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Mystical Realms Newsletter for March, 2008

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  • jef.murray
    Greetings! Welcome to my newsletter for March, 2008! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up with me. To receive
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2008
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      Welcome to my newsletter for March, 2008! 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:
      http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms . Notices of new
      paintings and events are at the bottom of this email.

      Epiphanies =========

      I've been thinking a lot lately about mythmaking. This all started
      when I was recently given a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien's translation of
      the poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Fate would have it that I
      was simultaneously reading The Story of a Soul, the autobiography of
      St. Therese of Lisieux, and I was startled to see that that St.
      Therese cherished chivalric tales when she was a child. I don't know
      if she ever read the story of Sir Gawain, but I reckon she would have
      been passing familiar with many of the other adventures of the Knights
      of the Round Table.

      I wonder if we don't all have a lot of personal legends that we keep
      buried deep inside us, stories we are told as children that tint tales
      from our earliest years to yield yarns with the flavour of myth. When
      I was very young, we lived for a time in Asmara, Ethiopia. I was in
      nursery school, but there are sepia-toned snapshots from those times
      that still play themselves out in my head: such as when I saw Santa
      Claus ride into the military base on a camel, or when troupes of
      howling, bare-fanged baboons threatened our car on the trip up the
      7000 foot high mountains.

      I remember being given the role of one of the three Wise Men in the
      kindergarten nativity play because the child who was supposed to play
      the part had contracted encephalitis. Suffering and death mixed with
      the story of Christ's birth irrevocably for me after that, and a fear
      of encephalitis was something that I remember sensing in the grown-ups
      around me. Anxiety in adults was a new thing, a mysterious thing.

      I reckon for all of us, the older our memories, the more they
      masquerade as myth. And we all seem to extend this process of
      mythmaking back farther and farther, past family tales to legends of
      local places, of historic events, then to happenings of which we're
      not certain, but which we cling to as shared knowledge. Thus my
      grandmother's tale of camp meetings in the country resonates with
      Valley Forge, or with the Canterbury Tales, or the Exodus, or the
      Odyssey. We all have shared "memories" of Atlantis, or of some other
      great culture that was drowned to staunch its descent into damnation.

      So, mythmaking is an ongoing process…it never ceases.

      St. Therese of Lisieux perhaps read once of Atlantis. And perhaps she
      wondered at the wickedness of that peoples, and repented, for them, of
      their wickedness. And perhaps she clove to the paths of good because
      of what the tales of chivalry taught her. Sir Gawain may have spoken
      to her of being faithful, not only on the battlefield, but also in
      places and situations where one is tempted to make small compromises.
      It's in these latter situations that most of us will distinguish
      ourselves, choosing the "Little Way" of truth, of goodness, and of
      beauty rather than in performing heroic deeds.

      And, as I ponder St. Therese, it seems curious that someone who has
      since become the stuff of legend and myth herself might have begun her
      journey by treasuring the tales that were handed down to her.

      Perhaps Sam Gamgee was right. Perhaps we are all part of one grand
      story that goes on and on. Perhaps it is ever our task not only to
      learn from the legends and tales that are told us, but also to fix
      some small new episode into that greater tapestry. Ours might be the
      thinnest thread in the whole, but knowing that the whole exists and is
      worth the telling ennobles each of us.

      Nai Eru lye mánata (may God bless you)


      Events =========

      ---- I have posted several new paintings on my website
      at http://www.JefMurray.com . These include:

      - One new spiritual painting entitled "Nativity":

      - One new "Narnia" image entitled "Lucy and the Spellbook":

      - One new dragon "wildlife silhouette" entitled "Cerulean Dragon":

      - A New LoTR painting, "Woody End":

      - Another New LoTR painting, "The Choices of Master Gandalf":

      - And a painting from the First Age, "Alqualonde":

      I hope you enjoy these! Do let me know what you think of them!!!

      ---- Castles in the Mist - A spectacular Tolkien celebration will
      be held in Morton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire on April 4-7, 2008. This
      gathering will feature an exhibit of original paintings by Ted
      Nasmith, Roger Garland, Ruth Lacon, and myself. The event is free, and
      will also feature books, music, costumes, prizes, etc. I am deeply
      honoured to have been asked to participate in this event (Domine, non
      sum dignus!), and hope to meet many of you there! Lorraine and I will
      both attend for the duration of the weekend.

      ---- The latest issue of Mallorn, the journal of the Tolkien
      Society, has just been published. This issue, number 45, features the
      first change in cover design in literally years. Previously, the cover
      image was a black and white sketch of a mallorn tree by renowned
      illustrator Pauline Baynes. The latest issue, under the editorship of
      Henry Gee, features one of my paintings (see
      ) on the cover. Future issues will feature the work of other artists.

      ---- I will be a guest at the upcoming Tolkien celebration, "A
      Long-Expected Party" (ALEP) in Kentucky in September, 2008. I was also
      asked to develop one of the logos used for the event. You can see it
      on my website at:
      . The official website for ALEP (and registration info) can be found
      at: http://www.alongexpectedparty.org/ .
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