Aragorn led the party on towards Lorien, the great elven forest. At its borders they were greeted by two elves who were aware of the ring party and were expecting them. The elves provided the party with a meal and a bed, high up in the trees. The fellowship of the ring soon fell asleep whilst the elves kept guard.
That night a great hoard of orcs followed the party's trail, but the elves led them astray. Later still another creature, on its own, came looking for Frodo and his ring. Since the elves were unsure as to whether this yellow eyed creature was for good or ill, they did not shoot as it scampered away.
The next day the party was escorted to the very heart of Lorien. There they met with Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel, the king and queen of the elves. In Lothlorien the ring party found peace and rest for the first time since leaving Rivendell. Everything was provided for and the party reflected upon all that they had come through, taking the time to mourn the loss of Gandalf. Strangely the ring did not feel so heavy to Frodo now that he was in Lorien. Somehow it worried him less.
Whilst in Lothlorien Galadriel tested each of the members of the ring party. She looked deep into their eyes and inner thoughts. Only Aragorn and Legolas did not look away.
Later Galadriel invited Frodo and Sam to look into her magical mirror, a bowl filled with stream water, capable of revealing deeper truths that would both inspire and alarm the viewer.
Soon it was time for the party to continue their way again. Lorien was so beautiful that it proved difficult to leave. As the party prepared to set out, they were showered with gifts. Each was given a new garment, cool yet warm, light but strong, cut from the finest material. Aragorn was given a magical sheath for his sword, Legolas a new bow with arrows. Sam received some of the earth of Lorien to take back to the Shire. For Frodo, Galadriel brought out a small vial full of bright star light. Such a wonderful gift would only prove useful in the times to come.
Lothlorien is a magical place, a city amongst the trees where civilisation and nature are married in perfect harmony. These are the opposites we have yet to reconcile within our own world. In our own culture civilisation is a place far removed from the natural world. Only in a forest retreat or quiet country town do we find anything that approximates the peace and tranquillity of Tolkien’s Lothlorien.
Lothlorien is that sanctuary where one may rest in the arms of nature yet remain within the bounds of the civilised world. In this sanctuary the pace of life is slowed, and an emphasis is placed upon allowing rather than striving. Lothlorien is a place of soul growth where we may simply be.
For the city dweller an experience of Lothlorien may come through immersing oneself in the bosom of nature. Camping out under the stars, trekking through the wilderness, a country holiday or walk in the park all serve to quiet the mind. Alternatively, Lothlorien may be experienced through a meditative or inwardly reflective spiritual practice.
Lothlorien is a place where we may free ourselves of distraction and lay down the burden of our worldly purpose. Within this stillness a deeper self stirs and comes alive. In taking the time to reflect we arrive at a more balanced and truthful centre within ourselves. And from this centre we can question and review the importance of our worldly aspirations and patterns of living. Sometimes we like what we see, more often it is a challenge to our conscience.
A common realisation is how caught one has become in a world that is spinning out of control. We may discover that somehow our lives have been corrupted and taken down an unnatural course. Upon deeper introspection we realise that it is a gentler, quieter, set of values which have been missing from our life.
With Lothlorien, The Lord of the Rings introduces us to the possibility of living in harmony with nature. Yet Lothlorien is not so much a place but a state of being. For Lorien was created out of the magic emanating from Galadriel, Queen of the Elves.
At the heart of Lothlorien we discover the exquisite figure of Galadriel (she is described as being bathed in a soft light). Like Gandalf and Elrond, Galadriel is the bearer of one of the three great elven rings.20 She wears Nenya, the ring of water.
Galadriel is the first of the powerful feminine figures that we meet in our story. Unlike the masculine desire to achieve and dominate, which has made an enemy of nature, Galadriel reflects that state of mind which accepts and appreciates the simplicity of life. She is the guardian of the soul. From her perspective, life and the natural world are to be honoured, not conquered. Galadriel teaches us not to force, but to allow life to unfold. She teaches us how to be at peace with ourselves and the natural world.
During their stay in Lothlorien the Ring party prepares for the more arduous times ahead. Despite being a point of rest in our story this encounter with Galadriel is an extremely important passage in the quest to return the Ring. As the guardian of the soul life, Galadriel teaches that there is more to life than outward conquest and achievement. The inner life of the soul has the capacity to fill the gulf created as we sacrifice worldly ambition and looks toward a new mode of being.
It is for this reason that the One Ring does not feel so heavy to Frodo during his stay in Lothlorien. As any artist or hermit will attest, the richness of a well-fostered inner-life allows us to accept and even welcome a slower paced outer-life. If we are happy to walk, then there is no need to drive. In taking the time to prepare one’s own meals, there’s no need to buy it in a packet. The more we open to nature’s rhythms the less we seek to free ourselves from her limitations. In the presence of Galadriel throwing back the One Ring does not seem such a great sacrifice.
Whilst the Ring party would have liked to remain in Lothlorien, their quest called them onward. We cannot remain in a state of retreat from life when there is still much work to be done.
20 The three elven rings of fire, air and water find their fourth in the One Ring of Sauron. The One Ring is made from deep within the earth. It is, however, more powerful than the three elven rings and as such represents a state of psychological imbalance. The elements of fire, air, water, and earth relate to Jung’s four psychological types. Fire is the intuition which allows us to see the greater potential of all things, air is our thinking function and capacity for reason, water relates to the feeling function and provides us with our sensitivity and capacity for subjective judgement. Earth is the sensate function, that is, the ability to be and do in the world. The One Ring of earth overpowers the rings of fire, air, and water. This suggests that our worldly capacity is too strong and out of balance with the remainder of our psychological capacities. It is for this reason that the One Ring must be sacrificed.