Part III – Some Points of Scholarship

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Preface :

Over many decades the effort by scholars to extract the answers behind Tom’s remarkable character has led to suppositions which point towards a higher order life-form. Elf, man, dwarf and hobbit being obviously precluded have left us to ponder on whether Tom was a Vala, Maia or perhaps even Eru himself. However these ‘in-mythology’ possibilities have generally proven inadequate. We have been left to search further afield, but even ‘out-of-mythology’ proposals, such as Tom personifying a Nature Spirit or the Reader or Tolkien himself – have fallen short. One of the main reasons is that none of these existing propositions have been able to satisfactorily elucidate on how Tom performed those hitherto inexplicable feats.

Till now Tom’s powers have been regarded by many in awe. That or their source has been derisively put down to a common street-trickster’s fake magic. The latter idea has some obvious inherent weaknesses. Such an angle would dim our view of Tolkien’s intellect, not to mention leave us grappling with a sinister side to Tom’s personality. All of this would be totally out of tune with what knowledgeable readers and close confidantes of Tolkien perceive and have perceived about the Professor.

Unfortunately, for us to contemplate Tom’s tricks and powers as having an allegorical basis, poses conceptual difficulties. Would Tolkien really have thought that way? Would he have constructed a vast imaginary mythological saga – only to have its most flamboyant character based on a secret internalized joke? For the moment this matter is fundamentally one of the weak points of the theory – or at least what I envision critics will both brazenly probe and doubt.

Nevertheless, as far as this investigation goes, even the most skeptical of critics should be able to admit that many of Tolkien’s remarks in his letters, plus those in the novel, do fit an ‘allegory of the audience/orchestra’ hypothesis. And not just fit – but, as seen in Parts I and II, fit it rather well. But beyond this fit, one must realize that the theory is much enhanced because of the way such enmeshment enables us to understand Tom’s seemingly miraculous deeds.

Yes using analogous thinking, finally we can ascertain the reasons behind even the smallest textual oddities in the novel. Understanding why the tossed Ring disappeared with a flash and why only Tom’s boots became wet in the rain, are crucial steps to attaining an all-encompassing solution. And being able to answer such minutia – again, gives the overall theory more traction. Then given the entirely new flavor of this inquiry – it is well worthwhile reviewing the entire episode with Tom. Is it possible that we now might learn more about the tale by adopting a wholly new perspective?

In this section there will be particular focus on ostensibly innocuous remarks and bland trivia in the Barrow-downs adventure. Rarely discussed by scholars are minor points that now suddenly take on a whole new meaning. That is if they are tied in with the ‘allegory’ theory. What was the reason behind the warning to beware of “old stone”? Where were the “open doors”? What was the significance of the “headless door”? Why did Tom’s voice appear to be coming “through the ground”? How precisely did he appear so rapidly at the Barrow?

I can only surmise that several niggle-some details were deliberately left so as to be perceptible only by the most attentive and inquisitive. And maybe because the intent was to leave snippets that would keep the dedicated enthusiast busy for many years. Never discussed before then, is how these minor peculiarities tie Tom into Celtic mythology. Is it possible that we have all missed their significance?

(a) The Phrase: ‘Dark Lord’

Among scholars, one often discussed sentence in Tom’s list of historical memories is:

“ ‘… He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless – before the Dark Lord came from Outside.’ ”
– The Fellowship of the Ring, In the House of Tom Bombadil

Of debate has been whether “the dark under the stars” was truly “fearless” anytime after Melkor and his servants established themselves in Arda. Many have thought no. Thus many have felt that “Dark Lord” was meant to refer to Melkor and not Sauron. 

Flying in the face of the preceding logic, Tom (later on), once again used “Dark Lord” when clearly Sauron was on his mind.

Then he told them that these blades were forged … by Men of Westernesse: … foes of the Dark Lord, ”.
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs (my underlined emphasis)

Hmm …. kind of confusing!

In this instance, to unravel Tolkien’s intent – an avenue worthwhile pursuing is the draft texts. Interestingly enough, the witnessing of historic moments in Tom’s list was confined to just ‘peoples’ in the earliest drafting. It is noteworthy how Tolkien employed the title ‘necromancer’ then:

“Tom Bombadil … knew the land before men, before hobbits, before barrow-wights … before the necromancer – before the elves …”.
– The Return of the Shadow, Tom Bombadil – Earliest Notes, First Phase of Writings (my underlined emphasis)

It wasn’t till the second narrative that Tolkien dropped ‘necromancer’ in favor of ‘Dark Lord’, leaving a much debated sentence that remained unchanged (from ~1938-1939) all the way to publication:

“ ‘ … He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless – before the Dark Lord came from Outside.’ ”
– The Return of the Shadow, Tom Bombadil – Second Narrative, First Phase of Writings

As the story firmed consistency was certainly tightened, and notably the usage of ‘necromancer’ died away to become almost obsolete. Seemingly then, Tolkien’s update had been for title purposes – for at this immature stage it is doubtful whether the time was ripe to introduce Melkor. Because surely so early in the tale, he would not have wanted to confuse the reader with two individuals designated ‘Dark Lord’.

It is also conspicuous that Tolkien, in all the original writings (The Return of the Shadow), did not make one mention of the names: Melko, Melkor or Morgoth. Not only this, even in later updates (per The Treason of Isengard), precious few mentions of Sauron’s master were made – and then, for The Lord of the Rings tale, he was only titled: ‘The Great Enemy’. If this isn’t proof enough – more markedly, within the Second Phase of writings (~1939, obviously chronologically near to our statement under question), Tolkien provided straightforward clarification of who exactly was the “Dark Lord”:

“ ‘In ancient days the Necromancer, the Dark Lord Sauron, …’ ”.
– The Return of the Shadow, Ancient History – Second Phase of Writings (my underlined emphasis)

Once again this tied in with an earlier First Phase passage where we know of only one Dark Lord inhabiting an elevated abode:

“The dark lord sits in the tower …”.
– The Return of the Shadow, Tom Bombadil – Second Narrative, First Phase of Writings

In terms of the mythic history, the sentence as a whole: “He knew the dark when it was fearless – before the Dark Lord came from Outside”, makes more sense if we take Melkor as the intended subject. However the drafts and other textual evidence point to a different conclusion. Perhaps we will never fully understand Tolkien’s desire on this matter. Perhaps unintentionally, he left us with another ‘riddle in the dark’!

(b) The word: ‘Fatherless’

Elrond voicing at the Council that Tom is “fatherless” is wording many may have misunderstood:

“ ‘ … we called him, oldest and fatherless. …’ ”.
– The Fellowship of The Ring, The Council of Elrond

Some have mistakenly opined that ‘fatherless’ meant Tom had no father, and was deliberately cast as an orphan – similar to Tolkien himself. Others have felt that the term can only mean Tom is Eru incarnated into Middle-earth30When Peter Hastings questioned along the same lines, his suggestion was rebuked:

“As for Tom Bombadil, I really do think you are being too serious, besides missing the point.”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #153

Despite the religious overtones, a supreme being identity was an impossibility for a devoutly Christian Tolkien. There could only be one God and his incarnation as Jesus would be a shocking mockery if allegorized by Tom:

“The Incarnation of God is an infinitely greater thing than anything I would dare to write.”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #181 (with added stress on ‘infinitely’)

And quite pointedly, Tom being called “fatherless” clashes with Eru’s alternate Elvish name: Ilúvatar – which is translated as ‘All-father’. Two such opposing definitions, with the “fatherless” one having connotations of disrespect, should be sufficient to dismiss an Eru theory.

Now Elrond’s brief historical encounter with Tom is not expanded upon in great detail. Had he really asked Tom: ‘Who’s your daddy?’ Or had he come away bemused, like Frodo, without learning exactly what or ‘who’ Bombadil really is? There is no reason to believe the Elf-lord would have been given any answer different to the one Frodo received. In which case we can deduce that Elrond’s use of “fatherless” was in the same vein as Tolkien’s in a letter to Christopher Fettes:

“So Bombadil is ‘fatherless’, he has no historical origin in the world described in The Lord of the Rings.”
– Tolkien letter to Christopher Fettes – 1961: Hammond & Scull LotR Companion p.134 (my underlined emphasis)

The Oxford English Dictionary does not give such a definition to the word ‘fatherless’ as underlined in the quote above. However the word ‘unfathered’ has this secondary archaic definition associated to it:

“Unfathered: Of obscure origin …”.
– Oxford English Dictionary, 2014 Edition

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Tolkien felt ‘fatherless’ and ‘unfathered’ were philologically commonly rooted and had similar meaning. In all probability this is rather likely given that Collins confirms archaic linkage:

“Unfathered: (archaic) fatherless”.
– Collins English Dictionary, On-line Edition

From a primary meaning standpoint both words possess the same definition (i.e. without a father). Quite possibly, the Professor might have believed they shared a common secondary meaning too. Imaginably then, this is one of those instances where antiquated vocabulary from a bygone era crept into the text:

there are a number of words not to be found in the dictionaries, or require a knowledge of older English”.
– The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Chronology Hammond & Scull, 3 April 1956 (my underlined emphasis)

Outmoded though it may be – the usage of “fatherless” in The Lord of the Rings was simply to convey Tom was of unknown origin. Such a startling and perhaps surprising conclusion highlights the many nuances of the English language and the care we must take to correctly interpret Tolkien’s words!

(c) Where was ‘Outside’ ?

Discounting use by the Bree-folk in The Lord of the Rings, and similar employment in the drafts, the capitalized version of the word ‘Outside’ per Tom’s impressive declaration:

“ ‘ He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless – before the Dark Lord came from Outside.’ ”
– The Fellowship of The Ring, In the House of Tom Bombadil

is only seen on one other occasion31 in all the legendarium writings. That occurrence referred to ‘Outside’ as the Void within which the Universe lay. Strangely enough the statement was not made by the Professor but by Christopher in discussing 1930’s tales that slightly predate the initiation of The Lord of the Rings. Why Tolkien’s son referred to it that way possibly has some basis which we are not privy to:

“To begin from the Outside: beyond the Walls of the World lies ‘the Void, …”.
– The Shaping of Middle-earth, Commentary on the Ambarkanta (my underlined emphasis)

Nevertheless when Tom Bombadil spoke: “before the Dark Lord came from Outside”, we can still reasonably assume that Tom was referring to not just beyond Middle-earth, but indeed outside of Eä – the created Universe.

(d) The Problem of ‘Eldest’

We know the learned Elves of the Council were aware that Tom had been around for as long as they could remember. Elrond stated that the Old Forest had once been part of a much greater one. Coupling this with Gandalf’s observation of a withdrawal into a much smaller territory – left an impression that Tom’s range may have at one point overlapped, or come close to: Fangorn. A sundering of the Ents from Tom long ago appears to be behind Gandalf’s remark that this individual would be:

“ ‘… not … interested in anything … unless perhaps in our visit to the Ents. …’ ”.
– The Return of the King, Homeward Bound

Still though paths may have crossed in ages past, who was older – Tom or Treebeard? That debate has also sparked much discussion – for Tolkien left us with a nice little paradox; because both Tom and Treebeard had been alluded to as: ‘eldest’ and ‘oldest’.

Now Celeborn’s meeting with the Ent resulted in him bestowing the title of ‘Eldest’. This was one instance where the reader would have been confused as Tom had already declared himself with the same title. Tolkien however neatly cleared this up (in a privately held letter32) by stating that Celeborn’s address was merely a “courtesy title”. Other readers though, had been equally flummoxed, for there were similar occasions where the text seemed contradictory. There was obviously more to the story.

The inconsistency of both Tom and Treebeard appearing to be referred to as the oldest of living things had also been questioned by Christopher Fettes. Tolkien in reply declined to satisfactorily shed further light. Skirting the issue, he gave a rather wishy-washy and long-winded answer. Even so, once again he hinted that solving the puzzle lay in understanding Tom’s origin:

“… he has no historical origin in the world described in The Lord of the Rings.”
– Tolkien letter to Christopher Fettes – 1961: Hammond & Scull, The LotR, A Reader’s Companion p.134

It is noteworthy that Tom does not appear on Treebeard’s list of biotic entities. Either Tom arrived later on the physical plane of Middle-earth, or he was unplaceable, or only Arda-born/wakened spiritual entities counted. Anyhow Treebeard’s ‘lore of Living Creatures’ is a red herring. Because it is Gandalf, as one of the Wise, who called Treebeard “the oldest living thing” in Middle-earth. It is Gandalf that twice made the proclamation and it is Gandalf’s opinion of what constituted a “living thing” that matters:

“ ‘… Treebeard … the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-earth. …’ ”.
– The Two Towers, The White Rider

“ ‘… Treebeard … the oldest of all living things.’ ”33
– The Two Towers, The Road to Isengard

Mixed up in all of this, we still need to understand how those who were of the Maiar, such as the Istari and Sauron, fit into the picture. Weren’t they older than the oldest of the Universe? Surely yes – yet were they not regarded as ‘living things’?

For example, of known primeval beings – wasn’t Sauron considered to be a ‘thing’? The answer is obvious – in Gandalf’s words he certainly was:

“ ‘Evil things … we should not name them. The Lord of the Ring is … the Master of the Dark Tower of Mordor …’ ”.
– The Fellowship of The Ring, Many Meetings (my underlined emphasis)

It is unreasonable to suggest that somehow this ancient entity was not a ‘living thing’ in Middle-earth. Anyone described as a ‘creature’ had to have counted. Indeed Tolkien made no exception for him. Sauron:

“ … a creature, … belonged to the race of intelligent beings that were made before the physical world, …”.
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #200 (my underlined emphasis)

Then if the Lord of the Rings was a ‘living thing’, whose origin lay before the creation of the World, why shouldn’t he have been considered by Gandalf as ‘oldest’. Shouldn’t entities who existed before Time automatically be placed in pole position? Once again, surely so. In which case, why did Gandalf unhesitatingly exclude himself? And how then do we reconcile the Tom/Treebeard paradoxical statements with this additional complication of pre-Universe beings?

One half of the answer lies in what Tolkien considered as the point where life began and the point that defined death. Quite simply for the Professor (and duly Gandalf), those points were when the indestructible spirit either joined with physical flesh or departed from it34. For embodied creatures in Middle-earth, measurement of age really commenced at the moment such a spiritual/bodily union occurred and equally significantly – recurred.

Of the known remaining Ainur that lived above ground upon Middle-earth, Gandalf and Sauron had at different points been slain thus suffering physical death. At those moments, with their spirits severed from their bodies, they had ceased to be ‘living things’. Quite clearly both had later undergone different forms of reincarnation. Yet most importantly, they had started physical life anew. So this re-birth is why they can be discounted among contenders as the “oldest living thing”. In line with this angle, the other Istari had arrived from Valinor too newly incarnated in human form and thus also fall out of reckoning. And so it is ‘incarnation’ that gives us a clue as to why Treebeard can rightfully claim Gandalf’s allotted title.

Fortunately, the other half of the confusion can be eradicated by invoking Tolkien’s clever exploitation of hidden dimensions. Once such an approach is taken, we can logically piece together a non-contradictory time-line for Tom’s entry into physical Arda. One that would not violate the statements made in The Lord of the Rings. Since on this matter, Tolkien never conceded he had made any textual error – nor did he attempt any revision.

As we now know, Tom came from ‘Outside’. Eventually, after much time watching ‘the play’ in the auditorium, the metaphorical ‘Fourth Wall’ was crossed and an arrival was made in physical Middle-earth. But in order to get onto ‘the stage’ and interact with the physical world, a pure spiritual form had to be relinquished. The form needed to pierce the Universe, and in which he was seated in the auditorium, needed embodiment. Tom had to be ‘born’ and become a “creature”:

“ ‘ … He is a strange creature, …’ ”.
– The Fellowship of The Ring, The Council of Elrond

Just as the Istari were spirits self-incarnated into a human form – so too had Bombadil taken such a path. It is suggested that Tom’s ‘incarnation’, and thus start to physical life, occurred after Treebeard’s arrival. This would then neatly answer why the Ent is “the oldest living thing” in Middle-earth while Tom too is “oldest”. Both can claim such titles as they existed in different planes of reality in primeval times: Treebeard awakened in the physical one when Tom was still spiritually in the ‘Viewing Gallery’. Rather deftly on the Professor’s part – this scenario allowed Gandalf, Elrond and Tom to make those head-scratching statements in The Lord of the Rings.

(e) The choices of: ‘Enigma’ and ‘House’

Though it may be purely innocent, the initially unnamed chapter specified by Christopher Tolkien as ‘Tom Bombadil’ in the early drafts was eventually titled ‘In the House of Tom Bombadil’ for the final version. However given the circumstances behind the investigative results revealed so far, one may rightfully wonder whether the phrase ‘In the House’ was in any way connected with ‘the play’. Just maybe a mischievous personal joke was involved, for ‘the house’ in theatrical language is terminology for where ‘the audience’ is seated. It is hard to believe that Tolkien would not have been aware of this.

Tolkien’s choice of wording describing Tom as an ‘enigma’, may also have more behind it than one may immediately realize:

“… there must be some enigmas, … Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #144 (my underlined emphasis)

Although an enigma is generally recognized as a puzzle – that can have a solution, there exists the possibility Tolkien had something specific and intentional on his mind when choosing such a descriptor.

The word ‘enigma’ has its roots from the Greek word ‘ainigma’ – meaning ‘to speak in riddles’.

“Enigma: from Latin aenigma, from Greek ainigma, from ainissesthai to speak in riddles, from ainos fable, story”                                                                                         – Collins English Dictionary On-line, Word Origin

It would be surprising if Tolkien was unaware of its origins. Tom certainly does speak in riddles and as we will see in Part IV – deliberately formulated into The Fellowship of the Ring text – is more speech related information that will help further puzzle out our ‘enigma’.

(f) Telepathy

A byproduct of the episode with Tom were some curious visionary phenomena experienced by the hobbits. One cannot help but wonder about the remarkable number met within such a short period. There is little doubt that Frodo was the intended recipient of the more important ones. A dream while asleep (Gandalf’s escape from Orthanc35); a vision while neither asleep or awake (the Blessed Realm36); and a vision while fully awake (the Númenóreans and their king37) – leaves us with little doubt that some covert manipulation occurred. One can reasonably conclude that an outside force (namely Tom) had exercised an element of mind control.

By what mechanism38 Tom aided transmission of these visions was not explicitly spelled out. It is suspected the Professor introduced a form of telepathy. Presented in an interesting essay titled: Ósanwe-kenta, thought transference were powers endowed to the Ainur:

“For the Valar and Maiar could transmit thought directly (by the will of both parties) …”,
– Ósanwe-kenta, Essay by Tolkien, Vinyar Tengwar #39


“… knowledge may be gained or imparted by G, even when H is not seeking or intending to impart or to learn …”.
– Ósanwe-kenta, Essay by Tolkien, Vinyar Tengwar #39

From Tolkien’s essay it can be discerned that the minds of lesser beings, when in a receptive state, could be penetrated and have thoughts and visions implanted within. The key proviso was that no ‘unwill’ was present to close the mind. Certainly after their initial rescue we know the hobbits were convinced Tom was a trustworthy friend. So circumstantially does the evidence point to him being an Ainu? Hmm .… behind that jolly bumpkin-like facade lay a complex character. Tom was not anywhere near as simple as he looked!

(g) Celtic Connections

The episode on the Barrow-downs most likely has aspects of Celtic mythology embedded within. Indeed the fringes bordering Tom’s land had a purposeful Celtic flavoring to the names assigned to the Bucklanders and Bree-folk. A transition from a largely Anglo-Saxon rooted Shire to another wholly different landscape appears to have been intentionally spun to display another more ancient side of rural England for the myth. Not just Celtic, but pre-Christian relics dating back as far as a neolithic era were made part of the scenery. In particular, the landscape in the vicinity of the Downs was littered with symbolism in the form of barrows, mounds and standing stones. Even the:

“ … white chalky path … ”,
– The Fellowship of The Ring, In the House of Tom Bombadil

leading up to Tom’s house was vaguely evocative of prehistoric soil connected to Tolkien’s home counties. The most famous example is the hill-carved chalk figure of the White Horse of Uffington in Oxfordshire (historically Berkshire). Curiously, we should not forget that Tom was once referred to as: 

“ … the spirit of the … Oxford and Berkshire countryside, … ”.
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #19

That being said, unquestionably Tom was fully aware of threats in the area and specifically warned the hobbits of two. The most obvious danger was of course that posed by the Wights, who were all too ready to waylay the careless traveler. But the other peril was a more subtle one:

“ ‘… Don’t you go a-meddling with old stone or cold Wights …’ ”.
– The Fellowship of the Ring, In the House of Tom Bombadil (my underlined emphasis)

What was this “old stone”? Hmm …. a clue provided by the narrator hinted at it being the monolith the hobbits rested and strangely fell asleep against, for it stood guard like a warning finger. But what were these stones that were sometimes isolated, sometimes in pairs and sometimes arranged in rings?

The stones are without doubt reminiscent of those present in the English countryside – particularly Wiltshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Sporadically dotted across these counties, sometimes alone and sometimes in clusters, Tolkien had analogously transferred into the novel megaliths from a region that he himself was familiar with. In folklore these stones, and mounds too, are closely associated with the Celts. For example in Celtic lore – a single39 standing one signified an enchanted marker that foreshadowed the entryway to a fabled land occupied by divine beings, yet perilous for mortals.

It is quite possible that Tolkien borrowed elements from the lore of the Celtic peoples of the British Isles – in particular, the Irish and Welsh Celtic ‘Otherworld’40. These realms were portrayed as inhabited and governed by powerful spirits, namely: Irish and Welsh deities. In terms of a land location, both of these magical places were thought of as being underground – most intriguingly the Irish one lay within hollow hills over which barrows were built (The Sidhe). Means of access to these fabled worlds was sometimes as innocuous as via a ‘humble cottage’. However for mortals an entrance could only be gained at certain special times – usually at night, markedly when travellers were lost and in the presence of a magical fog41. And sometimes – all too familiarly – the way in would be between two standing stones:

“ … towering ominous … leaning slightly towards one another like the pillars of a headless door, two huge standing stones.”
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs

At any rate Frodo didn’t make it much past this door. His pony refused the way into a perilous realm – for it sensed danger ahead. Though Frodo barely penetrated the threshold – did something or someone come the other way?

After Frodo’s plea for help in the Barrow, queerly the description of the Celtic ‘Otherworld’ being underground matches one of the novel’s details. The hobbit:

“… heard … far away, as if it was coming down through the ground … an answering voice singing: …”. 
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs (my underlined emphasis)

Is that the route Tom took?

In a similar mode to what I have referred to as Tolkien’s ‘Viewing Gallery’, the ‘Otherworld’ was thought of by the Celts as a co-existing secondary plane of reality. Time in our physical world, relative to such a parallel dimension, was out of synchronization and one zone was often depicted as effectively standing still. Years could pass by in our world while mere hours elapse in the ‘Otherworld’ or vice-versa.

So is that how Tom arrived so quickly? Is that why he boasts:

“… his feet are faster.” ? 
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs

And was the summoning incantation a partial plea for help from the Celtic gods?

“… By water, wood and hill, by reed and willow,
By fire, sun and moon, harken now and hear us! …”.
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs

Primal elements and features such as fire, wood, water and hill were sacred to Celtic culture as were celestial objects such as the sun and moon. These items all have their own particular English, Welsh or Irish Celtic deities associated to them. However it is the referral to two particular trees that points to a deeper connection. Why the reed and willow one may ask? Well, the reed bush and willow tree were two of thirteen that were particularly special to the Celts. Indeed they form an integral part of the ‘Ogham lunar calendar’ – for the reed is associated to the deity of the moon and the willow – the demi-god that ruled over the hidden realm. Ever so subtly then had Frodo unknowingly asked at night for the aid from The Moon Goddess: Cerridwen, and the Head of the ‘other world’: Pwyll? Or was it the case that Tolkien felt that these named Celtic deities, in even more ancient times, must have had some mythological equivalents? 

Whether Tolkien was inspired by, and used such analogues cannot currently be authenticated. What came from the cauldron of fairy stories to be added to the soup of his own pot is impossible to confirm. Yet it is interesting how such existing mythology might have allowed him to rationalize Tom’s route and seemingly instantaneous appearance at the Barrow. The presence of such a parallel world would also explain why Frodo’s friends could not hear or answer him after he’d earlier passed through the opening declared as the “headless door”:

“ ‘Sam! …Pippin! Merry! … Why don’t you keep up?’
There was no answer.”
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs

For the hobbit did not possess Bombadil’s power of voice to transcend another dimension. And though Frodo was only in the ‘Otherworld’ fleetingly – by the time of emergence back into the physical plane of the Universe, time in that dimension had gone by swiftly and the other hobbits (who had missed the entrance in the fog or for whom it had closed) were now far away:

“ From some way off … he heard a cry … far ahead and high above him.”
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs

The key to understanding these minor abnormalities is “the simultaneity of different planes of reality touching one another” and logically deducing the points where these planes coincided. Standing stones were symbolic as gateposts to the ‘Otherworld’, and the influence of Celtic myth on Tolkien’s source material is now acknowledged among scholars as having been significant. Then one cannot help but wonder once again about the importance and relevance of:

“ ‘ … Tom can’t be always near to open doors and willow-cracks. …’ ”.
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs (my underlined emphasis)

Did Tom’s humble house serve as a door into another world and the two standing stones near to the Barrow serve as his exit? We cannot be certain. Nevertheless the magical nature of the two standing stones that Frodo and his pony passed between appears to be confirmed by their disappearance after Tom’s rescue:

“Though Frodo looked about him on every side he saw no sign of the great stones standing like a gate, …”.
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs

If Frodo had gone back and looked down into the hollow, he would have seen that the single warning stone was no longer standing:

“ The cold stone is fallen; …”.
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs 

The threat posed by the Wight had been eliminated, the fog had lifted and the sun was shining. For mortals the Gate to a perilous land had closed, but not for Tom who had special viewing abilities:

“ Night under Night is flown, and the Gate is open!”.
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs (my underlined emphasis)

The incantation emphasizing that light now occupied the Barrow alongside the summoning of ‘goodness’ from a hidden dimension, awakened the comatose hobbits – leaving the reader in awe of Tom’s power. Then perhaps from an in-cosmogony standpoint – what I have allegorically termed as Tom’s ‘Viewing Gallery’, was a plane of reality Tolkien might of thought of as secondarily functioning as: the Celtic ‘Otherworld’. More likely though, the route taken by Tom to the Downs was via another completely different dimension which Tolkien linked to ‘the theater’ as that mysterious dark zone underneath the stage42 – the Underworld! 

(h) Avowed Owner of Nothing

In dissecting Tolkien’s remarkable literary invention it is quite possible that I have “cut open the ball in search of its bounce”. Though the Professor may not have approved – still he surely would have understood the aura of magnetic mystique surrounding Tom and the resulting effect of readership infatuation. One of the more obvious findings to emerge from this unsanctioned cut-up was Tom’s aversion to accumulating worldly possessions. It is essential to acknowledge how over the centuries Tom appears to have hardly amassed anything. Indeed, there is a distinct lack of hard evidence that Tom owned much at all – at least any items of physical value or personal significance.

Certainly there is no sign of money playing a part in Tom’s life – nor of goods stacked up for barter and trade. Tom was quite the pauper – as the Buckland hobbits well knew:

“Shire-ale, I,ll be bound, though you’ve not a penny”.
– The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1962), Bombadil goes Boating (my underlined emphasis)

Of the beings within his territory, assuredly none of the inhabitants were under his ownership:

“ ‘… all things growing or living in the land belong each to themselves …’ ”.
– The Fellowship of the Ring, In the House of Tom Bombadil

Yes, the denizens did not even qualify as pets. Not even Fatty Lumpkin, for though Tom said:

“ ‘He’s mine,’ ”,
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs

its context was:

“ ‘My four-legged friend; …’ ”.
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs (my underlined emphasis)

In accordance with this line of thought, despite an implied claim that the land was his:

“Tom’s country ends here: he will not pass the borders”,
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs

it really wasn’t at all:

“He is not the owner of the woods; and he would never make any such threat.”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #210 (my underlined & Tolkien’s italicized emphasis)

“ Then all this land belongs to him?’ ‘No indeed!’ ”.
– The Fellowship of the Ring, In the House of Tom Bombadil (my underlined emphasis)

But why couldn’t and why didn’t Tom stake a claim? After all, in the early drafts a self-description was:

“ ‘I am an Aborigine, that’s what I am, …’ ”,
– The Return of the Shadow, Tom Bombadil – Second Narrative, First Phase of Writings

which would make him an original inhabitant of the land. Even though Tolkien later changed this to “Ab-Origine” – Latin for ‘there from the beginning’ – the intent was the same; Tom was the earliest sentient humanoid dweller in the region. Yet surely being first gave Tom legitimate rights? Surely more rights than any kingly after-comer – be he of Elven or mortal kind?

Again, why Tom was unable to lay down a claim came down to the constraint of being the audience’s representative for ‘the play’. He simply did not belong on the stage and thus ownership of any part of it was impossible. And so a kind of ‘vow of poverty’ prevented him from permanently possessing anything of value. Just like any audience member in the same situation – he viewed his stay as temporary. At best, a guardianship of sorts is all that could be justified.

Some may vehemently disagree and point to supposed material ownership – because undoubtedly it was: “the house of Tom Bombadil”. But there again if we probe a little deeper, can we really say it was lawfully titled if the land it was built on did not belong to him? Had Tom acquired legal deeds like Bilbo and Frodo clearly did to their abodes? Could he have come across an abandoned residence in ancient times whose heirs had vanished and that nobody now could rightfully claim? Or had he set up this dwelling in a danger-filled area that no others were interested in? And so was the word “of” merely meant to signify the house was his to occupy and no more?

These are all unknowns – yet we cannot delve into them any further simply because Tolkien may not have concentrated his thought on them. Certainly there are no clues to easily resolve such issues through textual evaluation and logical inference. Then all we can truly ascribe to Tom was the clothing on his back. Truly then, this would fit perfectly with Tolkien’s description of our ‘enigma’ having taken as it were:

“… ‘a vow of poverty’ …”.
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #144

Although I have given the most natural interpretation of what Tolkien might have meant by this vow, which is: one where the person has simply taken an oath to be ‘poor’, other academics disagree. Some have felt that a ‘vow of poverty’ was the act of withdrawal behind self-imposed boundaries. Others have interpreted the vow as being a renunciation of power and control.

It is more likely that the Professor, in providing an explanation to the proof-reader (of questions pertaining to a draft of The Fellowship of the Ring), would have been trying to relate matters in terms of real-world applications. In employing this very particular phrase Tolkien was probably referencing common terminology used by the Catholic Church. For in his adopted religion, a ‘vow of poverty’ is one of three taken by nuns in submitting themselves to God. Tolkien’s deep and life-long involvement with Christianity and numerous personal relationships with members of the clergy (ordained nuns, priests etc.) meant that his knowledge of the vows of ‘chastity, obedience and poverty’ can hardly be doubted.

Indeed the Professor was well aware that The Hobbit’s success was borne out of a loan of an early semi-complete copy to a friend. The friend, without permission, passed it on to a fellow employee of Allen & Unwin’s (the future publisher). A further unauthorized loan to a Mother Superior of a local Oxford convent resulted in a positive review and was a helpful step along the way to eventual publishing. Tolkien was quite cognizant of his luck. And he was also aware that the Reverend Mother played a small part. It is quite probable that he knew she was unable to ever keep her own personal printing due to her ‘vow of poverty’.

What other documentation do we have that confirms Tolkien knew of the constraints heeded by Roman Catholic nuns? Arguably the best is a personal letter sent by Mary St John of Oulton Abbey who was the sister of his friend Christopher Wiseman. In October of 1937 shortly after its release, she asked for a copy of The Hobbit:

“Since she has taken a vow of poverty she offers to pay with prayers for him and his family.”
– The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Chronology Hammond and Scull, 7 October 1937 (my underlined emphasis)

So when it came to Tom, Tolkien it is surmised, had given much thought to all the possible ways a typical audience member could be symbolized. The ‘vow of poverty’ was a clever and cryptically apt characteristic. However we must realize that submitting to pauperism didn’t mean Tom was unable to share what little he had. Just as the vow is interpreted by those sworn in under such an oath from the Catholic Church – Tom could freely share the food on his table, accommodate his guests and distribute the spoils of whatever riches came his way with all free peoples. In the case of Tom the oath was unspoken. But similarly to religious operation, it was one where he could claim nothing of value in the physical Universe as his very own.

(i) One of a Kind?

One of the more popular fallacies about Tom is that he was ‘one of a kind’. Certainly within The Lord of the Rings no other is depicted quite like him, and thus renowned Tolkien scholars have referred to him as a: sui generis43 or a lusus naturae44. However, even though he is the only known member of ‘the audience’, that does not make him totally unique. The comment below, made once again while discussing Tom, provides some needed insight into Tolkien’s own feelings on categorization:

“Only the first person (of worlds or anything) can be unique.”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #153 (‘first’ in italicized emphasis)

Quite rightly, the Professor strongly implied that he considered ‘God’ as unique. Nonetheless, since Tom is suspected as singularly special in the plane of the auditorium – wasn’t he equally unique? The answer is: in terms of his role – yes, but otherwise no, because:

“If you say he is there must be more than one, and created (sub) existence is implied. I can say ‘he is’ of Winston Churchill as well as of Tom Bombadil, surely?”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #153 (first ‘he is’ is in italicized emphasis, my underlined emphasis)

Since Goldberry states “he is”, the underlying message is – “there must be more than one” of Tom’s type in a world of other finites. Indeed it is hard to challenge such a prognosis, particularly as Tolkien’s legendarium is awash with different creatures but lacking any directly stated one of a kinds. Of the few that may qualify – they are more unknown quantities than pinpointable as in a genus of their own.

Furthermore we must note that though Tolkien specifically ruled out the possibility of Tom’s origin “in the world” of “The Lord of the Rings”:

“… he has no historical origin in the world described in The Lord of the Rings.”,
– Tolkien letter to Christopher Fettes – 1961: Hammond & Scull LotR Companion p.134 (my underlined emphasis)

yet that does not exclude him from being an unplanned for and late insertion into the overall cosmogonical myth. The quote is definitely reader interpretive. Indeed, if meant to be applied internal to the tale, Tolkien may well have had just Arda in mind when using an uncapitalized “world”. Even that supposition may be too loose because many would not go that far. As if matters are viewed from a critical angle – what was “described in” the novel was almost entirely related to a large sector of Middle-earth and nothing much beyond that.

In some respects, the Fettes letter has a distinct affinity with Tolkien’s remark in Letter #200 about the Ainur being:

“… in the world, but not of a kind whose essential nature is to be physically incarnate.”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #200 (my underlined emphasis)

But the Ainur came from beyond the Universe. Once more, was Tom an Ainu then? Or was he something else? In this quest we must not forget that though an ‘enigma’ – Tom was never referred to as an ‘anomaly’. This should give us hope – that there is an ‘in-cosmogony’ answer to his genus; an answer which does not put him in a category of his own.

(j) Categorization and Sub-categorization

So if Tom was not ‘one of a kind’, then what type of immortal was he?

That ‘Holy Grail’ of Tolkien quests has occupied scholars’ minds and perplexed many. Though now we know Tom was originally from ‘Outside’ – we can reasonably conclude that he was either an in-cosmogony deity type spirit or perhaps, as some have suggested, Tolkien himself playing a cameo role. Maybe the former is more likely, for Tom was referred to as a ‘spirit’ at least four times within Tolkien’s letters:

“… the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside, …”,
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #19

“… the spirit that desires knowledge … a spirit coeval with the rational mind …”,
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #153

“The spirit of the [deleted:world > this earth] made aware of itself.”
– Letter to Nevill Coghill, see Addenda and Corrigenda to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book (2014) Edited by Scull and Hammond

Indeed having placed himself in the role of the philologist that translated the Red Book and then the narrator of the translation, it seems unlikely Tolkien would have given himself another one. More emphatically, the following quote distinguishes and separates the two – virtually ruling out Tolkien being Tom:

“(Again the words used are by Goldberry and Tom not me as a commentator).”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #153 (my underlined emphasis)

Perhaps the following phrases, in some late writings, amount to a strong reason for personal exclusion:

“ ‘Can the singer enter into his tale or the designer into his picture?’ ‘He is already in it, as well as outside,’ …”.
– The History of Middle-earth, Morgoth’s Ring, Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth

Yes Tolkien’s essence was already in his story. He didn’t need to be disguised as Tom.

But then if a ‘spirit’ – what kind? And most importantly, when Tolkien made such referrals within his letters – was this merely a form of sub-categorization? Even though Tom was now a “creature” in Middle-earth, garbed in clothes and embodied in flesh, the Professor still possibly thought of him as a spirit which had entered from ‘Outside’, undergone incarnation and then attached itself to an aspect of Arda. In this case, Tom’s affinity to the natural world – the part of ‘the play’ he was most interested in – resulted in bonding to a local stretch of countryside.

Then a fairly reasonable deduction is that a “spirit of the countryside” and “spirit of this earth”, was simply sub-categorization (or evolved that way). For example: Balrogs became sub-categorized as ‘spirits of fire’, yet their true race is ‘of the Maiar’. An adoption of such logic starts to narrow down possibilities. A small but necessary step which may help those insistent on Tom being only a nature spirit or spirit of the Music, expand their view.

Then could Tom have been one of the Ainur or of another class unspecified by Tolkien yet reported in some of his earliest writings?

“… brownies, fays, pixies, leprawns, … for they were born before the world and are older than its oldest, and are not of it, but laugh at it much, for had they not somewhat to do with its making, so that it is for the most part a play for them; …”.
– The Book of Lost Tales I, The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor

Many have considered the above to be a ‘rogue quote’ as there is little to no direct evidence in writings post-dating The Lord of the Rings – that suggests Tolkien did conceive other kinds of beings entering Arda from ‘Outside’, except this:

“… Valar and the Maiar, or of any other order that Ilúvatar has sent45 into Eä.”
– The Silmarillion, The Valanquenta (my underlined emphasis)

Unfortunately another “order” leaves us with a rather nebulous and open-ended possibility. Nevertheless there is reasonable suspicion that the early Book of Lost Tales spawned ideas for Tom – especially as the traits of non-interference; existing before the world; being in the world but not of it; watching the play and laughing, are heavily reminiscent of the solution proclaimed by this article. Had ideas in the Lost Tales been morphed into Tom? Could Tom be of some “other order”?

Although we know (given the HoMe series) that Tolkien’s cosmogonical myth evolved and that snippets of early thoughts were sometimes woven into later writings, despite a suspicion, we cannot be sure this occurred in the case of Tom. The way the author arrives at the final result is unfortunately an extremely complex process. Tolkien discouraged guesswork and digging too deep. Tom analogized as the ‘soup’, was the end result; the sources of his origin (the ‘bones’) were meant to remain secret.

“We must be satisfied with the soup that is set before us, and not desire to see the bones of the ox out of which it has been boiled.”
– On Fairy-Stories, Essay by Tolkien available in Tree and Leaf (Quote originally attributed to Dasent)

However Tolkien underestimated the extreme inquisitive nature of his readership. Tom was beyond fascinating. An odd-ball who was so mysterious – he had the reader wondering, and wondering, and then some.

In our pursuit of an answer to arguably the greatest of Tolkien mysteries, we must not confine ourselves to purist canonical taxonomy – and thus limit Tom to only one of the Ainur. Then exasperatingly – once again, what was he? Was he of the Valar, of the Maiar, or was he categorized as something else?

Having dedicated more than a chapter to Tom, Tolkien was far too careful not to have given the problem great thought. After all, we know that virtually all other characters within the tales were of a specific and designated kind. As we shall see in Part IV, there is covertly hidden information within The Lord of the Rings that will allow us to come to a more certain conclusion.

Summary Part III
  • Though the title ‘Dark Lord’ in the sentence: “ ‘ He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless – before the Dark Lord came from Outside.’ ” appears to many to better fit Melkor, investigation of the drafts and final text points to Sauron being Tolkien’s target.
  • The word “fatherless” used by Elrond to describe Tom has probably been universally misinterpreted. It is likely that Tolkien meant to convey an archaic definition of the akin word: ‘unfathered’. Essentially the Professor’s intent was to relay Tom was ‘of obscure origin’.
  • Tom’s usage of a capitalized “Outside”, when speaking of the Dark Lord’s origination point, is reasonably viewed as being ‘outside’ of Eru’s created Universe.
  • The Lord of the Rings text stating that both Tom and Treebeard are “oldest” and “Eldest” left the reader a paradox. The puzzle is neatly solvable if we firstly consider the context and secondly ponder the implications of incarnation and reincarnation. Tom is “oldest” and “Eldest” because he existed at the beginning of ‘the play’ in a different plane of reality in his allegorical role as the ‘audience’. Tom entered physical Arda in incarnated form after Treebeard’s awakening. The moment of incarnation (a joining of the spirit to a physical body) is the key to understanding age for ‘creatures’ living in Middle-earth – be they of the Ainur or not.
  • The word ‘enigma’ used to describe Tom in one of Tolkien’s letters is likely to have been employed in the context of conveying Tom to be a ‘riddle’. This is essentially the origin or root of the word.
  • Tolkien left a personal joke in titling the Bombadil chapter as: ‘In the House of Tom Bombadil’. The ‘house’ is theatrical terminology for where the ‘audience’ is seated – and of course per the advanced theory – Tom is the manifestation of the ‘audience’ for the ‘play’.
  • Tom possesses similar powers to the Ainur in his ability to implant visions into the minds of the hobbits. This projected imagery was intrinsic to Tolkien’s idea of a Faërian drama.
  • Tolkien likely employed an analogy of the Celtic ‘Otherworld’ within the Barrow-downs episode. Tom used another plane of reality to rescue the hobbits from the Barrow. Clues within the text point to one of the portal “open doors” employed by Tom as that between two standing stones close to the Barrow, while the other was back at his cottage. The connection of this portal to the Celtic ‘Otherworld’, where time elapsed at a different rate to the physical world, allows us to understand the rapidity of Tom’s rescue.
  • The “vow of poverty” taken by Tom is one of being willingly poor in declining ownership of any significant material possessions ‘on stage’. Tolkien borrowed this term from the Catholic Church and subsequently analogized usage to Tom.
  • Despite Tom being portrayed as a ‘one of a kind’, Tolkien’s correspondence indicates otherwise.
  • Sub-categorization as a ‘nature spirit’ appears to be a reasonable additional role served by Tom. His actual genus however, will be explored and exposed in Part IV.

Test 4

Before moving on to Part IV – a big thank you to all those who have written to me – and I am heartened how the vast majority have shown overwhelming support. I am also touched how some of the most well-recognized Tolkien scholars have offered qualified encouragement through remarks regarding my work such as “ingenious”, “intriguing”, “remarkable” and “fascinating”.

Nor have other fans lacked enthusiasm. Below is a sampling of the positive comments received so far:

” … opens up a new vista in my understanding … (of TB)”

” … everything now makes sense …”

“I liked how you explained how the Ring disappeared and the cause of the flash too …”

“Always wondered if he was so powerful why he let his boots get wet.”

“That was brilliant!”.

However words of warning are needed before proceeding to Part IV. Already the approach used has aroused controversy, but this upcoming section will certainly fan the flames. It is recommended that the contents are reviewed with an open mind without preconceived prejudices – for we are about to travel deeper into uncharted territory.

Test Back to Part II


30 Such a theory is easily dismissed using Tolkien’s categorical denials in Letter #181“There is no embodiment of the One, of God, who indeed remains remote, outside the World, , and Letter #211: “The One does not physically inhabit any pan of Eä.”

31 Excluding the grammatical need for capitalization at the beginning of a sentence.

32 The Lord of the Rings – A Reader’s Companion, Hammond & Scull, Harper Collins 2005, Treebeard: Entry 464 (11:67) The Ent.

33 The defining bounds of “oldest ...” had already been set by prior use. Repetition was probably considered as unnecessarily verbose.

34 Tolkien defined the spirit using the terminology ‘Fëa’ and physical body as the ‘Hröa’.

35 Thought transfer by Tom is akin to the ability of the Maia, Gandalf: they did not know whence came the fair visions he put into their hearts.”The Silmarillion, The Valaquenta.

36 It is not clear this vision emanated from Tom or Gandalf himself. It is possible that Tom read Frodo’s mind and allayed his worries about the safety of Gandalf and the reason for missing the agreed to rendezvous through thought transference. Again, Tom may have had some understanding from the ‘playbill’.

37 A vision of Valinor purposely placed to give Frodo the knowledge that salvation awaited. Despite the dangers ahead and the fate of Middle-earth on his shoulders, there was a place awaiting him where ultimately could be found healing. The revelation was intended to remain in his heart, and be carried with him as solace, for the great adventure that lay ahead.

38 It is not clear whether the Númenórean leader in the vision was Elendil or Isildur. It is doubtful whether it was Aragorn – as The Fellowship of the Ring text appears to be relaying events in the past: “… they had a vision of a great expanse of years behind them, …”.

39 See:
“Standing stones, especially solitary stones in isolated places, might well have been erected … to mark the site of a gate to the Otherworld.”

40 The Welsh Celtic ‘Otherworld’ is known as the ‘Annwn’. The Irish Celtic ‘Otherworld’ has several names, but is most commonly referred to as ‘The Tir na nÓg’. To all intents and purposes the Welsh and Irish versions are the one and the same ‘Otherworld’ – with the different branches of the Celtic peoples developing separate aspects to the commonly rooted legends. In Tolkien’s O’Donnell Lecture, 1955: ‘English and Welsh’, the Welsh Otherworld was referred to as the “Underworld” thus resonating with the below-earth route taken by Bombadil per the advocated theory. 

41 See:
“The other method of finding a way into the sidhe was to be lost: caught up in a magical fog – such as when Conn Céad Cathach and his men were caught, and found themselves at the house of Lugh Lamhfada, or lost in the woods, such as when Pwyll* ran into Arawn while hunting.”
* Mentioned per Tolkien’s O’Donnell Lecture, 1955: ‘English and Welsh’.

42 Rather than a portal concept involving the auditorium – one where trap-doors in a stage floor are employed, is possibly a more appropriate analogue. 

43 ‘Sui generis’ is Latin for ‘one of a kind’.

44 ‘Lusus naturae’ is terminology used by T. Shippey in The Road to Middle-earth. It is loosely translated from Latin as: ‘a freak of nature’, although Shippey defines as it as a ‘one-member’ category.

45 It is impossible to determine what/when Tolkien meant by “sent”. Were these beings pre-existing spirits from beyond the Universe willingly ‘sent’ in the same manner as the Valar/Maiar? Or were they ‘sent’ in the sense of being ‘planted’ to awaken in Arda at a pre-appointed time?


1/30/2016 – Preface added.

2/09/2016 – Added new footnote 41 and renumbered subsequent ones.

2/17/2016 – Revised Section (b) paragraph after Letter #181 quote.

2/22/2016 – Revised Section (i), was: “only a nature spirit”, is: “only a nature spirit or spirit of the Music”.

2/22/2016 – Added to Summary Part III (pertaining to Celtic Mythology) : “while the other was back at his cottage”.

2/31/2016 – Added to first paragraph of section (g) – including two quotes.

3/06/2016 – Added to section (g). Beginning : “The presence of such a parallel …”. Ending: “… the simultaneity of different planes of reality touching one another”.

3/15/16 -Added to section (g): “and logically deducing the points where these planes coincided.”

3/22/16 – Added to section (a): “Once again this tied … abode:”. Added quote: “The dark lord sits in the tower …”.

3/25/16 – Added quote to Footnote 37: “… they had a vision of a great expanse of years behind them, …”.

4/08/16 – Added to Section (b): In all probability this rather likely given that Collins confirms archaic linkage: “Unfathered: (archaic) fatherless”. – Collins English Dictionary, On-line Edition.

4/11/16 – Added to Preface: “Where were the “open doors”?”.

Per Note 39, added: “In Tolkien’s O’Donnell Lecture, 1955: ‘English and Welsh’, the Welsh Otherworld was referred to as the “Underworld” thus resonating with the below-earth route taken by Bombadil per the advocated theory.”

4/26/16 – Added new Section (h): ‘Avowed Owner of Nothing’. Renumbered subsequent Sections.

5/15/16 – Added to Section (d): “and equally significantly – recurred” and “, with their spirits severed from their bodies,”. 

Added to Section (g): “Is that why he boasts:” and quote: “… his feet are faster.” ? 
– The Fellowship of the Ring, Fog on the Barrow-downs”.

5/25/16 – Added to Footnote 39: “To all intents and purposes the Welsh and Irish versions are the one and the same ‘Otherworld’ – with the different branches of the Celtic peoples developing separate aspects to the commonly rooted legends.”

Added to Summary Part III: Bullet on the subject of Tom’s “vow of poverty”.

5/25/16 – Added to Section (g): “one zone was”, “or vice-versa” & “in that dimension”.

Change to Summary Part III: Was “slower rate”, Is: “different rate”.

6/10/16 – Was: “This was an idea intrinsic to Tolkien’s vision of a Faërian drama.”, Is: “This projected imagery was intrinsic to Tolkien’s idea of a Faërian drama.”

Was: “cosmology”, Is: “cosmogony”.

6/19/16 – Added new sentences from: “Of debate …” to: “(later on)”.

6/24/16 – Added: “Even that supposition may be too loose because many would not go that far. As if matters are viewed from a critical angle – what was “described in” the novel was almost entirely related to a large sector of Middle-earth and nothing much beyond that.”

6/28/16 – Added new paragraph beginning: “What other documentation …”, and quote: “Since she has taken …”.

7/18/16 – Added to Section (b): “Imaginably then, this is one of those instances where antiquated vocabulary from a bygone era crept into the text:”. Added quote: “there are a number of words …”.

Was: ” In essence …”, Is: “Outmoded though it may be, …”.

7/28/16 – Renumbered Notes.

8/16/16  Added to Section (h): “Tom was quite the pauper – as the Buckland hobbits well knew:”, and quote: “Shire-ale, I,ll be bound, …”.

9/13/16 Was: “the chapter titled ‘Tom Bombadil’ in the early drafts was renamed …”, Is: “the initially unnamed chapter specified by Christopher Tolkien as ‘Tom Bombadil’ in the early drafts was eventually titled …”.


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