Sunday, April 10, 2011
"All that is not eternal is eternally out of date."
- C.S. Lewis
(Note: In order to appreciate the conclusions drawn in this article,
please first read: "Nature Spirits and Elemental Beings" followed
by "Tom Bombadil - Nature Spirit - Part 1".)
After having defined Nature Spirits, and having analyzed the color
Symbolism and Appearance associated with Tom Bombadil, let us
now look at the powers and behaviors associated with Tom
Bombadil which further define him to be a Nature Spirit.
The first glimpse we have of the power and supremacy which Tom
Bombadil possesses within his forest domain is when Merry and
Pippin become trapped within Old Man Willow.
Tom listens to Frodo's and Sam's account of the incident with an
amused interest. Then, with a final authority, as one would see in
a parent scolding a naughty child, Tom orders Old Man Willow to
release his captives. Old Man Willow instantly obeys and Merry
and Pippin are released at once.
This incident makes us quickly aware of the complete power and
authority which Tom possesses over his forest domain. This is
consistent with the power that a Nature Spirit possesses over all
that resides within Its realm.
While resting in the house of Tom Bombadil the Hobbits experience
further displays of Tom's powers.
He tells the Hobbits not to fear any nightly noises they may hear
while they are his guests for nothing evil or harmful can penetrate
the walls or windows of his home.
He is conscious of their every waking and sleeping moment. And,
he makes the Hobbits aware of this when he tells them, "In the
night little folk wake up in the darkness, and sleep after light has
Tom speaks of Events which occurred in distant and long-forgotten
ages. And he is able to create vivid visions of these Events in the
minds of the Hobbits. Thus allowing the Hobbits to "see" these
long-ago Events which Tom had personally experienced.
Tom also describes to the Hobbits the lives, thoughts, and feelings
which are the heart and soul of his forest domain. Thereby giving
the Hobbits a better understanding of all that resides within his
It is through these stories, comments, and visions that Tom makes
the Hobbits aware of the mystical and magical powers he has at his
command; powers which are the natural essence of a Nature Spirit.
Now we come to Tom Bombadil and The Ring.
"Show me the precious Ring!", Tom suddenly says to Frodo.
Tom then places the much feared Ring round the end of his little
finger but does not disappear. This shows us that the Ring has no
power over Tom.
Tom then tosses this most powerful Ring into the air and causes
it to vanish! He is "toying" with this One Ring which is serious,
feared, and perilous to the creatures and inhabitants of middle
earth. Yet the powers of this One Ring are useless, amusing, and
in fact even silly to Tom.
These two incidents are a further reminder that not only does
anything which enters Tom's realm have no control over him, yet
Tom has complete control over everything which enters into his
domain. These are further indications that Tom Bombadil is a
Frodo then places the Ring on his finger and disappears before his
Hobbit companions... but he remains fully visible to Tom Bombadil.
This shows us that Tom is the "Master" who knows, sees, and has
power over all that exists within, or enters into, his domain.
This is yet a further display that, as a Nature Spirit, Tom exists
well beyond, and is therefore immune to, the mundane rules and
restrictions, which govern both mankind and the material realm.
Later on, when the Hobbits leave the house of Tom Bombadil, we
see another awesome display of Tom's authority when the Hobbits
are overcome by a barrow wight in the barrow downs which are
within Tom's realm.
By the use of a summoning rhyme, taught to the Hobbits by Tom,
Frodo summons Tom, who immediately appears, rescues the
Hobbits, and banishes the wight from his domain.
Now we come Tom's self-admitted limits to his powers.
Tom proclaims that, although he is the Master of his forest,
"I am no weather-master". This tells us that Tom is a Nature
Spirit of his forest but not of the weather. For the weather is
the realm of, and governed by, another Elemental Being; the
Nature Spirit of weather.
Tom also states, "Out east my knowledge fails. Tom is not
master of Riders from the Black Land far beyond my country."
This is a further reminder that, as a Nature Spirit, Tom is only
Master of his particular, self-created, domain; the domain of
his ancient forest.
And though, being a Nature Spirit, he may have some powers
outside of his personal realm, he is not Master of, nor does
he have control over, that which occurs in any of the domains
beyond his borders.
These admissions by Tom are consistent with the Divine Principles
which govern all Nature Spirits and Elemental Beings. They are the
complete Master of only their specifically defined realm and have
minimal, if any, power outside the borders of their sole domain.
In "Nature Spirits and Elemental Beings" we have a specific
definition of these powerful, important, and eternal essences.
In "Tom Bombadil - Nature Spirit - Part 1" we analyzed the
Symbolism associated with Tom Bombadil.
In this article we have discussed Tom's powers and behaviors.
In "Tom Bombadil - Nature Spirit - Part 3" we will discuss the
legends associated with Tom Bombadil.
(Tom Bombadil appears in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Fellowship of the Ring")
Comments and Emails: I welcome comments and emails from
people with similar thoughts and feelings. My email address is
located in the upper-left area of this page. Comments can be
posted by using the "Comment" link located below each article.
Also: If you found value in this article please feel free to forward
it to other like-minded individuals, organizations and sites.
Disclaimer: None of my articles should be considered to be
either advice or expertise. They are simply personal opinions
and no more. Everyone is encouraged to seek competent
advice from a licensed, registered, or certified professional
should such advice or service be required
© copyright Joseph Panek 2011