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Changing Seasons of The Enchanted World
You know, there’s something surreal & magical about the changing of seasons. The threshold between 2 vastly different environments, where the past meets the present and makes a deal with the future - a liminal state, to my mind not too unlike a crossroads.
Since ancient times, crossroads have had special significance. It’s the “X marks the spot” where 2 worlds meet, and 4 paths diverge. It’s a place where a decision needs to be made which can often lead to danger and adventure. A decision which could bring you to riches or to ruin.
In fairy stories and myths, it’s where mischief awaits.
Now, we don’t get a say in the changing of seasons, but within the eye of this rhythmic storm of time, we sometimes get to choose which memories from the past are summoned and how we let them influence our future selves.
It’s May, and where I live it finally feels like Spring. I can at last feel the seasons change after a looooong dreary boring winter, just in time for Summer. Sitting at my personal crossroads this morning deciding what this week’s Rediscovered Realms article should be, I find myself in a reflective mood about how the seasons model both life and death, boredom and awe.
My foot kicks something beneath my desk. A pile of books makes itself known. I take a few magazines off the top of the stack to reveal a beautiful winged fairie looking up askance from her luxurious green fabric bound book. What mischievous summoned memory is this?
I remember hearing his deep familiar voice in some of the ‘80s commercials for Time Life’s The Enchanted World books. That voice was from none other than horror actor, Vincent Price!
“On evenings like this, I like to curl up with a good book. The sort of book that lets your imagination run away with you. If you’re like me and enjoy the mysterious and the unexpected, you’ll love the Enchanted World” - Vincent Price
They seemed to be targeting mostly a supernatural audience, which really wasn’t my thing, but there were many books in the series that definitely piqued my interest. Books like: Fairies and Elves, Dwarfs, Fabled Lands, Magical Beasts, Giants and Ogres, and Dragons!
Here’s a cool commercial they did that was more up my Heroic Adventure Alley:
Since I was already into D&D at the time, I wanted these books so badly - I mean did you hear the part about how they were “luxuriously fabric bound”?
(Featuring artwork from Clyde Caldwell & Luke Eidenschink!)
Time passed and seasons changed, and I lost track of this unrequited desire, until a death happened that would bring these books from the Enchanted World into My World.
You see, my grandmother Rose, had passed away just after a transition from Spring into Summer, during my summer school Algebra remedial class. Attending her funeral kicked off a sequence of bureaucratic events which led to me having to make up my time sitting in the school front office every day after summer school for an extra hour or two.
Funny enough, I didn’t have any Algebra to do - I had made sure to keep up with assignments during our family’s solemn sojourn, but the rules stated that you had to have your butt in a seat for x-amount of hours, regardless if you were caught up, and regardless of performance. (I was getting an A+ this second time through by the way!)
What was a boy my age to do?
After a couple of days of being bored out of my mind just sitting there, the front office admin suggested I could see if there was anything of interest in their library.
“Ooh, this could be exciting,” I thought. This was my first high school library, as I had just completed 8th grade middle school - another big crossroads transition.
There, in that summer school library, was a perfect set of The Enchanted World books!
Boredom was conquered. Summer was saved. I immersed myself in fantastical stories of Elves, Fairies, Wizards, Warriors and Heroes.
It was amazing. I actually started to look forward to my after-school detention. I couldn’t wait to escape into another story!
It was sort of like The Breakfast Club,
. . . except it was after school
. . . and it was only me.
I guess it was more of a Geekfast Club, but whatever you choose to call it, it was glorious.
Time Life put these 21 volumes out between 1984-1987. After you received your initial trial order, you would get one in the mail every couple months on a subscription basis.
Each book focused on different aspects of fairy tales, folklore and mythology. So again, perfect for heroic fantasy fans.
Even though they were fictional stories, they were told in a sense of being real history accounts from our world, with a decline of magic and magical beasts & beings from the dawn of time until the arrival of modernity. It lent a very realistic and memorable feel to the tales of fairie circles, wizard spells and King Arthur’s reign.
The artwork in these books was vibrant, beautiful & fantastical, from artists archaic to new - too many to enumerate here. Fortunately, every book had a detailed bibliography of source references, artists and scholars if you wanted to learn more.
That summer of transitions: Spring to Summer, Middle to High School, Algebra to uh, Algebra again - started with disappointment, shame & loss but wound up providing a mighty boon. A treasure that continues to last a lifetime.
Those books allowed me entrance to another world, an Enchanted World that sparked imagination to overcome boredom and fueled my flame of passion for fantasy . . . and for stories. The kind of stories we humans tell each other not just for escape, but also to understand & connect with each other as we cross paths for the briefest of moments at these crossroads of life.
Death & Life, Boredom & Awe.
During these next couple months where the seasons change yet again and we celebrate our mothers and fathers from all generations, our collective humanity, there’s another crossroads where the past meets the present. Another opportunity & decision I can personally make.
For me, I plan to celebrate the wonders of the present with my dear friend & family fellow travelers.
But I also hope to summon those memories of loved ones past, who themselves have travelled permanently to another world. I hope to honor their memory with love & joy, and I’m sure more than a bit of sadness, BUT . . .
. . . also recognize the new season will bring with it its own seeds of fresh opportunity, excitement, connection, discovery, and adventure.
I mean, if you really think about it, isn’t Our World just as awe-inspiring & magical as the Enchanted World?
I welcome you to join me on my next summer adventure into our shared Enchanted World. Meet me at the crossroads where magical things happen.
“Only remember, once you are lured into the Enchanted World, there’s no telling where your imagination will take you.” - Vincent Price
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