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Tolkien's discourses of resilience

mlin eru hfueinkenni janna

Sjra Tmas Smundsson

Then let us pray that come it may, (As come it will for a' that,) That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth, Shall bear the gree, an' a' that. For a' that, an' a' that, It's coming yet for a' that, That Man to Man, the world o'er, Shall brothers be for a' that. Robbie Burns

Of at pryuy perle wythouten spot. Alas! In a garden I lost it, let It go to the ground...

White Man's Dreaming

Tolkien drew upon the fibre of his phonetic, existential, and sensual experience, wove each resulting combinatory thread of 'colour' and 'concept' to create an exquisite literature, a visionary tapestry reminiscent in its attention to imagistic detail and its dedication to craftsmanship, of the mediaevalist art of William Morris and contemporaries. He used mythic signification to construct what this essayist's post colonial perspective would call a 'white man's dreaming1', while doing so he contributed profoundly to a discourse of resilience which he identified with through an array of creation myths and heroic legendium. In this context certain dynamics of his writing are of salient contemporary significance. The following touches briefly upon structural and historical cultural matters pertaining to his work but the main body proceeds to dwell upon the inspirational fount and philosophical merit of his contribution, and finishes giving consideration to how the fact of its nature and chthonic2 depth explains its 'cult status'.

The Tapestry
Within his explorations of structural, historical and mythological matrices of the English language Tolkien found an intricate imaginative world and an inclusive cosmology. Naturally endowed with linguistic instincts, his work attuned to a capacity within the structures of language for (infinite) creative potential, he wrought a vehicle for his particular cultural and environmental sympathies out of
1 'white man's dreaming': exploring a spiritual connection with the land. also: Glosecki, S.(1989). Shamanic Therapy. in 'Shamanism and Old English Poetry'. Garland (p.115) mentions an Anglo Saxon dreamtime in terms of 'juxtaposition [between] mythic time and quotidian time and an overlapping of the two in the present moment' and this correlates with laypersons' concept of the Australian Indigenous dreamtime, suffice to say the two impressions overlap as creation myths are a significant focus of Tolkien's works. 2 'chthonic' in the sense that a seed grows when interned in the earth : regeneration, fecundity, connection with the underworld. Associated with Tolkien in terms of 'faery' his term for 'enchanted realms': there are several Highland tales in which the dead and the " fairies " are associated and mingle together, and dead persons are sometimes said to have been carried off by the "fairies." The above from McKay, J.G. (1932). The Deer Cult and the Deer Goddess Cult of the Ancient

Caledonians. 'Folklore', (June). p166. see also: Briggs, K.M. (1970). The Fairies and the Realms of the Dead. 'Folklore' (Summer) . pp 81 96.

its past story and imparted his 'passionate love of growing things, and the deep response to
legends (for lack of a better word) that have what I would call the North western temper and temperature.'3 Owing to the virtue of the depth of his understanding he

encountered comprehensive metaphors of the human condition in this creative process. He purposed to send the imagination back to the very beginnings of English culture, to the beginings of the language. This sensitivity and talent with languages resulted in writing which was as much the product of a keen historical curiosity as that of a sensual imaginative synsthesia, exactly the kind that Roland Barthes articulates in Leon when he says the 'taste of words makes knowledge profound, fecund4':
It has been always with me : the sensibility to linguistic pattern which affects me emotionally like colour or music5
... [Middle earth's languages are composed of] ingredients that happen to give

me 'phonaesthetic' pleasure6

Repeatedly in his academic and personal writings Tolkien maintained the propriety, in terms of interpretive accuracy, of 'feeling' over and above 'analysis' in the treatment and understanding of myth, language, literature and his mythopoeia : lest '[one] kills what [one] is studying by vivisection7.' Professionally, as one of those 'who chase a panting syllable through time and space8', his expertise was predominantly associative. Much of conjecture and perspicacity has been written in the wake of his prodigious linguistic work detailing qualities of the texts at his disposal and the structural details of his compositions. Helios De Rosario Martnez
3 Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955). Letter163 To W. H. Auden from 'Letters of JRR Tolkien'.(1981) 4 Barthes, Roland. Leon. Paris: Seuil, 1978, p.21:Trans. R. Howard in 'A Barthes Reader', p.465 5 Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955). Letter163 To W. H. Auden from 'Letters ...' 6 Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954) Letter 144 To Mrs Naomi Mitchison from 'Letters...' 7 Tolkien, J. R. R. Beowulf : The Monsters and the Critics, in 'The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays', Ed. C.Tolkien, London: George Allen and Unwin, p. 15 8 Philologists, who chase/A panting syllable through time and space, Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark/To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark. William Cowper: Retirement, l. 691

writes perceptively of key elements in Tolkien's linguistic aesthetic, concentrating upon the saturation and centrality of motifs of 'light' and 'tree9' throughout his compositional languages. This level of deep analysis reaffirms the subtlety of the aesthetic qualities of light and shadow woven into the creation of Middle earth : it is very much a creation of song and light together. Despite Tolkien's garrulous stance towards fans becoming fluent in Elvish10 the growing body of linguistic discourse surrounding his invented languages as an inspirational genre of art in itself is respectfully doing justice to that quality of genius11 that Stanley Unwin attributed to Tolkien in 1937:
.... You are one of those rare people with genius, and, unlike some publishers, it is a word I have not used half a dozen times in thirty years of publishing.12

This phenomenon is one example of 'cult' becoming 'culture': as good a one as any of the post modern academic development out of a technological age enabling high levels of specialised scrutiny and communication between associated special interest groups. Obviously culturally circumscribed himself by what Bennett13 and Meacham14 refer to as the English myth 'a popular construct [dating] from the last two or three decades of the nineteenth century, with a peak round about the turn of the century and another in the inter war years15', he participated as a young

9 Martnez, H.D.R. (2005; rev. 2008). Light and Tree: A Survey Through the External History of

Sindarin; see also

Martnez, H.D.R. and Merino, J.L. Musings on 'Limlight'

10 Hostetter, C. F. ( 19 August 2010).BBC post 1968 "Tolkien in Oxford" video online:

18:58 "No. No. No. I wouldn't mind other people knowing it, and enjoying it, but I didn't

11 12 13 14

really want to, like some people who have been equally inventive in languages [? desiring ?] to sort of make cults and have people speaking it all together, no, I don't desire to go and have an afternoon Tolkien Elvish to chaps. For one thing of course Elvish is too complicated. I've never finished making it." Genius : the capacity to take pains. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937).excerpt from a letter from Stanley Unwin 9 October Letter 18 To Stanley Unwin, Chairman of Allen & Unwin Bennett, G. (1991).English folklore and the Land of Lost Content. in 'The Folklore Historian 8', p 28 Meacham, S. (1999). Introduction: The Matter of Englishness, in 'Regaining Paradise:
Englishness and the Early Garden City Movement.' Yale University, pp 1 11

15 Bennett, G. (1991).English folklore ... p 28

educated man in the worst battle of the first of those wars16. If WW1 was touching the quick of genteel paradigms and general religious feeling then WW2 would have plunged a bayonet into it. Inasmuch as his writings' environmental aesthetic creatively treats a culturally based recoil from such unwholesome industrial realities, by entertaining an attendant attachment to their antithetical forms within mediaevalism, anarchism, and environmentalism, Tolkien dwelt upon the situation and purposed a path to its resolution. It is more accurate to the main point of this essay to say it takes a philosophical path through its resolution. His work twines the destructive fact of imbalance with Divine redress by way of the virtues and mysteries of creation : there is much meditation to this end on the metaphysical virtues of quality in workmanship. The over extended logic of violence within this post industrial backlash matched a deep desperation keenly felt by the entire western world, embroiled as it was in the overall climate of a burgeoning fascistic nationalism which catalysed the extremes of WW2. This emotional climate was a backdrop to much of his Ring cycle writing. However apt of its form it is an extreme simplification to denote the significance of Tolkien's writing as disassociative, or merely reflecting a delusional kind of compensating revision, or an escapist dream, as this trite note in Bennett's article implies:
the workshop vs shire opposition in J.R.R.Tolkien's cult fantasy novel Lord of the

Rings, where brave little hobbits set out from cosy crime free homes in The Shire to
free the world from the threat of Sauron, Lord of Darkness, in his vast fortress where the whole population, like Milton's Samson, is at the mill with slaves.17.
16 described as:of all wars perhaps the most genuinely religious that ever men fought in; it goes

nearer to our conscience than any struggle ever did. For here, in the sanctity of life here is involved what English folk have been instinctively feeling their way towards since the reformation; England in her comely village customs, her dear L'Allegro attitudes; in Wordsworth's outlook, in Gray's, in Tennyson's, and later Tolkien and William Morris's. It is for music, for skill, for adventure and romance; for kindliness, for teatime and all the gentleness that involves, for the pleasant ... country lanes. ibid. p.29. quoting George Sturt's diary entry from, Alun. (1986). The Discovery of Rural England. In 'Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880 1920', pp 62 88 17 ibid. p29

Patrick Grant in his piece on Tolkien's congruency with Jungian theories attests that:
there is no case for critical denunciation of Tolkien on the grounds that his hobbits are simplistic or escapist. The Shire is not a haven, and the burden of the tale is that there are no havens in a world where evil is a reality. If you think you live in one you are certainly vulnerable.18

In defence of fantasy writing Tolkien passionately took up the mantle of escapist litterateur justifying in the Boethian sense the prisoner extending himself beyond the 'real world' of his prison walls19, to transcend despair. The energy, continuity, and proliferation of Tolkien's creation in the light of these contexts indicates coherent pursuit of something more meaningfully dynamic than a simple pejorative vilification of the industrial machine. To transcend motivated Tolkien to write instinctively; he picked very real threads of what he terms draconitas, existent fetishism from within the heart of his appraisal of our cultural situation, and used them to lend to his writing (sans dissquant) : 'the presence (even if only on the

borders) of the terrible [giving] this imagined world its verisimilitude. [for] A safe fairy land is untrue to all worlds20.' If ever his attraction to the English myth was a
faddish element of his youth it could perhaps be seen in a cupidity of tone in Goblin

Feet21, although the poem is perhaps more romantically ironic and private. If his
attraction was twee before he participated in the Battle of the Somme (when 'Death

came to the feast and gibbered with no sense of proportion22') then it had matured to
a philosophical position by the time he began to write his works The Hobbit and The

Lord of the Rings.

If the reformation and the advent of the industrial age served to disrupt stable English cosmologies and identity as profoundly as did the passing of heathen gods in
18 Grant, P.(1981) Archetype and Word in 'Tolkien: New Critical Perspectives'. p 99 19 Tolkien, J.R.R. On Fairy Stories in 'The Monsters ...'pp 147 154 20 Tolkien, J. R. R. (1981). Letter 17 To Stanley Unwin, Chairman of Allen & Unwin from 'The Letters of JRR Tolkien'. Ed. Humphrey Carpenter, with Christopher Tolkien. 21 Tolkien, J.R.R.(1915). 'Goblin Feet' reprinted as Appendix A in J.S.Ryan (2012). 'Tolkien: Cult or Culture?' 22 Tolkien, J. R. R.. Beowulf : The Monsters from 'The Monsters etc' p19

the author of Beowulf's time, then it follows that Tolkien too was writing in a time of tectonic scale cultural shift and fusion. Being somewhat sufficiently detached from the mass romanticism of this 'English myth' by virtue of his intellectual and postwar realities he was well able to use those vernacular elements of recoil and reform in much the same way as he had identified in the historic author's writing. With purposeful poetic nostalgia treating the extended myth, time past and troubled, monstrous, present: 'He [too] could view from without, but still feel immediately and

from within, the old dogma: despair of the event, combined with faith in the value of doomed resistance23.' Parallel aesthetic instincts in the Garden City movement and
War Gardens campaigns, equally not misplaced in their time, largely retain their relevance, as his writings are also discovered to do, in the symbiotically based urban and social design movements of today. As to his profound recognition of the continuum of human suffering and the nature of 'the dragon come again24', it is some testimony to his level of perspicacity that current trends of modern criticism take pains to illustrate how comprehensively his various environmental aesthetics transcend a superficial plane of mass commercial appeal : his representations of sustainable community are eminently considered exemplary, even visionary, within contemporary ecocritical discourse focussed on symbiosis25.

The Seed
He used to spend a long time on a single leaf, trying to catch its shape, its sheen, and the glistening of dewdrops on its edges. Yet he wanted to paint the whole tree ... ...It had begun with a leaf caught in the wind, and it became a tree; and the tree grew, sending out innumerable branches, and thrusting out the most fantastic roots26.
23 ibid. pp 20 23 24 ibid. p 34 25 Dickerson, M. and Evans, J.(2006). Ents, Elves, and Eriandor The Environmental Vision of J.R.R.

Tolkien. University Press of Kentucky. also see

The Mythopoeic Society call for papers for Mythcon 44 Conference in July 2013:

Green and Growing:The Land and its Inhabitants In Fantasy Literature ' 26 Tolkien, J.R.R. (1964). Leaf By Niggle. in 'J.R.R.Tolkien Tales From The Perilous Realm'. Harper
Collins: London.(1997)

... As one word may become the general exponent of many, so by association a simple image may represent a whole class. 27

Studies in Tolkien have been revived somewhat by this ecocritical trend. It is in itself following a globalised culture caught up with the momentum of a pendulum swing its impetus returning through vacillations between eco reformist recoil and its progressive redress : the modern ages seek wisdom in hindsight. Such extremes of darkness and light, as are the warp and weft of his narrative, calls belated attention in times when these metaphors re present themselves with intrinsic application; 'tis the virtue of dragons, wars, and evil wicked sorcerers that they appear with such alarming regularity. The bones of any 'true fairy story cannot be quite picked clean, as much as the discourse tires, for there are yet flutes to be fashioned of these bones and a bitter sweet music to be played. Impermanence notwithstanding, as long as such music is played, there is ('Tolkienian') hope in humanity: dum spiro dum spero

... for this quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet
it is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world : small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere...28

The compulsion of the artist is to do so, because art articulation displaces, however briefly, the chaos. It aspires, creates beauty from out of raw truth and the harmony of it provides balance which in turn inspires. It lives, it breathes, and in its passing instills 'the spirit' of its having been a part. It leaves perspective and, at best, acceptance in its wake as well as the desire to recreate its principal. It is thus, definitively, dynamic. This 'music', and its zeniths, like the laughter of elves, can only be imagined until it is realised; it is usually whimsical, or rhapsodical and Tolkien's art, as he constantly asserted, was certainly both. The dynamism of a single 'seeding concept' seems to be that its locus shifts according to the context of its appropriation : in The Fellowship of the Ring there is
27 Coleridge, S.T. (1817). quoting Descartes in Biographia Literaria. 28 Tolkien, J.R.R. (1954). The Council of Elrond in 'The Fellowship...' p 269

a curious moment in the extraliminal realm29 of enigmatic Tom Bombadil's house:

[the Ring] lay for a moment in his big brown skinned hand. Then suddenly he put

it to his eye and laughed. For a second... [there was] a vision, both comical and alarming, of his bright blue eye gleaming through a circle of gold.
[despite]the Ring round the end of his little finger...

There was no sign of Tom disappearing!30

The Ring's superficial power to make the wearer disappear is a sinister intimation of the ultimate effect of its use; a reflection of the fears of evil, by extension a fear of God, and the idea that mortality is a disappearing, a nihilistic death. Tom is invulnerable to the curse of the Ring as he is no nihilist. Surrounded by narrative gravitas focussed on the dread potential of the Ring there is the wonder of this place in the text where dwells a being for whom none of it has any effect, and the 'great fetish object' is but a toy. The scene creates a shift and utter relief of tension, brief fortification before the rest unfolds. The Ring in Tom's hands becomes a mundane trinket; that this aspect of the mundane is familiar is hardly felt, so embedded is the moment within folds of arcane Middle earth. Here the story has cast its spell because there is a paradox of power intimated in Bombadil's actions but it is a power of peace as the joy of such laughter at dread things subverts and sublimates the evil constructed in the narrative: Bombadil is 'magicker than magic'. Any gestate Sauron concept is 'startled where it thought it was safest'. With delightfully pointed humour (the very antithesis of Sauron's eye was the twinkling blue eye of Bombadil), the Ring is emptied of its power. This moment would seem to set the whole narrative on its head but that it speaks of an ultimate (uncontrived) goal of its general purpose: that the Ring and all that it stands for has been temporarily deconstructed echoes the aim of the quest. This is precisely what is hoped to be achieve permanently with the passing of Sauron
29' Extraliminal realm'' : Here is a place, like the old churches left open at night and the healing temples, that provides a dimension of peace and security for dream incubation. It is extraliminal (my own coined term) because it appears within the general liminality of the journey through wilds unknowable. 30 Tolkien, J.R.R. In the House of Tom Bombadil in ' The Fellowship...'. p 133

and the defeat of Saruman, namely the deconstruction of this folly that is 'evil'. The ring bearer is counselled to take the ring back to be melted into it's original elemental state. Such magic as is present in Middle earth, by implication signifies a deeply felt 'lack' of it in modern day western society31 i. The scene with Bombadil however implies that this magic is an aspect of 'rawness' in an evolving reality; as obsolete an aspect of Man as Beorn's shape shifting in this, our more refined phase of a 'future age' in a world subject to continual and most subtle development. The scene also extends itself toward something more personal: a desire, in

this time, to be convinced of the possibility of that space of invulnerabilty in the face
of associated modern quandary. One desires magic when faced with Dragons. Bombadil's detachment is the detachment of the artist sought by the modern consciousness; his belonging to the world, intimately centred within his 'country32', is the delicate ideal of the new century: '...who is Tom Bombadil?'
'He is Master of wood, water, and hill.' 'Then all this strange land belongs to him?' 'No indeed!' she answered, and her smile faded. 'That would indeed be a burden,' she added in a low voice, as if to herself. 'The trees and the grasses and all things living in the land belong each to themselves...'33

This is like a "play", in which ... there are noises that do not belong, chinks in the scenery', discussing in particular the status of Tom Bombadil in this

31 Ryan, J. S. (1966). in his article German Mythology applied

The Extension of the Literary Folk Memory. 'Folklore'. Vol. 77, Iss. 1, says of the Heroic Quest: The whole theme of the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, has been cast in the form of the Heroic Quest, and made remote in its fabric from our own time and space. I would add to this that the use of this form by its very remoteness signifies the lack of
authentic Hero Quest in modern day society. See endnote (i )for further discussion.

32 'country ' in the sense of indigenous belonging : intimate knowledge of fellow denizens and surrounds that comes only after long habitation and observation of its patterns; of profound

awareness of the surrounds in the subtlest sense. Dadirri is an example of this in the
Australian context. 33 Tolkien, J.R.R. In the House of Tom Bombadil in ' The Fellowship of the Ring'. p 124


Tom may not fit into Middle earth because he stands for it.35

Do you think Tom Bombadil, the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside, could be made into the hero of a story?36
he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be

prepared to analyze the feeling precisely37.

Tom and Goldberry are 'unfallen' in a narrative rich with archetypes of ultimately Eucharistic inquiry38. Their function is latent but chthonic: potently placed symbols of redemption. Here the peace is profound and time is a dream. Presented here is an idyllic principal embedded within a nest of other ecologically and socially symbiotic principals. It is a place contrasted with Galadrial's realm, Tom is ego less in an

ecosophical 39 sense compared to the egotism of the elves: his place is so central to
the nature of Middle earth that its stillness is not stagnant. A dynamic principal makes it like to that of a centrifuge: an instinctively placed moral Axis Mundi upon which an increasingly relevant 'environmental' aesthetic revolves. For Tom is a guardian, a steward of nature. Tolkien expressed the eucatastrophe of fantasy as the delight in finding it to
34 Tolkien, J.R.R.(1964). Letter to Przemyslaw Mroczkowski between 2026 January . Accessed via: 35 Dickerson and Evans. Tom Bombadil (and the River's Daughter), 'Varda, Yavanna, and the Value of Creation'. in Ents, Elves...'. pp18 23 36 Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937). Letter 19 To Stanley Unwin from 'The Letters of ...' 37 ibid. Letter 144 to Naomi Mitchison 38 Grant, P.(1981) Archetype and Word in 'Tolkien: New Critical Perspectives'. p 99-104 39 ecosophy : literally wisdom concerning the household (Oikos), using household in a large extended sense to refer to the earth... refers to a fundamental, and often more ancient philosophical or religious value, one which turns the self away from too much emphasis on the ego cut off from the larger social and natural context in which it lives. From an ecosophy can be derived more specific environmental values, such as more willingness to let nature run its course, with integrity and without undue human interference : Fischer, N. (1996). From aesthetic education to environmental aesthetics. ''Clio'.Summer. 25, 4. quoting: Naess,A. (1985) The Deep Ecological Movement: Some Philosophical Aspects. in 'Deep Ecology for the 21st Century'. p 79 83; and

Identification as a Source for Deep Ecological Attitudes in Deep Ecology. ed. Michael Tobias.
San Diego: Avante Books. p 259 64

be 'primarily' true: that the very virtue of creating, despite the fact of impermanence, may be that man:
may actually assist in the effoliation and multiple enrichment of creation. All tales may come true they may [in their redemption] be as like and as unlike the forms that we give them as Man, finally redeemed, will be like and unlike the fallen that we know.40

This principal of embedded creation, or sub creation within infinite convolutions of reality41, having intrinsic spiritual value despite the fact of impermanence is chiefly highlighted in the plot of Leaf by Niggle. Tolkien also says in his letter to Milton Waldman: the Gift ... of Men is mortality, freedom from the circles of the world. Since the
point of view of the whole cycle is the Elvish, mortality is not explained mythically: it is a mystery of God of which no more is known than that 'what God has purposed for Men is hidden': a grief and an envy to the immortal Elves42

However, Tolkien's humanistic anthropocentrism does depart from any conceivably deliberate theories of ecology in his representation of the nature of Middle earth. There is some sense in the stories that the entire creation of Middle Earth, and by philosophical extension the entire creation of the real world, stagnates if kept pristine or frozen in time. This is not true of nature, but it may well be true of separatist culture. The elves of Middle earth lean toward elitism in their 'embalming' of the husk; the husk covers something more divine burgeoning from within in accord to the subtleties of a divine 'original music'. They sacrifice their humility in the process and their dogma lacks faith evidencing a kind of pessimism, thus interrupting the 'score'. This stagnation is not largely true of nature, if it has been preserved, only immediate culture: it is the point of faith that Tolkien follows here. Culture must circulate to survive, any healthy system must have complete and largely uninterrupted cycles to stay healthy. Still water stagnates and dies, running

40 Tolkien, J.R.R. On Fairy Stories in 'The Monsters ' p 156 7 41 Indeed an eternal entity whether one calls it 'God' or 'nature' 42 Tolkien, J. R. R. (1951?). Letter 131 To Milton Waldman from 'The Letters of... '

water oxygenates and is full of life: this is an active metaphor as it is the element on Middle earth closest to Tolkien's concept of Divine music. Passing elves evoke an air of poignancy but, if any, the prevalent moral of the cycle is holistically extended toward resilience in that 'these are paths which may be travelled again':
these hobbits hummed a walking song Bilbo Baggins had made the words, to a tune that was as old as the hills, and taught it to Frodo:
...Tree and flower and leaf and grass,

Let them pass! Let them pass! Still round the corner there may wait A new road or a secret gate, And though we pass them by today, Tomorrow we may come this way And take the hidden paths that run Towards the Moon or to the Sun. Apple, thorn, and nut and sloe, Let them go! Let them go!43

This is true of nature nature is resilient; quite able to recover from almost complete desertification should the right conditions exist. Even the fragmented skeleton of culture survives through its archaeological remains, when preserved by nature; endangered species pass by into extinction when environmental conditions are no more favourable but they too leave behind fossils, bones, DNA. It is almost impossible for the modern consciousness not to associate Middle earth's departure of the elves with the departure of the extinct as the reason for both is, at ground level, exactly the same: compromised ecology; the poignancy, the melancholy is also shared. The land of the Middle earth's elvish realms whisper that they were once there. The land of Lydney and the Forest of Dean whispers too of the lives and passing of its peoples. Not only in the names of 'Dwarf's Chapel' and the mines spread about in the surrounding forests. Nor in Tuatha d Danaan connexions extrapolated from inscriptions44 upon artefacts, or unearthed votive curses : (For the
god Nodens. Silvianus has lost a ring and has donated one half [its worth] to Nodens.

Among those named Senicianus permit no good health until it is returned to the temple of Nodens ), or obscure landscaped forms; but also in its effect upon a young Tolkien

and his imagination. These and many other enigmatic 'palimpsesti' are as wisps which spun themselves into the skein of the cycle. Dynamic change in nature is based on the entropy it seeks when imbalance is the paradigm. The elves are justified in trying to cultivate their feraculture and keep it healthy but it is not wholesome to seek to posses that nature. The separation of their own culture into certain pockets of the world with little or no interplay renders their virtues meaningless in isolation as far as the other Children of God are concerned because culture, definitively, is a shared thing. This compulsion makes them disjunct and this fragmentation creates borders to the reality of their world, this is a fundamental fragmentation : a delusion. The elves are the metaphor of the Ainur given to them by Illvatar. Because the elves sacrifice their power, and ultimately their presence on Middle earth to the greater good, they retain their humility. Faced with the challenge of accepting their role as a transient part of the whole, their passing is ennobled just as the passing of heathen gods an extinct species is ennobled.

The Song it is said by the Eldar that in water there yet lives the echo of the Music of the
Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this Earth46

In the historical matrix music lingers in a language as myth lingers in a culture as marks remain on a palimpsest as half forgotten memories linger in a lifetime : inspiring, remnant, wisps of perfection can be perfected upon . The Divine Perspective within Tolkien's cosmology conceives of whole realms of matter in this way as a matter of Miltonian angelic composition. A concept can grow when seeded in a fertile situation; such apocalyptic sensibilities as his and his time are ever fruitful ground for rhapsody : one treats the excesses of the other and vice versa. What cohesion Art possesses must make sense of the mystery, poetry of the babble,

eucatastrophe47 of the tragedy. It must be spun out of straw to do so.

Water is a close fitting metaphor for the Children of God under both the deterministic nature of Illvatar's circumscribing song and, paradoxically, its insistence upon free will. For all that it is flexible and adaptable it is also irrepressible: irresistible as a universal solvent and as a gathering force. It is sublime in minutiae: snowflake crystals are the 'picking up' of a destructive note48 of Melkorian cold; and dewdrops are as beautiful a conduit of light as Elbereth singing up the stars. It is a guide, in terms of moral principal in relation to the divine (if unsullied), to the unfallen : in our reality today the state of water absolutely reflects levels of folly. By its nature it implacably flows through randomly occurring paths of least resistance, utterly deterministic in its obedience to gravity and environmental

Even the rebel Melkor is caught up in his own nature in this way, as if by design his function, referential to the divine, is to question and to challenge: to 'seek
beyond the world and find no rest therein Men resemble Melkor most of all the Ainur49'. The Tao De Jing says of all matter, in relation to concepts of 'spirit' or 'fate',

that 'Clay is moulded into a vessel/ Because of the hollow we may use the cup 50.' Tolkien's Melkor and all matter else is seen, as the clay vessel is, to have been

designed with a function. He is defeated repeatedly by what he is not. He is useful in

terms of his potential. He is the spur to the creative purpose of the Ainur, his creations thus signify theirs as theirs signify his; his destruction gives poignancy,

46 Tolkien, J.R.R. Ainulindale. from 'The Silmarillion'. p 8 47 Tolkien, J.R.R. On Fairy Stories in 'The Monsters ' p 153 48 Tolkien, J.R.R. Ainulindale. from 'The Silmarillion'. p5: 'it seemed that [Melkor's] most triumphant notes were taken by the other and woven into its

own solemn pattern' 49 Tolkien, J.R.R. Of the Beginning of Days. Chapter 1 of 'Quenta Silmarillion' from The Silmarillion.. p36 50 Lao Zi uses the water metaphor in Dao De Jing to transform meanings of Dao from the metaphysical level to social and behavioral levels:unified into three concepts: Zhi xu (attainment of complete vacuity), yong rou (softness), and chu xia (subordination)/bu zheng (non competition). Chen, G. and Holt, G. Persuasion through the Water Metaphor in Dao De Jing. from
'Daodejing. Intercultural Communication Studies', 11 XI 1 2002

'flow', and impermanence to the works of the Ainur: they do not stagnate because of him; rather they redefine and refine their ideas to beauty and harmony of greater subtlety in order to render 'creation' that much more impervious and sublime. In short Melkor and his followers are woven into the tune of Illvatar's omnipotent composition no matter what they do to challenge this. Melkor as a concept is the chaos which the artist is compelled to set to order, however briefly; thus, for all his destruction, no less a vessel for the Divine purpose. It is indirectly due to him that the world's healing modalities exist. Here is one of the core recurring facets of Tolkien's writing : sacred purpose; a branch, undeniably, of substitution. Sacred status within the text is accorded by a character's ability to heal and all things subject to Melkor's meddling require healing.

Homunculus Man
This healing is a cultural dynamic within Middle earth because the elves, and those of their bloodline, can heal. Aragorn bears this legacy of Elvish blood and is seen occasionally to 'heal' in a shamanic way51 with reference to spirit lands and with aid of herbs. This connotation that he is healer and hunter ties hin euhemeristically with the healing god/King Nodens /Nuada. The scene where Aragorn practises in this way upon Faramir creates a dual impression; the ancient modalities are present but there is an overlapping of the Christ image : ' [It seemed
that] Aragorn walked afar in some dark vale, calling for one that was lost [Aragorn said to Faramir] Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!'. Both the pagan and

Christian impression are evoked here so that one cannot separate them as two contrasting methodologies. Aragorn is further poetically implicated as a Christ figure. His image is inseparable from that of a 'crucifix' that he carries with him at all times in the form of the hilt of an ancestor's broken sword; the association is also evoked in the tone of his oath to the company of Hobbits : 'He stood up, and seemed
suddenly to grow taller. In his eyes gleamed a light, keen and commanding looking down

51 Kisor, Y. (2010).Totemic Reflexes in Tolkien Middle earth.. 'Mythlore'. p 133

at them with his face softened by a sudden smile if by life or death I can save you, I will'52'. Tolkien sees no separation in the two paradigms, his religious view is


The concept of 'healing' is broadly culturally universal and can be acknowledged as one of the root concepts in any human system of thought. It is as such a very important part of the human mythology certainly the grounds and base of many, if not all, religion. It is pertaining to healing that the field of spirituality finds its most profound and abstract therefore inspiring expressions. The feeding of Nhggr at the root of Yggdrasill adumbrates the harmony of all else. Balance in the branches of the world above must re establish itself in order to render the great world tree's roots resistant to any corruption from below : a meaningful paradigm in the contemporary consciousness. The entity based human system is metaphysically related to these other systems of nature via such ancient conceptions; easily translating from that point to a relevant cosmological view of the dynamics of balance v's imbalance. The world tree Yggdrasill is covertly recalled by the Two Trees of Valinor which for a short time shed gold and silver light upon the world of

The Silmarillion53.
The Melkor/Smaug concept, similar to Nhggr, must be embraced and absorbed into the whole, as part of a complete system of cycles, else the whole implodes through becoming self referential, narcissistic, and ultimately dysfunctional. The presence of this concept is therefore the test of virtue and by default its improver. In this way the function of all matter is, as is the vessel of clay or 'Holy Grail',Theotokos : a fertile matrix, or interaction of matrices, bearing potential to realise qualities of ultimate sublimity. Bilbo Baggins is often committing acts of profundity in cavern settings : whilst in the grips of draconitas he takes a golden cup out from under the dragon
52 Tolkien, J.R.R. Strider. in 'Fellowship '. p171 53 Tolkien, J.R.R. Of the Beginning of Days. Chapter 1 of 'Quenta Silmarillion' from The

Silmarillion.. p31

Smaug. This cup was one of many 'vessels filled with a wealth that could not be

guessed54' secreted in the underground chamber of Smaug's lair. In detailing the

heroic initiation journeys of Bilbo and Frodo 55 the Ring cycle in its turn rescues a grail concept (a concept of their self realisation and that of their Age) out from under a fetishistic monstrous modernity. This writing is no simple matter of recoil, this writing is a subliminal grail quest. Tolkien has gathered many healing modalities, both Pagan and Christian56, into his net as he fishes for his ichthus : ' into bottomed waters at once clear and

dim,/where nets are fingered and flung on many a day;/ yet it slides through the mesh of the mind and sweeps/ back to its haunt in a fathomless bottomless pool ...57'.
These modalities are pervasive in his text overall is this fact merely reflecting the intentionally vague sense of a mythic root, his own self preserving instincts of self healing; or is it a general humanistic comment upon resilience? To attempt to answer this question takes us part way to exploring some of the inspiration he gained from heathen gods and their worshippers. As part of the mythology of the land, healing is an undeniable and consistently pertinent, (because entity based), link to our most distant past. From a post colonial perspective centred around one's own displaced 'Indigenous identity'
54 Tolkien, J.R.R. Inside Information. The Hobbit. p 250 55 see Kisor, Y. (2010).Totemic Reflexes in Tolkien Middle earth. Mythlore 109/110, Spring /Summer also Henderson, Joseph L. (1967). in Thresholds of initiation.: says 'In dreams or myths, individuation most frequently presents itself as the lively, urgent wish to undertake a journey of initiation alone or at most, accompanied by a friend. It is apparently the absolutely unpredictable goal of such a journey that provides its charm.' p 134 ' . . We can see it (the archetypal journey) . . . as a journey of individuation undertaken at the zenith of life in order to allow a mature person to come into possession of that psychic wholeness by which the claims of the ego are subordinated to the claims of the Self. The latter journey leads to maturity as self integration, whereas the former leads to the egos conquest of worldly prestige . . . He undertakes his inner quest without any heroic show of strength and achieves it, not as a triumph, but as a submission to powers higher than himself . . . He can count only upon his own intrinsic human worth and is of necessity his own teacher.' p 135; also Grant, P.(1981) Archetype and Word . 'New Critical Perspectives'. 56 For Pagan modalities of healing see Kisor. Totemic Reflexes ... 57 Williams, Charles. Bors to Elayne: The Fish of Broceliande. as qtd by Curtis, J. (1996) in 'A Confluence of Pagan Celtic and Christian Traditions in Charles Williams' 'Bors to Elayne: The Fish of Broceliande''. pp 96 111.

England holds impressionistic associations with Druidic and archaic herbal lore. Here an interesting point of commonality is seen between these 'heath'un' connotations, the consciousness of Tolkien's time, and the Christian faith in general : the older Asclepian incubation traditions58 are all centred upon the same principals. These principals comprise of practices which facilitate and maintain a 'spiritual' conduit of body and matter in order to facilitate healing; the Holy Communion ritual is a case in point. There is commonly also an attendant trope of the deconstruction of matter represented by the entity/body in order to reconstruct, with spiritual endowment, after the factii. Tolkien's characters find their harbours in each other, in hospitality and in each other's virtues. Tom Bombadil's house is not the only house of rest and healing, aside from those of the elves, in which an atmosphere of a dream incubation space is covertly present. It is most interesting to reflect upon the character of the lodgings and powerful shamanic imagery associated with the figure of the skin changer Beorn : '...a man descended from the first men who lived...59'. The several particular parallels between the two houses have been notediii. Relevant of these is a shared atmosphere of enclosure as in both situations the travellers are ensconced within and constrained to stay. Whilst very comfortable there is marked reference to night time experiences, of small disturbances in sleep and solitary awakenings. Indirect but powerful is the impression of Beorn night wandering the parameters of his territory in bear form. This shape shifting event lends to the scene that same sense of surreal extraliminality as that experienced by a child's waking fearful in the mystery of deep night; this sense is also present in a mirroring scene in Bombadil's house. Old traditions of dream incubation saw shamans wrapping themselves for extended periods in the hides of oxen, sometimes freshly flayed60. Beorn himself is evocative of
58 Trubshaw, Bob. (1995). Dream Incubation.. in 'Mercian Mysteries'; and Drayton P. Oxhide myths in 'Mercian Mysteries' 59 Tolkien, J.R.R. Queer Lodgings. 'The Hobbit'. p 135 60 Drayton P. Oxhides and dream incubation. from 'Oxhide myths': Divination involving dream incubation is also linked directly to oxhides in the Welsh tale of the 'Dream of Rhonabwy' from the Mabinogion. The hero sleeps on a yellow calf skin which initiates an elaborate dream sequence lasting three days and nights. Foretelling the future from prophetic

the bear skin wearing, axe wielding Berserkir of legend61. Beorn also wears 'a tunic of wool' which harkens to the Finnish creation stories and ties his association to that of Bombadil and Goldberry in the figures of Tapiloa and Mielikki from The Kalevala :
The culture hero Vainamoinen sings of the creation of the bear in the great Finnish epic The Kalevala. From a piece of wool thrown on the waters by a female air spirit, the bear is given birth. But the bear is not born at once. The wool is 'lulled' and 'wafted' upon the waters until it is washed ashore. There Mielikki, the forest mistress and wife of Tapiloa, the lord of the forest, gathers up the wool, lays it in a basket and tends it until the wool is slowly transformed into a bear. The Beast grew beautifully came up to be most graceful ... his fur fair, luxuriant ...62

Cami Agan writes of the effect of this kind of temporally obscured reference to collated mythologies within and without the world of Middle earth in his article

Song as a conduit of myth:

... through these allusions, Tolkien establishes another kind of reality : a temporal
layering of ancient stories, both oral and written, which add weight not merely to the world of Middle earth but also to its aesthetic creations : its languages, its songs, and its literary transmissions of history.63

Gollum's misstep, with the Ring, into the crack of doom vaguely echoes another ancient tale : that of the Mabinogion, the sacrifice of Efnysien in the cauldron Pair Dadeni64. The accuracy of the similarity to the tale itself is not so vital
dreams was known in Scots Gaelic as taghairm. This rite was said to been performed by a diviner, wrapped in the 'warm smoking hide of a newly slain ox, and laid at full length in the wildest recesses of some lonely waterfall'. Another reference to this rite being performed in the Western Isles dates back to 1703. In this instance a man wrapped in a cow's hide was left overnight in a lonely place in order to learn from 'invisible friends' what he desires to know. 61 Ryan, J. S.(1966).German Mythology applied The Extension of the Literary Folk Memory. p49 Entry : Bjork, R. E.(2012). Ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages.

Berserk : [ON Bear shirt?] A fierce Scandinavian warrior clad in bear or wolf skin. Of Germanic
cultic origin, he is best known from ON sagas, where he can have positive associations (for example, in Egills saga) but, far more often, negative ones moving toward the monstrous (for example, in rvar Odds saga). 62 Bieder, R. E.(2006). The imagined bear. 'Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa' p163. 63 Agan, C. (2008). Song as Mythic Conduit in The Fellowship of the Ring . 'Mythlore': p 44 64 Accessed via:

as its function in terms of a powerful sense of balance acheived by the event. This balance is at the heart of the deeply felt aspect of both myth and mythopoea. At the risk of simplifying the relation, there is also a decidedly Jungian flavour to the function of the Ring as a force which explores the shadow of any being and the death of Gollum as shadow. Also present is an added dash of Shakespearian 'pound of flesh' and an alchemical allusion to the deconstruction of the Ring. This loss of Frodo's finger highlights other commonalities between hinself and Sauron connected through their mutual mutilation: the Ring had claimed that much of them, a little more of Sauron for he had, by Frodo's time, become largely incorpereal 'invisible'. The Ring turned the 'virtuous gold' of its subjects into 'debased lead' using an alchemical metaphor for the transmutation of the soul. Returning to its basic element reverses the process and the deconstructing effect of the fire is the treatment of the fetish. The moment has many mirrors, Frodo is now 'everyman' rather than 'epic hero'65. He cannot, now, judge any who have ever come under the Ring's seduction, the spell was comprehensive and he is now positively informed : less vulnerable therefore to the dangers of underestimation or any illusion of infallibility within himself. He also has knowledge of Providence in both the loyalty of Sam and the serendipity of chance. Gollum is shown to be a vessel of chance and Samwise as a figure fulfills underpinning role of Providence. Between the fates of the two Frodo is 'healed', at the very least he is benefitted, by way of their sacred purpose combined. Gollum is a wizened reflection of Frodo's folly, or potential for folly, as he meaningfully overbalances on the edge of the abyss. Feelings run along lines of a paradox here as Frodo has reason to be grateful for the nature of Gollum, twisted as it was. Patrick Grant states it thus: '...on some profound level a traditional Providence is at work ... the sense, never full, always intermittent ... is also a glimpse of joy66.' Gollum's death, his sacrifice of self in the broad sense by way of his obsession with the Ring, is sublimated by the fact that he undergoes the neccessary

65 Matthews, D. The Psychological Journey of Bilbo Baggins. as paraphrased in

Honegger, T. Tolkien, Jung and the Archetype of Shadow. 66 Grant, P. (1981). Tolkien : Archetype and word. 'New Critical Perspectives' . p 103

deconstruction along with it literally an 'ash to ashes, dust to dust' scenario. Gollum and the Ring are not destroyed, merely returned to original form where any power or virtue held within returns to the song of creation : the elements in their purity. Both the Ring and Gollum are presumably untwisted. Even as tools of evil they have served a dual purpose (sacred purpose) in contributing to the self realisation of all whom they encountered. Frodo must put aside any residue of ego to be able to rejoice in his mirror self's demise that balance has been acheived before it is quite lost is a

matter of faith for Frodo to realise. The virtue to be grateful for the way things are, to feel the justice of the moment, is one of the acheivements of the quest, one cannot improve matters without a grounded acceptance of matters.

There is a Fire in the Hearth

'...and it was burning with a sweet smell, as if it were built of apple wood67.'

I do not know what a real fire built of apple wood actually smells like, nor do I know how hot buttered rum actually tastes, but I expect they combine well with honeycomb and clotted cream. There is no great disparity between Tolkien as a 'cult' figure and Tolkien as a 'cultural' influence. What begins as a cult fetish will in time prove the level of its integrity by growing to become a cultural fact. Tolkien has achieved this transfer from one to the other because of the magnitude and depth of his intent and the integrity he displayed in manifesting his ideas. He took his passion seriously, thus found the root of ideology, an act that goes beyond the mere founding of a genre. This is not to say that 'cult' status and 'cultural' influence are based necessarily on the same aspects of his work, the dynamics of story which appeal to 'hippy culture' are not quite the same as those which appeal to 'fantasy buffs', although there is some commonality. Two main scenes can be isolated in the story of

Fellowship of the Ring which stand out as exemplary moments of iconic cult
importance, only identifiable as worthy of reference post hoc merely due to their
67 Tolkien, J.R.R. In the House of Tom Bombadil. The Fellowship ' p 125

apparent iconographic dynamism :

The company was in the big common room of the inn. The gathering was large and mixed, as Frodo discovered, when his eyes got used to the light. his came chiefly from a blazing log fire, for the three lamps hanging from the beams were dim, and half veiled in smoke. Barliman Butterbar was standing near the fire, talking to a couple of dwarves and one or two strange looking men. On the benches were various folk : men of Bree, a collection of local hobbits (sitting chattering together), a and corners. Frodo noticed that a strange looking weather beaten man, sitting in the

tankard in front of him, and was smoking a long stemmed pipe curiously carved. His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud. A travel stained cloak of heavy dark green cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heat in the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face...68

In the leaping light, as the fresh wood blazed up, Frodo saw many grey

shapes spring over the ring of stones. More and more followed. Through the throat of one huge leader Aragorn passed his sword with a thrust; with a great sweep Boromir hewed the head off another. Beside them Gimli stood with his stout legs apart, wielding his dwarf ax. The bow of Legolas was singing69.

These lines are so very striking70. The atmospheres of these scenes and their evocative nature (and many other scenes of similar aesthetic quality) can be explored ad

nauseum throughout subsequent novellas of the fantasy genre and the iconography
of a very great array of contemporary 'gaming cultures'. If Tolkien was 'hungry for dragons' he passed on that particular emotion, a sharp sense of sehnsucht , through these firelit 'travel and tavern' adventure scenes. These 'romantic', 'mediaevalist', scenes although departing from a 'chivalric knights in shining armour' kind of romance, are so in the sense that, for the most part, one immediately yearns for the world defined by their details. They retain an attraction despite depictions of the
68 Tolkien, J.R.R. At the sign of The Prancing Pony. 'Fellowship ' pp 154 156. 69 Tolkien, J.R.R. A Journey in the Dark.. 'Fellowship...' . p299 70 *As a mother of two teenage sons I can say with some authority that these passages have an awful lot to answer for.*

hard road Tolkien's characters travel. His depiction of the gritty and sublime realities of long distance walking across changing landscapes is the most natural of realisms in his writing, it is this quality which makes him a modern. To call these scenes culturally relevant would be to pre empt their importance but in our times they aid the escape of the imagination, they may well be the chthonic offering to the creation of a future world. If so it will be a world formed by the interaction of boys and girls, men and women, who find their desires deep in the forests and centred around the rich sensually based impressions of these atmospheres. These scenes function to create a mythic signification to contrast with so very much of what contemporary youth culture is actually entrenched within, all the while offering an overt alternative. There is nostalgia of an illusive kind which can only be accessed in this age by calling up the repetition of its image icon; an icon still latent in terms of analysis although Patrick Grant71 comes close when he refers to correlations of Jungian journey archetypes in Tolkien's writing. The machine must play with public opinion as these images are mainly accessed electronically relying upon many an industry; the machine is being called upon to produce these images to make these worlds as 'real' as possible. Pop is eating itself and Art makes it so. At some point presumably the machine will falter and reality will be sought after, the alternative is the construction of all encompassing virtual worlds. The machine has its sacred purpose in this way too. It is happening now, if indeed it ever was not happening : the 'symbiotic dream' of rustic 'living off the grid' is taking over suburban utopias with shiny new cars, nice apartments, cool nights spots and/or the picket fence and 'keeping up with the Joneses'. Economical survival (as opposed to economic survival) is the realistic ideal of many a modern existence, arguably for a certain section of society it has always been. These images speak of a society where the reality is based at a subsistence level which fights to stay that way given the choice. There is much more to the attraction of the cult phenomenon : these worlds still breathe, they are
71 Grant, P. Tolkien : Archetype and word. 'New Critical Perspectives' .

yet still possible. This is the point central to this essay. We will perhaps know that we can count ourselves somewhere along the way to recovery from over regulated modern existences when a part of our world is seen to walk into a tavern and meet an atmosphere like this, when the dominant fashion wear is practical comfortable travel gear, and when social groups face elements and wild nature together, on foot in merry bands on worthy missions for the good of all in a world without guns or associated technology. Perhaps Bolivia is the closest we have to this now, except for the guns. However long it takes it is a real (and perhaps necessary) stretch of the imagination that is required to visualise these paths in the western world which may well be travelled again. Australian counter culture certainly came close to walking these paths in the 1990's before it fragmented, a fragmentation I might add that was the result of an elitism which crept in to that spontaneous movement : partly the effect of much discrimination from the conservative world and partly a similar stagnation of righteous egotism to that of Tolkien's elves. This has perhaps happened many times in history, even in Shakespeare's King Lear the Prince renounces his position, 'elfs his hair', and goes to 'live in a hovel' after which in the play members of the court by happenstance must share his dwelling to shelter from a storm. One can still catch real live Hippies these days. I asked a very few that still roam the town I live in what Tolkien's writing meant to them during a time when there was much social change generated from within the alternate movement:
It was a lens to view the world through, bit like the Bible. I had my younger sisters from Sydney staying with me in a shack when we had a party and one said "It's just like Lord of the Rings isn't it?" It was also cutting edge at the time. The last lonely places were crying out to protected. We could live in a dream state. We are now in the Post destruction age. Technology net everywhere. A martial totalitarian aspect to Social Security. 1970's was an age of idealism and hope is as in the Lord of the Rings.72

72 Lyn Oldfield, resident of Nimbin NSW; from a personal conversation with the essayist, 28th January 2013.

another said:
I know that our neighbour Elbereth changed her name after the character.73

... it can be said that the writings of JRR Tolkien had far reaching effects that he could never have imagined : from London's Middle Earth rock / dance /nightclub in the 1960s, to illuminating the imaginations of a generation of seekers after truth, love, peace and heroic journeys, who in their turn seeded strong movements for social justice, world peace and environmental responsibility74.

yet another said:

He meant beautiful language, and coherent thought to pull together such a complete and mostly self consistent universe. Also, lovely morals shine throughout the works rejecting ugly industrialisation, but there is also diversity there were a range of places and peoples in the works, from high style to rustic. He also was willing to share his thought his best work may well be 'tree & leaf' In its very early days Tuntable [commune] had a member named Strider. 75

Sounding the chthonic depths

Pippin felt curiously attracted by the well... he crept to the edge and peered over. A chill air seemed to strike at his face, rising from invisible depths. Moved by a sudden impulse he groped for a loose stone, and let itdrop. He felt his heart beat many times before there was any sound, Then far below, as if the stone had fallen into deep water in some cavernous place, there came a 'plunk' ,very distant, but magnified and repeated in the hollow shaft. Nothing washeard for several minutes; but there came out of the depths faint knocks : 'tom tap, tap tom, tap tap, tom.' They stopped, and when the echoes had died away they were repeated they sounded disquietingly like signals of some sort; but after a while the knocking died away and

73 Lili Bailey, resident of Nimbin NSW; from a personal conversation with the essayist, 28th January 2013 74 Jenny Dell, resident of Nimbin NSW, from a private conversation with the essayist; 30th January 2013 75 James Fuller, resident of Nimbin NSW, from a private conversation with the essayist; 29th January 2013

was not heard again76. In silence of webs, Abiku moans, shaping Mounds from the yolk.77

[He created a] mythic world [in which] not only the ties between human

beings but also the bonds that connect the natural and the human world are forged anew.78

Tolkien, tapping his signals in the depths, created seed of thought, faith, inspiration, design, and intent . Planted in a field ploughed by chaos, made fertile by reflexive hope; it grew, as strong young things do, very quickly in the beginning as a cult object, now it is deep rooted, flourishing, cultural; fruiting even. Perhaps it is more of an apple tree than a tree of light, at this stage. Perhaps it is after all an Yggdrasill. He is like the potter who makes functional art : if 'kicking a wheel' a potter must centre the clay before anything can be formed, in a process of utter peace the formless and malleable clay in the stillpoint of the centrifuge becomes under the hands of a skilled artist. If the pot breaks after it is fired and decorated there are some artists in the world who repair it filling every crack in the ceramic with pure gold. Tolkien centred his clay with his faith and his was an inclusive religion it could not be anything but, else he lost perspective. There is no grounding without acknowledgement and there is no art without an intimately available signification of 'what is undeniable', what is real . There is no art without the necessary detachment to be objective about reality. This Tolkien's faith also supplied to him in a profound conceptualisation of the fact and importance of impermanence. His characters are forced to acknowledge the paths their choices take them for better or worse. Even the disembodied symbol of the fear of God : fascist panopticon cyclops Sauron, is forced by events to 'look inward' and reflect upon his own folly. The manichean divide in

76 Tolkien, J.R.R. A Journey in the Dark. 'Fellowship ' p313 77 Soyinka, W. (1965). poem: Abiku. 78 Veldman, M. (1994). Fantasy, The Bomb, and the Greening of Britain: Romantic Protest 19451980. p 74

Tolkien's cosmology is between the love of God: Illvatar; and the fear of God : Melkor/Sauron. Tolkien implies in his discourse of resilience that even the damage this disparity causes will still be 'filled in with gold'. The tension felt in academia that perhaps the cult reception of his works obscures its cultural importance is the failure to recognise between the feeling inchoate and the reasoned inquiry. If recognition of a dynamism is inarticulate but deeply felt its reaction is 'cult' and surreal until voiced, or realised, shared, in some other creative manner. It is the externalisation of dynamic influence and the sharing of that realisation that renders something a matter of 'culture'. Aspects of Tolkien's work are still latent and 'cultish', other facets are most comprehensively 'culturally' present.


This also means that the initiatory experience and thus a bit of liminal 'magic' present deep

within the mundane rituals of pre 20th Century western cultural life as appropriated by a nihilistic imbalance. In his 2012 edition of Tolkien Cult or Culture Prof. Ryan concludes Chapter III with the proposal that Tolkien was the one modern amongst 'The Inklings' (p 73). He goes on in Chapter IV to mention the in vacuo readings of the Hippy response as a cultural displacement of Tolkien's settings, though producing randomly valuable insight (p 77). Rather than being seen as an example of 20th century imbalance this minority response to Tolkien by the alternate (Hippy) movement is proposed further on in this essay to be creatively redressing the issue. 'Cult' becomes 'culture' in their response to Tolkien's works as 'The Hippy Bible' and rather than a Cultural Displacement rendering any such readings of Tolkien's works as stagnant and static: in vacuo; the reality is that the work resonated with the intellectual sector of that minority. An intellectual element that was well aware of the nuances of those aesthetic and ideals expressed by Tolkien which have proved to be a dynamic influence within society. One of the resilient offshoots of that recognition is the emergence of the aforementioned ecocritical discourse as the wider contexts of his work come to the fore. Rather than simply recall his 'mythical' construction of England the result may be in the future that his influence goes one step further and initiates it. Manifestations of newly built 'Hobbit Holes' with sod roofs, 'living off the grid' houses , tree houses and 'the tiny house movement' are to be seen all over the British countryside, and anywhere else this globalised alternative movement has found space and opportunity to realise the vision instilled by these concepts. Intentional communities consciously modelled themselves up until the late 1980's on Hobbiton, and Tolkien's works have been famously translated into many world languages.

ii Throughout late antiquity, Epidaurus was a holy site especially celebrated for the epiphany of Asklepios, the divine healer. According to Strabo, Asklepios was believed to "cure diseases of every kind." His temple was always full of the sick as well as containing the votive tablets on which treatments were recorded (Geography 8.6.15). Asklepios would appear to the sick sleeping in his temple more precisely, in the innermost chamber (to abaton) of the sanctuary; he would approach the sick in dreams and visions, or, as Aelius Aristides put it, in a "state of mind inter mediate between sleep and waking." This practice of temple sleep, incubation (incubatio), was of vital importance to the sick; it was in the state of such dreams and visions that one was healed or given instructions by Asklepios. The healing god would touch his patient's body with his hands, apply drugs, or undertake surgical operations. Consequently, the eyesight of the blind would be restored, the lame would walk, the mute would speak, and the man whose fingers had been para lyzed would stretch each of them one by one. Some examples of Asklepios's miracles follow. Ambrosia of Athens, blind in one eye, came to Epidaurus to seek help from Asklepios. But as she walked around the temple, she mocked at the many records of divine healings: "It is unbelievable and impossible that the lame and the blind can be cured by merely dreaming." In her sleep she had a dream: Asklepios approached and promised to heal her; only in return she must present a gift offering in the temple a silver pig, in memory of her stupidity. After saying this, Asklepios cut open her defective eye and poured in a drug. Her sight was soon restored. The following mir acle story about a man with an abscess inside his abdomen reminds us of the initiatory dreaming of Siberian shamans. While asleep in the temple, the man saw a dream: Asklepios ordered the ser vants who accompanied him to hold him tightly so that he could cut open his abdomen. The man tried to escape but could not. Then Asklepios cut his belly open, removed the abscess, and stitched him up. Sometimes, the healing power of Asklepios reached the patient far away from his temple. Arata, a woman of Lacedaemon, was dropsical. While she remained in Lacedaemon, her mother slept in the temple on her behalf and saw a dream: Asklepios cut off her daughter's head and hung up her body in such a way that her throat was turned downward. Out of it came a huge quantity of fluid matter. Then he took down the body and put the head back onto the neck. After the mother had seen this dream, she went home and found her daughter in good health; the daughter had seen the same dream. The Mediterranean world knew Egypt as the home of thaumaturgy, theosophy, and esoteric wisdom. There, the goddess Isis was praised for her miraculous healings; she was credited with bringing the arts of healing to men and, once she had attained immortality, taking pleasure in miraculously healing those who incubated themselves in her temple (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History 1.25.25). At her hands the maimed were healed and the blind re ceived their eyesight. According to the inscriptions found on the island of Delos dating from about the first century BCE, Isis worship was attended by a functionary specifically called an aretalogos, an interpreter of dreams, who may have functioned as a proclaimer of miraculous events. The temple of the god Sarapis at Canopus, not far from Alexandria, was also famous for its divine healing; Sarapis would visit those who slept in his temple, giving them advice in dreams.

iii In addition to the Germanic [qualities] of the chapter, I also find the similaties between Queer Lodgings and In the house of Tom Bombadil intriguing. Both chapters, probably coincidentally, occupy chapter seven of their respective books. Unlike Tom Bombadil, Beorn must be sought out due to the dangers of waiting for him and encountering him by night, but both characters are of uncertain origins. Gandalf tells us about Beorn: Some say that he is a bear descended from the great and ancient bears of the mountains that lived there before the giants came. Others say that he is a man descended from the first men who lived before Smaug or the other dragons came into this part of the world, and before the goblins came into the hills out of the North. While Beorns origins are uncertain, it is clear that he has descended from some ancient line, even if were not entirely sure which ancient line. In contrast, Tom is Eldest, and was here before the river and the trees . Tom is somehow unaffected by the Ring, and Gandalfs description of Beorn as under no enchantment but his own seems to be a fitting description of both Beorn and Bombadil. The guests eat the same fare as their hosts, a rich vegetarian diet of breads and cakes with lots of cream and honey. After dinner, both characters warn their guests about the dangers of leaving their residence at night. We receive Toms warning from him in the text: Sleep till the morning light, rest on the pillow! Heed no nightly noise! Fear no grey willow!. Beorns warning we only receive as quoted by Gandalf: In this hall we can rest sound and safe, but I warn you all not to forget what Beorn said before he left us: you must not stay outside until the sun is up, on your peril. In TH its Bilbo who wakes and hears a noise as of some great animal scuffling at the door, and in LotR, its Frodo who hears the sound of twig fingers scraping wall and window. Source = Thread : The Hobbit Queer Lodgings. 'Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza'. Web Forum The Hobbit Queer Lodgings %28HRT 7%29

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