The Valar (singular: Vala) were angelic guardians created by Eru Ilúvatar before the world, and are the greatest of his creations in majesty and power. Ilúvatar created the world in song (and thought) through them, and allowed as many as would to enter therein. Those that did were then tied to Arda (the Earth) until the end of all things. They came to prepare Arda for the Children of Ilúvatar, the Elves and Men, and to act as protectors of the Earth. The Valar are known and honoured by the Elves, many of whom once dwelt among them in the Undying Lands. Men remain largely ignorant of the Valar's true nature but some peoples of Middle-earth worship the Valar in altered form as their gods. All of the Valar except Ulmo reside in the Undying Lands of Valinor within Aman, an island paradise that exists beyond the circles of the world. From there, they watch over the Free Peoples of Middle-earth.
Their numbers are legion, but the great Lords and Ladies of the Valar number fourteen. The true names of the Valar are kept secret from all but themselves, but their Sindarin names, as given by the Elves are listed here:
Lords of the Valar
- Manwë, the Elder King, Lord of the Air and King of the Winds. (Husband of Varda)
- Ulmo, the Sea King and Lord of the Waters.
- Aulë, the First Crafter, Lord of the Earth and Maker of the Dwarves. (Husband of Yavanna)
- Oromë, the Great Huntsman and Lord of the Forests. (Husband of Vána)
- Námo, (Mandos), the Doomsman of the Valar and the Judge of the Dead. (Husband of Vairë)
- Irmo, (Lórien), the Lord and Master of Dreams, Visions and Desires. (Husband of Estë)
- Tulkas, Champion of the Valar. (Husband of Nessa)
Ladies of the Valar
- Varda, Elbereth (Sindarin for Star-queen), the Star Queen and Queen of the Valar. (Wife of Manwë)
- Yavanna, Kementári, Queen of the Earth and Giver of Fruits. (Wife of Aulë)
- Nienna, the Weeper and Lady of Mercy.
- Estë, the Gentle and Lady of Healing and Rest. (Wife of Irmo)
- Vairë, the Weaver. (Wife of Mandos)
- Vána, the Ever-young. (Wife of Oromë)
- Nessa, the Dancer. (Wife of Tulkas)
- Melkor (the first dark lord, the fallen Vala).
- He is no longer counted among the lords of the Valar after his rebellion, and was renamed Morgoth by Fëanor after he stole the Silmarils.