Apacenda: "Reading the prophecy" translated into Quenya, the High Elven tongue.
These definitions are provided to support the kuru tekele, the system of magical reading using the Tengwar. These definitions use the original Quenya terms assigned to each tengwa by J.R.R Tolkien; however, the texts of the definitions were not written by Tolkien. This is intended as a symbolic reading of the meaning of each letter of the Tengwar, and not a literal translation of the letters.
Each tengwa has two meanings, one for "light" and one for "dark." Two of the tengwar are not used. This gives a total of seventy different readings based upon the random selection of any nine separate tengwar.
|t – tinco (metal). Light: The mark of civilization is when Man first began producing metal tools, moving from the Stone Age into more sophisticated metals, progressing to higher levels of technology. Metal is "processed," the result of civilized metal processing. Foundations are made of metal. Metal can be seen as "building a structure" or "embarking on a project." Dark: Metal is the the source of weapons, of chains, and of currency (from which stems greed). Civilization's drive towards mechanization is slowly and inexorably causing a decline in nature and replacing it with an artificial world, with metal all around us.||p – parma (book). Light: A book equals "knowledge" and "learning," of course. Learning is the process of replacing the unknown with the known, with acquiring something new. Enlightenment and acquiring of new knowledge often comes from books. Dark: Books are also where the Law is kept and preserved, including laws of suppression and tyranny. One of the most effective ways of spreading lies and propaganda is to publish them in a book.||c / k – calma (lamp). Light: A lamp is a source of light – it sheds light on the darkness, bringing light to where it was dark before. Dark things cannot stand the light. Dark: The lamp can be brought into places where natural daylight cannot normally go. It reveals secrets, including hidden truths that can be hurtful when exposed to the light of day.||qu – quesse (feather). Light: Mankind has often envied birds and their gift of flight, being able to quickly and effortlessly travel great distances across the sky, which require a much more difficult trek across land. Birds are seen as a sign of reaching or travelling into the sky, quickly and easily accomplishing what would otherwise be a difficult task or journey. (Beren and Lúthien were rescued by Eagles after they escaped from Thangorodrim with the prized silmaril.) Dark: A black feather or a blackbird, especially the Crow and the Raven, are a portent of dark things to come, often descending (as if from the sky) unexpectedly and suddenly, with great swiftness.|
|d / nd – ando (gate). Light: A gate is a defense, something meant to keep one's enemies out and protect loved ones inside its boundary. The gate can be shut and fortified, and it is a sign of a stout defense or barrier against intrusions and invasions from outside. Dark: A gate can be opened (by friend or foe) to allow the world access into a private place, revealing secrets and weaknesses one is trying to hide from the world. It can also be a barrier to discovery, a sign that the seeker cannot enter and finds his way blocked.||b / mb – umbar (fate). Light: Destiny, that which controls and guides us, and which shapes our future. The appearance of Destiny as a sign is certainly a portent of an important event, something memorable and possibly life-changing. Dark: A mysterious event signified could mean good, or it could be for ill – a foreboding of coming trouble or even disaster.||g / soft ng – anga (iron): Light: Iron is strength, durability, heavy, and nearly impossible to break when it is shaped. Friendships and iron-bound promises are likely to be kept. Dark: Iron is heavy, a weight that presses down and holds one back. Iron shackles are notorious for their ability to keep prisoners and captives.||gw / soft qu – ungwë (spider's web). Light: There are few ways more effective to ensnare prey than to catch them in a woven web or net. Construction of a complex net is a challenge, and its succesful use in accomplishing a task is a sign of superiority in craft and cunning. Dark: The most subtle and beautiful of deadly traps, a web is especially clever and tricky, often unseen until one finds itself ensnared in its mesh and unable to escape. The interconnecting points of the web all serve to strengthen the whole…but the one weak point in the web may be where the prey finds a way to escape.|
|th – thule / sule (spirit). Light: The soul, the inner being, that which gives us our sense of self. Strength and durability of spirit can help a person overcome adversity, difficulty, and strife. Dark: A loss of spirit can lead to defeat, weakness, sadness and despair, and even a loss in the material world to match a spiritual loss.||f – formen (north). Light: The frozen North is a guide for Men, as it is the realm of the North Star and magnetic north, which guide Men home when they are lost. The beauty of the Northern Lights, crystalline ice and glaciers, are a sight not to be missed. The North is cold, but it is the home of much hidden beauty that is only revealed when Men dare to journey to this foreboding land and discover the treasures there. The North is a sign of boldness, daring to strike into the darkness and the unknown. Dark: The North is the land of ice and snow, where the cold and the long dark will freeze a person's heart as well as chilling the bones and skin. The barren lands of the North are an empty, cold wasteland that can lead a traveller to be lost in the cold wastes.||h – harma (treasure). Light: This is the sign of bounty, and this wealth can be hard earned and just deserved. As a positive symbol it can mean that which we treasure, and is precious to us. Dark: Treasure can also be bounty, the ill-gotten hoard of thievery and plunder. One may work to acquire treasure and see the end as justifying the means, causing one not to care who he hurts or drives away in the course of seizing his prize.||hw / soft w – hwesta (breeze). Light: A light wind can be refreshing, as it blows across one's face and cools a hard worker. It may bring scents and sounds of pleasure, drawing us into further delights. Dark: A breeze could also be the first sign of an ill wind to come, an omen of change.|
|nt – anto (mouth). Light: The Mouth, of course, is that from which knowledge and secrets flow. A closed Mouth can give an indication of something hidden and secret; while an open Mouth means knowledge will flow and secrets will be revealed. This can be a desired result, as one may want to either keep a secret or have a secret revealed to him. Dark: Nevertheless, a slip of the tongue and an open mouth can reveal secrets that one does not want. In spite of one's efforts to keep something secret, it could still be revealed to the world from an open mouth.||mp – ampa (hook). Light: The tool of the fisherman, the farmer, and many a hard laborer. The hook is that which helps one obtain something out of one's own reach. The usefulness of the hook is an indication that a long-sought goal is in reach, ready to be plucked from the field or seized from the cold river, and brought in to satisfy your need or desire. Dark: A hook embeds itself in the body (or spirit) in such a way that it can only be wrenched out, doing irreparable damage as it exits. The hook is the mark of being ensnared forever…or only escaping from capture with great sacrifice and loss.||nc / nk – anca (jaws). Light: Often seen as the gaping maw of a Wolf, a loyal hound, or perhaps even a Dragon, the jaws are what bite down and take hold, fastening themselves their prey despite all efforts to shake them loose. The trap is sprung and the prey is caught in the predator's jaws, and this can indicate a successful acquisition of a desired goal. You have claimed your prize for your own, and the quest or the hunt is successful. Dark: On the other hand, it may be you indeed who are the prey, trapped by your pursuer and unable to escape – or, perhaps, the prey may elude the hunter and slip through, with the jaws clamping on nothing but hot air.||nqu / soft qu – unque (a hollow). Light: A secret place, a hidden valley or cave or grave, where one can hide away from the world and remain invisible to prying eyes. Secrets and treasures are buried here, waiting to be unveiled when the time is right. Dark: Enemies and monsters can also remain hidden in a hollow, waiting to spring and catch one unawares. A hidden hollow may be overlooked, only to be revealed after one has been caught or lost.|
|n – númen (west). Light: The West is the direction Men have always striven to reach, both in mythology (including Middle-earth) and history. It is the direction of the promised land, where beauty, bounty, and peace await the traveler. Coupled with the sound of the letter N (one of the most common sounds used), númen is a wish or desire to accomplish one's goal and reach fruition. Dark: But the West was open only for the Elves, and it was taken away from the reach and sight of Men. The West can be a sign of an unfulfilled goal or purpose, something one can strive for during their entire life but never reach or accomplish.||m – malta (gold). Light: Precious and beautiful, desired by men above all else (except for love and, for some, power), gold has a special place in history and in the heart as something unique. It is soft and malleable, irreplaceable, and it is the basis of many works of art and precious jewelry. Dark: Desire for gold is seen as the epitome of greed, miserliness, and selfishness. It is a lust for possession, the amassing of precious things, or the seizure of something one cannot have but desires above all else…even illicit desire and lust.||ng – ngoldo / Noldo (Elf, Faerie). Light: The Firstborn, who came into the world before Men. The Noldor were crafty and creative, and a sudden inspiration or spark of creativity may be a gift from them. Dark: The time of the Elves has faded and been replaced by the Dominion of Men, and Elves are seen today as "sprites," "fairies," or even "gremlins." They can be unseen spirits always hiding just out of sight, unseen but with a presence that is felt by those who know they are there. Dark spirits, poltergeists, and unseen hands that work against one may be the acts of the Dark Elves.||nw – nwalme (torment). Light: Torment can be the suffering that comes upon us all in life, as we experience the loss of a loved one or evena physical injury; but it can be possible to overcome suffering and emerge stronger and more powerful than ever before. Dark: Whether it is physical injury or disease; or the innermost weight of worry, fear, and desire, torment can be crippling, and it can lead to a loss ranging anywhere from a slight delay to a harrowing moment that may haunt us for the rest of our lives. Torment can be wrought upon us by enemies, or self-inflicted, as we are taken by depression, loneliness, and despair.|
|soft r – ore (heart). Light: Also defined as one's "inner mind," the heart is the center of caring, compassion, and thoughts about the world outside of oneself. Love springs from the heart, and many deeds of Men have been accomplished by following the guidance of one's heart. Dark: One's heart can be broken or one can harden his heart to keep out suffering, but either of these result in anguish and inner torment. Loneliness and despair often spring from a cold and broken heart.||hard v – vala (angelic guardian). Light: While often seen as "the gods" of Middle-earth, the Valar were actually conceived more akin to angels: kindly spirits from on high who watch over the affairs of the world, occasionally offering advice and guidance but rarely intervening in the affairs of mortals. (When they must intervene, they call upon Eru, the One, for guidance.) Dark: There can be a moment in one's life when it seems as though disaster is unavoidable, and only interference from the Divine would be able to prevent it. In the past, this may have happened; and it could be an indication or clue as to an event in the future – one that should be avoided in order to prevent such an inevitable disaster from occurring.||nn – anna (gift). Light: We are aware of the significance of a gift, a sign of generosity, openness, and caring. Gifts from loved ones are special, while gifts from strangers can also be a stroke of good fortune. The symbol of a gift is that of unexpected good fortune bestowed upon oneself, often coming at an opportune moment when it is least expected. Dark: One might also receive an unexpected acquisition that reveals itself to be anything but beneficial – rather, it becomes a token of strife or disarray, or may even put one onto a path that leads to unexpected disaster.||hard w / soft v – vilya / wilya (air, sky). Light: The sky and the heavens were there at the moment of Creation, and the vastness of this realm is seen as the home of powers and entities unknown to us. Both blessings and curses come from the sky, in the form of life-giving rains and destructive storms, while the beauty of the night sky may only be matched by an azure sky of deepest summer. Reading the sky is like peering into the heavens, looking upward and outward into the cosmos in search of an answer. Dark: Storms burst upon us from the sky, raining down hail and destruction. We often need to seek shelter from the wrath of the sky. An oncoming, overbearing storm may be seen in this manner as an indication of oncoming doom, disaster, or a major change in life that will happen, like the weather, in an inevitable fashion that one may have to take refuge from.|
|hard r – romen (east). Light: The East is the place of birth, the cradle of civilization, and the place where the Sun rises to begin its journey. It is the starting point, where the journey begins and growth takes place. Those trapped in the East may find themselves caught up in ignorance and want, and travelling away towards another direction often brings knowledge and reward. Dark: Invasions and incursions of darkness often came from the East, and in Tolkien's works many hordes of evil Men ("Easterlings") invaded the Western lands. The East can be a portent of coming difficulty.||rd – arda (The World). Light: The beauty, awe, and vast domain of the World has fascinated Man since the earliest days. In the earliest days, people believed the World was created especially for them, and this significance is seen in the way the World has been portrayed in myth (and magic): the cradle of Life, the center of the Universe, and the Mother that brought us all into being. Dark: If one is not careful, he could become lost and wandering down unknown paths, into strange lands full of danger and mystery. History speaks often of travelers who are lost and swallowed by the world, disappearing forever and never returning.||l – lambe (tongue). Light: The tongue is one of the most underrated parts of the body, often ignored…but lambe refers to the gift of speech, the beauty of language, its usefulness in communication with others, and the ultimate proof of Man's power of intelligence and thought. Dark: The greatest evils have oft been wrought by silken, smooth tongues, as cunning and evil persons use soft and seductive speech to place lies and hatred into the hearts of others. Cruel, suggestive and harsh words are more hurtful and can do more damage than any sword, and the dangers of a serpentine forked tongue used for speech are the stuff of legend.||ld – alda (tree). Light: Solemn, strong, everlasting, and beautiful, a tree is a sign of life and love that will last far longer than that of any man…though a tree could be cut down by a man due to need for wood, or out of spite or carelessness. (Tolkien himself had a great love of trees, even to the point where he invented the Ents to serve as the Shepherds of the Trees.) Dark: Becoming lost in the woods is an instinctive fear known by Men since the earliest days, and this is reflected by images of trees as dark, gnarly, and cutting off light and life. (The Forest of Mirkwood in The Hobbit, for instance.) An image of a "dark" tree can indicate an old growth that looks strong, tall and solid on the outside…but the inside is rotten and ready to collapse or burn down. A tree of this kind needs to be torn down before it is too late.|
|s – silme (starlight). Light: The stars look down upon the world at night, and they are often seen as containing the mysteries of the future. A special star is an omen, and the light from the stars is rare and precious, hidden during the day and only revealed at night. Dreams, omens, and portents of the future can be seen in starlight. (The destiny of Middle-earth itself revolved around the silmarils, whose light came from the Two Trees of Valinor which gave birth to the stars.) Dark: Stars, comets, and the distant glow of the planets (as opposed to the twinkle of stars) can indeed be omens of things to come, meaning that a time of strife and difficulty may be approaching.||silme nuquerna (s reversed): This letter is used as a variation of tengwar writing and does not have individual meaning assigned to it; it is not used here. See also: ||ss / soft s – esse (name). Light: A name is that special word assigned to all things, giving them identity. Not only does everything have a name, you have a name – whether the one given to you by your parents or your society, but also a special name you may choose for yourself. It signifies you more than anything else. To have true power over someone or something is to know one's true name. Dark: A person's foe could use his name against him, resulting in slander, rumors, and the sullying of one's good name – something that can do great harm to oneself and be difficult to recover from.||sh / z – aze (sunlight). Light: The light of the Sun is the light that brings warmth, life, and abundance to the world. Sunlight can signify happiness, growth, peace, calm, the joy of spring and the warmth of summer. Dark: A harsh sun can also beat down upon oneself, causing sunburn, drying streams and rivers, cracking skin, reducing fresh farmland to arid desert. This may also mean overexertion, going beyond one's limits and hurting oneself, collapsing from exhaustion and heat stroke, or even being blinded by the sun in your eyes, preventing one from seeing the world around oneself.|
|soft y – hyarmen (south). Light: South is a direction that has traditionally been associated with the unknown and the undiscovered. Both in history and mythology, many of the world's great events have taken place in the North, and forays into the South have been journeys of discovery (or conquest). This is what South indicates: discovery, exploring the unknown, and uncovering new knowledge and new secrets. Dark: A journey into the South can mean an excursion into dangerous lands, ones that are not only filled with foes but also into a hot, foreboding climate – both Man and Nature can be enemies in a journey to the South. Journeys into the South may be unsuccessful, leading to failure and a waste of resources…as England's conquest of the lands of India and Africa ultimately led.||hwesta sindarinwa: Grey Elven (Sindarin) hw. This letter did not have individual meaning assigned to it and is not used here. See also: || hard y – yanta (bridge). Light: A bridge is a connector, a path that takes the traveller across a river that would he would not be able to ford. It brings one closer to the end of the journey without having to travel many leagues in either director looking for a way across, and it can be seen as an accomplishment: the mighty river has been breached. Dark: A bridge may mean the traveller has reached a boundary that can only be crossed at this one point, and there is no other alternate route to take. Will there be a toll (or a troll) at this bridge? When the bridge has been crossed, this may mean there will be no turning back.||r – úre (heat, fire). Light: The importance and meaning of fire cannot be underestimated, Fire is warmth, life, emotion, and a tool used for many purposes. Dark: Fire is also is a force for destruction that can burst its confines and become a conflagration beyond control if it is not carefully maintained.|
Addendum: If the tengwar used in your reading number less than nine, you will end up with one or more empty spaces. In some instances, though not all, you may feel that this empty space itself is important and may be added to your reading:
| empty space – lusta (void, emptiness). Light: Emptiness is not always evil, and solitude can be a comforting companion at times. We all seek some time alone, and a moment of peace and silence can be one of comfort and healing. (After his great defeat in the War of Wrath, Morgoth himself was thrust through the Circles of Night into the Void, cast out of the world at last until the End.) Dark: The Void is that which Men fear, for it is unknown and uncharted. When Men die they will go there, to a place that none have returned from. The Void is the Ending, the final night, beyond even Death.|
Notes on pronunciation:
Exact spelling of a word in its original language is not used for Tengwar script. Rather, all words are spelled phonetically based upon the their approximate pronunciation. Each tengwa listed here represents a sound, not a proper spelling of any letter. For instance, the English word "through" is pronounced "throo" – and this is how its Tengwar script would be written:
hard letter is used at the beginning of a word, when a forceful breath is used to begin speaking the word. A soft letter is used in the middle or end of a word, when the previous sound leads into the sound of this letter, often with an exhalation or h preceding it. For example, "yellow" is a word beginning with a hard y, and it uses (yanta) as its tengwa; while a word ending with y such as "only" uses (hyarmen) as its tengwa.