Forum: Barrabard

Discussing: Individual Worship

Individual Worship

Can anyone point me towards fanfics / canon information on individual worship, mainly Mannish? Yes, I know that some Kindreds had particular patrons among the Valar--Elbereth and Yavanna for the Elves, Aulë of course for the Dwarves, Yavanna for the Ents and Hobbits (whether or not most of the latter were consciously aware of it), Oromë (or Béma for the Rohirrim) for warriors. And I know that certain individuals call on particular Valar, such as Frodo calling on Elbereth in Mordor. I haven't forgotten about the Standing Silence, either., or certain religious holidays.

What I need answers for are questions like these: Would a noble Dúnedan have a private altar to a Vala / Valar in his/her rooms? If there is such an altar, what would most likely be on it? Would one be apt to choose a patron Vala? Why or why not?

Thanks in advance for your help!--Barra



Re: Individual Worship

What canon information we have on individual worship is given in the Silmarillion, the Unfinished Tales, Morgoth's Ring and the Letters of JRR Tolkien.
From the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales we know there was a hallowed place on Meneltarma in Númenor where prayers and thanksgivings were given to Eru on holidays (thrice a year, if I remember correctly), on which were no buildings or altars. In the days of Ar-Pharazôn, he had erected a temple to Melkor, as a result of Sauron's heavy influence on him which made him (and many others) believe that Melkor was the almighty God who would give them eternal life. Melkor was worshiped and human sacrifices were offered to him. In Morgoth's Ring there's a tale which recounts how Melkor had come to the newly-awakened Men in the East, before their migration into Beleriand, promising them a good deal of wonderful things if they worshiped him. They did, and it ended badly for them. And that's all we have on actual worshiping.

To quote Tolkien:

There are thus no temples or 'churches' or fanes in this 'world' among 'good' peoples. They had little or no 'religion' in the sense of worship. For help they may call on a Vala (as Elbereth), as a Catholic might on a Saint, though no doubt knowing in theory as well as he that the power of the Vala was limited and derivative. But this is a 'primitive age': and these folk may be said to view the Valar as children view their parents or immediate adult superiors, and though they know they are subjects of the King he does not live in their country nor have there any dwelling. I do not think Hobbits practised any form of worship or prayer (unless through exceptional contact with Elves). The Númenóreans (and others of that branch of Humanity, that fought against Morgoth, even if they elected to remain in Middle-earth and did not go to Númenor: such as the Rohirrim) were pure monotheists. But there was no temple in Númenor (until Sauron introduced the cult of Morgoth). The top of the Mountain, the Meneltarma or Pillar of Heaven, was dedicated to Eru, the One, and there at any time privately, and at certain times publicly, God was invoked, praised, and adored: an imitation of the Valar and the Mountain of Aman. But Numenor fell and was destroyed and the Mountain engulfed, and there was no substitute. Among the exiles, remnants of the Faithful who had not adopted the false religion nor taken pan in the rebellion, religion as divine worship (though perhaps not as philosophy and metaphysics) seems to have played a small part; though a glimpse of it is caught in Faramir's remark on 'grace at meat' Vol. II p. 285.
         (The Letters of JRR Tolkien, Letter #153, dated September 1954)

Given all that, personally, I don't think people would be likely to have altars, private or otherwise.

On patron Valar, I guess it would depend on one's profession. We do know that mariners, for example, called on Uinen (she's not a Vala, but still). Perhaps, similarly, smiths would call on Aulë, and healers would call on Estë. But that's just my personal guess.



In Forums

Discussion Info

Intended for: General Audience

We're sorry. This is a closed discussion. Content is available only to invited readers.

« Back to Barrabard