arrowpoint: (➹ eryn)
arrowpoint ([personal profile] arrowpoint) wrote in [community profile] nolondili2014-03-21 07:04 pm
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Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 3

Of Death and the Severance of the Fea and Hrondo

It must be understood that what has yet been said concerning Eldarin marriage refers to its right course and nature in a world unmarred, or to the manners of those uncorrupted by the Shadow and to days of peace and order. But nothing, as has been said, utterly avoids the Shadow upon Arda or is wholly unmarred, so as to proceed unhindered upon its right courses. In the Elder Days, and in the ages before the Dominion of Men, there were times of great trouble and many griefs and evil chances; and Death afflicted all the Eldar, as it did all other living things in Arda save the Valar only: for the visible form of the Valar proceeds from their own will and with regard to their true being is to be likened rather to the chosen raiment of Elves and Men than to their bodies.

Now the Eldar are immortal within Arda according to their right nature. But if a fea (or spirit) indwells in and coheres with a hrondo (or bodily form) that is not of its own choice but ordained, and is made of the flesh or substance of Arda itself, then the fortune of this union must be vulnerable by the evils that do hurt to Arda, even if that union be by nature and purpose permanent. For in spite of this union, which is of such a kind that according to unmarred nature no living person incarnate may be without a fea, nor without a hrondo, yet fea and hrondo are not the same things; and though the fea cannot be broken or disintegrated by any violence from without, the hrondo can be hurt and may be utterly destroyed.

If then the hrondo be destroyed, or so hurt that it ceases to have health, sooner or later it 'dies'. That is: it becomes painful for the fea to dwell in it, being neither a help to life and will nor a delight to use, so that the fea departs from it, and its function being at an end its coherence is unloosed, and it returns again to the general hron of Arda. Then the fea is, as it were, houseless, and it becomes invisible to bodily eyes (though clearly perceptible by direct awareness to other fear).

This destruction of the hrondo, causing death or the unhousing of the fea, was soon experienced by the immortal Eldar, when they awoke in the marred and overshadowed realm of Arda. Indeed in their earlier days death came more readily; for their bodies were then less different from the bodies of Men, and the command of their spirits over their bodies less complete.

This command was, nonetheless, at all times greater than it has ever been among Men. From their beginnings the chief difference between Elves and Men lay in the fate and nature of their spirits. The fear of the Elves were destined to dwell in Arda for all the life of Arda, and the death of the flesh did not abrogate that destiny. Their fear were tenacious therefore of life 'in the raiment of Arda', and far excelled the spirits of Men in power over that 'raiment', even from the first days protecting their bodies from many ills and assaults (such as disease), and healing them swiftly of injuries, so that they recovered from wounds that would have proved fatal to Men.

As ages passed the dominance of their fear ever increased, 'consuming' their bodies (as has been noted). The end of this process is their 'fading', as Men have called it; for the body becomes at last, as it were, a mere memory held by the fea; and that end has already been achieved in many regions of Middle earth, so that the Elves are indeed deathless and may not be destroyed or changed. Thus it is that the further we go back in the histories, the more often do we read of the death of the Elves of old; and in the days when the minds of the Eldalie were young and not yet fully awake death among them seemed to differ little from the death of Men.

What then happened to the houseless fea? The answer to this question the Elves did not know by nature. In their beginning (so they report) they believed, or guessed, that they 'entered into Nothing', and ended like other living things that they knew, even as a tree that was felled and burned. Others guessed more darkly that they passed into 'the Realm of Night' and into the power of the 'Lord of Night'. These opinions were plainly derived from the Shadow under which they awoke; and it was to deliver them from this shadow upon their minds, more even than from the dangers of Arda marred, that the Valar desired to bring them to the light of Aman.

It was in Aman that they learned of Manwe that each fea was imperishable within the life of Arda, and that its fate was to inhabit Arda to its end. Those fear, therefore, that in the marring of Arda suffered unnaturally a divorce from their hrondor remained still in Arda and in Time. But in this state they were open to the direct instruction and command of the Valar. As soon as they were disbodied they were summoned to leave the places of their life and death and go to the 'Halls of Waiting': Mandos, in the realm of the Valar. If they obeyed this summons different opportunities lay before them.(32) The length of time that they dwelt in Waiting was partly at the will of Namo the Judge, lord of Mandos, partly at their own will. The happiest fortune, they deemed, was after the Waiting to be re-born, for so the evil and grief that they had suffered in the curtailment of their natural course might be redressed.

Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 1 :: Pertaining to Marriage.
Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 2 :: On Naming
Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 3 :: Of Death
Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 4 :: Of Rebirth
Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 5 :: Of The Severance of Marriage

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