Journey to the Imaginal Realm: Reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

Journey to the Imaginal Realm Course

Since I was 9 years old, I have been a devotee of the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and an avid explorer of the world of Middle-earth. I am therefore beyond excited to be teaching an online course through Nura Learning this autumn on Tolkien’s magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings. I feel as though I have been waiting half my life to teach this class, and at last such an opportunity has arisen. If you have never read The Lord of the Rings before, or wish to return to Middle-earth to deepen your connection with this remarkable tale, I would be delighted to have you in this course.

Learn More and Register

Course Description

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien has been a beloved story to several generations since its publication in the mid-1950s. The story has a timeless quality to it, and engages with a complex struggle between good and evil, death and immortality, power and freedom. The Lord of the Rings blends otherworldly romance with the high rhetoric of epic mythology, at times interwoven with the internal depths of the nineteenth century novel and the political climate of the twentieth century. As Tolkien’s close friend and colleague C.S. Lewis once said: “Nothing quite like it has been done before. This book is like lightning from a clear sky . . . here are beauties which pierce like swords and burn like cold iron.”

The Lord of the Rings is a text treated by many as a sacred text, one to be returned to year after year, or read aloud with loved ones. The Lord of the Rings, for many, has become a myth for our time. This course offers a journey through Tolkien’s magnum opus in a community of learning, guided by a scholar who has spent more than two decades engaging Tolkien’s writings and artwork. This course is designed both for newcomers to Tolkien’s narrative, and for veteran travelers through Middle-earth’s many realms. Together we will explore the grand themes and hidden nuances of Tolkien’s epic story, connecting The Lord of the Rings to the larger mythology of Middle-earth, and situating Tolkien’s process of writing within his own powerful experiences of the imaginal realm.

To learn more and register, please visit: Nura Learning: Journey to the Imaginal Realm 

10 Replies to “Journey to the Imaginal Realm: Reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings”

  1. Dear Becca,

    Your course looks fantastic! I love the image of the ponies traversing the bridge being led by their riders. A journey on horseback into the imaginal realm – what could be better? This looks like the same or similar course that you taught this summer. The $150 price is an incredible bargain. Do you know how many students you anticipate will sign up? If I had time I would sign up!

    Wishing you a magical teaching experience, Cheryl


    1. Cheryl, I also love that image of the ponies being led across the river into Rivendell, painted by the great artist Alan Lee, who has illustrated many of Tolkien’s books. I certainly hope it proves to be a wonderful journey for students! This course is actually quite different from what I am currently teaching, since this focuses on Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, while the course I am teaching this summer focuses on Carl Jung’s Red Book. Put together the two courses form the subject matter of my dissertation! But for the moment I am teaching the two books separately. I’m not yet sure how many will sign up, but it would be absolutely lovely to have you join!

  2. Becca, what a fabulous course! I hope you offer it a second time. My plate is over full the rest of 2018, but I would love to take it another time.
    All the best to you,

  3. Becca, I have been experiencing an impulse to visit your site for days and now that I am here it is plain to see why. The sparkle you resonate -in the present header image above- brings calm to a tumultuous ocean. Both black and blues do you justice but this maroon dress enhances your beauty all the more.

    How wonderful to hear that you’ll be teaching a course on The Lord of the Rings. You will certainly be in your element. Let me know if you require any help putting together video content for your sessions; the poems in particular are especially lovely to work with.

    Kind regards,


  4. I’m a Mormon. As a Mormon, I’ve been enchanted through “fantasy” (the Book of Mormon) since I was a child. Then, a man named Daymon Smith introduced me to Tolkien. That took me on a journey to the Land of Fae and everything beautiful about Lord of The Rings and the realm of Middle-Earth. Then, I was introduced to “Words of the Faithful” as told by Pengoldh-I-Earnu (see: and my world was turned upside down in the best way possible.

    I am looking forward to continuing my journey of enchantment and imagination through your course, Dr. Tarnas.

    1. Jaxon, this is a fascinating article you have shared and I am curious about the related story that has been published. The Númenor narrative has always been extremely compelling to me, and I have been amazed how it reflects so many myths and legends from around the world. This text adds yet another to that list.

      I will be delighted to have you as part of my course. Thank you for reaching out!

      1. My apologies! I hadn’t noticed you responded. The text purports to be dictated by Pengolodh to the scribe, Dr. Daymon Smith.

        There are a lot of parts of Tolkien’s cosmology that can be woven into Mormon Cosmology (specifically what is referred to as “The Book of Abraham”).

        Daymon Smith’s work – and it’s claims – encourage readers to take seriously Tolkien’s works.

        I’m so grateful for your course! It has been wonderful. I’m looking forward to the next session and subsequent course(s).

  5. Hi Becca, This course looks amazing. Unfortunately my work schedule will not allow me to be present for many of the live q&a sessions, including the initial one on the 24th. Will they be recorded and available to watch at a later time?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: