Concerning the Validity of this Worldview...

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Meneldur Olvarion
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Concerning the Validity of this Worldview...

Post by Meneldur Olvarion » Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:25 pm

During the course of my career as a Founder of both Tië eldaliéva and Ilsaluntë Valion, I have encountered various detractors of our work, whose complaints can be summarized thus: “Tolkien would be horrified at your explicit honoring of the Valar/creation of a Spiritual philosophy/use of entheogens/{name your complaint…}!”  Now, setting aside the fact that guessing how a dead person might react to current sociological phenomena is just that: pure speculation, it is also a fact that even if J.R.R.T were 100% opposed to everything we do, that in itself is not relevant.

Why not?

That is what I will address in this post.

The most important reason that we are not concerned with whatever Tolkien (were he still living) 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†.  The only way to ensure that this is not done is never to publish.  While this method is certain to prevent any ‘misuse’ of an author’s work, it also would likely leave him frustrated and his work forever nascent.  Moreover, in Tolkien's case, we know that this extreme possessiveness was not his goal from Letter #131:

I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.

This is the course that Ilsaluntë Valion takes, though our specific expression of it, as a form of Spirituality (not religion) is as far as we know, unique (aside from that of Tië eldaliéva, our sister group).

It is a peculiarity of modern secular culture that venerable customs are discarded as being of little relevance or use, while at the same time a strong counter-cultural current seeks to rank ancient belief systems in order of ‘validity’ based upon their (supposed) antiquity.  Thus, some Wiccans claim a history for Wicca spanning 10,000 years[1]—an obviously false claim to anyone who knows a bit about cultural anthropology—apparently in an attempt to outdo Christianity, which if this claim were true would be “only 2000”, and thus (one assumes) 5× inferior.  In this same vein, some detractors seem to have a similar problem with Ilsaluntë Valion, usually expressed as “Tolkien was a writer of fiction!” (Often followed by 1 × 101000 exclamation points to express their incredulity and disdain.)  However, it seems to be perfectly fine that Gerald Gardner invented Wicca in the early 1950’s[2], or that Robert A. Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” forms the foundation of the spiritual system of the Church of All Worlds[3].  Is there not a double-standard at work here?

In any case, we in  Ilsaluntë Valion 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 (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 (let us say) the collected folklore of a tribe.  However, they do have that quality, so this approach works rather well.  Or to put it another way: 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. [4]

How do we view Tolkien's work, then?  This question will likely be answered differently by each member of Ilsaluntë Valion—we are hardly a monolithic organization with a “hive mind” mentality.  However, for myself I view it in much the same manner as the Lakota regard Black Elk Speaks; both for the inherent value of the body of work itself and as the record of the spiritual connectedness and insight of a remarkable man.

In conclusion, 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.  Through trance-journeys, observances and meditations, we connect to and commune with these energies, and thus the beings embodied by them.  Through our knowledge of the Lore we check our received information so that Unverified Personal Gnosis can, if corroborated, become Confirmed Gnosis.[5]

And so, the spiral continues…                                                                            [link to lyrics]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTvwcLylZzs

† As, for example, in the influence of Tolkien's work upon other “fantasy” authors [link]; or in King Crimson's influence upon Tool, who in turn influenced Chevelle and many others, as an example of one artistic entity's indirect influence upon a cascade of others.

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Endnotes:
1: http://www.members.shaw.ca/otterlimits/wicca.html
2: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/magic/kreeeping-ooze/part13/
3: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_ ... nd_beliefs
4: http://www.electricscotland.com/history ... yways5.htm
5: http://www.paganachd.com/faq/intermediate.html#upg

{Last edited: 2-3-2012 to update a few links.}

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