. Spirals and Swans
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Painting with light

In the above image of Galadriel we see a painting in light. First there are straight shafts of light issuing from the trees to the left of the lady.

This horizontal light is set against the vertical forms of the trees

Again and again we see this combination of 'brushstrokes' in Lothlorien. Bold strokes of light coming in horizontally set agains the strong upright forms of the trees. Galadriel is positioned in the composition at a point midway between the horizontal light and the vertical tree forms. The lady is the dividing line of the composition. This placement suggests that Galadriel lives in a realm that exists at a point between light and nature. Galadriel is the centre of Lothlorien in both its physical form and its hidden etheric dimension. This use of light will appear often in the cinematic portrayal of Lothlorien. Light seems to blow through trees like a wind.

Golden light

In Fellowship of the Ring Peter Jackson uses a number of images to convey the essence of Galadriel. The predominant tone which colours the director's realisation of the Lady of the Wood is Gold. Here are some images of the landscape of Lothlorien which herald the presence of the Lady.

Nature is everywhere lit up with gold. Golden light appears through trees, shimmers on leaves and picks out the elves themselves. The lady herself wears a crown of gold. Gold is a reference to spirituality. The presence of Gold painted onto nature tells of another aspect, a spiritual play within and behind the scenes. We can see that there is something deep in the woods. The elves connect nature and spirit. They live in the golden light, somewhere between the material and spiritual dimension.

The film has only a short period of time to portray Lothlorien as a spiritual place and so it draws a wide range of reference to make the point without labouring it. There is no time for any character to give a lengthy exposition of Elvish lore. Quick imagery is used to press the point. Apart from the golden light Jackson paints the scene with bridges. Bridges between the ground and higher levels and bridges over the waters. Here we learn that the Elves are a bridge between nature and spirit.

Spirals and Swans

Spirals are everywhere in Lothlorien, as in Rivendell. The spiral is the favoured symbol of elves. The spiral is a symbol of the elves spiritual reach and aspirations. Yet the spiral is also a sign of the elvish committment to living on earth. Spirals signify that elves regard themselves as integrated into earthly life through a spiritual connection to nature. The elves of Lothlorien love to decorate their architecture with the spiral form.

On the columns we can see clearly the spiral. Spirals have been used to signify a link to a spiritual world. The spiral is made up of two interlinking lines signifying the principle of Earth connecting with Spirit. The spiral journeys upward pointing to a heavenly or other worldly point of contact. The columns also recall the lemniscate:

The lemniscate is a completed or close ended spiral. The lemniscate signifies a completed connection between worlds within nature.

Galadriel rides in a Swan boat. The Swan head on the boat is a half lemniscate. We can imagine if the swan's neck continued around it would curve to complete the form of a lemniscate. The effect is a dreamy recollection of a connection with another world. It is a floating ethereal reference to another place. The Swan is a symbol of the Goddess Venus. The Swan also refers to the idea of Lothlorien as a bridge between two worlds. Venus rides a Swan between the worlds of earth and spirit.

Botticelli and Lothlorien

We can draw the conclusions about the spirit of Lothlorien because we have a heritage of recognising some of the devices Jackson is using. One striking parallel is with some of high renaissance painting. Take a look at Botticelli’s venus.

In this famous painting we can see nature lit up by golden hues and the central figure of the Venus seems to radiate a Golden essence.

As does Galadriel

One can stretch the similarities by placing a detail from Botticelli's Primavera masterpiece beside Peter Jackson's Galadriel:

Bridges and golden light both convey that Lothlorien is a haven of nature and a spiritual ground. Though it is a place of great stillness it is also a spiritually busy place,a bridge point to the world beyond. At its centre is the Lady of the Wood. Galadriel radiates golden light from within, the source of the spirit in the nature around her. The realisation of Galadriel is possibly the finest achievement of Jackson’s film.