'Valar' is the name given to the fourteen powerful spirits who took physical form and entered Arda after its creation to give order to the world and combat the evils of Melkor. They dwelt originally on the Isle of Almaren, but after its destruction long ages before the Awakening of the Elves they removed to Aman and there founded the realm of Valinor.
This table shows the fourteen Valar in 'due order' (i.e. in descending order of power). Names shown in bold indicate one of the eight Aratar, the mightiest of the Valar.
These are the names of the Valar as they were known to the Eldar in Valinor. In Middle-earth, they were known by other names of Sindarin origin; for example 'Elbereth' for Varda, or 'Araw' for Oromë. Their names among Men are said to be legion.
The Valar in the Beginning of Arda
The Valar were in origin the greatest of the Ainur who witnessed the Vision of Ilúvatar and so descended into Eä to fulfil the vision and create Arda. It seems that, in the first beginnings of the World, the four mightiest spirits came down into it; Manwë, Ulmo and Aulë to prepare it for the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar, and Melkor to claim it for his own domain.
There was conflict between Manwë and Melkor, and Manwë called many other spirits into the World to aid him in his struggle. Among these were the other Valar, and those of lesser order known as Maiar. Melkor then withdrew for a time from Arda to some other hidden place in the deeps of Eä.
In time, Manwë and his followers began to achieve their purpose, and make the World ready for the coming of the Children. Seeing this, Melkor grew jealous, and returned to do battle over the fate of Arda. The Earth then saw great upheaval as the rival powers struggled over its destiny (it is thought that the Misty Mountains were raised at this time). Slowly, though, and with great hardship, the Valar succeeded in shaping the World, although everything they created was in some way marred by Melkor.
The Nature of the Valar
Like the Elves, those Valar who chose to enter the World at its beginning are bound to it until it reaches its destined end; they may not return to the Timeless Halls of Ilúvatar.
As spirits, the Valar have no fixed physical form, although they often took the shapes of the Children of Ilúvatar. They could, though, assume any form they chose, or cast aside their shape altogether and travel formless and invisible through Arda.
The Fifteenth Vala
In the distant beginnings of the World, there were fifteen Valar; Melkor was certainly the most powerful of the all the spirits that descended into Arda, and was said to have been the 'brother' of Manwë. However, due to his corrupt nature, he was apparently expelled from the order. We are told in the Valaquenta that he is "...counted no longer among the Valar...".
Adûnakhôr, Aerandir, Ainur, Aiwendil, Alatar, Alcarondas, Aldaron, Aldëa, Almaren, Aman, Amandil, Anar, Ancalagon, Ancient West, Angainor, [See the full list...]
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