The two Trees of Valinor are dead, Fëanor and part of the Noldor have chased Morgoth (aka Melkor) into Middle-earth, and Thingol and Melian have fortified their lands. It’s time for the Valar to shed some light on the situation. Literally.
Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 11
Darkness has consumed Valinor. Now that the two Trees are gone, there’s nothing to light the way but the stars that Varda (one of the Valar) created so long ago for the Elves. Oh, the Elves. Many of them are still in Valinor and on good terms with the Valar, but the Valar’s hearts are broken over Fëanor’s rebellion and lust for revenge as well as the darkness that Morgoth has left them in. Nothing has turned out the way that they had hoped.
But Manwë (lord of the Valar) knows that they can’t wallow in sorrow forever. It’s time to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and do what they can for this world for which they have already sacrificed so much. So Manwë asks Yavanna (Vala in charge of plants) and Nienna (Vala who mourns over Melkor’s evil deeds and teaches pity, endurance, hope, and wisdom) to see what they can do for the two Trees that everyone, especially Yavanna, loved so much.
Yavanna and Nienna work tirelessly and amid heartache to fix what Morgoth (aka, Melkor) has done, but Nienna’s tears and Yavanna’s songs aren’t enough to heal the trees. Ungoliant (the giant, evil spider) has done far too much damage to them. But just as they give up, the Trees produce one last thing each. The one, Telperion, sprouts one last silver flower while the other, Laurelin, produces one last piece of golden fruit. After this, though, the Trees are officially pronounced dead. There’s nothing more that they can do for them.
With a blessing from Manwë, this silver flower and golden fruit are handed over to Aulë (Vala who makes things, like gems and Dwarves), who creates two vessels for holding these two radiant treasures. Unlike before, the light from these two won’t just be for Valinor, leaving Middle-earth to be illuminated only by the stars. No, now all of Arda (their world) will be bathed in light during the day and night. After all, the Secondborn of Ilúvatar, Men, will make their appearance soon, and the Valar want to ensure that Morgoth and his evil won’t be able to take these fragile, treasured mortals by surprise.
Once the two vessels are made and the silver flower and golden fruit set inside, the Valar choose two of the Maiar (their servants) to tend to these two vessels and ensure that these lights make their way around Arda properly.
Arien is an obvious choice for Anar the Fire-golden (aka, the Sun). She’s like fire herself, and when the Trees were still alive, she had tended them. Now she will tend the last of the Trees’ fruit forever.
Tilion is given Isil the Sheen (aka, the Moon). He had been a hunter along with Oromë (the Vala that discovered the Elves), but he loved the cool light of Telperion (the Tree) so he asks to be given the task.
Once everything is ready, Tilion is the first to journey across the sky with Isil (the Moon). The moment he crosses over Middle-earth, Morgoth (aka Melkor) sees the light and knows it’s from the rest of the Valar. Immediately, he sends some of his servants to tail Tilion with their shadows. But Morgoth is taken aback when Arien arrives with Anar (the Sun). And when he realizes just how bright their light is, he finds the deepest, darkest hole in his fortress of Angband and hides there until Arien and Anar leave. To think, Anar’s light teamed with Arien’s literal radiance still aren’t as bright as the Trees originally were.
Since hiding in dark tunnels all day isn’t the most productive and hinders his world domination plans, Morgoth soon begins pumping out fumes and clouds to hide himself and his servants in darkness. Interestingly, this move changes Morgoth. When it was just the stars, he roamed more freely around Middle-earth. Now, he sticks close to Angband where he knows he’ll be safe.
Once Anar and Isil are in motion, the Valar also add some additional security measures to Valinor. These changes are intended to keep Morgoth out but also allow the Elves in Valinor to have some breathing room. And while this makes Valinor nearly impossible to reach from the outside, that doesn’t mean that no one will ever sail to its shore… but that’s for another day.
Next week, the long awaited Secondborn of Ilúvatar — Men — make their grand entrance into Middle-earth.