Two Lamps

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Two Lamps
Source of light
"Illuin, Lamp of the Valar" by Ted Nasmith
Other namesLamps of the Valar
LocationIn the far north and south of Arda
AppearanceTwo titanic columns with vessels of shining light at their tops
CreatorAulë, Manwë, and Varda
Middle-earth, V.Y. 1900
Middle-earth, V.Y. 3450
Notable forIlluminating the Spring of Arda
GalleryImages of the Two Lamps

The Two Lamps of the Valar were Illuin and Ormal, they stood upon pillars in the far north and south of the world during the Spring of Arda.


The Two Lamps were wrought by Aulë at the request of Yavanna for she had planted many seeds that needed light for growth. The lamps were filled with light by Varda, hallowed by Manwë and set on great pillars, taller than any mountains of the later days.

  • Illuin was set in the north of Middle-earth, placed upon the tower Helcar[1] and shone with a blue light.
  • Ormal was set in the far south, placed upon the tower Ringil[1] and shone with a golden light.

In the centre of Middle-earth, where the light of the Two Lamps mingled and the vegetation of Yavanna was richer, was the Great Lake and the island Almaren, where the Valar first dwelt. The light of the Lamps of the Valar flowed out over the Earth, so that all was lit as it were in a changeless day. [2]

However Melkor was aware of all that was done for he had spies among the Maiar. Whilst the Valar feasted and Tulkas slept Melkor came forth suddenly to war and striking the first blow against the lights of Illuin and Ormal, cast down the mighty pillars and broke the Two Lamps.

It was due to the destruction of the pillars that the lands were broken and new seas arose; the shape of Arda and the symmetry of its waters and its lands were marred so that the first designs of the Valar were never after restored.[2] The great northern inland sea of Helcar was formed as a result of the destruction of Illuin and it is believed that the Sea of Ringil to the south was formed from the fall of Ormal.

With the Two Lamps gone and their dwellings on Almaren destroyed the Valar retreated to Aman and founded Valinor. There they would go on to create the Two Trees, which were a pair of gold and silver light, similar to the Two Lamps before them.

Other versions of the legendarium

Christopher Tolkien noted that the story of the Lamps in its early stage was very different from the published Silmarillion. According to older writings not used in the published The Silmarillion, the Valar wanted peace with Melkor, and decided to ask his assistance: they wished to fix the lamps upon Arda's ground. Melkor, black with hate and envy of the rest of the Valar, agreed to help. He gave Aulë a substance which was both sturdy and strong: ice, which was unknown to the Valar. Melkor bided his time and allowed the Valar to do as they wished until the fateful day when the Lamps' light and heat melted the ice and crashed upon Arda, flooding it with water and darkness.

The one remaining influence from the older version of the story was that the fall of the towers created inland seas, a vestige of the notion that the towers had been made of ice that melted.[3] In Tolkien's latest writings where Arda was a round world from its beginning, the Two Lamps never truly existed and were instead a subject of Númenórean mythology.[4]

See also


Middle-earth Cosmology
 Constellations  Anarríma · Durin's Crown · Menelmacar · Remmirath · Soronúmë · Telumendil · Valacirca · Wilwarin
Stars  Alcarinquë · Borgil · Carnil · Elemmírë · Helluin · Luinil · Lumbar · Morwinyon · Nénar · Star of Eärendil · Til 
The Airs  Aiwenórë · Fanyamar · Ilmen · Menel · Vaiya · Veil of Arda · Vista
Narsilion  Arien · Moon (Isil, Ithil, Rána) · Sun (Anar, Anor, Vása) · Tilion
See also  Abyss · Arda · Circles of the World · · Timeless Halls · Two Lamps · Two Trees · Void