, to the power he gains as a servant of the Lords of the West, in defiance to the corrupted darkness of the Balrog.



[ 04-14-2005, 11:13 PM: Message edited by: Elendil the Faithful ]

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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Read the whole entry. It reads:

quote:

Secret Fire
The fire at the heart of the World
"Therefore Ilúvatar gave to their vision Being, and set it amid the Void, and the Secret Fire was sent to burn at the heart of the World; and it was called Eä."
-- Valaquenta

A mysterious power, never explained in detail, that seems to represent the principle of existence and creation. Little can be said of it for certain, though it seems to be identified with, or at least connected to, the Flame Imperishable of Ilúvatar. When Gandalf met the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, he spoke of himself as a servant of the Secret Fire. It has been conjectured that these words referred to his fire-ring Narya, but it seems unlikely that he would reveal this to a bitter enemy. More plausibly, Gandalf's words identify him as a servant of the power of Ilúvatar.

Other articles include:
quote:
Flame Imperishable
The source of life
Apparently also called the 'Secret Fire', the Flame Imperishable seems to represent that aspect of Ilúvatar through which he was able to grant free will and true life to the beings he created.

The Fire of Ilúvatar
Perhaps a name for the Flame Imperishable
A term of uncertain meaning, apparently with the same meaning as 'Flame Imperishable'. It was kept by Ilúvatar.

I don't know where you got that article you cited.
We do know that Gandalf was sent by Illúvatar to help the people of Middle Earth to learn to take care of themselves against evil, which was introduced to Arda by the corruption of the Music of Eru by Morgoth, so I think this is what he meant-- i.e. he was there to right Morgoth's wrong which lingered in the world.

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Earendilyon
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quote:
We do know that Gandalf was sent by Illúvatar to help the people of Middle Earth to learn to take care of themselves against evil
Small correction: Olorin was sent by the Valar. Gandalf was resent as Gandalf the White by Eru.

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
"For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."

John 3:16-21

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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I thought this as well, but this wouldn't square with Gandalf the Grey being "a servant of the Secret Fire," as he told the Balrog. He was a maia of the people of Manwë and Varda, but only Eru held power over the Flame Imperishable. This would mean that Gandalf was claiming to be a servant of Eru, and not the Valar. He might have been sent by the Valar, but apparently he answered directly to Eru.
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Earendilyon
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But one can also say that all Ainur were not only Children of Eru's thought, but also that they served Him. So, the purpose of Olorin's whole being was to serve the One he originated from. But he was sent by the Valar.

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
"For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."

John 3:16-21

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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A soldier can be sent by a general, but still serve his king, who finalizes the rules of war, and thereby authorizes all military authority.

I think Gandalf meant to say (without giving away anything) that he was authorized by Eru, to do anything necessary to save the Children of Illúvatar (i.e. the recipients of the Secret Fire) from defeat, and so this meant that it was impossible for the Balrog to pass, since this would have ended the quest; basically Gandalf meant that he was in charge of writing the story of Arda at that point, and the balrog could not kill the party since it would ruin the story of Arda from Eru's will (not to mention LotR).

However the Istari were also not permitted to match power with power, and so Gandalf was in a bind regarding his "rules of engagement;" as a result, he only halted the Balrog with a warning, rather than fighting it-- and he only broke the bridge because Aragorn and Boromir rushed to his aid, and Gandalf could no longer protect them from the Balrog. After Gandalf did this and got dragged down into the abyss, he only fought the Balrog at Zirak-zigil, since he was trapped there and had no means of escape from it (except back the way he had come).

I guess Gandalf didn't think it was prudent at that point to flee from the Balrog back down the stair, and seek the passage back to Khazad-dûm (by which Durin's folk initially freed it); he probably would have died of starvation, and definitely wouldn't emerge in time to save the Children of Illúvatar.

[ 04-17-2005, 12:59 PM: Message edited by: The Witch-King of Angmar ]

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Earendilyon
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The Valar were the rulers of Arda and ruled it based on the knowledge they had of the Music. Eru was seldomly contacted by Manwe and He only participated in the history of Arda infrequently. Because of their guardianship of Arda, the Valar sent the Istari "to contest the power of Sauron, if he should arise again, and to move Elves and Men and all living things of good will to valiant deeds." (Silm. 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age') The Unfinished Tales, 'The Istari' tells us that the Valar sent them with Eru's consent, but it was their plan, for they "still took counsel for the governance of Middle-earth". Letter #156 tells us that Gandalf was sent by the Valar, but that their plan was later taken up by Eru:
quote:
He was sent by a mere prudent plan of the angelic Valar or governors; but Authority had taken up this plan and enlarged it, at the moment of its failure. 'Naked I was sent back – for a brief time, until my task is done'. Sent back by whom, and whence? Not by the 'gods' whose business is only with this embodied world and its time; for he passed 'out of thought and time'.
.

I also highly doubt that Gandalf would mean with his claim that he "was in charge of writing the story of Arda at that point" as you put it. His charge was to contest the power of Sauron by strengthening the hearts of Elves and Men. He said on more than one occassion, that he had forgotten much of what he new in the Far West. I'm sure he had no overall vision of Arda's history at that moment on the Bridge.

Aforementionned Letter #156 discusses Gandalf (and the other Istari) at length. It tells us, for example:
quote:
The 'wizards' were not exempt [of erring or failing], indeed being incarnate were more likely to stray, or err. Gandalf alone fully passes the tests, on a moral plane anyway (he makes mistakes of judgement). For in his condition it was for him a sacrifice to perish on the Bridge in defence of his companions, less perhaps than for a mortal Man or Hobbit, since he had a far greater inner power than they; but also more, since it was a humbling and abnegation of himself in conformity to 'the Rules': for all he could know at that moment he was the only person who could direct the resistance to Sauron successfully, and all his mission was vain. He was handing over to the Authority that ordained the Rules, and giving up personal hope of success.
This clearly indicates, that Gandalf didn't know what would happen after his defence of his companions. He only knew, that he was the only one capable of combatting the Balrog, so he did. He didn't know, though, whether or not his mission (nor the mission of the Fellowship) would succeed. On a side note, Gandalf broke the Bridge to stop the Balrog, rather than "because Aragorn and Boromir rushed to his aid".

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
"For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."

John 3:16-21

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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No, he broke the bridge because Boromir and Aragorn rushed to his aid; before this, he simply told the Balrog "you cannot pass," and the Balrog did nothing else to try to attack him. It was only when the others rushed to his aid, that he broke the bridge in desperation:

quote:
'Over the bridge!' cried Gandalf, recalling his strength. `Fly! This is a foe beyond any of you. I must hold the narrow way. Fly! ' Aragorn and Boromir did not heed the command, but still held their ground, side by side, behind Gandalf at the far end of the bridge. The others halted just within the doorway at the hall's end, and turned, unable to leave their leader to face the enemy alone.The Balrog reached the bridge. Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm.
`You cannot pass,' he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. `I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.'
The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly on to the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall; but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm.
From out of the shadow a red sword leaped flaming.
Glamdring glittered white in answer.
There was a ringing clash and a stab of white fire. The Balrog fell back and its sword flew up in molten fragments. The wizard swayed on the bridge, stepped back a pace, and then again stood still.
'You cannot pass! ' he said.
With a bound the Balrog leaped full upon the bridge. Its whip whirled and hissed.
'He cannot stand alone! ' cried Aragorn suddenly and ran back along the bridge. 'Elendil!' he shouted. 'I am with you, Gandalf! ' Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog's feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained, poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into emptiness.
With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard's knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. 'Fly, you fools! ' he cried, and was gone.

So see that Gandalf breaks the bridge only because Aragorn and Boromir

Note still that he did not attack the Balrog directly; if his staff was powerful enough to break the bridge, it could have probably killed the Balrog as well.

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Earendilyon
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The text does only tell those two things happened after eachother, not that the latter was caused by the first. You may read it like that, I see no reason to do so. Gandalf smote the bridge because the Balrog did come too close, not because A&B did.
I also happen to think, that Gandalf's staff in itself didn't have any power. Despite all your hatred for the movies, your view of Tolkien's world seems to have greatly been misformed by them! The Istari's staffs were only instruments (like their swords). Their power resided in themselves.

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
"For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."

John 3:16-21

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Thingol of Doriath
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quote:
he broke the bridge because Boromir and Aragorn rushed to his aid
That's quite an assumption. The Balrog had also just leapt onto the bridge, as Ear pointed out, a much more plausible reason for Gandalf to destroy the bridge. As we see... it had the desired outcome as well: the Balrog plunged into the abyss. Unfortunantly, Gandalf didn't take the whip into account.

quote:
The Istari's staffs were only instruments (like their swords). Their power resided in themselves.

Gandalf did manage to fight and throw down the Balrog staff-less.
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The Witch-King of Angmar
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He did have Glamdring and Narya.

It's also silly to assume that Gandalf breaking his staff was just a poetic analogy, to Moses breaking his staff on the rock; also Gandalf didn't demand that Saruman surrender his staff merely as a symbolic gesture. Their staffs definitely carried power, not merely walking-sticks; this was made clear at Theoden's gate.

Gandalf likely knew that breaking the bridge wouldn't kill the balrog, but it would allow them to escape from it; it would take at least a few hours for even a balrog, who can move with "winged speed," to find his way back from the bottom of the bridge to their side of the chasm, even if there was a passage to their side (though there was definitely a passage to the other side).

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Earendilyon
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Narya was not for fighting purposes.

Gandalf smote the Bridge. In this act, his staff broke. The text doesn't say the he broke the staff himself. The staffs of the Istari were a symbol of their office and of their power, but they didn't possess power themselves. The soldiers of Theoden (and Grima) thought Gandalf's staff carried power, but that's how they saw it. The Istari had power of and in themselves, because they were Maiar. They didn't need their staffs.

[ 04-20-2005, 02:08 AM: Message edited by: Earendilyon ]

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
"For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."

John 3:16-21

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