of Iluvatar reflected anew, and learned a little more of his wisdom, which otherwise had been hidden even from the Ainur."[Sil p.7]
But Melkor, "desired rather to subdue to his will both Elves and Men; and he wished himself to have subjects and servants, and to be called Lord, and to be master over other wills." Melkor desires to be God, like Satan. [Sil p.8]
Then Iluvatar brings all things into Being:
"'Therefore I say: Ea! Let these things Be. And I will send forth into the Void, the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the world shall Be; and those of you that will, may go down into it.' And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, and as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame; and they knew that this was no vision only, but that Iluvatar had made a new thing: Ea, the World that Is." [Sil p.9]
Once again Tolkien has followed traditional Catholic understanding. At the very core of our existence is the Breath of Life. This Breath of Life is the most fundamental and universal cause of our existing. If God withdrew His Breath of Life from the created universe it would simply cease to exist. God didn't just make the world and stand back and let all things play out. His very Being and Life hold all things in sway.
It is God that holds each one of us in being at every instant of our life. It is the thing that gives reality to our matter and spirit, body and soul. The Breath of Life is different to the Holy Spirit which is the Person of God living in our being through Baptism; whereas the Breath of Life of God is the very reason for all the atoms of the universe being in Being.
Tolkien gives a metaphysical reality to his sub-created world similar to the reality the Good Lord has given to His own. For those who see and know such truths, it is not hard to see how Tolkien's world reflects the higher and more beautiful one that he himself lived and died in.
Also important is that the created world though affected by the evil of Melkor is still good. The Valar still descend and inhabit creation; and continue to form it.
There is then a drawn-out strife and war between Melkor and the other Valar as they do battle for the dominion of the created world that Melkor has claimed for himself.
"Melkor coveted it, and he said to the other Valar: 'This shall be my own kingdom; and I name it unto myself!'." [Sil p.10]
"...for as surely as the Valar began a labour so would Melkor undo it or corrupt it." [Sil p.12]
Tolkien confirms that the corrupted Valar [Melkor, Sauron and their followers] saw in the Children of Iluvatar "the ideal material for subjects and slaves, to whom they would become masters and 'gods', envying the Children, and secretly hating them ..." [Letters p.285]
Frodo also confirms this corruption and further illustrates how Melkor and Sauron do not have the power to create, but only corrupt and enslave. They mock the creation of Eru in a distorted and perverted way. The Orcs are a perversion of an original good: the Elves. Satan is exactly the same in our world.
"No, they eat and drink, Sam. The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don't think it can give life to the Orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if they are to live at all, they have to live like other living creatures." [LotR p.893]
But Melkor isn't alone in his fall at the beginning. He takes with him many Maiar [lesser angels] as he falls into darkness.
"But he was not alone. For of the Maiar many were drawn to his splendour in the days of his greatness, and remained in that allegiance down into his darkness Dreaded among these spirits were the Valaraukar, the scourges of fire that in Middle-earth were called the Balrogs, demons of terror." [Sil p.23]
"The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had led all the world astray, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him." [Rev 12.9]. Satan took a third of the angels in Heaven with him when he fell as traditional Catholic teaching confirms.
Now, we have discussed how Melkor rejects the Light and prefers the darkness. Next comes the formation of the world and the awaiting of the Children of Iluvatar. The Valar descend into the world as guardians and angels and continue to form and shape it. They can take on physical form if needed but are essentially spiritual beings.
Eru, throughout the mythology will remain rather remote. Though at critical junctures he will make himself known. He will step in with a 'Finger of God' to bring about good and instances of Pure Providence [for the overall good] in Middle-earth.
"There is no embodiment of the One, of God [in the story], who indeed remains remote, outside the world, and only directly accessible to the Valar or Rulers." [Letters p.235-236]
"... the One retains all ultimate authority, and reserves the right to intrude the finger of God into the story: that is to produce realities which could not be deduced even from a complete knowledge of the previous past, but which being real become part of the effective past for all subsequent time [a possible definition of a 'miracle']." [Letters p.235-236]
This 'remoteness' of Eru is another difference in Christian Reality and Tolkien's mythology. The new Law of Love that Jesus has established [which completes and fulfils the Old Law] allows us to approach the Throne of Grace without fear. The Father of All Mercies intensely wishes to be a part of our lives, to forgive our sins and to lead to us all fulfilment and potential. This is why the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.
The God of Middle-earth is not exactly like this. However, he does implicate himself in the unfolding of events in Middle-earth through his emissaries: the Valar or Maiar [lesser angels]. There are many occasions where the Valar do indeed give help and guidance to those in peril in Middle-earth.
Elbereth, "...the most beautiful..." is shown to be instrumental, as are many others of the Valar. [cf. the Silmarillion & Unfinished Tales of Middle-earth and Women of Middle-earth]. [Sil p.33]
The Istari, [Order of Wizards] are in fact sent from the True West [Blessed Realm] to help in the war against Sauron. This is a proof of the Providential Goodness of Eru who through the Valar wishes to indirectly, but substantially, aid and give care to his children. The Valar and Maiar derive their power from Eru.
The Valar, like the saints and angels in Heaven, have a role to play.
"...The immediate authorities are the Valar [the Powers or Authorities]: the 'gods'. But they are only created spirits - of high angelic order we should say, with their attendant lesser angels - reverend, therefore, but not worshipful; ... " [Letters p.193 footnote]
Thus the Valar are instruments of Eru in the created world They will do his will and aid the children of Iluvatar in the struggle against evil. Gandalf is a great example of this.
He is, as Tolkien puts it;
"...an incarnate angel." [Letters p.202]
He also affirms that it is Eru, the One God, who sends the Istari [Wizards] to Middle-earth:
"... they are actually emissaries from the True West, and so immediately from God, sent precisely to strengthen the resistance of the 'good'." [Letters p.207]
A few small examples in the Lord of the Rings of this help are listed below.
• Elven rope miracle when Frodo and Sam are exiting the Emyn Muil. "Made by Galadriel herself. ... To the complete surprise of the hobbits it came loose "
• Sam seeing Star in Mordor.
• Frodo has an intuition to hide from Black Rider in Shire.
• The calling of the Council of Elrond.
• The Eagles appearing at the Black Gate and helping save Frodo & Sam.
• Many other little moments of intervention. [see Providence and Hope]
Almaren and Valinor:
The Valar create a peaceful and abundant abode for themselves in Arda:
"The Valar dwelt on the green island of Almaren in the Great Lake. In the mists of time, long before the awakening of Elves or Men, the Valar dwelt east of the Sea in Middle-earth. This was a time called the Spring of Arda, when the Earth was lit by the two Lamps of the Valar, and Almaren lay in the central regions of the World, where the light of the two Lamps mingled." [arda]
The Two Lamps were made by the Valar to give light to Middle-earth. On this island, Melkor attacks and destroys the Lamps and desecrates the beautiful land of Almaren [city of the Valar]. The Valar flee and Middle-earth is left in darkness.
There are several quasi-Garden ol Eden themes in Tolkien's works. This is the first. This beautiful and green dwelling is destroyed by Melkor and the Valar are forced to leave it. Why does Tolkien tap into this original unspoiled sense in his writing? He is contemplating through myth the reality of a fallen world, a lost innocence, a time where Good was unspoiled by Evil. He is forcing home the horrible reality that we live in a world that is a struggle against evil and we must fight to preserve that which is Love and Life, that which is Truth and Goodness: and these have their origins in God, [like it is with Eru in Middle-earth].
"After this, the Valar left Middle-earth and seldom returned. They founded a new land far away to the west, in Aman, that they called Valinor; a land lit by the fabled light of the Two Trees."[arda]
This new land will be also called the Undying Lands or Blessed Realm.
"In that guarded land the Valar gathered great store of light and all the fairest things that were saved from the ruin; and many others yet fairer they made anew, and Valinor became more beautiful even than Middle-earth in the Spring of Arda; and it was blessed, for the Deathless dwelt there, and there naught faded nor withered, neither was there any stain upon flower or leaf in that land, nor any corruption or sickness in anything that lived; for the very stones and waters were hallowed." [Sil p.30]
Here the Valar, create a second type of Garden of Eden removed from Middle-earth that has been brought down by Melkor. But Melkor hasn't entirely corrupted Middle-earth and this is shown by the fact that the Valar still bring fair things that were saved from the destruction of Almaren.
It is now, in Valinor that Yavanna, one of the Valar, sings a song before her brethren and the Two Trees come forth from the earth. She isn't the source of their Being, who is Eru, but she participates in the creation through singing and it yields fruit.
"And as they watched, upon the mound there came forth two slender shoots; and silence was over all the world in that hour, nor was there any other sound save the chanting of Yavanna. under her song the saplings grew and became fair and tall, and came to flower; and thus awoke in the world the Two Trees of Valinor." [Sil p.31 ]
Her song enters into the fecundity of the original Music of the Ainur and sub-creates in that derivation. The Trees wax and wane each day giving light and beauty to the Blessed Realm.
"In seven hours the glory of each tree waxed and waned again " but their waxing and waning was offset so that Valinor ever dwelt in beauty of the Light of the Two Trees.
Each day had Twelve Hours and the mingling of the Light filled these hours with a blessedness.
"Thus began the Days of Bliss in Valinor..." [Sil p.32]
During this time the Valar did not abandon Middle-earth completely. Yavanna "would come at times and heal the hurts of Melkor..." [Sil p.34]. She would rework the destruction Melkor had caused in parts of the creation. He had continued to delve caverns and dark abysses beneath the earth. Ulmo [another Vala] would also continue to struggle against Melkor.
Children of Iluvatar:
"...none of the Ainur dared to add anything in their fashion..." in the Music concerning Elves and Men, because "...they understand not fully that theme by which the Children entered into the Music..." [Sil p.35]
For this reason they [the Valar] "are to these kindreds rather their elders and their chieftains than their masters... " [Sil p.35]
They "were called the Eruhini or 'Children of God', and were for the Valar an incalculable element: that is they were rational creatures of free will in regard to God, of the same historical rank as the Valar, though of far smaller spiritual and intellectual power and status." [Letters p.236]
As the awakening of the Children drew near Eru spoke;
"Behold I love the Earth, which shall be a mansion for the Quendi and Atani! [Elves and Men]"
But the Quendi [Elves] shall be the fairest of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and shall conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my children and they shall have the greater bliss in this world."
The Elves are in fact of a higher nature than Men in Middle-earth. They are called the Firstborn.
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