A Miscellany of the Feast of Epiphany
Well, to celebrate Tolkien's birthday (belatedly perhaps) and it being the Sunday of Epiphany (how often does that happen), I just have to list my favorite epiphany "legend":
"Smith of Wooton Major"
Perhaps you have one of your own. They are not so very common. But "Smith" has very little to do with epiphany you protest. Well, yes, if you insist on finding the usual sort of parallels or some cryptic and erudite exposition on christian doctrine, I would have to aggree: "Smith" is not about epiphany, but rather much the reverse; to understand the Feast of Epiphany in all its guises (dis-, mis-, or otherwise) is an ample background to understanding this little tale.
Now it doesn't take much imagination to see in the 24th Feast and the Feast of Good Children an analogue of the 12th night, and in the Great Cake into which the star is placed, a metaphorical epiphany cake - emblem of the host into which the christ has been fixed.
But to traverse further beyond these images requires a good deal more familiarity with the images and legends concerning the epiphany - in particular very specific things not usually thought of. Knowing these we can understand the star, what it signifies, what it portends, what is mythopoeia, and why it is a gift and even why it is that the Old Cook one day says to Alf "Tell them that I've gone on another holiday, only this time I shant' be comming back again."
We are never told. Maybe, as with the alchemists of old, having achieved all that he could in this place he has set out on his pilgrimage, as have others who set out upon the star road, and those who take that metaphorical star road to Compostella to the very end's of the earth, finis terre.
Enough introduction. Maybe you have a favorite epiphany story. Or maybe you have your own take on Smith of Wooton Major.
I'll get my Cousin to post up a more detailed account [url](Link to follow... dead link for now)[/url] as an unofficial "Birthday Present" (... um... it being my Unofficial Birthday you see....)
And By the Way, there are several other hints in the book itself. For instance, the turning point of Farmer Giles of Ham occurs on Epiphany, and for good metaphorical reason, altho one which nobody has ever bothered to point out.
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