26 March 2011


Locus Focus: Take Forty-Six

Welcome to Middle-earth Day!

J.R.R. Tolkien's unparalleled sub-creation of Middle-earth is so rich in both geography and history (which means places that change) that I could--were I more of a Tolkien geek--devote an entire year's worth of Locus Focus posts to it. (And having said that, I now feel bad that I am in no wise a Tolkien geek.) Happily limited to a single one this week, I still considered many settings before settling on the one below.

By the way . . . did you notice the great dates of Narnia Day: The Return and this first Middle-earth Day? One is perfect for a country where it was once "always winter and never Christmas" and the other is the closest you can get in 2011 to the date of the most momentous victory in Middle-earth history. I did plan the former, but didn't realise the significance of the latter until I was at Mass yesterday. If I were the type to imagine I had a Guardian Angel with a sense of humour, I'd say he LOL-ed at me. =P

One last thing: I just realised that I haven't announced a Theme Challenge for April. As we're in the middle of Lent, I decided on Places of Prayer. Of course, settings meaningful to people of all faiths are welcome. See you on 2 April.

And note that I won't see you on 23 April. Locus Focus shall be on retreat on Black Saturday.

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien

. . . [Elrond's] house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley.

I wish I had time to tell you even a few of the tales or one or two of the songs that they heard in that house. All of them, the ponies as well, grew refreshed and strong in a few days there. Their clothes were mended as well as their bruises, their tempers and their hopes. Their bags were filled with food and provisions light to carry but strong to bring them over the mountain passes. Their plans were improved with the best of advice. So the time came to midsummer eve, and they were to go on again with the early sun on a midsummer morning.

While I adore the luxurious feel of the name "Rivendell" on my tongue and in my ears, and while the name "Imladris" so perfectly evokes ancient grandeur of the Elves of Middle-earth, it is the designation of "Last Homely House" that warms my heart the most.

For anyone can build a home in a "Deep Dale of the Cleft" (which is the literal translation of its name) and the Elves have many great dwellings all over Middle-earth; but to have established the last house that feels like home at "the very edge of the Wild"--the last safe harbour before the realm of great adventures and peril--is a rare and special thing.

The spirit understands the need for such a setting. Yes, the journey begins the moment you leave your own home . . . but the adventure doesn't quite commence until you've left the last outpost of everything safe and familiar to you. (Our soulless modern jargon would call this the very edge of one's "comfort zone.")

And the adventure cannot properly end until one returns to this point again, to cross it in the opposite direction. Then the Last Homely House reveals itself to be also the First Homely House, where you can finally--and for the first time--sit in safety to tell your tale. This, too, is a longing of the spirit, which is drawn to good form.

Bilbo Baggins is blessed to have Rivendell bracketing his journey "there and back again."

We see Rivendell again in the The Lord of the Rings, where it faithfully serves its spiritual purpose for a new fellowship of travelers, who are beginning a much darker and more dangerous undertaking in the Wild just east of its valley.

Now it's your turn!
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D

This Week's Other Loci Foci:

Bilbo's Hobbit Hole @ Birdie's Nest

Fangorn Forest @ Baja Greenawalt's Cozy Book Nook

Annon Torech Ungol @ Null Epistolary

Image Source: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


Belfry Bat said...

Well, Hurrah!

I wonder if I oughtn't to pull together something completely different; you've certainly chosen the second- or third-coziest setting in the whole tapestry, and I've already done my favourite months ago. But this is a fine meditation on an important spot, indeed, and refreshes many memories of mine.

Birdie said...

Well done! And I agree about the names and the psychologically significant designation of last homey place.

Enbrethiliel said...


Belfry Bat -- Last Friday, given the Solemnity we celebrated, I toyed a bit with the idea of featuring Mount Doom. =P

Birdie -- Thanks, Birdie! =) I love your choice of setting as well. It's probably another one of Bat's Top Three Coziest Settings of Middle-earth! (And now I wonder what the last member of that triumvirate is! Hmmmmm . . .)

Lesa said...


Enbrethiliel said...


I am surprised!!!

If Camera Man had been standing by, he would have had a photo of me to rival the one we have of our mother the year we surprised her with a huge party!

(Well, okay, not quite . . . but close!)

I'm off to check it out right now. =D

Lesa said...

Ha! Wish I could've seen your face!

I've always loved that first sentence in your description And of course, the 'last homely house'-- definitely makes Rivendell seem more accessible than the other Elvish Realms.

Funny, that you called it a safe harbor and I called it a haven. I lumped it in with all the smaller settings of safety but you are right it is the biggie and means so much more. You think so much deeper than I do-- Glad you let me hang around.


Belfry Bat said...

There you go.

Not a cozy place at all. One that sticks in my mind, though.

Enbrethiliel said...


Lesa -- Rivendell is accessible, isn't it? Like all the other Elvish dwellings, it's pretty hard to find; but it's not hidden by a forest or separated from Middle-earth by a huge sea. (I've arrived at Mirkwood in The Hobbit. It's virtually the opposite of Rivendell. So forbidding and not homely at all!)

Bat -- Yay! I'm so glad to see you! =D

Before you showed up, this linky was in sore need of a non-cozy place that isn't at all a haven. Thanks for featuring another side of Middle-earth. =)

lisa :) said...

One of these days I'll jump in on this feature but for now I'm just enjoying everyone else's posts!

Nice choice with Rivendell! I once had a way-too-long discussion with a friend debating Rivendell vs. Lothlorien as Middle Earth place we'd most want to visit (...I suppose I should mention that I am a bit of a LotR geek).

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks, Lisa! =) All Lord of the Rings geeks are always welcome here! (In fact, I've been wondering where a certain geek who *teased* me about having a post has got to . . .)

Funnily enough, if the choice came down to Lothlorien vs. Rivendell, I'd probably pick Lothlorien. =P Which one did you choose?

Lesa said...

And the name Mirkwood sounds so unelvish.

Yes, the realms are hidden in a physical sense, but I was referring to Rivendell being more accessible in a 'homely house' way to hobbits/humans in that it is less esoteric (or is metaphysical the word, I want?) than Lorien.

Elrond never dwelt in Valinor like Galadriel did-- maybe that is why Rivendell feels more homely.

Enbrethiliel said...


Ah, yes, that is what I meant, too!

*slaps forehead for being so obscure*

But I'm fascinated by the spiritual and emotional accessibility being a perfect parallel of the geographical accessibility. Tolkien's settings are so meaningful in that way!