J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium gives us a spectacular insight into the vast universe he has created. There’s so much history before Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, much of it revolving around the Valar and the Two Trees of Valinor.
The Two Trees of Valinor, Telperion and Laurelin, were the Silver and Gold Trees created by Yavanna and watered with tears of Nienna, both being Valar. Then shed light on the lands of Valinor before Melkor, later named Morgoth, destroyed them with the help of Ungoliant.
The only thing the Valar could salvage is the last flower and the last fruit from each tree, which they used to create the Sun and the Moon. Tolkien was a masterful creator, inventing an entire universe, including its origins, history, even new languages. Let’s see why the Two Trees are such a meaningful motive.
What Are The Two Trees of Valinor?
Valar were spirits created from the thoughts of Iluvatar that shaped the world and its reality. They lived in the realms of Almaren before one of them, Melkor, turned bad and destroyed it. The Valar captured him and moved to Valinor, where one of them sang the Two Trees of Valinor into existence to shed light upon the realm.
The Two Trees of Valinor grew on the hill Ezellohar, located just outside of Valinor. A day lasted for twelve hours. The Silver Tree cast silver light on Valinor for seven hours before fading. Then, the Gold Tree would arise and shine a warm golden light for the same amount of hours.
The most beautiful moments were the one-hour periods where one light was fading, and the other was rising, so they overlapped, creating dusk and dawn.
They were essential for all life that continued living after them. If there were no Valinor, the Valar, and the Two Trees, there would be no light in the world, and darkness would prevail.
What Are The Name Of The Two Trees?
The Trees of Valinor had names and lived in harmony with all Valar. The Silver tree was named Telperion, while the Golden one was Laurelin.
Telperion was considered male and had dark silver leaves on one side and bloomed with beautiful flowers. Telperion’s dew was silver and collected as a source of not only light but water as well.
The Golden Tree, Laurelin, was considered a female and had golden leaves. Its dew had also been collected by Varda, one of the Valar, in her Wells. She was the younger of the Two Trees, blooming later than Telperion, who cast the first light upon Valinor.
The Two Trees were killed during the theft of the Silmarils, which resulted in the Darkening of Valinor. The Valar gave it their all to save the Trees, but they only managed to give one last flower and one fiery fruit before both dying forever.
The Silmarils were beyond beautiful gems that harnessed some of the Light of the Trees. The three gems were in the possession of Feanor, the King of the Noldor. As the Trees were dying, the Valar asked Feanor to give them the Silmarils to help them save the Two Trees, but he refused.
Later, they found out that they were stolen in the process when the Trees were slain. Feanor, enraged and hateful of Morgoth (as he named Melkor), led his people to exile and fought the War of the Jewels against Morgoth.
From the last flower and fruit of Telperion and Laurelin, the Valar created the Moon and the Sun.
Who Made The Two Trees Of Valinor?
The Vala Yavanna was the creator of the Two Trees of Valinor. Before the Valar moved to Valinor, they lived in Almaren, where the Two Lamps gave light to the realm. Melkor was one of the Valar and the only one who had insights into all the parts of Iluvatar’s thought.
He was corrupted and destroyed the Two Lamps, making the Valar move to another realm. He was captured and detained for Three ages.
When they arrived in Valinor, Yavanna, the Vala of nature, growth, and harvest, sang the Trees into existence with the most beautiful music you could imagine. The Trees were nurtured and watered with the tears of Nienna, the Vala of sorrow and endurance. Together, Yavanna and Nienna gave light to the realm.
Varda, the Vala that collected the dew from the Trees, created the Stars as another source of light in Valinor. It helped the Elves immensely, who settled in the lands after seeing the Two Trees’ marvelous light.
After serving his punishment, Melkor was allowed to return and live with the Valar. But, he betrayed them again, leading to the destruction of the Trees, the theft of Silmarils, and all the great and horrible events of the First Age.
There were many descendants of the Trees, too. Yavanna created a second tree called Galathilion. It was identical to Telperion; only it didn’t have its Light. The first Elves admired the tree, and it produced many seedlings, including the one that grew into Celeborn.
One of its seedlings grew into the White Tree of Numenor called Nimloth, but as Sauron took hold of the realms and ordered Nimloth to be cut down, Isildur managed to save one fruit before it was destroyed, that later became the White Tree of Gondor. It’s a cool history connecting Gondor to Valinor and the first trees of Light.
Which Elves Saw The Light Of The Two Trees?
The Elves who have seen the light of the Two Trees are called the Calaquendi, or the Elves of the Light (or Light-elves”). The Valar invited the Elves to witness the light. Those who responded were the Vanyar, Noldor, and others, including King Thingol, the only Sindarin who had seen the initial light.
Elves who settled in Aman, the realm of Valinor, and those descending from them are also known as the High Elves or Tareldar.
Those Elves who refused to respond to the Valar invitation, or those Eldar who did not complete the Great Journey of over 2000 miles to Valinor, haven’t witnessed the light. Therefore, they are also known as the Dark Elves or Umanyar.
The only one who can say he belongs to both the Calaquendi and the Umanyar is Thingol. He first came and saw the Light of the Two Trees but never returned to Aman with his people during the Great Journey.
As I mentioned, the actions of Feanor led to the Exile of the Noldor. Feanor led them into war to retrieve the Silmarils. Hence, the High Elves returned to Middle-earth, but most of them returned and resided in Aman by the later Third Age.
Only a few High Elves remained in Middle-earth and Rivendell, including Lady Galadriel, the High Elf appearing in the Lord of the Rings. Its Light empowered the Elves who had seen the Two Trees.
Who or What Kills The Two Trees Of Light?
After Melkor served the ages for destroying the Two Lamps, he was allowed to return to the Valar. He deceived them again and plotted to destroy the Two Trees.
Melkor used the help of a giant primordial Spider spirit called Ungoliant – the mother of Shelob, the giant Spider living in the tunnels of Cirith Ungol, a pathway leading to Mordor. Melkor pierced the Two Trees through the core, and Ungoliant devoured the Light and all life left within the Trees.
The events led to the Darkening of Valinor, and in the process, Melkor also stole the Silmarils, the gems containing the Light of the Trees. That disabled the Valar from recovering the Trees, leaving them only with one flower and fruit.
Melkor was named Morgoth by Feanor, who became the King of the Noldor after Melkor had slain their previous King, Finwe. Morgoth means Dark Enemy, or Black Foe in Sindarin, one of Tolkien’s invented languages.
All the evil of Middle-earth stems from Morgoth and his deviance towards darkness. Sauron, the Dark Lord in the times when the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings took place, was previously one of the Maiar of Aule before he betrayed his kind and joined Morgoth as his lieutenant.
Melkor had stolen the Silmarils even though Light burned his hand, as no evil was allowed to touch it. He had a dispute with Ungoliant about the jewels, as the dark spirit wanted to devour them and have them for itself. They eventually ended up on his crown.
Why Did Melkor Destroy The Trees?
Melkor was behind the destruction of the Two Lamps, too. He was imprisoned for his doings but later paroled to Valinor even though some Valar didn’t trust him. They were proven right, as Melkor was extremely jealous and enraged, plotting harm to the realm, especially the Elves.
He resented them and blamed them for his defeat in the wars against the Valar that ended with his imprisonment. He acted humble and virtuous but actually plotted to betray and destroy them once again. He then escaped plotting the killing of the Trees with Ungoliant.
Melkor concealed himself in Unlight, and the Trees were destroyed. He had also slain Finwe, the King of the Noldor, and stole the Silmarils, gems created by Finwe’s son Feanor, leaving Valinor and Aman without the Light of the Trees.
Without the Silmarils, no matter how beautifully Yavanna sang, nor how much Nienna wept, they weren’t able to recover the trees, but only the flower and the fruit. The Valar gave them to the guardian spirits, Tilion and Arien. From Telperion’s flower came the Moon, and from Laurelin’s fruit came the Sun.
Tilion and Arien were male and female, just like Telperion and Laurelin, which is why the Moon is referred to as “he, and the Sun as “she” in the Lord of the Rings.
After the events, Melkor was only known to the Eldar as Morgoth. He had tried to gain complete dominion over Middle-earth but was eventually stopped. Had the Valar not succeeded in recovering the one last flower and fruit from the Trees, he would likely succeed in casting darkness across the realms.
The Two Trees of Valinor Tattoos
The Two Trees of Valinor have such a powerful meaning and great history behind them, which is why they are still so popular for tattoos and artwork. They depict the Sun and the Moon, the day and the night, male and female, two entities that create one whole, two halves that create the Light and life.
That’s why the Two Trees are often portrayed as one big with two sides, like this awesome tattoo. The left side is enlightened with the golden light, the Sun, and daytime, while the other is dedicated to the silver light, the night, stars, and the Moon.
This tattoo depicted the trees separately in a more abstract way. The golden and silver light blend seamlessly together, so this upper art tattoo looks captivating.
There are ways to present the Two Trees of Valinor with a monochromatic tattoo as well. This depiction of the Trees is simple and uses stronger or lighter lines to depict the difference between the Trees.
But, my favorite Two Trees of Valinor tattoo is this one. The trees are intertwined near their roots, one being light and one dark. It’s quite symmetrical and satisfying. I believe it would’ve worked better without the Sun and the Moon in the middle, but it still looks awesome.
The Two Trees of Valinor Art
Tolkien’s universe inspired many to create spectacular artwork focusing on the motifs from his legendarium. The Two Trees of Valinor are a spectacular idea and a very powerful picture, and many tried to interpret them in their artistic way. Some were more successful than others, but we have a plethora of incredible art revolving around the Two Trees.
This artwork uses minimal coloring to depict the contrast between the two trees. It obviously depicts the period when Telperion shines the brightest. It looks mystical and amazing.
Some artworks are grimmer, though. Although the Two Trees of Valinor are still beautiful in this piece of art, the front plan is corrupted with Melkor and Ungoliant attacking and killing the Two Trees.
Some artists turned away from painted art and used motifs to create jewelry, pendants, etc. For instance, these two pendants represent Telperion and Laurelin, having the Moon and the Sun next to each Tree.
Or, take a look at this awesome chain and pendant looking like an orb on which the Two Trees of Valinor intertwine and create a fantastic piece even I would wear anywhere.
I also love this piece of art that looks more like a traditional piece. Here, the trees intertwine only at their roots but grow separately from each other. That could be interpreted in a way that, even though they grow together, the Two Trees are separate entities, each special in its way.