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Things of Middle-earth

Ithil, the Moon

Type: Miscellaneous

Meaning: the sheen

Other Names:
Ithil (Sindarin)
Isil (Quenya)
Rána (Sindarin) 'the Wayward', 'the Wanderer'
White Face (by Gollum)
HoME only:
the last Flower of Silver
Phanaikelūth (Valarin) 'bright mirror'


The last fruit of Telperion, taken after the destruction of the Two Trees, hallowed by the Valar and placed into the sky by Varda:
Manwë bade Yavanna and Nienna to put forth all their powers of growth and healing; and they put forth all their powers upon the Trees. But the tears of Nienna availed not to heal their mortal wounds; and for a long while Yavanna sang alone in the shadows. Yet even as hope failed and her song faltered, Telperion bore at last upon a leafless bough one great flower of silver, and Laurelin a single fruit of gold.

These Yavanna took; and then the Trees died, and their lifeless stems stand yet in Valinor, a memorial of vanished joy. But the flower and the fruit Yavanna gave to Aulë, and Manwë hallowed them, and Aulë and his people made vessels to hold them and preserve their radiance: as is said in the Narsilion, the Song of the Sun and Moon. These vessels the Valar gave to Varda, that they might become lamps of heaven, outshining the ancient stars, being nearer to Arda; and she gave them power to traverse the lower regions of Ilmen, and set them to voyage upon appointed courses above the girdle of the Earth from the West unto the East and to return....

Isil the Sheen the Vanyar of old named the Moon, flower of Telperion in Valinor; and Anar the Fire-golden, fruit of Laurelin, they named the Sun. But the Noldor named them also Rána, the Wayward, and Vása, the Heart of Fire, that awakens and consumes; for the Sun was set as a sign for the awakening of Men and the waning of the Elves, but the Moon cherishes their memory.

The maiden whom the Valar chose from among the Maiar to guide the vessel of the Sun was named Arien, and he that steered the island of the Moon was Tilion.... Tilion was a hunter of the company of Oromë, and he had a silver bow. He was a lover of silver, and when he would rest he forsook the woods of Oromë, and going into Lórien he lay in dream by the pools of Estë, in Telperion's flickering beams; and he begged to be given the task of tending for ever the last Flower of Silver....

Isil was first wrought and made ready, and first rose into the realm of the stars, and was the elder of the new lights, as was Telperion of the Trees. Then for a while the world had moonlight, and many things stirred and woke that had waited long in the sleep of Yavanna. The servants of Morgoth were filled with amazement, but the Elves of the Outer Lands looked up in delight; and even as the Moon rose above the darkness in the west, Fingolfin let blow his silver trumpets and began his march into Middle-earth, and the shadows of his host went long and black before them.

Tilion had traversed the heaven seven times, and thus was in the furthest east, when the vessel of Arien was made ready. Then Anar arose in glory....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 11, Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor


sil- (and variant thil-) 'shine (with white or silver light)' in Belthil, Galathilion, Silpion, and in Quenya Isil, Sindarin Ithil, the Moon (whence Isildur, Narsil; Minas Ithil, Ithilien). The Quenya word Silmarilli is said to derive from the name silima that Fëanor gave to the substance from which they were made.

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 30Nov07, 22Jan12

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