Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Picnic

The Conference House Great Lawn

298 Satterlee St.
Staten Island, NY 10307

We are pleased to announce our Summer picnic upon the Great Lawn of the Historic Conference House!

Visit the Conference House Online

All are welcome, please bring your own basket of goodies to share with your friends, family, plus if you wish any specialties you wish to share with fellow attendees.

The chairs, Anthony and Jessica, will be there 1pm sharp to welcome you all.

There is plenty of local public transportation, and is very easily accessible via public transportation, or car.

We plan on discussing all thing Tolkien, news of The Hobbit film, read from the works of Tolkien, and have a grand ol end of Summer blast! Plus announce our fall gatherings!

We may even have a raffle or two!

If you plan on attending and wish further travel information feel free to email Anthony and Jessica

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Latest Newsletter July 20th 2010

Greetings Friends,
It is our hope this finds you all well. Since returning from relatively long road of publishing our first book, Jessie and I have had one goal in mind:

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Heren Istarion: The Northeast Tolkien Society

In September 2000 I reached out to Ian Collier, the Publicity Officer of The Tolkien Society UK, to create a Smial for the New York City area. It was an attempt to pick up where my predecessor Dick Plotz left off with the original New York Tolkien Society. I am indebted to my lovely wife, Jessica, my co-chair, for all of her hardwork.

In the time since then we have been very grateful to everyone who has shown interest in our group, supported our events, contributed to our journal and shown true hobbit spirit. We have had numerous events in the New York City area, taken part in international Lord of the Rings film related events, and chaired a Mythcon. We are especially happy to know that one of our members,Namiko Hitotsubashi, was so inspired by Professor Michael Drout at RingBearers Day in 2005, that she is now studying with him at Wheaton College. We wish her nothing but the best of luck in all her endeavours. Stay Tuned to her featured contributions to our site.
Here is one of her contributions posted today:

In May 2010 we lost the URL for our society due to some technical snafus and have now rebuilt the site from the ground up. The new URL is

We have some new features, and will be taking full advantage of a variety of 'new' media, such as twitter, facebook, and All of this is now linked from the above URL. We are also currently working on creating our first podcast. The first one will will celebrate 10 yrs of the Northeast Tolkien Society. Our podcasts will endeavor to highlight Tolkien inspired music, have live interviews with musicians, authors, scholars, & others in the Tolkien community. We also have plans to have live call-in shows to discuss Tolkien, the Inklings, & other Mythopoeic topics. We anticipate our first podcast will be late August to early September.

We are planning an August outdoor picnic, the time & place to be determined & providind we don't get another triple digit heat wave in NYC.

However, on Sunday Sept 26th-- since Sept 22nd is a Wednesday-- we will be holding our Bilbo and Frodo's Birthday Party courtesy of our latest member and host Peter Schellen, the former treasurer of Unquendor (Netherlands Tolkien Society), co-founder of Haradrim (South African Tolkien Society, now defunct), co-founder-sponsor of Gil-Galad (Slovenian Tolkien Society). Peter also assisted in research on Tolkien's childhood in Bloemfontein (South Africa) and used to visit Scandinavian Tolkien events. We're thrilled to have Peter aboard helping us to celebrate.

All event information can be found here:
Stay tuned as we continue to announce further details

We're also pleased to announce our upcoming 2011 Northeast Tolkien Society Calendar. Tolkien artists Anke Eissmann and Sue Wookey are our featured artists this year! Stay tuned for the official announcement!

Once thank you all for your support and we look forward to celebrating with you all,
In Fellowship,
Anthony and Jessica

Why Tolkien? A member's Personal Statement

Editor's Note:
From Anthony and Jessica:
As we begin celebrating the society's 10th Anniversary, we will hear from long time members, whether contributing directly to our site, via our forthcoming podcast, or at events. One member, Namiko Hitotsubashi and her family, have been members since 2003.  We are very grateful to the Hitotsubashi family for their extraordinary contributions to society functions.  We are equally happy to know that Namiko went on to study at Wheaton College with Professor Michael Drout, who needs no introduction to his work within Tolkien academia. Below is Namiko's submission about how she came to love the works of Tolkien, followed by one of her poems she has submitted to us. 
We have invited Namiko to participate in contributing feature articles and news on our site, and reports direct from Wheaton upon her return to school.
So without further ado, here is Namiko's "Personal Statement."

Personal Statement
I was almost 12 when I first read The Lord of the Rings, and it opened up a whole new world and had an enormous impact on my life. It took me nearly a year to actually pick up the enormous volume, complete with yellowed pages and tiny print. But by the time I got past the first half of "The Long Expected Party", I was swept away on the quest that would make me what I am now, and will surely continue to have great effect on what I become.

The Lord of the Rings shaped so much of my early teen years that many of the things I am interested in today are a direct result of that early enjoyment, and its effects are material as well as mental.

When you walk into my room, one of the things that will very likely catch your attention is the bookshelf by the window, dedicated to books on the Celts and Anglo-Saxons, including Beowulf and C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, books on Celtic castles, field guides of birds and trees, and above all, an entire shelf devoted to J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. Biographies, his letters, three different copies of the trilogy, movie books, essays on his works, a number of the Histories of Middle-Earth, and some of his other, less popular stories. It grows as quickly as I can afford, and much less quickly than I should like.

It could be said that it was not only great love, but also an obsession. I re-read the trilogy or listened to it unabridged on tape so many times that I lost count after about twenty-five readings, and assume that, by now, I’ve reached thirty. I adored The Silmarillion (I still do, in fact) and was completely undeterred by the plethora of nearly identical names. I even memorized two or three of the most important elvish family trees complete with their Finarfins, Fingolfins, Finrods, Fingons, Amrass Amrods, Angrods and Aegnors. It took me longer to get through the Histories of Middle Earth that encompassed Tolkien’s writing of the trilogy, and even longer to read the four that preceded them, but I enjoyed them all, and look forward, with great pleasure, to reading the rest. I enjoyed as fully The Unfinished Tales; indeed, how could I not, when I learned more of Numenor and Rohan?

As far as where these loves lead me, it is, perhaps, not surprising that Beowulf’s story should captivate me. It’s quite likely that I would have read Beowulf anyway but, after the Elves, the Rohirrim were the people that won my heart, and won it more permanently than even the Elves. Their culture, their love of horses and music, and their love of heroism drew me like a magnet, and that same magnet drew me to Beowulf. I think it may actually have been the movies that fueled my passion for Rohan, but they were so true to the books as far as Rohan was concerned, it really might as well have been the same thing. But I think seeing the fields; the Great Hall, the horses, the culture, and then also hearing the music and the language made me thrill more than anything else. After that, the transition from Meduseld to Heorot and from the Horse Lords to the Spear Danes was quite a natural one. It was a delight finding that a people very like the Rohirrim really did exist, though perhaps not in a quite as horse-centric culture as I should have liked. The fact that the Rohirrim spoke Old English also intrigued me. To know there was a real language, albeit a dead one, that I could actually learn and read things in was tantalizing, though it took me five years to actually start learning it.

That love of things Anglo-Saxon and for fairy-tales and the search for more stories as wonderful as Tolkien’s led me to a love for things even older, and I was not disappointed. The stories of the British peoples, The Mabinogion among them, fit very well with my love for Middle Earth. In these centuries, many of Tolkien’s peoples found counterparts. The Rohirrim could stand for a horse instead of ship-based Germanic people with their fair hair, love of war and the fierce valor of an idealistic version of a real society. Similarly, one could see a tie with the Dunlandings and the British peoples driven by these war-like Northerners into the hills to make their livings in harsh and unfriendly conditions, feeding their hatred, and longing to return. Though the Britons were not working for evil, as the Dunlandings were who fell under the influence of Saruman.

Gondor, in some ways, could have been Rome or Byzantium, the land of a people made war-like more through the necessity of defense and partly through their nature. Gondor like Rome built great buildings and monuments that would outlast the people who built them. The ruins in the forest of Ithilien and the half-destroyed city of Osgiliath are reminiscent of the Roman roads and forts that remain spread over the old empire centuries after Rome collapsed. The Gondorians are learned and wise, as the Romans were; though less generally corrupt -- with the exception of Denethor, driven mad as he was by the Palantir. In Faramir we have a man who could stand in the company of men like Brutus and Germanicus; men, loved by the people, great in war and in council -- though I doubt even they could have compared favorably with him. Again, Tolkien’s heroes were of a higher cast than the men of our world.

Even in the enemies of the free peoples there are counterparts. The Corsairs of Umbar, who strike terror into their foes at the sight of their black sails, are vaguely reminiscent of the Vikings who could sail far up shallow rivers in their great long boats and by the sight of their ships and their reputation alone, could make brave men tremble.

Not only did the feeling that what I read was history of a time lost to us draw me, but also there were several characters that also drew me to them as I found mirrors of myself in them, or loved them fiercely for their heroism and for what they represented. The foremost among these, and still the dearest to me, were Arwen, Éowyn, Aragorn, Faramir and Éomer.

The very Anglo-Saxon-ness of Éomer is what, I think, drew me to him. Here was a brave warrior who led his éored, and later his country, to battle and glory in the defense of right and to avenge the death of loved ones, with his golden hair and “the white horsetail on his helm floating in his speed.” And then this same golden prince rides up before the walls of Minas Tirith and beholding his fallen uncle and sister, charges in grim and hopeless despair at the head of the Rohirrim as they cry “Death!” and sweep all before them. That portion never ceases to chill me even as I’m swept away by the roaring tide of horsemen thundering across the plains thirsting for vengeance. And later in the same chapter:

"Stern now was Éomer’s mood, and his mind clear again. He let blow the horns to rally all men to his banner that could come thither; for he thought to make a great shield-wall at the last, and stand, and fight there on foot till all fell, and do deeds of song on the fields of Pelennor, though no man should be left in the West to remember the last King of the mark. So he rode to a green hillock and there set his banner, and the White Horse ran rippling in the wind.

Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day's rising

I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.

To hope’s end I rode and to heart’s breaking:

Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!

These staves he spoke, yet he laughed as he said them. For once more lust of battle was on him; and he was still unscathed, and he was young, and he was king: the lord of a fell people. And lo! Even as he laughed at despair he looked out again on the black ships, and he lifted up his sword to defy them.”

Of course, it is Aragorn in the black ships, and they are saved, but the way Tolkien wrote about the Rohirrim never failed to move me, and there are only a handful of passages unrelated to Rohan that stir my blood like this. This love for glory, even though none be left alive to hear of it, is very Anglo-Saxon. One only has to recall the Anglo-Saxon poet’s description of Beowulf’s thirst for glory, and the bravery so greatly esteemed by them. They were indeed a people who would laugh at despair and defy it, even as it loomed above them to crush them. I rejoiced in his valor and gloried in his deeds and in Rohan. Here was the prince on his white horse, even if he paled in comparison with the returning king.

Faramir I loved because of his greatness of character and his heroic and upright nature. He was a respite for the Hobbits, who were weary with wandering in the wild, and a shining ideal for me as he faced temptation and turned it away with a nobility and steadfastness of purpose the likes of which we seldom see today.

If Faramir is a shining ideal of nobility and steadfastness, Aragorn is the epitome of heroism and selfless service, as well as those same qualities that I spoke of in Faramir. Indeed, they are very alike, those two, and yet, Faramir is almost but the shadow of all that Aragorn is. Added to this is the fact that Aragorn is the returning king. He’s the one who is going to heal so many of the hurts of his people and restore glory to his people. How could I not adore him? How could I not see in him every thing I wanted both for myself and in others?

Arwen was originally the least of these, because our characters seemed so wholly unalike, but also the earliest of them. In the beginning it was for the more superficial reason that I have dark hair, and she was the only woman who did also. So I embraced the movie version that had her galloping on horseback, and allowed me to have a warrior’s part as my golden-haired best friend played Éowyn in the countless skits and scenes that all my friends and I re-enacted. But now after years of “being Arwen” and growing up a bit, I am able to clearly see and admire the real Arwen’s patience and perseverance as she waited for her love to gain his crown and her father’s consent, very likely in continuous fear for his life as he rode tirelessly for the free peoples of Middle-Earth.

In Éowyn, there is a character that I can understand to the utmost, though I did not at first, most assuredly. I loved her because she got to ride and fight and win glory and be the equal of the men. No waiting meekly for the men-folk at home for her, or so I thought. Yet once one looks past the heroic deeds on Pelennor Fields and sees what led her there, one sees that she was left behind so often before in the melancholy splendor of the Great Hall while her beloved lord and uncle fell into dotage. She was left at home to wait till her brother and cousin returned from war with renown and feats of arms to their names, while she was forced to remain, a trapped eagle in the cages of custom and duty. As she bitterly says to Aragorn: "Shall I always be chosen? Shall I always be left behind when the Riders depart, to mind the house while they win renown, and find food and beds when they return?"

Loneliness must have also been an enormous factor. Age-mates at Edoras seemed to consist of her brother, and her cousin, the latter of whom was actually more than thirteen years her senior, and they were seldom there. Her life, if this is the case, consisted almost solely of taking care of her uncle, alone but for him and for Grima poor companions for a young woman of vigor and spirit. Her only comfort could have been duty, but it was also her jailer. But for duty she could have long ago ridden to battle, if not openly with the consent of her relatives, then disguised as she did later. I understood her loneliness and need for escape, to some degree, the loneliness, certainly, having watched three of my closest friends move away in rapid succession. By the time I read The Lord of the Rings, one of the friends had moved back, and I had made another and closer friend, this perhaps did not resonate so much at first. But then the whole cycle repeated itself, and she moved away too, and suddenly Eowyn's plight became clearer to me. And certainly once I contracted Mono and was forced to stay at home by exhaustion, both the cage and the despair became very real to me as I encountered them in myself. To escape and do deeds worthy of song would have been nearly as welcome to me as they were to her. She, most assuredly was braver and much better able to do heroic deeds than I, and her despair was certainly deeper and longer lasting than mine, but it gave us so much more in common than the love of brave deeds and horses.

Immersed as I was in Tolkien’s world it is perhaps unsurprising that poetry just flowed out of me, and it was equally natural that I should, unconsciously at first, imitate much of what I read. A perfect analogy for it is: Tolkien and his works had the same effect on me as the Elves had on Samwise. They spoke to his soul, and their beauty, wisdom and elvish-ness satisfied the longings of his simple, wondering heart. Yet he was aware, as I was, that as their world wasn’t for him, as much as he should long for it. Similarly, I could not actually live in Middle-Earth, as much as I wished to.

As I was writing about Tolkien’s world, and as many of his turns of phrase were stored up in my mind, it is unsurprising that I emulated his language, mood, and form. Later, this became more deliberate as I ventured into the land of alliterative poetry with his poems to guide me.

I was so immersed in his language that when I wrote about his characters and places, I stayed very close his imagery, rather like the way the moon reflects the light of the sun without meaning to. The vision of light, strength and beauty that is Galadriel is captured in Tolkien’s poem, and reached for in mine. Mine could almost be a poetic endeavor by some later poet who, like Sam, was moved by the elves to create poetry that was original while still retaining consciously and subconsciously borrowed elements.

The most striking similarity in language shows up between a poem I wrote about Galadriel and the verse that Tolkien has Gandalf recite to the Rohirrim about her.

Tolkien                                                                                             Me

“In Dwimordene, in Lórien                                                        Galadriel, Galadriel, crowned in gold

Seldom have walked the feet of men,                                         Fairest, strongest to behold.

Few mortal eyes have seen the light                                            Cold is the water of thy well

That lies there ever, long and bright.                                       In Lóthlorien where elves yet dwell.

Galadriel! Galadriel! …

Clear is the water of your well;                                  Galadriel, Galadriel crowned in gold

White is the star on your white hand                           Fairest, strongest to behold,

Unmarred, unstained is leaf and land                        Fair are the hands that bear a ring

In Dwimordene, in Lórien                                              In Lórien where elves yet sing.

More fair than thought of Mortal Men.”

Tolkien’s works also inspired me to try my hand at my own prose, manifested itself in the form of an original fantasy/fiction novel which has now reached three hundred pages, and is approaching it’s climax after three years of rewrites and temporary abandonment, as well as a plethora of original and derivative stories. While this too would probably have ended up happening, Tolkien has definitely influenced my writing style, and my choices of stories. Almost every single one involves warriors and swords and far away kingdoms in lands vaguely reminiscent of Middle-Earth, or the places that inspired them.

Part of the impetus for this project was that I wanted more such stories, and hadn’t yet found them, so I resorted to writing my own, and another reason was that I wanted a character for of my own that could do whatever I wanted her to do. This is why, originally, my character was a warrior princess to the fullest extent. She was an equal of the men from the get go, and rather overly powerful and heroic. As both the story and I grew and matured, I toned her down lot, and she morphed into something more believable, while retaining the ability to go off and have adventures and fight evil. But she began that way because I wanted my own high, heroic story of far off days and times, told in glowing terms and remembered as great. In modern day America, that desire was impossible to fulfill, so I made do as best I could with the stuff of my imagination. As I read more, I found that there were many such stories, though none as personally satisfying as Tolkien’s, nor as rich.

Tolkien gave me the key, as the Anglo-Saxons say, to ‘word-horde unleac’ or ‘unlock the word-horde’ of late Celtic and early Medieval English history, mythology and literature, and woke the desire to know more of the places, people and events that inspired The Lord of the Rings.

"Lord of the Mark" a Tolkien inspired poem by Namiko Hitotsubashi

Lord of the Mark
Silver-white horse and king of old,
Galloping over the green Westfold.
To the fields of war he rides and rides
Covering the ground with flying strides.

To Celebrant, to Gondor's aid
With golden horn and silver blade.
Calling in the wind he goes
No fear, no sorrow, no death he knows.

The years have flown, the darkness grows
A new king comes, a new horn blows.
A snow-white horse and king of old,
Galloping over the green Westfold.

To Pelennor, to Gondor's aid,
With golden horn and silver blade.
Banner of green with horse of white
Straight and sure as arrow in flight.

To the fields of war he rides and rides
Covering the ground with flying strides.
Calling in the wind he goes
No fear, no sorrow, no death he knows.

The dark is gone, the sun appears
Shining on their silver spears.
The old king falls, a new king comes,
And leads them forth to a glorious dawn.

Announcing the BEYOND BREE 2011 30th Anniversary Calendar

Announcing the BEYOND BREE 2011 30th Anniversary Calendar

Beyond Bree is pleased to announce its 30th Anniversary with a special 2011 Calendar featuring art focused on the Istari, the wizards of Tolkien's Middle-earth.

The Calendar will feature classic art from Beyond Bree's past as well as new works by a host of artists from around the globe, including:

* Sylvia Hunnewell

* Nancy Martsch

* Jef Murray

* Ted Nasmith

* Cecile can Zon

* Maciej Wignanski

and more!
The colour and black-and-white calendar has both Middle-earth dates and real world holidays. It is 11 x 8 1/2 inches, opening to 11 x 17 inches.

Price: $20 plus shipping - USA $2, rest-of-world $5.

PayPal orders will also be taken with a $1.00 surcharge. Send PayPal payments (in USD) to:

Send check or money order (in USD, drawn on a US bank) to: Nancy Martsch, PO Box 55372, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413, USA; or send currency (at your own risk, use a sturdy envelope).
For more details, contact: Nancy Martsch at

Monday, July 19, 2010



The Northeast Tolkien Society


Members of Heren Istarion are herewith invited to the decennial celebration (Celebrating 10 yrs of the Northeast Tolkien Society) of the founding of The Northeast Tolkien Society.

A presentation of Tolkien fandom in the first decennium of the 21st century will also be held.

On Sunday September 26th, 2010, 1-5pm EDT.

to RSVP please send an email to

Anthony and Jessica. HerenIstarionNETS AT Gmail DOT com

Remembering Alexei Kondratiev

As most of you know, long time member of the Mythopoeic Society, member of the Northeast Tolkien Society passed from this world in May. For his services we wrote this honoring our friendship with him. Following are remembrances from friends of Alexei within the Mythopoeic Society.
In knowing Alexei these last 7 years I have quickly realized that I am but one small drop in a vast ocean of lives that he inspired. Many members of The Mythopoeic Society knew Alexei far longer, and better than my wife Jessica and I, and we are humbled to be able to speak on their behalf. Many of Alexei’s Mythopoeic Society friends— such as Carl Hostetter, Lynn Maudlin, Edith Crowe, Sarah Lucy Beach, Lisa Padol and Josh Kronengold, to name a few— knew him for twenty years or more. Both as a group and individually Alexei’s friends and fellow Society members attest to his broad and longstanding contribution to the Society.

My wife and I first met Alexei at the 33rd annual conference of the Mythopoeic Society, Mythcon, when it was held in Nashville in 2003. If memory serves, we met him on the evening before the conference officially opened, perusing the book vendors’ prodigious offerings. When we met him a second time, later that evening during dinner, our friendship was a fast one—grounded in many of the similar interests. Alexei was one of those people who knew volumes, but never let on just how much he knew. He was never arrogant or forceful, but every conversation, regardless of how brief (though those were seldom), left us feeling that we had shared in what he had learned. That first Mythcon was made so special for my wife and I, in large part because of Alexei and the sense that we got of being adopted into a community and a wealth of knowledge. We weren’t always able to attend each year, but whenever we did, we could look forward to hearing Alexei’s beautiful voice singing at Bardic Circle, filling the room with archaic songs, his quoting from memory literary passages or historic events, his instant recall of stories, the melody of his speaking from the many languages—both ancient and modern-- and the ring of his laughter over a pint at the pubs Mythies always manage to find. His abilities were beyond impressive and will be sorely missed.

In 2006, at yet another Mythcon but this time Mythcon 37 in Norman, Oklahoma, I was honored to have Alexei attend my paper on Native American History, Culture and Spirituality in New York State. As the talk ended Alexei approached me, kindly complimented my paper, smiling, and then offered advice on my pronunciation of key Algonquin linguistic terms. This moment was a key turning point in my pursuit of understanding the depth of Native American language and lore, yet the inspiration is not limited to just this topic. As I broached the topic of plants, Alexei’s deep glowing eyes widened, in them I felt he was happy to have a chance to speak of the medicinal and spiritual use of plants for indigenous people worldwide.

Another fond memory I recalled recently was of a visit to Central Park my wife and I had made with Alexei. We were taking a slow exit out of the Park and began discussing the wide array of plants and trees. When one of us incorrectly identified a tree Alexei humbly offered to name the trees we passed, and I knew that behind his answers lay a vast botanical knowledge. Were it not for these conversations and experiences, I would not be the aspiring botanist that I am today. My wife jokingly blames him for my many attempts, failures, & successes with our indoor greenhouse. I had never thought of growing some of these fascinating plants before my discussions with Alexei.

From our talks with Alexei, I was able to grasp that it is very important to expand and broaden your knowledge base, that we must all examine everything without boundaries. Language, religion, folklore, culture, anthropology, botany, spirituality, traditional lore—we all have the same roots and as fellow human beings we must have an understanding of one another.

Alexei had a profound effect and presence in every community he was a part of, The Mythopoeic Society being only one among many. Alexei was a very humble and quiet man; sometimes a man of few words, but when he did speak, there were times he spoke deeply, passionately, and at great length—he always said something, he always lent us his knowledge and this has left me with the profound feeling that these are characteristics we should strive to find within ourselves. Why? We should remember what unites us and the communities that keep us together. Alexei helped foster a sense of community wherever he went. And, in so doing, Alexei created a peaceful, thought provoking atmosphere amongst many groups of people—and we in turn can strive to do the same for others— and it because of this that we have a better world to live in. We can honor our friend Alexei by speaking with vision, passion, openness, and friendship, never with arrogance or insult, never with the intent to outdo or put down, and always with the sharing sense of community.

In my conversations with members of The Mythopoeic Society since Alexei’s passing we all agree that he inspired new and old scholars, which my wife and I are grateful to be ranked amongst. Because of this inspiration, on behalf of the society. A new annual award for the best student paper presented at Mythcon was named in his honor, "The Alexei Kondratiev Student Paper Award." We hope that students worldwide who attend MythCon, the future recipients of this award, are inspired to achieve the same level of contribution to scholarship as Alexei has given over the many years of his membership.

Alexei, many may say your light in this world has been extinguished, I choose to say that the brilliance of your light is now blazing across the heavens toward your great reward. On Behalf of The Mythopoeic Society thank you for enriching the lives of so many, you have left an indelible mark in our lives.

Shared with Alexei's Family during the services.

Many of Alexei’s friends & colleagues who wanted to be here to bid farewell were unable to do so or so keenly feel the shock of this event that there is an inability to speak. I endeavor to offer some words in farewell for them, and will do my best to speak myself on their behalf.

As you all know, from my husband Anthony’s kind words, Alexei was a member of the Mythopoeic Society. When news of his passing reached them, his dear friend, David Bratman said it wasn’t just a loss that the Society has experienced. He said it was as if a limb had been severed. I’d like to offer the speech introducing Alexei as the Scholar Guest of Honor at Mythcon 33 in Boulder, Colorado from 2002, written by David Bratman.

Alexei Kondratiev is The Man Who Knows. He knows languages, he knows mythology and traditional spirituality, and he knows fantasy literature as well as, or better than, anyone else in the Mythopoeic Society. Alexei was born in the US with summers spent in France, on one side the grandson of a Russian émigré; on the other side of native French descent. Alexei knows both languages, of course “ and developed a passion for Celtic civilization early in life. There is a Celtic underlay everywhere in France, even in Burgundy where Alexei grew up, and his talent is for discerning and bringing out this underlay wherever it extends. He also got an early start on learning fantasy literature through his parents' book collection, and has read as widely, in both new and old books, as anyone I know. Now he lives in New York, where he teaches and writes on Celtic languages, mythology, spirituality, music, and other aspects of their culture. His primary interest is in re-creating native Celtic cultural and spiritual traditions through immersion in their languages: to this end he has written a book, The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. Any of the modern Celtic languages can give you the key, he says; he himself knows all six.

But that is only the beginning of Alexei's knowledge. Even if you didn't know of his equally intense passion for Polynesian culture and language, you would hardly have been surprised at the Hawai'i Mythcon two years ago to find that he has a supreme erudition regarding the spiritual and mythological tradition of those islands. He has been a composer, who once embarked on an opera cycle based on Lewis's Space Trilogy. He has a deep knowledge of modern fantasy, as shown in his book reviews and commentaries in Mythprint, Mythlore (where he had a review column for several years), and Butterbur's Woodshed. Nobody can penetrate to the spiritual heart and lay out the lasting worth of a seemingly routine modern fantasy novel more clearly than he. He understands how the individual character of a language can affect its literature, and he can apply this principle to many tongues. He can, and will, wish you happy new year in fifteen languages. Name a culture, or even a fantasy author, and Alexei will tell you something you probably didn't know.

In all his work, Alexei's broad and deep reading, and his careful thought about what he has read, show through. Yet despite his awesome erudition, and his determined advocacy of positions, he never hectors or overwhelms his audience. He can stand in the middle of a Mythcon, silent and impassive as a Pukel-man, and then he will speak, quietly and without arrogance, giving just the fact needed to illuminate a conversation. He talks as clearly as he writes: when transcribing a Mythcon panel on which he appeared, I found I hardly needed to edit a word he spoke.

Within the Mythopoeic Society, and in other circles where he and his work are known, Alexei has won great respect for the depth of his scholarship, the breadth of his knowledge, and the profundity of his care and love for the literary and spiritual values of the literatures and cultures he knows.”

From longtime friend and fellow Mythie, Sarah Beach:
“[Alexei] had a barrel chest, a hearty laugh, and a resonant voice; an amazing depth of knowledge and insight and he was always interested in talking with whomever he was around. He's been one of my Mythie friends for over 20 years - seen once a year at Mythcon, but always looked for. I will miss him.”

I am deeply saddened to hear of Alexei's passing. I first made Alexei's acquaintance about 20 years ago through our shared interest in Tolkien's invented languages and mutual membership in the Mythopoeic Society. Having a chance to meet, hear, and talk with Alexei was always a highlight of our annual conferences. He made a quick and indelible impression on all who knew him, not only with the immense depth and breadth of his learning, or with his musical talents, but most especially with his generous and unassuming manner in all that he did. I am grateful for the assistance Alexei has given me over the years, for the inspiration of his example, and for the memory of his friendship; as no doubt are countless people the world over with whom he shared of his knowledge and insight in so many fields, and in whom his inspiration lives on. Alexei and all his family will remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Namárië, Alexei. Nai hiruvalyë Valimar!

Carl Hostetter

Alexei Kondratiev was a gentle man. He was brilliant and unassuming. He didn't push his greater knowledge down an unwilling throat but, if one was receptive, he was a delightful wealth of information, happily traversing rabbit trails and applying the skill of a Ranger to examining the ground.
Every year since the early 1980s, I would see Alexei at Mythcon and we'd have amusing and educational (for me, anyway!) exchanges - how much I will miss them!
My world is smaller without Alexei.
I was so touched when he made a point of telling me how much he enjoyed my performance on the piano at Mythcon 39 in Connecticut. "You're very good on the guitar but something very special happens when you play the piano, almost magical--" How I wish I could play for him again.
blessings, dear friend
-- Lynn Maudlin --

From friend & fellow Mythie, Edith Crowe:
Alexei was such a unique, lovely, charming man. His knowledge was prodigious but he was unfailingly modest and matter-of-fact about it. His fascinating background, travels and immersion in many languages gave him one of the most singularly beautiful voices & accents it has ever been my pleasure to hear. How profoundly sad to realize I'll never hear it again. Alexei, may the Summer Country be everything you've read about it.”

From his friend and fellow practitioner, Carole Linda Gonzalez:
“I was honored to have been one of Alexei's working partners in Mnemosynides. I first met him in 1989 and had the great pleasure of hosting circles where he told many wonderful stories and taught us the glories of the Celtic past. He will be sorely missed."

Finally, speaking for myself and my husband, we met Alexei over a stack of books a few weeks shy of 7 years ago. We didn’t know him as well as many of his friends did and I sorely regret not knowing him better, but he was a steady friend, a firm supporter, and someone who you come to rely on to be there, like the steady roots of a tree. I don’t choose to say that our tree has been uprooted. Alexei has given us all inspiration and grounding that will help us in ways we might not realize now.

Time has passed, the Wheel has turned. It is time for you Alexei to move on. You will walk hand in hand with the Lord and Lady and with your ancestors who came before you. Great Mother, welcome Alexei back into your womb. And Great Father welcome him back into your divine instruction. Let him come to you and know that he has been blessed by your gracious gift of Life. Let him come into your Divine Love, and let him know that he has left behind a life of legacy... that he shall be remembered and loved.
As he enters your world, wrap him in your loving arms, and welcome him back home. Let him speak to the Ancient Ones and to learn the greater mysteries that lie beyond the veil. Give him the strength to take these final steps, and allow him to do so with peace and dignity. Those of us left behind shall indeed mourn his death, but we shall also know that his Soul and Spirit is coming back to Holy Mother and Holy Father, and that he shall be made whole again. We shall cry, but we shall also laugh, for we shall celebrate the Life that had been given to Alexei And let him also know that as we now merry part, that we shall also merry meet again.