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Post by Lúthien »

Ilsaluntë Valion is a research group exploring Tolkienian gnosis.

It was established in 2007 by some of the original Co-founders of Tië eldaliéva to deeply examine, and imaginally explore J.R.R Tolkien's Middle-earth tales, collectively known as the Legendarium, and to embody these as a Spiritual Path incorporating the essence of these materials to the greatest extent practicable.

If you have read the work of JRR Tolkien, you may have noticed that it has a particular effect that not many other books have (though some others do): these stories are extraordinarily enchanting.
They have a peculiar depth and may touch a part of your mind that you were all but forgotten you had.
People who like Tolkien's stories usually agree on that. It's what makes them special.

This particular quality is usually attributed to Tolkien's skill in describing the world his stories are set in. And that's all there is to it.
At least, that's what common sense says.
It is therefore odd that Tolkien has left numerous indications - in his letters, in his poem Mythopoeia, in his short stories Leaf by Niggle and Smith of Wootton-Major, in essays - that there's a lot more to it than that. It's usually attributed to something like artistic eccentricity, though nobody even knows what that means (if it means anything at all).

The particular effect Tolkien's tales have and the hints that Tolkien, often reluctantly, gave about the nature and origin of that effect - that's the entrance to the rabbit-hole.
It opens up a strange panorama. Discussing it can be hard because the concepts and vocabulary are all but erased from the modern mindset.
If you're interested, feel free to join. But before you decide, please read the rest of this post.

Because the subject is conceptually so unusual it we've seen a lot of confusion and misunderstandings in the past. Maybe it's easiest to say this is not:
  • a religion (though it touches on it). We DO use the word "spiritual path" here and there; but you touch closer to the essence to think of what we do in terms of imagination and creativity.
  • about "otherkin" - though what everyone's personal belief is in that respect is their own business, as long as one remains level-headed ;)
  • about conspiracies (any). We use the term Gnosis in the original meaning, to refer to a particular kind of knowing, but you'll find the word plastered all over the internet where it supposedly refers to "bad-ass dark & edgy religion", which for some reason can't seem to do without conspiracy thinking. We're not into that.
In the 11-th century ballad of Thomas the Rhymer it's described like this:
'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 inquires.

'And see ye not yon braid, braid road,
That lies across the lily leven?
That is the Path of Wickedness,
Though some call it the Road to Heaven.

'And see ye not yon bonny road
That winds about the fernie brae?
That is the Road to fair Elfland,
Where thou and I this night maun gae.
You could interpret the narrow road as faith; the braid, braid road as materialism and the bonny road as the (sub-)creative imagination.

(first version, to be continued)
A! Elin velui, dîn dolog, aduial lúthad!

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