Aiya, nildor, away we go to Kindergarten. As a refresh, what will be here is:
* The creation of the Earth
* The awakening of the Elves
* The Elves travelling to Valinor (= Heaven)
What will NOT be here : Most of chapters 1 & 2. While interesting in their own right, touching on the origins of Ents & Dwarves as well as some other tangential issues, they do not in my mind form an integral part of the overarching plot thread of the Silmarillion, particularly for the target audience of this post :-). Onward and Upward!
* * *
When the world was first created, it was super dark. God put a number of angels called Valar in charge of the world. They made some plants and pretty mountains and even tried to set up some lights, but it didn’t work very well because one of the Valar was a big meanie named Morgoth who got his kicks out of messing up what other people did. Kind of like the bully who wanders around the schoolyard stealing your ball so you can’t play with it anymore. It’s not that he’s actually going to do anything fun with the ball himself…he just wants to make sure YOU’RE not having any fun.
So that was a big downer and the Valar had to start over. This time they hid themselves away on an island across the sea and set up two trees to give the world light. One tree lit up half the day, and the other tree lit up the other half, so it was pretty much always light out…just different kinds — like sunlight and moonlight.
Meanwhile God had told the Valar that he was going to eventually put the Elves in the world, and the Valar were waiting pretty impatiently for this. I guess since there were only 12 of them, it got kind of boring talking to each other and they were seriously jonesing for new kids to play with. Morgoth was also waiting impatiently, but for less altruistic reasons and more for the fact, again, that Morgoth liked messing with other people’s things and he’d more or less run out of pretty things to destroy by this point.
Eventually, just like God promised, the Elves “woke up” next to a lake called Cuiviénen. They started talking to each other and naming things. They named EVERYTHING, just because they were so excited to be able to talk. They went out exploring, just to find new things that they could put names to.
Since the Valar were all hidey-holed up on their island with their pretty christmas-tree-lights, they didn’t notice the Elves’ arrival. But Morgoth certainly did, wandering around the rest of Middle Earth with his zest for destruction. And so sometimes Elves that went wandering off looking for things to put a name to didn’t come back. Morgoth took them away around that one corner of the school where the recess teachers don’t keep an eye on, and beat them up something good. And it was around that time that suddenly Morgoth started getting tons of twisted, evil servants that looked sorta like they might have been elf-like at one time, called orcs. (Smarter elves put two and two together and came up with unpleasant theories about the origins of orcs, but that’s for a more complicated post).
The Valar sent out their explorer, a fella named Oromë, and he eventually found the Elves. It didn’t go well initially, the Elves having an understandable fear of strange things approaching them suddenly in the night since a lot of their friends had disappeared that way, but once he got closer they decided it would be ok to trust him. The bright shiny angelic glow probably helped. But they still weren’t entirely convinced, so Oromë agreed to take their three leaders back to Valinor first to prove that it really was All That. The leaders came back (which given prior disappearing history was probably proof enough of itself…), told happy stories about the sunshine and rainbows in store, and all the Elves packed up and started off for heaven.