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TCG Letter #562 / Carpenter Letter #200

J.R.R. Tolkien
Major Bowen
25 June 1957
Tolkien explained that Sauron was always de-bodied when vanquished. He was one of the minor "angelic" spirits, belonging to the race of intelligent beings created before the physical world.

This was allowed and they became the equivalent of the "gods" of traditional mythology. However, they then had to remain in it until the Story was finished. Thus they were in the world but did not need to be physically incarnated. The Creator had introduced new themes into the original design; the chief was the theme of incarnate intelligence, Elves and Men. They were the Children of God and, being other than the Spirits, objects of hope and desire of the greater spirits.

Due to this pre-occupation with the Children of God, the spirits often took the form of the Children, and thus Sauron appeared in this shape. When the form was "real", existing physically in the physical world and not merely a vision, it took some time to build up and was then destructible like other physical organisms. Tolkien apologized if all this seemed dreary or pompous, but so were all attempts to “explain” mythologies.

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