The Road Goes Ever On and On

This day in 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, to Mable Suffield and Arthur Reuel Tolkien.  His father’s name would be the name J.R.R. would become famous under some 60 years later, but his heart was in the ancestral home of the Suffield’s in England’s West Midlands.  Mabel and Belladonna Took surely bear some resemblance, and so do the Tolkien’s and the Baggins’, but John Ronald’s sub-creation grew out of the leaf mold of much more than ‘mere biography’.

For John Ronald, the Road started in a windy, dusty yet strangely beautiful foreign country, far away from what would become the home of his heart.  It ended in the heart of Oxford, seventy-some years later.  And in between, something wonderful grew.  Read his Mythopoeia poem to peek behind the scenes.

the grey havens

And for us, the Road still goes on, from the Door where it began to wherever our feet, willing or weary, will eventually lead us.

Happy Birthday, dear John Ronald.  And Thank You.  You have given us so much…

Our Own Dear John Ronald: Myth and Truth

Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme / of things not found within recorded time.

But, said Lewis, myths are lies, even though lies breathed through silver.
No, said Tolkien, they are not.

And indicating the great trees of Magdalen Grove as their branches bent in the wind, he struck out a different line of argument.

You call a tree a tree, and you think nothing more of the word.  But it was not a ‘tree’ until someone gave it that name.  You call a star a star, and say it is just a ball of matter moving on a mathematical course.  But that is merely ho YOU see it.  By so naming things and describing them you are only inventing your own terms about them.  And just as speech is invention about objects and ideas, so myth is invention about truth.

We have come from God (continued Tolkien), and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect God.  Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming a ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man ascribe to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall.  Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.

In expounding this belief in the inherent TRUTH of mythology, Tolkien had laid bare the center of his philosophy as a writer, the creed that is at the heart of ‘The Silmarillion’.


The account of this conversation is based on Tolkiens poem Mythopoeia, to which he also gave the titles ‘Misomythos’ and ‘Philomythos and Misomythos’.  One manuscript is marked ‘for C.S.L.’.

~ Humphrey Carpenter: J.R.R. Tolkien.  A Biography.

Sunday Afternoon Story: A Different Version of “Le Mort De Arthur”

Incidentally: “To swoon” means “to faint”.

Here I have a different version of  “Le Mort de Arthur.”

Le Mort de Arthur

Here is what is says, in case you can’t read it.

Here is written in letters of gold a tale of yore.

The Lady Guinevere sayeth “Where doth Arthur, Sir Gawain?” And Gawain sayeth onto her “I hath rode far and wide and yet Arthur hath not been found.  So yet if I have to ride for nine moons I will search.”  But nine moons passed and Arthur hath not been found.  Sir Gawain rodeth back to Guinevere and said to her “I hath rode for nine moons and I  hath not found him. I am afraid Le Mort de Arthur has befallen him.”  And Guinevere swooned away.

Cultured Wednesday: Edmund Leighton’s Accolade

This is probably one of of Leighton’s most well known paintings, and for good reason, we think.

The Accolade, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1901)

Finishing “The Age of Fable” in Bulfinch’s Mythology, we came across today’s featured painting in the very beginning of “The Age of Chivalry”:  Edmund Blair Leighton’s “The Accolade”, painted in 1901.  The girls and I were very much impressed.  What a beautiful painting!

Although this painting, as many others of the same painter, appears to be rather well known, little seems to be known about the painter himself beyond some basic biographic details.  Edmund Leighton, who was born on 21 September 1852 and died on 1 September 1922, was an English painter who appears to have lived in London all his life.  He specialized in historical scenes, particularly of the medieval era.  “The Accolade” is one of many paintings on the subject of chivalry that he painted in the 1900s.

The Romances of medieval literature present to us this idea and ideal of chivalry.  In short, chivalry is an informal and varying code of conduct which developed in the late 12th and early 13th century in Europe.  It is associated with the medieval Christian institution of knighthood, and makes for a very interesting topic both in literature and in art.  Typically, our concept about chivalry is based on Geoffrey of Monmouth‘s Historia Regum Britanniae which introduced King Arthur and his knights as being the actual royal history of England.  Bulfinch draws a lot on Monmouth’s “fabulous chronicles”, which he considers to be a “formidable body of marvelous histories”.


Monsters of the World: Nue

Pretty creepy, I say!

Found only in remote areas of Japan, the Nue with its monkey-like head and tiger-like legs is regarded as a bringer of bad luck.  This is most likely due to the black venomous cloud it emits from under its snaky tail when disturbed.

Pretty creepy, I say!


QUOTE: Robert Graves

C.S. Lewis agrees.

C.S. Lewis agrees.

The modern licence claimed by novelists and short-story writers to use their imaginations as freely as they please prevents students of mythology from realizing that in North-Western Europe, where the post-Classical Greek novel was not in circulation, story-tellers did not invent their plots and characters but continually retold the same traditional tales, extemporizing only when their memory was at fault. Unless religious or social change forced a modification of the plot or a modernization of incident, the audience expected to hear the tales told in the accustomed way. Almost all were explanations of ritual or religious theory, overlaid with history: a body of instruction corresponding with the Hebrew Scriptures and having many elements in common with them.

~Robert Graves, “The White Goddess”

Cultured Wednesday: Peter Nicolai Arbo

Arbo, another Norwegian painter from the romantic period, mainly painted scenes from Norwegian history and Norse mythology.

Today we would like to talk a little about Peter Nicolai Arbo, a Norwegian painter who delighted in Nordic themes, primarily taken from Norwegian history and North-Germanic mythology.  The pretty lady falconer in the featured image is Ingeborg, one of the main characters in the Frithiof’s Saga, and isn’t she lovely?

Here is a self portrait of Peter Nicolai Arbo:

arbo self portrait
Peter Nicolai Arbo, Self Portrait (1874)

Arbo was a painter of the romantic period, but not a landscape painter, for a change.  He concentrated more on people and animals, including larger scenes like his version of the Wild Hunt, possibly his most well known painting:

aasgaardreien peter nicolai arbo
The Wild Hunt of Odin, a Norse version of “Wild Hunt” (1872)

Peter Nicolai Arbo  was born on June 18, 1831, in Gulskogen Manor in eastern Norway, where he also grew up.  Today, the manor is part of Drammens museum and many of Arbo’s paintings are exhibited in its beautiful rooms.

valkyrie by arbo
Valkyrie (1864 version)

Arbo’s artistic education took place in Copenhagen and Düsseldorf before returning to his home country.  He, like Asher Durand, is associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting.  All through Arbo’s career, he was involved in the Norwegian art scene, and he was appointed two separate Norwegian Knight’s titles in his lifetime.  Peter Nicolai Arbo died on October 14, 1892 at the age of 61; at the time of his death, he was still the director of the Christiana Art Society, a post he had held for ten years.  Below one of Arbo’s historic paintings:

arbo haakon den gode
Håkon the Good (1860)

Here is another painting from Norse mythology, depicting a personified element of the cosmos, as is common in mythology: Dagr, the god “Day”, on a magnificent white horse.

dagr arbo
Dagr (1874)

My favorites of his painting are the featured Ingeborg (see again below for an uncropped version) and the following painting of Liden Gunvor Og Havmanden (Liden Gunvor and the Merman).  It’s a literary painting, but I am not sure which story it portrays.  It could be based on a medieval ballad like Agnete and the Merman.

Liden Gunvor and the Merman (1874 – 1880)

And here once again Ingeborg:

Ingeborg, Frithjofs elskede (1868)

Cultured Wednesday: Wilhelm Carl Räuber

Wilhelm Carl Räuber was a German painter of the latter half of the 19th and first quarter of the 20th century.

Here we have a German painter by the name of Wilhelm Carl Räuber (1849-1926), who is mostly known (anymore) for his St. Hubertus painting, but we thought he had some other interesting paintings that deserve a bit of attention.  The white stag in the painting is, of course, a symbol that goes back to pre-Christian times.

hubertus raueber
Die Bekehrung des Heiligen Hubertus, 1892

White stags played an important role in other pre-Indo-European cultures, especially in the north.  The Celtic people considered white stags to be messengers from the Otherworld, and thus, much like in the Arthurian legend, the pursuit of the animals represents mankind’s spiritual quest.  The Celts believed that the white stag would appear when one was transgressing a taboo, whereas King Arthur’s knights felt called to go on a quest when they encountered a white stag.  You can find one of these stories in the Mabinogion, for example.

Incidentally, and quite off topic, really:   The white stag makes an appearance in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, in which a large white stag is hunted as part of the quest “Ill Met by Moonlight”.  Hmmm.

Back to the painter:  Wilhelm Carl Räuber was born July 11th, 1849 in Marienwerder in what was then West Prussia, and died on January 25th, 1926 in Munich.  He studied in Königsberg, known as Kaliningrad since the end of WWII, and later in Munich. There, Räuber settled for the rest of his life.

Räuber was quite famous in his time and received several golden medals in art exhibitions in Düsseldorf (in 1880) and Munich (in 1883).  Today, his paintings are found in the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, as well as in the Deutschen Museum and the Neuen Pinakothek, both in Munich.

Pause Unterwegs, 1916

The Alps feature quite prominently in two of the three paintings we chose, as a somewhat hazy, and yet majestic backdrop to an otherwise colorful and rather preoccupied group of people.

The people and what they are engaged in, be it a moment of prayer or a probably well-deserved break, speak to us in a very lively manner, as if we were part of their group instead of observers.  And there are always dogs in the paintings!

Just so that we don’t ignore Räuber’s portraits completely, here is one of his charcoal portraits of a little cutie pie who appears to have been his adoptive daughter.  It’s a giant image when you click on it, so you can see rather well how he drew it.


Featured: Wilhelm Räuber: Landsknechte am Wegkreuz, 1902

Busy Busy Busy

Sit down for a minute, relax, and watch someone else being busy busy busy.

Do you get like that?  Busy busy busy and no time for anything than being busy?  Well, maybe you can sit down for a minute, literally, 58 seconds, relax, and watch someone else being busy busy busy.  Here is a short video of the honey bees who moved into one of the maple trees on the property a few months ago.  They are loaded with yellow and orange pollen:

The orange pollen is an indication that fall is coming.  Got to wonder how much honey they have stashed away in that tree by now!

Other indicators that fall is approaching can be found in the apple tree:

apple featured

We have not seen any European hornets this year, but then again, they usually wait until the apples are really nice and ripe, and then have their feast.  We posted a few pictures of them last year.

Also, we harvested a bit of this crop again, but found out later that this time, we were a bit late:  Stinging nettles are very tasty just sauteed in butter, but once they developed flowers, they are hard on the kidneys, or so they say.  So you better get to them before that.  But seriously, of all the so-called bitter greens – Swiss chard, kale, dandelion greens, nettles and the like – our absolute favorite are stinging nettles.  Once you harvested them, you blanch them in boiling water so they won’t sting anymore, and then cut them to the size you prefer and throw them in a sauce pan with some butter.  Let them get soft, and enjoy them.  We often eat soup – carrot soup, for example – and a few nettles thrown in when the soup is already in your bowl is quite delicious and adds texture.

nettle harvest featured

And here are a few pictures to enjoy, just because beauty is such a wonderful thing.

First, leaves on the apple tree im Gegenlicht:

gegenlicht featured

Two Zinnias:

zinnia featured


horse fly

And a much smaller bug on a Black-eyed Susan.  I think he was just doing his daily stoutness-exercises when I came along with the camera.

flower and bug insta

There’s that for today.  Make sure you don’t get too busy!  We all have the same amount of time, you know, 24/7, to be exact, and it is up to us to make time for the right stuff.



Dragons of the World: Tunguska Dragon

The mighty Tunguska dragon, also known as the War Dragon, originates from the Siberian wastes of Eastern Europe.

A subspecies of the common European dragon, the mighty Tunguska dragon, also known as the War Dragon, originates from the Siberian wastes of Eastern Europe.

Always black in color, these dragons are no longer found in the wild, having been domesticated by humans and bread over the centuries for use in war.  Their brute strength and considerable stamina, coupled with a generally dull-wittid sensibilty, unfortuntaley make them ideal for this purpose.


Source: Drake’s Comprehensive Compendium of Dragonology, p. 11.

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