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Is the Timeless Void the same as the Void outside Eru's Timeless Hall before the creation of Eä? Or are they connected as a continuous empty Space?

In the Silmarillion, it is said that Valar thrust Morgoth -

through the Door of Night beyond the Walls of the World, into the Timeless Void

I've always had the impression that Ainur who had entered can't leave Eä, and I imagine Eru's Hall is in another dimension, but so far I only found:

Death is their[Men's] fate, the gift of Ilúvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers[Valar] shall envy
-Of the Beginning of Days

Morgoth however had gone beyond the Walls and come back:

And he passed therefore over the Walls of the Night with his host, and came to Middle-earth far in the north.

I would assume the other Valar could also travel beyond the Walls of the World - even Earendil, who had chosen the fate of the Eldar, passed through the Door of Night, and became Venus in the sky. So I guess this particular part of Timeless Void at least is still part of Eä, if only Men can leave it after death.

Any ideas?

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    There's also the prophecy of the Dagor Dagorath, which says that Morgoth will eventually find a way back over the Walls again.
    – Annatar
    Sep 15, 2021 at 8:09
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    Everywhere and nowhere. Eä is the Universe. Everything else is without time or space. It's like asking a Christian where Hell is, or an astrophysicist what happened before the Big Bang.
    – OrangeDog
    Sep 15, 2021 at 8:11
  • @OrangeDog Sorry, I just changed the title, as it wasn't what I meant to ask.
    – Eugene
    Sep 15, 2021 at 10:29
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    @PaulD.Waite In that case, Eru would not be "beyond Ea", rather at some corner of Ea, in the same dimension with his Children. Finrod and Andreth's discussion on how the painter [Eru] would enter his painting would mean nothing -- hence the question.
    – Eugene
    Sep 17, 2021 at 9:15
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    @PaulD.Waite Oops!
    – Eugene
    Sep 17, 2021 at 11:04

1 Answer 1

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The Void is the state of "Not-being", and is not a physical space. That said only Eru could have done this, so it's possible that Morgoth being sent there was a misconception.

In the late 1950s, Tolkien wrote an essay titled "Notes on the Motives in the Silmarillion", largely focused on comparing and contrasting the natures of Morgoth and Sauron. (According to Christopher Tolkien, "this is the most comprehensive account that my father wrote of how, in his later years, he had come to “interpret” the nature of Evil in his mythology".)

In the third section of the essay, Tolkien discusses the nature of Morgoth's defeat and punishment.

The war was successful, and ruin was limited to the small (if beautiful) region of Beleriand. Morgoth was thus actually made captive in physical form and in that form taken as a mere criminal to Aman and delivered to Námo Mandos as judge - and executioner. He was judged, and eventually taken out of the Blessed Realm and executed: that is killed like one of the Incarnates. It was then made plain (though it must have been understood beforehand by Manwë and Námo) that, though he had 'disseminated' his power (his evil and possessive and rebellious will) far and wide into the matter of Arda, he had lost direct control of this, and all that 'he', as a surviving remnant of integral being, retained as 'himself' and under control was the terribly shrunken and reduced spirit that inhabited his self-imposed (but now beloved) body. When that body was destroyed he was weak and utterly 'houseless', and for that time at a loss and 'unanchored' as it were. We read that he was then thrust out into the Void. That should mean that he was put outside Time and Space, outside Ëa altogether; but if that were so this would imply a direct intervention of Eru (with or without supplication of the Valar). It may however refer inaccurately* to the extrusion or flight of his spirit from Arda.

* [footnote to the text] Since the minds of Men (and even of the Elves) were inclined to confuse the 'Void', as a conception of the state of Not-being, outside Creation or Ea, with the conception of vast spaces within Ëa, especially those conceived to lie all about the enisled 'Kingdom of Arda' (which we should probably call the Solar System).
Morgoth's Ring - "Myths Transformed"

(In an editorial footnote, Christopher Tolkien clarifies that when J.R.R. Tolkien said "We read that he was then thrust out into the Void.", he was referring to the passage "But Morgoth himself the Gods thrust through the Door of Night into the Timeless Void, beyond the Walls of the World'.")

To summarize:

  • The Void means the state of Not-being, outside of the created universe. Morgoth being cast into here would have been beyond the Valar's power and would have required direct intervention by Eru.
  • Elves and Men often incorrectly confuse the void with outer space.
  • When the Silmarillion says that the Valar cast Morgoth into the void, it either means that Eru intervened and cast Morgoth into Not-being, or it means that the Valar cast Morgoth off-planet.

It should also be noted that Tolkien's conception of Middle-earth cosmology changed a lot over the years, and the above answer reflects his final view. For more information about Tolkien's evolving ideas on this topic, I'd refer you mainly to "The Ambarkanta" from The Shaping of Middle-earth and Christopher's commentary on "Ainulindalë" from Morgoth's Ring.

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  • He's also bound with the chain Angainor, so it's not as if he can simply walk back in to Arda.
    – Spencer
    Sep 15, 2021 at 9:40
  • The footnote is interesting. Are there more text in the Legendarium that shows such confusion among Men?
    – Eugene
    Sep 15, 2021 at 10:38
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    @Eugene Your question ;)
    – Wade
    Sep 15, 2021 at 13:09
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    I would count it as one of late non-canon ideas of Tolkien.
    – Mithoron
    Sep 15, 2021 at 13:28
  • @Mithoron - Other than the text itself, the only time Tolkien has written about the cosmology was way back in the 1930s, which I would call even less canon than this. It's hard to really put a "canon" label on anything outside of LotR, but this is what I'd say is "the most canon" for this, and it's written with specific reference to the text OP is asking about.
    – ibid
    Sep 15, 2021 at 15:57

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