The roots of the Dark Worship could be traced back to Utumno where Melkor demanded god-like adoration (Me."Boshfai") from his servants. So the first dark worship grew among the lesser minions of Utumno and later Angband, the Orc-servants whose first Dark Priest was the Demon-Orc Storlaga.
Later, with the awakening of Men, Melkor disguised himself as a mighty man and became the teacher and seductor of the early men of Hildorien. He ordered them to build him a temple and to bring human-sacrifices. Most of the original dark cults of Middle-Earth among the Wild Men were based on legends about this First Temple. However, even if the Dark Worship to a degree served to satisfy Melkor's arrogance, to rule through via religion was not his final goal, it was merely a tool in his great purpose to annihilate the creation and prove that Illuvatar was wrong and fallible.
After Morgoth's banishment, Sauron continued the dark worship. At first his reverence to the great fallen Vala seemed honest and he acted as Melkor's viceregent and High-Priest, but later he doubted that Morgoth would ever return and fancied himself the rightful heir to dominion over Arda. Not only did he claim to be Vâtra, Kaishnalai, Taimaraud and other deities, but he presented himself as Morgoth returned or Aule incarnate and demanded the godlike worship as Lord of the World for himself as the true Dark Lord. In the end both dark Cults, Morgoth's and Sauron's, contested the reverence of Illuvatar as monotheistic religions, tolerating no gods, not even lesser ones, beside the Dark Lords. As The Dark Worship was renewed and confirmed throughout the Third Age, the Sauronites began to prosecute the adherents of both, the Eruist and Valarin Cults of the Eldar and Dúnedain as well as the superficial Cults of the Wild Men. In the end even the Followers of the old Melkoric Cults were considered intolerable rivals by the devout Sauronites and were mostly wiped out or otherwise converted.
In contrast to Melkor , Sauron was not interested in annihilation of the world, nor in a war against the Valar or even Illuvatar himself.He believed worship to be just a practical tool for his goal to rule and form the World after his own vision of order and perfection.However his worship satisfied his pride to a degree at which he ultimately himself had started to embrace the idea of being a god and actually truly believing it.
The Dark Worship in Endor
The Dark Worship took different shapes at different times and places. But the most notorious identity of such a deity was that of Sauron. At the height of his power he claimed the titles of Lord of The World and King of Men; later after his fall the Dark Worship often disguised itself, Sauron's return was prophesied as the coming of The Adanil, the "Friend of Men", a messianic figure often in combination with anti-Dúnedain Propaganda.
The many Faces of the Dark Worship
- the Court of Ardor in the Utter South
- Cult of Herumor (fourth Age Gondor)
- the Mulkheril (Númenóreans)
- the First Temple (Hildorien)
- the Priests Arnak
- Servants of the True Fire (Far-Harad)
- Twelve of Mithrisars (Palisor)
- the Cult of the Lidless Eye (Sauron's religion after he had openly proclaimed himself the true Dark Lord)
- Akshum-oymalv (second Age Rhûn-easterlings)
- Those with the Black Hand, the Prophets of the Adanil in the Southern Regions
- Cult of Dasata (Haradrim)
- cult of the Shadow or Religion of the Lawmasters (Farthest East)
- the Fist of Dark Sorcery (Rhûn)
- the Hron Tumrakhi (Khand)
- the Cult of Khäz-gramaze (Near-Harad)
- the Order of Tûthmeid (Umbar)
- The Tayb or Followers of The Silent One (Far Harad)
- the Withered Tree (Gondor)
- the Cult of Shoglic (Daen)
- the Cult of Vâtra
- the Guldur Sorcerers (Rhovanion)
- the Witches of Angmar