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What inspires you? Within the Circles of the World, there are thousands of subjects, people, and events that inspire us as artists and authors. This year, for Back to Middle-earth Month, we take a look at just a few of them.

Middle-earth Month is an annual holiday started to remember how and why we all got involved in the Tolkien fandom. Every year, SWG puts together a project to honor not only Tolkien's works but the creativity of the fans who continue his vision. This year's theme--The Circles of the World--considers the many different events that take place on Arda in the context of what inspires us as fans. We asked Silmarillion authors, poets, and artists to send in their work along with a few words of what their work, and their participation in this fandom, means to them.


It is almost always the case with a project as big as this one that, without many hands and voices, the project would be terribly diminished, or maybe never happen at all. This year's Back to Middle-earth Month project is no exception. I went to my co-moderators wanting to try something a little more ambitious this year, ready to take on the lion's share of the work, if need be. But because of those many hands and voices, this was not the case.

First and foremost, gratitude goes to the writers and artists who contributed their stories in both sense of the word: their creative endeavors and their personal tales, remembrances, and musings about the meaning of their work and their participation in the Tolkien community. Without you, there would be no Back to Middle-earth Month, and there surely wouldn't be an SWG project associated with it! Your generosity with your creative gifts made not only this project possible but makes our entire community possible, and I thank you for it.

Many others assisted behind the scenes. Elleth and Ariel fixed my ailing Tengwar for the map on the main page. I gave them a long list of words and only a few days to fix my mistakes, and they came through. (And taught me a lot too! Now I know when to use Óre and when to use Rómen!)

Getting the word out is always a big part of a project like this. We owe our gratitude to the list moderators, group owners, and webmasters who kindly allowed us to post announcements and helped to spread the word. Special thanks go to the individuals who, without being asked, put up announcements about the project. I'm afraid that I don't know everyone who did this, but I do know that Robinka, Ellie, and Sirielle helped spread the word, and I am grateful to them, and all others who took on this task unasked.

I would have been lost without my co-moderators Uli, Tárion, and Rhapsody. Aside from their daily responsibilities in helping me to run the group, whenever they are faced with another of "Dawn's bright ideas," their workload increases, yet I never hear complaints. From brainstorming ideas for the project to creating graphics to compiling and voting on endless pages of quotes for each topic (Do you know how many times "fate" is mentioned in The Silmarillion? Now we do!), they were beside me every step of the way, and this project would not have turned out nearly as well as it did without them.

And lastly, I owe thanks to you: the members and readers who have taken SWG from a mailing list with three members to where we are today. Your continued enthusiasm and support is what keeps this group alive. Back to Middle-earth Month is, this year and always, dedicated to you.

Dawn Felagund
SWG founder, owner, and moderator