Whetting 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.
The last moments of Beleg Cúthalion by Anke Eißmann

The whetting spell was a magic song that was sung by Beleg according to the early version of the legendarium in The Lay of the Children of Húrin. The spell mentions several and mysterious concepts that would never appear in any other works by J.R.R. Tolkien; the spell itself will not appear in later versions of the story.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

After Túrin had been captured by Orcs, his friend Beleg and the Gnome Flinding rescued him from the enemy's camp while he was still chained and unconscious. Once they took him nearby, Beleg sought his sword to cut Túrin's chains, and whispered a magic song to sharpen it:

There wondrous wove he  words of sharpness,

and the names of knives  and Gnomish blades
he uttered o'er it:  even Ogbar's spear
and the glaive of Gaurin  whose gleaming stroke
did rive the rocks  of Rodrim's hall;
the sword of Saithnar,  and the silver blades
of the enchanted children  of chains forged
in their deep dungeon;  the dirk of Nargil,
the knife of the North  in Nogrod smithied;
the sweeping sickle  of the slashing tempest,
the lambent lightning's  leaping falchion
even Celeg Aithorn  that shall cleave the world.
Then whistling whirled he  the whetted sword-blade
and three times three  it threshed the gloom,
till flame was kindled  flickering strangely
like licking firelight  in the lamp's glimmer

blue and baleful  at the blade's edges.
The Lay of the Children of Húrin, "II. Beleg", p. 45, vv. 1207-1223

List of terms[edit | edit source]

Below is a list of terms that are used within the whetting spell.

  • Ogbar, whose gleaming spear tore the rocks of Rodrim's hall.
  • Gaurin, whose gleaming glaive tore the rocks of Rodrim's hall.
  • Rodrim, whose hall was torn apart by the weapons of Ogbar and Gaurin.
  • Saithnar, whose sword was invoked.
  • Nargil, whose knife was forged in the north in Nogrod. (In a note, Loruin was written as an alternative name to Nargil[2]).
  • Celeg Aithorn, a mythological sword or lightning bolt that will cleave the world.