Gandalf the Angel

by Daisy Gold

The Shire is, without doubt, my favourite place in Middle Earth. Its rich pastoral landscape and friendly, happy people conform to my idea of the perfect location to live.

So it is hardly surprising that I choose this picture of Gandalf the White for my avatar.
I feel he has a special association with the hobbits in the Shire. Gandalf has studied Hobbits for many years and when he suspects the One Ring maybe in the Shire he has the Rangers keep guard over them. Therefore I see him as their special Guardian Angel.

This, however, was not my first impression of Gandalf. As I had never read the books before seeing the film FOTR, I took him to be a wizard, 'a conjurer of cheap tricks', a chap with a pointy hat and this rather put me off this character. Since then I have had time to see all the films and read Tolkien's masterpiece. Now I feel I am beginning to understand him.

As I study Gandalf more carefully I believe he is more akin to an angel than a sorcerer. His purpose is to aid the inhabitants of middle earth in the battle against the evil Sauron. He is there to guide and protect these people and especially the Fellowship.

Sometimes he does display what could be called 'magical powers' e.g. when he uses his staff to ward off the nazgul and protect the fleeing Gondorians or as the wielder of the Secret Flame of Arnor he defeats the Balrog. These are never done as 'tricks'. In fact this power does not come from him. The power that he uses comes from Iluvatar. I would call it one of the 'tools' of the job, that Iluvatar has given to him, to aid his mission. And Gandalf is one of his special Istari, his messenger i.e. angel.

So I see Gandalf as a kind of angelic figure. I grew up believing in angels. I even wrote a paper on angels when I was at college many moons ago. But my lasting memory is from my childhood. It is of a picture showing an angel guarding a child who is playing near a river and beside it the prayer to our Guardian Angel, which we said every day and night. The angel was tall, blond and very beautiful. In fact not unlike the Elves in Tolkien - except for the magnificent wings!

Gandalf, however, is more like my idea of an angel now. He is special in his place in the hierarchy of creation but no more special to Iluvatar than His creations on Middle earth.
I also see him like the angel Michael as he fights against Sauron's forces in ROTK. Now I must confess that long ago during those childhood years, I had a statue of the angel Michael in my bedroom. He was dressed in armour, somewhat like Brad Pitt in Troy! Enough said! What impresses me most about Gandalf is that never once does he put on armour. He goes into battle with his staff and sword. His faith is his armour.
His wisdom tells him that although war has a place in this world, your best defence is your belief in GOOD and the power and love of Iluvatar. “I said victory could not be achieved by arms. I still hope for victory, but not by arms.” — Gandalf

Gandalf too has shortcomings - he was blind to the intentions of Saruman. He could show impatience, especially with Pippin. A nice 'human' touch by Tolkien, no one is perfect!

Gandalf has been given or acquired many wonderful gifts. Gifts, that he selflessly uses to help others. Like us, Gandalf has the most precious gift of all - Free Will. His greatest moment, when he shows such depth and generosity of spirit, comes when he freely gives up his life to save his companions in Moria. An act, which Tolkien mirrors in Frodo's quest and sacrifice.

So for me Gandalf and Hobbits have a special bond. I can't see one with out the other.
Gandalf is their friend, their Guardian Angel whether they acknowledge it or not.
Maybe we have a Gandalf somewhere in our lives? Who knows?