Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.
–“The Old Walking Song”, The Lord of the Rings 6:IX
At the end of the Second Age of Arda the seas were bent, the earth was made round, and the Undying Lands were removed from the circles of the world. From that time hence Valinor could be reached only by those permitted by the Valar to traverse the hidden Straight Road. Valinor was thus “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, a phrase used in fairy-stories to refer to a fantastic, difficult-to-reach otherworld or fairyland: what Tolkien would call “the perilous realm of Faërie”. In the legendarium of Middle-earth, this otherworld-role is represented by Valinor and mirrored in Lothlórien, but Tolkien also featured the realm of Faërie prominently in his (not directly related to the legendarium) novella Smith of Wootten Major. In it a mortal man, Smith, comes to possess a shining fay-star, which is set upon his brow and which acts as his passport into Faërie, allowing him to find the “Straight Road” beyond the “secret gate”, as it were. He makes several journeys into the perilous realm, and there he sees many strange sights, including elven warriors returning from battle across the sea and a lake of glass filled with fiery creatures; and he has many adventures, including dancing with elf-maids, being pursued by the wind and being rescued by a birch tree. He even eventually meets the otherwordly King and Queen of Faërie themselves.
Here we see the King and Queen of Faërie enjoying the surroundings of their beautiful but perilous realm. Upon the heads of these fay rulers are set no circlets of precious jewels, but they are crowned in living blossoms. Their robes, woven with elven-skill, are embroidered with golden thread and coloured with the palette of dawn. A mortal man or woman who, finding a hidden path or secret gate into the realm of these monarchs, might spend years, as if in a dream, simply listening to the sweet music of the King’s pipe and watching the Queen dance barefoot among the blossoms. The peril posed by their realm to a mortal is not necessarily physical in nature, but lies in the desire never to leave and return to galadhremmin ennorath, the “tree-woven lands of Middle-earth”. For a mortal, to be held in the realm of Faërie is an enchantment, but Faërie is also where mortals are held when we are enchanted — when fantasy works on us and we experience Secondary Belief. The King and Queen are like their realm in many ways: beautiful, fay, remote, terrible, enchanting, at once solemn and merry; and above all perilous, for there is danger in the light and joy of Faërie in that it may be removed, lost, or left behind; and parting with it is a grievous wound. But some of us, perhaps, may have like Smith hidden fay-stars upon our brows, and if we wear them wisely we too can visit the realm of Faërie whenever we wish, though we find we must always return to this Middle-earth.
Last week I promised a more lore-appropriate couple’s Harevestmath guise, and this is it! Although the “King and Queen of Faërie” are not strictly characters in the matter of Middle-earth, they are closely related thematically and could have representatives of type in Arda, from Celeborn and Galadriel to Thingol and Melian to Manwë and Varda. I thought that the more abstract nature of the concept lends itself really well to a Harvestmath guise, and makes a great couple’s costume.
- Head: Simbelmynë Circlet (bartered — spring festival rewards vendor/cosmetics), gold
- Shoulders: Elven Explorer’s Shoulder Guards (crafted — tailor T4; or purchased — Rivendell light armour vendor), gold
- Back: Cloak of the Mallorn (purchased — LOTRO Store), rose
- Chest: Silken Robe of Golden Splendour (bartered — anniversary event games-master/cosmetics), sea blue
- Feet: Shoes of Lothlórien (crafted — tailor T6/Galadhrim reputation), rose
- Head: Circlet of Fresh-picked Flowers (bartered — Farmer’s Faire festival announcer/cosmetics), default
- Shoulders: Songmaster’s Shoulders (bartered — Ost Galadh Minstrel trainer), sea blue
- Back: Cloak of the Dove (purchased — LOTRO Store), sea blue
- Chest: Silken Gown of Golden Splendour (bartered — anniversary event games-master/cosmetics), rose
Tips: Some alternative (non-Store) cloaks that might look great with these outfits are of course the Cloak of the Shining Star (bartered — anniversary event games-master/cosmetics) and the Simbelmynë Cloak (bartered — spring festival rewards vendor/cosmetics). The shoes in his outfit have the same appearance as those from the level 60 Mines of Moria instance cluster sets. The shoulders used in her outfit have the same appearance as the Shoulders of the Lady’s Grace (bartered — Caras Galadhon Minstrel trainer).
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