Lengthening spell

From Tolkien Gateway
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
Lúthien Tinúviel by Jenny Dolfen

The lengthening spell was a magic song that was sung by Lúthien to grow out her hair while she was kept in Hírilorn.

The published version of The Silmarillion only references the Lay of Leithian and provides a brief summary: "for she put forth her arts of enchantment, and caused her hair to grow to great length, and of it she wove a dark robe that wrapped her beauty like a shadow, and it was laden with a spell of sleep".[1]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

The earlier versions of the spell in the legendarium provide some more detailed accounts of this enchantment.

The Book of Lost Tales[edit | edit source]

In the first version of the story in The Book of Lost Tales, it is said that Tinúviel, being the daughter of Gwendeling, knew of spells, so she devised a plan to escape from Hirilorn: she asked for clear water from the stream below, which should be collected at midnight in a silver bowl, and brought to her in complete silence. After receiving this, she asked for wine, which should be brought to her at noon in a golden flagon while the bearer sang. Then she asked her mother for a spinning wheel, and asked Dairon for a tiny loom.

Having all she needed, when she was alone, she took the water and wine, and mixed them together. While the mixture was in the golden bowl, she sang a song of growth; and while it was in the silver one, she sang a song about all the tallest and longest things upon Earth: "the beards of the Indravangs, the tail of Karkaras, the body of Glorund, the bole of Hirilorn, and the sword of Nan she named, nor did she forget the chain Angainu that Aulë and Tulkas made or the neck of Gilim the giant, and last and longest of all she spake of the hair of Uinen the lady of the sea that is spread through all the waters.” Then Tinúviel washed her hair with the enchanted water and wine, and meanwhile she sang a third song about deep sleep. Her hair began growing swiftly, and in half a day, it almost covered the whole room, and when she woke up the next morning, her hair was flowing out of the windows. She worked long and hard to weave a magical robe of sleepiness and a rope to escape from her prison.[2]

The Lay of Leithian[edit | edit source]

In The Lay of Leithian, Lúthien's father Thingol placed her in a guarded treehouse. Through a spell of invoking the longest things in the world, she grew out her hair and made a robe and a rope of it: "a magic dress / that all was drenched in drowsiness". Lowering the rope, she put her guards to sleep and escaped.[3]

Below is a list of invocations within the lengthening spell.[3]

See also[edit | edit source]