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Tales from Vairë's Loom  by Fiondil

Labyrinth Time

Summary: Hidden in the fastness of Menegroth is a labyrinth. Deep in the woods of Lothlórien lies another. Though separated by time and space, they have a connection, one that lies in yet another wood. Inspired by the Teitho contest ‘Crossing Borders’. My thanks to Ellie for giving me the idea.

Note on the Timeline: The sections of this story which take place in the First Age occur after Beren and Lúthien return to Doriath from their quest and are reconciled with Elu Thingol but before the Hunting of the Wolf, Carcharoth, and the recovery of the Silmaril. In the Third Age, Aragorn has entered Lothlórien but he and Arwen have not yet plighted their troth.


Menegroth, Doriath, 28 Gwirith, I 470:

Lúthien smiled at Beren, a twinkle of mischief in her eyes, as she led him further down into the very heart of Menegroth. "It’s not much further, beloved," she assured him.

"Are you sure we should even be here?" Beren asked, looking doubtful. He kept darting his eyes about the dimly lit corridor as if expecting one of Adar Elu’s guards to leap out of the darkness and shoo them back towards the more inhabited areas of the fastness. He moved the stump of his right hand toward where his sword once rode his left hip, only realizing at the last moment what he was doing and was glad that the dimness of the light masked the blush rising on his face, glad that Lúthien was too busy guiding him to have noticed what he was doing. He still was not used to having to use his left hand for everything. And besides, he reflected wryly, I don’t even have my sword on me anyway. One did not go about Menegroth armed, except with one’s eating knife.

Lúthien laughed lightly. "Of course, silly," she said. "This is my home. Why shouldn’t we be here?"

"Should we not be with the rest of the court celebrating Naur Gelair, though? Will they not miss us?" answering her question with his own. He was fairly certain that neither Adar Elu nor Naneth Melian would approve of them sneaking away in the midst of the festival celebrating the midpoint between the Day of Balance between Light and Dark and the Gates of Summer.

"Why would they miss us?" she replied, seemingly in all innocence, though Beren wasn’t entirely sure about that. He wanted to say any number of things to that, but satisfied himself by pointing out the fact that he was a mere Mortal and he pretty much did not think he was allowed to go just anywhere in Menegroth, "Be I your husband or no," he added, and Lúthien just shook her head, her hair cascading down her back like a black waterfall.

"You are with me," she said firmly. "And when you are with me, no door is barred to you. Now, come, my love. We’re almost there."

"Almost where?" he asked, for she had refused to tell him where they were going.

"You’ll see," she answered in an annoyingly teasing voice.

Beren, in his frustration at the lack of answers, wanted to pick her up and shake her, and he knew he could because he’d done it once before, though he had only one hand. She’d shrieked, not in fury, but in delight, when he’d done it, though at the time he wasn’t feeling at all playful. He smiled slightly at the memory. Huan had watched them with canine indifference, as if he knew that Beren was not really going to hurt his mistress, for all that Lúthien had begged the hound to rescue her from ‘this oaf’ as she had called him. Instead, the hound had merely trotted away to hunt for rabbits while they continued wrestling with one another. As the end result had been a bout of lovemaking, he’d been grateful for the hound leaving and giving them some privacy.

"Here we are," Lúthien said and Beren was jerked out of his reverie.

He blinked, noticing that wherever they were, it was much brighter, though he did not see where the light was coming from at first. They had come to the end of the corridor and were now facing a cavern. Unlike the rest of Menegroth, this place had been left in its natural state, the walls and ceiling (what he could see of them) unfinished. Only the floor had been smoothed and there was a strange pattern on it, though he did not recognize it. The pattern was a series of what appeared to be moonstones and fire opals set within the floor, though he’d never seen any so large before. It was the stones that were the source of the light, glowing pale and iridescent, yet with a fiery sheen, and Beren could not for the life of him figure out how they were glowing.

"What is it?" Beren asked in an awed whisper.

"It’s a labyrinth," Lúthien answered, her voice equally low. "Nana created it. She told me once that it is a copy of the labyrinth which the Belain constructed deep in the heart of Lord Glurim’s demesne."

"Lórien?" Beren asked, giving her a surprised look, and Lúthien nodded. Beren stared at the labyrinth, trying to understand why it was there. All he could see was that it seemed to be a spiral of some sort with an entrance leading to a right turn. The path which the stones made was about two feet wide. He tried to follow it with his eyes but failed. He wasn’t even sure what its dimensions were for the light emanating from the stones hid much of the spiral, including its center. There was a sense of the sacred about it all and he felt like an intruder.

"What is its purpose?" he finally asked.

"It is for meditating," Lúthien answered. "You walk the spiral, clearing your mind of your thoughts. It is said that when you reach the center you may be granted a vision."

"Vision? What kind of vision?"

Lúthien shrugged. "Most of the Elves claim to see the past, some the future. Nana claims that when she walks it she gets glimpses of Aman."

"What do you see?" Beren asked curiously.

"Nothing," came the surprising answer. "I have never walked it."

Beren raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Never?"

Lúthien shook her head. He was tempted to ask her why but something in her eyes warned him off and he asked a different question.

"So why have you shown me this?" Beren gave her a puzzled look, trying to fathom her reason for bringing him here.

"I thought you would like to try it," she replied.

"Me!? Whatever for?"

"I think you may benefit from the experience, my love," Lúthien said softly.

For a long moment Beren gazed into Lúthien’s eyes, eyes that shone with the light of stars, and felt the familiar sense of falling into unknown depths. He remembered the first time it had happened. Then, he had feared that he would forever fall and be lost in them, but now he knew that at the end he would be caught and it would be Love that would uphold him.

"What do I have to do?" he finally asked and was rewarded with a brilliant smile that rivaled the light of Anor.

She led him to where a large slab of moonstone marked the entrance. "Clear your mind of extraneous thoughts as you walk along the spiral. Take your time. When you reach the center, pause and reflect on what may come to you. When you are ready, retrace your steps."

That seemed simple enough. He wasn’t sure what he expected to experience, if anything, but he was game. "Will you come with me?" he asked, already knowing the answer before she even shook her head.

"This time is for you, melethron nîn," she said, and then she leaned over and gave him a kiss on his right cheek. "I’ll be waiting for you right here." She released him and took a step or two back, her expression warm and encouraging.

Beren took a deep centering breath and let it out, clearing his mind of all the questions roiling in his brain. He did not understand why she had brought him here, but he trusted her and instinctively knew that she meant him no harm. He idly wondered if her parents were even aware of where they were and why and hoped that they would not get into trouble for wandering where they, or more correctly he, shouldn’t. Married to Lúthien or not, he was still a Mortal and he knew instinctively that some things were only for the Firstborn.

He started walking, taking slow deliberate steps as he followed the curves. At first, it was easy and the absolute silence, save for his own breathing, helped to still his thoughts even further. But then, when he thought he was halfway along he began noticing a slight resistance, as if the air were thickening, becoming a wall to obstruct his movement. It became harder and harder for him to walk and he was tempted to turn around, but then he heard Lúthien call out, though oddly enough, he could no longer see her through the blaze of light that shimmered about him.

"Do not stop, Beren!" she cried. "Go on, my love. Go on to the center."

He nodded, though he doubted she could see him any better than he could see her and leaned forward as if against a gale and plowed on. Sweat trickled down his forehead and his breathing came in harsh gasps. Then, suddenly, there was no more resistance and he nearly staggered to his knees, but caught himself in time. Looking about he could not see Lúthien or even the entrance to the labyrinth, but he could see the center only a few dozen feet and one or two more turns from him and he continued on his way. The center was perhaps twelve paces across and a slab, this one of opal, lay there. He tentatively stood on it and waited, not sure for what or for how long before he would go back. Minutes or hours went by, he was never sure afterwards, and there was nothing, though he felt his breathing begin to slow even more, and his eyes become unfocused as he felt himself drifting. He blinked rapidly a few times to try to keep himself awake, but it seemed like too much effort. When nothing seemed to be happening he decided to leave but then the light that surrounded him shifted somehow and he found himself somewhere else....


Caras Galadhon, Lothlórien, 28 Gwirith, III 2980:

Arwen smiled at Aragorn, a twinkle of mischief in her eyes, as she led him among the mellyrn towards a hidden vale deep within Lothlórien. "It’s not much further, beloved," she assured him.

"Are you sure we should even be here?" Aragorn asked, looking doubtful. He kept darting his eyes about as if expecting one of the Galadhrim guards to leap out from behind one of the majestic trees and challenge their right to be where they were. He was not sure if he was truly allowed to wander where he would even with Arwen at his side. He had the distinct feeling that there were some parts of Lothlórien that were barred to him without the expressed permission of its Lord and Lady.

"We should be going back," he said, even as he continued to allow Arwen to lead him onward. "They’ll miss us at the festival." It was Naur Gelair, the midpoint between the Spring Festival of Balance and Mid-Summer’s Day. He glanced up to see the ghostly light of Ithil slipping through the canopy of leaves, their golden color turned silvery. The Moon was at his fullest tonight.

"They will not miss us, I promise," Arwen said. "We’re almost there."

"You still haven’t said where we are going," Aragorn retorted mildly, smiling.

"It’s a surprise," she answered, turning to him with a smile, the Evenstar lying between her breasts glittering brightly in the moonlight.

Aragorn resisted a sigh. Wherever they were going it was not to Cerin Amroth as he had first thought, for they had not even passed through the gates of the city, but had gone northward from the lawn of the fountain where the Galadhrim were all gathered to celebrate the festival. Aragorn had never been to this part of the city and once Arwen took them away from the main path, down a flight of stairs that curved more to the southeast, and then through a leafy tunnel that twisted and turned until he had no idea which direction they were heading, he was thoroughly lost. When they came out of the tunnel, he had instinctively sought for Ithil to gauge their direction, but the best he could say was that they were now heading more to the northeast.

Arwen led him unerringly through the woods with only Moonlight to guide her. There was no broad pathway here, only a forest track and Aragorn wondered how often anyone came this way. He had a feeling it wasn’t that often. Arwen suddenly turned to her right and for a confused moment Aragorn thought she had disappeared, but then realized that she had simply gone down a short flight of stairs, the entrance to which was marked by two linden trees dwarfed by the mellyrn surrounding them. The stairs were cut into the earth and laid with a pale stone that seemed to glow, giving them a spectral light by which to see. Then they came into a dell surrounded by dark tree-lined hills.

Aragorn glanced about him. The dell appeared almost circular from what little of its features he could see. Ithil shone brightly down on them, illuminating the area with his silvery light. Arwen silently led him forward and he now saw that something had been set into the ground. It was a series of translucent and iridescent stones — moonstones, he thought, though he had never seen any so large — set in a pattern that was a rather convoluted spiral, though he could not make out any real details.

"What is this place?" he asked, speaking low. He sensed something of the sacred or the magical, though he knew that Elves did not employ magic but Art.

"It’s called a labyrinth," Arwen replied in an equally low voice. "It is a place of meditation."

Aragorn cast a wry look at his beloved. "Apparently there is little need for it among the Galadhrim then, for the route we took to get here would discourage all but the most determined."

She laughed lightly. "Its location is deliberate, for see, when Ithil makes his way along the southern sky, his light shines fully upon this dell throughout the night."

Aragorn glanced up and realized what she meant. By some trick of geology or perhaps of Elvish engineering, the southern slope of the dell was lower than the rest and the trees were not as high. Ithil would indeed be visible through the entire night.

"So why are we here?" he asked.

"I thought you would like to walk the labyrinth," she answered.

He gave her a disbelieving look. "Why would I want to do that?"

"I think you might find it... interesting."

Aragorn glanced down at the spiral, the stones outlining it glowing with an inner light of their own, augmented by the light of the full Moon. The entrance faced south and he tried to trace the spiral with his eyes, but in the dark and with the shifting Moonlight and shadows, it was difficult to gauge its dimensions. He had the sense that it was perhaps larger than it looked.

"So why do people come here?" he enquired. "You say this is a place of meditation?"

Arwen nodded. "Daernana built it. She said it is modeled on one that Queen Melian created in Doriath that itself was modeled on the labyrinth built by the Belain somewhere in the Gardens of Lórien. It is said that those who reach the center are often granted a vision, sometimes of the past and sometimes of the future. Daernana told me she will sometimes come here and catch glimpses of Aman. She claims to have seen Nana and that she is happy and fully healed."

There was a wistfulness to her tone that tore at his heart. He gently ran a finger down her cheek. "You have never had such a vision yourself?" he asked.

"I have never walked the labyrinth," she admitted, shaking her head.

"Why not?" he asked.

She shrugged and gave him a small smile. "I have never felt the need to do so."

"But you think I should," he stated and she leaned up and gave him a kiss on his cheek.

"Yes," she answered simply.

He hesitated for a second. "What must I do?"

"Clear your mind of extraneous thoughts as you walk the spiral," she replied. "Take your time, do not rush, but walk at a deliberate pace. When you reach the center still yourself as much as possible and wait. You may or may not have a vision but you will know when it is time for you to leave and then you need only to retrace your steps."

Aragorn nodded, still not sure what they were really doing here in this hidden dell, but willing to do as he was bid. He squared his shoulders, took a deep breath which he let out slowly and stepped onto the spiral. At first, he felt a bit foolish, walking along the convoluted path while Arwen watched him from the side, but he kept to a deliberately slow pace and as he made a third turn he began to feel himself calming, his mind shutting down, or perhaps opening up, he was not sure which. He only knew that his thoughts were stilling and his heartbeat slowing until it seemed he was walking in a trance-like state. He had almost forgotten about Arwen waiting for him.

Then, his pace slowed even more but it was because there was something resisting his forward motion. He had to lean into it as if into a gale. Sweat trickled down his face and he was tempted to abandon his walk and turn around, but then he heard Arwen call out as if from a great distance, though he knew she was but a scant two score paces away.

"Do not give up, my love," he heard her cry. "Keep going. Go on to the center."

Her encouragement lent him the strength he needed to continue and step by slow step he inched forward. Suddenly, as if he’d passed through a wall, he stumbled forward with no resistance and found himself only a few paces away from the center. He took a deep breath and moved on. Once he arrived he saw a slab of the white stone inset in the very center of the circle that measured about twelve paces across. He somehow knew he was supposed to stand upon it and did so, waiting for what would happen next.

For a while nothing seemed to happen as he stood there with his eyes half closed, stilling both his thoughts and his heartbeat as much as he could. He was about to give up when it seemed as if the light emanating from the stones brightened and he felt a sense of vertigo. He blinked and realized he was somewhere else....


The Gardens of Lórien, Aman:

Beren blinked, letting his eyes adjust to the bright light of day, for he was no longer in Menegroth, but in some kind of grove surrounded by trees he had never seen before with their golden-green leaves and silvery-grey bark and bright yellow flowers. He turned all around in wonder and then noticed that he was still within the center of the labyrinth.

Or rather, a labyrinth.

This one was similar to the one that lay in Menegroth, but the stones which outlined the spirals were alternating azure-blue and apple-green, a combination that was pleasing to the eye and restful to the soul.

Where was he? And more importantly, how was he to get back to Lúthien? He took a few cautious steps away from where he’d been standing, wondering what he should do next.

"Mae govannen."

He turned around, instinctively going for his sword, forgetting for a moment that he did not have one, and gasped at the sight of the man standing there. Like him, he was dark of hair and grey of eye. He was dressed in silver and white, with a cloak of elven-grey, and a bright gem on his brow. More than any king of Men he appeared, and seemed rather to Beren an Elf-lord. His bearing reminded him suddenly of Aran Finrod and he had to stop himself from giving this stranger his obeisance.

"Mae govannen," he replied politely. "I am Beren son of Barahir of the House of Bëor."

The stranger’s eyes widened and Beren noticed him glancing at his stump. He forced himself not to hide it behind his back as he was wont to do among the Elves, for he still felt some shame for his deformity among these perfect beings. Then it seemed to him as if the stranger recollected himself, for he gave him a short bow.

"I am... Estel of Imladris," he said.

Beren frowned. A strange name and he had noticed the slight hesitation. "I have never heard of this Imladris," he said.

Estel smiled. "In your time, it does not yet exist."

Beren startled at that. "My time? Then, you are....?"

"From your future, yes."

For a long moment the two Men, remote kin to one another, stared at each other, taking each other’s measure. Beren saw a man who appeared no older than he, until he looked into his eyes and saw the light of stars shining from them and the depths of experience which darkened them and knew him to be older than he appeared. For all that he was obviously Mortal, Beren couldn’t help wondering if this Estel did not have Elvish blood in his veins. He felt his own blood quicken at the idea. Could it be? Was this perhaps his descendent, his and Lúthien’s? The thought both terrified him and excited him and he could only gaze in wonder at this glimpse of his future.

Aragorn, meanwhile, saw a man who was some decades younger than he, though already his hair was greying and the Chieftain of the Dúnedain knew why. Given the way his many times great grandsire was dressed in elvish grey and blue and the fact that he was missing his right hand, Aragorn knew that he was looking at the Beren who now lived among the Elves, having achieved his quest, but was he the Beren who died and was returned to life or was he still innocent of that experience?

"Do you have any idea where we are, Lord Estel?" Beren asked suddenly.

Aragorn shook his head. "No. How came you to be here, my Lord Beren?"

Beren told him about the labyrinth and Aragorn’s eyes widened. "I, too, walked a labyrinth hidden deep within an Elven kingdom and when I came to the center, I found myself here with you."

"How odd," Beren said, pursing his lips, giving the other man a shrewd look. "You are from my future and I am from your past. Is there a connection then?"

Aragorn hesitated. How much should he reveal to his ancestor? He still did not know why he had not given Beren his true name, but something had held him back and he had learned long ago to trust in his instincts. "There is only one connection that I know of," he finally said, speaking carefully.

"And?" Beren demanded, his expression more amused than irritated.

Aragorn gave him a half smile. "I am your descendant."

Beren felt himself go cold with shock. It was one thing to contemplate the possibility, it was another to actually hear it confirmed from the lips of another. "H-how many generations?" he finally asked, and he wondered that he feared the answer.

Aragorn shook his head. "I do not think it right to tell you," he replied. "Suffice to say that you do indeed have descendants who honor your memory... and Lúthien’s."

"You are Mortal," Beren said, frowning slightly. "Does that mean our children...."

"Choices will be made," Aragorn interrupted. "I can tell you no more than that. And in the end, does it truly matter? Is it not enough to know that the House of Bëor lives on through you?"

"Yes, it is," Beren said. "I will confess to you that since wedding my Lúthien I have wondered what the future would hold for us. Do you... but no, I will not ask, for I know you cannot tell me what is to come."

"Sometimes it is best not to know too much of the future," Aragorn said, giving Beren an understanding smile. "I have the gift of foresight and sometimes that is a heavy burden to bear."

Beren nodded. "It eases my heart to know that my House will still thrive even after I am gone, and I am grateful for this glimpse of the future," he said, and then gave Aragorn a considering look. "Yet, I wonder what need you have to speak with me. I cannot believe that all this," and he swept his left hand to encompass the grove and the labyrinth, "is solely for my benefit. What can I say to you that it is needful for you to hear, Estel iôn nîn?"

Aragorn frowned. What need indeed? He had walked the labyrinth with no clear intention in mind. He had done so because Arwen....

"I love an Elf-maid," he said slowly, not looking at Beren directly, "and I think she may love me. I wish to plight my troth with her, yet I am afraid, for I fear she may reject my suit, and if she does not, then what will become of her when I must pass beyond the Circles of Arda?" It would not do to speak of the Choice of Lúthien, for it was clear to him that that time had not yet come in Beren’s life. And Arwen... could he truly ask her to give up her immortality for him?

"I, too, pondered this very thing," Beren said, unaware of Aragorn’s thoughts. "Indeed, I tried several times to leave Lúthien behind when I was on my quest, for I knew I was going to my death and I did not wish for her to share in it. She, on the other hand, refused to remain behind." He chuckled a bit at the memory. "Even afterwards, when she tended to me and saved me from dying, I feared to love her, knowing that my life with her would be all too brief."

"And yet, here you are," Aragorn said with a smile, nodding at his ancestor dressed as much as an Elf-lord as was he.

"And yet, here I am," Beren echoed. "I gave Lúthien every reason for why we shouldn’t marry, but it was she who gave me the one reason why we should."

"And what was that?"

"Love," Beren said, looking a little embarrassed. "I know, I know. It sounds trite and perhaps it is on one level, but when you stop and think about it, it makes sense. Why do we do anything that is of importance to us save it is out of love for another? My life with Lúthien will be short, we both know this and accept it, but in that time we will love and love fiercely and in meeting you I know that that love will prosper and continue long after I am gone and in that knowledge I am content."


"Estel, would you rather live with her for one day or without her for an eternity?" Beren asked gently.

"But that is what will eventually happen, will it not?" Aragorn argued.

"Yes, but the difference is this. For the rest of eternity you will have the memory of that one day to sustain you. Would you rather not have that memory?"

"No. You are right. Better to have the memory of one day together than to have no memory at all."

Beren nodded, pleased. "It’s not easy being Mortal, is it?" he asked with a sly look and Aragorn suddenly laughed.

"No, it isn’t, but then, I doubt it’s any easier being an Elf."

"True," Beren said with a chuckle, and then his expression became more sober. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For the future."

Aragorn nodded. "And thank you."

"For what?"

"For... well, for everything."

Before Beren had time to answer he felt a sudden sense of vertigo and some aspect of reality went sideways. He was forced to close his eyes for a moment or two and when it felt as if the world had steadied once again, he opened them to find himself back in Menegroth. He blinked and looked about, as if unsure of where he was and then shrugged and began to retrace his steps.

Lúthien was waiting for him when he reached the entrance. He smiled at her and held out his hand, which she took.

"What did you see?" she asked him.

"Hope," he answered simply and left it at that as they made their way back to their family and friends....


One minute Aragorn was speaking with Beren and then the next something shifted in reality and he felt a sense of vertigo, forcing him to close his eyes against the nausea. Then everything steadied and there was no more bright sunlight, only darkness and a cool night breeze. He opened his eyes and was unsurprised to find himself back in the dell in Lothlórien with the full Moon still shining down upon him. He glanced about and saw Arwen waiting. He retraced his steps, never hurrying, spending the time pondering all that he and Beren had spoken of. When he reached the entrance, Arwen held out a hand and he took it.

"What did you see?" she asked.

For a moment Aragorn was not sure how to answer and then he just shrugged. "Beren. I saw our ancestor."

Arwen’s eyes widened in surprise. "Did you speak?" He nodded. "What did you speak about?" she asked.

"Love," he answered.

She stood there for a moment, as if unsure how she should respond, and then she reached up and kissed him. "Come. You can tell me all about it," and as they retraced their steps he told her what he had experienced....


Irmo and Námo stood invisibly watching the two Men converse. Then Irmo made a gesture with his right hand and first, Beren, and then, Aragorn, faded from view.

"And so they meet who would never have met otherwise," Námo said pensively.

"Do you object?" Irmo asked, casting his older brother an amused look.

"No," Námo said with a shake of his head. "This meeting was important for them both. Beren will come to me soon... and Lúthien." He frowned, as if he was hunting down an elusive thought.

"What is it?" Irmo asked.

Námo shrugged and gave his younger brother a wry look. "I hate playing the villain all the time."

Now Irmo raised an eyebrow in surprise. "You mean because the Children think you’re a cold-hearted bastard without an ounce of sympathy in your soul?"

"They will think when Lúthien comes and begs for Beren’s return and I grant it, it will be only because it will be her song that moves me and not because Atar wills this destiny for them."

Irmo shrugged. "Well, we both know differently, so why concern yourself with what the Children think? What is important is that Beren will die this first time without despair, knowing that somehow his line will continue and Aragorn will go on with his life fortified with the knowledge that love is the only reason for anything and everything. He will need Arwen’s love and his love for her to sustain him in the dark years to come. Meeting Beren has given him the courage to ask her for her hand."

Námo nodded, knowing all that Irmo said was true. He sighed and gave his younger brother a slight smile. "It still hurts, though, knowing that the Children look upon me with dread instead of with love."

"I know, Brother," Irmo said sympathetically. Then he gave him a sly look. "Perhaps if you were to wear brighter colors they might not fear you as much."

"No, they would just laugh themselves into Mandos instead," Námo retorted with a snort.

"Well, you can’t have it both ways," Irmo said with a laugh. "At least you know we love you... as does Atar."

"I know, I know," Námo rejoined, then shrugged. "Well, it is as it is. Come. Let’s go find our wives and see what mischief we can get ourselves into."

"Now that sounds like a plan," Irmo said with a smile and then the two thought themselves away, leaving the grove empty save for the labyrinth, a labyrinth that no Elf or Mortal had ever trodden....


Words are Sindarin unless otherwise noted.

Adar: Father.

Naneth/Nana: Mother/Mama.

Naur Gelair: ‘Brilliant Fire’, the Sindarin form of the Irish Gaelic Beltaine, which means ‘bright fire’.

Belain: Plural of Balan: Vala.

Glurim: Irmo.

Melethron nîn: My lover (masculine form). The feminine form would be melethril nîn.

Mellyrn: Plural of mallorn.

Daernana: Hypocoristic form of Daernaneth: Grandmother.

Mae govannen: ‘Well met’.

Iôn nîn: My son.


1. 28 Gwirith is the equivalent of 5 May in the Gregorian calendar.

2. The Celtic festival of Beltaine was a cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint in the sun’s progress between spring equinox and summer solstice. It marks the beginning of the summer season and is a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand. Since the Celtic year was both lunar and solar, it is possible that it was celebrated on the full moon nearest the midpoint. The astronomical date for the midpoint is closer to 5 May or 7 May.

3. Moonstone: A type of feldspar named because of its uncanny resemblance to the iridescent sheen of the moon. It was considered by ancient civilizations to be a sacred stone, bestowing the wearer with great spiritual understanding. Symbol of truth in self-reflection and showing what ‘is’.

4. Opal: A symbol of faithfulness and confidence. Symbol of hope. The opal is said to be many things including the most powerful of healing stones, the stone of hope, the stone of great achievement and even the ‘stone of the Gods’. Ancient Romans associated opal with hope and good luck.

5. The labyrinth in Lórien is outlined in lapis lazuli, an azure-blue stone that is a symbol of Truth, and chrysoprase, an apple-green gemstone that helps to make conscious what was unconscious and strengthens the workings of insight and the higher consciousness. It encourages hope and joy as well as help in clarifying problems. It is also used as a shield or protector from negative energy.

6. The labyrinths in this story are known as Cretan-style labyrinths, which comprise seven circuits to the center, with the entrance leading to a right turn first, what is known as a moon-wise first turn. This is a much older pattern than the more common left-turn labyrinths. The entrance faces south, where the Moon is most visible. The fourteen turns from entry to center correspond to the fourteen days between the dark moon and the full moon. The fourteen turns back from the center to the entrance correspond to the fourteen days between the full to dark moon again. The labyrinth in Lórien and the one made by Melian pre-date the creation of Ithil.

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