Silmarillion Project Part 2: “Valaquenta - Account of the Valar and Maiar in according to the lore of the Eldar”
The second chapter of The Silmarillion introduces us to the various divine beings (Ainur) who enter Earth (Arda) at its conception: the Valar (a godlike pantheon), the Maiar (lesser spirits) and the Enemy, who at this point is called Melkor. Although Melkor is mightier than any individual Vala, he is not counted among them, as their mission is to craft and preserve the world, while Melkor is hell-bent on twisting it to his will.
Several Valar are pictured here. They are, from front to back:
- Mandos - Judge of the Dead and Master of Doom. He has foreknowledge of everything that will come to pass on Arda until the end times, but will only reveal pieces at Manwë’s order.
- Yavanna - Queen of the Earth and Giver of Fruits. She created the Ents to protect the trees from the axes of Orcs and Dwarves.
- Aulë - Craftsman of the Earth and husband of Yavanna. He created the Dwarves with Ilúvatar’s (God’s) blessing, who gave them actual life.
- Varda - Queen of Stars. Creator of light and the stars (naturally) and also the first to see Melkor for what he truly was.
- Manwë - King of the Valar, master of the sky and husband of Varda. He is also the “twin” broth of Melkor, the Enemy.
- Ulmo - Lord of Waters and the sole wandering Vala (never taking residence in the the Undying Lands as they do). Ulmo prefers the open oceans and is an eternal friend to Men and Elves, of whose plight he is always keenly aware.
The accompanying illustrations are of the Enemies:
- Melkor - First and mightiest of the Ainur. Obsessed with creating life of his own, which he cannot, so he forever strives to corrupt Creation itself and rule over it. The source of all discord and Evil in Arda. Later called Morgoth, “The Great Enemy,” he is the central antagonist of the Silmarillion.
- Sauron - A powerful Maia originally in service of Aulë, Sauron was corrupted by Morgoth, ultimately becoming his second-in-command. Master of all shapes and forms, as well as the crafting of objects of power.
Notes: The Valar don’t have permanent incarnations, so I tried to keep many visual details vague and focus on broad themes. Conversely, while Melkor could take on many forms in earlier days, by the time he stole the Silmarils and was known as Morgoth, he was essentially trapped in the form of an imposing Dark Lord, “tall and terrible.” I wanted to emphasize a weary, corporeal form in contrast to the Valar, a form that will become further scarred before the end. Sauron, on the other hand, is less imposing and more of a crafty sorcerer. While he could change into the form of Elves or Men, I doubt that would have been his default in the First Age, when his main job was ruling an island full of werewolves.
Hope you enjoy this one! There are many more to come.