Lord of the Wings is a fantasy-fiction genre film series full of enchantments that leave its fans mesmerized. There are many creatures in LoR that use magic or are able to learn it, but can humans use magic in Lord of the Rings too?
Technically, there is no precise definition of magic in the LoR series. It is just abilities and actions beyond our understanding. As such, there are many humans in the series who have demonstrated their ability to use magic in various ways.
Keep reading below as we describe this usage of magic by humans in LoR.
Can Humans Use Magic in LoR?
Yes, but only up to a point.
Some of the Dunedain certainly can. Aragorn’s healing hands were powerful enough to bring individuals back from the brink of death. Isildur’s incredible strength was on display when he stopped a party of Men from traveling beyond Middle-earth after death, even to the Halls of Mandos, despite the fact that the right of a mortal spirit to travel is intrinsic to the concept of mortality.
Aragorn had similar strength when he destroyed Isildur’s enchantment. Both Denethor and Faramir possessed the ability to “read” people, albeit in different ways. Neither could read minds or use logic like Harry Potter, but they were both skilled at making quick and accurate judgments about people’s personalities and the accuracy of what they said. Many Dunedain experienced unexpected bouts of visions that were both unpredictable and uncontrollable, but usually accurate when they did occur.
However, if the Dunedain can trace their ancestry back even a little to Elros and the line of Kings, they are not truly human. In addition to humans, their family tree includes elves and Maiar. They unquestionably owe their healing skills to Melian the Maia, one of the inhabitants of Este, the Valarin Lady of Healing.
And what about regular people, then? Faramir divides men into two categories: the “Middle Men” and the “Men of the Darkness.” They (and the Dunedain) have more freedom of choice than other people, but they are still under Eru’s rule. They are free to make their own decisions and are not subject to the universally binding laws of music. Which is why they eventually die. Being immortal and wielding such power is not a good combination.
Even if they can’t create them themselves, Men can employ magical items like the Palantiri, albeit with diminished efficacy. Also, they have the ability to engage in sorcery, which entails trading some of their own might for a taste of Sauron’s (or Morgoth’s, back in the First Age) power. Even though he was originally from Numenor, the Witch-King gained popularity as a powerful sorcerer and may have been drawing on his own resources rather than those of Sauron when he became a Ringwraith.
Is Magic in LoR More Powerful than Magic in Harry Potter?
Both the LoR and Harry Potter series belong to the fantasy-fiction genre, and both of them are popularly loved by fans all across the globe. Thus, it’s no surprise why fans compare the two. One such popular point of comparison is the power portrayed in both series and which series’ power is more powerful.
But there is no straightforward answer to that. The power used in both series differs so drastically that comparing them fairly is next to impossible. Tolkien’s magic is stronger in certain respects and weaker in others.
Rowling’s wizardry is more spectacular and dazzling. Her wizards are capable of feats that Tolkien’s wizards either couldn’t dream of or could only accomplish in their purest Maia form. Take teleportation as an example.
In Tolkien’s universe, only the Ainur, in their ethereal forms, are capable of teleportation. Teenagers in Rowling’s world are taught in class how to teleport because it is very common there. Rowling’s wizards have a wide range of magical abilities, including the ability to turn invisible without rings, the ability to conjure illusions, the ability to make things appear and disappear at will, and a lot more.
The magic in Tolkien’s works is more subdued and primitive. His wizards can do some impressive feats of magic, but they are not the type to perform spectacular spells on a regular basis. When Gandalf tried to barricade a door with magic and Durin’s Bane broke it down with magic, it was clear that his magic was more about raw might and willpower. A contest of wills, if you must.
To help you visualize the difference, imagine if the Fellowship were suddenly besieged by a hundred Orcs. In comparison to Gandalf, Dumbledore would be far more valuable because he can quickly and easily incapacitate or kill scores of Orcs with his magic. In contrast, Gandalf would battle with a sword and staff like any other mortal man. Part of the reason for this is that he is forbidden to use his abilities in this setting, but even if he did, he would be unable to inflict as much damage.
Having said that, if Gandalf were to fight Dumbledore in his resurrected form, he would be victorious because, as strong as Dumbledore is, a mortal man wouldn’t have been able to kill Gandalf the White. He was too good for that. And this is a being that pales in comparison to his superiors in terms of raw power.
The Valar, who are greater than Gandalf or Sauron, have power well beyond that of Rowling’s wizards. They have the ability to raise mountains, transform continents, and eventually submerge them. These entities are incomparably superior to even the mightiest sorcerers.
Source of Magic in LoR
Nobody can read The Lord of the Rings and come out thinking there’s one consistent form of “magic”; the phrase is basically an umbrella term for various arts and things beyond our understanding. It appears that in Middle-earth, there are two primary types of “magic”:
- The might of the Ainur, who are rooted to the world: the Valar and the Maiar (including the Istari, or Wizards)
- The Elves’ (and possibly Dwarves’) craftsmanship
The former is a natural trait of the Ainur people. The Ainur are Eru Ilùvatar’s cosmic hosts, while the Valar and Maiar seem to be equivalent to “gods” and “angels” (albeit “gods” is an informal term here; they are essentially a higher class of angel). Ungoliant and Tom Bombadil are just two examples of non-Ainur beings who appear to have inherent strength. This is the kind of strength that can literally move mountains.
Remember that Morgoth is a Vala, while Sauron is a Maia. That should give you an idea of their power. Therefore, the “magic” of the Rings comes from the Maiar, or at least one Maia, and it is hinted that Sauron crafted all the Rings with the exception of the Elven Three.
There’s something more “organic” about the magic behind Elven (and Dwarven) craftsmanship; it comes straight from their inherent qualities. They appear to have the ability to boost an item’s already impressive qualities.
The LoR series is full of mysteries and varying interpretations that leave the audience full of questions. But one thing’s clear: Humans can use magic in LoR, although the magic used by humans in the LoR series may not be as powerful.