Continuing the issue exposed in the previous post, we found ourselves with the most interesting examples in Middle-Earth concerning religion practices and spiritual beliefs. After that, you’ll see clearly that religion per se wasn’t the focus of Tolkien in all his writings, but as it is so deep inside human psyche it would be impossible to let this matter completely untouched, specially by an author who was so dedicated to turn mere words in pure reality.
There are no single hint of any religion or belief among the Rohirrim! It may be suggested that they knew the existence of one Vala at least, (Oromë) since they had a name devised for him of their own, Béma. Apart from that, they seem to be completely unaware of Valar, Maiar or even Eru Ilúvatar. Their culture revolves around their agricultural life and animal husbandry. Horses are so important in Rohan that they almost have some “sacred” status just like cows in India.
In Gondor we find an interesting aspect of religion, icons. The White Tree of Gondor has a deep religious symbolic value. Firstly, from its origin, coming from Nimloth (the white tree of Númenor) which came from Celeborn (the white tree of Tol Eressëa) which was a scion of Galathilion, a tree created directly by Yavanna as a gift for the Vanyar & Noldor in Tirion and as an image of Telperion, The White Tree itself. As you can see, trees were serious business in Arda. Secondly, the welfare of the tree was closely associated with the welfare of the king and his underlings. What happened when Sauron cut Nimloth in Númenor? Or when Isildur was grievously wounded trying to steal a fruit of Nimloth and then when it bloomed he was miraculously healed? The White Tree symbol was noble, ancient and displayed everywhere in Gondor and it certainly recalls the use of the cross by Christendom or the crescent by Islam and so on.
As said above, Númenóreans had a deal with trees too, but highlight here is another. Númenóreans give the best example of all when it comes to religion. They are the closest ones of something like an organized religion. Although there was no temple of the True God, Meneltarma (the great mountain in the middle of the island) was a hallowed place dedicated to Eru! They even had 3 special festivities: Erukyermë, prayer to Eru; Erulaitalë, praise to Eru; and Eruhantalë, thanksgiving to Eru. No sound could be spoken there, except by the King on those festivities. All this resembles the practices of ancient civilizations like Israel (a sacred place where few could approach and monotheism) Canaanites & others (who used to take mountains as holy and worship on them).
To be continued with shadowy details!