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Meneldur Olvarion
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Post by Meneldur Olvarion » Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:10 pm

What is this group?

Ilsaluntë Valion is a group of individuals who find spiritual inspiration within the literary works of Professor J.R.R. Tolkien (including those published posthumously by his son Christopher) describing the histories, languages, and cultures of “Middle-Earth”, collectively known as the Legendarium.  We do not view these as fiction existing solely for amusement of the masses, but rather as aspects of imaginal Truth, which pervades and is intertwined with the objective reality of the present moment.

The primary objective of Ilsaluntë Valion is unveiling the living gnosis found within the Legendarium's Mythos.  The Mythos inspires us, and offers a framework for the reception, sorting, and consolidation of experiential data gained through non-ordinary states of consciousness, which may be termed “shamanic”.  Later introspection and reflection upon the deeper meanings of these non-ordinary experiences in light of the Mythos often leads to an understanding of one's relationship to the World in both matter and spirit—in other words, to gnosis.  A good analogy might be to a devout Christian looking to Biblical works for inspiration and insight, or to a Zen Buddhist contemplating his or her Buddha-nature in meditation; particularly as trancework is one of our integral features.

Through our trancework, we establish contact with the archetypal energies existing in the imaginal realm. As we are a Tolkien-mythology based group, these archetypal energies are personified as the Valar, Maiar, and Ainur. Through trancework and a heightened awareness of the natural world and the flow of the seasons, we establish a rapport with these beings. Thus, lines of connection between the imaginal realm and the material (objective) realm are created, and gnosis can then occur.

To gain a much greater understanding about what we mean by “shamanic trancework”, as the term 'shaman' is much overused and misapplied in modern times, I refer you to the following quite accessible lecture:

{Click the icon to listen or download (approx 1 hour in length)}  [Lecturer's website]


Do you mean you worship the Valar?!

No.  The relationship would be closer to that of a little brother or sister looking to his older sibling (or perhaps to an aunt or uncle) for guidance and protection rather than to 'worship' of any kind.

I can say generally that we of Ilsaluntë Valion view the Ainur, and more specifically the Valar, as spiritual beings.  As such, they exist in a place that is both within and without, and which is intertwined with, and yet beyond, ordinary reality as it is commonly perceived.  Though dismissed by our detractors as “elements of literary fantasy”, we have found them to be valid embodiments of genuine archetypal energies.  Whether knowingly or unknowingly, J. R. R. Tolkien imagin-ed beings who resonate with primal archetypal patterns.


So...this is like some Lord of the Rings fan group...or what???

No, indeed not!  In fact, the most useful part of LOTR to us is the appendices.  The very thing that makes it attractive to the general population—the novelization—makes it generally unsuitable to us as a gnostic research group, though many of us do enjoy it as a story.  To us, the Legendarium is a mytho-history.  That is to say: a narrative in the historical, chronological mode but expressing events in mythological form.  This worldview is often difficult for moderns, who have been brought up to believe that a thing is either true or false, to understand, but it was a common way of perceiving the world in ancient days.  For a thorough explanation of this concept, I recommend the book: Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths?: An Essay on the Constitutive Imagination.

Aside from the LOTR appendices, we make principal use of The Silmarillion, all 12 volumes of HoME, the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and some use of linguistic journals, such as Vinyar Tengwar.  These are our primary sources, which we also refer to as the Lore (we use that term in much the same manner as it is used in Heathenry to refer to the Norse sagas and legends).


Why are you hyperlinking so many things?

It is the most direct method of pointing the reader to either our direct sources, or to a summary of them.  If I had to summarize every reference....well, this post would never have been completed.  So, if you really want to fully understand the posts on this board, it is important to follow the links. Think of it as along the lines of reading the many Appendices and Endnotes provided by the Tolkiens.


How can you find a valid mythology in works of fiction?

We do not view Tolkien’s writings as merely works of fiction.  Therefore, in our worldview, a premise of this kind is invalidated before it starts.  Consequently, in order to communicate with us on a meaningful level, it is necessary to accept our wordview provisionally (i.e., you must accede that we accept the Legendarium as a valid mytho-history).

So, you may ask:


What is it about the Legendarium that causes you to view it as a valid mytho-history?

This we may answer, but first we must clarify what 'myth' means, as many people have misconceptions about it:

The term "myth" is often used colloquially to refer to a false story; however, in academic use the term generally does not refer to truth or falsity. In the field of folkloristics, a myth is conventionally defined as a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form (see the Introduction to Alan Dundes' Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth).  This is the definition that we use ourselves.

Given the academic definition, the Legendarium fulfills the “explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form” requirement very well.  (For those not familiar with the source materials, one can read a brief summary of the legends here.)  Some will object that the Legendarium is not a 'sacred' narrative, but the determination of sacredness is very much open to personal interpretation: to the atheist, all sanctity is delusion; to a Christian, the Holy Scriptures are sacred (but not the Qur’an); for us, the narratives comprising the Legendarium embody sacredness—as they did for Tolkien himself:
You speak of 'a sanity and sanctity' in the Lord of the Rings. 'which is a power in itself'. I was deeply moved. Nothing of the kind had been said to me before. But by a strange chance, just as I was beginning this letter, I had one from a man, who classified himself as 'an unbeliever, or at best a man of belatedly and dimly dawning religious feeling ... but you', he said, 'create a world in which some sort of faith seems to be everywhere without a visible source, like light from an invisible lamp'. I can only answer: 'Of his own sanity no man can securely judge. If sanctity inhabits his work or as a pervading light illumines it then it does not come from him but through him. And neither of you would perceive it in these terms unless it was with you also. Otherwise you would see and feel nothing, or (if some other spirit was present) you would be filled with contempt, nausea, hatred. "Leaves out of the elf-country, gah!" "Lembas – dust and ashes, we don't eat that."'

--- From Letters, #328


OK, so I get the “mytho” and “sacred” parts of your worldview. But what do you mean by the “historic” part of "mytho-historic"? What is there in the Legendarium that relates to primary world history?

The tales include mythological descriptions of major Earth events, such as the emergence of lichens, fungi, mosses, and invertebrates; the appearance and spreading of conifers. The eternal reshaping of continental landmasses is expressed as the battle between the waters of Ulmo and the vulcanism of Melkor (all events described can be found in Lost Tales I, “The Chaining of Melko”, pgs 98-100). And even the very coastline of the First Age Middle-Earth continent Beleriand closely matches new information being discovered about the ancient shape of an inundated part of Europe called “Doggerland”.  As one can see, there are indeed primary world historical parallels to the mythological events depicted, and I have listed just a few of many.  Our worldview is no more “far-out” than other spiritualities and world religions, and deserves the same respect.


What do you think JRR Tolkien would think of what you're doing?!  As a devout Catholic, wouldn't he be appalled?  He's known to have referred to the widespread enthusiasm for his books as ‘my deplorable cultus’.

If you read Humphrey Carpenter's J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography from which that quote comes, you will see that the context refers to what is now called “Tolkien fandom”.  We are not a part of typical Tolkien fandom and never were.  For the most part, we find them just as “deplorable” as Professor Tolkien did.  You won't see any of us draping a bedsheet over our shoulders and claiming to be Celeborn or Galadriel or whomever.  Moreover, although some members of Ilsaluntë Valion like the Peter Jackson movies, Navigator Meneldur Olvarion (the guy who is writing most of this) finds them to be a travesty.  But that is another story, as they say.

But, to turn to the central issue in this question: wouldn't Tolkien (were he still alive) be appalled by what you are doing?

The answer is that he may; but that even if true, this doesn't matter in the slightest.


Why not?

The most important reason that we are not concerned with whatever Tolkien or his Estate may think of us, is that once an author publishes his work and exposes it to the world, he loses direct control of it. Others may then use his work to produce derivative works in the same genre, or more indirectly as a source of inspiration. This path of inspiration is the course that Ilsaluntë Valion takes, though our specific expression of it, as a form of Spirituality (not religion) instead of artistic expression, is as far as we know, unique (aside from that of Tië eldaliéva, our sister group). Meneldur Olvarion explores this topic in much greater depth in his essay, “Concerning the Validity of Our Worldview”.


But...how can you say that it doesn't matter what JRR Tolkien says about what you are doing, and yet use his quotes to support this or that point?

The ones we reject are ones which our various detractors claim directly represent Tolkien's opinions on our work here.  As many know, he died in 1973, and it is very hard to determine a deceased person's opinions on current events.

In any case, his claims about the Legendarium are valid.  Claims about us (even if any were from him or from his Estate) are not, as such claims fall under the types of fallacious argument known as Argument From- or Appeal to- Authority. [link]


So, is this some kind of Tolkien-religion?

Again, no.  Those who have this misconception of us are those who believe that 'spirituality' is synonymous with 'religion'—a surprisingly large contingent of the population, whether their particular affiliation is with Christianity or neo-Paganism or secular humanism.  Those of this worldview seem to have the idea that we are attempting to create a “Church of Tolkien” with JRRT as our “Jesus”.

This idea is false.  What is actually happening is that we are living our spirituality as an expression of the inspiring-gnosis we receive from the Legendarium.  Though this may not be entirely comprehensible to one who has not experienced it, it is nevertheless true.


I've heard of 'Gnostics' with all of that “Gospel of Thomas” stuff & etc., but what do you mean by 'gnosis'?

We use the word gnosis according to its original Greek meaning, denoting information gained through meditation, intense flashes of intuition, visions, and other spiritual experiences.  Most often (though not always) this information is gained through deliberate induction of the trance-state.  Thus gnosis is a technique and a mode of being, not a 'belief'.  Although we are not capital-G Gnostics, we do share some tenets with them, such as the natural and inherent close parallel of the Ainulindalë with Valentinian Gnostic theology. [link]  And we owe a great debt of gratitude to Dr. Stephan Hoeller for his lecture JRR Tolkien's Gnosis for Our Day, which for many of us was the gateway enabling our first steps upon this path, and which you can listen to in our Audio lectures section.

Spiritually speaking, most of us are panentheists, and Ilsaluntë Valion is neither a secular nor an explicitly Christian nor a Neopagan organization.  Rather, our group-spirituality emerges from the Legendarium-mythos itself and our interaction with it.


Are you some kind of cult?

It depends on what definition you use. If one means in the modern sense of a fanatical sect with a charismatic leader who uses psychological mind control techniques to gain an unhealthy advantage over his followers, then the answer is a definite “no”. (I have enough trouble just getting people to complete their profiles, and in some cases, to post at all—let alone sending me boatloads of money.)

But let's examine the history of the word 'cult' available on etymonline.com.  For 'cult' we have:
cult (n)
1617, "worship," also "a particular form of worship," from Fr. culte, from L. cultus "care, cultivation, worship," originally "tended, cultivated," pp. of colere "to till" (see colony). Rare after 17c.; revived mid-19c. with reference to ancient or primitive rituals. Meaning "devotion to a person or thing" is from 1829.


and for its associated 'worship':
worship (n) 
O.E. worðscip, wurðscip (Anglian), weorðscipe (W.Saxon) "condition of being worthy, honor, renown," from weorð "worthy" (see worth) + -scipe (see -ship). Sense of "reverence paid to a supernatural or divine being" is first recorded c.1300. The original sense is preserved in the title worshipful (c.1300). The verb is recorded from c.1200.


So, if one sticks to the original meaning, then we are a cult of a sort, as we do cultivate the nature of our relations with the Valar.  We do have respect for them, and think them worthy of honor, but as we've already said it's not really what most would call worship.

I suppose that in the end, the answer to this question lies more in the preconceptions of the asker than it does with us.  We know what we are and are not.


Do you think that you're elves?

The word 'elf' has become debased, and now means anything from a fluttery garden fairy to a World of Warcraft style computer model with vulpine ears.  I don't suppose that any visual examples are really necessary, but this is the sort of depiction that seems to be in vogue in pop-culture: [link].  Needless to say, none of these things have anything to do with the elves that Tolkien described, which are known as the Quendi.

Do we think we are Quendi?

The short answer is: it depends on who you ask.

And the longer one: it turns out not all within IV feel and think alike about this subject. We do, however, agree on some basic things (it sort of comes with the package, it seems): if you've been around for some time in the community that surrounds anything that a google search for “elves” can produce, you will find that most people who make such claims are either role-playing or are of the Otherkin community. 

We are neither, because: a) this is not a game to us; and b) while differentiating someone who identifies as Otherkin from someone who doesn't may not seem obvious, you can rest assured that five minutes in chat will never fail to separate the sheep ("bèh") from the goats ("mêh").

Then, there are those who do not identify as Otherkin but who have an affinity with the elven archetype (which they sometimes refer to as “elven energy”).  We are generally on friendly terms with these folk, unless they are too far along the Ilsaluntë Valion-Otherkin continuum towards Otherkin (in such cases, they usually come up with unattested material that is UPG-only, such as “underwater elves”, “Eru was really star-dust that acquired consciousness” & etc.).

So, after this pruning action, what remains? Well: there are those who feel that they're human; there are some who feel drawn towards the Quendi in such a way that they'll (eventually) answer with some kind of a "yes" when asked The Question. Others may be unsure, or feel they are a mixture. But whatever it is, there are no claims of immortality involved, or fancy dressing parties, or other such irrelevant  dallying. Some may like to speak and / or write elvish but that's a wholly different matter: after all, it was words with which Tolkien's journey to Faerië began.

In this context, it may be interesting to read that JRR Tolkien himself stated that the Quendi represent aspects of humanity and human potential:
In this mythological world the Elves and Men are in their incarnate forms kindred, but in the relation of their 'spirits' to the world in time represent different 'experiments', each of which has its own natural trend, and weakness. The Elves represent, as it were, the artistic, aesthetic, and purely scientific aspects of the Humane nature raised to a higher level than is actually seen in Men. That is: they have a devoted love of the physical world, and a desire to observe and understand it for its own sake and as 'other' – sc. as a reality derived from God in the same degree as themselves – not as a material for use or as a power-platform. They also possess a 'subcreational' or artistic faculty of great excellence.

--- From Letters, #181

So, in this sense we could be said to have certain Quendian-aspects, as we do seek to further our natural talents and humane natures.  Moreover, Tolkien said several times that the Quendi and humans were the same biological race, but endowed with different talents and capacities.  He was quite specific about it:
There are certain things in this world {the Legendarium} that have to be accepted as 'facts'. The existence of Elves: that is of a race of beings closely akin to Men, so closely indeed that they must be regarded as physically (or biologically) simply branches of the same race. The Elves appeared on Earth earlier, but not (mythologically or geologically) much earlier; they were 'immortal', and did not 'die' except by accident. Men, when they appeared on the scene (that is, when they met the Elves), were, however, much as they now are: they 'died', even if they escaped all accidents, at about the age of 70 to 80.

--- From JRRT's commentary on “Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth”, Morgoth's Ring

and
I suppose that actually the chief difficulties I have involved myself in are scientific and biological — which worry me just as much as the theological and metaphysical (though you do not seem to mind them so much). Elves and Men are evidently in biological terms one race, or they could not breed and produce fertile offspring – even as a rare event : there are 2 cases only in my legends of such unions, and they are merged in the descendants of Eärendil. But since some have held that the rate of longevity is a biological characteristic, within limits of variation, you could not have Elves in a sense 'immortal' – not eternal, but not dying by 'old age' — and Men mortal, more or less as they now seem to be in the Primary World – and yet sufficiently akin. I might answer that this 'biology' is only a theory, that modern 'gerontology', or whatever they call it, finds 'ageing' rather more mysterious, and less clearly inevitable in bodies of human structure*.

--- From Letters, #153

One can see, then, that it is not so strange that some of us may regard the Quendi as ancestral beings.  This was a common belief among Germanic peoples for many centuries, for whom the Quendi-like beings were usually referred to as alfar, or a cognate of that word (see Alaric's The Meanings of Elf, and Elves, in Medieval England).  In our specific case, this idea is only a portion of our ancestral worldview, which is fully expressed in our “Threefold Race” concept.  You can read more about that in the Charter here.

________________________________________________________________________________

Footnotes:
* See, for example, Aubrey de Grey's theories on aging, which were postulated many years after Tolkien's death in 1973.

† The following two links explain these historic Germanic beliefs well enough: an overview and a more detailed link with a Quendian focus.  It is important to understand, however, that beliefs about the alfar differed in various parts of Scandinavia, and often very markedlly. For more details, see Elves, Wights, and Trolls: Studies Towards the Practice of Germanic Heathenry: Vol. I by Kveldulf Gundarsson.


Do you guys dress up like in the movies?

No.  As I said earlier, neither the Lord of the Rings novel, nor the films are what inspired the creation of this group.  We are not a reenactment organization, like the SCA, nor are we a live-action role playing group.  The idea of some members crafting ritual robes & etc. is not forbidden to any member who wishes to do so, but such activities would be based upon personal choice.  There is no requirement to ‘dress up,’ and we do not have a dress code.

Speaking only for myself, I tend to go more for the Riddick look than anything that Peter Jackson can come up with.  ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHva0-ckVMw

///Dave  {Meneldur Olvarion}

(Composed mostly by Meneldur Olvarion with additions by IV Officer Staff; last revised 2-5-2010.)


To proceed to our Charter, which has more detailed information about us and how to become a member, click here.




Note: this document will be merged with the FAQ in the coming time, since they both provide in-depth coverage of relevant subjects.
-- Luthien

===============================
Ilsaluntë Valion's Charter

Greetings, and welcome to Ilsaluntë Valion.  In this introductory document—which we call our Charter in keeping with our nautical theme—we state who we are (and are not), our purposes and customs, and provide membership information for those who may wish to join us.

_____________(Navigating this document) _____________

[iurl=#who]Who we are (a brief summary).[/iurl]
[iurl=#numenor]What do we mean by the “line of Númenór”?[/iurl]
[iurl=#whatwedo]What we do, and how we do it.[/iurl]
[iurl=#elves]A few words regarding 'elves'.[/iurl]
[iurl=#spiritual]Spiritual aspects of Ilsaluntë Valion[/iurl]
[iurl=#name]Why the name “Ilsaluntë Valion”?[/iurl]
[iurl=#membership]Membership information and requirements.[/iurl]
___________________________________________________


[anchor=who]WHO WE ARE[/anchor]

Ilsaluntë Valion is a group of individuals who find spiritual inspiration within the literary works of Professor J.R.R. Tolkien describing the histories, languages, and cultures of “Middle-Earth”, collectively known as the Legendarium.  We do not view these as fiction existing solely for amusement of the masses, but rather as aspects of imaginal Truth, which pervades and is intertwined with the objective reality of the present moment.

The primary objective of Ilsaluntë Valion is unveiling the living gnosis found within the Legendarium's Mythos.  The Mythos inspires us, and offers a framework for the reception, sorting, and consolidation of non-ordinary understanding (gnosis).  A good analogy might be to a devout Christian looking to Biblical works for inspiration and insight, or to a Brahman considering Hindu scriptures in the same manner—particularly as meditative trancework is one of our integral features.  [anchor=numenor]In addition[/anchor], though we are all individuals, and as such the specifics of our gnosis vary, we in general hold to the “threefold race” idea, as exemplified in the line of Númenór.

What do we mean by this?

To answer this question properly, we first have to define what we mean by 'Númenórean'.  When we say this, we recall the description of King Dior Eluchíl of Doriath, son of Beren and Luthien: “…now he appeared as the fairest of all the children of the world, of threefold race: of the Edain, and of the Eldar, and of the Maiar of the Blessed Realm.”  Dior’s daughter Elwing was the mate of Eärendil—the great ambassador to Valinor in the First Age, who petitioned the Valar to deliver the free peoples of Earth from the tyranny of Morgoth—and mother to Elrond (later Lord and Founder of Imladris) and Elros: from whom the line of Numenor sprang.  In Ilsaluntë Valion, we assert that the line of Numenor did not simply vanish with the death of Aragorn, but has continued through many long years.  Sometimes ‘sleeping’ as it were, and sometimes re-awakening in the peoples, Kings, Queens, and Heroes of later ages, such as Achilles, King Solomon, Oedipus, King Merovech, Charlemagne, Queen Boudicea and Sigurd Fafnirsbane to name a few.  And which is extant among people in our present day (though not to the same degree in everyone). [1]  Thus, we affirm our humanity (Edain), our predecessors and ancestors (Eldar), and the divinity within us (Maiar of the Blessed Realm).

It may help you to understand what we are if we also state what we are not.

We are not:

► A group of Tolkien 'fans'.

► An Otherkin group.

► A neopagan group. In fact, some of us avoid the designation 'Pagan' altogether because we find the Renaissance era,
    occult-centric worldview and observed behavior of many neopagans to be rather offensive. The term "demipagan" is
    perhaps a closer fit for Ilsaluntë Valion as a whole, if any appellation must be given.  However, it is important to
    understand that we are individuals—with diverse religious backgrounds, spiritual affinities, and experiences.

► A Tolkienian linguistics group.  Though some of us have interests in this field, it is not a defining characteristic.

In short, if you want a précis of what Ilsaluntë Valion is “all about”, it is about recognizing the continuity of the three bloodlines within us, and using logic and intuition to bring forth things of beauty and value in the present day.


[anchor=whatwedo]WHAT WE DO, AND HOW WE DO IT[/anchor]

The work of Ilsaluntë Valion has a two-fold aspect: First, it involves a thorough study of the Legendarium material. This ensures that one has seeded one's imagination with the essential ingredients of the Mythos so that all members of IV will have a common frame of reference.  After that has been accomplished, members can participate in our meditative explorations, or in one of our areas of basic research (e.g., on “Doggerland”).

We shall here explain a bit more about our form of meditation, as we have had questions about that: in IV, the emphasis is on the mytho-historical nature of the Legendarium, not upon its existence as “a book of fantasy produced solely for entertainment”, as popular culture would have it.  Because of this mytho-historical worldview, we are more easily able to able to enter what Stephan Hoeller refers to as the imaginal realm.  As an article in the journal MYTHOLOG describes it: “[...] This would be a place where you had experiences, met people, did things in which you could participate but which you could not control. These places would feel real, and the experiences would affect you in real ways, even though you might maintain awareness that the reality was of a different order than eating a slice of cheese pizza. Like deep meditation. Like archetypal psychology. Like shamanic journeying.” [link]

It is through our interaction with the imaginal realm that the reality of the spiritual plane is accessed.  To do this we utilize certain techniques, which may be called “shamanic” (trance, and spirit journeying), in order to commune with the archetypal energies in the imaginal realm. As we are a Tolkien-mythology based group, these archetypal energies are personified as the Valar, Maiar, and Ainur. Through meditations and seasonal observances, we establish a rapport with these beings. Thus, lines of connection between the imaginal realm and the material (objective) realm are created.

We usually report our meditations in a private section of this board, but we write up our meditative reports without looking at any that may have been posted previously on the same observance, so as not to be psychologically influenced by the content. If elements are found to be in common (this is known as “Shared Personal Gnosis”) they can, if corroborated by the existing Lore,  add to our body of knowledge.

Since we are a group whose focus is on the inspiration found within the Mythos, though, we do not participate in the “cult of personality” that many 'Tolkienists' seem to be involved in.  In particular, we do not put Tolkien on a pedestal as “The Professor”, whose words on a given subject have the authority of Holy Writ and are to be accepted by whomever cites them as the final word on a topic.  In particular, we have found that often the earliest drafts of the mythology (as exemplified in the Lost Tales) have the most vibrant imagery and a great subtlety of understanding; and indeed a ‘layering’ simultaneously encompassing many levels (temporal, geographical and metaphysical).  For this reason we are not obsessed with canon as so many Tolkienists are: for we are not story-tellers, but rather explorers in the imaginal realm. 

What this means is that we look at the Mythos much as a cultural anthropologist would investigate the records of a culture.  The only real difference being that these are the writings of one person rather than the collected folklore of a tribe.  However, they do have that quality, so this approach works rather well.  Our method is to research and internalize all of this data (using techniques both logical and imaginal) and to discover how it relates to us as individuals and as a group—not to tell a story.  Thus for us, all available data is valid, and we do not seek finalized versions of the narratives, holding them of worth in themselves—and yet greater for the insights that they can bring to us in meditation and upon reflection.  Nor, on the other hand, do we simply use Tolkien's Mythos as a backcloth and freely improvise, as do certain denizens of Otherkinia.

Rather, we choose the “bonny road” as described in the poem True Thomas and the Queen of Elfland:

' O see ye not yon narrow road,
So thick beset wi’ thorns and briers?
That is the path of righteousness,
Though after it but few enquires.

'And see ye not that braid braid road,
That lies across yon lillie leven?
That is the path of wickedness,
Though some call it the road to heaven.

'And see ye not that bonny road,
Which winds about the fernie brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland,
Where you and I this night maun gae. [2]


[anchor=elves]A FEW WORDS[/anchor] REGARDING 'ELVES'

In connection with this we would like to say a few words about the beings known as Elves.  To those of us who grew up with the Mythos, there is no confusion, as for us Elves = Quendi.  However, it has been our experience that most people today (particularly those involved in neopaganism) confuse elves with the kami sometimes called fairies or 'the fae'.  However, this is certainly not the case, and is explicitly contraindicated in the Lore:
[...] With Aule was that great lady Palurien whose delights were richness and fruits of the earth, for which reason has she long been called Yavanna among the Eldar.  About them fared a great host who are the sprites of trees and woods, of dale and forest and mountain-side, or those that sing amid the grass at morning and chant among the standing corn at eve. These are the Nermir and the Tavari, Nandini and Orossi, brownies, fays, pixies, leprawns, and what else are they not called, for their number is very great: yet must they not be confused with the Eldar, for they were born before the world and are older than its oldest, and are not of it, but laugh at it much, for had they had not somewhat to do with its making, so that it is for the most part a play for them; but the Eldar are of the world and love it with a great and burning love, and are wistful in all their happiness for that reason.”
--- Lost Tales, book I, “The Coming Of The Valar And The Building Of Valinor”

This confusion is sometimes taken to extremes, as for example in the 'Otherkin' phenomenon.  Aside from the fact that this seems delusional, the real issue is that if one identifies as a fae, then one has only a tangential relation to the Lore (e.g., “Tinfang Gelion”) and thus Ilsaluntë Valion would likely be of small use to such a person.  This is not to be confused with those who have relationships with the fae—that is a separate issue and is not in contradiction.

On the other hand, a sincere, even profound, identification with the Quendi as a people is compatible with our idea as descendants of threefold race, since the Quendi/Eldar are certainly a vital component of this mixture.  We would like to stress, however, that the organization of Ilsaluntë Valion is not “elf-exclusive” and considers all components of the threefold race equally.  Moreover, our members may develop other lines of research that have nothing to do with these ideas.  So long as such investigations are compatible with the Lore an do not contradict observable evidence, this is fine.


[anchor=spiritual]SPIRITUAL[/anchor] ASPECTS OF ILSALUNTË VALION

Here in Ilsaluntë Valion, we know that anyone who is devoted to a personal path that they have a good foundation in will find their own comfort level when experiencing the Imaginal Realm.  While some members of IV have recognized that unique spiritual paths exist within the Legendarium, and have adopted one of these as the whole of their own practice, this is certainly not a requirement for membership. 

The meditations mentioned above that have been created for the the purpose of interacting with the beings/archetypes within the Legendarium are designed to be non-denominational.  As such, while spiritual insight can be found within, the key intentions behind their creation are exploration and personal insight. 

While we encourage all members of IV to try the 'General Meditation Format,' the decision  of whether or not to try the more in-depth meditation sequences and/or other trance induction techniques is up to the individual.  While the opportunity to participate in ritual observances does exist within IV, this too is at the discretion of each individual member.


[anchor=name]WHY[/anchor] THE NAME “ILSALUNTË VALION”?

lsaluntë Valion means, “Silver Ship of the Valar” in Tolkien’s Qenyan Elvish.  We use the metaphor of a ship because on a ship the crew has to work together or the ship will founder.  Each crewmember has a unique constellation of talents and interests, which are needed on the voyage.  Also, as our primary focus is unveiling the gnosis to be found within the Tolkienian Mythos, we use the symbology of traveling the “Straight Road” to the Ancient West and using the knowledge thus obtained to enrich our lives and add to our collective body of knowledge.  This name also reflects our expression as Voyagers upon this spiritual path, as well as our goals for uniting with the imaginal realm and its inhabitants.


[anchor=membership]MEMBERSHIP[/anchor] INFORMATION AND REQUIREMENTS

To become a member of IV, one must join the board using the 'Register' tab.  Once you have done so, your registration must be approved by an Admin, but this should not take more than 24 hours.  Once you have been approved, you will enter the board at the 'Newcomer' user level.  This allows you to see and post in all sections of the board visible to casual internet viewers, but all of your posts will be moderated and must be approved by an Admin.  This is to prevent our board—which is the primary repository for our original research—from becoming infested with spammers and internet trolls.  Once we see that you are serious, then we will move you into the beginning 'Seafarer' level (unmoderated).  Where you go from there is up to you...

Someone who will comfortably fit in here at Ilsalunte Valion:

must have reached an adult level of maturity.  We find that often 'adolescent' people are neither
    psychologically developed enough nor sufficiently intellectually rigorous to contribute usefully to the IV
    Project.  Often they wish to "find themselves" & etc.  But IV is not the place to do that.

► has a clear mind not steeped in the prevalent “anything goes” mindset (“all points of view are equally valid”
    or “truth is a social construct”). 
          What do we mean by this?  Stated succinctly, “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything” [3], but to give a more explicit example:
          we have noticed that many who hold this mental paradigm are prone to mix in non-Legendarium elements that are incompatible with IV
          (“Ooh, wouldn't it be cool to add Cthulhu to the Valarin pantheon?!  I think he really is Melkor and Melkor is just his servant!  Yeah, that'd
          be cool!!”), have a distorted self-image (“I am the Goddess Violet-Flame; obey my commands!”), and are very syncretic.  This is the error of
          an “anything goes” policy, and we do not subscribe to it here.  IV's focus is on the Legendarium and the gnosis achieved by its
          incorporation into our inner selves. Therefore, it seems reasonable to expect that this is what we should have in common. If the
          Legendarium is just a passing fancy or an object of entertainment to you, that's fine: but then IV is not the place to be.


► is able to express oneself clearly in writing.

► is sincerely interested in Ilsaluntë Valion and willing to contribute to it.
          Socially, IV functions as a meritocracy: you will get out of it what you put into it.  In particular, this is not a group wherein we just
          coast along, content to post a few times a year (if that).  Although it is hard to exactly quantify this, we generally favor quality over
          quantity. But you can think of one substantive post (i.e., not a one-liner) per month as a minimum, below which your account will be
          deleted. The reason is that this ship can only sail if the members are involved, plus it is very labor-intensive to continually ask members if
          they are still interested when their behavior indicates that they obviously are not.


► is familiar with the Legendarium, or has a sincere desire to become so.
          At minimum, one should be—or become—familiar with The Silmarillion, The Book of Lost Tales (volumes I and II), and
          Morgoth's Ring. This may require the acquisition of the relevant texts. Please indicate in your Welcome post whether
          you have these texts or not.


We ask this of ourselves and of new members alike. If this description fits you, then you should fit in well at Ilsaluntë Valion.

After you have been accepted for membership, you can then begin posting in the topics that interest you.  Upon first registering, you will have access to all of the public topics and some that do not appear to general web vistors (such as the readings from the Legendarium and ensuing discussions).  As time goes on, and you establish greater levels of trust with us, you will be able to see more and more of the hidden topics until you are granted the status of  Crewmate, when all of the board will be visible to you.

There is no set time for this, because everyone progresses at different rates and has a different skill set to contribute to the IV Project.  However, as we further refine our 'curriculum,' a reasonable timeline for the teaching and sharing of our material will certainly emerge.


Endnotes:
1:  This statement is not elitist, but is cognate to scientific theories of genetic drift.  By way of example, current findings are that most of the modern population of Britain has genetic markers that are very similar to the Basque people, as do also people who are traditionally identified as 'Celtic'.  One of the findings of this genetic research is that the aboriginal 'Basque genotype' was shown to be only lightly affected by the Saxon invasion, and therefore that 1) the Celts were not "wiped out" on a large scale, and 2) this genotype goes a long way back, to the last glacial maximum.

Current thinking is that there were several "glacial refuges" for early humans in that distant time.  Two of the largest being on the Iberian peninsula and the other in what is now the Ukraine.

Thus, although these genetic markers will differ between individuals in England today, most have traces of this common origin.

2:  http://www.electricscotland.com/history ... yways5.htm

3:  http://www.cmgww.com/historic/malcolm/a ... tes_by.htm



(Composed jointly by IV Officer Staff; last revised 8-24-2009)

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Meneldur Olvarion
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Re: Our FAQ

Post by Meneldur Olvarion » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:00 am

{Bump}

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