Mythic Well: Comparison List

Note: in the following comparisons, unless otherwise clearly stated, the translations in the Vorlon/First Ones section are Minbari, the translations in the Valar/Maiar section are from one or other of the Elvish languages - Sindarin, Quenya or proto-Elvish. Each numbered paragraph corresponds to the same number in the other section. The paragraphs marked with '***' contain spoilers for the 4th Season.

The Vorlons and First Ones

  1. Possible translations of the word Vorlon include: dreamers in the heart of time; singers in the deeps of time; powerful heavenly ones; the highly exalted ones. The last two translations are from the Minbari, while the one of the first two is, without much doubt, what Vorlon means in the Vorlon language.
  2. The Vorlons were beings of apparently pure energy who are able to assume physical forms and to project personalised images of great light and majesty. When Kosh rescues Sheridan, he is seen simultaneously as Narn, Minbari, human and presumably Drazi - as well as others.
  3. The Vorlons appeared in angelic form, they used the name or title Kosh (translation: glorious host ) to refer to themselves and two of them travelled back and forward from Babylon 5 to their own dwelling places, known as the Vorlon Empire.
  4. They battled for millennia with beings like themselves, known as the Shadows.
  5. They were apparently very long-lived but able to be poisoned and seemingly killed (perhaps fragmented? disintegrated?) by sustained plasma blasts.
  6. Their ships sang, and presuming the Vorlons to be one with their ships in a similar way to the gestalt communions of Samuel Delaney's Babel 17 , they also sang constantly themselves. Lyta claimed that Kosh Naranek sang to her in sleep.
  7. Expeditions to Vorlon space did not, as a general rule, return. Although Lyta came back, she was plainly an exception.
  8. The Vorlons guided the Minbari at least occasionally (and perhaps continually) for not less than a thousand years. The White Star is part Vorlon, part Minbari technology.
  9. The Vorlons were at least partly responsible for the role of Valen (Entil'zha: morning star) in restoring hope to the Minbari who were on the verge of defeat.
  10. For millennia, the Vorlons allowed the Shadows the freedom to pursue their own purposes until after Sheridan's attack on Z'Ha'Dum. The Shadows reciprocated appropriately in each case.
  11. *** The Vorlons rarely intervened to start with (an exception being the incident with Jha'dur), but changed their policy after Sheridan's attack on Z'Ha'Dum.
  12. The Vorlons were manipulative in history, as suggested by Sheridan after being rescued by Kosh.
  13. At a time when the Vorlons were staying out of B5 affairs, Sinclair noted Kosh Naranek viewing the history of Earth, apparently attempting to understand humanity.
  14. Kosh Naranek tried to teach Sheridan, attempting to give him the wisdom and courage to fight legends.
  15. Kosh taught Sheridan, initially stressing non-violence, as in the lesson of a moment of perfect beauty.
  16. Sheridan was the person chiefly, but probably not solely, taught by Kosh Naranek (presuming that, if Garibaldi obeyed the instruction to stay close to the Vorlon , he couldn't avoid learning something). The most obvious (though not the only) possible translation of Sheridan's name is man of skill , and he has been told in a dream You are The Hand.
  17. Kosh Naranek constantly spoke in apparent riddles.
  18. The Shadows spoke of the Vorlons as the Lords of Order who tried to counter the chaos and instability which the Shadows believed were the necessary qualities for growth.
  19. A part of a Vorlon was able to be carried inside a physical object such as the flesh of a human being.
  20. *** The last remaining piece and power of Kosh Naranek was able to come forward to battle the second Kosh who appeared as tendrils of energy, resembling some sort of a cross between a Vorlon ship, a jellyfish and a spider.
  21. One translation of Naranek is fire-kindler; other possibilities are the outer king of the sun and wandering pilgrim (??) of the secret fire. The translation of the element for pilgrim is in considerable doubt: it may actually mean exile.
  22. Kosh Naranek once said: "The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."Believers
  23. The Drazi called Kosh Naranek by the name or title Droshala (translation: queen of the spirit lords), the one who, according to them, lights the heavens.
  24. The Drazi, the aliens who are into fighting for the sheer green-and-purple joy of it, also worship The Maker of All Things (translation: mighty and strong spirit lord ) who has some undefined connection with hallowed blades and the Sacred Days of Shu dog (translation: spirit ruler(s) of battle). Because of the apostrophe, it is not possible to determine whether the ruler in this instance is a king, a queen or both.
  25. The Vorlons were numbered amongst the First Ones
  26. The Vorlons were sometimes ignorantly worshipped as gods and the places where they projected an angelic manifestation were considered holy ground.
  27. The Centauri worshipped The Great Maker (translation: dreadful mighty one) and Centauri appear to be a point of comparison to the orcs of Mirkwood.
  28. *** According to Kathryn Drennan's novel, To Dream in the City of Sorrows (a book, so J. Michael Straczynski says, to be regarded as authoritatively as an episode), Ulkesh Naranek is a Vorlon on Minbar. Ulkesh appears to be very different in personality to Kosh Naranek, not unsurprisingly, since the simplest translation of Ulkesh is not kosh. A source formerly close to jms has revealed that the Vorlons are unified collections of souls. The Vorlons cannot exist without the sacrifices of other races. This disclosure fits well with the supposition that this is a gestalt communion of beings inspired by Samuel Delaney's Babel 17 . In this story creatures of different qualities and powers form a collective unified intelligence which not only controls a spaceship, but forms the physical composition of the vehicle itself. This may explain the relationship of the Vorlons to their ships, and the apparent similarity of shape between the Vorlons and their ships, evidenced when the Kosh are battling each other. In Babel 17, the struggle and sacrifice involved in the surrender of the individual personality to the gestalt is well highlighted. If this scenario is actually the case, then the name Kosh (translation: glorious host) is very appropriate and the statement "We are all Kosh" may well be a double (if not triple) entendre.
  29. *** The Vorlons eventually cast aside their non-interventionist role and, spurred by Sheridan, openly battled the Shadows. Many planets were destroyed in the ensuing conflict.
  30. *** The Vorlons were persuaded by Sheridan (The One Who Will Be) and Lorien to surrender their role as guardians of order and to go beyond the Rim. As a result, a new age began.
  31. *** Lorien dwelt deep below the surface of Z'Ha'Dum, a planet on the Rim (translation: walls)
  32. *** The Vorlons and Shadows, as well as the remaining First Ones, have gone beyond the Rim (to the darkness between galaxies) with Lorien. The Vorlons said of Sheridan when he was on the Rim-planet, Z'Ha'Dum: "He has opened an unexpected Door."
  33. Another First One came from the environs of the planet Sigma 957. This name - Sigma 957 - contains an element for moon. The First One from this planet travelled in a transparent globe of amazingly advanced technology. Proximity to this globe caused loss of power in ordinary spacecraft. The First One either ignored or was not aware of the damage resulting from his passage. When the Vorlons were mentioned by Ivanova, he growled at the mere mention of their name.
  34. *** Kosh Naranek projects an image of white light (though he appears to be faintly blue in the final battle with the second Kosh).
  35. Kosh Naranek was compared by Marcus Cole to the sorceror, Merlin (translation: singer of the star jewel or singer or the star dwelling). Marcus suggested that, like Merlin, Kosh might be living backwards in time, thereby knowing the future.
  36. The Centauri goddess of love and passion, Li or Kolee, is a synthesis of male and female. The little that is evident of the Centauri language seems to have considerable in common with Minbari - in several cases, simply a change of vowel, with or without a transposition of place.
  37. *** The Vorlons were not always in agreement, as evidenced by Kosh Naranek's opposition to the second Kosh.
  38. *** The discord amongst the Vorlons seems to have started around the time (or shortly after) Sheridan returned with Lorien from Z'Ha'Dum. Lorien's counsel to Sheridan appears to have been to destroy the Vorlon ambassador and to create a crucible to force out the truth - he does not appear to have counselled any attempt at communication which did not involve aggression.
  39. The First Ones were immortal , but nevertheless they could fall sick and die, be injured and die.
  40. *** The representative of the Vorlons who speaks to Sheridan at Corianis 6 appears to be a sleeping queen trapped in crystal who demanded that Sheridan follow their way.
  41. *** Lorien claims that the First Ones will remember him, when he aids Ivanova in finding them. Eventually he takes all the remaining First Ones and the Vorlons and Shadows away, so that the younger races can learn to stand on their own feet.
  42. *** The final confrontation between the Vorlons and the Shadows takes place at Corianis 6 (possible translations: golden (or magic ) circle of the sun ; triple ring of fire ; dawn of the sun and moon , triple sword of the sun and moon .) Sun and moon may possibly be better translated as light and reflection , and perhaps triple sword embodies the idea of triple-edged sword , which of course was mentioned by Sheridan as a metaphor for the truth. After the battle (which was never fully engaged because both the Vorlons and Shadows were distracted by Sheridan), Sheridan tells Delenn that the Third Age has come.
  43. *** The Shadows use images of Ivanova, Franklin, Lennier, Marcus Cole and Delenn to speak to Delenn at Corianis 6. Perhaps it's as significant who doesn't appear in this line-up as who does.
  44. The spider-like Shadowships were manned by a single individual (whose personality undergoes a serious change, which may involve identity loss) was as more controlled by as in control of the technology of the vessel.

The Valar and Maiar

  1. Possible translations of the word Valar are the powers ; the mighty; the great ones. "And amid all the splendours of the World, its vast halls and spaces, and its wheeling fires, Iluvatar chose a place for their habitation in the Deeps of Time and in the midst of the innumerable stars." From The Ainulindale, The Silmarillion.
  2. In Tolkien's final count, the Valar were fourteen beings of pure spirit who were able to assume physical forms and to project images ( fanar ) of great beauty and majesty. The Valar could take on human or Elvish appearance - more analogous to a person dressing, than to an actual incarnation.
  3. The Valar constituted the angelic hosts of Ea (the World), wherein they had their own dwelling places, Almaren and Valinor in Aman, the blessed realm. From these dwelling places, some of them (two definitely, four possibly) journeyed to and fro from Middle Earth
  4. They were constantly at war (for apparently tens of thousands of years) with Melkor, the fallen dark spirit who had once been the greatest of their number.
  5. The Valar were deathless, but could apparently (as in the case of Melkor) feel great pain, suffer unending torment and be afflicted with permanent wounds. The Maiar (similar beings of lesser power) could be destroyed.
  6. The Valar were the great singers whose immense choral theme, the Ainulindale, became the blueprint for creation and for the opening act of Middle Earth's history.
  7. Numerous expeditions were sent to seek the aid of the Valar, but none returned. Earendil alone successfully sailed the Shadowy Seas to obtain the mercy of the Valar, but he did not return.
  8. For centuries, the Valar guided the elves into wisdom and knowledge. They taught them many arts, crafts, and technologies, as well as virtues and moral imperatives
  9. The Valar were responsible for the role of Earendil (Morning Star) as a symbol of hope to the elves
  10. The Valar could have completely removed the evil of Melkor from the world but they chose not to do so, allowing him, for many centuries, the freedom to pursue his own purposes. They were against a scorched earth policy - realising that to ensure Melkor's destruction, they would probably wind up having to annihilate every living thing.
  11. The Valar rarely intervened in the early days of Middle Earth, since they felt they were constrained by the nature of the Oath of Feanor (a proud elven genius who learnt much from the Valar, then forsook their moral teachings)
  12. Some Valar were occasionally very manipulative in history (a prime example being Ulmo's interferences)
  13. The Valar in general did not comprehend much of the destinies of elves and almost nothing of those of men, which is why they acted directly only very occasionally.
  14. The Valar instead attempted to foster wisdom, courage and virtue in elves and men so that they could eventually achieve their own destinies.
  15. The Valar taught the five Istari (the Order of Wizards), sending them into Middle Earth to fight the dark lord, Sauron. The Wizards were forbidden by the Valar to use force against Sauron - they were not to stoop to a fight fire with fire mentality.
  16. The chief of the order of wizards was Saruman the White, whose symbol was the White Hand and whose name meant man of skill or man of craft. The elves called him Curunir, the skilled one . His name when he was a Maia was Curumo, which if translated as if it were Eldarin, most likely means dark skill or skilled dreamer , or perhaps skilled shepherd.
  17. The Valar enforced the rules of the Riddle Game.
  18. They were called Lords (even though seven of them were female) and their initial concerns were to establish and promote stability, light and growth in the World in preparation for the coming of elves and men. They functioned both as guardians and governors of this world.
  19. The powers of the Valar were able to be distilled and their essence contained within physical objects.
  20. Such objects were, for example, the Phial of Galadriel, wherein the light and essence of the power of the Valar queen, Varda, was used by Sam in his battle with the monstrous spider, Shelob. Sam invoked her aid when he called her by her title Elbereth Gilthoniel.
  21. Gilthoniel (translation: star-kindler) was a title of Varda, the most pre-eminent of the seven Valar queens. Gandalf was known in many parts of Middle Earth as the Grey Pilgrim. He once announced that he was a servant of the Secret Fire. Gandalf was a Maia, named Olorin.
  22. Gandalf once said: "Their coming was like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains." The White Rider
  23. Varda acquired her title, Elbereth Gilthoniel, ( Queen of Light, Star-kindler ) because she lighted the Lamps of Heavens and set the stars in their place in preparation for the coming of the elves.
  24. In The Book of Lost Tales, Tolkien mentions two Valar who were later summarily dispensed with in the formulation of his wider mythology. They were Makar and Measse, the Valar god and goddess of battle. They gloried in fighting for the sheer unadulterated joy of it. Measse was known as the red-armed goddess, a reference to her tendency to be, more often than not, up to her armpits in blood.
  25. The Valar were the first offspring of the thought of Iluvatar.
  26. The Valar were sometimes ignorantly worshipped as God, but they themselves considered they were merely guardians, entrusted with the fulfillment of the divine plan.
  27. The orcs feared and worshipped Melkor (he who arises in might) who, though he did not create them, bred them in pits and prisons by genetic meddling of elves and men.
  28. Ulkesh appears to be a point of comparison to three Valar in combination - Ulmo, Aule and Yavanna - who collectively were the most sympathetic (not to mention in the two former cases, the most interfering) of the angelic guardians. Naranek appears to correspond to a combination of Varda, Vaire and Nienna. Nienna was the Valar queen of Mourning who instructed the wizard, Olorin (Gandalf's real name). Olorin was a Maia, a being of power slightly lower than the Valar in the angelic hierarchy. Nienna taught Olorin pity, hope and patient endurance of the spirit. Both Vaire and Varda have close approximations in translation to Valen, which suggests that Sinclair's sacrifice eventually enabled him to became a Vorlon. Babylon 5's Lorien (who, by his own assertion, is the First One) appears to be a point of comparison to the two Feanturi Valar - Lorien and Mandos - as well as to the renegade dark Lord, Melkor, whose original pre-eminence amongst the Valar certainly would have led him to consider himself as the First One. The common denominator is this synthesis is the element 'mo' (for dream or for dark ) which appears in the names Namo, Irmo, Curumo and Morgoth (being respectively, better known as Mandos, Lorien, Saruman and Melkor).
  29. The Valar, persuaded by Earendil, finally cast aside their isolationism and openly battled Melkor in the final conflict of the Wars of Beleriand. Much of the land of Beleriand was destroyed in the ensuing devastation.
  30. The Valar briefly surrendered their role as guardians when Ar-Pharazon invaded Aman, allowing Eru (The One) to work the Change of the World.
  31. Deep in the earth were the Halls of Mandos, where Namo, the Lord of the Dead, dwelt. They were on the western shore of Valinor, close to the Walls of the Night (also known as the Walls of the World). Melkor was once imprisoned here.
  32. Melkor (one point of comparison to Lorien) was finally cast beyond the Walls of the World, through the Door of Night, into the Void. Only the Evening Star, Earendil (the point of comparison to Entil'zha/Valen/Sinclair), and the Maia of the Sun and Moon venture there past the Door of Night.
  33. The Moon of Middle Earth was a flower of silver light encased in a wondrous translucent globe of incredible technological skill. It was in the charge of the Maia, Tilion, (the horned ) a feisty fellow who was exceedingly unimpressed with the Valar after they insisted that he not take the moon, which was his responsibility to care for, wandering round the sky. The Valar were concerned about possible damage caused by and to the moon.
  34. Elbereth Gilthoniel had a fana of white light, while Manwe, her spouse, had a sapphire blue fana, and Ulmo's fana was green.
  35. The Valar were the singers whose song of creation was given visible form and substance by Eru (Iluvatar) in the Vision. It was their knowledge of the Vision of Iluvatar which enabled the Valar to know the future and certain destinies. Like the Children of Iluvatar (men and elves) their dwelling place was the Deeps of Time, in the midst of the innumerable stars.
  36. The goddess of love, music and beauty mentioned in The Book of Lost Tales was Erinti, known as Lotesse, Akairis and Kalainis. She was sister to Amillo, the youngest of the Valar. Both of them were discarded from the final line-up of the angelic guardians. The common elements of these names, with a change of vowel, suggest that they are a point of comparison to Li/Kolee.
  37. The Valar were not always in agreement: evidenced by Aule's secret creation of the dwarves and the way Ulmo covertly guided Tuor.
  38. Discord amongst the Valar arose after Melkor was released from the prison of Mandos where he had been incarcerated for an age. The Valar did not all agree that Melkor had reformed and some believed he would use force to continue in subtle ways with his previous pattern of destruction.
  39. The Valar were immortal, and do not appear to be able to be destroyed. However, they could be injured. The Maiar could be destroyed. Tolkien's Elves were also immortal - but they could die of injury or grief.
  40. The angelic guardians had seven queens, the most pre-eminent being Varda (Elbereth Gilthoniel), the Star-kindler. She could be seen in the palantir (observation stones), her hands outstretched as if beseeching the return of the exiles.
  41. If one of Lorien's points of comparison is indeed Melkor, it would be natural for all the points of comparison of the Valar and Maiar to know him. Melkor, even after the terrible destruction he wrought, had such a fair countenance and winning ways that the High King of the Valar (Manwe, the Lord of the Air) was deceived by him. The Valar appeared to vanish in the Fourth Age of Middle Earth (the Age of Mankind, when the elves left for the West or disappeared and the dwarves diminished). Their role in later times was unknown, since their agents (such as the Maia, Olorin aka the Grey Wizard, Gandalf) had left after accomplishing the great and final defeat of Sauron. Thus the great forces of Light and Darkness had effectively vanished from Middle Earth at the dawn of the Fourth Age, leav-ing the stage of history free for newly-dominant mankind.
  42. The War of the Ring ended at the Field of Cormallen (translation: ring of gold ) where great celebrations were held. The Field of Cormallen had a circle of golden trees. It was here that the first day of the Fourth Age of Middle Earth was proclaimed, after a battle (which was never fully engaged) when the forces of darkness were distracted by other concerns.
  43. When Sauron (the deputy of Melkor) continued the corruption of Middle Earth after Melkor was cast out into the Void, he used many agents, including - in particular - the kings of men. The Lord of the Nazgul was the chief of these. His deputy, Khamul (known as the Shadow of the East, and whose symbol was a red star) was the leader of the Black Riders who attacked the hobbits at Bree.
  44. The Black Riders on their pterodactyl-like mounts were once kings of men who had lost their identity in succumbing to the power of the Nine Rings and were more controlled by Sauron than in control of their own actions.