This website is dedicated to, and was inspired by, Michelle Catlyn O’Shea (February 18, 1976–October 26, 2009). I created it in 2003, originally on Angelfire, when Michelle was still a part of my life, to explore the magical world of Tolkien, whose writings had brought us together. Michelle was born totally blind, and was full of stories about growing up on her family’s farm on the shores of Henderson Inlet (an arm of Puget Sound, Washington State), with her three older brothers, Larry, Rick and Pat, and her horse, Copper. She told me that as a child she would regularly meet and speak with the Elves who lived in the woods, who informed her that she too was an Elf – hence her chosen user name when I first met her online in February 2002 – ‘Darkelf’ – after the Moriquendi, who had never seen the light of the Two Trees. For most of the next two years, with one long gap, we spoke almost every day, often for many hours.
In March 2002, with her young daughter, Kathleen (born October 30, 1999), Michelle moved to Las Vegas, to become a teacher of deaf and blind children, and also to escape her abusive ex-partner. In December she suddenly vanished and I heard nothing from her until October 2003, when she was admitted to hospital with a brain tumour. She had collapsed in her classroom around the time we lost contact, and had been sick for most of the year since then. She was moved to a specialist unit in California, where she spoke to me daily from her hospital bed, her voice becoming ever more slurred as the chemotherapy took hold. The operation to remove the tumour left her paralysed from the waist down, and in January 2004 she was discharged and taken back to her family home. We lost touch again, and it wasn't until many years later, after tracking down her family, that I learned that the cancer had returned and she had finally passed to the Undying Lands in 2009, aged 33.
For many years, since O’Shea was not their name, it proved impossible to trace Michelle’s family and their farm. The ‘lucky break’ came via Facebook in 2010. The woods where she met and spoke with the Elves while growing up are clearly visible on the map below, as is the western shoreline of Henderson Inlet, where the local Indian tribes who once inhabited the region had left huge piles of discarded shells. Some of this land is now part of the Woodard Bay Conservation Area.
7816 Libby Rd NE, Olympia, WA 98506
The Esterly Farm (bottom left), the woods and the shore
Henderson Inlet, from the north (farm is on the right, inland)
The photos on the left are a selection of those that Michelle shared with me during 2002 (most of which were taken by her uncle on a trip to San Diego in 2001). The poems below, reproduced exactly as written, are those that I sent to Michelle on the dates indicated.
You are the life of the flowers and trees You are the bird song and buzzing of bees You are the fishes that swim in the sea You are the animals all running free You are the scent of the forest at dawn You are the wind and the rain in a storm You are the laughter of children at play You are the warmth of the sunlight in day You are the spray of the babbling brook You are the magic wherever I look You are the moon and the stars up above You are the true living essence of love You are the music that touches my soul You are the healer who makes me feel whole You are the bringer of all that is kind You are the infinite love that is blind You are the goddess who walks through the night You are the dark elf who shows me the light You are the land that is calling to me You are the place where I’m longing to be You are the girl who can still make me cry You are the woman I’ll love till I die
There was once a horseman who rode across broad lands on his horse He rode and rode for years and years, seeking and searching All alone was this horseman with his trusty horse Across plains and fields of wheat he rode Up lofty mountains and through valleys of corn In the heat of summer he rode, and also in the cool breeze of autumn He rode through the frosts of winter and the life of the springtime Searching and seeking, looking for something Then one fine day with the sun high in the sky and the gentle breeze on his face he came across a forest He stepped down from his horse and led him into the wood Winding paths inside the forest led the horseman deeper and deeper into the woods He smelled the wild flowers and mushrooms all around him Through oak and ash and thorn he walked, getting ever deeper And then he heard the sound of a river in the distance, fast flowing and proud He followed that sound, along the winding paths Eventually he came upon an enchanted glade by the water’s edge In the middle of the glade was a rock covered in moss And sitting upon that rock was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen An elf maiden with long flowing locks of golden hair And the horseman knew that he had found what he had been searching for his whole life He walked over to the elf maiden and knelt in front of her He kissed her feet and said I am yours forever
You can hear the cries of seagulls high above as you glide through the cool night air with the wind in your face. The smell of the ocean fills you with its briny taste, and your hair is streaming behind you in all its glorious brilliance in the silvery light of the moon. You are the beautiful princess of the elves flying home to celebrate the ancient feast of Samhain in the land of your ancestors, the magical land where all things dreamed are possible. As you approach the shore you can hear the sound of distant drums on the hill tops, accompanied by the music of pipes and the singing of your elven kin folk. They are welcoming home their long lost daughter who went to dwell in the far west, on the very edge of the known world where the sky meets the sea and the forest reaches down to the water’s edge. You follow the acrid smell of the bonfires which have been lit to guide you to the place of meeting, the ancient place where countless generations of your people have gathered on this very night to mark the turning of the year, and to commune with those who have gone before. At last you arrive, and come to rest in the centre of the ancient circle of stones, which were old when the world was young and which will still be standing when all the fragile creations of mankind have been swept into the sea. As you touch down on the damp grass a pair of strong arms takes hold of you, and you feel such a blissful sense of warmth and safety. The arms that have found you are those of your wild horseman of the moon, who has waited his whole life for this moment. You can feel his long hair as it dangles over your body, and you can smell his musky aroma all around you. He takes you by the hand and together you walk from the stone circle and into the nearby forest, where ash and oak and elm trees grow thick and fast, protecting all those who would come with love in their hearts. Your wild horseman leads you through paths as yet untrodden by mortal feet, deep into the heart of the forest where none have ventured before. Soon the singing of your kin folk fades into the distance, and you are alone with your horseman deep in the forest. You smell the pungent aroma of the undergrowth beneath your feet, the forest flowers and plants all vying with each other for your attention. At last you reach a secret clearing beside a river, where you walk though the tall grass, safe in the arms of your horseman. Your skin tingles whenever he touches it and your very soul is aflame with desire. He stops walking and gently strokes your face. You move closer and your lips meet in a passionate kiss which lifts your soul into the realms of pure ecstasy, as he folds his arms around you so that your breasts are pressed against his chest. You can feel his heart beating fast and strong in time with yours, two hearts beating as one through all eternity. This is the moment that will last forever. Together you lie down in the tall grass with the sound of the river still in your ears. He kisses you again and the world begins to spiral in an ageless dance of love which transcends all else. Your body is quivering with anticipation and your soul is ready for union with the cosmos. Your horseman enters the gates of paradise and sends you to a magical realm of sensation that you cannot even begin to describe. You are flying together on the winds of passion and floating on an endless ocean of love. Nothing will ever spoil this perfect and eternal moment of pure bliss, this merging of two souls into one immortal being, this magical act of union that is more powerful than anything else that exists. You are a natural creature of the earth and you have entered into communion with the whole of eternity. You are a goddess
There is a wistful fairy living deep inside the wood And everything she ever does is magical and good I love that little fairy more than anything I know I’ll follow her for ever more wherever she may go There is a wistful fairy living deep inside the wood And everything she ever does is magical and good I love that little fairy with all my heart and soul It’s only when I’m with her that I can feel whole There is a wistful fairy living deep inside the wood And everything she ever does is magical and good I love that little fairy so much more than my own life And one fine day I know for sure that she will be my wife
For Michelle, the music and lyrics of the Moody Blues constituted an entire spiritual philosophy – though she loved other artists too, such as Sally Oldfield (e.g. Nenya), and the German New Age musician Deuter. The Moody Blues, formed in Birmingham, England, comprised in their classic period Justin Hayward, Mike Pinder, John Lodge, Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge. During this time they wrote seven albums: Days of Future Passed (1967), In Search of the Lost Chord (1968), On the Threshold of a Dream (1969), To Our Children’s Children’s Children (1969), A Question of Balance (1970), Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971) and Seventh Sojourn (1972). The other great, indeed profound, influence on Michelle’s worldview came from the paranormal radio talk shows of Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM– himselfabig fanoftheMoodyBlues. Subjects covered on his shows included UFOs, aliens, ghosts, conspiracies, alternative science and weird phenomena in general. Art Bell later left Coast to Coast AM and sadly, Michelle did not live to hear his new (albeit short-lived) show on Sirius XM Radio, Dark Matter.