Welcome to my newsletter for October, 2009! 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 (http://www.JefMurray.com
) or at:
. Notices of events and items of interest are at the bottom of this email. Note that there's lots of news to share!!
This was the address. He looked up at antique diamond-paned windows; all were dark save one. It was quiet on the street. A gust of thick air rattled dead leaves on the apple tree in the front yard.
He opened the iron gate and climbed the steps. Three knocks. Silence. He stood back and looked up as he heard a window open above him.
"Who is it?" came the voice.
"I've come," he answered. The window closed. Footsteps in the hallway, then the grinding of key in lock.
The door opened and he entered. There was light from a lamp at the top of the stairs, and he smelled old wood and lacquer. She led the way to the second floor, opened the heavy oaken door to her rooms. Once they were inside, she pushed the door to and slid the bolt.
"Can I get you some tea, or
?" she stuttered, then turned away from him and burst into tears. He waited for the sobs to subside.
"I just can't stand it anymore!" she wailed. "Everything here is so
He put his hand on her shoulder. "Ariel said you needed me. It's alright; it's easy to get discouraged when you're all alone."
"I'm not discouraged
I'm just starting to think I'm crazy! I can't talk to _anyone_ about this, and if I try, I just get blank stares. The most important thing in the world
the most important thing in the world! And I just get blank stares! Or worse, they'll try to change the subject, or talk about how their kid brother used to belong to some cult
He listened. Tree limbs scratched at the windows with the rising wind. This time a year ago, there had been bonfires, tales, and songs shared amongst the rolling hills and the glittering stars. And there had been the sacred banquet, with whispers of that Greater Tale.
He understood. Her friends were scattered; it was hard to hold tight to truth without moorings. And the world! The world itself believed in nothing; its iron doors were barred against them. And the secular stockade held so many in thrall
This was why Ariel had wanted him here. As the world careened into chaos, they needed beacons of hope for those who would else be swept by dark tides into Mordor.
He reached into his coat pocket and retrieved the paper-wrapped parcel.
"You, of all people," he said, "should know that a lot of what's around us is just smoke and mirrors. It's the shadow of truth, a sort of concocted sleight of hand, not reality itself. That so many are fooled by the show doesn't make the parlour tricks real; they're still just tricks."
"But how do you break free?" she asked, "How can I get past the jerks at the store, or the howling TV ads? I'm so
angry about what's happening all around us
"You need silence. You need to listen for that still small voice. You break through the veil whenever you return to the forest or chant the ancient verses. You escape when you write a poem or a tale that brings new beauty into the world. You are set free whenever you love even those who believe you're crazy.
"Sit in stillness of autumn dusk with a favorite portrait or memento of the Third Age. Fill the wine cup to brimming. Dream of the Shire...better yet, speak of it aloud to those with open. And...it is there."
He smiled at her. "We're all just a bit like Dorothy, don't you see? Running around Oz not realizing that we can go home with just a click of our heels
"Is that how you deal with it all?" she asked.
He laughed and nodded, "Yes, when I remember to! The Long Defeat even dismays me at times! We all need sanctuary
But, we have each other. And, more than that, we have the One who, in the ancient tales, appears on every page and yet remains nameless
He handed her the package. "Save this for when I've gone."
- - -
She heard him pull the door closed and watched him through crystal panes as he strolled down the street, coat tails billowing in the rising storm.
She unwrapped the gift. Within was a small wooden tablet. And in the light from the street, she saw the painted figure: a woman, clothed with the sun, the moon beneath her feet. There was a star above her, the star of Eärendil. And as she gazed at the icon, the star seemed to glow brighter and brighter in the deepening night.
- There is a new Tolkien event on the horizon for next summer. The Festival in the Shire (www.FestivalintheShire.com ), in Wales, will be an academic conference, an art/collectibles exhibit, and a bit of a country fair, all thrown into one. The event is to take place in Machynlleth on August 13-15th, 2010. The guest list is in the early stages, but this could prove to be a delightful new venue for Tolkien gatherings. I hope to see many good friends there
- It is a month of newly-published cover images for me! The latest issue of "Mallorn", the journal of the British Tolkien Society (see http://www.tolkiensociety.org
), will features several of my recent paintings, including the cover image of the "Gates of Moria" (you can see the original image at: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmurra2/jefmurraystudios/tolkien/436_Gates_of_Moria.html
). Many thanks to Henry Gee for continuing to graciously include my work in "Mallorn"!
- Related to the above, John Garth of "Tolkien and the Great War" fame included a very insightful review of "Black & White Ogre Country: The Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien" in the latest "Mallorn". A very favourable review, but more importantly, John added a lot of great context to the contents of the book that I think many readers will greatly appreciate!
- The current "Amon Hen", the bulletin of the Tolkien Society, has my painting of the "Green Dragon" inn featured on its cover. You can see the original image at: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmurra2/jefmurraystudios/tolkien/414_Green_dragon.html
. Thanks, as always, to Andrew Butler for his generous ongoing support!
- Continuing with the cover image theme (!), the forthcoming issue of the "St. Austin Review (StAR)", will feature my painting "Cartophilus" on its cover. This issue focuses on philosophy, and in addition to the interior logo design, Joseph Pearce has also graciously included a review I contributed of the book "The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism," by Feser. The latter is highly recommended, as is this issue of StAR in general. " You can see the original image of "Cartophilus" at: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmurra2/jefmurraystudios/sacred/288_Cartaphilus.html
- The next issue of "Silver Leaves", the journal of the White Tree Fund (http://www.whitetreefund.org/)
, will also be featuring a couple of my painting images (although not, to my knowledge, the cover image!). The issue focuses on fantasy art, so I am particularly delighted that they will be including my work. I also have a short article in this, the third volume, of "Silver Leaves".
- Many of you know that my wife, Lorraine, is a columnist and author of four non-fiction books. But, she is now a published novelist (!), and her first mystery, entitled "Death in the Choir", is currently available from Tumblar House on Amazon.com and BN.com. Please see a description and links at http://www.LorraineVMurray.com
. You will need to click on the "My Books" button at the top. And, yes, for those who asked before, I _did_ develop the cover illustration and design for the book.
- ADC Books now has an online catalog featuring Tolkien-themed original paintings and prints from Ted Nasmith, Ruth Lacon, Peter Pracownik, and myself. In addition, you'll find collectible items and rare books featured in the ADC Books catalog. Please take a look at www.adcbooks.co.uk.