The genealogy of the Ainur. The God-spirits of Middle-Earth.

Much of this information comes from the MERP expansion of the fandom by  Iron Crown Enterprises and Tolkien Enterprises.
Hope you like it.

The Ainur, or “Holy Ones,” were the first beings created by Eru, the one God. According to the Elda tale known as the Ainulindalë, their spirits predated the creation of Ea, “The World that Is.” They came into Existence in the very Beginning. Eru’s thought gave birth to two groups of Ainur: the exalted Valar (Q. “Powers”) and their lesser but more numerous brethren, the Maiar (Q. “Hands” or “Beautiful Ones”). Together, these immortal ser- vants form a community borne out of Eru’s conception, a community entrusted with the both the making and guardianship of Arda, “the Place.” (Endor, “Middle-earth,” is the central continent in Arda.) Eru (who the Eldar call “Iluvatar”) kindled the Ainur with the Flame Imperishable, the Secret Fire, giving the Holy Ones Being and Vision. After sending the Flame to burn at the heart of Ea, the One spoke to the Ainur. He imparted themes of music and the Ainur sang. They sang separately at first, but Eru eventually gathered them in the Timeless Halls and instilled in them a grand theme. This theme guided the Ainur into harmony and gave birth to the Great Music. The Ainu chorus sang the Great Music, and the pattern and being of all that exists was born. Ea—the World and the Heavens—grew out of the Song, as did Fate.

Silmarillion Project Part 1: “Ainulindalë - The Music of the Ainur”

This is the beginning of a side project I’ve been working on, where each week I’ll be posting an illustration that corresponds with a different chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion.  

The Music of the Ainur is essentially the beginning of Tolkien’s creation myth, where the Earth is slowly formed into being by ethereal song. Nothing too fancy just yet, but tune in next week as things heat up!


The History of Middle Earth (½) Legends – Ainulindalë

In the midst of this strife, whereat the halls of Ilúvatar shook and a tremor ran out into the silences yet unmoved, Ilúvatar arose a third time, and his face was terrible to behold. Then he raised up both his hands, and in one chord, deeper than the Abyss, higher than the Firmament, piercing as the light of the eye of Ilúvatar, the Music ceased.

Then Ilúvatar spoke, and he said: ‘Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung and played, lo! I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.’

Then the Ainur were afraid, and they did not yet comprehend the words that were said to them; and Melkor was filled with shame, of which came secret anger. But Ilúvatar arose in splendour, and he went forth from the fair regions that he had made for the Ainur; and the Ainur followed him.

But when they were come into the Void, Ilúvatar said to them: 'Behold your Music!’ And he showed to them a vision, giving to them sight where before was only hearing; and they saw a new World made visible before them, and it was globed amid the Void, and it was sustained therein, but was not of it. And as they looked and wondered this World began to unfold its history, and it seemed to them that it lived and grew.

What Would the Music of the Ainur Sound Like?

Oh wow, what an interesting question… I don’t think there’s one song that could really capture the Music of the Ainur, but below I’ve listed a few (ha) songs that I could imagine being part of it:

If anybody else wants to add their own thoughts/sons, feel free! (But add them as reblogs, don’t send them to my inbox, I’ll never get to them!)

It’s the first week of the Silmarillion read-along and as a companion to the original text I strongly recommend Evan Palmer’s Ainulindalë!

The art is beautiful!! I hope he’s still selling the booklet.

Also, if you enjoy music and want to know more about the Music of the Ainur, I suggest reading this paper by Tobias Escher. He goes into detail about what it would’ve sounded like!

Morgoth's Motivation

In “Myths Transformed” Tolkien writes a fascinating essay on the differences in Morgoth and Sauron’s motives. Within this essay, Tolkien says that 

When Melkor was confronted by the existence of other inhabitants of Arda, with other wills and intelligences, he was enraged by the mere fact of their existence, and his only notion of dealing with them was by physical force, or the fear of it. His sole ultimate object was their destruction.

And later he adds:

This was sheer nihilism, and negation its one ultimate object: Morgoth would no doubt, if he had been victorious, have ultimately destroyed even his own ‘creatures’, such as the Orcs, when they had served his sole purpose in using them: the destruction of Elves and Men. Melkor’s final impotence and despair lay in this: that whereas the Valar… could still love 'Arda Marred’, that is Arda with a Melkor-ingredient… Melkor could do nothing with Arda, which was not from his own mind and was interwoven with the work and thoughts of others.

So, basically, Tolkien says that Morgoth’s main motivation was to destroy Arda (especially the elves and men) because they weren’t his. Which brings us back to the Ainulindale, where it’s said of Melkor “He had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own”, and when he introduced discord into the Music of the Ainur, he did so “for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself.” While Morgoth’s motivations after the creation of Arda were fueled by frustration and envy, the earliest roots of his evil were in greed and pride (always Tolkien’s two greatest sins.)

With this in mind, your question was whether or not things would have turned out differently if somehow Morgoth had managed to obtain the Imperishable Flame, and had the ability to create things of his own. I think that, while the details might have differed a bit, the heart of Morgoth and his motivations wouldn’t have changed much, because of what Iluvatar said to Morgoth after the discord:

Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Iluvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.

I think that this speech is the real turning point for Morgoth (or rather, the point of no return), because what Iluvatar is basically saying is that even if Morgoth was able to make something different from Iluvatar’s plans, it would still be part of Iluvatar’s plan. That everything that would ever exist in Arda would have its “uttmost source” in Iluvatar. That Morgoth would never, no matter what, be able to create something wholly his own. And I think this was completely intolerable for Morgoth, and set him on his path of destruction, rather of creation (because keep in mind that, up until this point, he was at least trying to create - he didn’t want to stop the Music, just change it.) Poor Morgoth was doomed, as Tolkien says in “Myths Transformed”:

Even left alone he could only have gone raging on till all was leveled again into a formless chaos. And yet even so he would have been defeated, because it would still have 'existed’, independent of his own mind, and a world in potential.

SOURCES: The Silmarillion, The Histories of Middle Earth vol. 10 (“Myths Transformed”)