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To my understanding, this question roughly translates as: Are fëa (souls) compositionally the same as "holy light" (e.g. from the Two Lamps, Two Trees, Silmarils, etc.)?

In the same way that Melkor grew weaker across the ages by investing himself in his monstrous creations, I surmise Sauron similarly "invested" himself into his Ring, which didn't appear to have a physical effect on him until he was directly separated from it. I can then only surmise this as being an effect of being comprised of his own soul (fëa), which then accounts for his nigh-complete destruction at the end of RotK: No sentient being can exist without its soul (e.g. Aulë's dwarves). There's no telling if the other rings of power were made similarly from their respective smiths, but it's possible the reason they were all "deceived" by Sauron when he made his ring is that he also applied an aspect of his soul into their creation as well, and hence why he was able to remotely control them in turn (which the elves quickly perceived).

It's not totally clear to me if the "holy light" of the Trees was directly used as a power of creation akin the Flame Imperishable (I suspect they're related concepts, somehow), but there is one important thing to note about that light: When Ungoliant was set to devour it in Melkor's quest to rid it from the world, she grew to immense size and presumably strength, such that she was capable of besting Melkor in direct conflict. More notably, she went on to progenerate a race of sentient spiders; a feat even Aulë could not accomplish by himself with his creation of the dwarves (hence requiring Eru's intervention via. the Flame Imperishable). This creation act is very likely to have been enabled directly by the consumption of holy light, even if it wasn't explicitly Ungoliant's intention.

Therefore, since the concept of fëa seems directly (if not exclusively) a consequence of the Flame Imperishable, I deduce the Silmarils (being comprised of the aforementioned holy light) are containers for a raw form of fëa, and therefore the Rings of Power and the Silmarils are compositionally the same.

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    A lot of suppositions and assumptions there, any of which could be unfounded (surmise x2, possible, suspect, likely, seems, deduce). The Trees were sung into being by Yavanna, aided by Nienna's tears, they are explicitly described as a work of Yavanna that she couldn't make again. By equating the light of the Trees with a fëa (or ëala, which is the correct term for non-Incarnates, as it doesn't require a hröa), you are essentially saying that Yavanna (with an assist from Nienna) could create living things with fëa/ëala. The light of the trees is explicitly described as a liquid substance. Feb 8, 2023 at 5:38
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    The stars (or at least, some stars, depending on the version) were made at one point by taking this liquid light from the vats that it was collected it, by Varda. Are stars now beings with fëa/ëala? The discussion around Míriel's fëa in Morgoth's Ring describes it as little, but strong. The Valar themselves cannot force it to do things, if it didn't agree. Tolkien doesn't treat fëar as made out of some substance that's arbitrarily divisible, like the way he describes the light of the Trees, but as individual to a person. Feb 8, 2023 at 5:44
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    Further, your post really only discusses Sauron's Ring, rather than the rings of power in general. Sauron never had a hand in the way the Three were made. I cannot conceive in any possible way in which is ëala could be bound up with them. And the Elven smiths of Eregion would not have been able to infuse part of their own fëar into the rings, since they are their fëar+hröar combined. Fëar aren't like souls in Harry Potter! Feb 8, 2023 at 5:47
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    To take a more positive view of my first sentence in my second comment: each of those assumptions/suppositions could be its own question, to check if you are not making an unfounded assumption.... Feb 8, 2023 at 5:49
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    lack of research noted. Feb 10, 2023 at 15:22

1 Answer 1

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You seem to have two different questions here. The title asks about equivalence of the silmarils and the rings of power. The text then asks instead about equivalence of fëa and "holy light". I can't really answer either one, but I don't think they necessarily have the same answer.

You seem to imply that the light of the trees is somehow the fëa/soul of Eru. That seems a bit weird to me. Maybe a bit less weird if it is instead the fëa of Yavanna, but do the Valar even have fëa?

However you don't need that argument at all to draw an equivalence between Fëanor investing some of his fëa into the silmarils and Celebrimbor perhaps investing some of his into the 19 original Rings of Power. Note that in Silmarillion, Fëanor is quoted as saying

For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that he may accomplish but once only; and in that deed his heart shall rest. It may be that I can unlock my jewels, but never again shall I make their like [].

On the other hand Celebrimbor managed to make 19 rings, perhaps drawing of the strength/soul of other elven smiths, and so far as I know he stopped making them not because he ran out of fëa but because he perceived Anatar/Sauron's treachery at that point.

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  • Carefully follow the logic of my post to address the first paragraph of your reply. This may also help with understanding where I'm coming from: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/269355/…
    – hamstar
    Feb 8, 2023 at 5:20
  • @hamstar Personally I’m not able to follow the logic of your post. I don’t even understand the first sentence of the second paragraph. You "surmise" Sauron put (part of?) his soul into the one ring? Is there anything in the text to suggest that? How do we even know Sauron has a soul? It reads to me like you’ve come up with some head canon and then are asking us to validate it for you or something like that. Feb 9, 2023 at 2:27
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    @ToddWilcox "Into it he poured his cruelty, malice, and will to dominate all life." <- Pretty close to the relevant idea. Also pretty sure Tolkien indicates Maiar have fëa.
    – hamstar
    Feb 9, 2023 at 4:13
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    No, a Maia is an ëala, a pure spirt that does not require a hröa (body) to be considered complete. A fëa is a spirit intended to be housed in a hröa.
    – chepner
    Feb 9, 2023 at 18:38

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