Thursday, December 8, 2011

[ElfstoneLARP] Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2011



A blessed and happy Advent to you all! Welcome to my newsletter for December, 2011. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up with me! To receive these newsletters regularly, please drop me an email or subscribe online from my website ( ) or at: . Notices of events and items of interest are at the bottom of this email.

Pitchers ===============

IMPORTANT! We are getting down to the wire on 2012 Jef Murray/ALEP2 Fantasy Calendars, and don't expect our stock to last into the New Year! These have become an international hit, and have now been sold in the USA, Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands(!). This 2012 calendar is in full colour, is loaded with painted images from Middle-earth, "Easter Egg" dates graphically noted that correspond to significant events in Middle-earth history, moon phases, plus most major holidays.

If you have not ordered a copy, please do so sooner rather than later, as we may actually run out(!). You can get your copy at .

Ponderings ==============

We have advanced into Advent. Beckoning us are dream-swept, dusky dawns that drive leaves and devour daylight. A hushed holiday; corn-husked and bare beneath the arcing torch of Arien.

I'm marking all things new this Advent. I blame Brego. For a full season now I've ridden rather than driven the tangled turns to Emory each morn. It's scary on a scooter; not because I fear falling, but because astonishment reins when no barrier comes betwixt me and fleet reality. Flying through forests at forty, I feel sting of frost and smell damp of coming rains. Rocks ricochet and twigs tap my helmet as I hurl through murky mists.

When I stop and silence Brego's engine, I hear the drip, drip, drip of dew from dun branches. Stirrings around me startle on the pathless patch of grass before the library: squirrels, sparrows, satyrs, selkies…even seraphim. Wafting clouds curl and plume pearl pink; branches creak and chipmunks sneak.

There is, in fact, much to recommend riding. We live, seems to me, in lockers with portals peering out and about at creation: in cars, condos, trains and planes. Even at home, we reckon through rectangles as we watch TV or ponder portraits. G.K. Chesterton said that "art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame." But is the same true of reality itself? Do we protect ourselves with Plexiglas and plod purblind through Paradise?

In the movie They Might Be Giants, George C. Scott, transfigured into Sherlock Holmes, speaks to us somnambulists: "I think if God is dead he laughed himself to death. Because, you see, we live in Eden. Genesis has got it all wrong. We never left the Garden. Look about you. This is paradise. It's hard to find, I'll grant you, but it is here. Under our feet, beneath the surface, all around us is everything we want. The earth is shining under the soot. We are all fools. Moriarty has made fools of all of us."

And so it would seem. We are walking in Wonderland, but we've become accustomed to our customs. Advent should, instead, be a time to tipple; an invitation to intoxication. We need a lightning bolt to drive away dullness and propel us into J.R.R. Tolkien's Perilous Realm. We need to heed St. Francis de Sales; we must make ourselves familiar with the angels "and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present…."

I fear that all of us are fallen; and one of the fruits of that fate is muddy minds. Where we should see sanctity and glistering glory, we espy instead empty suits and foundering follies. We search for the sacred but discern only dross…unless we awaken. But waking is painful. "Not yet!" we cry, fumbling to disarm the alarm. Yet, like Wally Shawn contemplating the tobacco shop, if we could properly perceive that which encompasseth us, we could not help but be lightning-bolted.

Cold air on bare hands betokens yet another morning of motoring. Christmas lights wink as Brego and I pass by. The foul smell of felled Gingko fruit sears nostrils; but for this moment at least, I'm awake, alive, aware.

I wish the same for you and yours as we seek the solstice and descry the horizon of yet another fresh New Year. And I pray for the coming of Him who will truly make all things new….

Nai Eru lye mánata


Prospects ===================

• The Middle-earth Network ( ) is fast becoming the "Go To" place for news about Tolkien-related events and for discussions on the social network, . There are interviews, contests, postings of artwork and music, plus Middle-earth Network Radio, which plays Tolkien and fantasy themed music 24/7. There is also the Mythgard Institute, which is offering online college level courses on fantasy topics. Tune into the Middle-earth Network for discussions, audio book broadcasts, and other great news and features!

• Related to the above, one project I've recently been involved with is the creation of the audio book broadcasts of George MacDonald's delightful "The Princess and the Goblin". Once the audio book broadcasts have concluded, you can purchase the entire series of installments online. In addition, we hope to develop an illustrated printed and eBook version of the book!

• The Return of the Ring 2012 (see will be a huge Tolkien-themed conference and gathering at Loughborough University on 16-20th August, 2012. I am delighted to have been invited to appear as a guest of honour at the event and am looking forward not only to sharing my paintings and sketches, but also to participating in panels and presentations. You can book reservations now online.

• Tolkien biographer Joseph Pearce and I collaborated on an EWTN TV special on J.R.R. Tolkien that is now available on DVD. The production includes dozens of my illustrations of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and it focuses on the Catholicity of Tolkien's magnum opus. You can order the a DVD of the show at:

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