Sind.: galad + riel ... light-woman, rendered to lady of light,

  • The quenya form of her name was Altariel,
  • Sometimes also called Galadhriel (tree-lady) according to her role as the leader of the Galadhrim.
  • also called Lady of Lórien, Lady of the Galadhrim, the White Lady.
  • Called the "Sorceress of the Golden Wood" (by Gríma) and Mistress of Magic (by Faramir).
Noldorin princess, daughter of Finarfin, after Melkor's theft of the Silimarils she returned to Middle-earth. Later in Doriath her spiritual growth was greatly influenced by Melian the Maia, there she also married Celeborn. At the end of the FirstAge they remained in Middle-earth, in the SecondAge they dwelt in Lindon, later in Eregion and finally they founded their kingdom in Lórien.

She was owner of Nenya, one of the three Elven-rings, with its aid she could protect Lórien from Sauron's influence throughout the SecondAge. During the WotR she supported the FotR and refused when Frodo offered the OneRing to her. Eventually she returned to Valinor (ThA 3021), together with Gandalf, Elrond and Frodo

Comments and Discussion

The reasons for Galadriel's remaining in Middle-earth - whether she remained under a ban and if and when this ban was lifted - bears some inconsistencies. Christopher Tolkien, in his comment on the chapter "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn" explains:

The reasons and motives given for Galadriel's remaining in Middle-earth are various. The passage just cited from The Road Goes Ever On says explicitly: "After the overthrow of Morgoth at the end of the FirstAge a ban was set upon her return, and she had replied proudly that she had no wish to do so." There is no such explicit statement in The Lord of the Rings; but in a letter written in 1967 my father declared:

The Exiles were allowed to return - save for a few chief actors in the rebellion, of whom at the time of The Lord of the Rings only Galadriel remained. At the time of her Lament in Lórien she believed this to be perennial, as long as the Earth endured. Hence she concludes her lament with a wish or prayer that Frodo may as a special grace be granted a purgatorial (but not penal) sojourn in Eressëa, the solitary isle in sight of Aman, though for her the way is closed. Her prayer was granted - but also her personal ban was lifted, in reward for her services against Sauron, and above all for her rejection of the temptation to take the Ring when offered to her. So at the end we see her taking ship.

This statement, very positive in itself, does not however demonstrate that the conception of a ban on Galadriel's return into the West was present when the chapter "Farewell to Lórien" was composed, many years before; and I am inclined to think that it was not.

In a very late and primarily philological essay, certainly written after the publication of The Road Goes Ever On, the story is distinctively different:

And in the course of this essay we learn:

So it came to pass that when the light of Valinor failed, for ever as the Noldor thought, she joined the rebellion against the Valar who commanded them to stay; and once she had set foot upon that road of exile she would not relent, but rejected the last message of the Valar, and came under the Doom of Mandos. Even after the merciless assault upon the Teleri and the rape of their ships, though she fought fiercely against Fëanor in defence of her mother's kin, she did not turn back. Her pride was unwilling to return, a defeated suppliant for pardon; but now she burned with desire to follow Fëanor with her anger to whatever lands he might come, and to thwart him in all ways that she could. Pride still moved her when, at the end of the Elder Days after the final overthrow of Morgoth, she refused the pardon of the Valar for all who had fought against him, and remained in Middle-earth. It was not until two long ages more had passed, when at last all that she had desired in her youth came to her hand, the Ring of Power and the dominion of Middle-earth which she had dreamed, that her wisdom was full grown and she rejected it, and passing the last test departed from Middle-earth for ever.
Unfinished Tales - "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"

And in one of Tolkien's latest notes, written in the last month of his life, he again altered his view of this matter and presented an entirely different story:

In Fëanor's revolt that followed the Darkening of Valinor Galadriel had no part: indeeed she with Celeborn fought heroically in defence of Alqualondë against the assault of the Noldor, and Celeborn's ship was saved from them. Galadriel, despairing now of Valinor and horrified by the violence and cruelty of Fëanor, set sail into the darkness without waiting for Manwë's leave, which would undoubtedly have been withheld in that hour, however legitimate her desire in itself. It was thus that she came under the ban set upon all departure, and Valinor was shut against her return. But together with Celeborn she reached Middle-earth some-what sooner than Fëanor, and sailed into the haven where Círdan was lord. There they were welcomed with joy, as being of the kin of Elwë (Thingol). In the years after they did not join in the war against Angband, which they judged to be hopeless under the ban of the Valar and without their aid; and their counsel was to withdraw from Beleriand and to build up a power to the eastward (whence they feared that Morgoth would draw reinforcement), befriending and teaching the DarkElves and Men of those regions. But such a policy having no hope of acceptance among the Elves of Beleriand, Galadriel and Celeborn departed over EredLindon? before the end of the FirstAge; and when they received the permission of the Valar to return into the West they rejected it.

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