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"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
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The name Elbereth refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Elbereth (disambiguation).
NOLANOS - La Dama de las Estrellas.jpg
"La Dama de las Estrellas" by NOLANOS
Biographical Information
Other namesElbereth Gilthoniel (S)
"The Kindler", "Lady of the Stars", "Queen of the Stars", "Snow-white", "Star-queen", "Star-kindler"
TitlesQueen of the Valar,
PositionThe stars
LocationIlmarin, Taniquetil
AffiliationIlmarë and Olórin
Physical Description
GalleryImages of Varda
"O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In Windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!
Hymn to Elbereth

Varda Elentári (Q, pron. N [ˈvarda ˌelenˈtaːri], V [ˈβarda ˌelenˈtaːri]), known in Sindarin as Elbereth Gilthoniel (pron. [ˈelbereθ ɡilˈθonjel]), was a Valië, one of the Aratar, the wife of Manwë and Queen of the Valar.

Varda knows all the regions of and rejoices in light. She was said to be too beautiful for words as within her face radiated the light of Ilúvatar. Elves love and revere her most of all the Valar, and they call upon her in their hours of deepest darkness.[1] She appeared in shining white fana in visions to the Elves of Middle-earth, and thus was called Fanuilos (Snow-white).[2]

Her handmaiden is Ilmarë, a Chief of the Maiar but Olórin also served her.[3]



Ted Nasmith - Varda and Manwë in Valinor

When Melkor first began to create his discord, Varda saw his mind, and despised him. Melkor feared and hated Varda the most out of the Valar. In the beginning Melkor had been unable to control light, which Varda was most associated with. When Manwë contested with him for Arda, Varda came from the deeps of Eä to his side.[1] The Maiar Ilmarë and Olorin were affiliated with her.

During the Spring of Arda, she filled the Two Lamps with light.[4] After their destruction at the hands of Melkor, Varda and the rest of the Ainur forsook the outer lands and removed to Aman.

She resided with Manwë in Ilmarin and aids him in the rule of Arda. With her, Manwë sees beyond all eyes, through mist and darkness, and with him, Varda can hear all voices from every corner of the world.[1] In Valinor she kept the dews of the Two Trees in the Wells of Varda. When Mandos foretold of the coming of the Elves and how they would always look to Varda in reverence, she took it upon herself to set new stars for the Elves to see when they awakened. She created the newer stars with the dews from the vats of Telperion, the first of the Two Trees, in preparation for Awakening of the Elves. The set of stars she made was known as the Sickle of the Valar. This was said to be the greatest labour of the Valar since the beginning of time, and when the Elves awoke in Middle-earth they beheld first the stars which Varda had made. For this, Varda is the Vala most loved and revered by the Elves.[5][1]

She also hallowed the Silmarils of Fëanor when he created them, so that any being or creature of evil could never handle them without being burned.[6] After the death of the Two Trees, Varda was tasked once again with filling the world with a new light. Therefore she took the remaining flower of Telperion and the fruit of Laurelin and placed them in vessels made by Aulë. Varda bequeathed to them such light and power that they outshone the ancient stars. In doing so, she established the courses of the Sun and Moon.[7] Initially she purposed the Sun and the Moon to be in the sky together, but Irmo and Estë pointed out that she had deprived the world of night-time and the stars, which was still necessary for rest and sleep. Therefore Varda changed her counsel and altered the courses of the Sun so that it should spend a certain time hidden, allowing for the stars to be seen again. At the end of the First Age, she placed Eärendil as a star in the sky.[8]

In Middle-earth, she was revered by the Elves who called her name and sung hymns to her (such as the Elven Hymn to Elbereth) and perhaps answered to prayers, even to Samwise Gamgee.[9] The very mention of her name was said to be deadly to evil spirits, such as when Frodo uttered the name in the presence of the Morgul Lord.


Varda is a Quenya name,[10] meaning "sublime" or "lofty", from Primitive Quendian baradâ, merged with barathî.[source?] In Telerin, this name is translated as Baradis.

In Sindarin, Varda is called Elbereth, which derives from elen-bereth meaning "star-queen" and represents evolution of Primitive Quendian *elen-barathî (the final -i umlauted the word to berethi) > elemberethi > elbereth.[11]

All of these names come from the Root BARÁD/BARATH.[12]

In Adûnaic, Varda's name is adapted rather than translated, becoming Avradî.

Varda's titles and epithets include The Kindler, Lady of the Stars, Queen of the Stars, and Snow-white. In Quenya these are Elentári "Star-queen", Tintallë "Star-kindler", and Airë Tári the "holy queen"[13], in Sindarin Gilthoniel (Starkindler) and Fanuilos (Ever-white), and in Adûnaic Gimilnitîr "starkindler".

Some older forms of her names are Bredhil, Bridhil, Timbridhil, Tinwetári[14] and Baráda.[15]



Other versions of the legendarium

In Tolkien's early Qenya, Vard- was a root referring to royalty. Related words were vardar "king" and vardo "prince"; they do not appear in the later inception of Quenya.


The Valar, being divine beings below the ultimate Creator, Ilúvatar, are thought of as being the Middle-earth equivalent of saints and angels; it has therefore been suggested that Varda, in her role as the most loved and prayed-to Vala, may be an equivalent of the Virgin Mary in Tolkien's own Catholic faith. Another suggestion is the goddess of wisdom, Sophia, also associated with the stars.[16]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Valar"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Donald Swann, The Road Goes Ever On, "A Elbereth Gilthoniel", p. 74
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Maiar"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Beginning of Days"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Shelob's Lair"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Qenya Noun Structure", in Parma Eldalamberon XXI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Patrick H. Wynne and Arden R. Smith), p. 82
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien and Donald Swann, The Road Goes Ever On, "A Elbereth Gilthoniel"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", p. 351
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor", pp. 363-4 (note 45)
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "Index"
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "BARAT"
  16. Rose Thomas, "Is Varda the Wisdom of Eru?", in Amon Hen 245, pp. 15-6