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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ainur "Fana" Bodies

lawrence Blackbart 
AelKennyr Rhiano  
Lihan Taifun            
Hojo Warf                 
Shawn Daysleeper  
Fifi Wickentower    


To what extent are Ainur bodies projections consciously controlled by the Ainu's mind, and to what extent are they exact, fully biochemically functioning bodies? Tolkien seems to regard all Ainur bodies, even those of the Wizards, as being the same.

Reasons why fana resemble projections:
  • Ainur were making themselves fana bodies before they met any actual Elves
  • Uncorrupted Ainur can freely change shape and location. (Corrupted Ainur gradually lose this ability.)
  • We imagine Ulmo's form, when he was talking to Tuor, as only a rough approximation of a humanoid body.

Reasons fana resemble ordinary physical bodies:
  • The Ainur in Aman ate, wearing fana.
  • Tolkien uses the same word, “fana” for the Wizards' bodies, which as far as we know were exact Human bodies. (The Wizards had voluntarily given up most of their Ainur powers for the duration of their assignment.)
  • Melian had a child, Lúthien, with King Thingol of the Elves.

So perhaps the Ainur sometimes manifest more exact, detailed versions of Elvish or Human bodies, and sometimes bodies with only external resemblance.

We are very confused by the fact that Ainur (Melian), Elves, and Humans can interbreed and produce fully fertile children – which is a definition of being the same species. Yet we would otherwise think of Ainur, Elves, and Human as different species. Ainur don't even “reproduce” among themselves. Maybe Tolkien was weak on biology. Tolkien describes Ainur, Elves, and Humans as “races” (which suggests subsets of the same species), which further confuses the issue. Yet he is clear that the three “races” have quite independent origins.

We don't recall any description of the exact moment of an Ainu manifesting a body, just that statement that they did so. We only have records of the information that the Elves knew.

There is speculation that Ulmo was modeled after St. Elmo, a patron saint of mariners.

Lihan Taifun:             okie, lawrence, are you familiar with "Ainur" as a race? that would be the Valar and their Maiar
lawrence Blackbart:  heard of ... don't know much in depth
Lihan Taifun:             someone want to do a short explanation of Ainur?
Hojo Warf:                  anyone have that silmarillion notecard set? :3
AelKennyr Rhiano:   I do, one sec...though...let me dig it out
Shawn Daysleeper:   The Valar are the highest ranking and most powerful of the Ainur, each in charge of an aspect of nature or an archetypal quality. Ainur are by nature spirit beings, but they can, if they chose, manifest either visible illusions or actual physical bodies, especially if they need to interact with the created races. I got that from Lihan's NC about Ainur hehe
lawrence Blackbart:  yep that was about the extent of my knowledge on them
{notecards of some background on Ainur}
Hojo Warf:                  I thought lawrence might want to browse it in his spare time :3
lawrence Blackbart:  ty
AelKennyr Rhiano:   The Ainur are the immortal Spirits existing before Creation in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe. These were the first beings made of the thought of God or Eru Ilúvatar
lawrence Blackbart:  oh deffinately lol
Shawn Daysleeper:   I have the Silmarillion
AelKennyr Rhiano:   The Universe was created through a Great Theme: the Music of the Ainur or Ainulindalë. Those of the Ainur who felt concerned by the Creation entered it, called Eä in Quenya. The Earth and our Solar System is part of the Creation. These are called Arda in Quenya.

The Holy One Melkor or Melko claimed the Earth for himself. His brother Manwë and several others Holy Ones decided to confront him, becoming known as the Valar, or the "Powers". Much of the World was marred by the conflict between the Valar and Melkor. According to The Silmarillion, eventually and with the aid of the Vala Tulkas, who entered the Creation last, the degenerated fana of Melkor (his physical appearance), Morgoth was destroyed
lawrence Blackbart:  yay reading :)
Shawn Daysleeper:   ‚ú¶‚úßHaHaHa‚ú¶‚úß
Hojo Warf:                  Quenya being the old language of the elves who traveled to Valinor?
Lihan Taifun:             yes, the old language
Shawn Daysleeper:   yes, spoken by the elves of Valinor
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Quenya or High-elven is the most prominent language of the Amanya branch of the Elvish language family. In Aman there were two dialects of Quenya, Vanyarin and Noldorin. For historical reasons, only the latter was used in Middle-earth. The only other Eldarin language spoken in Aman, Telerin, could also be considered a dialect of Quenya, but it was usually held to be a separate language
Lihan Taifun:             and even in 3rd Age (Lord of the Rings era) used as a scholarly language
AelKennyr Rhiano:   That is why when the Tolkien elves are in Middle Earth and encounter other elves, they may first speak in Quenya, as it is a shared language they have in their common history. Otherwise they may attempt Sindarin, if they know the tongue.
lawrence Blackbart listens intently
Shawn Daysleeper:   Aman is another word for the Undying lands, the place across the sea that the elves eventually go after they grow weary in Middle-earth
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Alqualonde, in Tolkien's works, is in Aman.
lawrence Blackbart:  yep
Shawn Daysleeper smiles
AelKennyr Rhiano:   In the 4th Age, it has been brought into Middle Earth, and is now an island.
lawrence Blackbart:  im curious .... how does one move an entire city onto an island?
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Irmo { Ulmo} moved the entire of Alqualonde, Land and all
lawrence Blackbart:  i see
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Just as he brought the Teleri to Aman ...remember how?
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Wow, that was nearly a year ago
Lihan Taifun:             yep. Mt. Taniquetil was over a year ago
AelKennyr Rhiano:   WOW
Shawn Daysleeper:   before me hehe
Fifi Wickentower:     sobs quietly at the thought of her home
AelKennyr Rhiano pats Fifi's back
Lihan Taifun:             can we try to get to tonight's topic
AelKennyr Rhiano:   oops sorry
Lihan Taifun:             we will tell Lawrence 4th Age stories later
Fifi Wickentower:     background for the backgroundless
lawrence Blackbart:  much appreciated ^^

Lihan Taifun:             sooooo, the Ainur are spirit beings, but they can manifest bodies for themselves
Fifi Wickentower:     sniffs and wipes a hand hastily across her face
Fifi Wickentower:     ty ael
Lihan Taifun:             and, as we read in the notecard, the Elves found these bodies very impressive (although it is hard to imagine the Elves not being impressed by Ainur, in any case)
Fifi Wickentower:     true nods
AelKennyr Rhiano nods
Lihan Taifun:             I had always imagined that the "fana" bodies were not quite 100% biologically functional
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Please explain.
Hojo Warf:                  Well they did eat and drink
Lihan Taifun:             but Tolkien uses the same word for the bodies of the Wizards, which obviously were ordinary bodies
lawrence Blackbart:  indeed
Lihan Taifun:             I guess I always imagined the fana bodies were operated more by conscious control of the Ainu, rather than running on automatic by biochemical processes, since the Ainur started making fana before they had ever met a real live Elf
Hojo Warf:                  I thought that was the whole gist of describing fana bodies; to explain the wizards.
Shawn Daysleeper:   the Ainur can change form, so it probably is not a biological process
AelKennyr Rhiano:   oh, not even while you wear it?
Shawn Daysleeper:   it says here that this "body" is a manifestation
lawrence Blackbart:  i was under the impression that the fana could only project an image of what they wish to be portrayed as, not actually physically alter themselves
AelKennyr Rhiano:   I have to say I am with lawrence on that one.
Lihan Taifun:             the Wizards had what we would consider ordinary physical bodies, right? with all the physical limitations
Fifi Wickentower:     yes
Hojo Warf:                  "Subject only to special limitations taken upon themselves or decreed by Eru. " Perhaps the limits on the wizards bodies are just such limitations.
Lihan Taifun:             so the only difference for the Wizards was that they had agreed to give up their special control over their bodies?
Shawn Daysleeper:   yes, I agree but there are some things about tying the biological aspect term to the wizards that unsettles me
Hojo Warf:                  or decided in comittee or by the Valar
Shawn Daysleeper:   one of the definitions of biology is to be able to reproduce
AelKennyr Rhiano:   But Shawn...that begs the issue of Elwe and Melian
Hojo Warf:                  Did Queen Melian reproduce?
Lihan Taifun:             yes, Melian did reproduce
AelKennyr Rhiano:   They had children, yes
Lihan Taifun:             Luthien -- Luthien was their daughter
lawrence Blackbart:  ah yes
Shawn Daysleeper:   ya but the offspring is not the same as the parents. you don't see maia being born do you?
AelKennyr Rhiano:   So something biological had to occur, to reproduce
Shawn Daysleeper:   ya as in continuing the species
AelKennyr Rhiano:   That Depends...Shawn...what about the dragons?
Lihan Taifun:             but the point is that Melian had to have a very biologically working body to have a child
lawrence Blackbart:  well they did, in essence, reporduce
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Children are never 100% one parent or the other, but a mixture of genes from both, right?
Shawn Daysleeper:   yes very true, but we have a crossing of species here
AelKennyr Rhiano:   How does one produce a mule?
Lihan Taifun:             if Melian was in an Elvish body, that wasn't a crossing of species
Shawn Daysleeper:   mule is a cross between donkey and horse
AelKennyr Rhiano:   yes
Shawn Daysleeper:   and mules can not reproduce. Luthien did
AelKennyr Rhiano:   but the donkey and horse can
Lihan Taifun:             the surprising thing is that Humans and Elves are cross-fertile
AelKennyr Rhiano:   that was my point. AelKennyr Rhiano blushes
Lihan Taifun:             (although in the Star Trek universe, most species seem to be cross-fertile, too)
AelKennyr Rhiano:   In most fantasy rps you have cross species reproduce, too
Shawn Daysleeper:   well, species are defined as members that can cross fertile each other and reproduce
lawrence Blackbart:  i don't think we can pin somthing as being biological if it is able to reproduce... how about include in the deffinition that if it was produced
Hojo Warf:                  Interesting indeed. One could say that the influence of Melian came down from her into Elrond and Elros the first Numenorean king.
Shawn Daysleeper:   so Ainur and elves are the same species
AelKennyr Rhiano:   I think, so, Hojo. wow...Shawn, that thought just blew my mind.
Lihan Taifun:             At least, Ainur are capable of manifesting Elvish bodies
Shawn Daysleeper:   well, I studied biology as part of my programme
Lihan Taifun:             heh heh, I think Tolkien didn't
Shawn Daysleeper:   yup ‚ú¶‚úßHaHaHa‚ú¶‚úß
Fifi Wickentower:     like apes and humans?
Shawn Daysleeper:   wow
lawrence Blackbart:  hmm good point
Shawn Daysleeper:   apes are not homo sapiens
Lihan Taifun:             mushrooms didn't read that chapter in the biology books, either
AelKennyr Rhiano:   If you follow that thought...then would you say that "Elves" is just a stage of development for a species whose final end development is Ainu?
Fifi Wickentower:     ainur and elves are not the same species . . only in that they are created by illuvatar
Hojo Warf:                  Well they did put a stop to all the confusion about who was elvish and who was mankind after Earendil went to the undying lands. Dude you can't be both choose one or the other.
Lihan Taifun:             I think you would have to say Elves and Humans have very biologically similar DNA
AelKennyr Rhiano:   that's right
Fifi Wickentower:     i think it goes the other way . . denser -- and a spirit has no dna, that is corporal
Lihan Taifun:             but a "body" could have DNA
Shawn Daysleeper:   it is interesting that Tolkien chose to call humans elves, ainur, etc as races
AelKennyr Rhiano:   So Ainu form is the genesis?
Fifi Wickentower:     in a corporal sense . .spirit is not material by definition
Hojo Warf:                  Their origins are different don't forget
lawrence Blackbart:  that begs the question of can a race be a speicies and vice ersa
Shawn Daysleeper:   nods
Fifi Wickentower:     i think so . . and each level is a step further from the source and thus more dark and less light
Shawn Daysleeper:   I biologist would have fun classifying the fauna of Middle Earth :)
Hojo Warf:                  elves and men came into being in middle earth. The ainur existed before the creation of the world.
Lihan Taifun:             the ainur manifest whatever bodies they want, for the situation
Fifi Wickentower:     the ainur sang the world into being
Lihan Taifun:             Melian manifested an Elvish body, the WIzards had Human bodies
Fifi Wickentower:     yes . .:)
Shawn Daysleeper:   ad these bodies had limitations. they can die, but the spirits can take on another form, such as Gandalf
AelKennyr Rhiano:   but during the situation, do their ...yeah, what he said!
Fifi Wickentower:     if you wear a fat suit to see how it would be . . you then live with the limitations incurred
Hojo Warf:                  the death of Saruman
Fifi Wickentower:     spirit is eternal
Lihan Taifun:             unless, like Sauron, your spirit has become so weakened that you can't take on a new form
Shawn Daysleeper:   but I think the body could be cursed, such as those of the dark ainur, ya weakened
Hojo Warf:                  Didn't an incorporeal mist rise from him?
Lihan Taifun:             yes, and drifted off, formless, on the wind
Fifi Wickentower:     they can only manifest a body according to the purity of their own spirt/self
Hojo Warf:                  I forget how it was described. smoke I think
lawrence Blackbart:  more like a mist
Lihan Taifun:             similar things said of Sauron and Saruman
Shawn Daysleeper:   ya Saruman and Sauron, did their spirits die with their bodies?
Lihan Taifun:             their spirits couldn't die
Fifi Wickentower:     so yes. . .a darkened and corrupted ainu would be unable to manifest a glowing body of health and vibrance
Lihan Taifun:             I assume they are now like ghosts
Shawn Daysleeper:   but, Sauron was corrupted long before he manifested a pleasing body to the Elves of Region
Fifi Wickentower:     could be
Lihan Taifun:             too weak to take on new forms, and in no hurry to go back to the Blessed Lands, or to Eru
Shawn Daysleeper:   how corrupted do you have to be before you can not change your body?
Fifi Wickentower:     shudders to find out
AelKennyr Rhiano:   wow, what a question!
Lihan Taifun:             Sauron was still able to look good when he went to Numenor, and he was rotten to the core already
lawrence Blackbart:  lol indeed
Shawn Daysleeper:   ya and this was after all the crap he did in the 1st Age
Fifi Wickentower:     i was referring to a longer period than just the one life of sauron
lawrence Blackbart:  what if based on the extent of the corruption, determined the extent of which they could alter their body
Fifi Wickentower:     nods . . .
Shawn Daysleeper:   yes. but there was that turning point when Sauron forged the One ring, maybe that is when his corrupton reached the limit that he could not change
lawrence Blackbart:  ah yes
Shawn Daysleeper:   which happened after he betrayed the elves of Region
Lihan Taifun:             he "put a lot of his power" into the ring
Shawn Daysleeper:   yup
Lihan Taifun:             was that before or after he went to Numenor?
Shawn Daysleeper:   after, I think hehe
Lihan Taifun:             ok, so that would fit
{Fifi crashes}
Lihan Taifun:             when Ulmo creates a body, say to talk to Turin, does he do a whole detailed body?
Lihan Taifun:             or just the externals?
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Ulmo. I think the externals.
lawrence Blackbart:  remember its only a guise
Lihan Taifun:             so, depending on the circumstances, the body might be more or less detailed
AelKennyr Rhiano:   I think that may be so.
Lihan Taifun:             Melian's -- apparently -- went all the way down to the DNA, but maybe not all Ainur bodies are that detailed (wonders how long it took Melian to fine-tune that body)
Shawn Daysleeper:   is there an example of a manifestation event of any Ainur? where we see it happen?
Lihan Taifun:             hmmm
Hojo Warf:                  Good question
AelKennyr Rhiano is looking and thinking
Shawn Daysleeper:   it would be interesting to see any detail on how this occurs
Lihan Taifun:             it would. I'm not remembering any examples
Shawn Daysleeper:   me either
Hojo Warf:                  We have the slow, half manifestation of Sauron as a giant eye. Melian seemed to be able to change back and forth and flit over the sea at will though.
AelKennyr Rhiano:   the manifestations of Ulmo
Lihan Taifun:             but do we ever have a description of the actual moment of manifestation?
Shawn Daysleeper:   ya but none of these go into detail?
AelKennyr Rhiano:   for Ulmo? let me look
Shawn Daysleeper:   any of them.: I know I rp Irmo's manifestations sometimes, and I rp as if Irmo has full control over it the whole time
Hojo Warf:                  "On the western coasts of Nevrast, he appeared to Turgon, and sent him on the journey that would lead to the founding of Gondolin. "
AelKennyr Rhiano:   He was said to be fearful to look upon to mortal eye, dressed like a giant wave in glittering green armour, blowing his great horns the Ulumúri.
Hojo Warf:                  thats just a summary though. Is a longer description of the event in the silmarillion?
Lihan Taifun:             (that was Turgon? oops) I would expect an Ainu to be in control of the process
AelKennyr Rhiano:   He appeared before Tuor and urged him to go to Gondolin as a messenger to Turgon; when he got there he eventually married Turgon's daughter Idril and fathered Eärendil; Ulmo saved Eärendil's wife Elwing from the sack of the Havens of Sirion, allowing her to take a Silmaril to her husband, which allowed him to gain admittance to Valinor and plead for aid. Ulmo also defended them in the council from the potential wrath of Mandos.
Shawn Daysleeper:   whew, ya we see this talked about, but never in the 1st person, or witnessed
Lihan Taifun:             I always pictured it was instantaneous, but I don't recall it ever being described, so that's just me
Shawn Daysleeper:   It could be Tolkien was unsure how it could work himself
lawrence Blackbart:  interesting point
Lihan Taifun:             that could be
AelKennyr Rhiano:   I think that would be a valid point.
lawrence Blackbart:  perhaps he did, but wasn't sure how to communicate it in a clear mannor to the reader
Shawn Daysleeper:   ya
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Tolkien was Catholic, and there was speculation that Ulmo was in the mode of St. Elmo.
Lihan Taifun:             the mysterious third brother Elmo?
AelKennyr Rhiano:   umm...noooo
Shawn Daysleeper:   hehe
AelKennyr Rhiano:   Saint Erasmus of Formiae is a Christian saint and martyr who died ca. 303, also known as Saint Elmo. He is venerated as the patron saint of sailors. St Erasmus or Elmo is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, saintly figures of Christian legend who were venerated especially in Central Europe as intercessors.
Shawn Daysleeper:   these Fourteen Holy Helpers could coincide with the 14 Valar?
Lihan Taifun:             hmmm
AelKennyr Rhiano:   could be
Shawn Daysleeper:   there are 14 eh?
Lihan Taifun:             14 Valar, yes
Shawn Daysleeper:   nods. not including Melkor
Lihan Taifun:             right
Shawn Daysleeper:   well, does not support the Ainur bodies; back to topic hehe

{Fifi relogs. Ael has to leave.}
Lihan Taifun:             what did Fifi miss?
Fifi Wickentower:     i was stopped from pontificating any further
Shawn Daysleeper:   oh finding an example of a manifestation from the literature
Hojo Warf:                  So it would seem that the manner of manifestation could be depicted however you like and the uncorrupted ainur could change forms at will.
Fifi Wickentower:     hmmm . .and was one cited?
Shawn Daysleeper:   no, could not find an example in detail
Lihan Taifun:             as far as I know, an uncorrupted ainu can change forms at will
Shawn Daysleeper:   yes it seems so
Fifi Wickentower:     the elves wouldn't necessarily know either
Shawn Daysleeper:   there is nothing that seems to contradict they can not change at will
Fifi Wickentower:     all the reports are from the elves own experience . .and much is unknowable
Lihan Taifun:             there is that ... maybe the elves don't know
Shawn Daysleeper:   nods
Fifi Wickentower:     the higher can see the lower and the lower can only see a small level above . . they would not be able to have a complete knowledge or understanding of them
Shawn Daysleeper:   right that makes sense. plus the ainur had no reason to tell them anyways
Fifi Wickentower:     a parent sees the child . . but the parent isn't seen by the child . . except as they are there or nt there for the child
Lihan Taifun:             only a very limited view
Fifi Wickentower:     I don't think they could understand even then . . jjust as certain things are beyond our comprehension
Shawn Daysleeper:   it would be a useless skill to the lower races, so they would not waste the effort
Fifi Wickentower:     thus the mystic or the wizard/shaman
Shawn Daysleeper:   nods

Lihan Taifun:             are we ready to pick a topic for next week?
Shawn Daysleeper:   you suggested telepathy last week i believe, which could lead into spirits
Fifi Wickentower:     elven telepathy?
Lihan Taifun:             ok, telepathy would be a possibility
Shawn Daysleeper:   unless anyone had ideas. telepathy in general ?
Lihan Taifun:             as far as I know, all the telepathy in the Tolkien universe is pretty much the same, so it would be the same discussion
Shawn Daysleeper:   ok, thank you all for a fun discussion :)