The Two Lamps, also known as The Lamps of the Valar, refer to Illuin (Sky-blue), the lamp which formerly stood at the northern end of Arda and Ormal (High-gold) which stood at the southern end of Arda.
After the Valar entered the world and brought order to the seas and the lands and the mountains, and subdued the fires of Melkor, there was a need for light. Aulë at the prayer of Yavanna forged two mighty lamps, Illuin and Ormal. Varda filled the lamps with light and Manwë hallowed them, and the Valar set them up on high pillars, Illuin in the furthest north upon the pillar of Helcar, Ormal in the deepest south upon the pillar of Ringol. In the middle of Arda, where the light of the lamps mingled, amid the Great Lake lay the Isle of Almaren, where the Valar dwelt.
The pillars were cast down and their lamps broken by Melkor. Lands were broken, seas arose in tumult, and destroying flame from the broken lamps poured out over the Earth, marring it, causing the Valar to flee Middle-earth for the Land of Aman, where they established the domain of Valinor. Where Illuin fell, the Sea of Helcar was formed, of which Cuiviénen was a bay.
Other Versions of the LegendariumEdit
In Tolkien's older writings (not used in the published version of The Silmarillion), the Valar sought peace with Melkor, asking his assistance with fixing the lamps upon Arda. Melkor, still envious and hateful of the rest of the Valar, agreed to give them a strong, sturdy substance. He gave Aulë ice. Melkor permitted the Valar to do as they wished until the fateful day when the Lamps' light and heat finally melted the ice. The pillars crashed upon Arda, flooding it with water and darkness.