This is Jessica’s beautiful friend Jessie who was kind enough to model for me on the last shoot with Jessica.

I have done some heavy editing and made her look quite martial in aspect. While the Army Air Corps flight goggles and ambiguous military uniform jacket are certainly not what you’d expect to see in a battle on Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Jessie nevertheless makes me think very much of Tolkien’s beautiful “Shieldmaiden.”

Eowyn is described by Tolkein as “…very beautiful. She was tall, slim, pale, and graceful, with long golden hair and grey eyes. In temperament she was idealistic, spirited, brave, high-minded, and lonely.”

In working, talking and laughing with Jessie for an afternoon and early evening and watching her interact with her stunning friend Jessica I discerned much to admire in this wonderful young woman. As I was puzzling earlier today how to interpret the raw image that this picture comes from I found myself remembering the beautiful, heroic champion who on the field of battle stands with sword and shield facing the powers of darkness.

A Wikipedia article states:

“The Witch-king further boasted that “no living man may hinder me,” referring to the 1,000-year-old prophecy by the Elf-lord Glorfindel, foretelling that the Witch-king would not fall “by the hand of man.” Éowyn then removed her helmet and declared:

“But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and king. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.”

The Witch-king attacked Éowyn with his steed, but she slew it with her sword. He then shattered her shield and broke her shield-arm with his mace, but was distracted by Merry, who stabbed him behind the knee with a sword enchanted with spells against him. Éowyn seized the opportunity to strike the Witch-king with a killing blow “between crown and mantle.” As her sword shattered, his clothing fell to the ground and he vanished with a wailing cry.”

My writing and photography are very often about people who in some measure are challenged by the forces of darkness but who carry within them the warrior spirit. In my artistic work I hope to remind them of who they are—who they always were. We know from Joseph Campbell we’re all on the journey and much—if not most—of the journey will be through darkness. Like it or not we have to face the malevolent forces within us and outside of us.

That just seems to be the human condition.

Though in the end we must stand alone with broken shield facing Morgoth and Sauron we don’t travel the hero’s path alone. There are helpers along the way.

I like to think I’m one of them.

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