Gazing into GHG’s Palantir: The Shadows of the Past

Badgaladriel may have her mirror, and see to the depths with clarity, but I have a knock-off Palantir. In the deeps of time Fëanor crafted seven great seeing stones. You may even think I possess one.   But in the shadowy past clever goblin hands contrived a substitute which the Grey Havens Group has discovered and shared, allowing minds to meet from around the world. The Grey Havens Group Palantir has seen and heard much, but it is unpredictable and often fell. It is a contrary device, who knows what it may reveal to the unwary gaze? As the mists clear, ages pass, and the withered leaves of the conversation of earliest days is revealed in the barest shreds…

Reading The Lord of the Rings, “The Shadows of the Past,” lead to much discussion of Hobbit customs and gossip and whether Sam’s cousin is a reputable witness. As the story begins, the reader, like the hobbits, is dropped into a cultivated, civilized land, well documented but surrounded by deep seas of blank map. Hearing the tavern tales of lands and seas far off, the biases and beliefs of the hobbits themselves are revealed.

Flitting through many topics, ultimately the Palantir landed squarely on the nature of the elves and stuck. The elves are completely beyond the human experience and as such are near unthinkable. What might they be in the primary world? The experience of meeting an elf must be akin to a meeting by the low of the very high, of the hero by the fanatic.

The fireside episode between Frodo and Gandalf was also a major point of discussion. Of particular interest in this scene are the actions and reactions of Frodo which demonstrate the tremendous hold the Ring already has over him. The scene may also, in today’s parlance, be considered a spoiler of sorts. Here, the success of the quest is called into question and perhaps even answered definitively, before it is even begun.

…The mists clear, and the light within dims until the hour of our next meeting.

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