Animal afterlives?

Discussion in '"The Silmarillion"' started by Margaret Shirley, Nov 7, 2017.

  1. Margaret Shirley

    Margaret Shirley New Member

    Mar 5, 2017
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    Hi. I was wondering if there is any information on what happens to animals in Arda after they die. Specifically, I was thinking about sentient animals like Huan and the Eagles, although I would be interested in hearing about the less sentient ones as well. Does anyone have any information or speculation on this?
  2. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Nov 28, 2004
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    Hmm, good questions. Tolkien once wrote:

    "For the "Stature of Finwe and Miriel" was among the documents of lore most deeply studied and pondered. And as has been seen many questions and answers arising were appended. [?Thus] questions were also asked concerning the fate and death of Men. All [?read Also] concerning other "speaking", and therefore "reasonable", kinds: Ents, Trolls, Orcs -- and the speaking of beasts such as Huan, or the Great Eagles."

    Okay but what about the answers ;)

    Beasts I don't certainly know what Tolkien's internal view is here. The debate in Catholic circles regarding an animal after-life still continues, and this can get a bit tricky as the word "soul" in these circles need not equate with the immortal soul of humans.

    That said, see below after Tolkien's definition of the Elvish word fea (if still awake by then).

    Maiar-formed beasts generally speaking, the Valar, Maiar and Elves are bound to the world and time (Eru is outside time) until the End, and I would guess that the Maiar who inhabited beasts or plants could reincarnate if slain.

    I'm avoiding any possible Istari tangent here, however.


    "fea: "spirit": the particular spirit belonging to and "housed" in any one hroa of the Incarnates. It corresponds , more or less, to "soul"; and to "mind", when any attempt is made to distinguish between mentality, and the mental processes of Incarnates, conditioned and limited by the co-operation of the physical organs of the hroa. It was thus in its being (apart from its experience) the impulse and power to think: enquire and reflect, as distinct from the means of acquiring data. It was conscious and self aware: "self" however in Incanates, included the hroa. The fea was said by the Eldar to retain the impress or memory of the hroa and of all the combined experiences of itself and its body. (Quenya fea (dissyllabic) is from older *phaya. Sindarin faer, of the same meaning, corresponds to Quenya faire "spirit (in general)", as opposed to matter (erma) or flesh" (hrave).)" JRRT, Morgoth's Ring

    And unless I misunderstand Tolkien elsewhere, he does not appear to attribute fear to beasts in at least two places in Myths Transformed, whatever anyone will make of these references. The first reference is from a text concerning orc origins, in which Tolkien concludes that the main source of orcs were beasts (not necessarily his final decision of course), noting: "The same sort of thing may be said of Huan and the eagles: they were taught language by the Valar, and raised to a higher level -- but they still had no fear."

    Huan and the Eagles!???!

    And this is from the same text that had earlier noted: "Huan and Sorontar could be Maiar -- emissaries of Manwe. But unfortunately in The Lord of the Rings Gwaehir and Landroval are said to be descendants of Sorontar."

    I'm not sure why this is unfortunate.

    Anyway, yet elsewhere Tolkien noted: "Living things in Aman. As the Valar would robe themselves like the Children, many of the Maiar robed themselves like other lesser living things, as trees, flowers, beasts (Huan.)"

    And another note (Annals of Aman): "Manwe however sent Maia spirits in eagle form to dwell near Thangorodrim and keep watch on all that Melkor did and assist the Noldor in extreme cases." Noting also a letter dated 1954: "Of course (...) when you make Trolls speak you are giving them a power, which in our world (probably) connotes the possession of a "soul".

    The second "no fear" reference: "But for their delight and use there were in Aman also a great multitude of creatures, without fear, of many kinds: animals or moving creatures, and plants that are steadfast. There, it is believed, were the counterparts of all the creatures that are or have been on Earth, and also others that were made for Aman only." JRRT, Aman

    Most of these texts generally date to the same "phase", or time period, and all date to after The Lord of the Rings was published (with the letter being right in the 1954, 1955 area). But as these are posthumously published notes and musings, a certain amount of uncertainty or contradiction is not that surprising here, in my opinion.

    Once again, in short: I don't know :D

    But there could easily be more citations to cite, and possibly something easy or brief that I've missed or forgotten.

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