A few friends and I get together periodically for what we call Entmoots.
An entmoot is basically a gathering of incredibly wise trees.
Anyone who has read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings knows what I am talking about. I have read this trilogy twice through and I will read it yet again, even after seeing all of the Jackson movies with my fellow Ents.
Etymologically, the word “moot” is an archaic term meaning “argue, debate, discuss.” In early English history a moot was a meeting held to discuss local affairs. Moot comes from the Old English gemot, meaning “meeting.”
Tolkien [an accomplished philologist... some of his wordwork even finding its way into the Oxford English dictionary you know... like the words warm, wasp, water, wick, wallop, waggle, winter, walnut, wampum and walrus... the definitions are his] simply tacked on this ancient word moot, suffixed it, if you will, to his wonderful creation, the Ent. In his trilogy, Ents were the Guardians of the Forest and the Shepherds of Trees. Half man and half trees, they were fourteen feet tall [this was average Ent-height... some were bigger yes, but Jackson colossally exaggerated their height for the movie... much as he gave the characters portrayed by Liv Tyler and Kate Blanchett much more airtime than the books do], and the eldest had lived in Middle-earth for nine Ages of Stars and the Sun. I think of them as horticultural Pegasuses.
Lord of the Ents was Fangorn, who in the common tongue was called Treebeard. He was one of the tallest, and definitely the wisest of Ents. Treebeard was rough-barked, with huge branches for arms, a long sweeping green beard of foliage, and his seven-fingered hands were gnarled and knotted.
Aside from their rare Entmoots, the Ents were a solitary folk, living apart from one another in isolated Ent houses in the great forests and some Ents had Entwives.
The houses were often cave-like, and needed to be plentifully supplied with spring water. Here they took their meals, not solid food but a glowing liquid (Ent-draughts) stored in great stone jars. Almost immortal, they were an incredibly peaceable bunch, and lived in Middle-earth through many eons of relative quietness.
However, in the year 3019, Treebeard met the wandering hobbits Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took (or rather.... they met him, if anyone recalls the story) and it was then that he learned of the evil wizard Saruman’s new policy of clear-cutting that was going on in Fangorn. Saruman was waging war from his stronghold in Isengard, and his vicious horde of foul jibberish-yapping Orcs were hacking away at the forest of Fangorn.
Note to Self: Never tick off a tree that is like twenty feet tall and half-human.
When Treebeard understands what is happening he is greatly miffed. It rustles his leaves. He wants to pluck his roots out by their..... roots! His sap is soured! His twig is snapped. He gets all bent out of shape.
And he calls an Entmoot.
On the morning of February 30, Treebeard carried the two hobbits to Derndingle in southwestern Fangorn, the site of the Entmoot. Here they were met by about fifty Ents, give or take a branch or two. The first result of their Ent-mumblings was a conclusion that Merry and Pippin were not Orcs, and furthermore, whatever they were, they should be added to the approved Ent-list of living creatures. Treebeard then explained matters concerning Saruman to the other Ents so they could come to a decision. Quickbeam, one of the youngest of the Ents, quickly took it upon himself to be the personal protector of the two hobbit lads.
The Entmoot lasted for three days. [Our modern-day coffee-shop ones are much shorter, and much less decisive and drastic in their conclusions]. Merry and Pippin could hear the voices rising and falling as the Ents debated. Then suddenly, on the afternoon of March 2, there was an ominous silence followed by a great shout. The Ents had decided to go to war against Saruman. They marched out of Derndingle, south toward Isengard, singing as they went. On their way they were joined by the Huorns, the Tree-spirits whom the Ents commanded and whose strength was nearly as great as their own. Entish wrath was unleashed, I say! It was called the Battle of the Hornburg.
And man did they kick butt!
After the War of the Ring, the Ents lived on peacefully in the Entwood, yet they continued to wane and the Fourth Age was believed to be their last.
Anyone who knows a bit about Tolkien knows that he was incredibly fond of trees. Indeed, people described him as somewhat treelike! I have always loved this quote, this self-confession of the man himself:
"I am in fact a hobbit in all but size. I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much."
One day I believe I would like to write an essay on The Entlike Nature of Tolkien.
So we have these monthly meetings, me and the guys. They are always fun, provocative, and interesting in their combined murmurings.
In a word, they are entifying.