Arda's cosmology before the Downfall of Númenor

This is an overview of the Cosmology of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. Each entry is followed by any alternate names, any roughly corresponding primary world name in parentheses, and a brief description. A question mark after the primary world name indicates that the identification may be partially speculative or disputed.

  • Timeless Halls, (Heaven) - The home of Eru (God) outside of Time. They are similar to Heaven in that they exist outside the boundaries of the universe and in that they do not have a physical form. It is unknown whether they are the final destination of the souls of Men. This is a distinct possibility, however. In fact, it is confirmed in the tale of Adanel that Men return to Eru, but it is questionable that this tale can be considered canon, although Christopher Tolkien once considered putting it in the appendices of the Silmarillion.
  • The Void, Avakúma, Kúma, the Outer Dark, the Eldest Dark, the Everlasting Dark - An abstract, uninhabited region of nothingness described as existing outside the Timeless Halls, Arda, and all of Eä. It is possible that the Void outside of Eä and the one surrounding Arda were different, but this is not clearly defined. No being in the Void can use any power they possess within the Void. Melkor was cast into The Void after the War of Wrath, but legend predicts his return to the world before the end, in Dagor Dagorath.
  • , (the Universe) - is the Quenya name for the universe, as a realization of the vision of the Ainur. The word comes from the Quenya word for to be. Thus, Eä is the World that Is, as distinguished from the World that Is Not. It may thus be assumed that everything outside Eä, including the Timeless Halls of Ilúvatar, has no material form. The Ainur, angelic beings from the Timeless Halls beyond Eä, refer to it as "the Little Kingdom". This refers to the fact that within the mind of Eru Ilúvatar (God), all creation that humans can see is really just a tiny thing in comparison. was the word spoken by Eru Ilúvatar by which he brought the universe into actuality.
    • Arda, Ilu - See Arda. The world, including everything in the skies around it.
      • Vaiya, Ekkaia, the Enfolding Ocean, the Encircling Sea, (Outer space) - A dark sea that surrounds the world before the cataclysm at the end of the Second Age. Vaiya flows completely around the world, forming a sea below it and a form of air above it. Arda is described as floating on Vaiya, like a ship on a sea. Ulmo, the Lord of Waters, dwells in Vaiya, below the roots of Arda. Vaiya is described as extremely cold. Where its waters meet the waters of Belegaer in the northwest of Middle-earth, a chasm of ice is formed, the Helcaraxë. Vaiya cannot support any ships except the boats of Ulmo; the ships of the Númenóreans that tried to sail on it sank, drowning the sailors. After Arda was made round, Vaiya apparently disappeared, although it may have been changed into the upper atmosphere of the world.
        • Ilmen, (the Solar system) - A region of clean air pervaded by light before the cataclysm at the end of the Second Age. The stars and other celestial bodies are found in this region. Tolkien likely derived its name from ilma, the Finnish word for air. The Moon passes through Ilmen on its way around the world, plunging down the Chasm of Ilmen on its way back.
          • Alcarinque, Morwen[1], Silindo, (Jupiter?)[2]
          • Anor, Ur[3], (the Sun)[4] See Sun.
          • Borgil, (Aldebaran?)[5]
          • Earendil’s Star, Gil-Amdir[7], Gil-Estel[8], Gil-Oresetel, Gil-Orrain, (Venus)[9]
          • Eksiqilta, Ekta-, (Orion’s Belt)[10]
          • Helluin, Gil[11], Nielluin, Nierninwa, (Sirius)[12]
          • Ithil, Silmo[13], (the Moon)[14] See Moon.
          • Lumbar, (Saturn?)[6]
          • Menelvagor, Daimord[15], Menelmacar, Mordo[16], Swordsman of the Sky, Taimavar, Taimondo, Telimbektar, Telimektar, Telumehtar, (Orion)[17] - A constellation meant to represent Túrin Turambar and his eventual return to defeat Melkor in The Last Battle. Menelmacar superseded the older form, Telumehtar (which nonetheless continued in use), and was itself adopted into Sindarin as Menelvagor.
          • Morwinyon, (Arcturus)[18]
          • Nenar, (Neptune?)[6]
          • Remmirath, Itselokte[19], Sithaloth[20], (Pleiades)[21]
          • Soronume
          • Telumendil
          • Til
          • Valacirca, Burning Briar[22], Durin’s Crown[23], Edegil[24], Otselen, the Plough, Sickle of the Valar[25], Seven Stars[26], Seven Butterflies[27], Silver Sickle, Timbridhil[28], (Ursa Major / Big Dipper)[29] - An important constellation of seven stars set in the sky by Varda as an enduring warning to Melkor and his servants, and which precipitated the Awakening of the Elves. It also formed the symbol of Durin, seen on the doors of Moria, and inspired a song of defiance from Beren. According to the Silmarillion, it was set in the Northern Sky as a sign of doom for Melkor and a sign of hope for the Elves. The Valacirca is one of the few constellations named in the book, another significant one being Menelvagor.
          • Wilwarin, (Cassiopeia?)[30]
          • Vista, Air, (the Atmosphere) - Vista is the breathable air.
            • Fanyamar, Cloudhome - The upper air where clouds form.
            • Aiwenórë, Bird-land - The lower air where the paths of birds are found.
              • Ambar, Imbar, (Earth) - The actual solid land mass of the world. Middle-earth is one continent of Ambar.
              • Ëar, (Oceans) - The seas of the world.
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  1. The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Concurrent with early versions of the mythology Tolkien developed a list of names and meanings called the Quenya Lexicon. Christopher Tolkien included extracts from this in an appendix to The Book of Lost Tales, including mentions of specific stars, planets, and constellations in the entries: Gong, Ingil, Mornië, Morwinyon, Nielluin, Silindrin, and Telimektar.
  2. Morgoth's Ring, Index, In the introductory text for the index of Morgoth's Ring Christopher Tolkien notes several names which his father identified as planets, but speculates that this may have been passing thoughts rather than definitive conclusions.
  3. The Book of Lost Tales Part One, The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor.
  4. The Return of the King (novel), Tolkien defines Anor and Durin's Crown (under 'Star') in Index IV and Menelvagor and Ithil in Appendix E.I in the entries for 'H' and 'TH' consonant sounds respectively.
  5. Tolkien Studies journal, A Definitive Identification of Tolkien's 'Borgil': An Astronomical and Literary Approach, author Larsen Kristine, volume 2, pages 161-170, publisher West Virginia University Press: In The Fellowship of the Ring, 'Three is Company' Tolkien indicates that Borgil is a red star which appears over the horizon after Remmirath (Pleiades) and before Menelvagor (Orion). Larsen and others note that Aldebaran is known as 'the follower' of the Pleiades and is the only major red star to fit the description.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Morgoth's Ring, Index.
  7. The War of the Jewels (book), The Later Quenta Silmarillion.
  8. The Silmarillion, Of the Voyage of Earendil.
  9. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Letter 297.
  10. Parma Eldalamberon journal, Qenya Lexicon, volume 12: The twelfth volume of the linguistic journal Parma Eldalamberon published the complete text of Tolkien's Quenya Lexicon, including star names listed in entries that were not included in the Book of Lost Tales appendix. These additional entries can be found on pages 35, 43, 63, and 82.
  11. The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix, Ingil.
  12. The Silmarillion, Index: The index entries for Helluin and Wilwarin cite Sirius and Cassiopeia.
  13. Parma Eldalamberon journal, Qenya Lexicon, volume 12, pages 83.
  14. The Return of the King (novel), Appendix E.I, TH.
  15. The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix, Telimektar.
  16. Parma Eldalamberon journal, Qenya Lexicon, volume 12, pages 62.
  17. The Return of the King (novel), Appendix E.I, footnote.
  18. The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix, Morwinyon.
  19. Parma Eldalamberon journal, Qenya Lexicon, volume 12, pages 43.
  20. The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix, Gong.
  21. The Fellowship of the Ring (novel), chapter III - Three is Company.
  22. Morgoth's Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion (I).
  23. The Return of the King (novel), Index IV, Star.
  24. The Lost Road and Other Writings,The Etymologies, OT-.
  25. The Silmarillion, Of the Coming of the Elves.
  26. The Silmarillion, Of Beren and Lúthien.
  27. The Book of Lost Tales Part One, The Coming of the Elves.
  28. The Lays of Beleriand, |The Lay of Leithian, A.379.
  29. The Fellowship of the Ring (novel), Strider.
  30. The Silmarillion, Index.

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