In this episode of Three Rings for the Elven Kings we’ll be looking at the Ring of Air, Nenya. Nenya was the Ring of Galadriel…of course, if you are of sufficiently pure nerd blood, you already knew that.
Nenya: Ring of Galadriel
The ring of Galadriel was called Nenya. It was one of the three Elven Rings of Power (the only three of the Free Peoples’ 19 crafted without interference by Sauron).
If you’ve seen, or more importantly read The Lord of the Rings, you’re undoubtedly familiar with this rhyme:
“Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”
The books, in particular, go into much more depth than the films went. It’s possible for some people to view the movies and not realize that there were other magical rings in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Most significant were the Three Elven rings.
The Elven rings are probably the most famous beyond the One Ring that rules all of the others. They were forged by Celebrimbor, an Elvish prince and master smith who learned metal working from the Dwarves. He forged the Three Elven Rings (Narya, Vilya and Nenya) alone and not under the watchful eye of Sauron who was teaching other Elvish smiths how to make rings. Although, Sauron never so much as ever saw or touched these rings, his magical techniques allowed them to fall under the control of the One Ring. His intent was to control the others who bore these rings whom were all in positions of power and would in turn grant him power over all of Middle Earth.
One of these rings was called Nenya; which means the Ring of Water. It is described as an adamantine band set with a white stone.
According to Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales, this ring was entrusted to Galadriel the ruler of Lothlorien.
While the powers of Nenya are never specifically mentioned, in The Fellowship of the Ring it is said that Nenya allowed Galadriel to protect Lothlorien from all evil except a direct attack by Sauron, himself. According to The Silmarillion, all three of the rings were imbued with powers of healing and protection.
It is postulated that Nenya’s powers were centered around protection and concealment and was how Galadriel was able to protect and hide Lothlorien..
Additionally, these three rings are invisible while they are worn. This is revealed in The Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo, as bearer of the One Ring is able to see it on Galadriel’s hand, whereas Sam describes the appearance of a star shining through her finger.
It is speculated by Tolkien researchers that Tolkien simply did not have enough time to fully flesh out the powers of these rings because it might have detracted from the story of the One Ring. Yet, it is also mentioned that the Nenya caused Galadriel to long for the sea and the Undying Lands.
As with Narya and Vilya, Nenya is plainly visible on Galadriel’s hand when she sails for the Grey Havens with Gandalf, Elrond and Frodo in the final chapter of The Return of the King.
Regardless, it is safe to say that when the One Ring was destroyed, rings like Vilya lost all of their powers and were no longer needed. It’s magic died in the fires of Mount Doom as the One Ring was destroyed.
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