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The Ainur were spirits that were brought into being by Ilúvatar's thought, and He may therefore be considered their father. However, some of the Ainur were siblings "in the thought of Ilúvatar". Each was granted insight into a specific part of Ilúvatar's thought, and was therefore more aligned in spirit with that part.
After singing the Ainulindalë, the fourteen Ainur who witnessed the Vision of Ilúvatar and came to shape Arda were the Valar. By chosing to enter Eä after its creation, rather than remaining in Ilúvatar's Timeless Halls, the Valar agreed to be bound to it until the end. They and their followers, the Maiar, started giving order to the world and combating the evils of Melkor, who also came to Arda to claim it for his own. Despite being the most powerful of the Ainur, he was not considered a Vala.
The Ainur were divine spirits and had no physical body, and were therefore immortal, even beyond the immortality of Elves, but the Valar often took the shapes of Men, Elves or other forms of nature, or they could remain invisible. Men called them "Gods" but they were actually emissaries or regents on behalf of Ilúvatar, who rarely directly intervened in the world's course of events.
These are the names of the Valar as they were known to the Eldar.
 Lords of the Valar
- Manwë Súlimo, King of the Valar
- Ulmo, King of the Sea
- Aulë the Smith
- Oromë Aldaron, the Great Rider
- Mandos (Námo), Judge of the Dead
- Lórien (Irmo), Master of Dreams and Desires
- Tulkas Astaldo, Champion of Valinor
 Queens of the Valar (Valier)
- Varda Elentári, Queen of the Stars, wife of Manwë
- Yavanna Kementári, Giver of Fruits, wife of Aulë
- Nienna, Lady of Mercy
- Estë the Gentle
- Vairë the Weaver
- Vána the Ever-young
- Nessa the Dancer
In Middle-earth, the individual Valar were known by other names in other languages. For example in Sindarin, Varda was called "Elbereth". Men knew them by many other names, sometimes referring to them as "gods" at first. The Dwarves called Aulë, their creator, Mahal. The Rohirrim knew Orome as Béma.
When the Valar entered Ea, Manwë and Melkor fought, and Manwë called other spirits to help him in his battle. Among these were the other Valar and the Maiar. After this First War with Melkor, the Enemy withdrew from the battle into distant places of Eä, and the others continued to shape the World.
Long before the Awakening of the Elves, the Valar created the Two Lamps that illuminated the world, and while they were dwelling in the isle of Almaren, nature prospered in the Spring of Arda. But Melkor saw this, and returned to fight for control of Arda, and marred the world by destroying the Lamps. The Valar retreated to Aman and founded Valinor. Outside the golden gates of the city Valimar, the Valar gathered in Máhanaxar to hold their great councils, bathed in the light of the Two Trees, and some of the most momentous decisions of Eä's history were made.
The Ainur had witnessed the unfolding of the history of Arda in the Vision, but not all of it. Parts of it, and certain parts of Ilúvatar's thought, such as the true nature and destiny of the Children of Ilúvatar, remained hidden from them. Thus they were not gods or masters unto the Children, but rather their elders and guides, and were therefore unable to force the minds of Elves and Men, although they had power over their bodies.
Fearing about what would befall the Children, they engaged in a War for Sake of the Elves, at the end of which they broke Utumno and Imprisoned Melkor for three Ages. It was decided to invite the Elves to Valinor. Ulmo, despite initially disagreed with this decision, helped the Eldar traverse the Great Sea to the West. During that period the Valar welcomed the Calaquendi in Valinor and they prospered under their guidance and the holy Light of Valinor.
But Melkor and Ungoliant killed the Two Trees and their Light, and the Valar and the Elves mourned the Darkening of Valinor. Feanor, the most gifted of the Elves, rebelled against the Valar and refused to surrender the Silmarils to rekindle the Trees, and then opted to leave Valinor to wrest them from the Dark Lord. He blamed the Valar for Morgoth's deeds and most Elves were persuaded that because the Valar had abandoned them, the Noldor must follow him to Middle-earth. He and his sons vowed to fight anyone and everyone—Elf, Man, Maia, or Vala—who withheld the Silmarils.
After the departure of the rebelling Noldor, the Valar created the Sun and Moon from the last living growth of the Two Trees and appointed two Maiar to steer them through the skies. However after the Enemy attempted to destroy the Moon, the Valar fortified Valinor. The Hiding of Valinor made it inaccessible to Morgoth, but also exiled the Noldor who followed Feanor.
The Valar virtually abandoned the peoples of Middle-earth who suffered during the Wars of Beleriand, although they had their ways to guide them through their sufferings: Ulmo urged Turgon and Finrod to build their hidden kingdoms and guided Tuor to Gondolin as a messenger for Turgon.
Near the end of the First Age, Eärendil breached the Hiding of Valinor and went before the Valar, and asked them for aid for Men and Elves in Middle-earth, to fight against Morgoth; and the Valar accepted his plea. The Host of the Valar, composed of Maiar and Amanyar came to Beleriand and fought the great War of Wrath and managed their final victory over the Dark Lord, who was judged again, and expelled from Arda. The road to Valinor opened again for the Elves, both the exiled Noldor and the Moriquendi of Middle-earth.
The Edain suffered much during the Wars and under Morgoth, and the Valar created the isle of Elenna for them, and blessed them and their descendants with wisdom, knowledge and longevity. But they imposed a ban on them to never travel westwards. Although the Númenóreans dominated the mortal lands, eventually they were restricted by the Ban of the Valar and the fear of death. They envied the Valar and the Elves of their immortality, and King Tar-Atanamir was the first to speak against the immortals.Númenor fell under the corrupting influence of Sauron who eventually assured King Ar-Pharazôn that if he ever reached Aman he would become immortal. He gathered a great host of ships and sailed to break the Ban of the Valar and wage war upon them. But Manwë was aware of what transpired, and the Valar then laid down the Guardianship of Arda. Ilúvatar responded by catastrophically changing the shape of Arda. After the destruction of Númenor, the Undying Lands were removed from Arda so that Men could not reach them and only the Elves could go there by the Straight Road and in ships capable of passing out of the Spheres of the earth.
By the Third Age, the Valar worried about the growing Shadow of Sauron, and they held counsel. They sent some Maiar who came to the mortal lands in the guise of old men, a part of some restrictions imposed upon them. They formed the order of the Wizards and opposed Sauron, until his demise in the War of the Ring.
It is said that their guardianship will grow weak and the Dark Lord will eventually escape the Doors of Night. The Valar will fight him again in the Dagor Dagorath, when the world will be destroyed, but the Ainur along with Elves and Men will sing anew a Second Music of the Ainur. All the Ainur know is that the Second Music will be greater than the First Music. Even the Ainur do not know anything of the second world or the Second Music only that it will be greater than the First Music.
 Etymology, names and titles
The word vala means "(angelic) power" and derives from the root BAL, having to do with mightiness and power. The Primitive Quendian form of the word was bálā, pl. bal-ī. Related words suggested authority or divinity, eg. vala- "to rule".
 Relationships between the Valar
In the mind of Eru, some Valar were siblings and others were couples. It was the Valar who first practiced marriage, and later passed on their custom to the Elves. The last marriage among the Valar (the only that took place within the world) was that of Tulkas and Nessa on Almaren.
Ulmo and Nienna (and Melkor) were unmarried. In the diagram below the Aratar are in bold font and the Fëanturi are in Italic font.
 Other versions of the Legendarium
In The Book of Lost Tales, the Valar were more closely associated with pagan mythologies. Other than marrying, they were able to have children. Fionwe and Ilmare were first conceived as the children of Manwe and Varda and Gothmog as the son of Melko. The Valarindi ("Offspring of the Valar") were made Maiar in the later Legendarium.
In those earlier conceptions, the word Vala was associated with Qenya words for happiness and blessedness, as seen in the words valin and valimo "happy". Thus the word Valar meant "Happy ones" before being reconceived as being associated with power.The Qenya female form of the Vala was Valde or Valis. 
 See also
|Lords:||Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas|
|Queens:||Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa|
|Manwë:||Eönwë · Olórin||Varda:||Ilmarë · Olórin · Arien|
|Ulmo:||Ossë · Uinen · Salmar||Yavanna:||Aiwendil|
|Aulë:||Mairon · Curumo||Estë:||Melian|
|Oromë:||Tilion · Alatar · Pallando||Vána:|
|Balrogs:||Gothmog · Durin's Bane · Lungorthin|
|Wizards:||Saruman · Gandalf · Radagast · Blue Wizards (Rómestámo · Morinehtar)|
|Music · Valarin · Almaren · Valinor · Valmar · Second Music|
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Beginning of Days"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Darkening of Valinor"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Flight of the Noldor"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", p. 350 (root appearing as "BAL-")
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, p. 404
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, p.246
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, pp. 241, 305, 428
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, p.247
- ↑ "Children of the Valar" , Ask About Middle-earth (accessed 27 November 2014)
- ↑ Helge Fauskanger, "Quettaparma Quenyallo" , Ardalambion (accessed 27 November 2014)