In Tolkien’s world, myth is inextricably linked to the land: “Dreams and legends spring to life out of the grass.” (Tolkien 1991 p.454). I decided to root myself in the place known locally as the Fairy Rocks, where I had heard the call of faerie. Tolkien’s Elves are inextricably linked to both the stars, under which they are created, and to the land: “Whether they’ve made the land, or the land’s made them, it’s hard to say…” (Tolkien 1991 p. 380). So I began with my feet upon the grass, and I immersed myself in stories. There is no folklore about the place itself, but I learned of two landscape zodiacs associated with Pendle Hill, each with associated mythology about the stars. Thomas Sharpe’s (2012) Pendle Zodiac places the constellations Lyra and Cygnus close to the Fairy Rocks. Robert Lord’s (1976) places the feet of Taurus the bull, Leo the lion and Sagittarius the centaur overlapping on this exact spot. These figures turn in different directions: the bull and the lion anti-clockwise, and the centaur clockwise. Although Lord’s zodiac places their feet here, when I look at the trees all I see is a crown: our imaginal perceptions form a link between spirit and matter: between the crown and the feet. Aragorn, Tolkien’s sacred King, crowned due to the success of the quest, was also named Strider.
This project charts the creation of an embroidered veil. A veil is a liminal item, well placed to convey the ‘in-between places’ that can be discovered but are more difficult to describe. The design was inspired by encounters with Tolkien’s Elves in the enchanted realms that can be perceived in the sacred Pendle landscape. Does the sacred art of sewing help us to bring these realms and the material world closer together? This is a mythopoeic journey where Elves and the Silmarils are interwoven with the Pendle Zodiac.
Each choice, and each unanswered question leads to discoveries still waiting to be made. For instance, what was the role of the consecration of the veil? What were the nature and origin of the flashes of insight that led me further into faerie? What is the nature and role of the mysterious landscape zodiacs, whose stories helped me to choose a thread to follow? What of the land itself? Many gleaming threads remain to be followed, but these must wait for another day.