In the book of Lost Tales (I think) there was a passage about the Valar receiving three mysterious beings who wound the world in the chains of time (I can't remember the exact passage or way of referring to it). I believe that it was implied that the Valar were then bound to the earth (except Manwë) and would age in the manner of the children of Ilúvatar.

Do the Valar/Maiar age? (Physically I mean).

PS: I apologise if I got stuff wrong here, it's a while since I read The History of Middle-earth.

2 Answers 2


The Ainur in Arda (i.e Valar and Maiar) are bound within the world until its end, per the Ainulindale:

But this condition Ilúvatar made, or it is the necessity of their love, that their power should thenceforward be contained and bounded in the World, to be within it for ever, until it is complete, so that they are its life and it is theirs.

However, they don't have physical bodies:

...their shape comes of their knowledge of the visible World, rather than of the World itself; and they need it not...

So it's incorrect to speak of them physically aging and the answer to your question is therefore "no".

The exception to this rule is, of course, the Istari, who were bound in physical bodies (that could even be killed) as part of their mission; Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age notes:

In the likeness of Men they appeared, old but vigorous, and they changed little with the years, and aged but slowly, though great cares lay on them...

Otherwise it's certainly true that they can spiritually age, however, and Tolkien makes occasional reference to this kind of aging for the Elves too, commonly using the word "weary" to represent it. See for example the story of Miriel in the Silmarillion. The Second Prophecy of Mandos (omitted from the published Silmarillion on the basis of evidence in the Valaquenta) contains a reference to the Valar growing weary at the end of the world.


Jimmy nailed the in-universe rationale with his answer, but from a scientific standpoint essentially they would age in a manner that is so slow by our reckoning it may as well not be aging.

Planets age, stars age, galaxies age, even the Universe itself ages in a physical manner - just not a relative one that we can perceive. Yes, we can say that a planet is XXX billion years old, but no human can really perceive that amount of time... it's just a number we put on things too big for us to comprehend. All energy & matter ages, and that would include energy-based beings as well.

  • "All energy ages"? I would say no: time-evolution is a unitary operator, i.e. it basically represents just a change of the basis from which we observe a system. The only thing concerned with actual aging is entropy of a statistical system. That is closely related to information, which indeed would seem the only reasonable sense in which you could possibly apply physics to something so obviously supernatural as the Ainur. Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 0:20
  • It would be more accurate to say that all energy "decays", which is basically aging. The time involved may be measured in milliseconds or millenia, but at some point everything in the universe "dies". If anything exists - even spiritual beings - they exist as a form of energy or matter, both of which will decay and cease to exist at some point in time.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 17:12
  • 1
    My point is, precisely this does not happen: energy (or, equivalently, mass) is conserved, it does never decay at all for all we know about physics. Only, entropy increases, rendering the energy ever less "useful". — Anyway, this kind of discussion only makes sense where you can apply scientific reasoning, which is not the case for the Valar IMO. Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 2:02
  • You're probably right on both points. Either way, it's a fun discussion. :)
    – Omegacron
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 13:34

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