Christmas special: Varda and Mary

Last week I read a passage in Morgoth's Ring that reminded me so much of the John Prologue. There Eru says to Varda:

Though 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.

Does that not sound like:

The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world...
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it...
He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.


Of course this is not a perfect parallel and certainly does not work as allegory, but for me it enhances my reading of Tolkien and Scripture. It makes the Trees to be a prototype for Jesus, which opens up a wide horizon (tree of life, shoot from the stump of Jesse, sun being only second-best compared to other cultures, light of the world, etc.), but as Catholics just celebrated Immaculata, I want to focus on his mother. MR continues:

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.

Something similar could also be said about Virgin Mary and Catholics' devotion to her. Tolkien states in letter 212 "The Invocations of Elbereth [...] were clearly related to Catholic devotion to Mary". I wonder if the first notes of Myths Transformed are an attempt to reconcile Varda with Catholic teaching on Mary (unfallen and in Gods plan to redeem mankind), motivated by various LOTR-readers' notions. Varda was primarily the Queen of the Stars but now Tolkien makes her more prominent and makes her also a co-designer of Moon and Sun:

Therefore Manwe took counsel with Varda […] and they resolved to alter the fashion of Arda and of Earth, and in their thought they devised Ithil, the Moon.

and later:

Therefore Varda set there the most ardent and beautiful of all those spirits who have entered with her into Eä, and Varda gave to her keeping a portion of the gift of Illuvatar so that the Sun should endure and be blessed and give blessing.

Varda is now similar to the primary world's "Queen of Heavens" and "Queen of Angels". Or the other way around. Mary from Revelations 12 resembles Varda now:

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars

I think we can understand the impact of the E-Bomb (used by Woodhall elves, Gildor, Frodo, Bilbo, Imladris elves, Galadhrim, Legolas, Sam) better when we know the significance of Mary to believers. By the way, Elbereth makes a better Mary than Galadriel the penitent, especially after Tolkien's reconsiderations of her role in the Noldor's rebellion. Finally I want to juxtapose two poems. One being one of the Tolkiens' most beautiful ones and Salve Regina, a beautiful latin song, the 2nd most famous prayer directed to Mary. It is prayed by thousands men and women every night, since many centuries. Tolkien must have known it, at least from his time in the Birmingham Oratory.

Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!

Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath!
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the sea.

O Stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!

O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.


compared to:

O, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Hail our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.


What are your thoughts on this? Does this still fall under applicability? Is this any news to you, and if so, does Tolkiens text inspire you or make you angry?
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Hmm...

Sounds a bit forced in my opinion.Mary is still a mortal woman who was elevated Mong the saints, not an angelic being.If i had to look for an equivalent to Varda in christian religion i'd think of Sophia... or maybe Zaphkiel.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Hmm...

Sounds a bit forced in my opinion.Mary is still a mortal woman who was elevated Mong the saints, not an angelic being.If i had to look for an equivalent to Varda in christian religion i'd think of Sophia... or maybe Zaphkiel.
You mean as a non-angelic being? But Mary is considered above the angels in the ancient Apostolic Churches (not only the Catholic one, btw.). One of her actual titles is "Queen of Angels".
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Allright...

Above the angels and queen of angels does not mean an angelic being herself, or am i wrong? It does mean she is in celestial hierarchy above the angels, but as an elevated born human being, or am i wrong? I think the main difference is Angels are created as spirits while humans are born with a soul, so they're very different within creation.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
Allright...

Above the angels and queen of angels does not mean an angelic being herself, or am i wrong? It does mean she is in celestial hierarchy above the angels, but as an elevated born human being, or am i wrong? I think the main difference is Angels are created as spirits while humans are born with a soul, so they're very different within creation.
That's true. But that a difference of essence of being, not of standing or function.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
And of time? Angels would be primordial, there before creation, maybe zaving an assisting part in ruling the creation? Men, elevated or not, still being part of it? I am mixing up everything now... its becoming blurry of what i know about cosmoligy of Arda and what i bel7eve to know or remember on catholicism..
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
And of time? Angels would be primordial, there before creation, maybe zaving an assisting part in ruling the creation? Men, elevated or not, still being part of it? I am mixing up everything now... its becoming blurry of what i know about cosmoligy of Arda and what i bel7eve to know or remember on catholicism..
In Catholicism a human is a created incarnate (spritual-corporeal) being whose incarnation gets violently dissolved as a result of corruption and gets later miraculously restored - and then continues eternally. An angel (beyond the literal meaning of "messanger") is a created purelly spirital being which continues eternally.
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
Worth bearing in mind that Biblically, humanity is….trying to find the right words. Higher seems vague. Superior seems entitled. But those words compared to angels
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Worth bearing in mind that Biblically, humanity is….trying to find the right words. Higher seems vague. Superior seems entitled. But those words compared to angels
Elevated? Not yet, that is. In the process of being, actually... Still a work in progres, but as end result, for sure.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Well, made to rule the physical plane. Given authority over the meeting of the physical and spiritual, as the living embodiments of that. Celestial bodies/beings governing the sky. The narrative people had the capacity for choice and chose poorly but we’re made in ways the Elohim were not and are intended to judge them (Corinthians). Made in Yahweh’s imagine and all that

Edit: I would add, I’m always hesitant of one-for-one comparisons but it does strike me that for a person who would be so familiar with his own Bible and held it in high regard, would have been very aware of the evident similarities to the initial quote to Varda, even if influences also came from other sources.

Apart from Middle Earth, I’d be curious to know Tolkien’s own cosmology and where he stood on the interpretation of angelic beings and the like
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
Well, made to rule the physical plane. Given authority over the meeting of the physical and spiritual, as the living embodiments of that. Celestial bodies/beings governing the sky. The narrative people had the capacity for choice and chose poorly but we’re made in ways the Elohim were not and are intended to judge them (Corinthians). Made in Yahweh’s imagine and all that
Able to grow and increase and as such influence ourselves what we will become. While the "Elohim" are stable but "set"/determined already.
 
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