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Heren Istarion is raffling off Tolkien collectibles!
Thain
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If you want more context for this, read Anthony's post in the News section here:

Heren Istarion Updates

Anthony and Jessica are raffling off the following items to help Heren Istarion's financial health. Please take a moment to browse through what they have available, and hopefully take a chance on winning some great stuff! Heren Istarion is a great organization (a smial of the Tolkien Society, a branch of the Mythopoeic Society, and has members scattered to the four winds, not just in the New York area), and amongst other things produces an excellent journal - Parma Nölé. I would heartily recommend picking up some back issues, or subscribing now.

Here is the current list of items up for raffle. Updates should be posted here often as new items are added to the raffle. Please be sure to read the full terms of the raffle before buying entries.

RAFFLE: SOCIETY FLYER SIGNED BY LOTR CAST AND CREW

RAFFLE: RARE FELLOWSHIP MINI BUSTS

RAFFLE: 8" Strider by Applause

RAFFLE:8" GANDALF by Applause

RAFFLE: TOPPS FOTR FOIL CARDS

RAFFLE: FOTR: MERRYS TRAVEL COAT

RAFFLE: ROTK GORBAG AUTOGRAPHED CARD

RAFFLE: SIDESHOW WETA's LORD ELROND

RAFFLE: SIDESHOW WETA's Prince Isildur

RAFFLE: SIDESHOW WETA's CATAPULT TROLL

RAFFLE: Book - C.S. Lewis Chronicles Inscribed by Colin Duriez

RAFFLE: HOBBIT GRAB BAG

RAFFLE: Embroidery and Crafts

Posted on: 2007/10/6 23:38
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- Jeremy


Re: an eBay auction that made me laugh...
Thain
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Well, I finally had time to revisit, and it appears that Search.com has corrected the listing. One less mis-fact about Tolkien online! (And probably a million new ones.)

Posted on: 2007/10/5 23:51
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- Jeremy


Mystical Realms Newsletter for October, 2007
Thain
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Posted on behalf of Jef Murray.

----


Greetings!

Welcome to my newsletter for October, 2007. 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 at: http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms . Notices of new paintings and events are at the bottom of this email.

Epiphanies =========

"It sounds kind of sad," the little girl said.

It was sad. I was in a classroom full of middle schoolers. We had just learned to sing a very simple Gregorian chant, a setting of the Sanctus. And despite the fact that this was a Catholic school, neither the music teacher nor any of her students had ever sung even the most modest chant melody before.

I was reminded of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, and particularly of the deep and abiding sadness that permeates his tales of Middle-earth. In those tales, ages and ages have come and gone, and the remote histories and legends of the earliest times are largely forgotten. But the Elves were the keepers of the legends. They were the stewards of the ancient wisdom and lore that linked generation to generation back to the very creation of Middle-earth...back to the time when the earliest peoples had spoken and lived with the Valar, those mighty angels and servants of God Himself.

Tolkien's Elves were immortal, and so they were, as such, natural guardians of history and wisdom. But Tolkien modeled these mythical beings after the Benedictine monks of Europe. The western monastic tradition, which began with the Rule of St. Benedict, spread throughout Europe during the Dark Ages. And in those times, as the Roman Empire crumbled and western civilization was overrun by waves of conquerors, all ancient lore and wisdom was gathered by the monks and preserved. And the prayerful temple music of the ancient Hebrews was remembered and modified to suit the celebration of the Catholic Mass, becoming what we know today as Gregorian chant.

Music is one of the greatest gifts of God to man. And ancient melodies that were sung by our forebears have an immense power; they can connect us palpably with our fathers, and our fathers' fathers, and on back through the ages. And when we sing these ancient melodies, we mystically join our voices with those ancestors, making audible the very communion of saints...that spiritual and earthly choir that cherishes what is good, what is true, and what is beautiful.

So why does no one sing Gregorian chant anymore? One could argue that it's too "old fashioned", or that a capella singing is too difficult for average folk, or that no one wants to sing in a foreign language. But I think chant is scarce for a different reason. I think it's because, as the little girl in that classroom said, "it sounds kind of sad."

We modern folk want diversion. We want bubbly songs that make us feel good. We want nothing that reminds us of pain, of loss, of suffering. And as a result, worship in many churches these days is little more than (often bad) entertainment.

But, as anyone who has ever truly suffered will tell you, pain, sacrifice, and loss are often necessary for growth. There are things in life that are sad: people are hurt; families are destroyed; neighborhoods and nations are overrun by criminals; we lose those we love.

But by papering over these things, we also paper over the brokenness of our world, and the sin that underlies that brokenness. And when we deny sin, we deny the possibility of redemption, the possibility that the sadness and hurt are just temporary. We deny the possibility that life is too glorious and too important to waste on diversion.

"Yes, it is sad, isn't it?" I answered the girl in the classroom. "But isn't it also beautiful?"

And that, perhaps, is the best description I can ever give, not only for Gregorian chant, but also for life itself.


Nai Eru laitalyë (may God bless you),

Jef


Events =========

- First, I have spent the last month bringing many of my existing paintings and logos up to date on my website. In addition to those that have been online for a while, I've brought back a number of pieces not seen in some time, and am including detailed commentary and info on originals with each piece. If you've not seen the site in a while, please take a look ( http://www.JefMurray.com ) and let me know what you think!

- I feel greatly honoured to have been asked to develop the logo for the MythCon 39, the Mythopoeic Society's annual conference, scheduled for August 15-18th, 2008 at Central Connecticut State University. The theme for this year is "The Valkyrie and the Goddess: The Warrior Woman in Fantasy". You can see the logo at: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmu ... ketch_mythcon39_logo.html . For more information on the Mythopoeic Society or the convention, visit http://www.mythsoc.org .

- Oxonmoot 2007 was by all accounts a great success! And either 6 or 7 (depending on who you talk to ) of the 8 prints that I included in the art show this year had been purchased by the end of the weekend. A print of a dragon reading The Hobbit (see http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmu ... h/353_Reading_dragon.html ) received by far the greatest amount of interest.

- I am delighted to have been asked to be a guest of honour 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: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmu ... hes/Sketch_ALEP_logo.html . The official website for ALEP (and registration info) can be found at: http://www.alongexpectedparty.org/ .

- The September/October issue of Amon Hen, the bimonthly newsletter of the Tolkien Society, features a cover that I was honoured to have been asked to design. It commemorates the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit with a painting of the dragon Smaug (see original painting at http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmu ... os/tolkien/343_Smaug.html ).

- The White Tree Fund (see http://www.whitetreefund.org/ ) is now accepting memberships and is in the process of finalizing details for publication of "Silver Leaves", their new journal. I was asked to contribute several painting images and sketches for their use in this inaugural issue of "Silver Leaves". Included in these was the cover image, which incorporated my painting of the high seat at Amon Hen.

Posted on: 2007/10/5 23:25
_________________
- Jeremy


Mystical Realms Newsletter for September, 2007
Thain
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Better late than never! Sorry Jef for the delay in listing this...

----

Greetings!

And welcome to my newsletter for September, 2007. 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 at: http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms . Notices of new paintings and events are at the bottom of this email... with there's lots of new and exciting news this month!

Epiphanies =========

The phone rang. Thinking it was a friend returning my call, I picked up rather than letting the answering machine take a message. The voice on the other end explained that I didn't know him, but that he and his wife were the owners of a house Lorraine and I had built in the 1990s. He wanted to know more about the house, and about the folks who had designed it.

Lorraine and I built the MarshNest in 1990, planning to someday live in this cottage overlooking the salt marshes of the Gulf coast of Florida. Because of hurricanes, the place was perched 17 feet above ground level, and the view was at or above the tops of the surrounding trees.

Lorraine and I had been miserable at the time. We were in high stress jobs that gave neither fulfillment nor a real sense of financial security. We were not church-goers, and had no community or friends other than the people we knew at work. The money was good, but that was all. And, in order to compensate for our suffering, we had decided to create a small paradise for ourselves away from the big city.

We were in love with the marshes, the tides, and the wildlife. We escaped to the MarshNest as often as we could...frequently once a month or more. Our encounters with wildlife instilled in us a deep sense of home, of love, of wonder. We felt God so clearly in the marshes that we slowly began to seek Him out closer to home.

Over the ensuing years, I became more and more interested in the Catholic faith. Its mysticism coupled with its grounding in reason was a paradoxical package I could not resist exploring. And Lorraine, likewise, was awakened to the possibility of returning to her childhood faith. We began attending Mass, and in 1994 I was received into the Church.

The subsequent years changed almost everything about us. I began helping others explore ways out of dead-end wage slavery at the same time I plotted a way for us to leave our own high stress jobs. The MarshNest was still a solace, but as we found ourselves more and more engaged with our community at home, we no longer felt that the marshes were the only places where we could experience God's love. We experienced Him in our church choir, in talks I gave to others on getting out of debt and exploring their dreams, in work we did with the Missionary Sisters of Charity (Mother Teresa's order).

In 1997, we sold the cottage, freeing ourselves up, simultaneously, to explore the possibility of leaving our careers and pursuing goals that we'd not had since childhood: goals of contributing something of beauty back to the world, of bolstering others' faith and hope, of sharing some of our own sense of wonder not just at creation, but also at the care with which God will lead you if you'll let Him.

"We just love the place," said the voice at the other end of the line. "We feel God so strongly here that we thought we'd like to know something about the folks who built it."

I couldn't explain to the caller the whole of our journey, but it struck me suddenly that, perhaps, this was the beginning of his. Our giving up of something that we had loved so much so many years ago was allowing someone else to take a few teetering steps down his own spiritual path. And with this thought, I was overcome once again with awe and wonder at the mystery, the mercy, and the magic of God's world.

Nai Eru laitalyë (may God bless you),

Jef


Events =========

- I feel delighted and honoured to have been asked to be a guest of honor at the upcoming Tolkien celebration, "A Long-Expected Party" (ALEP) in Kentucky in September, 2008. This celebration is a fan-created event, and it is hoped that it will be the first of many. In addition to bringing original artwork to the Shaker Village venue and participating in talks and panels, I was asked to develop one of the logos used for the event. You can see it on my website at: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmu ... hes/Sketch_ALEP_logo.html . The official website for ALEP (and registration info) can be found at: http://www.alongexpectedparty.org/ . Since space is limited at the venue, I'd urge anyone interested in attending to register and book their rooms as soon as possible.

- Oxonmoot 2007 is nearly upon us, and in addition to having eight of my signed prints included in this year's art show, I was also delighted to have been asked to once again develop the cover artwork for this year's Oxonmoot Information (OI) booklet. I've included a copy of the cover page on my website at: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmu ... tch_oxonmoot_oi_2007.html .

- Regarding my website, I have been furiously updating it to include much more information about all of the paintings and prints I have available. This includes commentary on each piece as well as new prints and print options. Plus, I've rearranged and renamed several galleries. I am once again including my "Wildlife Silhouette" original works on the site, and these can be viewed in the "Dragons & Whimsical Beasts" gallery and the "Wildlife" gallery. I'll be adding to those shown over the next weeks. Please let me know what you think of the new look at http://www.JefMurray.com !

- One of the new features of my "Tolkien-Inspired Works" gallery is that paintings are now grouped by the different Ages of Middle-earth. The top of the gallery includes all of my interpretations of events from "The Lord of the Rings". Next come images from "The Hobbit", then from the Second Age, and finally, from the First Age. I hope this new organization will make it easier to find things. Please also note that within each section, the newest works will always be the first shown.

- Still related to website updates, I now have a gallery of "Recently Sold" works. This will become an ongoing repository for original paintings and Wildlife Silhouettes that have recently been purchased by patrons. Please take a look at: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmu ... efmurraystudios/sold.html .

- The September/October issue of Amon Hen, the bimonthly newsletter of the Tolkien Society, features a cover that I was honored to have been asked to design. It commemorates the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit with a painting of the dragon Smaug.

- The White Tree Fund (see http://www.whitetreefund.org/ ) is now accepting memberships and is in the process of finalizing details for publication of "Silver Leaves", their new journal. I was asked to contribute several painting images and sketches for their use in this inaugural issue of "Silver Leaves". Included in these was the cover image, which incorporated my painting of the high seat at Amon Hen.

Posted on: 2007/10/5 23:18
_________________
- Jeremy


Helm's Deep artwork identification help needed
Thain
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I got this request for help, anyone know more?

---

i've a pencil sketch of helms deep & the hornburg which i recently purchased, framed from a car boot sale. it has helms deep sketched in the centre with the hornburg in the background. 'helm's deep & the hornburg are written to the left of centre. it's old, judging by the fading on the mount and it measures approx 14" x 14". i can find 1 or 2 images via the internet but no detail of it's origin. i'm guessing it's from a calendar maybe?

can you help?

Posted on: 2007/9/20 5:28
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- Jeremy



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