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Old 02-19-2013, 06:41 PM   #1
TheGreatElvenWarrior
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Sex Amongst the Maiar (and the Other Beings in Arda)

This is just a little awkward for me to write, but I will anyway. It begs to be discussed. On Aganzir's hair colour thread I accidentally pulled the entire thread off-topic with one sentence. It was this:

Quote:
I will continue to imagine Sauron as an asexual being.
That ended up sparking these comments:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Faramir Jones View Post
TheGreatElvenWarrior, you made an interesting assumption about Sauron being an 'asexual being'. Would you think the same thing applied to the Ringwraiths, after they became wraiths? Perhaps these were actual topics of debate among loremasters in Middle-earth.

On a more down to earth level, I've thought that if Gondorian soldiers were more like those of WWI and WWII, they would have asked the Nazgul, and in particular their leader, about when they were last sexually active. Also, the Ringwraiths would be asked about their Dark Lord, about whether he had certain organs, and if he ever used them, or if they were just for decoration.
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Originally Posted by Aganzir View Post
We know Morgoth wasn't asexual though, the way he fantasizes about Lthien is quite a give away. And why would the Valar go through the trouble of getting married if they were asexual? We also know of Maia crushes, such as Tilion who kept drooling after Arien even after she said no.
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Originally Posted by Faramir Jones View Post
Aganzir, you said here: 'We also know of Maia crushes, such as Tilion who kept drooling after Arien even after she said no'. I'd rather call it an obsession; but then Arien would certainly be called 'hot':

Too bright were the eyes of Arien for even the Eldar to look on, and leaving Valinor she forsook the form and raiment which like the Valar she had worn there, and she was as a naked flame, terrible in the fullness of her splendour. (The Silmarillion, (London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1979), Chapter 11, p. 117)

Tilion is literally burnt by his obsession:

But Tilion was wayward and uncertain in speed, and held not to his appointed path; and he sought to come near to Arien, being drawn by her splendour, though the flame of Anar scorched him, and the island of the Moon was darkened. (Ibid., p. 118)(My italics)

An interesting variation on the person who plays with fire. He still hasn't learnt his lesson, though:

But Tilion went with uncertain pace, as yet he does, and was still drawn towards Arien, as he shall ever be; so that often both may be seen above the Earth together, or at times it will chance that he comes so nigh that his shadow cuts off her brightness and there is a darkness amid the day. (Ibid., p. 119)(My italics)
Since I started this discussion, I thought that I would actually put it in its own thread, since I don't want to be responsible for skwerlz.
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It is well known that the Valar got married, and presumably had sex with each other. Sex is, after all, an integral part of marriage. That was mentioned on the other thread. My assumption about Sauron being asexual firstly came from me not imagining sex in my reading unless it is brought up by the author, but also because I don't believe that Sauron ever had any loves or crushes, courtships or whatnot. Before Sauron became The Eye, I always imagined him being a humanoid, and therefore he would have the parts to have sex. That was not the issue in my mind; I just thought that he would have never had the inclination to partake in it. He was very busy being evil and all, I assumed that he just didn't have the time.

Thinking this would be an interesting topic to discuss in its own thread, I am opening up sex for discussion. What do you think about the maiar having sex? Obviously, I did not think that Sauron would have been interested, but we do have examples of children being born to maiar, like Luthien, so therefore some of them were. Were other maiar interested in that intimacy too, or was Melian's case relatively isolated? Would the maiar be more interested in a mental connection to others, or a sexual one? As I muse over this, I would love to read all of your thoughts.

P.S. In answer to the original question, I don't think that wraiths would have been able to have sex. Their physical bodies have all but vanished, and that would make it impossible.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:02 PM   #2
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This.

Besides that, I think it is important to point out that you failed to mention Luthien.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by burrahobbit View Post

Besides that, I think it is important to point out that you failed to mention Luthien.
But we do have Lush's immortal thread, Ooh la la, Lthien....

One would assume that Tom and Goldberry--not that I'm calling them Maiar--had a fulfilling marriage. Yet we don't see any little Toms or Berrys.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bthberry View Post
But we do have Lush's immortal thread, Ooh la la, Lthien....

One would assume that Tom and Goldberry--not that I'm calling them Maiar--had a fulfilling marriage. Yet we don't see any little Toms or Berrys.
Shall we assume that contraception existed in Middle-earth, or that Goldberry was barren?
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by TheGreatElvenWarrior View Post
Shall we assume that contraception existed in Middle-earth, or that Goldberry was barren?
Well, given that she was known for being deeply in touch with nature, doing rain dances and such, presumably she was proficient at the rhythm method.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bthberry View Post
One would assume that Tom and Goldberry--not that I'm calling them Maiar--had a fulfilling marriage. Yet we don't see any little Toms or Berrys.
You might never know how many River-granddaughters are wandering about...

Seriously, though, I would like to bring up this nice little bit from The Sil:

Quote:
But when they desire to clothe themselves the Valar take upon them forms some as of male and some as of female; for that difference of temper they had even from their beginning, and it is but bodied forth in the choice of each, not made by the choice, even as with us male and female may be shown by the raiment but is not made thereby. (Ainulindale)
So, while that says nothing of sex, the Valar clearly have genders (if you care to differentiate between the two, I think sex refers more towards your reproductive organs and gender more towards your disposition on the matter). If, however, I stick to those definitions, they beg a question: do the Valar necessarily have sexual organs? They are able to take on different shapes, and are able to move about without any shape at all. Now how do you biologically define that?! Melian bore a child, and IIRC in the earlier versions Manwe and Varda had a son Fionwe, so they're capable of having children if they wish to. I guess it depends on what form they take. But I would say that the connection between the Valar spouses is mostly mental.

I personally believe that taking a shape similar to a human does not necessarily give you human anatomy (f.ex., the Valar don't necessarily have two kidneys and a liver, and thus also don't necessarily have reproductiove organs). I guess that if they choose to be similar to the Children in that way, they may become so, like Melian did, but I prefer to think that they do not even bother themselves with such thoughts.

I wonder now if it's possible to have a hermaphrodite or androgynous ainu. (Seems from Agan's thread about Sauron's hair colour that the question of homosexuality is already decided on by Tumblr. )

(As a side note, you should have seen my facial expressions as I was typing all this! A family member who came into the room asked me if I'm ok. )
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TheGreatElvenWarrior View Post
Sex is, after all, an integral part of marriage.
I take it you've never been married.
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:02 PM   #8
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Well, given that she was known for being deeply in touch with nature, doing rain dances and such, presumably she was proficient at the rhythm method.
Perhaps she had an arbortion.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:27 PM   #9
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We've got one solid example of an Ainu reproducing with an incarnate being, which shows us that yes, the Ainur do have sex. As my esteemed colleague obloquy has previously pointed out, engaging in such activity has certain deleterious consequences that a clear thinking Ainu would be eager to avoid. In general I think it is safe to say that the Valar and Maiar would avoid such procreative (subcreative?) tendancies, while other sorts of Ainur (dark lords, balrogs) might indulge.
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:31 AM   #10
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Hm, I seem to remember having a similar discussion recently. I think, when incarnate in the form of a reproducing creature, sex makes sense, as in the case of Melian. Of course, the issue then is of the nature of the fa of the child. It depends how new far are created (which would make an interesting discussion in its own right), and whether they come from Eru or are a product of their parents in some way as well.

Then we get to the issue of the Istari. I never thought of them as sexual, but now, after thinking about how they had to actually live in the bodies of Men, I would assume that they were also fully functional in that department. And then one wonders whether they ever did uncloak in the days of their physical youth. Or at least had the desire to, now that they were human and bound to the physical. Or would that be diverting from their mission?

As for other incarnates, I think it's more vague. What about about Balrogs? Would they have sexual organs? And if so, why? Or would Morgoth have denied them those to stop them getting 'distracted'? And as G55 said, it would be interesting to know whether incarnate Ainur were actually biologically sound, or whether it was just a faade. Or is that what makes the difference between 'light' and 'proper' incarnation?

And then there are the Ainur in their incorporeal state. I'd imagine that rather than going the physical route, their sex would be something like that of the angels in Paradise Lost, when Raphael tells Adam:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradise Lost, Book VIII, lines 620-629
Let it suffice thee that thou know'st
Us happie, and without Love no happiness.
Whatever pure thou in the body enjoy'st
(And pure thou wert created) we enjoy
In eminence, and obstacle find none
Of membrane, joynt, or limb, exclusive barrs:
Easier then Air with Air, if Spirits embrace,
Total they mix, Union of Pure with Pure
Desiring; nor restrain'd conveyance need
As Flesh to mix with Flesh, or Soul with Soul.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:31 AM   #11
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The case of Melian is discussed in an essay in Morgoth's Ring. I don't have time to look it up right now, but IIRC Melian's physical coupling with Thingol was described as an exception, a unique event, permitted because the birth of Luthien and thus of her descendants Earendil and the Houses of Elros and Elendil were part of the Divine Plan.

In earlier writings Tolkien conceived of the Valar as having children, notably Fionwe (later Eonwe) and Kosomot (>Gothmog) "son of Melko"; but he changed his mind and converted the Children of the Valar into the Maiar.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:52 AM   #12
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It is eluding me at the moment but I seem to remember a remark Professor Tolkien made somewhere which suggested that the marriages of the Valar (and Maiar) were not completely comparable to those of the Children of Ilvatar, which is to say that they were based more on compatibility in the thought of Eru than bearing some physical element of attraction. The nearest I can find is this from a footnote to the word 'wife' (regarding Yavanna to Aul) in Letter 212:

"It is the view of the Myth that in (say) Elves and Men 'sex' is only an expression in physical or biological terms of a difference of nature in the 'spirit', not the ultimate cause of the difference between femininity and masculinity." (p. 285)

So sexual difference, and consequent sexuality, was apparently only a manifestation of a deeper, indeed fundamental, gender allocation within the soul, which is presumably the level at which gender was an equivalent concept for both the Children of Ilvatar and the Ainur. Given that they were of their primary nature discarnate beings the Ainur would seemingly not express their femininity/masculinity through sexual difference except when they made themselves incarnate, but those bodies were just raiment and not part of their nature; in the sentence to which the above footnote is attached Professor Tolkien goes on to indicate that Yavanna also had the habit of becoming incarnate as a tree! "Sex" was, perhaps, a meaningless term to attribute to them because it was a purely physical term, and the bodies in which they incarnated were not "part" of them the way they were for Elves and Men. This would correlate in my mind with Professor Tolkien's eventual decision that the Valar did not have children.

Personally I believe that the Ainur were asexual and that their marriages were based on 'spiritual' masculine-feminine attraction/compatibility resulting from their discarnate nature. Indeed it could perhaps be said that they experienced the "true" or "undiluted" male/female dichotomy while Elves and Men only experienced it mediated through its physical expression as sex (and sexuality). This precludes the need for a sexual element to the Ainur, which would be a corollary of one sex or the other being part of their nature, which it was not because sex is seen as a physical concept and they were not of their nature physical beings. I apologise for being repetitious but I want to make clear that I am not confusing 'sex' (biological situation as male or female) with 'sex' (the reproductive act) but am taking the two concepts as related. I suppose what I am trying to say is that in my view the Ainur had 'gender' but did not have 'sex' (or indeed 'have sex' if you'll pardon the expression).

That being said! it is altogether possible to my mind that protracted/intense periods of incarnate existence might give rise to a sexual capacity and impulse on the part of the Ainur, in the negative sense regarding Morgoth's assorted lusts and in the positive regarding Melian's love for Thingol. While I would argue that it was not in Melian's original nature to be sexual (or indeed capable of reproduction) it might be the case that her incarnation and prolonged relationship with one of the Children could alter that. Of course it might also have been an exception on the part of Eru. Perhaps it was possible for an Ainu and an Eruhin to reproduce given the primary nature of one of the participants as an incarnate, but not for an Ainu and another Ainu (nor could a relationship of that nature, Eruhin-like, even transpire between them).

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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
The case of Melian is discussed in an essay in Morgoth's Ring. I don't have time to look it up right now, but IIRC Melian's physical coupling with Thingol was described as an exception, a unique event, permitted because the birth of Luthien and thus of her descendants Earendil and the Houses of Elros and Elendil were part of the Divine Plan.
It is mentioned that her being Lthien's mother introduced a divine strain (Author's note 3 to the Commentary on the Athrabeth) but at least in Morgoth's Ring as far as my flick-through of all references to Melian in the index go I can't find it mentioned as an exception (like Tuor becoming an Elf). However an essay on Orcs does compare potential Maia-Orcs as becoming "more and more earthbound" through "embodied procreation" (p.410) so evidently a connection between incarnate-focused existence and reproduction was conceived of as a possibility for Maiar at least.

That being said, these are just my thoughts on the matter. Perhaps it's worth noting Letter 43 where Professor Tolkien wrote to his son Michael about love and sexuality where he suggests that an entirely genuine and non-sexual relationship between a man and a woman "may happen between saints." (p. 48) I can see him as perhaps considering such a nature to have been an admirable trait to give to the Holy Ones of his sub-creation. It's far from conclusive though, and the issue of the Ainur's relationships is a curious and singular one. I think it's one of those interestingly vague concepts which adds to the overall magic of Arda - there's something which is both impressive and intriguing about Tinviel having a genuine Angelic Power for a parent!
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:51 AM   #13
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Here it is:
Melian alone of all [the Maiar] assumed a bodily form, not only as a raiment but as a permanent habitation in form and powers like to the bodies of the Elves. This she did for love of Elwe; and it was permitted, no doubt because this union had already been forseen in the beginning of things, and was woven into the Amarth of the world, when Eru first conceived the being of his children, Elves and Men.
Reflecting a somewhat different idea at least wrt 'uniqueness' is this:
The least [of the Maiar] could have been primitive (and much more powerful and perilous) Orcs; but by practising while embodied procreation they would (cf. Melian) become more and more earthbound, unable to return to spirit-state
However, in this essay T (very much here 'thinking with the pen') then immediately rejected the idea of Maia-orcs having offspring, concluding that Eru would not create fear for them.

There is also a note to the Athrabeth, not specifically about Melian but connected, which posits that Luthien's becoming of man-kind, and Beren's return from death, were a great Exception granted in order that a strain of the divine would pass down among the Eruhini.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:57 AM   #14
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Osanwe-kenta note 5 notes that (a note on the use of the hroar [roughly translated: 'bodies'] by the Valar, and a 'self arraying' of the Valar and Maiar)...

Quote:
'(...) The things that are most binding are those that in the Incarnates have to do with the life of the hroa itself, its sustenance, and its propagation. Thus eating and drinking are binding, but not the delight in beauty of sound and form. Most binding is begetting or conceiving.

We do not know the axani (laws, rules, as primarily proceeding from Eru) that were laid down upon the Valar with particular reference to their state, but it seems clear that there was no axan against these things. Nonetheless it appears to be an axan, or maybe necessary consequence, that if they are done, then the spirit must dwell in the body that is used, and be under the same necessities as the Incarnate. The only case that is known in the histories of the Eldar is that of Melian (...)

'The great Valar do not do these things: they beget not, neither do they eat and drink, save at the high asari, in token of their lordship and indwelling of Arda, and for the blessing and sustenance of the Childre. Melkor alone became at last bound to a bodily form...'
Osanwe-kenta, author's note 5, Vinyar Tengwar 39
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:03 AM   #15
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Nice catch.
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:41 AM   #16
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...Then we get to the issue of the Istari. I never thought of them as sexual, but now, after thinking about how they had to actually live in the bodies of Men, I would assume that they were also fully functional in that department. And then one wonders whether they ever did uncloak in the days of their physical youth. Or at least had the desire to, now that they were human and bound to the physical. Or would that be diverting from their mission?...
We can be fairly confident that the Istari never did 'uncloak' in their youth because we are told that at incarnation they assumed the form of OLD men:

"They came therefore in the shape of Men, though they were never young and aged only slowly..." Appendix B, The Third Age.

It seems reasonable to assume that they did this as a way of avoiding the hormones and distractions of youth.
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Old 02-20-2013, 12:22 PM   #17
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And from Galin's quote from the Osanwe-kenta...a few things...

Quote:
'(...) The things that are most binding are those that in the Incarnates have to do with the life of the hroa itself, its sustenance, and its propagation. Thus eating and drinking are binding, but not the delight in beauty of sound and form. Most binding is begetting or conceiving.

We do not know the axani (laws, rules, as primarily proceeding from Eru) that were laid down upon the Valar with particular reference to their state, but it seems clear that there was no axan against these things. Nonetheless it appears to be an axan, or maybe necessary consequence, that if they are done, then the spirit must dwell in the body that is used, and be under the same necessities as the Incarnate. The only case that is known in the histories of the Eldar is that of Melian (...)

'The great Valar do not do these things: they beget not, neither do they eat and drink, save at the high asari, in token of their lordship and indwelling of Arda, and for the blessing and sustenance of the Childre. Melkor alone became at last bound to a bodily form...'
1. It suggests that maybe it was because of Melkor's great lust that he became very much bound to his physical form. He also did a lot of 'begetting' with the creation and mastery of several races and creatures. Note Tolkien says 'begetting or conceiving' which might suggest more than just the standard reproduction.

2. Also eating and drinking can be binding - how much do we see the Istari doing this? We certainly see Gandalf smoking a lot, which might also be counted as something 'done to the body' that may bind him to the hroa he chose.

3. I note that having a child was the most binding, and no doubt Tolkien chose to do this to emphasise that having a child is a serious thing and you can't just flounce off back to your incorporeal form when you choose once you have kids to fend for. In his writing, he always seems to view family responsibilities as a very serious matter.

I'm also interested in whether we view the Valar/Maiar as having a sex or a gender. Because a gender in the modern understanding may not necessarily mean they looked like we might assume someone of that gender to look. In that respect, an androgynous Ainu would indeed be possible. I quite like that Tolkien seems to suggest they had a choice depending on how they felt. Very modern

Quote:
But when they desire to clothe themselves the Valar take upon them forms some as of male and some as of female; for that difference of temper they had even from their beginning, and it is but bodied forth in the choice of each, not made by the choice, even as with us male and female may be shown by the raiment but is not made thereby.
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:52 PM   #18
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It was said that the Valar usually took the shape of the bodies of Elves and Men -- of majestic but not gigantic stature (and in some degree radiant), vested in robes expressing their individual natures and functions.

Also, that the Valar and Maiar could assume other shapes (Yavanna as a great tree and so forth, as in Silmarillion), although it's noted in RGEO that the Eldar seldom saw other inhuman forms taken by the Valar. I initially thought that we could easily say the same of the Maiar, but then I remembered this little interesting note from JRRT in Morgoth's Ring: 'Living things in Aman. As the Valar would robe themselves like the Children, many of the Maiar robed themselves like other lesser living things, as trees, flowers, beasts. (Huan.)'

... which has me wondering a bit. Anyway in notes regarding the word fana(r) Tolkien seems to describe the fanar of the Valar and Maiar, but in RGEO (published by JRRT himself), unless I missed something, he speaks there of only the Valar, technically.

In posthumously published notes there is an interesting distinction:

Quote:
'But the Elves of Valinor asserted that unclad the Valar were perceived by some among them as lights (of different hues) which their eyes could not tolerate; whereas the Maiar were usually invisible when unclad, but their presence was revealed by their fragrance.'

*(...) The Maiar corrupted by him [Melkor] stank'
JRRT, Words, Phrases and Passages

This bit also does not appear in RGEO, in any case.
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:57 PM   #19
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So Melkor's Maiar were smelly...that has made me chuckle. It probably gives even more reasons to fear a Balrog. And maybe the One Ring was an air freshener.

I wonder what Radagast smelled like?
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:02 AM   #20
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Dark-Eye Sauron and BO

So Sauron 'stank', did he? Not surprising, but was this only when he was 'unclad' (as in having no physical form, not as in having no clothes on), or when he was in physical form?

If the second was the case, then he would have had to be careful, in the days when he wore a fair form, to keep himself very clean to avoid detection. Perhaps Middle-earth owed a lot to his taking regular baths and developing the deoderant. Did orcs and others who acknowledged his rule fear him because he insisted that they also wash regularly?

Of course, this would have to have been before the Downfall of Nmenor. Now that he was stuck in the form of a dark lord, he wouldn't need to bother with such cleanliness. Perhaps he then abandoned it, and his people followed his example...

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Old 02-27-2013, 04:22 PM   #21
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Sting

Saw that in fb and thought to give my 2 cents. Took a bit to find the time

To properly answer a question, one should know what is meant by the terms used. We know who Maiar are, Beings are only relevant if we want to discuss any specific being, but what is this "sex" thingy...
In the original question I see hints for 4 possible definitions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGreatElvenWarrior View Post
It is well known that the Valar got married, and presumably had sex with each other. Sex is, after all, an integral part of marriage.
Ok, this is sex being that special one on one activity that couples do. (One of) The reason(s) they get together. Sex as a couple glue.
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Originally Posted by TheGreatElvenWarrior View Post
because I don't believe that Sauron ever had any loves or crushes, courtships or whatnot.
Sex as a physical pendant to love (or obsession).
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Originally Posted by TheGreatElvenWarrior View Post
Before Sauron became The Eye, I always imagined him being a humanoid, and therefore he would have the parts to have sex.
Sex as a physical activity.
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Originally Posted by TheGreatElvenWarrior View Post
but we do have examples of children being born to maiar, like Luthien, so therefore some of them were.
Sex as means to reproduce.

My answer depending on what that s-word means:

I. Couple Glue:
Sauron: Not interested in such thing. Wears only friend in his world on his finger until he looses both.
Valar: They surely had a couple thingy. Tantric sex that Sting hasn't dreamt of or something.
Maiar: Not as apparant as the Valar but probably yeah.

II. Love pendant (Obsession)
Sauron: The REAL baddies in Tolkien's world aren't some misunderstood emos (for which he has my respect). They don't love or obsesse over gals. EXCLUSION: While he was a blender, he might have faked it (if it was useful for him he would have).
Valar/Maiar: Dunno. Probably. Possibly. They want the couple thingy, after all?

III. Physical activity
Sauron: Surely. I mean why not? And the time argument is irrelevant if we exclude the love/obsession/couple thing.
Valar/Maiar: The ones that were happy to try new things surely... Unless it was binding to human form and/or the couple thingy was great enough.
Wizards: The time argument holds, as they will also engage in a love/couple thingy. The old age probably protected them from it. Saruman, just as Sauron, was a complete Baddy: yeah he prolly did it. He even got new clothes, as he probably tried to tell himself that the women actually liked him for himself.

IV. Reproduction
Sauron: Deffo not. Immortals probably had some way to controll this, as there was no overpopulation issue in ME. But he would probably kill his women and eat the babies before he conceives possible competition.
Valar: Couldn't. If the tantric thing was also as good as sting thinks - lucky bastards.
Maiar: Had probably something to do with choice.
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Old 02-27-2013, 06:50 PM   #22
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Before Sauron became The Eye
I just noticed this. Is it a metaphorical statement? Surely it is well-established that Sauron was never just a big floating eyeball. Nonetheless I can't think that Sauron, whose first fixation was Order and later simply hatred for those who appeared to obstruct his vision of Order, would have had much interest in anything sexual even at his most incarnate level of spiritual degradation. Sauron seems to me to have been an obsessive person, who in the Third Age at least had two overriding goals: the conquest of the West of Middle-earth and the recovery of the Rings of Power (and especially, of course, the One Ring). He does not strike me as the kind of person who put those fixations aside for the sake of his leisure.

I am still convinced that the Ainur were largely asexual unless confined to a single incarnation, and that their marriages were based on a "purer" form of "gender-attraction" rather than the sexual attraction that Incarnates had to put up with. Again, it seems to me that Professor Tolkien considered sexuality to be in many cases a wearisome obstacle in the relations between men and women in this world ("The dislocation of sex-instinct is one of the chief symptoms of the Fall." (Letters p.48)) and that an emotionally intimate relationship between the two without sexuality would be an admirable thing. Hence in the secondary world Ainur couples would be "better" than Incarnate couples because they wouldn't have sexuality mediating the affection and compatibility of partners.

Likewise I am almost entirely sure that Professor Tolkien made a remark somewhere to the effect that marriages among the Ainur were non-sexual in nature (more explicitly than in the quote I've already provided in my previous post, that is) but I still cannot find it...
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:58 PM   #23
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... He does not strike me as the kind of person who put those fixations aside for the sake of his leisure.

I am still convinced that the Ainur were largely asexual unless confined to a single incarnation, and that their marriages were based on a "purer" form of "gender-attraction" rather than the sexual attraction that Incarnates had to put up with...
I don't think Sauron or the Maia in general would consider sex as leisure. The reason being that, as you say, they already have a much greater level of intimacy which would make sex seem trivial.

Also, while I agree that sexual attraction among incarnate beings is something they/we have to "put up with" (ie. a drive with a power that can distract from 'higher' aspirations and duties) it is not a bad thing in itself. Rather its distractive power lies in its being a means by which Incarnates can experience, be it only fleetingly, that union of being which the Maiar/Valar live in. Theirs (including Morgoth and Sauron) is the Great Song that wove the world together:

"Hey! Come derry dol! Can you hear me singing?"


Of course there is still the notion that the Dark Lord might have abused sex as a means of asserting his will to power, but again I don't think it half as horrific as the threat of the Witch King:

"He [Sauron] will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:18 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Lalwend View Post
1. It suggests that maybe it was because of Melkor's great lust that he became very much bound to his physical form. He also did a lot of 'begetting' with the creation and mastery of several races and creatures. Note Tolkien says 'begetting or conceiving' which might suggest more than just the standard reproduction.
Perhaps we have finally answered the age old question of where orcs came from...at least in part.

It is kind of disturbing if you think about it from any number of perspectives whether you consider orcs to be of elvish, mannish, or bestial stock. It puts the "torments" that he inflicted on the progenitors of the race into a whole new light.

*goes to bathe brain in acid*
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:03 AM   #25
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Shield Mental abuse?

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Of course there is still the notion that the Dark Lord might have abused sex as a means of asserting his will to power, but again I don't think it half as horrific as the threat of the Witch King:

"He [Sauron] will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Since I first read that passage, I've had an image of Sauron holding Eowyn's brain in his hands, along with the words 'mental abuse'.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:26 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Zigr View Post
I am still convinced that the Ainur were largely asexual unless confined to a single incarnation, and that their marriages were based on a "purer" form of "gender-attraction" rather than the sexual attraction that Incarnates had to put up with. Again, it seems to me that Professor Tolkien considered sexuality to be in many cases a wearisome obstacle in the relations between men and women in this world ("The dislocation of sex-instinct is one of the chief symptoms of the Fall." (Letters p.48)) and that an emotionally intimate relationship between the two without sexuality would be an admirable thing. Hence in the secondary world Ainur couples would be "better" than Incarnate couples because they wouldn't have sexuality mediating the affection and compatibility of partners.

Likewise I am almost entirely sure that Professor Tolkien made a remark somewhere to the effect that marriages among the Ainur were non-sexual in nature (more explicitly than in the quote I've already provided in my previous post, that is) but I still cannot find it...
I think the crucial word in the first quotation is dislocation, literally meaning out of place. I have a feeling Tolkien said in one of his letters that "it was a pity it was ever a sin". In the HoME essay "The laws and customs of the Eldar" he makes it very clear that Elves enjoy sex but it is pretty much a phase in their lives and once they have got it out of their system and had all the children they wanted they devote their creative instincts to other things. Also seems from the same essay that conception is an act of will. Since the sexual act is an essential part of contracting an Elvish marriage and there is often a lengthy spell between marriage and the birth of children it would also seem that Elves had sex for pleasure / pair bonding reasons rather than merely to reproduce. However their relationships were faithful and exclusive so this may indeed represent an ideal of being able to have close relationships with others without affecting the integrity of the marital relationship. Something which is indeed hard for mortals to do.

Of course immortals don't have the biological imperative that affects mortals who live on in their children so they will be less driven by their hormones. Elvish spirits are much more in control of their bodies and as they age the spirit takes precedence IIRC.

And what is true for elves is likely to be true to a even greater degree for the Valar so I agree that the Ainur are not likely to be affected by desires of the flesh and that the lust of Sauron is more likely to be about the desire to overpower, possess and exert control rather than about sex per se.
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Old 03-01-2013, 04:18 PM   #27
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My take on this is that if there's no sex, why call it marriage? There are other quite sufficient words - why not call it friendship instead?

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Originally Posted by Bthberry View Post
One would assume that Tom and Goldberry--not that I'm calling them Maiar--had a fulfilling marriage. Yet we don't see any little Toms or Berrys.
Well, as Mith pointed out later, conception seems to be an act of will. However, they've probably lived in the Old Forest long enough for every potential little Tom and Berry to leave the nest - they do have the spare bedroom, and it's not like they could really expect to entertain visitors that often.

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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
I wonder now if it's possible to have a hermaphrodite or androgynous ainu. (Seems from Agan's thread about Sauron's hair colour that the question of homosexuality is already decided on by Tumblr. :-D)
I am afraid Tolkien implied quite clearly in Laws and Customs that at least the Eldar experienced solely opposite sex attraction:
Quote:
Nonetheless marriage concerns also the far. For the far of the Elves are of their nature male and female, and not their hrondor only. And the beginning of marriage is in the affinity of the far, and in the love arising therefrom. And this love includes in it, from its first awakening, the desire for marriage, and is therefore like to but not in all ways the same as other motions of love and friendship, even those between Elves of male and female nature who do not have this inclination.
However, I must point out that it says nothing about the Elves who are not of the Three Kindreds, or about any other races either.

I think the Ainur's incarnations are too closely knitted with their far to allow sex changes, but I wouldn't rule it out that Arda Marred would occasionally see far born in the wrong body.

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Originally Posted by Enw View Post
Of course, the issue then is of the nature of the fa of the child. It depends how new far are created (which would make an interesting discussion in its own right), and whether they come from Eru or are a product of their parents in some way as well.
Tolkien talks about fa acquisition in Laws and Customs:
Quote:
Now the Eldar hold that to each elf-child a new fa is given, not akin to the far of the parents (save in belonging to the same order and nature); and this fa either did not exist before birth, or is the fa of one that is re-born. The new fa, and therefore in the beginning all far, they believe to come direct from Eru and from beyond E.
There was also an idea about the parents' far affecting and nourishing the child's fa (just like their hrondor, bodies, did). Also as cited in The Lost Road, according to Manw's judgement, Dior was mortal irrespective of the choice of Lthien. This implies that the children of mixed race unions had the far of the 'lesser' parent, and Maia/elf, Maia/eagle, Maia/orc children, such as they were, would effectively have been something else than Maiar.

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Originally Posted by Enw
I never thought of them as sexual, but now, after thinking about how they had to actually live in the bodies of Men, I would assume that they were also fully functional in that department.
In the bodies of old Men. That kind of ruins your assumption.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enw
As for other incarnates, I think it's more vague. What about about Balrogs? Would they have sexual organs? And if so, why? Or would Morgoth have denied them those to stop them getting 'distracted'?
I don't think Melkor could have denied them the form they chose. Rather, they took it according to a combination of what felt good to them and how they believed they could best serve him. Also, as has been quoted, they had different tempers from the beginning, and if they had sexual desires, it would've shown in their incarnation and Melkor couldn't have done anything to keep them from being distracted anyway.
Speaking of the fire Maiar, Arien didn't show a particular interest in romance either, so it may have been some spirit of fire thing.

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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
In earlier writings Tolkien conceived of the Valar as having children, notably Fionwe (later Eonwe) and Kosomot (>Gothmog) "son of Melko"; but he changed his mind and converted the Children of the Valar into the Maiar.
There were children and children. In the Later Annals of Beleriand Orom is said to be born of Yavanna but he is not Aul's son, but it was later altered:
Quote:
and Orom was the offspring of Yavanna, who is after named, but not as the Children of the Gods are born in this world, for he came of her thought ere the world was made.
So while this idea may have been abandoned later, it illustrates two concepts: that of the Valar getting children the ordinary, physical way; and the one that focuses on the Valar as spiritual beings.

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Originally Posted by Zigr View Post
the marriages of the Valar (and Maiar) were not completely comparable to those of the Children of Ilvatar, which is to say that they were based more on compatibility in the thought of Eru than bearing some physical element of attraction.
I don't necessarily agree. Tilion loved (or desired) Arien, but his feelings were clearly unrequited. It couldn't therefore have been a question of compatibility.

Also, there were some couples that were married from either the creation of the Ainur or the beginning of Arda, depending on what you consider canon, such as Manw and Varda, but there were also those who only got married later, like Tulkas and Nessa. Personally I find it more probable that there was a period of flirting/courting and 'you+me=swoon' before the wedding rather than a sudden discovery that they were just, you know, really compatible in Ilvatar's thought.

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I don't think Sauron or the Maia in general would consider sex as leisure. The reason being that, as you say, they already have a much greater level of intimacy which would make sex seem trivial.
This is true, but it doesn't have to exclude sex altogether. You ask what reason they had to have sex when there were other levels of intimacy, but then again, what reason did they have not to? They enjoyed song and dance too, and even though (as Galin pointed out) these were not binding while conceiving and begetting were, they were still pleasures. Enlighten a non-native English speaker here, but do conceiving and begetting mean the act of making love as well as that of actually making babies (and the many other things Lal said).

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Originally Posted by Mithalwen View Post
I think the crucial word in the first quotation is dislocation, literally meaning out of place. I have a feeling Tolkien said in one of his letters that "it was a pity it was ever a sin". In the HoME essay "The laws and customs of the Eldar" he makes it very clear that Elves enjoy sex but it is pretty much a phase in their lives and once they have got it out of their system and had all the children they wanted they devote their creative instincts to other things. Also seems from the same essay that conception is an act of will. Since the sexual act is an essential part of contracting an Elvish marriage and there is often a lengthy spell between marriage and the birth of children it would also seem that Elves had sex for pleasure / pair bonding reasons rather than merely to reproduce.
Good points.
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Old 03-01-2013, 04:49 PM   #28
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Enlighten a non-native English speaker here, but do conceiving and begetting mean the act of making love as well as that of actually making babies (and the many other things Lal said).
The use can be a bit idiosyncratic, but the proper definitions of the words explicitly mean "baby making" and not just making love.
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:11 PM   #29
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In the HoME essay "The laws and customs of the Eldar" he makes it very clear that Elves enjoy sex but it is pretty much a phase in their lives and once they have got it out of their system and had all the children they wanted they devote their creative instincts to other things. Also seems from the same essay that conception is an act of will.
Since the sexual act is an essential part of contracting an Elvish marriage and there is often a lengthy spell between marriage and the birth of children it would also seem that Elves had sex for pleasure / pair bonding reasons rather than merely to reproduce.
I've added the bolding here to Mithalwen's post,because it is the part I wish to discuss in particular.

If conception amongst the elves is an act of will, that is, if elves procreative only when they choose to procreate, does that not mean that Eru isn't part of the procreation? It would appear to be another version of the free will question.

That would appear to differ from at least some Christian ideology which claims that all pregnancies derive from God. Not that Tolkien's legendarium can't differ. Just an observation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aganzir

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enw
I never thought of them as sexual, but now, after thinking about how they had to actually live in the bodies of Men, I would assume that they were also fully functional in that department.
In the bodies of old Men. That kind of ruins your assumption.
Agan, just how many old men have you known? Oh, wait a minute. That sounds too much like knowing in the biblical sense and too personal. Forget it.

Let me put it this way instead.

Is it in fact a valid assumption that old people no longer enjoy sexual relations?
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Old 03-02-2013, 10:30 AM   #30
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Is it in fact a valid assumption that old people no longer enjoy sexual relations?
We mustn't forget the late Lord Frey.

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Old 03-02-2013, 05:32 PM   #31
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Agan, just how many old men have you known? Oh, wait a minute. That sounds too much like knowing in the biblical sense and too personal. Forget it.

Let me put it this way instead.

Is it in fact a valid assumption that old people no longer enjoy sexual relations?
My dearest B-B, it was never my intention to imply that. I was speaking about old as in 'thousands of years old', which, you have to admit, might make some difference, even if not in the upper department.

(And yes, your original phrasing made me take a second look, but since I'm not an Ainu, this is not the time nor place. Suffice to say, I find it unlikely I'll ever know any man as old as Gandalf. )

As for procreation of free will, there's this part in Laws and Customs which is quite interesting:
Quote:
There were seldom more than four children in any house, and the number grew less as ages passed; but even in days of old, while the Eldar were still few, and eager to increase their kind, (included in first version: before the weight of years lay on them), Fanor was renowned as the father of seven sons, and the histories record none that surpassed him.
I see two possible explanations here:

1. Only First Age Elves were eager to increase their kind
2. Ilvatar was eager to avoid overpopulation later

The text basically says that either the former is true, or the Eldar spent a considerable amount of their time in the bedroom in the First Age.

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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
We mustn't forget the late Lord Frey.
And you remember why he was called so? Because he came late.
Sorry.
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:33 AM   #32
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...it doesn't have to exclude sex altogether. You ask what reason they had to have sex when there were other levels of intimacy, but then again, what reason did they have not to?

... Enlighten a non-native English speaker here, but do conceiving and begetting mean the act of making love as well as that of actually making babies (and the many other things Lal said)...
I did not intend to imply that the Maiar or Eldar did not enjoy sex, only that their memory of a higher state of being, a state of "at one-ness", would have made it more difficult for sex to become a ruling passion.

As for conceiving and begetting, both are terms which we use to avoid the idea of sex. They are 'detached' terms, the chief difference between them is that "conceive" is associated more with female nature and "begat" with the male. That said, only a woman can conceive a baby, but anyone can conceive an idea, as Eru conceived the world, while begat is something you wear on a big 'ed.

.
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Old 03-03-2013, 08:59 AM   #33
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Perhaps they just preferred Ainul sex.

Sorry, I just can't be serious with this topic.
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Old 03-05-2013, 05:46 AM   #34
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I think the Powers had sex. Melian certainly did with Thingol, Ungoliant did with lesser creatures. I figure if they can enjoy the fruits of the earth and ingest them then they can enjoy other fruits of the earth.

"so also did they EAT and DRINK, and GATHER THE FRUITS of Yavannah from the Earth" [Sil, p. 82]
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Old 03-08-2013, 09:25 AM   #35
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Boots A good question

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Is it in fact a valid assumption that old people no longer enjoy sexual relations?
You asked a good question, Bthberry; but the problem is that in the case of the Ringwraiths you can't compare like with like. They ceased to be Men centuries ago, thanks to the Nine which prolonged their lives and turned them into wraiths, although they may still look that way.

In the same way Smeagol, due to the influence of the One Ring, from being a hobbit came to be something else, his life prolonged far beyond what was normal for his race. I liked the fact that Tolkien never called Gollum a hobbit, only saying once that he might look like a very ancient hobbit.
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Old 03-25-2013, 10:12 AM   #36
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I did not have the time earlier to read everyone's responses to this thread, but I am glad that it sparked a good (and mostly serious ) discussion. I don't have much to add, but I enjoyed reading quotes from the Tolkien books that I haven't read (I don't have a complete HoME).

One thing to add here:

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Originally Posted by Bthberry View Post

Is it in fact a valid assumption that old people no longer enjoy sexual relations?
There were cases of American Civil War veterans taking wives as recently as the 1930's, and the man who owns the company that my father works at is probably ninety years old and has an eight-year-old son. That being said, I don't think that the Istari would have come to Middle-earth with sexual desires. Such desires could become a distraction from their mission, and I don't think that the Valar nor the wizards would have set out without thought for that.

After reading this thread, my current opinion is that the "higher" beings in Middle-earth had the power to either desire or not desire intimacy with each other. I still can't see Sauron having any inclination to perform the act of sex. My feelings on the physical bodies of these beings (when they are in a humaniod state, anyway) are thus: they had bodies that worked much the same as ours. Going back to eating and drinking, we know that the Valar, for instance, ate and drank, so therefore they must have needed a digestive tract and some way to dispose of their waste, so why not also have reproductive organs?
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Old 03-25-2013, 12:05 PM   #37
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That being said, I don't think that the Istari would have come to Middle-earth with sexual desires. Such desires could become a distraction from their mission, and I don't think that the Valar nor the wizards would have set out without thought for that.
No, that is exactly the point! The Wizards, and it is stated explicitly, were incarnate for a reason. They were exposed to all possible problems (and delights) mortal inhabitants of M-E could face. To put it in a more straightforward manner, it is not unimaginable for me to have a Wizard decide (Melianesque, if you find that easier to imagine with such comparison) "hey, I found a wonderful mortal woman and we fell in love and I want to spend my life with her in a cottage hidden in the mountains, screw the war with Sauron". It would not be any different from, for instance, Radagast deciding that he'd rather spend his days tramping in the wilderness.
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Old 03-25-2013, 12:13 PM   #38
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No, that is exactly the point! The Wizards, and it is stated explicitly, were incarnate for a reason. They were exposed to all possible problems (and delights) mortal inhabitants of M-E could face. To put it in a more straightforward manner, it is not unimaginable for me to have a Wizard decide (Melianesque, if you find that easier to imagine with such comparison) "hey, I found a wonderful mortal woman and we fell in love and I want to spend my life with her in a cottage hidden in the mountains, screw the war with Sauron". It would not be any different from, for instance, Radagast deciding that he'd rather spend his days tramping in the wilderness.
Ah, I see your point. It is interesting though, that Radagast fell in love with animals and the wilderness, and not some woman.
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Old 03-25-2013, 12:31 PM   #39
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Ah, I see your point. It is interesting though, that Radagast fell in love with animals and the wilderness, and not some woman.
I guess that would come back to what you were talking about with Bethberry, and with which I agree, as in, by no means would I want to diminish any sexual desires among older people, but generally it probably isn't as common or as strong, and with this I would say that the Wizards were indeed not of "that cathegory" and so their distractions would come from different hobbies, interests, and so on. Especially if you take into account that they were in the position of having an entirely new world to explore, literally.
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:25 PM   #40
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Ah, I see your point. It is interesting though, that Radagast fell in love with animals and the wilderness, and not some woman.
Perhaps the goat sounded like Stevie Nicks.
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