In the beginning there was Eru – The One.
He imagined a great world but knew he could not create it by himself. So he created a great choir of greater (Valar) and lesser (Maia) beings to sing with him to create this world.
At first he gave them a simple theme for them to improvise around … say something like a C-major arpeggio. And the music was beautiful and Eru was pleased with his jam session. But then something discordant started to creep into the music … say something like the Imperial March from ”Star Wars”. So Eru called the session to a halt and asked who was responsible for bringing discord to his harmony.
“It was me,” said one of the Valar named Melkor. “I started to find your theme boring so I started to create one of my own.” And Melkor had his supporters within both the Valar and the Maia. Like a disgruntled record producer or conductor Eru shook his head and said: “Let’s try it again folks, except this time try and keep with the theme, hmm?”
So they tried again, and again Melkor and his crew got bored and tried out their own theme, and again Eru called order. And they tried again, and the same thing happened.
After the third time Eru gave a bit of a sigh and said:
” I never told you why we were singing together … there’s the reason,” and he pointed to a newly formed world. “You may go and visit it if you like.” So many of the Valar and Maia went and visited this new world, and they came back saying: “It’s beautiful! But where’s the life?”
“Ah,” replied Eru. ” That’s only from the first run through. It was the second which created life. Now go and have another look.” So they did and came back saying: “Oh it’s wonderful, can we go and live there please?”
“Of course you can,” replied Eru. “Look there’s even a place called Valinor where you can make your home.”
“Fantastic!” they replied. ” But who can we share this with?”
“Ah,”said Eru. ” That would be the third run through. That time has yet to come. You will know when it happens, but until then please just be content with what is there already.” So many of the Valar and Maia, including Melkor , went down to Valinor and made it their home.
As a creation myth, you can spot the idea of Melkor, the fallen angel, a mile away … and never forget Tolkien converted to Catholicism.
But like most of his writing it really has its roots in pre-christian Scandinavian pagan beliefs. This is easily demonstrated by the term ”Middle Earth” which is a literal translation of the plane humans exist upon in this folklore. Above was Valhalla, home of the Gods, below a place curiously enough called Hel. l also like the idea of the choir to create the world and Melkor simply getting bored and wanting to try something else … a bit like a heavy metal drummer in a folk band.
However this is not meant to be a discussion on the Christian / Pagan interface, so on with the next chapter, The children of Illuvitar.