All that is gold does not glitter, / Not all those who wander are lost; / The old that is strong does not wither, / Deep roots are not reached by the frost. /From the ashes a fire shall be woken, / A light from the shadows shall spring… J.R.R. Tolkien – “The Fellowship of The Ring”
We wanderers have created new worlds for tens of thousands of years. Whether by choice or not, the different thinking younger brothers and sisters of the clan must walk away from the communal fires in search of what’s over the horizon. It is we, you and I, and our kind, who seek out the great mysteries, in order to better understand ourselves. America, the New World, was settled, for the most part, by the younger sons of the Old World. Perhaps we wanderers have some extrasensory ability that pulls us, like great flocks of migratory birds, in directions different from the crowd. But, more than anything, we wanderers are pathfinders. Wanderers discover the Way and mark the path for others if they choose to follow. Definition of a wanderer – a guy whose always looking beyond. – Stephen King
Although I have never met any of you wonderful readers, I think I understand a small portion of your hearts. You are seekers, wanderers of the worlds of the spirit, heart and mind. You want to understand, like I do, the invisible realms we sense everywhere we go. Let me set your mind to wandering with a question. Did you know we live in Middle-Earth? Our world sits in the middle between the upper and lower realms. In the Old Norse, Anglo Saxon, and Old Germanic languages our world was known as Middle Earth. The name Middle-Earth appears half a dozen times in the Old English epic poem “Beowulf”. And one of the foremost authorities on and translators of Beowulf was J.R.R. Tolkien. He [Bilbo] used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary… – J.R.R. Tolkien
In addition to being a great writer, J.R.R. Tolkien was a scholarly professor. One poem that inspired the writer side of Professor Tolkien (Ronald to his friends) was an Anglo Saxon elegy poem called The Wanderer. The elegy, written in Old English, is a meditation on life by a solitary warrior who has lost everything. He is called “eardstapa” – eard – earth; stapa/steppan – to step: translated as Wanderer. Tolkien is famous for the depth and breadth of his fantasy world-building. He lectured about it in 1939 in a lecture called “On Fairy Stories”. His famous lecture came right after the success of The Hobbit (which was considered a childrens’ book) and just as he was beginning the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien defined fantasy as taking place in a “faerie” a secondary realm. And, according to Tolkien, if the tale is believable enough, the story gives us a chance to step away from our everyday world. Translating the thousand year old Wanderer poem inspired Tolkien to feature a lonely wanderer in his epic tales of Middle Earth – Gandalf – the wise wanderer who is like the Norse god Odin the Allfather and god of wisdom.
Ancient northern European cultures believed wisdom was measured by how many winters one had survived. The freezing winter landscape tests the endurance of all people especially the wanderers. People banned together in clans for protection and in order to survive the winters. A wandering soul accumulates knowledge of the world through experiences in order to survive the winters of wandering. As lines from the ancient poem The Wanderer say – “This Middle-Earth each of all days so fails and falls that a man gains no wisdom before he is dealt his winters in the world”.
Each and every one of us carries sparks of the fantastic within our hearts. Our imagination and problem-solving skills wander along great flowing channels of spirit-energy. As we wander, we search through our winters of memory looking for faint traces and tracks in the sands of time. When the time is right, we manifest our own path across this middle-earth. In the evenings, our spirits strike the flint of the unknown with the steel of our resolve and light the signal fires along the horizon. You have the power within you to manifest the world you are seeking. Take the first steps. Unbind your wandering soul. Express you true self. Peace.