Tolkien Gateway

Spirits

The name Spirit refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Spirit (disambiguation).

Spirits refers to beings whose nature in essence were of non-corporeality, and generally dwell in the Unseen.

Ilúvatar creates spirits from nothing through the Flame Imperishable.[1]

[edit] Groups

[edit] Ainur

Before , Eru created the spirits known as the Ainur, the Holy Ones. The greater were called Valar and the lesser Maiar.[2]

Some of the spirits were associated with a certain element, or physical phenomenon:

  • Air spirits: Spirits shaped like hawks and eagles delivered messages to Manwë as he sat in his throne in Ilmarin upon Taniquetil.[3]
  • Fire spirits: The Maia Arien is said to have been "from the beginning a spirit of fire".[4] Melkor seduced some of the fire spirits, which became known as the Balrogs.[5]
  • Water spirits: A host of spirits followed Ulmo to maintain the waters of Arda, of whom the Maiar Ossë and Uinen were the greatest.[6] Perhaps Salmar, and Goldberry and the River-woman were such water spirits.
  • Shadow spirits: It is told that Morgoth sent "spirits of shadow" against Tilion, as he hated the light of the Sun and Moon.[4]

[edit] Evil spirits

All Ainur originally adhered to Eru, but the Vala Melkor became corrupted and fell from the grace of Eru.[2] Melkor "gathered to himself spirits out of the voids of Eä that he had perverted to his service", and these became known as the Úmaiar or demons.[7] The "spirits of shadow" mentioned above were probably among these.

In the late Third Age, spirits of "evil vigilance" are said to have abode in the Two Watchers.[8] The Barrow-wights are furthermore said to be evil spirits who had entered in deserted mounds, stirring the bones of the dead.[9]

[edit] Other

Tom Bombadil was probably a "spirit" (of some sorts) of the earth.[10] Goldberry and the River-woman would perhaps belong to such an order.[11]

The fëar are the spirits (souls) that inhabit the bodies of the Children of Ilúvatar; Some fëar also, and "spirits from afar", were sent to inhabit the Ents.[12][13] Unbodied fëar, could be controlled by necromancy[14] (See also: undead).

[edit] Other names

In Quenya, a collective name for the spirits is ëalar.[15]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

In an early version of Tolkien's mythology, tiny, gleaming spirits appear dancing in a poem about Tavrobel.[16]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Account of the Valar and Maiar According to the Lore of the Eldar"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Beginning of Days"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Enemies"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Beginning of Days" ("Salmar came with [Ulmo] to Arda, [...] and Ossë and Uinen also, to whom he gave the government of the waves and the movements of the Inner Seas, and many other spirits beside.")
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman", pp. 53 (§17), 79 (commentary to §30)
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Tower of Cirith Ungol"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  10. Tolkien described Tom as "The spirit of the this earth made aware of itself": Letter to Nevill Coghill (Excerpt reproduced here
  11. Steuard Jensen, "What is Tom Bombadil? Viable Theories: A Nature Spirit?", Tolkien FAQ (accessed 20 October 2021)
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 247, (dated 20 September 1963)
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Aulë and Yavanna"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: Laws and Customs among the Eldar, Of Re-birth and Other Dooms of Those that go to Mandos", p. 224
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (I) The First Phase: 3. Of the Coming of the Elves", p. 165 (commentary on § 18)
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien; Christina Scull & Wayne G. Hammond (eds), The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "Once upon a Time and An Evening in Tavrobel", pp. 284-5>