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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Questions about the Ainur and Valinor

Victariongreyjoy
Rivendell


Dec 5 2017, 11:49pm

Post #1 of 5 (1556 views)
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Questions about the Ainur and Valinor Can't Post

Valinor was a physical place right? And did the Ainur have human form and were taller than a normal man? Could those mortals who were lucky enough to enter Valinor see them physically? Did they live in fortress or castles like the elves?


Petty Dwarf
Bree


Dec 6 2017, 12:03am

Post #2 of 5 (1541 views)
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Yes to most of the above. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Valar did have palaces in Valinor, but they didn't always have physical shape. Rather, they could, at need, "cloak" themselves in a body for ease of communicating with those who naturally had bodies. Also, they didn't always choose humanoid forms. Yavanna, for instance, liked to appear in the form of a tree.

"No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone."


squire
Half-elven


Dec 6 2017, 12:21am

Post #3 of 5 (1543 views)
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I'm rusty on this, but some of this I'm pretty sure about [In reply to] Can't Post

1 Valinor was a physical place - yes. It was a land west of the sundering ocean, generally inaccessible from the Great Lands (later called Middle-earth, i.e., the continent where all the stories take place). Only at the end of the Second Age was it translated into another dimension, when the world was made round due to the sinful transgression of the Numenoreans, who dared to sail as mortals to land on, and wage war on, Valinor.

2 Not the Ainur (great spirits present at the Creation), but the Valar (a subset of nine of those many spirits who chose to enter and govern that Creation), lived in Valinor. They did not always take human form, but when they did they were relatively gigantic - how much so is not so clear.

3 Mortals were not allowed to enter Valinor - only the Elves. But the one mortal who was granted access, Earendil, did meet the Valar and, as far as we can tell from the various sources, witnessed them as giant folk in human form. It's not all sure that's what happened: the story is about the Valar hearing and responding to Earendil's pleas, and judging his fate, not about how Earendil experienced the meeting.

4 The Valar lived in places, kind of like estate houses, castles, or palaces, in the earlier accounts of the land of the Gods, as we know from early volumes of The History of Middle-earth - Tolkien's first attempts to tell these tales. In the Silmarillion, although it's still said that various of the Valar had domains in Valinor (Manwe and Varda lived on the top of a giant mountain; Ulmo lived in the Seas; Lorien had a kind of dream-garden; etc.), there is far less detail. I think it would be wrong to consider the Valar's dwelling-places as "castles" or "fortresses" - Valinor was never under threat of atttack, unlike the Elvish realms back in Middle-earth.

In general, in the sequence between the "Lost Tales" (ca. 1919) and the "Silmarillion" (ca. 1937, published 1973) Tolkien pulled back from giving the Valar a vital history and life-style in their own right. Their physicality and residences are downplayed in the later versions, to give more prominence to the Elves and Men back in Middle-earth.

Hope this helps answer your questions. I am open to correction on any point above - working from a no doubt faulty memory here.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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Bracegirdle
Valinor


Dec 6 2017, 5:46pm

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Lest we forget [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
With the Valar came other spirits whose being also began before the World, of the same order as the Valar but of less degree. These are the Maiar, the people of the Valar, and their servants and helpers.

Wisest of the Maiar was Olórin. He too dwelt in Lórien, but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience.
Of Melian much is told the the Quenta Silmarillion. But of Olórin that tale does not speak; for though he loved the elves, he walked among them unseen, or in form as one of them

-Valaquenta, Of the Maiar (My bold)

Thus it seems that the lesser Valar in Valinor had the ability to take on most any form (or non-form) they wished. And how much more the Valar themselves?


Olórin walks among the Elves unseen


‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor




No One in Particular
Rivendell


Dec 10 2017, 4:06am

Post #5 of 5 (1404 views)
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Where's Waldo? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
3 Mortals were not allowed to enter Valinor - only the Elves. But the one mortal who was granted access, Earendil, did meet the Valar and, as far as we can tell from the various sources, witnessed them as giant folk in human form. It's not all sure that's what happened: the story is about the Valar hearing and responding to Earendil's pleas, and judging his fate, not about how Earendil experienced the meeting.


I have always assumed, given the nature of The Powers, that they could choose to be visible to mortals, Men in particular, or not to be as the need took them.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph

 
 

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