The book itself, holds a presence which points and reflects something deeper and True. As Tolkien maintains himself, the very nature of myth does this, it draws one into a deeper understanding of life and existence: but it does so in pointing to the Christian understanding of experience of life: it points to Him who has loved us beyond our comprehension.
We've already spoken about the sacramental effect of the music of the Elves... lets look at them a bit more...
In the race of Elves we find this sacramental theme part of their makeup because they represent in some ways an unfallen race. They are immediately in touch with the invisible world by nature of who they are. There is no disunion between the Seen and Unseen, Natural and Supernatural worlds for the Elves. They do not fear the Ring-Wraiths. Their understanding and respect of nature is beautiful, where they can use some created thing to signify a beyond-the-natural effect. The lembas and Rings of Power are examples of this.
They live in, about and beyond the natural elements [Rivendell and Lothlorien] and bring the unseen world to the edge of reality. Lothlorien is almost a taste of paradise outside of time, or the Garden of Eden where healing and rest is received.
Their heightened artistic ability also gives their creative instinct a supernatural feel. The Silmarils are very indicative of this. They are called the Hallowed Jewels. And the mention of,
"Elf minstrels being able to make appear that of which they sing..."before the eyes of those who listen is also artistically heightened; and once again ties in with the sacramental sense of the sub-creating ability of the Elves. They enter into the greater Music of the Ainur as willed by Eru and it effects the same reality. [LotR Appendix A p.1033]
In one his letters Tolkien wrote about the use of magic in his stories. He outlined how the Elves use of magic is artistic and creative and often brings about a physical or real effect in the world for usefulness and goodness.
"Its object is Art not Power, sub-creation not domination..." [Letters p.200 & p.146] But the enemy's use of magic is for deceits and lies, domination and destruction. Tolkien himself points out that magic in his stories,
"...is an inherent power not obtainable by man as such..." [Letters p.199]
He deliberately did not describe in any depth how the supernatural things [or magic] were achieved in Middle-earth precisely to remain in accordance with his Christian beliefs.
The Three Rings of Power are those of Air [sapphire], Water [diamond-like] and Fire [ruby or red stone], all created things, which seems to be an amalgamation of pagan and biblical references. If one reads Revelation, there is talk of precious stones and tablets that God uses to symbolize his Grace.
The Elven Rings of Power are used for producing good [they were never touched by Sauron] and are symbolic of the name they hold and the stone they carry.
The Ring of Fire [red] is held by Gandalf, to be used to kindle and enflame all hearts in the fight against Sauron.
The Ring of Adamant [mithril - diamond - water] is bourn by Galadriel and is used in resistance to the passing of time and the movement of evil. Adamant is an old Greek word for diamond, something that is extremely hard and often referred to as ice because it remains cold due to its ability to diffuse light so well.
The Ring of Air [sapphire] is held by Elrond. The modern word sapphire is derived from the ancient Latin term Sapphirus and the Greek Sappheiros [blue]. In ancient paganism, Sapphire represents truth, sincerity and consistency and believed that the power of wisdom is contained within this precious gemstone. Elrond carries this Ring is said to be wisest of old Lore-Makers and profound in giving true counsel.
The box of dust gifted to Sam by Galadriel is a classic example of grace working through a gift.
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