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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Powers and Limitations of the Valar

Hojo Warf               
Lihan Taifun           
Shawn Daysleeper 
AelKennyr Rhiano 

Tolkien explicitly says Aulë has a forge, but what exactly does he make in it? A forge isn't much use for making mountains, or dwarves. A forge suggests that the Valar can “work with their hands” in a way similar to created races.

Tolkien was hesitant about the Valar being able to create from nothing, since only Eru had that power. Creating waves, storms, mountains is probably more like rearranging existing matter, so it would not be a philosophical problem for Valar to do that.

Were Aulë's Dwarves foreshadowed in the Song? No one really knows. Eru would have known all in advance, but the Valar might not. There were subtleties in the Song that none of the Valar understood at the time.

Any large undertaking would require effort and concentration from the Valar. Why could the Valar not have created a new set of Trees, after Melkor destroyed the first ones? Are the Valar becoming less powerful as time goes on? Or is physical matter becoming more “fixed” are harder to shape?

How did the difference between MiddleEarth and the Undying Lands affect the Elves who lived in each place? How did living in the physical world, and living with Elves, affect the Valar? Certainly, by the Third Age, the Valar weren't directly using their powers much.

Why did the Valar use force against Morgoth, at the end of the First Age, but not against Sauron? Did they consider Sauron less of a threat? Or, more likely, they considered that Humans were now grown-up enough to handle Sauron themselves, with just a bit of advice and encouragement from the Wizards. Or, the Valar's influence was so subtle that the Humans and Hobbits in Lord of the Rings weren't aware of it. Some of the Valar's influence would have been in previous creations and events that they set in motion.

Manwë, Varda, and Ulmo, at least, keep informed of events in MiddleEarth. Although their information is not complete, and they need to make a deliberate effort to observe. There is a speculation that Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are Aulë and Yavanna in disguise.

Hojo Warf:                wow so many elves
Lihan Taifun:            are you an elf today, Shawn?
Shawn Daysleeper points to his ears
Hojo Warf:                Just curious if many hobbits or dwarves come around here
Shawn Daysleeper:  yes
Lihan Taifun:            sometimes
AelKennyr Rhiano:  You are in the Swanhaven

Lihan Taifun:            soooooo, powers of the Valar: telepathy, teleportation, telekinesis ... limited knowledge of the future
AelKennyr Rhiano:  How limited?
Hojo Warf:                honestly Tolkien never goes much into the details of how they do what they do.
Lihan Taifun:            very true
AelKennyr Rhiano:  We have been wrestling with that in our rp.
Hojo Warf:                So does Aule actually have a forge where he hammers things into being or does he look over a piece of land and wave his hand to create terrain?
Lihan Taifun:            yes, we have some Valar in our roleplay, so the question comes up, for us. And would you hammer a mountain into shape first, and then install it?
Shawn Daysleeper:  Yes I was wondering what the limits of valar powers were
Zryonotralionxus:    It was mentioned he has one I believe
Lihan Taifun:            that Aule has a forge?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I remember reading somewhere that Tolkien backed away from the idea of the Ainu being able to "wave" their hand and create things out of thin air, because that would give them godlike powers and make them competition for Eru in a sense. And Tolkien wanted his universe to have only one creator god.
Lihan Taifun:            that makes sense
Zryonotralionxus:    yes, trying to find the spot I thought of
Hojo Warf:                But they did create though
Lihan Taifun:            but, could Aule rearrange the landscape?
Hojo Warf:                Even in the song before anything was created they were the ones creating the world in the song they were singing.
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Not the first time we find a contradiction in his words and intentions.
Lihan Taifun:            It seems Ulmo or Osse could wave a fin and create a storm or a wave
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Was that something out of thin air, though? I mean, the seas and the winds exist already?
Lihan Taifun:            technically, "creating" a storm is more like rearranging element already in existence
Shawn Daysleeper:  it could be Osse and Ulmo can do that because their charge is the water realm?
Hojo Warf:                In anticipation of the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar, Elves and Men, Aulë went so far as to create a race of his own, the Dwarves. Ilúvatar granted them life, but would not suffer them to be born before the Elves, so Aulë set them to sleep in Middle-earth until the Elves had awoken. shamelessly copied and pasted :)
AelKennyr Rhiano:  We had a great discussion about that one night.
Lihan Taifun:            yes ... and in that case, Aule created them (although probably not out of thin air), but couldn't give the dwarves independent life
AelKennyr Rhiano:  And he created them in secret.
Hojo Warf:                the question remains though. Did he create them after coming to the world or did he create them in the song before the world?
Lihan Taifun:            in secret -- which sounds like a guilty conscience about it. yes, that is a very good question
Zryonotralionxus:    Then Manwë and Yavanna parted for that time, and Yavanna returned to Aulë; and he was in his smithy, pouring molten metal into a mould. 'Eru is bountiful,' she said. 'Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.' That was the part I thought of
Lihan Taifun:            ok, definitely a forge. So, Valar can work with their hands. Personally, I would expect Aule could generate an earthquake
AelKennyr Rhiano:  The dwarves were created in the darkness of Middle Earth....after the Song. Chapter 2 of the Quenta
Lihan Taifun:            but do we know that the dwarves were not foreshadowed in the song?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I think that may always be up for Debate...
Hojo Warf:                I don't have the silmarion text at my fingers, just the encyclopedia arda. but is there a passage after the music of the ainur when they saw the world... Does it say that all things until the end of time were created in the song? or just what was there when they saw it?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  In one sense, for Eru to be all powerful and all knowing...yes, they would need to be. But would the Valar and Ainur comprehend that part of the Song is one of serveral questions.
Lihan Taifun:            did the original song continue until the end of the world? certainly the vision did not go that far
AelKennyr Rhiano:  "Yet some things there are that they cannot see, neither alone nor taking counsel together....for to none but himself has Illuvatar revealed all that he has in stores...and in every age there come forth things that are new and have no foretelling, for they do not proceed from the past.
Zryonotralionxus:    Wasn't there mention of them seeing dark for the first time?
Hojo Warf:                So they can create new things in the world or at least they could in the earliest of times
Lihan Taifun:            they lived in the Void, and had never seen dark?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Was answering Hojo's question.
Zryonotralionxus:    But even as Ulmo spoke, and while the Ainur were yet gazing upon this vision, it was taken away and hidden from their sight; and it seemed to them that in that moment they perceived a new thing, Darkness, which they had not known before except in thought.
Lihan Taifun:            and I was responding to Zryon
AelKennyr Rhiano:  lol
Lihan Taifun:            darkness, ok
Hojo Warf:                It would seem to me that they are very powerful at creating but they can't simply wave a hand to call things into being. Any large endeavor must entail a good deal of effort on their parts.
AelKennyr Rhiano nods in agreement
Lihan Taifun:            effort makes sense, and concentration
AelKennyr Rhiano:  And the blessing of Eru
Hojo Warf:                The two trees for example. They created them, why didn't they just create a couple more when they were destroyed?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Perhaps they are limited to creation from substances already created..
Zryonotralionxus:    True, there where many times when it took all their power to do something, many times it was a one time thing
AelKennyr Rhiano:  The dwarves were not created out of thin air. He "wrought" them
Lihan Taifun:            are their creative abilities declining over time? Was it easier in the beginning?
Hojo Warf:                That is certainly true with elves. Maybe with Valar as well.
AelKennyr Rhiano:  But is it true of all elves or only elves of middle earth? Elves are expected to be at the Dago Dagorath ‚ the Battle of Battles-- are they not?
Zryonotralionxus:    Did not all elves originate in middle earth?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Does living with the Valar change the elves, and perhaps the elves change the Valar.
Hojo Warf:                It would seem that as time passes maybe it is the world that becomes more impervious to their influence as it is left more and more to take its own course.
Lihan Taifun:            hmmm, that could be too
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Not all elves remained in Middle Earth...some came to Aman. And generations of them were born there.
Hojo Warf:                But with the elves I'm thinking of the silmarils in particular. The elves of the third age didn't have creative skills like that.
AelKennyr Rhiano:  The elves of Middle Earth...
Lihan Taifun:            Did anyone other than Feanor have those skills?
Hojo Warf:                Hmm they created the rings of power
Zryonotralionxus:    Yeah, but still they originated in middle earth, and those born in Aman where still descendant of middle earth elves
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I do not think other than Feanor, that knowledge was given to elves...looking
Lihan Taifun:            I was just reading in my new library book (purrrr) -- Morgoth's Ring -- about speculations on the nature and destiny of elves, but I don't really remember it well enough
AelKennyr Rhiano:  oh?
Lihan Taifun:            I remember the part about elves as they age -- over millenia -- becoming less and less physical. And then a bit about how to tell the difference between a live, invisible elf and a "houseless" spirit who has refused the call to Mandos.
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Fëanor, at the pinnacle of his might, in the greatest of his achievements, captured the light of the Two Trees to make the three Silmarils, also called the Great Jewels, though they were not mere glittering stones, they were alive, imperishable, and sacred.

Even the Valar, including Aulë, could not copy them. In fact, Fëanor himself could not copy them, as part of his essence went into their making. Their worth, in Tolkien's universe, was close to infinite, even to the Valar, as they were unique and irreplaceable
Lihan Taifun:            that is an interesting point, that even Aule could not copy the Silmarils
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Although the elves awoke in Middle Earth, the eldar elves who travelled West were described as being different than the elves who came after...And we can look at rl to see that differences in environments can impact different groups of the same peoples. So I have always wondered...since Aman was not ever Middle Earth wide was the gulf between elves who came to Aman and did not leave and elves who remained and populated, in time, Middle EArth.

The second part of my musing deals with the did those Elves impact the Valar?
Lihan Taifun:            beyond the cultural differences among elves?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  yes
Lihan Taifun:            the Ainur really didn't know anything about elves in advance. They were learning on the job. And the early dealings with the elves, the Valar do seem a bit naïve. Manwe figured that Feanor and his brothers had shaken hands, and everything was ok now
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Right. Over the passage of time...did the Ainur become more elf-like and the elves more ainur-like from the close association?
Lihan Taifun:            it does sound plausible, the Valar becoming more elf-like, I meant
AelKennyr Rhiano:  It would impact the powers of the Valar over time, wouldn't it?
Hojo Warf:                The Valar withdrew though. Its hard to say how much power they had say in the third age when they would not intervene in middle earth anyway.
Lihan Taifun:            yes, and is there a practical difference between not using power, and not having it?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  you have to define "practical" in that case?
Hojo Warf:                I'm saying its hard to say how much power they still had when mortals of the time had no way to witness it.
AelKennyr Rhiano:  That makes sense, hojo. And over time...did they acquire a wisdom that required them to harness their abilities, keep their actions in check.
Hojo Warf:                but they certainly made a wreck of Beleriand when they had to come back and fight one of their own who was out of control there. After Melkor was removed there was no power left in middle earth great enough to require them to interfere again.
Lihan Taifun:            was Sauron less of a problem?
Zryonotralionxus:    he must have been being they left those of middle earth deal with him?
Hojo Warf:                Sauron was Maiar the same magnitude shall we say as Gandalf and Saruman. So the extent of their involvement was to send beings of the same order as the threat that was there. A group of Maiar was sent to Middle Earth to keep an eye on Sauron.
Lihan Taifun:            I'm still not seeing the Valar's reasoning as saying that Sauron wasn't a big enough threat to be worth attacking directly. I'm thinking their reason for being more indirect would be ... I don't know, but that it was a better approach, not that Sauron wasn't worth their trouble
Hojo Warf:                Hmm well the way I see it the races of middle earth had to conquer Sauron on their own. Thus they took Middle Earth for their own and proved themselves worthy of being masters of their world without intervention. Gandalf's role in the whole thing was more leadership than anything else
Lihan Taifun:            so, then the reason is either that the elves, and even more so the Humans, were now old enough to handle Sauron on their own, with only a little bit of encouragement
Hojo Warf:                Exactly
AelKennyr Rhiano:  May I the LOTR, who is telling the story?
Lihan Taifun:            the hobbits, really
Hojo Warf:                It is The Red Book of Westmarch started by Bilbo and finished by Frodo
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Perhaps if the story were told by the Valar, for example, we would see that they were involved a lot, just unbeknownst to the elves, humans and other mortals?
Lihan Taifun:            what might the Valar have been doing?
Hojo Warf:                They were involved in subtle ways for sure. Mostly though previous works.
AelKennyr Rhiano:  So...would they stop being involved in the 3rd Age, or could it have been on a level unseen by mortal eyes?
Hojo Warf:                wait I was thinking of the phial but its light was from a silmaril... the silmaril was made by elves... but the light in the silmaril was from the two trees.. and they were created by the Valar... so in a round about way lol
AelKennyr Rhiano:  We are in a way "assuming" they did nothing because the viewpoint of the hobbit is that they did nothing. A lot of people believe angels work unseen around us all the time....Could not the Valar?
Lihan Taifun:            ohhhh, now that makes a second thing Galadriel did that was similar to Feanor.
Lihan Taifun:            Ulmo whispers advice
Hojo Warf:                we could say that from past experience we know they wouldn't do anything. The didn't do anything about Beleriand until er whats his name sailed to the undying lands to beg for help. Eärendil
AelKennyr Rhiano:  But we can't say that...unless we have their side of the story. We are still back to assumptions. I guess, I am saying that we must always remember the story affords us only one viewpoint of the events that unfold. And it is not the Valar's
Lihan Taifun:            you would think that after all this time, the Valar might have learned a little more subtlety than they had in the first chapters
AelKennyr Rhiano:  It would be fallacy to assume they would do nothing...based on Beleriand....after all...when God does not intervene in times of crisis, should we assume that God will never intervene under any circumstances? To draw a very dramatic example?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  And if they work in subtle ways, how would mortals know? There could have been a battle between Vala and Melkor that mimicked the conflict tearing Middle Earth in the 3rd Age, and how would the hobbits know?
Hojo Warf:                It just seems to me that the way they work to help middle earth is by all their creations and preparations in advance.
AelKennyr Rhiano nods. I can see that view very easily :) I don't think there is a right or wrong way to view it.
Hojo Warf:                Yes even the Silmarilion is knowledge brought by elves. They know all about Valinor before they left and not much about what is going on there at the time they are telling the story.
Lihan Taifun:            it is probably better to work behind the scenes, or by the advance preparations. Direct brute force is rather inhibiting on the created races
AelKennyr Rhiano:  nod nod nod

Lihan Taifun:            sooooo, Third Age (and later) the Valar mostly work indirectly. What methods do they have? Sending Maiar in disguise worked once
Hojo Warf:                How much can they actually see in Middle Earth? They have no presence there... or do they...
AelKennyr Rhiano:  How aware are they of events?
Lihan Taifun:            I thought Manwe could see, and Varda could hear -- but only if they were paying attention. They need to have some idea what they are looking for
AelKennyr Rhiano:  yes! and Ulmo and Osse and Unien. Ulmo seemed to keep his ear attuned to current events...
Lihan Taifun:            and the waters bring news to Ulmo, and the birds and winds bring news to Manwe, so they have a general idea of current events
AelKennyr Rhiano:  from more than one source then
Hojo Warf:                Some have speculated that Tom Bombadil and Goldenberry were actually Aulë and Yavanna
Lihan Taifun:            I can certainly see them as Ainur of some sort. If they were Aule and Yavanna, it was a good disguise. So, the Valar can gather news, and can whisper some advice
AelKennyr Rhiano:  nod nod nod
Hojo Warf:                Oh.. Gandalf. He practically died... but he was sent back until his work was completed. Who sent him back?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Better question is: what was Gandalf?
Hojo Warf:                well we know that :)
Lihan Taifun:            he did die, and I thought it was Eru directly who sent him back
Hojo Warf:                He was a maiar sent to Middle Earth. His Maiar name was Olórin
Lihan Taifun:            so, at that point, presumably Gandalf/Olorin didn't have the energy himself to create a new body, or else the terms of his contract didn't allow it
AelKennyr Rhiano:  lol
Hojo Warf:                Hehe
AelKennyr Rhiano:  yep :)) Along the question of power and Valar...I have a question? Do Maiar ever get to be Vala? Is there a process where they...become...idk..."more?"
Hojo Warf:                I don't think so
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Graduate or something?
Lihan Taifun:            Melkor promised Osse a promotion, but he might have been lying
AelKennyr Rhiano:  That was why I asked.
Lihan Taifun:            or, is there a real distinction? more than just the Vala/Maia distinction?
Hojo Warf:                they have 4 castes from what I can see, each has its own amount of power. I don't think they can be elevated. Aratar, Valar, Valier, Maiar. Wait make that 3. Valar and Valier are just masculine and feminine it would seem
AelKennyr Rhiano:  And the Aratar were Valar.
Lihan Taifun:            and Aratar are the higher ranking Valar, although, since more than half of the Valar are Aratar, it seems a little silly
Hojo Warf:                The eight greatest of the Valar: Manwë, Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna, Aulë, Mandos, Nienna and Oromë

{People have to leave. Farewells.}
Lihan Taifun:            do we have a favorite topic for next week? Do we want to continue this,or have we beaten it to death?
Hojo Warf:                No idea what you have discussed already. human/elf marriages?
Lihan Taifun:            we just did that a couple weeks ago That is the list of old topics, although you will notice we sometimes do come back to ones we have already done
Zryonotralionxus:    Hmm, how about War of Wrath
Hojo Warf:                How would the power of the one ring actually manifest itself if someone of power actually got ahold of it?
Lihan Taifun:            hmmmm, we haven't ever done rings of power. that sounds like a good one
Zryonotralionxus:    So then next week is going to be about the rings of power?
Lihan Taifun:            sounds good
Hojo Warf:                Ooh sounds like fun