The Best Way To Repel "Dementors" According To Gandalf The Gray

Why was Gandalf afraid and why did Bilbo give him courage?
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Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? I don’t know. Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage. - Gandalf the Grey

We were sitting around a long wooden table, laden with food, savoring red wine, shish kebabs, and the pungent smell of smoldering coals. It was almost midnight in the vicinities of Saint-Petersburg, but in the middle of the “white nights,” it never gets dark. 

Amid the jokes, bursts of laughter, and occasional songs, I overheard the two avid connoisseurs of history Mark and Leo clash over current world events. I love listening to their highly intelligent conversations. The two teenagers were making dark predictions about the future, drawing upon the lessons of the past.

As their conversation continued, I couldn’t help but notice too much emphasis on kings, emperors, presidents, cardinals, and tsars. The boys were sure that the fates of the world were decided by the likes of Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung. They certainly had a point there. Yet, something in me cringed.

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After a while, the dark omens hung heavy in the milky twilight, somehow making the “white night” darker than it was. A shadow of some inescapable evil loomed on the horizon. Eventually, everyone fell silent as if the joy of the evening was suddenly sucked up by some invisible Dementor. I shivered as if from a sudden whiff of cold.

Then, a 7-year old Matthew ran through the door of the cottage and broke the silence with a most naive and childish question one could imagine. Everyone rolled with laughter. The dark ominous shadow shook and dissipated. I took a deep breath. The Dementors dashed away, unable to withstand the bright light of a 7-year old’s silly joke.

The skies over Saint-Petersburg brightened up, and the beautiful white night spread its wings once again over our heads.

I said to the boys:

“You know guys, kings, and presidents believe in power. Like Saruman, they think only great power can keep evil in check. But I would side with Gandalf the Gray who found that evil can only be kept at bay by small folk who can laugh, enjoy good food, sing merry songs, dance silly dances, and love simple pleasures. That’s what makes them immune to evil.

The most important thing is how you feel right here right now. If there’s enough joy, laughter, and song in your heart, no evil can creep in from outside. No Dementors can break your defenses because they can’t approach your inner light.”

This was Gandalf’s great discovery. And this is what led him to the hobbits.

Why was Gandalf afraid and why did Bilbo give him courage?

Gandalf was not without his fears. As a Maiar, a spirit of a lesser rank, his powers, abilities, and knowledge were limited by the gods (the Valar). He could only do so much. There were some powers in the world against which he had not yet been tested.

A cave
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"Moria. You fear to go into those mines, don’t you? The dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in, the darkness of Khazad-dum: shadow and flame." Saruman

Yet, he didn’t trust in his own powers or the powers of other “Big Folk.” He had his own hunches.

Roaming the Middle Earth, he was instinctively searching for something that would alleviate his fears. When he first stumbled upon hobbits, he must have heard a song that sounded like Merry and Pippin’s drinking song, or he may have seen them do a tapping dance on the table.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Gandalf suddenly realized that he found what he was looking for. The dark ominous shadow of a nameless evil stirring in the “forest of the world” lifted. He must have laughed, sung, danced, and smoked his pipe with them, thinking exactly what came from Elrond’s mouth some 60 years later when he was treating Frodo’s wound:

“The hobbit has shown extraordinary resilience to…evil.”

Are Dementors real?

Phone with news
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Just turn on the news, and you will know. Dementors are J.K. Roling’s fictional characters and a powerful metaphor of what happens to a soul when it is engulfed by bad news. Dementors are entities that feed on human joy. But there’s one power that they cannot withstand — the power of your inner light.

Those in whom this inner light is strong are immune to Dementors and repel joylessness and depression. But where does this inner light come from? As with Harry Potter, it comes from an inner store of happy memories that transform your present moment into a celebration, a feast of love.

Why is Gandalf so interested in hobbits?

A hobbit hole
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The hobbits had a gift for celebrating life in the here and now. 

It is brought home to me it is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life. Bilbo Baggins

Quite content to ignore and be ignored by the Big Folk, hobbits celebrated a simple life, loved good tilled earth, and delighted in all things that grow. They had a passion for good food, good song, and a good pipe. They were experts in feasting. And everything in the Shire was made to endure.

And so life in the Shire goes on, very much as it has this past age. Full of its own comings and goings with change coming slowly, if it comes at all. For things are made to endure in the Shire, passing from one generation to the next.

The hobbits were passing down this ability to celebrate life from generation to generation, and this helped them to repel all gloom and fear.

When Frodo, burdened by the ring, was paralyzed by the thought of Mordor at Emyn Muil, he looked at Sam and, to his surprise, found him blabbering about “roast chicken.”

Nothing ever dampens your spirits, does it, Sam?

As a true hobbit, Sam was wholeheartedly looking for the next thing to enjoy. Refusing to give up hope, he even kept a bit of Shire salt just in case they would have a roast chicken on the way to Mordor!

Can you think of a roast chicken on your way to Mordor? Or does the thought of Mordor bring paralysis into your soul so it loses its ability to see anything good in this world? How often do I find myself sucked in by the never-ending thoughts of gloom and doom as if all hope has been lost?

If you can’t think of roast chicken on your way to Mordor, you are like Gandalf desperately looking for a hobbit. If you don’t keep some salt just in case there’s something to celebrate today, you need a Sam. And there is a Sam inside each one of us.

Nonetheless, ease and peace had left this people still curiously tough. They were, if it came to it, difficult to daunt...

Why are hobbits so important?

Hobbits are a powerful metaphor for a soul’s connection with Being. A hobbit is that part of me that can celebrate what is no matter what. It’s that part of me that sees good in all circumstances. It’s that part of me that’s down to earth and is deeply connected with the here and now.

Am I celebrating this very moment as a gift from above or am I abandoning it to go to the next one? The most important thing is how I feel right here right now. If there’s enough joy, laughter, and song in my heart, no evil can creep in from outside. No Dementors can break my defenses because they can’t approach the inner light.

Bridge in Saint-Petersburg
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It was well past midnight in the vicinities of Saint-Petersburg. Everyone was in bed as I was slowly strolling the backyard of our little cottage, stopping every now and then to enjoy the mesmerizing glow of the summer solstice skies.

I felt great. The happy memories of our vacation were illuminating my soul from inside out, and no Dementors could possibly come close. No rumors of war, no pandemics, no lockdowns, no political turmoils, not even the end of the world could shake my joy at the moment.

I knew this moment would end, and Mordor would again loom on the horizon. Would I be able to think of a roast chicken then? I sat down at the table where we had just finished our feast. Some shish kebabs were still there covered with a platter, and I heard Sam Gamgee’s voice saying in my heart:

“These shish kebabs aren’t bad either… Think of them. And have your salt ready to celebrate what is.”

I am a translator and blogger who believes that all change comes from inside out, not from outside in.

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