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Thread: The Ainur

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Is there actually a physical description of the Ainur in the Silmarillion (or anywhere else)?
I'm specifically after information about what Varda may have looked like, but I'd also be grateful for info on any of the Valar (particularly the Queens).
Hi Bramble. Welcome to Planet Tolkien.

I'm not sure whether there are any specific descriptions about the appearances of Varda in the Silmarillion, beyond she was supposed to be the most beautiful of the Valar. There is a section in Morgoth's Ring, however, taken from an early version of the Ainulindale in which the descriptions of certain Valar are more forthcoming. It is a long section so I will only write the relevant pieces.

From Morgoth's Ring
Varda was the Queen of the Valar, and the spouse of Manwe and her beauty was high and terrible and of great reverence......

In the land of the Valar i have seen Yavanna in the likeness of a Tree; and the beauty and majesty of that form could not be told in words, not unless all the things that grow in earth, from the least unto the greatest, should sing in choir together, making unto their queen an offering of song to be laid before the throne of Iluvatar

Sorry ,it's not a lot to go on. There are snippets like the above scattered throughout the books. I am experiencing a few logout problems at the moment though, so I don't have the time to track many of them down. I'll try to add a few once the problems get sorted out.
I think that Manw is described as having emerald eyes or something....Ulmo we have a full description of in the meeting of him and Tuor......Aul in my mind is kind of like the smith in The Belgariad...ermm....something with D....anyway....you know very muscular as a black smith and with some leather clothing....and golden hair....and a very childish but old face....Aul is the Vala I like the best....might be noticedTongue Smilie

Cant help you with anything else....sorry
Thank you both so much for the info, and for the welcome Happy Elf Smilie.
I don't have access to all of Tolkien's works (usual story...money's tight and all Tolkien books at the library have about 70 reserves on them). I can't find my notes right now, but I think I was able to find out that Yavanna was always dressed in green with golden dewdrops on her clothing. Also that Nienna wore a grey mantle. There was a little more, but the heat today has addled my brain.
I'll keep searching (for my notes as well as more information) Serching Smilie and check back often.
Thanks again!
Bramble, a friend of mine has LotR and Hobbit books on his computers as windows .doc file. If you give me your e-mail adress, i think i can get in touch with him and send the books to your e-mail. What do you think?
Thank so much, but I have LOTR, The Hobbit, Unfinished Tales and a couple of guides to Tolkien. I'm still waiting on The Silmarillion from the library, and will try to reserve each volume of Lost Tales. I can't believe how much stuff is actually in our library, or that it's all constantly on loan! Elf Rolling Eyes Smilie
Bramble, a friend of mine has LotR and Hobbit books on his computers as windows .doc file. If you give me your e-mail adress, i think i can get in touch with him and send the books to your e-mail. What do you think?
I think that is quite illegal as well as immoral. Moderator Smilie

I have recently had the pleasure of interviewing Manwe at his home on Oiolosse, and he told me the following about the Ainur. The Ainur are divided into Nine Grades, these being the Kalar, the Dilar, the Nornar, the Naiar, the Varyar, the Dagar, the Tirnar, the Ragar, and the Ranar. There are 300 quadrillion Ranar, 30 quadrillion Ragar, 3 quadrillion Tirnar,  300 trillion Dagar, 30 trillion Varyar, 3 trillion Naiar, 300 billion Nornar, 30 billion Dilar, and 3 billion Kalar.  A third of Ainur of all grades Fell with Melkor, and a third became neutral. Of the third who remained loyal to Eru, about two-thirds reside with Eru in the Halls of Time. The rest are scattered throughout Ea (the Universe). All of the neutral Ainur also reside within Ea. The evil Ainur are confined to the Void, but frequently make visits to Ea. A small fraction of Ainur are concerned with Arda (the Earth). Those known as the Valar are all Kalar; Melkor was the highest Kala. His business is all of Ea, but he spent some time here. Sauron was the highest Dila. Ungoliant was originally a Kala. Olorin was ostensibly a Norna (although Manwe thinks he is really the Primordial Child of Eru), and Curunir was a Norna. The Balrogs were Nornar and Naiar. Evil animals were inhabited by the lower grades. Every Orc was possessed by a Rana which shared their bodies with an evil soul of Arda. Manwe avers that during the Darkness of Ungoliant, all the evil souls left Mandos and followed Melkor to Angband, where he put them into orc-bodies. Boldogs were possessed by Ragar. The lesser Istari were all Naiar. The Kalar were called Valar on Arda, the lower eight grades were called Maiar. Manwe doubted if many mortals would be interested in this information, but gladly volunteered it. From Celeborn, sent from Valmar on 31 Narquelie, Sixth Age 2006. The blessings of Eru on you.

A description of the Ainur as they really are is provided by Tolkien on Page Seven of the Silmarillion.

Shelob and Ancalagon the Black were Dilar, Smaug was a Norna, Eonwe and Thorondor are Dilar.

Huan and Carcharoth were Dilar.

Vampires and Werewolves were Varyar and Dagar.

Old Man Willow was possessed by a Tirna, Tom Bombadil was a Dila in the service of Yavanna, the Nazgul were possessed by Nornar, the Trolls were possessed by Ranar, the Ologhai by Ragar.

Goldberry is a Raga in the service of Ulmo. The Mouth of Sauron was possessed by a Naia.

The fair Melian was a Dila.

When the Last Pit was uncovered, Morgoth killed his hostage, a Rana woman in the service of Manwe. Manwe would not give me her name.

The Barrow-Wights were corpses possessed by Tirnar.