Tolkien in General

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Post by halfwise Sat Feb 13, 2021 8:54 pm

I suppose the bustle is what mitigates the need for a pillow.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat Feb 13, 2021 8:57 pm

{{ At least since its Neolithic inception it has evolved to something you sat on, or every time the Queen had to open Parliament she'd have to clamber up and read her speech tottering atop an ancient rock. Shocked But it is an amazing living link between Britain of 4000bc and Britain of today. }}

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Post by halfwise Sat Feb 13, 2021 10:17 pm

The neolithic tribes must have been a crabbity bunch, what with having to sit on stones before anyone thought to invent pillows. Must have been thinking the whole time "why am I doing this?" Probably threw themselves into raising mounds because they were sick of sitting around on stone seats.

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Post by azriel Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:25 am

many a fine fur has lain between cheek & stone, well I would have thought theyde cotton on to sitting on a fur of some sort ? Im thinking also that Haemorrhoids might have been a common complaint ? How did they find the herbs/flowers to relieve that ? how much of it was grown ? Smile

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Post by Mrs Figg Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:57 pm

I have enjoyed reading this Petty. cheers

you should try publishing it as a short article somewhere.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Feb 14, 2021 3:49 pm

{{ Thanks Figg. Glad you're enjoying it. Last part is on the way. I'll see how it shapes up as a whole- would need some tyding up mind you. }}

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Post by halfwise Sun Feb 14, 2021 6:36 pm

I had suggested a Tolkien mag, ask Eldy which would be best. If you find the right one you won't have to footnote, but would be good to list sources at the end.

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Post by Mrs Figg Sun Feb 14, 2021 9:05 pm

yep sources is a good idea, reference things is key for publication.

I use MHRA referencing style, but there are many others just as good. I have to reference my images as well which is a pain in the bum because I always forget to write down where I got them from and then have to trawl the internet trying to find them again. Rolling Eyes
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Post by halfwise Sun Feb 14, 2021 9:08 pm

In the right kind of zine you may be able to get away with just listing sources at the end, though pictures will need references in place.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:13 pm

{{ In part 2 I said - "The People of the Sidhe, Sidhe translates as 'burial mound.'" But a little more digging around and checking with a gaelic speaker added something rather wonderful to it.

The word 'sidhe' which I translated as 'burial mound', is only half the meaning. It refers both to a physical burial mound, but also to the otherworld version of it at the same time. It implies both states at once.
By the time language came to name these people the idea of the people in the otherworld between life and death in the mounds was so ingrained that their word for burial mound and that otherworld within it were one and the same in meaning.
Its a nice little conformation in the language of what the folklore of the people who used the word in its original context was regards the mounds.
I think Tolkien would have approved. }}

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Post by halfwise Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:42 pm

It also fits with his espoused theory of language and the meaning of words splintering over time: old words wrapped up more meaning within them, but in time they splintered into more words and narrowly defined meanings. So old words have more magic in them.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat Feb 20, 2021 6:38 pm

{{
Part Three


Like Holywood or comics Faery in the British Isles had its Golden Age too. And for me it was the period following the creation of the Celtic Church. And most importantly its addition of writing to the previously mute Druid religion it was replacing.

Illuminated Celtic Church Manuscript

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Now we have no way to be certain how accurately the early Celtic Church monks transcribed the purely pagan, faery legends. How much or how little they tried to bend those tales towards a more Christian meaning.
But I think we have to give the earliest monks at least some leeway here as for them there was no discrepancy between the core beliefs and morals of the old pagan religion they came from and their new adopted one.
And its in these tales we see the fleshed out faery emerge.

One of the oldest recorded tales is that of Oisín in Tír na nÓg .
It demonstrates that by the time this tale was set down the folklore around faery and the otherworld had been greatly expanded and populated.

All those threads we have followed have now joined together, our Neolithic mound builders are now the Tuatha De Danann, raised up to godhood. They live in the mounds but also now in a land across the Western Sea that exists as part of the otherworld between the land of living and dead. Where if you are granted entry, and you only can be if invited, you also gain immortality. They love poetry, music, entertainment and feasting.

This land across the western sea they live in is called Tir na nOg, it is an island paradise. There is no ageing, no decay, no loss, only beauty, health and well being everlasting.
It is connected to the mortal world through portals, sacred sites, most prominently the burial mounds, standing stones, circles and other left over features of the Neolithic. As well as nature influenced areas such as sacred groves and springs.
And it is through these portals mortals may find themselves straying into the land of faery or encountering faery folk from them.

At the centre of this island there is a great tree always surrounded by singing birds representing the souls of the dead.
And the island contains cities and fortresses made of precious metals.

In keeping with the older threads all joining the God of this immortal land was the first ancestor of the human race and God of the Dead. He is depicted as a great warrior. He is accompanied by a golden haired woman, who depending on tale might be his daughter or his wife.

Here we have the oldest memories maybe surviving into the tales- the original burial rites of the neolithic with their mounds, their practise of ancestor worship, their association with the land of the dead, the arrival of the Beaker people with metal, and their fairer complexion and lighter hair. With an added later dose of Norse and Celtic warrior culture and the nature based worship of the Druids.

But what is particularly interesting in this tale is what it adds to the threads. Up to now we been able to trace the culture influences that helped shape the faery narrative, but now with writing we get expansion on what they actually do, how they encounter humans and what happens.

In the tale of Oisin and Niamh we have our first recorded case of a mortal human man (Oisin) falling in love with and marrying a faery woman Niamh.
Even more importantly this demonstrates our first instance of this idea always being associated with some tragic element.
In this case she takes him to Tir Na nOg on a magical horse than can run over water, after 3 years there he grows homesick and wants to see Ireland again, she lets him ride back but warns him he must not set foot on the ground.
When he gets to Ireland he finds 300 years have passed in mortal lands and falls from his horse in shock, instantly ageing on hitting the ground by 300 years and dying on the spot.

One thing that becomes clear in these recorded myths is that a strong element of the Druidic religion seems to have been on transmogrification, the transforming of the soul into other forms in life or upon death. And its quite a common theme in their tale to have people or things transformed into an animal or turned into some other being. Such as the King who it is prohpecised wil lose his kingdom when his daughter marries and so he gets his Druid to call in the faery powers to transfrom her head into that of a boar so none will marry her (it doesnt go to plan).
It in part probably explains their quick and early adoption of Christianity the transformation of Jesus into bread and wine and the idea he was transformed on the cross so he could rise again from the Land of the Dead out a burial tomb would all have slotted nicely into their pre-existing views.

And these sort of abilities seems to have been translated to the faery folk too, so that they can cause such transformation in others, or their emissaries the Druids can.
Magic items and magic beasts also feature quite heavily in association with the faery folk in these early recorded myths and legends.

To this day at Dunvegan castle, home of the Clan McLeod you can stills see the ancient tattered remains of the Faery Flag, variously said to be a gift from the faeries to an infant Chief of the Clan, a gift from a departing faery lover as she left over the sea to her immortal homeland, and won as a prize for defeating some evil spirit.
Its supposed magic abilities include multiplying your force in battle, curing plagues and cattle illnesses, to bringing more fish into the loch, increasing fertility, winning battles and even saving certain chosen lives. The McLeod's claim it dates from the 4th Century AD, the only analysis done on it suggests it was made in Syria from very expensive silk somewhere about the 11th century. Suggesting it was acquired during a Crusade.

What remains of the Faery Flag of the Macleods, now kept at Dunvegan castle.

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But what such early recorded myths such as those surrounding the flag tell us is that the core ideas had been greatly expanded upon. The flag associations give an idea of just how widely the powers and abilities of the faery folk had come along with their elevation to god status. It also shows in the different scenarios for how the flag was gained how many different ways the faeries were known to interact with the mortal word. As gift givers, life givers, lovers, bringers of armed force and curers of illness and even the dying.
All the traditions of the British Isles over 4000 years distilled in the myths of this Golden Age of Celtic Church faery stories.

And at this peak faery time we have for me what Tolkien recreated either by design or accident, I think it has to be design however.
These are the core of Tolkien's elves- they live across the sea in an immortal land, they come to mortal lands, interacting with them is beautiful and dangerous at the same time, inter marriage between races tends to end in sorrow and tragedy. They are great lovers of music and poetry. They can exist in the world of the seen and unseen at the same time. They are great lovers of nature and especial reverence for trees, water and the stars. They are fair and beautiful in appearance with a shining light in their faces (a later Irish place name for the faery folk translates as “The Shining Ones”) and are great warriors at need.

Tolkien did not have the benefit however of having the purity of these faery elves of the golden age because between then and his time was to come the degeneration of the faery folk.

And as the golden age started with the Celtic scribes so to its fall began there. For as they expanded on the tales and filled in the story beats they strayed ever further from their sources and the Christian authorities, never pleased by the pagan elements of the early Irish Church reigned them ever closer into doctrine, and the popular folklore was changing again as the world did.

The Norman invasion of 1066 brought more than a change of ruler, it brought massive cultural changes, to infrastructure, farming, the organisation of local communities, laws, courts etc.

And it was so huge it also shifted the language. Old English was dying out to be replaced by Middle English. Combining a massive amount of Norman words, Danish from the Daneland, and Anglo-Saxon.
The much older Celtic languages were now pushed entirely out to the margins, preserved in the likewise diverging and emergent languages of Welsh, Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic.
And the language of officialdom and the language of our scribes who wrote all the myths down was of course that of the Church, Latin.

Another factor playing into the era following the Norman invasion was the slow but steady expansion of towns and cities. The countryside for many people was becoming farther away. That spooky mound your cottage was in line of sight with across the field at night doesn't seem to supernatural from a city street where its just a story.
The process of the gods of faery turning into children's stories was beginning.

In Ireland as faery stories were embellished ever further they got further away from their roots, and influences from contintenal European folkore crept in more and more as it began to put out new branches. Rather than faeries being powerful beings they started to become mischievous ones, where their interactions with mortals used before to highlight mortal frailty or the balance between living and dying, or the pain of love and loss, it was now reduced to trickery, deceptions and acts of small pettiness. Traits of faery folk began to be sepereated out and given to new individual faery creatures- the association with the Land of Death became a trait of the Banshee who heralded the death of those who heard its cry. The association with jewellery and metal works becomes leprachuans obbsseed with gold and valuables, instead of faeries being both perilous and wonderous now we have good faeries and bad ones taking each role on their own and so on.

With Christianization came new, stronger and closer ties to continental Europe, though this had begun with Druids. And many Germanic, and Mediterranean folklore wound its way in.
As faery expanded so leprechauns and mischievous sprites and others appear and the faery folk themselves start to be represented more commonly not by the original neolithic based gods of the Otherworld, but by the more diminutive disruptive types. Though they often retain older associations such as being underground, enjoying music and dance and feasting and a love of precious metals. It is from here they slowly start to become the Little Folk in Ireland and later parts of Scotland- mischievous or helpful spirits of the faery world from house elves that clean the place up to tricksters that make your cattle sick or your milk sour. A few hundred years later from the Celtic tales Hans Christain Anderson would record many faery tales from all across Europe, showing how the house spirit type of faery had spread with Christianity so a German would recognise the sort of faery sprite an Irishman could describe to him purely by its behaviour and vice versa.

At the same time as this process of reduction was going on here in the Celtic Church and wider Britain the French had been developing their own faery tales, drawing on their own neolithic and Celtic/Druid past, combined with all the British influences that came with either side holding large bits of land in each other countries at various times and they made their version Christian.
And what the French were doing in typical French manner to faeries was making them romantic and horny.
It culminates in the Arthur stories of the 1400's.
Central to these was the French chivalric culture which had spread to England in the middle ages and the Arthur stories are mainly a guide to Christian chivalry using the magical setting of the long past and the fading of faeries and magic in the face of Christianity to accomplish it.

Now Tolkien was not a fan of the Frenchifying of English myth, but I think he actually used a bit of what they added in his elves, certainly The Hobbit his elves contain some of the whimsy that was becoming by now associated with them. And even in Lord of the Rings the tale of Arwen and Aragorn, much as it borrows from the earlier Celtic myths of intermarriage for tone also borrows a lot of its romance from Arthur. Its Arthur And Guinevere if the filthy minded French had not ruined it with Lancelot's Achilles heel, his libido.
Also the sense of the elves time being over and of them retreating from the world and leaving it to mortal men, is very much reflected in the Arthur tales through Merlin, and how his time is fading away as a representative of the pagan religions dying off in the face of the new one God religion.
And of course the legend of Arthur tells us that should the country ever need him to save it once more he and his Knights will rise again from the Land of the Dead (renamed Avalon in the French myth but its really still Tir Na nOg). And where will they rise?- why from beneath the ground of course, from their mound under Glastonbury Tor.

Tolkien in General - Page 33 Glastonbury-Tor-View-of-an-iconic-landmark-geograph-5500644

Christianity might have killed the religion but not the folklore.

One hundred years after Le Mort D'Arthur was published one William Shakespeare in Elizabethan England would sit down at his desk with his quill to pen a faery story. A Midsummers Night Dream.

For me this is the most self aware statement on the state of faery folklore in its own time. Shakespeare gives us the by now fallen from their Golden Age faery folk of his era- they still love music and dance, they still feast, they are still associated to stars and to nature and living underground. They still have god-like powers, the idea of transfromation in the character of ass-headed Bottom is present, they still sometimes interfere in the affairs of mortals. They still dwell in the unseen world.
But they are presented to us as petty, using mortals to score cheap points against each other. As if having been reduced and their true splendour forgotten they have become bored and fed up in their immortal world and this is all they have left to entertain themselves with. The French association with love and sex is also now bound up in Shakespeares faeries too.
And of course, overall its all played for laughs.

Compare the use of faery in this play to his use of witches in Macbeth- the witches are presented as a real, present, everyday threat. A genuine scare for the audience who as god fearing Christians of their time know witches are real, the Bible says so.
Faeries however are already fast becoming the bedtime children's story or a fear of the country bumpkin to be laughed at and this urban view of faery is reflected in the play with it mischievous, petty, love obsessed faeries and its bumbling characters of the rural acting trope.

As towns and cities continue to grow they will eventually run into the Age of Steam. Our last big culture influence prior to Tolkien's own day on faery.

From the late 1700's the Steam Age had arrived, and it developed at a rapid pace. The effect on folklore of faeries was to move huge swathes of the population from the countryside to the towns and cities, many of which were just springing up as factory towns. Companies like Cadbury built entire villages to house workers for their factories.  And many grew into towns themselves.

It cannot be overestimated what a drain on rural population the Industrial revolution was in the UK.
And with it came something else, the emergence of a new wealth, the middle classes.

The combination of these factors led to a much greater distance between folklore which had been agricultural based and these new urban people far from source. Faeries were for 'fireside tales and children's stories' as the Gaffer says to Sam of dragons and elves. You didn't take them seriously.

As to the middle classes, by the time of the Victroians in the mid to late 1800's and early 1900's, what they brought to the table was leisure time and their strict societal codes of moral righteous. At least publicly. And this moral code was firmly rooted in strict Christian doctrine.
The manner in which the average person encountered much of the new emergent technology- trick photography, early film, electricity, and automatons was not as we might now present new tech like a new iPhone presentation. They were much more likely to encounter this stuff as entertainment, at fairs, shows, theatres, freak shows and used along with cheap magic tricks by spiritualists, magicians, card readers, quija board readers and mediums holding seances.
For these middle class Victorians the 'supernatural' and all the demons, gods, faeries, and werewolves etc was lumped in as part of entertainment wrapped up in the excitement of constant new technology.
And when it came to stories they deemed suitable for children this fad for the supernatural and spiritual as entertainment found its attention on faeries, mischievous, fun, and small. Faeries were now just another facet of the broader supernatural entertainment of the day. One for children to enjoy.

They also combined with two other more odd to our standards facets of Victorian life.
The first was how the middle class viewed their children. Children were a symbol of man before the fall, prepubescent meant untouched by sin to the Victorian mind for whom all things sexual were a necessary evil needed for procreation, brought about by the devils influence on Eve. And women were certainly not supposed to actively enjoy sex but view it as a duty and penance for original sin. The idea a woman should just 'lie back and think of England' emerges from this outlook on sex.

Children therefore were the emblem of purity and innocence, untainted by any notions, thought or form of sexuality.
So obviously when it came to sending your middle-class friends a personal Xmas card you hired a professional photographer to take pictures of all your children up to about the age of 13, naked. Often with cherub wings or some such to associate them further with Victorian ideals of purity and innocence. The combination of the innocence of children as naked as Adam and Eve before sin and the fad for depicting them in cherub wings combined with the notion faeries were for children, something innocent and fun, frivolous and harmless and no more real than the Easter Bunny, was a main player in giving us the Victorian image of the winged faery. It combined with the creation of mass publication, now there were for the first time books written especially for children, and their content was tempered by the new interest in science. Faeries were not science, they were fiction therefore they belonged in the fiction section, and were therefore suitable only for children. Adults who believed in faeries were to be scorned as ignorant and primitive thinkers.
Distilled Victorian morals giving us something small, inoffensive, non-sexual or corrupting and above all childlike and innocent. Faeries had become harmless childish creatures. A far cry from the mighty beings of older legend.

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But the Victorian middle-class were not quite done in our reduction of faery. Their added leisure time had bought another fad with it tied to scientific advancement and knowledge. It had become the practise for people of reasonable wealth and leisure time to to take an interest in nature, rock collection and geology boomed, and so did the trend for catching and collection insects and butterflies. A whole industry sprung up around the pursuit,selling butterfly nets, jars, pinning boards and the like, and publications featuring classifications and habitats supported it.
This was another major factor in faeries acquiring wings. Given their now small size butterfly wings could carry them, and a new game could begin for Victorian children, now different types of faery could be classified just like butterflies, by what sort of wings and patterns they have.
And so the Victorian diminutive winged faery diversified in to Strawberry Patch faerie and Forest faeries, and River faeries and Cabbage Patch fairies and any other sort you wished to name. All with different shaped wings and patterns and even fashion styles by the 1920's-to 50's.

Some of the different 'types' of faery that emerge and last one is a fashionable 1930's faery wearing a popular dress style of the day.

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And with a major swing from majority rural to majority urban in the UK by the end of the industrial revolution it was the Victorian faery which had all but obliterated in popular culture and thought the idea of what a faery had been. Indeed even the word had transformed from the older form to the modern fairy.
The original faery folk only being remembered now in the remote parts of the British Isles, and even there the new version was creeping in with communications and growing publications.

These sort of faery stories, combined with the British Little People variety would cross the Atlantic and be taking up by Hollywood in its Golden Age, and companies such as Disney would spread this version of faery all around the world.

And these are the faeries of popular culture, the faeries, or rather fairies of the time when Tolkien sat down in 1926 to write about elves.

I said I would end on what I saw as Tolkien's greatest triumph.
He believed England had lost its myths, lost its core stories to the invaders who had stamped theirs over them.
But as I hope I have demonstrated it couldn't be further from the truth.

Mythical building skills, crafting of beautiful jewellery and magic items, coming from over the sea where they have an immortal land mortals cannot enter without permission, to worshipping stars, living in a world both seen and unseen, fair of face and complexion, strong and healthy, lovers of nature and the preservation of it in magical pieces of land unaffected by the normal flow of time, occasionally encountering and interacting with mortals, some times to our benefit sometimes to tragedy. Lovers of poetry, song, music and dance. Great warriors at need and perilous when threatened to action. Dwellers in Hidden Kingdoms. Givers of magical gifts.

These are Tolkien elves. And they are also the combined myths that run like a thread, if not the original central mythic thread, of England and the rest of the British Isles through our entire history since the end of the last Ice Age and those hunter-gatherers of Britain who watched in wonder at these people who came from over the sea, ordered the land and shaped it to their needs, built immense monuments, spoke with the Dead and even made the wild animals serve their needs.

The triumph Tolkien achieved is that when someone now says elf they are more likely to picture Tolkien's style of elf than they are a diminutive mischievous creature standing beneath a flower wearing an acorn shell for a hat.

And when they are thinking of his elves they are continuing, no more, they are restoring through Tolkien the true heritage of the British faery, returning them to their source, returning their pride, dignity and enigmatic otherworldly mystery.

And yet further he himself has in doing so only added to the already existing thread of folklore, for in marring these ancient traditions with his elves he also added his own Christian sensibilities, seeing his elves as man before the fall, still associating them with the spiritual but in doing so following in the footsteps of those early Celtic monks who likewise brought their new born Christianity into the mix of faery, and even the Victorians who through association between children and pre-Fall Man made the faery childlike in the first place. Tolkien retains the pre-Fall element but took away the childish aspects.

Tolkien in this at least achieved part of what he set out to do, to restore the lost myths of England. In his elves he truly did restore the real lost myths of England's faery folk and gave them back to the people. Reuniting them with the original ancient myths and legends of faery the Victorians had so successfuly destroyed in popular culture. That was his greatest achievement for English mythology.

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Where next for the faery folk? They have endured for 6000 years of change and history and if that is anything to go by then they are probably not done with us mortals yet. }}

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Tolkien in General - Page 33 Empty Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Pettytyrant101 Today at 1:57 am

{{ No one got any thoughts now my whole argument is presented? }}

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A Green And Pleasant Land

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