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From Tolkien Gateway
(Redirected from Valie)
"Powers of Arda" by Jerrel Salvatierra
General Information
PronunciationQ, [ˈvalar]
Other namesLords of the West
OriginsCreation of the Ainur
LocationsTimeless Halls, Almaren, Aman
LanguagesValarin, Quenya, Sindarin, Telerin, Khuzdul
MembersAratar; Irmo, Tulkas, Estë, Vairë, Vána, Nessa
formerly: Melkor
Physical Description
DistinctionsImmortality; rulers of the World
GalleryImages of Valar

But this condition Ilúvatar made, or it is the necessity of their love, that their power should thenceforward be contained and bounded in the World, to be within it for ever, until it is complete, so that they are its life and it is theirs. And therefore they are named the Valar, the Powers of the World.

The Valar (sg. Vala) were the Powers of Arda who shaped and rule the world. They lived on the Western continent of Aman.


The Valar were Ainur, spirits that were brought into being by Ilúvatar's thought, and He may therefore be considered their father. Some of the Ainur were also considered 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. The only exception was Melkor, who was granted insight into every part of Ilúvatar's thought and was the mightiest of the Ainur.

After singing the Great Music, the Ainur witnessed the Vision of Ilúvatar and the creation of (the Universe). Many Ainur chose to enter , agreeing not to leave it until the end of Arda (the World). The fourteen greatest Ainur who entered Eä, save Melkor who rebelled against Ilúvatar, were called the Valar. After entering Eä, the Valar and their followers—those Maiar who remained loyal to Ilúvatar and rejected Melkor's rebellion—started shaping Arda using their godlike powers over its physical matter, preparing it for the awakening of the Children of Ilúvatar, (Elves and Men). Doing so required combating the evils of Melkor, who came to Arda to claim it as his own.

As Ainur, the Valar were divine, immortal spirits who had no physical body and could remain invisible. Nonetheless, they often took the shapes of Men, Elves, or other forms of nature.

Some called the Valar "gods," but they were actually emissaries or regents of Ilúvatar, and they were not to be themselves worshipped.[1] Their purpose was not to be lords or masters of the Children of Ilúvatar, but rather to serve as elders and guides.[2][3] The Valar were prohibited from depriving the Children of their free will,[4][5] killing or otherwise using force against them,[1][6] or dominating them through displays of angelic power.[1]

Like all Ainur, the Valar had witnessed much of the unfolding of the history of Arda in the Vision of Ilúvatar, but not all of it. Parts of this history, and certain parts of Ilúvatar's thought, such as the true nature and destiny of the Children of Ilúvatar, remained hidden from them.[7]

Names, hierarchy and relationships

These are the names of the Valar as they were known to the Eldar.

Lords of the Valar
  • Manwë Súlimo, King of the Valar, husband of Varda
  • Ulmo, King of the Sea
  • Aulë the Smith, husband of Yavanna
  • Oromë Aldaron, the Great Rider, husband of Vána
  • Mandos (Námo), Judge of the Dead, husband of Vairë
  • Lórien (Irmo), Master of Dreams and Desires, husband of Estë
  • Tulkas Astaldo, Champion of Valinor, husband of Nessa
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, wife of Irmo
  • Vairë the Weaver, wife of Mandos
  • Vána the Ever-young, wife of Oromë
  • Nessa the Dancer, wife of Tulkas

In bolded names are the eight greatest of the Valar known as High Ones of Arda or Máhani and Aratar (Sindarin: Rodyn) "Exalted". Melkor, the most powerful of all, is not counted among them.

The brothers Lórien and Mandos are referred to collectively as the Fëanturi or "Masters of Spirits".

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 Oromë as Béma.

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.



When the Valar entered , 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 , and the others continued to shape the World.

Long before the Awakening of the Elves, the Valar - namely Aulë, Varda and Manwë - 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, destroying the Lamps and thus marring the world further. The Valar retreated to Aman and founded Valinor;[3] this was first intended to be a fortress whence they might issue to renew the War, but became a Paradise of peace, while Middle-earth was corrupted and darkened by Melkor, long unopposed.[8]:210 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.

Aulë and the Seven Fathers by Ted Nasmith

While they dwelt in Valinor, most of Arda was dark and under the control of Melkor. Eventually the Valar (even Ulmo) came to the Ring of Doom, and fearing about what would befall the Children, they began the Battle of the Powers, at the end of which they broke Utumno and imprisoned Melkor for three Ages. It was then decided to invite the Elves to Valinor. Ulmo, despite initially disagreeing 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.[7]

Stars by Douglas Chaffee

But Melkor and Ungoliant killed the Two Trees and their Light, and the Valar and the Elves mourned the Darkening of Valinor. Fëanor, 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 the Silmarils from the Dark Lord after he stole them. 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.[9][10]

Ted Nasmith - Ulmo Appears before Tuor

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 Fëanor.[11]

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.

Lúthien's Lament Before Mandos by Ted Nasmith

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.[12] 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 for their immortality, and King Tar-Atanamir was the first to speak against the immortals.

The Eagles of Manwë by Ted Nasmith

Eagle-shaped storm clouds, called the "Eagles of the Lords of the West", were sent by Manwë when he tried to reason or threaten the Númenóreans. But after several generations, 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.[13]

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.[14][15]

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.


The word vala is Quenya for "(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.[16] Related words suggested authority or divinity, eg. vala- ("to rule").[17]

The Valar were commemorated in the day-name Valanya and personal names such as Valandur or Valandil. The word is also the name of Tengwa #22.

Other names

In Sindarin, they are called Belain, sg. Balan as in the day-name Orbelain and the constellation Cerch i Mbelain. More commonly, they were called Rodyn (singular Rodon) instead.

The Valar are also called the Lords of Valinor[13] or númeheruvi ("Lords-of-West").[18]

In Adûnaic, the Valar were Avalôi (pl.) and Avalôim (subj. pl.) "Powers". The female form (equivalent to Valie) was Avalê ("goddess").[19] They had also the title Barîm an-Adûn ("Lords-of-West").[20]

In Ælfwine's translations in Old English, the Valar were called Frean ("lords"), Ese ("gods"), Bregan ("rulers") and Maegen ("powers").


The Valar were typically seen and known to the Eldar while donning their fanar, visible bodily forms adopted by the Valar and their kind as their normal "raiment". These forms were shaped after the manner of bodies of Elvish kind, though appeared radiant as if lit by a light within. The Great Valar had a stature greater than that of the tallest Elves and could assume awe-inspiring height when performing some great deed or issuing great commands.[21]:217–218

The Elves of Valinor asserted that unclad and unveiled the Valar were perceived by some among them as lights, of different hues, which their eyes could not tolerate.[21]:218 Melkor, they said, was invisible and his presence was revealed only by great dread and by a darkness that dimmed or blotted out the light and hues of all things near him.[22]:fn1

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 Manwë and Varda and Gothmog as the son of Melko. Some Valarindi ("Offspring of the Valar") were made Maiar in the later legendarium.[23]

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 form referring specifically to a male Vala was Valu, whereas the female form of the Vala was Valde or Valis.[24]

In the Etymologies it said that the word has no female form, and a female Vala is called Valatári or "Queen of the Valar".[16] In the published Silmarillion the female form is Valie.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 156, (dated 4 November 1954)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Beginning of Days"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Four. Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth: Author's Notes on the 'Commentary'", p. 339
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor", "The case of the Quenya change of Þ to s", p. 334
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Four. Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth: Glossary", p. 350
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Two. Body, Mind and Spirit: XII. The Knowledge of the Valar"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Darkening of Valinor"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Flight of the Noldor"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari"
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King
  16. 16.0 16.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", p. 350 (root appearing as "BAL-")
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, p. 404
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, p. 246
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, pp. 241, 305, 428
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, p. 247
  21. 21.0 21.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Two. Body, Mind and Spirit: XIV. The Visible Forms of the Valar and Maiar"
  22. "Children of the Valar", Ask About Middle-earth (accessed 18 July 2024)
  23. Helge Fauskanger, "Quettaparma Quenyallo", Ardalambion (accessed 18 July 2024)
Valar Lords Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas · Melkor
Valier Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa
Maiar Arien · Blue Wizards · Eönwë · Gandalf · Ilmarë · Melian · Ossë · Radagast · Salmar · Saruman · Tilion · Uinen
Úmaiar Sauron · Balrogs (Gothmog · Durin's Bane) · Boldogs
Concepts and locations Almaren · Aratar (indicated in italics) · Creation of the Ainur · Fana · Máhanaxar · Ainulindalë · Order of Wizards (indicated in bold) · Second Music of the Ainur · Timeless Halls · Valarin · Valinor · Valimar