Finally I understand why Tolkien’s Elves make me cry

/, art, cerri lee, druid, druidism, druidry, Lord of the Rings, shamanism, spirituality/Finally I understand why Tolkien’s Elves make me cry

Finally I understand why Tolkien’s Elves make me cry

There are times when a piece of work becomes something other than just a novel, poem, a song or piece of art. Somehow it reaches out of its own accord to touch the soul of thousands, sometimes millions, of people across the world. 

Unbeknownst to the creator of the piece, who perhaps worked in solitude and probably for the most private of reasons, their work develops a tangible persona and maybe even an agenda of its own. In the creation process it forges a life beyond its creator, and, when finally birthed into the world, it surges forward like a tsunami to change lives in ways that the originator could never have intended or even have imagined. 

As with all works of inspiration there is something magical, intangible and possibly even shamanic about the way they come into our lives. They crash head long into our emotional matrix opening our eyes, blow our hearts and minds into other worlds as well as knocking us into new ways of seeing and feeling. 

This is certainly true of The Lord of the Rings and so much more of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. 

From a very personal point of view Tolkien’s work did and does hold magic in epic proportions for me. I visit and revisit both The Hobbit and L.O.T.Rings at least once a year, either by listening to the audio books or by watching the (to my mind at least) slightly inadequate Peter Jackson films.  Just don’t ask me to go into my feelings on them as I am aware that I am a bit unreasonable in my views, particularly about some of the fundamental aspects of story murder he committed. However they are cinematically beautiful and for many reasons I will grudgingly watch them with my family and friends, who will happily stuff a sock in my mouth to stifle the screaming at various points, when it all gets a bit much for me.

Reading the books as a much younger person opened my mind to an epic landscape, they showed me an idea of how humans could be and broke my heart when the Elves left this world. I still sob uncontrollably at the end of the book, even the thought of it is making me tear up as I write this post. Even having to sit through the unbearably sugary way PJ deals with the end of the story in the film can’t dull the emotions of loss I feel from the original. 

So it was odd that after all these years I was finally struck with an epiphany this morning, as I was again pondering why I respond so emotionally to this story. Since I first engaged with the stories even the mention of Elves makes my heart flutter and my eyes well up with tears. What it is about them that makes my heart break? After having watched all three films this week, I suddenly realised it is a profound and overwhelming sense of loss for their world and mine that I feel as the Elves sail away from the Grey Havens.  When the Elves leave they take with them the enchantment from the land, something dies in it and I am left on the shores of Middle Earth amidst a fading beauty, as they sail on into the distance. The realisation that now humans will have no restraints in their actions and will push forward the rise of mechanism, commerce on a global scale, and a discarding of anything that even looks like ‘fluffy’ thinking. My Middle Earth will never be the same again and I am constantly mourning its passing through this story. It leads me to wonder if some part of that feeling is what drove Tolkien to write his story. 

As a fifty something woman I am starting to feel my age in the way I think. Occasionally I fall pray to the “In my day” ‘rose-tinted’ view of how things were ‘back in the day’. I don’t really think times were ever any better as such, no, definitely not better. But maybe the problems seemed more understandable, more bite sized and chewable. In truth they were not, but memory is a funny thing, as we all know, it can warp and change how we view the past. 

I know that things on the global scale have always been complicated, difficult and a fine tightrope walk between warring factions, people in famine and glut, all striving for a peaceful coexistence. It is only the access to media coverage that bring the problems so close to home leaving me with the sense that I am standing before the Black Gates of Mordor, with the armies of the enemy massing on the other side and the Great Eye glaring down on me from his Tower.  

I have felt like a Hobbit suddenly exposed to a huge, wide world of madness and infamy and felt overwhelmed in the face of the epic scheme of things. So the loss of the Elf allies that held the mystery and magic is a blow to a little Hobbit. What do you hold onto if there is no ancient wisdom that can whisper into your heart and make you feel that all things can be achieved, even by the smallest of us? 

I think this is why I follow a Druidic path. It is why our myths and legends are so real for me. They are full of the words of Elves whispering through our ancient forbears and across the sundering seas into my heart, giving me ways to travel through this epic landscape with my mind and soul full of magic, when all might seem too dark.

In my real world there is a wealth of things to be hopeful about and there is plenty of magic to tap into, if I look for it, which I do all the time. And I do wonder if the rise of the fantasy genre is in someway an attempt for more secular members of our society to recapture some of the enchantment that has been lacking. 

It is a way for everyone to tap into epic ideas and magical adventures and fill the empty space left behind when the Elves left us, when they sailed away never to return.

My world is full of magic and mystery, the Gods, the Faye and all things fantastical and I love it.

I will happily fly the flag of the Elves from the shores of Middle Earth and fill my heart with joy and sorrow by engaging with their stories. After all these were inspired by the ancient tales and legends of our ancestors that Tolkien was so adept at studying and reading.

Many people have adventured through Tolkien’s magical portal following Bilbo to Rivendell and Frodo into Mordor along their winding paths. Through their epic landscapes the paths wound around their adventures, much of the time we saw through their eyes the majesty and magic of their world, at others, we felt the loss of innocence, the loss of enchantment and cold fury of the dark hearts who sought to rule.  But, through it all there was always hope in the darkest of places and a true heart would be guided to find the light of Eärendil (the Morning and Evening star).

All the things we create, the beautiful and even the ugly, are grown from seeds sown in our hearts and minds by all that’s gone before. We take our emotions, our thoughts and feelings and weave them into the fabric of the universe, always hoping they become inspirations for those who follow our winding paths. 

The Road goes ever on and on,

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.

Thank you Tolkien for opening a portal from my world into yours. As for Peter Jackson’s films? Well, it was a good effort, but, no biscuit from me. However, I will have to concede that it is entirely possible many more people may have found the joys of Tolkien’s world through those films, who knows? So on second thought, maybe I will give him a biscuit after all. 

By |2019-01-11T17:45:58+00:00January 11th, 2019|ancients, art, cerri lee, druid, druidism, druidry, Lord of the Rings, shamanism, spirituality|15 Comments

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15 Comments

  1. Linda Davis January 12, 2019 at 7:22 am - Reply

    I have felt that grief too Cerri, and the way that the dark side of life is so ‘in our face’ through 24/7 media. Many of us feel like ‘ just Hobbits’ I guess. Keeping ourselves open to the beauty of the world and the kindness that does exist still is an antidote I think, focussing on the small things and finding inspiration where we can. You and Damh are doing a great job of inspiring! Here’s one of my favourite ‘Bilbo’ poems, especially as we wait for Spring.

    I sit beside the fire and think
    of all that I have seen
    of meadow-flowers and butterflies
    in summers that have been;

    Of yellow leaves and gossamer
    in autumns that there were,
    with morning mist and silver sun
    and wind upon my hair.

    I sit beside the fire and think
    of how the world will be
    when winter comes without a spring
    that I shall ever see.[3]

    For still there are so many things
    that I have never seen:
    in every wood in every spring
    there is a different green.

    I sit beside the fire and think
    of people long ago
    and people who will see a world
    that I shall never know.

    But all the while I sit and think
    of times there were before,
    I listen for returning feet
    and voices at the door

    • H Blackwood January 12, 2019 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      Did you write this poem?

    • H Blackwood January 12, 2019 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      Did you write this poem?

      • Cerri January 13, 2019 at 1:44 am - Reply

        No I wish I had written them but they are not my words, the poem is one that Bilbo quotes in the stories. I think there are about three versions through out the books 🙂

  2. Snooze Hamilton January 12, 2019 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Well spoken. I’ve always used and seen other people using fantasy fandom, classical and modern, as a talisman against petty, vicious smallness on a level that must surely be making Joseph Campbell squee happily somewhere out in the ether ;0)

    To go with the example, the Elves were the wellspring of higher minds and spirits in Middle Earth, yet a Hobbit stood in the space they couldn’t and struck the blow against the ultimate destructive, base selfishness that the whole world needed, not just the Elves.

    Every time I start to forget that, I whip out that other great wizard, Terry Pratchett, and Death’s words to Susan in Hogfather about belief and creating reality ;0)

    https://youtu.be/AnaQXJmpwM4

    • Cerri January 12, 2019 at 3:31 pm - Reply

      Thank you 🙂 If in any quandary about the world and wishing to save my mental health whilst still keeping abreast of world events, my go to’s are Pratchett, Tolkien and, for more immediacy, Monty Python who also have a ridiculously quotable line that lightens the mood on any occasion 🙂

  3. Ian January 12, 2019 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    So True! Words of Wisdom and Wonder. I too long for the Elves return…..

  4. Tim Jones January 12, 2019 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Nicely articulated, thank you Cerri. I do suspect those of us seekers on pagan paths can access those ancient whispers of wisdom sometimes if we honestly do the work, for they reside within us. Blessings to you.

  5. Lesley Woodroffe January 12, 2019 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    I feel very much the same – waaay back I was given a lovely edition of LoTR, hard-covered with the White Tree embossed on the front. Pages are onion-skin thin. But the appendices are far more detailed than in the original fat paperback that most of us started out with (I wore out two!) A phrase that remains with me is that the elves went ‘beyond the confines of this world’ which always makes me feel that they are still here, merely on a separate plane.

  6. Lynn Rhiannon Selkie Genevieve January 12, 2019 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    I guess I feel that the Fey….whatever they are, are still here – watching, waiting, and occasionally making themselves known. But they learnt, quite rightly, a long time ago to not trust us….
    I feel they are still there for flora and fauna…..
    I’ve never felt the sadness you describe – perhaps as I came to Tolkien long after I felt connected to ‘nature’…..and consequently the Fey.
    Ever the optimist……
    I love your article – beautifully written – thank you for sharing.

  7. Nordic January 12, 2019 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    I am a man in the north (finland) and i was never good with expressing my feelings,
    or even understanding them for the most part. (often my thoughts are too confusing or complex, to put them in words)

    So – Thank you for doing that for me here.

    Yes, i read the books… and tried to ignore shortcomings of the films.

    I am in finland – we are a tiny country, very isolated and self sufficient within europe – the big people all around us, little influence on happenings in world politics – we are happy if we are ignored, satisfied with a simple and honest life – potentially the closest to nature folk in europe. (indigenous sami with a still alive shaman culture up in the north herding the reindeer)

    our months translate to be “moons” and reflect the spot in the wheel of the year (novermbed beeing the “mud-moon” february is the “pearl-moon” (ice pearls on the trees) and so on…

    nature is deeply embedded in our terminology, and magical creatures from our epic kalevala is reflected still today in the names we give our children.


    that was just to give you the context. I live in the forrest and desperately fight to stay here despite all the drawbacks it has on getting jobs or having social interaction with real people.

    The old wisdom of the magic, the old ways was still alive here … but its dying fading away in a globalist capitalist world that despite all warning signs does not promote to respect the nature.

    I feel like the hobbit in the shire that can see the camps of the big people encroaching more and more, corrupting more and more the harmounious coexistence with nature and forest that was the way of my people for so long.

    … when the elves left, i had my tears as well. Probably for the same reasons. Tolkien could see, as well as filmmaker
    Hayao Miyazaki (totoro and other movies by studio ghibli, theyre much more than childrens cartoons.. )

  8. Vesselina January 12, 2019 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    Are you an elf Cerri

    • Cerri January 13, 2019 at 1:40 am - Reply

      Haha I wish I was, but sadly I am much more hobbit like 🙂

  9. Brian January 12, 2019 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful piece. Thanks for sharing the joy and heartbreak of the Elves with us in your own way.

  10. […] I shared an article that Cerri wrote on her blog about Magic and Tolkien that was titled ‘Finally I understand why Tolkien’s Elves make me cry‘. I simply shared it on my Facebook page saying “Cerri has written a lovely article […]

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