The Maiar (the singular of which is Maia) were near-primordial spirits that descended into Arda to help the Valar first shape the World. They were supposed to be numerous, yet not many were named. Their chiefs were Eönwë, banner-bearer and herald of Manwë, and Ilmarë, the handmaid of Varda.
Each of the Maiar is associated with one or more particular Vala, and were of similar stock, though less powerful. For example, Ossë and Uinen, as spirits of the sea belonged to Ulmo the Sea-King, while Curumo (known in Middle-earth as Saruman) belonged to Aulë the Smith. Others included Mairon (originally also of Aulë, known in Middle-earth as Sauron), Aiwendil (known in Middle-earth as Radagast) who belonged to Yavanna the Fruit-Giver, and Olórin (known by the Elves as Mithrandir but came to Middle-Earth as Gandalf) who belonged to Manwë the Wind-King and Varda the Star-Queen. Gandalf's ways took him often to the house of Nienna the Weeper, and from her he learned pity and patience, which perhaps aided him in his later struggles to unite the Free People of Middle-earth against the power of Sauron.
Alatar and Pallando, later known as the Blue Wizards, travelled to the East, never returning to the West; their fate is unknown, though Tolkien wrote that they had probably also failed in their mission, but established cults in the East. The Balrogs (Valaraukar in Quenta) were associated with Melkor, and were his most trusted and terrible servants. Melian served both Vána and Estë.
The Sun and Moon are also piloted by Maiar: Arien, a spirit of fire uncorrupted by Melkor, was chosen for her radiant beauty and fierce devotion to the workings of the Valar, was chosen to guide the sun, while Tilion, a hunter in the company of Oromë, was chosen to steer the moon.
Maiar, like Valar, do not array themselves in a fixed form, but can freely change their form. Olórin, or Gandalf, walked among the several peoples of Middle-earth in an uncertain form for many years before being sent on the errand of the Valar as one of the Istari.
Like Valar, however, this power can be lost when that power is spent in hate and mockery. Sauron, following the dark trails blazed by Melkor, took upon the form of - and remained - the Dark Lord in the Second Age. And yet, Maiar retain their immortality. From all indications, when the physical body of a Maia is destroyed, their spirit wanders houseless and their power diminished, until they are either able to take a physical form once more, or are restored by their corresponding Valar. Examples of this can be seen in the threat of Luthien to Sauron upon his defeat at the Tower of Werewolves, whereby it is said:
"Ere [Sauron's] spirit left its dark house, Luthien came to him and that he should be stripped of his raiment of flesh, and his ghost sent quaking back to Morgoth; and she said 'There everlastingly thy naked self shall endure the torment of his scorn, pierced by his eyes, unless thou yield to me the mastery of thy tower.'"
"Naked I was sent back – for a brief time, until my task is done. And naked I lay upon the mountain-top. There I lay staring upward, while the stars wheeled over, and each day was as long as a life-age of the earth."
It is not clear how, or what, restored Gandalf, though it can be inferred that Manwë played some role in it. It was Manwë, after all, that sent the Istari on their errand to check the power of Sauron in Middle-earth; therefore, by Gandalf declaring that he was sent back "until [his] task is done", indicates some level of Manwe's involvement; or as argued by some it was the direct intervention of Eru Ilúvatar that brought about Gandalf's return.
Powers and abilities
Like most of the Ainur, the abilities and powers of the Maiar remain unknown and presumably diverse. Given the nature the Maiar were to aid the Valar in the shaping of the world; they presumably have considerable power to augment the world around them. Maiar, as primordial spirit beings, are functionally immortal and essentially immune to the ravages of time, even from physical destruction they remain in spirit form.
Being of divine origin, they can shapeshift if they so choose. They wander the world unseen or shape themselves in any fashion, be they Elves or other creatures; called "Fanar" in Quenya could be destroyed but their being not extinguished.
It is suggested that the Maiar, in their service to the Valar in shaping the world, presumably had the ability to manipulate the elements and energies like their Valar counterparts. They were able to be given a physical body again over time or with help with the Valar. Presumably the Maiar possessed the abilities to perform Magic, thus being able to perform blessings, spells, curses, exorcism, etc.
Given the vastness of the universe and the ability of the Maiar to occupy such points, they are capable of teleporting vast distances. By taking the form of a flying creature like vampires, bats, birds etc. the Ainur were able to fly.
- Alatar (Morinehtar)
- Aiwendil (Radagast)
- Curumo (Saruman)
- Durin's Bane
- Mairon (Sauron)
- Olórin (Gandalf)
- Pallando (Rómestámo)
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||邁雅|
|Kazakh||Мэйар (Cyrillic) Méyar (Latin)|
|Serbian||Мајари (Cyrillic) Majari (Latin)|
|Uzbek||Маиар (Cyrillic) Maiar (Latin)|