August's Challenges

Olórë Mallë

It has been said to me, though the truth I know not, that that lane ran by devious routes to the homes of Men, but that way we never trod when we fared thither ourselves. It was a lane of deep banks and great overhanging hedges, beyond which stood many tall trees wherein a perpetual whisper seemed to live; but not seldom great glow-worms crept about its grassy borders ... These too were the earliest children -- the children of the fathers of the fathers of Men that came there; and for pity the Eldar sought to guide all who came down that lane into the cottage and the garden, lest they strayed into Kôr and became enamoured of the glory of Valinor; for then would they either stay there for ever, and great grief fall ontheir parents, or would they wander back and long for ever vainly, and become strange and wild among the children of Men.

Early in Tolkien's mythology, in The Cottage of Lost Play from The Book of Lost Tales 1, he tells of an extraordinary road that leads from the homes of Men to Tol Eresseä. Along this road, the children of Men travel in their dreams and visit the Elves and a wondrous world beyond their own borders. While the idea of Olórë Mallë--or the Path of Dreams--was quickly abandoned, dreams remained important throughout Tolkien's works. Through dreams, Melian receives word of what transpires in Valinor. Finrod and Turgon are moved to establish their respective hidden kingdoms because of Ulmo's voice in their dreams. Thingol receives hints of Beren's arrival and Beren receives portents of his father's death in the strange world of dreams. Eärendil turns his ship back to Beleriand because of a dark dream.

This challenge asks authors to consider their characters' dreams. What dreams haunted the Noldor, Edain, and Dwarves on the night before the Nirnaeth Arnoediad? What dreams of her child might have caused a mother to name him as she did? What silly, hopeful dreams drove a character in his youth? Any story, poem, or drabble about dreams will do. This month, we invite our members and guests to step upon Olórë Mallë and consider where it leads.

The Terrible Twos!

SWG turned two at the end of July, so this challenge asks authors to consider the second year of a character's life. What happened in history that shaped their early childhood? What was their family life like? Were they indeed "terrible" as the old adage predicts? Whether fun or serious or somewhere in between, let's go back to this time of innocence and mischief in the lives of our favorite characters.

Quote of the Month

Amidmost of those pleasances was set within a ring of shadowy cypress towering high that deep vat Silindrin. There it lay in a bed of pearls, and its surface unbroken was shot with silver flickerings, and the shadows of the trees lay on it, and the Mountains of Valinor could see their faces mirrored there. Lórien gazing upon it saw many visions of mystery pass across its face ...
The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor, The Book of Lost Tales 1

Character of the Month: Irmo Lórien

Irmo, also referred to as Lórien (actually the name of his dwelling place), is one of the two Valar brothers who are called the Fëanturi. The appellation Fëanturi (the root of which is fëa or spirit) refers to their role as masters of the spirits of the children of Eru, distinguishing them from the Valar who deal in more concrete matters. Námo, the elder of the brothers, is often referred to as well by the name of his place of abode, Mandos. The descriptions of Irmo vary little from Tolkien’s earliest mentions of him up through and including the portrait which is given in the published Silmarillion where he is described as the master of visions and dreams.

In The Book of Lost Tales, Irmo is first referred to as Fántur of Dreams who is also called Lórien Olofántur. Some ten years later in notes dating to 1930, later published in The Shaping of Middle-Earth, Olofántur is described again, in more detail, as the “maker of visions and of dreams” whose “gardens in the land of the Gods were the fairest of all places in the world and filled with many spirits of beauty and power.” In near-identical language to the other texts, we again may read of Irmo under the name of Olofántur in The Lost Road and Other Writings and Morgoth’s Ring, with the sole addition of his wife Estë. Finally, in The Silmarillion, “Valaquenta,” Olofántur takes the name Irmo.

His gardens in Lórien are said to be “the fairest of all places in the world, filled with many spirits.” Aptly, the spouse of Irmo is Estë the gentle. She is named as the healer of hurts and of weariness, whose special gift is rest. Together the two of them provided in Valinor a refuge in the groves and gardens of Lorien where not only the Eldar but also the Valar themselves could take advantage of the relief provided for those suffering from the burden of Arda . The implication is made that in the fair gardens of Lórien, Irmo will provide the Eldar with guiding visions and dreams while his wife will grant solace and heal physical ills.

Some References to Lórien Throughout Tolkien’s Canon

After Míriel Serindë used up all of her spiritual and physical reserves in bearing and giving birth to the great Fëanor and wished only for “release from the labours of living” she was delivered into the care of Irmo in Lórien.

Two of the Maiar most familiar to readers of Tolkien also dwelt in Lórien. The Maia Melian, before she came to Middle-earth to fall in love with Elwë Singollo (Elu Thingol) and give birth to Lúthien, lived in Lórien “tending the trees that flower in the gardens of Irmo.” Then, Olórin, “the wisest of the Maiar,” (better known in his incarnation of Mithrandir/Gandalf) dwelt in Lórien and from there brought to the hearts of Elves and Men “fair visions” and “promptings of wisdom.”

Finally, while still under the ban of the Noldor that prohibited her from returning to Valinor, Galadriel attempted to create a land of peace and beauty in Lothlórien modeled upon her memories of the Lórien of Irmo and Estë. In Lord of the Rings, the Lórien of Galadriel and Celeborn takes on, east of the sea, the same characteristics of serenity and sanctuary for which Irmo’s Lórien was noted.

Character profile by Oshun.

Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for almost two years' worth of challenges to inspire your writing!

Have an idea for a challenge? Some of our most popular challenges have been created by you, the members of SWG! If you have a plotbunny gnawing at your ankle, a favorite quote, or a favorite character that you think might inspire others as well, please send an email to and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!

August's News

Happy Birthday, SWG!

SWG turned two years old at the end of July. In recognition of two great years, we offer the Terrible Twos challenge and also a round-robin story on the archive. (Check here for more details. You must be a member of the archive and logged in to contribute to the round robin.)

We've come a long way in two years, from a group with three members who felt that "there should be a place on the web for Silmarillion-only fiction" to well over 100 members, active LiveJournal and Yahoo! communities, and a homepage and archive of our own. We hope that these two years have established a friendly, fun community where Silmarillion fans can share their writing, discuss canon, and continue learning about the books they love.

As always, we are open to feedback and new ideas. Have an idea for a new event or project? Let us know! Likewise, if you want to help give SWG another successful year, we always need volunteers. Our Volunteer Page has up-to-date information on where we need volunteers the most, for those who are interested.

Banner Contest

Digital artists, we need your help! As SWG continues to grow, we have received requests for banners that members and other groups can use to link to us on their own sites and pages. Those of you with a knack for digital art and manips are invited to contribute banners. We would like to offer a variety to choose from, so we will try to use them all. In the event that we receive so many that we cannot feasibly post them all, we will present them to the group for a vote.

There are a few things to keep in mind when designing your banners:

Please send your banners to We will reply within a few days to let you know that we've received your submission. If we do not reply, please query; the email may have been swallowed in a spam filter somewhere.

The due date for banner submissions is Monday, 1 October 2007.

Seven in '07 Is Completed

During the month of July, we honored the House of Fëanor and, more specifically, the inspiration it has provided to the Tolkien fan community. The Seven in '07 project was a great success, featuring stories, poems, and images crafted by more than two dozen Tolkien fans. We thank all who followed the project and especially those who shared their time, energy, and talents so generously with us to make it possible.

If you haven't seen the finished project, we invite you to take a look! Seven in '07 now lives on our Special Projects page, where it can continue to be enjoyed by fans of the House of Fëanor.

Plagiarism Policy Demystified

A plagiarism policy is something we hope we'll never have to use ... but in the interest of protecting the authors who use our sites, we thought it would be a good idea to define and plan our response to plagiarism accusations. Plagiarism remains an unfortunate reality in the world of writing, and the Internet facilitates it. Both having work stolen and being wrongfully accused of plagiarism are devastating to an author.

This document defines how we will treat accusations of plagiarism on SWG. What is plagiarism? What is not plagiarism? What can authors do if they suspect that someone on SWG has stolen their work? What are fair uses of another's work and how can authors protect themselves from being accused unfairly of plagiarism? These questions continue to be the subject of debate in the literary and academic communities.

The plagiarism document can be found here.

Around the World and Web

Fëanorian Feast

Our German members--or anyone wanting an excuse to travel--will be interested to know that a Fëanorian Feast is being held at Trutzburg at Altona on 22 September 2007, and there are still tickets left! Visit the Feanorisches Feuerfest for more details.

Photographs of past events are available in Marja Kettner's Seven in '07 gallery.

Around the World and Web is provided for our members to inform them of events in the larger Tolkien community. SWG is not affiliated with and does not endorse the groups that we feature in Around the World and Web, and we are not responsible for content on sites outside of our own. Please use discretion and caution when visiting unfamiliar sites on the Internet.

Would you like to see your group or event featured on Around the World and Web? See our Promotions Page for more details or email us at

View Newsletter Archive