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Kuru Tekele

Kuru tekele – "A system of magical writing" (as translated into Quenya, the ancient tongue of the Elves of Middle-earth).

Professor J.R.R. Tolkien was a professional philologist and a lover of languages, but he would have scoffed at the idea of using his Elvish tengwar script as a system for magical divination. He looked on his fantasy languages and stories as just that – fantasy fiction, something meant as an escape from the world of factories, guns, and bombs. But the appeal of these fantasy stories has been universal, and their basis on medieval mythology has intrigued those who look to mythology as a source for real modern-day magic.

Magic in this fashion is defined as a system of meditation, ritual, and symbolic reading as a focus of belief. Symbolism is an important part of magic, which is why magical systems such as tarot, Runes, I Ching, and other forms of divination continue to see great popularity among practiitioners of magic. In particular, fantasy fiction (including Tolkien's own Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion) has been used to augment mythology as a source of magic and magical readings. Some magical systems, such as Chaos Magic, blatantly include fictional trappings and fictional beings as part of their architecture. From this, it is not only likely that the works of Tolkien would be adopted into magical practice – it is inevitable.

From this, I present the following system of magical divination, using J.R.R Tolkien's Elvish wriiting system – the Tengwar – as a source.

This system of divination is based on Sigil Magic, which uses a system of transformation of statements of "desire" or "intent" into shorter characters in order to create a sigil. This system uses the methods of the tarot and the Futhark Runes to select the characters and apply "meaning" during a reading.

Expression of Intent

Write out your expression of intent. This can be one of three forms:

Remove vowel sounds from your expression of intent:

For this example, we shall use this statement of intent:


Remove the vowel sounds from this statement:


Translate these letters into tengwar based upon the apacenda. Note that letter combinations can be applied, such as S + H = sh



Remove duplicate letters:




Take a piece of paper, and cut or tear it into nine parts. (Two cuts each in a horizontal and vertical direction, in a tic-tac-toe pattern, will produce nine pieces of paper.) Write each separate tengwa on a separate piece or scrap of paper. (If you have previously made cards with the tengwar, they will work fine.) Lay each piece of paper face down in front of you, so that they can be chosen at random.

Choose your first tengwa at random from the face-down pieces of paper. Turn it over, face up, in front of you. This is the tengwa that represents you, and it is neutral. Read off both the light and the dark meanings of this symbol. Both meanings can be applied to you, as a reflection of the neutrality of the Universe.

Begin choosing additional tengwar at random from the remaining pieces of paper. Lay them in a sequence of eight directions all around the neutral center, in this order:

(8) Dark (7) Light (6) Dark
(2) Light Neutral(1) Light
(5) Dark (4) Light (3) Dark

The three rows represent:

If you do not have at least nine tengwar in your sequence of symbols, begin with yourself (Neutral) and lay as many symbols as you can in this sequence. Any spaces left unfilled represent the Unknown, which is itself full of possibility.

Unused tengwar are then discarded.

Using the example listed above, we choose one tengwa at random and come up with {g}. This is laid in the center. The eight directions are then laid out in random order, resulting in the following:


{th} Dark {n} Light {l} Dark
{sh} Light {g} Neutral{t} Light
{m} Dark {ng} Light {c} Dark
This sequence of eight tengwar surrounding you (the center) in all directions is a reflection of the Star of Chaos, which represents infinite possibility and extends in all directions from the center. This suggests that this reading you make now is neither fixed nor unchangeable. (Ironically, the definition of the Star of Chaos reflecting infinite possibility was presented by author Michael Moorcock – whose dislike of Tolkien is well known and reflected in many of his writings.)

Reading the Characters

Based upon the order of placement of each tengwa, we then select the Light reading or the Dark reading of each character. The interpretations of each tengwa are provided on this Web site, under the Apacenda. This gives the following:


{g}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.


{t} – 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."
{sh} – 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.


{c} – 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.
{ng} – The Firstborn [the Elves], 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.
{m} – 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.


{l} – 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.
{n} – 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.
{th} – 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.

Interpretation, or Applying Meaning to the Reading

At this point, it now becomes necessary to for the reader to apply these definitions to the subject in question. This is the key to an accurate reading, to apply these selections to oneself and determine what, if anything, the Universe is revealing in this reading. Hints and suggestions are there in the definitions. If the person asking the question applies the definition of anga (iron) to himself or self, then the reading can suggest…

…the Present suggests the person is "embarking upon a project" of some sort, one that is related to "warmth, life, and abundance." Interestingly, that ties in well with the original statement, "I shall meet my goals in the coming week." (And remember, these characters were chosen at random.)

…the Past gives the impression that this person has been engaged in a struggle of some kind in the past, possibly related to the present day question. This struggle seems to have involved "hidden truths that can be hurtful when exposed to the light of day." The person apparently received spritual or ethereal help against this struggle, though, as "a sudden inspiration or spark of creativity may be a gift." It may have included "the amassing of precious things." (One obvious conclusion, which would certainly apply to many people, would be an argument or dispute with one's partner….over money, perhaps?)

…the Future hints at something occurring regarding this objective of meating one's goals in a week – something involving "soft and seductive speech to place lies and hatred." It may not literally mean "lies and hatred" – perhaps it could be someone trying to prevent this goal from being reached, even unintentionally? Based on the reading, the desire to accomplish this goal seems genuine: there is a "is a wish or desire to accomplish one's goal and reach fruition" showing here. And if the goal is not reached, then there may indeed be a penalty or punishment of some sort – "defeat, weakness, sadness and despair, and even a loss in the material world to match a spiritual loss."

Return to Reading the ''Tengwar''