Warning: spoilers ahead for The Rings of Power episode 6.Does The Rings of Power‘s alfirin seed ritual happen anywhere else in The Lord of the Rings, or is this an Amazon invention? The answer isn’t quite so straightforward. The Rings of Power episode 6 begins with Adar burying seeds in the dirt before riding into battle against the Southlanders, muttering some ritualistic prayer about new life springing from death. As Ismael Cruz Córdova’s Arondir later explains to Nazanin Boniadi’s Bronwyn, “It is a tradition among Elves. Before the battle begins, plant one.” Though Arondir and Adar both honor this custom, plenty of Elves have gone into battle throughout The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and even The Rings of Power. Did they plant alfirin seeds beforehand too?
Alfirin is not a new addition to Middle-earth’s collection of flora, and gets mentioned several times in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien as a beautiful, colorful, bell-shaped flower. The Elven ritual of planting alfirin seeds before a battle, however, appears to have been invented by The Rings of Power. It’s a mechanic used to foreshadow episode 6’s later reveal that Adar was once an Elf, whilst also demonstrating the villain’s lingering connection to his former life.
Do Other Elves Plant Alfirin Seeds Before Battle? Did Legolas In LOTR?
In official canon, no. In The Rings of Power‘s alternate continuity, however, is the alfirin seed pre-battle ritual common for Elves? Does Galadriel do it before riding into Tirharad? In future years, will Legolas do a little gardening before the Battle of Helm’s Deep? On one hand, it’s plausible that most Elves do carry out this ancient tradition, but the moment just isn’t recorded onscreen or on the page. Adar and Arondir both plant their seeds long before the Battle of Tirharad actually begins, so the ritual is clearly pretty relaxed about how far in advance the alfirin must be placed into dirt. This means Galadriel, for example, had plenty of opportunities to perform the rite before The Rings of Power episode 6’s big fight actually began.
The Rings of Power also hints that the alfirin seed pre-battle ritual is a dying custom. As one of the Moriondor, Adar is extremely old, even by Elf standards, so it makes sense he’d follow the race’s ancient ways. Back in The Rings of Power episode 1, Arondir responded to Bronwyn’s gift of alfirin seeds with, “I’ve not seen this flower since I was a child.” The line strongly implies that alfirin was common once upon a time, but is now becoming increasingly rare in Middle-earth, and if the plant itself is scarce, the Elves’ ritual must be dying out also. By the time The Lord of the Rings begins over 3000 years later, it might’ve faded from Elf culture completely.
Why The Rings Of Power’s Alfirin Ritual Makes Sense
Even if The Rings of Power‘s alfirin seed tradition isn’t pulled straight from the source material, the concept does fit neatly with Tolkien’s botanical mythology. The word “alfirin” translates from the Elves’ tongue as “immortal” and the flower is renowned for growing on tombs of deceased kings such as Elendil. Since Tolkien already established a link between alfirin and death, it’s no great leap for The Rings of Power to show a ritual performed using alfirin seeds in defiance of death before a battle.
And although Legolas might not be seen planting anything before he starts plugging Orcs with arrows in The Lord of the Rings, he does sing about the flower alfirin in Minas Tirith during Tolkien’s The Return of the King. Although there’s some confusion over whether he was referring to exactly the same flower, the inclusion of alfirin in Legolas’ Third Age song proves how the flower’s significance lingers many centuries after The Rings of Power.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continues Thursday/Friday on Prime Video.