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Eru Illuvatar and the Ainur express 'magic,' or their godly powers, through the usage of song and words. Is the magic we see in Middle-Earth a translation of Eru's language, or is it vaguely something else that is entirely unexplained?

Update with examples of spoken spells

  • Arwen’s spell at the ford of the Bruinen was in Sindarin: “Waters of the Misty Mountains / listen to the great word; / flow waters of Loudwater / against the Ringwraiths!” Of course, this wasn’t part of the book, so it was designed specifically for the movie. I’m assuming the choice to use Sindarin was meant to reflect Arwen’s largely Sindarin heritage.
  • Elrond’s healing “spell” for Frodo (if you consider that a spell) was also in Sindarin: “Frodo, hear my voice, come back to [the] light.”
  • In the movie, Saruman uses a spell to create a storm on Caradhras. In Quenya, he says: “Wake up cruel Redhorn! May your blood-stained horn shall fall upon the enemy-heads.”
  • Gandalf’s answering spell on Caradhras was in Sindarin: “Sleep Caradhras, be still, lie still, hold [your] wrath.” Why they chose to have Saruman speaking in Quenya, and Gandalf in Sindarin, I don’t know. Neither of these spells appear in the books.
  • Gandalf does use a spell on Caradhras, and after coming back down the mountain in the books to start a fire. He says “Fire for saving us!” and later uses it again, adding “Fire against the wolf-host!” Both spells are in Sindarin.
  • Gandalf uses two spells when trying to open the Doors of Durin. One is in Quenya (“Gate of Elves listen to my word, Threshold of Dwarves!”), and another in Sindarin (“Gate of the Elves open now for me. Doorway of the Dwarf-folk listen to the word of my tongue.”) The Sindarin spell was part of the book, and it’s mentioned that he said “other spells”, though the exact languages aren’t specified.
  • In Shelob’s lair, Frodo calls out in Quenya, saying “Hail Eärendil brightest of the Stars!” This might be considered a spell, since it certainly had a sort of “magical” effect.
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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Can you add some references to be clear what you're talking about? Which uses of magic in particular? (Presumably something the Istari do?) I'm also not sure you can talk about Eru's influences as "magic;" would you say that the Christian God does "magic?"
    – DavidW
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 21:00
  • Hello, I updated the question with some examples. 'Magic,' is in quotations to signify that 'magic' is not really the correct term, but the term that illustrates what I'm referring to.
    – Jack
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 21:37
  • We're you inspired by youtu.be/oU0saLv-2LQ, by any chance? If not, you may enjoy that series of videos :-) Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 22:32
  • Gah, "Were", not "We're". Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 2:05

1 Answer 1

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Answered prior to the edit of the question.

We don't know. All we know about the Valar, and their language, is what they've explained to the Elves, reported by them in Quenya -- explained in terms the Elves can understand.

From the often-reliable Tolkien Gateway: Translations from the Elvish

We know it as The Silmarillion, as published and then more specifically and temporally from HoMe.

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    Technically, we know a smattering of the language of the Valar, but it's not clear that's something they brought with them to Eä. I imagine there was no need for spoken language outside of Eä, and the Valar simply decided to have a language (like what they saw the Children of Eru would speak) once they chose similar bodies for themselves.
    – chepner
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 21:43
  • The dialog between Aragorn and the Master of the Houses of Healing gives the name of "kingsfoil" in "Valinorian", but doe not say that is the "language of Eru" Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 22:21
  • @chepner One of the HoME works talks about various languages attributed to individual Valar (more likely their Maia followers). In this framework, Quenya was descended from "Oromëan" since it was Oromë who first came across the Elves at Cuiviénen and presumably taught them to speak.
    – Spencer
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 22:45
  • @DavidSiegel The "Valinorean" of the herb-master is Quenya (elfdict.com/w/asea_aranion?include_old=1), not Valarin. Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 21:25
  • @Spencer That's one of the earlier abandoned ideas. Later texts do not agree with it.
    – Eugene
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 6:32

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