While Frodo is in the wight's barrow, during Chapter 8 of FOTR, what is the pale green-ish light that appears?

As he lay there, thinking and getting a hold of himself, he noticed all at once that the darkness was slowly giving way: a pale greenish light was growing round him.

It did not at first show him what kind of a place he was in, for the light seemed to be coming out of himself, and from the floor beside him, and had not yet reached the roof or wall.

I'm familiar with most of Tolkien's works that deal with Arda, but I've never understood what the pale-green light was supposed to be, or how it was produced. Was it perhaps, a manifestation of the Ring's power or of Eru Ilúvatar's influence in behalf of the ring-bearer?

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    I always thought it was related to corpse-light, also known as will-o-the-wisp. – Joe L. Dec 29 '14 at 12:29
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    The Barrow Wights (and their Barrows) are an import from the Adventures of Tom Bombadil which had been written long before LotR and then fit into the world because Tolkien "wanted an adventure along the way". The green light doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the rest of Arda or it's inhabitants. – user8719 Dec 29 '14 at 12:38

We don't know for certain.

Green light in Lord of the Rings is primarily associated with Gollum; particularly the colour his eyes take on when his evil side is in control:

Gollum was talking to himself. Smeagol was holding a debate with some other thought that used the same voice but made it squeak and hiss. A pale light and a green light alternated in his eyes as he spoke.


Suddenly he turned back. A green light was flickering in his bulging eyes. 'Masster, masster!' he hissed. 'Wicked! Tricksy! False!' He spat and stretched out his long arms with white snapping fingers.

Howeve, Tolkien uses the very same green light to describe Treebeard, so we definitely shouldn't read anything significant into the choice of colour:

But at the moment the hobbits noted little but the eyes. These deep eyes were now surveying them, slow and solemn, but very penetrating. They were brown, shot with a green light.

One possible connection is in the following description of Minas Morgul, where it's glowing colour is likened to the green light in Gollum's eyes:

Then his eyes shone with a green-white light, reflecting the noisome Morgul-sheen perhaps...

As we know, the Barrow-wights were sent by the Witch-king, thus establishing the connection between Minas Morgul and the Barrow-downs:

It was at this time that an end came of the Dunedain of Cardolan, and evil spirits out of Angmar and Rhudaur entered into the deserted mounds and dwelt there.

And so the green light may be indicative of this connection, but there is really no other evidence to suggest anything.

  • All quotations from Lord of the Rings. – user8719 Dec 29 '14 at 13:02
  • @randal'thor - blue light, yes. – user8719 Dec 29 '14 at 13:10
  • @DarthSatan didn't Shelob also give off a green-light? – Alexej Magura Dec 29 '14 at 17:15
  • @AlexejMagura - Shelob didn't give off any light: "They had not gone more than a few yards when from behind them came a sound, startling and horrible in the heavy padded silence: a gurgling, bubbling noise, and a long venomous hiss. They wheeled round, but nothing could be seen. Still as stones they stood, staring, waiting for they did not know what." - it wasn't until Frodo used Galadriel's gift that they were able to see her. – user8719 Dec 29 '14 at 17:32
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    @DarthSatan "Great horns she had, and behind her short stalk like neck was her huge swollen body, a vast bloated bag, swaying and sagging between her legs; its great bulk was black, blotched with livid marks, but the belly underneath was pale and luminous and gave forth a stench." – Alexej Magura Dec 29 '14 at 21:39

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