Gandalf’s Staffs: Symbols of His Journey

Gandalf's Staffs: Symbols of His Journey


When most people think of Gandalf, they picture the wise wizard with his staff, showing his great power and wisdom. Galadriel gave him this staff in Lothlórien, and it strengthened his powers upon his return.  But what many don’t know is that Gandalf’s Staffs used several different staffs during his adventures in Middle-earth. In this look at his journey, we will explore the different staffs Gandalf had, when they appeared, and what they meant. From the simple staff he uses in “The Hobbit” to the strong one he has as Gandalf the White, each staff is an important part of his story.

The Istari and Their Staves:

The Istari and Their Staves

Who are the Istari?

The Istari are a group of powerful wizards sent to Middle-earth to help its people fight against dark forces. After extremely violent actions by the Valar, and even by the one god Eru Ilúvatar, in the earlier ages. One of these wizards is Gandalf, who is famous for his wisdom, courage, and strong magic.

 Significance of Staves

For the Istari, their staffs are more than just walking sticks. They symbolize their power and their mission to guide and protect the people of Middle-earth. Each staff is unique and represents the wizard who wields it.

Material and Magic

There is much debate about the magical properties of the Istari’s staffs. Some believe that the staffs amplify the wizards’ inherent powers, making their magic stronger. Others think that the staffs themselves are sources of magic. Regardless, it is clear that the staffs are crucial to the wizards’ abilities and their roles in the epic tales of Middle-earth.

Gandalf’s Staffs in The Lord of the Rings Movies:

Gandalf's Staffs in The Lord of the Rings Movies

Below are details on the five staffs that Gandalf wields in the movies of the Lord of the Rings and whenever he acquired them. Sir Ian McKellen’s, Gandalf the Grey or the Grey Wizard also known as Mithrandir to the Elves, stands out among all the characters in Peter Jackson Middle-earth film adaptations in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. There is Gandalf – he is a mysterious character and a wizard who just loves freedom and never resists a chance to help his friends and fight the evil. His focus arch in Tolkien’s narrative is his transition from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White, but this is not the only instance of him changing his staff.

Throughout The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship receives new weapons and items that symbolize their allies, history, or personal growth. For example, Frodo receives the Phial of Galadriel, indicating his connection with the elves, while Aragorn’s reforged sword, Narsil, symbolizes his right to the throne in Return of the King. Gandalf also gets new items, especially staffs. While he only has two staffs in the books, he uses more in the movies.

 The Opening Flower staff Gandalf; 

 The Opening Flower staff Gandalf 

This is the first staff Gandalf uses in Peter Jackson’s films, first seen in The Hobbit: By chance—to encounter the other is to embark on an unexpected journey. This is called the opening flower; it was made by the Elves due to its appearance or design.

Gandalf’s Staffs is likely the first staff Gandalf uses after arriving in Middle-earth. It turns to dust when Gandalf fights Sauron in The Desolation of Smaug.

Radagast’s Spare staff Gandalf:

Radagast's Spare staff Gandalf

When Gandalf’s first staff is crushed in the goblins’ lair, he borrows a spare staff from his friend, Radagast the Brown, played by Sylvester McCoy.This staff is most apparent in the usage by Gandalf in The Battle of the Five Armies which is the final movie in the series of The Hobbit.

Radagast’s Staff Dwindled:

Radagast's Staff Dwindled

Radagast’s staff gets damaged over time, causing the branches to wear down and the wood to discolor. Gandalf continues to use this broken staff in The Fellowship of the Ring. Saruman defeats Gandalf and takes this staff when he imprisons Gandalf at the Tower of Orthanc, leaving Gandalf without it when he escapes.

The Rivendell Staff:

The Rivendell Staff

After escaping from Saruman, Gandalf gets a new staff in Rivendell when he reunites with the Hobbits. Elrond ensures the Fellowship leaves Rivendell well-equipped, including giving Gandalf this new staff. Gandalf uses it until he falls fighting the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. In the books, this staff breaks during the battle, but in the movies, Gandalf just loses it.

The White Staff:

The White Staff

The most notable staff change happens when Gandalf returns as Gandalf the White in The Two Towers. After defeating the Balrog, Gandalf becomes Saruman’s replacement and gets a major upgrade in his clothes, magical power, and staff.Galadriel gives Gandalf the white staff, but the Witch-King of Angmar destroys it in Return of the King. At the end, as Gandalf, Frodo, and the Elves prepare to leave the Grey Havens, Gandalf’s white staff appears restored and larger than before. Whether repaired or replaced, it looks identical to the previous one, rather than being a completely new staff.

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Staffs symbolized a part of Gandalf’s journey through Middle-earth, and they play a significant role in his narrative. The Opening Flower made by Elven, Radagast’s simple one, Rivendell staff, and the White Staff are Gandalf’s staffs that represent his development and the significant position of the wizard in the struggle against the evil force. These staffs not only represent his authority but also his purpose of endowals and leadership of Middle-earth population. Such tools as the pipe and staff are very magical indeed, which along with the change from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White adds quite an interesting twist to the wizard’s story.

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