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Ósanwe is an inherent ability that all Ainur and Incarnates possess, however the power is lessened by having a body or hröa, so it is generally weaker for Elves and especially for Men. All minds are "equal in status, though they differ in capacity and strength." A mind can only be communicated to with ósanwe if it is open. Any mind can be willed closed, and this is a barrier that cannot be overcome by anything or anyone, not even Melkor applying all his power and will on a mind could do so. The ability can be strengthened through various means: from affinity between the persons communicating, urgency on the part of the person sending the thought, or their authority lending effectiveness, allowing though to pass through bodies more easily. Language can also become an impediment to the development of ósanwe since it is easier for Incarnates to use which can lead to neglect.
Portrayal in adaptations
- When the Fellowship of the Ring arrives in Caras Galadhon, Galadriel telepathically talks to them about the fate of Gandalf and specifically greets Frodo. She again talks to the later in the same way about the One Ring after he looked into the Mirror of Galadriel.
- Before the beginning of the Battle of the Hornburg, Galadriel and Elrond have a long-distance communication about the danger awaiting Aragorn and the others there, and send a troop of Elves to fight with them.
- During the meeting of the White Council at Rivendell Galadriel greets Gandalf telepathically, and continue to communicate while Saruman is talking.