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The New Notion Club Archives

The King of Númenor at Meneltarma

Religion in Middle-earth was, for the most part, rather informal and unobtrusive.

Most religious beliefs in the world of Ambar fell into one of three categories: Eruist belief, Dark Worship, or superstitious Cults.


Eruist Religion

Eruist Belief (Q. "Eruaistale") was the religion of Eru Illuvatar as it was taught to Elves by the Valar and to men by the Elves. Eruist religions venerated Eru as the one true god and creator of all, while the Valar were merely seen as angelic powers and removed guardians of the World. This faith tended to be the traditional religion of the Tareldar and was even to some extent continued by the Etyangoldi, who nominally were apostates that had rejected the rule of the Valar, and the Sindar who were taught much by Melian and Ulmo, while the Avari held to other faiths. It varied in form, from very simple and tribal religions without priesthood or ritual, to elaborate ceremonies involving feast and prayer. Regardless of doctrine, Eru was almost never directly called upon, but adressed as a distant deity above all, and prayers were addressed to the Valar. However, some Eldar and Men held to the Vision of Finrod and the Old Hope, the belief that Eru himself would one day incarnate in Eruhin shape (as "Elpino") in the very world of Arda.

See: Eru

Dark Worship

The Dark worship (Q. "Moriaistale" S. "Dungortist") was the twisted worship and idolatry of the Dark Lord as a deity. The Dark Clergy politically controlled fallen realms and bloody sacrifices, temples, and human sacrifices were common.


Superstitious Cults

Superstitious cults (Q. "Kordonisse" S. "Gortis") referred to the simple tribal religions of the lesser men. Many of these Cults were influenced in one or another way by both Eruist religion and the Dark worship, but had developed into bastardized creeds. Often the various Valar and Maiar were treated as pagan deities and developed into confused concepts and myths. These Cults could be urban or rural, temples, sanctuaries and priesthood might be common or cults and rites were performed by elders, chieftains or shamanic figures.

Religion of the Elves


The Eldar had encountered the Valar and regarded Illuvatar as the only true God and creator of all, and as a result Eruism was their chief religion. However, religion was not a distant and merely spiritual practice for their people. They acknowledged it as a political and social practice, and their religions almost resembled secular organizations as opposed to faiths and cults. Secular Orders or Guilds founded in service of the Valar, whose members acted as archivists and scholars rather than priests, were founded in the place of churches and temples, and Elves acknowledged their deities more as personal figures of significance to themselves and their political life, rather than distant deities demanding of sacrifice.

The Avari had heard rumors of the Valar and Eru, and some of their elders had encountered Araw and Morgoth, but they largely ignored traditional religion and adhered purely to personal faith, though some revered the World itself and the Stars, Moon, and the Sun.


Religion of the Dwarves


The Dwarves followed similar religious thoughts. They also revered Eru in a rather informal way, but for the most part, they did not pay much attention to the Valar - with the exception of Mahal, their maker. They however added a worldly reverence to their ancestors and their dead forefathers (but especially the Seven Fathers) to their spiritual life.

Religion of the Halflings

The Hobbits and other Halflings had heard about the Powers of the West and the One (whom they called by the moniker "The Authorities"), but did not pay much attention to them. They turned religious holidays and feasts largely into worldly events of joy and social gathering, and only old names of days or months (Rethe, Astron, Halimath, Blotmath, or Highday) bore remembrance that they had once been the times of religious ritual.

Religion of the Orcs

The Orcs were, for the most part, not interested in religion or cults. From the beginning, however, the Dark Lords had demanded god-like reverence from their slaves which had led to some rudimentary and superstitious demon-worship and affinity to Sorcery and Necromancy among some tribes. But in general, orcish society was primitive, brutal and selfish and had not much room for spirituality with the exception of a few power-hungry Sorcerers who sought to aid the Dark Lords in hope to gain might and influence for themselves.

See: Hûdhsunga

Religion among Men


Many mannish peoples had preserved memories from the First Age, legends about a Voice and a mighty Man, a first temple and various Spirits and Demons. Additionally, some early mannish tribes had been pupils of Avari and Orcs, and had learned rumors about the Powers of the West. This had led to some superstitious ideas and cults among the early Men, many of which prevailed among the Wild Men of the East and the South.

In the West, the Edain had encountered the Eldar and learned from them about Illuvatar and the Valar. Their Númenórean descendants turned the reverence of Illuvatar into a religion with their King as their high-priest and the Meneltarma as their sanctuary. When Sauron was taken captive to Númenor, he infiltrated the thoughts of the Kings of Númenor and spawned a dark cult of Melkor-worship with a dark temple on Númenór.


After the Fall of Númenor, the Elendili and Black Númenórean survivors carried on imitations of both Valarin or Eruist and Dark Worship in their realms, and found many imitators and followers among the Lesser Men and Middle-Men. The neighbors and denizens of the Kingdoms of ArnorGondor, and the Black Númenórean Domains added the religious lore of their new Masters and allies to their own, which led to a number of superstitious ideas. In the Westlands, religion remained largely informal, but in Harad many idol-worshiping sects emerged. The Men of the East continued their own primitive spirit-worship and remnants of the old Dark Worship, but also added a kind of nature-worship, which included indistinct memories of the Entwives who had taught their forefathers agriculture and various magical cults and arcane traditions which were brought to the East and South by the adepts of the Ithryn Luin.

See: Old Hope

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Eriadorian Gods

Forodwaith Gods

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Haradrim Religion