From the point of view of the reader, we’re made aware (via The Silmarillion mostly) about the different powers in Middle-earth and the creation of Arda. For the reader there’s Eru, the Valar and the Maiar.

The Quenya names seem to imply that Elves are aware of their existence and their role to some extend but my question is:

To what extend is each of the races aware of the existence and meaning of the different deities and specially Ilúvatar. Do the Elves recognise and know him as all powerful, omniscient creator of the world? Are Men or Hobbits even aware of his existence? What about Valar? Is there any worshipping going on?

  • The Númenóreans had some form of Ilúvatar worship, but there isn’t really thing other than that.
    – Neithan
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 22:32

2 Answers 2


There are a few elves living at the end of the Third Age who used to live with the Valar, so the Elves, at least the "higher" elves; those descended from Thingol, or the Noldor, know second-hand about the Valar. They have no reason to doubt, but nothing one might call "worship" is described.

The "higher" humans; the Numenorians, and the others who lived closely with the Elves, know what the Elves told them, and we know the Numenorians worshiped Illuvatar, with a sacred place to which the first fruits were offered. There is no evidence that any kind of worship happened in Gondor, or Rohan.

We are told the dwarfs worshiped Aule, their creator, and patron of the arts of making that they so loved, we are not how they worshiped, or how they got their knowledge about Aule, or any other member of the Valar.

I don't think there is any evidence that hobbits had any religious organization. I don't know that hobbits knew any of the old stories, except for Bilbo, because he learned them in Rivendell.

When the Numenorians went conquering, they were worshiped by some of the conquered. I think what little we are told of the people who live 'off the map' suggests that they knew nothing at all about the Valar, except for those who worshiped Sauron.

  • There is some evidence of worship among the Gondorians, as explained in the footnote of this answer. Granted, you could argue that it's not directed at the Valar specifically, since it doesn't mention them by name, but given the previous religious history of the Númenóreans it seems like a reasonable assumption.
    – MJ713
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 23:27
  • Maybe. Faramir explains it not in terms of remembering gods, but remembering Numenor, and Elves. I know that the Tolkien gateway explains that Elvenhome does include Aman, but Faramir might only be referring to Tol Erresea, because elves there did go back and froth to Numenor; elves in Valinor proper did not.
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 0:09

They were aware of them, but they didn't have a major effect on their lives

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.

Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #153

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