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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 5)
Author Topic: What was the Secret Fire that Gandalf said in Moria that he served?
The Witch-King of Angmar
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Then why would Saruman tell Wormtongue to keep Gandalf's staff out of Theoden's hall, if it had no power? Or was Wormtongue just stupid-- and Gandalf only made a fuss to Hama just for the heck of it? Also why would Gandalf bother breaking his staff otherwise? To mask his using his powers? It doesn't add up.

As for Narya being "for fighting," the other two of the Three, Vilya and Nenya, had enough power to keep orcs and trolls out of Rivendell and Lorién, and to keep their entire realms from aging etc; it's fairly certain that Narya could help against a single creature of fire like a balrog. Gandalf simply wasn't permitted to speak of it until after the One was destroyed-- and he didn't even reveal that he had it until the journey to the Havens-- apparently when the Three Rings' power had passed.
Likewise, he didn't like to talk about the battle with the Balrog; but it would be highly unlikely that he couldn't use the power of Narya to avail him.

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Why do you have the idea that everything Wormtongue did was something Saruman had told him to do? As a regular visitor of Saruman, he thought Saruman's staff had power, but he didn't realise that the power Saruman wielded with his staff resided in Saruman himself, not in the staff. It's like a sword: it doesn't do anything, unless it's wielded by someone.
Why did Gandlaf make a fuss about it? Because he was an old man, who had ridden a horse for a couple of days on end!
Why do you think Gandalf "bothered to break his staff"? As I read the text, the staff broke because of the power with which it was thrust on the stone Bridge. As we don't have much info from the books on the Istari's staffs, we do not know how they used them. I think they used them solely as a kind of channel for their power; as Maiar they had power of themselves, they didn't need some kind of magic-accumulator to get extra power.

The Three Elven Rings were not for fighting purposes. Defense by some kind of Girdle of Melian around Rivendel and Lorien is a whole different thing. The Silm clearly states that "those who had them in their keeping could ward off the decays of time and postpone the weariness of the world". That was the purpose of these Three Rings; that was what the Elves longed for: keeping the status quo, making a miniature Valinor in Middle-earth.

"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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Ok, the Three Rings could keep entire armies out of an entire region, but were useless against a single enemy. Gotcha.

Also we have several examples of the Wizards' staffs having power:
On Caradras, he holds the firewood to his staff to ignite it.
In Moria, his staff produces light.
He breaks his staff on the bridge, and a white sheet of flame springs up and the bridge breaks. (Kinda coincidental, huh?) Likewise, his staff doesn't choose to break on the doors of Moria when he bangs it against THEM.
He refuses to surrender his staff at the door of Theoden, as Wormtongue bids him to do.
He demands Saruman surrender his staff as a condition of his release, and Saruman rebels as a result, claiming that Gandalf wants "the Rods of the Five Wizards." Gandalf then commands Saruman's staff broken, and he loses his power along with it (not that all his power was IN his staff).

You can brazen out each one of these examples as the staffs being "symbolic," but again it doesn't add up. Perhaps Moses' staff didn't have any power, but Gandalf was a wizard not a prophet.

[ 04-20-2005, 09:07 AM: Message edited by: The Witch-King of Angmar ]

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Elendil the Faithful
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I'm gonna have to agree with WkoA one this one- I believe the staffs did bear some kinds of power within them, yet not their complete power; for example, Saruman had his voice, Radagast could talk to the animals, etc.

The staff, IMHO also represents their office, or status within the Order-just as colors denote rank-and represent them being in the Order. At Isengard, Gandalf doesn't simply say "Your staff is broken," he also says, " and I cast you from the Order." This could mean that the staff showed office, just as the king's sceptre.

[ 04-20-2005, 11:26 PM: Message edited by: Elendil the Faithful ]

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Guard of the Citadel
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Amazing that this quote has not been provided yet [] :
As a shadow Melkor did not then conceive himself. For in his beginning he loved and desired light, and the form that he took was exceedingly bright; and he said in his heart: 'On such brightness as I am the Children shall hardly endure to look; therefore to know of aught else or beyond or even to strain their small minds to conceive of it would not be for their good.' But the lesser brightness that stands before the greater becomes a darkness. And Melkor was jealous, therefore, of all other brightnesses, and wished to take all light unto himself. There­fore Ilúvatar, at the entering in of the Valar into Eä, added a theme to the Great Song which was not in it at the first Singing, and he called one of the Ainur to him. Now this was that Spirit which afterwards became Varda (and taking female form became the spouse of Manwë). To Varda Ilúvatar said: 'I will give unto thee a parting gift. Thou shalt take into Eä a light that is holy, coming new from Me, unsullied by the thought and lust of Melkor, and with thee it shall enter into Eä, and be in Eä, but not of Eä.' Wherefore Varda is the most holy and revered of all the Valar, and those that name the light of Varda name the love of Eä that Eru has, and they are afraid, less only to name the One. Nonetheless this gift of Ilúvatar to the Valar has its own peril, as have all his free gifts: which is in the end no more than to say that they play a part in the Great Tale so that it may be complete; for without peril they would be without power, and the giving would be void.


This is named the First Battle; and though Manwë had the victory, great hurt was done to the work of the Valar; and the worst of the deeds of the wrath of Melkor was seen in the Sun. Now the Sun was designed to be the heart of Arda, and the Valar purposed that it should give light to all that Realm, unceasingly and without wearying or diminution, and that from its light the world should receive health and life and growth. Therefore Varda set there the most ardent and beautiful of all those spirits that had entered with her into Eä, and she was named Ār(i), and Varda gave to her keeping a portion of the gift of Ilúvatar so that the Sun should endure and be blessed and give blessing.The Sun, the loremasters tell us, was in that beginning named Âs (which is as near as it can be interpreted Warmth, to which are joined Light and Solace), and that the spirit therefore was called Āzië (or later Ārië).
But Melkor, as hath been told, lusted after all light, desiring it jealously for his own. Moreover he soon perceived that in As there was a light that had been concealed from him, and which had a power of which he had not thought. Therefore, afire at once with desire and anger, he went to Âs [written above: Asa], and he spoke to Árië, saying: 'I have chosen thee, and thou shalt be my spouse, even as Varda is to Manwë, and together we shall wield all splendour and mastery. Then the kingship of Arda shall be mine in deed as in right, and thou shalt be the partner of my glory.'
But Árië rejected Melkor and rebuked him, saying: 'Speak not of right, which thou hast long forgotten. Neither for thee nor by thee alone was Eä made; and thou shalt not be King of Arda. Beware therefore; for there is in the heart of As a light in which thou hast no part, and a fire which will not serve thee. Put not out thy hand to it. For though thy potency may destroy it, it will burn thee and thy brightness will be made dark.'
Melkor did not heed her warning, but cried in his wrath: 'The gift which is withheld I take!' and he ravished Árië, desiring both to abase her and to take into himself her powers. Then the spirit of Árië went up like a flame of anguish and wrath, and departed for ever from Arda; and the Sun was bereft of the Light of Varda, and was stained by the assault of Melkor. And being for a long while without rule it flamed with excessive heat or grew too cool, so that grievous hurt was done to Arda and the fashioning of the world was marred and delayed, until with long toil the Valar made a new order. But even as Árië foretold, Melkor was burned and his brightness darkened, and he gave no more light, but light pained him exceedingly and he hated it.

Myths Transformed, Text II.

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Soldier of Gondor
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Wow, here I am a newbie making a definitive contribution to a Library Council thread started by WGW.

Tolkien says in a letter what the Secret Fire is which Gandalf refers to on the Bridge. A reader has asked the Master, "Is the Secret Fire Gandalf refers to the Holy Spirit?" Tolkien replies, "Indeed, it is the Holy Ghost." I am paraphrasing.

I can't find the passage right now, but it's there in the letters somewhere.

[ 12-12-2009, 12:30 AM: Message edited by: Hopafoot ]

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White Gold Wielder
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Tolkien's intent is very relevant here, but without an entire quote with context, it can't be processed.

I don't have Letters on my thumb drive (I will amend this tonight), but perhaps someone else can pull the text?

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Guard of the Citadel
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I have been unable to locate the passage in Letters.
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