17th of December 2017, Sunday
It is widely known that J.R.R. Tolkien was a Christian, Catholic. A world, even fictional, in which besides The God some other gods exist, could not be accepted by him. At the same time, he believed that his mythology – as his goal was to create a mythology – needs beings similar to those known from myths, Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse etc.
The solution to this problem are The Ainur, angelic beings, which are ‘divine’ in the sense that they existed before the material world was created.
In a letter to Milton Waldman Tolkien wrote:
On the side of mere narrative device, this is, of course, meant to provide beings of the same order of beauty, power, and majesty as the ‘gods’ of higher mythology, which can yet be accepted – well, shall we say badly, by a mind that believes in the Blessed Trinity.
The Ainur were created by Eru Illuvatar, The God, even before Arda (Earth) and the rest of the Universe came to be. Some of them decided to enter that world, others remained Beyond Time, with Illuvatar. The Ainur are immortal and do not need physical bodies, but for various reasons, they might take visible shapes, similar to bodies, which the Elves call fana.
The mightiest of The Ainur inhabiting Arda are called The Valar, Powers of the World. Men ofter took them for gods, and thence came numerous myths and tales. The remaining Ainur are called The Maiar.
Manwë Súlimo – brother of Melkor (they were created from the same thought of Illuvatar), husband of Varda, called The Elder King and The Lord of the Breath of Arda. He rules over the physical world from his seat on Mount Taniquetil, the highest of mountains. According to Valaquenta, above all else, Manwe loves birds, especially eagles. The Great Eagles (which appear in The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) are his servants.
Aulë – called The Smith of the Valar, master of all crafts and arts. His knowledge of rocks, minerals, precious jewels and metals is unmatched. Being jealous of Illuvatar’s Children (Elves and Men), he created Dwarves. Although he did so in secret, Eru knew, and pointed out that Dwarves are merely mindless tools, unable to live and decide on their own. Aule was repentant and raised his hammer, to destroy the first seven Dwarves. But Illuvatar felt mercy and stopped The Vala from destroying his ‘children’. Eru ‘adopted’ this third race of sentient beings, and gave them free will and souls.
Ulmo – King of the Sea and Lord of Waters, who rules ober seas, rivers and oceans, over all waters of Arda. Among The Valar, Ulmo came to love Children of Illuvatar the most, unwilling to forsake them even when curse fell upon the Elves. He was against brining Elves to Valinor, believing that they should stay and develop in The Middle-Earth.
Oromë – called The Great Rider and The Huntsman. He was the one to love Middle-Earth the most, and there he hunted, in the deep woods, accompanied by his hounds and hunters, slaying beast of Morgoth. His steed was Nahar, and his horn the famous Valaróma, its sound like a thunder. Sindar, The Grey Elves, called him Tauron, The Lord of the Woods.
Mandos – his name is Namo, but he is more widely known under this epithet, taken from The Halls of Mandos, Houses of the Dead, his seat. He takes care of the souls of dead elves, until they time for their rebirth comes (according to Eru’s will, Men leave Arda after death, to join him in the Timeless Halls). Mandos is the Doomsman and The Judge of the Valar, the one who laid the curse upon The Noldor.
Irmo – is Mandos’ younger brother, ‘Master of Visions and Dreams’. Protector of the Gardens of Lorien, the most beautiful place in Valinor, where The Valar, The Maiar and Eldar (Elves) come to rest.
Tulkas – called The Strong, the warrior, he was the one to defeat Morgoth in a duel, when The Valar besieged Utumno, shortly after The Elves woke.
Varda Elentári – called Elbereth Gilthoniel by The Elves, Queen of the Valar and Lady of Stars. Morgoth desired her hand, but she turned him away, sensing the darkness in his soul. Elves worship her with songs, as above all else, they love the light of her stars.
Yavanna Kementári – called The Giver of Fruit and Queen of the Earth, protectress of trees and other plants of Arda, wife of Aule. The Shepherds of the Trees (Ents) are one of her creations, as are The Two Trees of Valinor. She makes the corn grow, and causes the land to become fertile.
Nienna – sister of Mandos and Irmo, Lady of Mercy, Pity and Mourning, she teaches The Children of Illuvatar compassion and hope.
Nessa – sister of Orome, called The Dancer and The Swift, she can outrun even the deer of the woods. This Valië often wanders in the forests, taking care of animals.
Vána – Yavanna’s younger sister, wife of Orome, called The Ever-young. Protectress of the birds and flowers of Arda.
Vairë – The Weaver of Time, who chronicles the history of the world on her tapestries.
Once Melkor, brother of Manwe. He fell, when he rebelled against the will of Eru and began to destroy the works of his siblings. Defeated at the end of The First Age, and thrown into The Void.