[Originally posted on March 7th, 2015]
Though not explicitly stated or even alluded to in LotR, the universe in which Middle-earth is set is actually monotheistic; that is, there is one supreme Power or God. His name is Eru Ilúvatar, meaning The One, Father of All. He made the universe (Eä), the world (Arda), and the Powers or Gods that helped create it (the Ainur). Those of the Ainur that actually went down into Arda to help shape it and rule it were named the Valar (yeah, there are a lot of names in this mythology). The Valar made their dwelling in the Undying Lands, called Aman. One of the Valar rebelled against Eru and the others before the world was made; his name was Melkor, later renamed Morgoth, the boss of Sauron. Now, along with the Valar came other Ainur of lesser power, these were the Maiar. Among the Maiar were Sauron, Gandalf, Saruman, the other two wizards, other good servants of the Valar, as well as those who would eventually be corrupted and turned into the Balrogs to serve Morgoth.