And welcome to my newsletter for July, 2012! Please feel free to forward
this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up with me! To
receive these newsletters regularly, please drop me an email or subscribe
online from my website (*http://www.JefMurray.com<http://www.jefmurray.com/>
* ) or at: *http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms* . Notices of
events and items of interest are at the bottom of this email.
I have posted three new painting images on my website. These include “Out
of Imladris”, “The Escape”, and “On Woodland Trails”. These are located in
two different places; the first and last are in the within the Tolkien
gallery (“The Third Age - The Hobit” section), and the middle one is in the
“Once upon a time” gallery (in the “Paintings inspired by C.S. Lewis”
section). However, you can see all three by going to *
http://www.JefMurray.com <http://www.jefmurray.com/>* and clicking on the
“Newest Works” icon (the dragon!) at the top of the page.
As always, these and all of the images in my online galleries and on my
Facebook page (see https://www.facebook.com/JefMurrayStudios ) are
available as signed and numbered limited-edition Giclee prints. See my
webpage for details.
And, do let me know how these new works strike you!
“So, what will it do?”
The young woman studied the contents of the glass bottle. Within was a
single jade-green pill, perfectly round. The proprietor of the shop just
“No, honestly,” said Jill, looking up at the man behind the counter. “I
need to know what I’m getting myself into.”
“It contains nothing that will harm you; be assured of that,” the older man
said. “The ingredients from which it is compounded, I am intimately
acquainted with; but their names would likely mean little to you. And to
relate the history of the components and how each was derived would take us
many long hours, I fear.”
“So, you’re simply asking me to trust you?”
“Not at all; I am asking you to do nothing. I am simply offering you an
option. It is entirely your decision as to whether you make use of that
option or not.”
Jill looked up from the bottle. The apothecary was tiny. It was not the
antiseptic white of most drug stores, and Jill was unsure whether the owner
ever filled standard medical prescriptions; she had never brought one in
herself, and had never seen anyone else have one filled in the shop.
Late afternoon light flooded through the single storefront window,
fracturing into every hue as it reflected and refracted through hundreds of
glass bottles. These were of every size and shape, some ornate, some
simple; some were clear, and others were brown, cobalt, and ruby-tinted.
Each was filled with a swirling liquid, a cacophony of capsules, or tablets
of every texture and tint.
Jill had stumbled upon the shop one foggy morning in autumn of the previous
year. She had not been sleeping, and, trudging toward the university and
the classes she was scheduled to teach that morning, she was startled by
the sign, newly painted, that emerged from the mist. Acting on impulse, she
What greeted her eyes and ears was much more than she had anticipated.
Aside from the myriad bottles that lined the walls, there were small pots
of herbs growing under lamps, fragrant wooden cabinets lined with scores of
brass-fitted drawers, and glass cases laden with bowls, minerals, dried
herbs, and even roughly-cut gemstones.
The apothecary air was richly perfumed, but the longer she lingered in the
doorway, the harder it became for her to identify the scents that swept
around her. Were they sweet? Yes, perhaps. Musky? Certainly. Was that
vanilla she detected? Or sandalwood? Or cinnamon? The aromas made her think
of all of these, but there was something else it reminded her of entirely
that she could not quite place.
She then remembered having had a girlfriend introduce her to single malt
Scotch whisky. She had never liked distilled liquor, but Andrea had
insisted. On the fated evening, the two of them had sampled dozens of tiny
bottles over the course of several hours, never taking more than the
tiniest sip from each one. In the end, mildly intoxicated, Jill had
conceded; she had had no idea how much she had underestimated the
bewildering variety of flavors and aromas that could be found in this
seemingly simple spirit.
And so it was with this shop.
The proprietor heard the bell as Jill entered, and he soon appeared from
behind a curtain in the back. He was an older man, tall, thin, slightly
stooped, and with a closely-cropped gray beard and thick hair. “May I help
you?” he asked.
Jill started to explain that she was having trouble sleeping, but the
proprietor had been so kind that she soon found herself sitting at a small
table, taking tea with the old gentleman.
“You can call me Burn, if you’d like,” he had told her.
“If you don’t mind my saying so, that’s a rather strange name.”
“That is my sir name. My Christian name is Ezekiel.”
“Ah, well, Mr. Burn, I’m Jill; Jill Shatten.”
“I’m very pleased to meet you Miss Shatten,” Burn said, pouring her some
Jill had left the shop later that morning with a tiny pinch of pearly-white
powder wrapped in tissue paper; Burn had suggested she take some with warm
milk just before bedtime. Whatever the powder contained, it had helped, and
Jill became a regular visitor to the shop.
Her discovery of the apothecary had happened just as Jill’s life took a
turn for the worse. She had been dating an instructor in the Philosophy
department for over three years, a handsome British man named Ian who
taught existentialism and Marxism. But the relationship began to rend. Jill
had always been attracted to intelligent men, but those in academic circles
seemed never to have abandoned the profligate habits of their students; the
result was that none seemed capable of committing to a long-term
relationship. Even so, Jill seemed unable to avoid being attracted to them
over and over again.
She poured out her troubles to Andrea and to her new friend, Burn. The
older man was a patient sounding board, and although he sometimes would
suggest remedies that eased her nervous anxiety, it was his calm
willingness to simply listen that meant the most to her.
When the relationship with Ian completely crumbled, so did Jill. And
although it took her some time, she was eventually able to confess the
reason to Burn: Jill had become pregnant a few months after she started
dating Ian, and at his insistence, she had aborted the child. She had felt
that she was entirely justified in doing so; after all, she was a modern,
liberated woman, and she knew that even Ian was not interested in marrying,
at least not yet. “There’s always time to have children later,” she had
But with the loss of the child and of her relationship with Ian, Jill’s
moorings shifted beneath her feet. She became less confident in her ability
to judge herself, her friends, or the bigger world around her. Her insomnia
continued, and although she had always prided herself on being independent
and decisive, she became unsure of even her most basic assumptions about
life. And behind all of this, like a faint shadow, was the image in her
mind of a newborn child: the one whose life she had taken.
In desperation, Jill sought a therapist and spent months discussing her
anxieties and difficulties, only to be told that what she needed, no
therapist could provide.
“But what *do* I need?!” she had asked in exasperation.
“Forgiveness,” said the therapist.
“Then where do I go for that?”
“That isn’t my field,” said the therapist. “I’ve done all I can for you.”
o o o
The apothecary was on her walk home from the therapist’s office, so Jill
stopped in to see Burn. He offered her tea and listened to her tale. When
she was done, he studied her closely for a few moments in silence.
“So, the therapist believes you are in need of forgiveness.”
“Yes, that’s what she said.”
“And did she suggest who might be capable of forgiving you?”
“No. She said that granting forgiveness wasn’t something she could do; that
what I needed was some authority whom I trusted and who could tell me,
unequivocally, that what I did was not wrong, or else how I might atone for
Burn stroked his beard and looked past Jill toward the street outside the
shop. “Did she suggest what authority could possibly do such a thing?”
Jill looked down at the table. “She asked whether I was religions, and
whether I knew of some spiritual authority that I trusted.”
“And, do you?”
“No,” said Jill. “I don’t believe in any of that anymore, Burn. I mean, I
was raised a Catholic, but none of what I learned growing up makes any
sense to me now.
“I mean, isn’t this all there is?!” Jill gestured angrily at the shelves
filled with bottles, and at the sunlight outside the shop window. “We’re
stuck here, all alone on this earth…aren’t we, Burn? Well, aren’t we?!”
Burn did not respond.
“I mean, if all the modern philosophers are right, then there’s *no one*who can tell us what’s right
*or* wrong! And that means the therapist is…well...just *crazy*! I’ll *never
* be able to find what I need; I’ll *never* be able to find forgiveness!
I’ll never know what I should have done, or what I ought to do *now*…!”
Jill had suddenly burst into tears, and Burn gave her his handkerchief.
After her sobs subsided, she dried her eyes and looked up at him with a wan
smile. “You don’t happen to have a pill that could help me find
forgiveness, do you?”
Burn patted her hand. “In fact, I may….”
o o o
[…to be continued in the August 2012 “Mystical Realms” Newsletter]
• My first book, “Seer: A Wizard’s Journal”, has been formally
released as the inaugural offering from Oloris Publishing, a new imprint of
the Middle-earth Network (www.mymiddleearth.com). Oloris is dedicated to
bringing new multimedia works to fantasy, mythology, and sci-fi fans
worldwide, and I am honored to have had “Seer” chosen as their first
publication. You can learn more than you’d likely ever want to know about
Oloris, and about “Seer”, by clicking on of the following link:
• A frame-able full-sized poster/print of my painting Home Again is
now available in the Middle-earth Network Store ( *
http://store.mymiddleearth.com* ). This is among the first offerings of the
store, and the works of many talented artists, writers, musicians, actors,
etc. will be featured there over time. Do take a look!
• The Return of the Ring 2012 (see *http://www.returnofthering.org/<http://www.google.com/url?sa=D&q=http://www.returnofthering.org/>
*) will be a huge Tolkien-themed conference and gathering at Loughborough
University on 16-20th August, 2012. Although I will not be able to attend
in person, I am hoping to have some of my work included, either in
publications in support of the event, or at the art show. Stay tuned for