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.