The Elven Star Eärendil and The Norse
Sources for the shining light of the Silmaril that had been rescued from the the Northern Lands of Angband by the elvish-man couple Lúthien and Beren.
Following the background section explaining why I am developing a new kind of book bridging fact with fiction is an extract from the forthcoming series Viking Legends & Norse Mythology Source Book. Among those visitations to be undertaken in the series, are Nordic connections to Tolkien, beginning the untold story of some of the many influences from Nordic myths and legends that helped shape the development of Middle Earth.
The book itself is really a personal voyage of discovery, a journey embarked on since 2007 when I started writing the fiction project The Elements – my quest to write ‘The Lord Of The Rings in the real world’, to envisage and realize a hard-boiled but epic series as big as anything from fantasy including the likes of Game Of Thrones.
Wanting to have something set in the real world, yet with the sort of depth we love from the greats, I turned to a world of legend and myth that has been probably the greatest source of inspiration for most fantasy out there — Nordic Mythology. From humble beginnings, the research, the places and discovery of Nordic legends has fueled and continues to fuel an imagination that perhaps, more than anything else has been hell-bent on recreating the past. This book is the revealing of Nordic sources and the tales I have come across in the telling of tales.
One of the lessons I have learned on this journey is that myths are more a way of life, than just a way of seeing or believing the past or how the present came into being. Creating fiction based on true-to-life crime and mystery is far removed from the liberties available when creating a work of fantasy. I wanted it to live and breath, and yet I needed it to remain a backdrop that engaged the imagination of the reader.
The Quest for a Different Kind Of Story
To understand the land and the people known as the Vikings, I’ve spent long periods of time living in especially Sweden and Denmark, building a large network of people. I’ve travelled far and wide researching, taking in many different aspects of Scandinavia, have walked many of Sweden’s national parks in the sun, wind and rain, all of which add a surprising understanding of place. These places in turn provided me with the detailed insight into the history of location, one little discovery added to the next, combining as a ‘sum of discovery’ — making places of the imagination real and believable as if they were our own. It is with these places in mind we turn to the wonderful world of Tolkien…
Extract: Tolkien Connections
Revered by the Elves, it was the light of the star Eärendil that was said to lead the men of the isle of Númenor, the Númenorians to Middle Earth in the Second Age. Eärendil was also a mariner. One of the half-elven Peredhil who was a descendent of the original men of the elder days, he sailed his elegant boat Vingilot wearing the Silmaril on his forehead.
The star of high hope, Gil-Estel, shone with the light of the silmaril brightly in the Western sky, a light so brilliant it his the light of the all the other stars in the night sky, creating the Numeórean name for their new land, Elenna, meaning ‘starwards’ — or the fuller Elenna·nórë meaning ‘starwards land,’ the light of the star was the incarnation of Eärendil himself, following the great war of wrath, resulting in the destruction of a swathe of Western Middle Earth called Beleriand. The light of Eärendil is also something we are well familiar from Peter Jackson’s filmatization, featured in the small glass vial given to Frodo by the lady Galadriel, to be used to shine light in dark places when facing the perils on the road to Mordor.
A star, a name, a great war, a guiding light, all have remarkable similarities to Nordic legends concerning the name Auzawandils/ Auzawandila, a Gothic equivalent of the name Aurvandill. Called Earendel by the Saxons, Auriwandalo by the Lombards and Aurvandil by the Norse, Aurvandil/ Earendel are obvious sources for Tolkien’s Eärendil. Aurvandil the man had his frozen toe thrown into the sky by Thor — in turn to become a bright star, possibly Venus. The Quenya phrase “Aiya Eärendil, elenion ancalima!” translates as “Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!”, almost identical to the line “Hail Earendel, brightest of angels” in Crist I, going even so far as to use the same syntax as the Old English version. In the Old English poem Crist I follow in lines 104–111:
éala éarendel engla beorhtast
ofer middangeard monnum sended
and sodfasta sunnan leoma,
tohrt ofer tunglas þu tida gehvane
of sylfum þe symle inlihtes.
Swa þu, god of gode gearo acenned,
sunu soþan fæder swegles in wuldre
This translates as:
‘Hail Day-Star! Brightest angel sent to man throughout the earth, and Thou steadfast splendour of the sun, bright above stars! Ever Thou dost illumine with Thy light the time of every season. As Thou, begotten God of God, Son of the True Father, without beginning.’
Earendel has also been called ‘the brightest of angels’. Eärendil the Mariner finds correspondence in Orendel the mariner, possibly originating as a Vandal sea-king, becoming the Danish Orvendill the father of Amleth we know from Hamlet!
Others have related Auza-wandilaz, with the first element from the Indo-European root aus– for ‘dawn’, suggesting ‘dawn-wanderer’ or ‘dawn-turner’, a fitting name for a morning star. In Manichaeism, Auzawandilaz is a deity depicted as a cloaked man with a sword in one hand and a lantern in the other, known as ‘the Luminous Wanderer’, a god similarly associated with the light of dawn and/or the morning star, said to be waging eternal war against the forces of darkness, Muþspel or Muspell, the Nordic envisioning of ‘the end of times’, the end of which we know better called Ragnarok.
In Ragnarok is the great final battle between Gods and giants that leads to the destruction of the world. According to the Germanic Muspell, Auzawandilaz will then sacrifice himself to preserve two members of the human race, so that humanity may be reborn.
Interestingly, the priests of Auzawandilaz are described as ‘a very secretive organization’, who often gather at dawn to worship the morning star and the rising Sun.