Galadriel was born in the First Age during the Years of the Trees in Tirion, when Sun and Moon weren't yet giving their light in the sky, but the living things got their light from the Two Trees, golden Laurelin and silver Telperion. A beloved child has many names, and her mother Eärwen named her Nerwen which means "Man-Maiden", since she was unusually tall and strong. Her father Finarfin gave her the name Artanis, meaning "Noble Woman".
She was a High-Elf of mixed blood: her grandfather was King Finwë of Noldor and her grandmother was Indis, the sister of King Ingwë of the holy Vanyar. This is what came to her through Finarfin, and Eärwen was a Teler, the silvery white haired daughter of King Olwë. Thus Galadriel inherited noble qualities from all three High-Elf clans, and yet she would be called as Lady of the Noldor after Finwë.
She was thought to be the most beautiful lady of the House of Finwë, not least because of her hair. It had a radiance like the light of Laurelin and Telperion were ensnared in her tresses, for which she was given the name Altáriel, "Maiden Crowned with Radiant Garland". A legend says that her uncle Fëanor asked for a tress for three times, and yet she refused. The two were considered as the greatest of the Noldor, but they were never friends.
The reason for it was that Galadriel had an ability of insight into the minds of others. She used her ability for the sympathy and she would never abuse it. She would not judge easily based on what she thus learned and she would deny her goodwill from no one except Fëanor, in whose heart she saw a darkness which she hated and feared.
She was told to be a great learner and skilled with her body - a match to the lore-masters and athletes of the Eldar in their youth. Out of her three brothers Finrod was the closest to her - he was similar to her in wisdom, generosity, ability to read minds and in his very fair looks. They also had similar dreams when they were still young: to find new lands where they could rule with their talents without a tutelage. She was also like minded with her cousin Fingon - valiant and not afraid of new challenges.
Departure in Darkness
Legend tells that it was Galadriel's hair that inspired Fëanor to capture the divine light of Two Trees into three undestructible gems called the Silmarilli. Ever since the ValaMelkor saw them, he coveted them for his own, spreading lies that he had a part in making them. Valar had arranged a great feast for the Eldar, and in this time Melkor came to the Trees and destroyed them with the help of Ungoliant.
When Valinor had darkened without the Trees the Eldar grew restless in their hearts. The Valar asked Fëanor to give them the Silmarilli to restore the Trees back to life but they would not take them by force. Meanwhile Melkor had gone to Fëanor's stronghold, stealing the Silmarilli and murdering King Finwë, and fleeing across the sea to Beleriand. This had a great impact on Fëanor who had been Finwë's favourite son and he refused, spelling a dreadful oath with his seven sons to leave to Beleriand, and that nothing would stop them to find the stolen Silmarils. Melkor he renamed as Morgoth, "Black Foe of the World".
Galadriel swore no oath but the words of Fëanor had moved her and she wanted to leave for her dream, along with many of the other Noldor. Her entire family did not agree in leaving: Finarfin and Finrod had opposed the oath, and yet they left because they did not want to be sundered from their family and friends. Eventually all of Galadriel's family left except Eärwen. The oath broke many lovers and families of the Noldor, for a time. Galadriel and the others followed her uncle Fingolfin, and the number of Noldor who followed him instead of Fëanor was greater, for as a leader he was deemed as more wise and just.
When Fëanor arrived to Alqualondë, Fëanor asked from King Olwë the permission to use their ships to cross the sea to Beleriand, but he refused, grieving that his friends would leave. "We renounce no friendship. But it may be the part of the friend to rebuke a friend's folly," said Olwë. "I say to you, Fëanor son of Finwë, these are to us like the gems of the Noldor: the work of our hearts, whose like we shall not make again." Then Fëanor left him and sat in his dark thoughts, which led to the woe that cannot be undone.
He decided to take the ships by force with his sons and host, and they attacked the Teleri who were defending them, killing many Elves in a land which had never seen such crime of violence, known as the Kinslaying. The foremost host of Fingolfin arrived there led by Fingon and saw their own kin falling in the battle, lending their aid to Fëanor while they mistook the battle as Teleri's attempt to waylay the march at the bidding of Valar which was not the case.
Meanwhile the greater part of Noldor marched on and arrived to Araman. There they saw a dark figure that was said to be the Vala Námo. He raised his voice, and for the Kinslaying he spelled a Doom over the Noldor who would leave to Beleriand. Many quailed, but Fëanor remained unchanged in his mind. Then Finarfin forsook the march for the grief that the Kinslaying had caused to his wife's kin, receiving the mercy of Valar and taking many of his people with him. Finarfin was then ruling the remnant of Noldor in Aman as a King.
Galadriel and her brothers were not part of the Kinslaying, and yet they decided to stay in the march because they would not forsake Fingolfin and his children, who had been like siblings to them. Thus she took the ban of Noldor from Aman also for herself. Some of the Noldor also needed protection, and not all were guiltless in the Kinslaying, and those feared to face the Valar after such deed. So they started to cross the perilous glacier of Helcaraxë with the lead of Fingolfin, Finrod and Galadriel.
They had no choice because the host of Fëanor took the ships by stealth and forsook the host of Fingolfin who were yet debating from the choice of ways, and so they cursed Fëanor as the cause of all woes of the Eldar, and many of the host died on the way. (to be continued...)