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Tolkien at the End of Time;
Alchemical Secrets of The Lord of the Rings

By Jay Weidner and Sharron Rose

http://www.sacredmysteries.com/SharronTolkien1.htm

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Introduction
 

It seems a simple story.

At first glance it appears to be nothing more than a very long fairy tale about good and evil. Peopled with Elves, Dwarves, Wizards, Monsters and more, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was not considered a great work of literature when it first appeared in 1954. Now it is hailed as the book of the 20th century. What is it about this book that caused it to be such a sensation? Why does it create such a warmth and resonance in the hearts of its readers? Our answer to these and other questions to be discussed in the course of this article is that Tolkien was aware of the hidden esoteric history of humanity and the powerful influence of the Great Work of Alchemy on European culture.

Using Tolkien's splendid tale as a tool, this article will reveal that like the great masters of old, Tolkien is initiating us into a new level of awareness of our past, ourselves and the planet we inhabit. It will also reveal that Tolkien somehow knew the deepest secrets of Alchemy and embedded this mysterious knowledge into the heart of his work. This is the real reason why The Lord of the Rings has such a great and universal appeal, for it is our true history and secret heritage that is being revealed to us through its pages. Tolkien has mined a deep vein of mythic resonance that rings true to all who delve deeply into this extraordinary work of Art.

In a fantastic land called Middle-earth a young Hobbit named Frodo becomes entangled in an all-consuming spiritual and political war that ultimately changes the entire face of the world. As documented in Tolkien's first book, The Hobbit, by way of his uncle Bilbo's adventures, Frodo has acquired a mysterious Ring. Through the efforts of his friend Gandalf the Wizard, Frodo comes to understand that this Ring, forged in an earlier Age by the evil Sauron in the subterranean fires of Mt. Doom, not only grants its bearer the power of invisibility, and possibly immortality, but also holds the key to the dominion of Middle-earth.

With all of the odds against him, Frodo, the modest, sincere and good-natured Hobbit of the Shire embarks on a quest to destroy this ill-omened Ring of Power. Although he has little to gain and much to lose by destroying the Ring, Frodo nevertheless is ultimately successful in his quest. Despite being hunted by thousands of Orcs, lost in an unknown wilderness with only the assistance of his friend and gardener Sam and the shifty covetous creature named Gollum, Frodo selflessly moves towards the ultimate conclusion of the tale in which the great Ring of Power and domination is destroyed in the blazing underground inferno of Mt. Doom.

This destruction of the Ring of Power appears to have unintended consequences that bring forth what Tolkien describes as the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth. At the conclusion of this compelling story of good and evil, heroes and villains, magic and mystery, all of the fantastic inhabitants of Middle-earth, Wizards, Elves, Dwarves, and Ents disappear from the landscape of Middle-earth leaving the next Age, the Fourth Age to be ruled by Men. Aragorn, the most noble of the human race, is crowned King of Middle-earth and Men become the ultimate victors of this Great War against Sauron and his agent Sauruman that ends the Third Age of Middle-earth.

When Lord of the Rings was published in 1954 no one, including J.R.R. Tolkien himself ever dreamed that his trilogy would go on to sell millions and millions of copies, be translated into nearly every language on earth, and turned into one of the biggest motion picture projects ever undertaken.

What is it about this simple story that could cause such an enormous reaction? How is it possible that a simple fairy tale of a selfless little Hobbit saving the world from ultimate evil could be heralded as the greatest work of literature in the twentieth century? Why do the books and the subsequent film resonate so vividly in the hearts, minds and perhaps the souls of nearly all of us? And who is J.R.R. Tolkien? Did he intentionally write this story knowing the powerful impact it would have on the reader? Our contention is that Tolkien somehow, someway had personal knowledge of the pre-history of our planet and the extraordinary fact that at this point in time, human history is moving irrevocably towards the end of what is known by the mystics from many of the world's great spiritual traditions as the Fourth Age of Humanity, just as The Lord of the Rings relates the story of the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth. In this context you will not only come to understand the fundamental story that is being told to us, the mytho-poeic story and its relevance to our lives, but also why Tolkien time and time again insisted that The Lord of the Rings is not an allegory.

Part One ­ Rings of Time:

The Four Ages, the Precession of the Equinoxes and the Quality of Time

In contrast to the materially based teachings offered to us by today's schools and institutions of higher learning, the teachings of Alchemy (which flowed from Egypt into the mystic heart of the Hebrew, Islamic and Christian traditions) as well as the Tantric teachings of India and Tibet, present a deeply spiritual view of human history and evolution. As documented in the book, The Path of the Priestess; A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine, by Sharron Rose, this view is completely at variance with that of the modern scientific Darwinian perspective.1 Rather than perceive past and future from a purely linear point of view, the great adepts, and masters of these ancient spiritually based traditions, knew that the flow of time and human experience is not linear but cyclic. In other words, in the same way that we as human beings experience the ebb and flow of cycles such as the seasons of nature, the phases of the moon, birth, growth, maturation and death, humanity, as a whole, experiences the rise and fall of a larger cycle of existence known as the Maha Yuga. This Maha Yuga or Great Cycle is composed of four ages known as the Satya Yuga, or Golden Age, the Treta Yuga or Silver Age, the Dvapara Yuga or Bronze Age and the Kali Yuga or Iron Age.

The teachings state that as this cycle begins, the world and all of its inhabitants are totally aligned with deep spiritual principles, the natural world and shimmering realms of Divinity. It is a time of unity, splendor, grace and luminosity. However, as the cycle unfolds and these Ages metaphorically progress, from gold to silver to bronze to iron, the bulk of humanity moves further and further away from this pure, unsullied, essential knowledge and experience of spirit. As time moves on, there is a gradual distancing from the Primordial Source and descent towards an age of total materialization and concretization. With each successive Age, faith, integrity, and allegiance to spiritual values is decreased by one-fourth. The veils between the realms of spirit and matter become thicker, and our resistance to the forces of darkness becomes weaker. By the final Age of the cycle, the pure light of spirit is all but extinguished. Only a quarter of the original Divine energy of truth, virtue and integrity remains and even that energy diminishes with the unfolding of the final Age. This final stage of the cycle, in which we now reside, is known as the Iron Age. According to the texts, it is the Age our race has lived in for at least 6000 years. It is the period of time known to us today as history.

In the recently published book Mysteries of the Great Cross at Hendaye; Alchemy and the End of Time, by Jay Weidner and Vincent Bridges, a mysterious cross in the town of Hendaye, in the south of France is deciphered. Built three hundred fifty years ago by an alchemist, the Cross of Hendaye encodes detailed knowledge of the Alchemical Revelation of the Four Ages.

While the exact details are to be found in that book, it can be generally stated that the Cross of Hendaye reveals that the center of the galaxy's alignment is a giant cosmological clock that marks the quality of time, the precession of the equinoxes and the Four Great Ages. A close reading of Tolkien's books reveals his obsession with these Ages and in particular the transition from the Third Age to the Fourth Age, the Age of Men, Machines and Power. 2

On the Winter Solstice of 2012, the center of the galaxy will helically rise with the morning sun.

According to scholar John Major Jenkins, this moment marks the end of the Mayan calendar. 3 Strangely enough, the Cross of Hendaye, also appears to be indicating this same general time frame. Both of these ancient chronological systems appear to find great importance in the helical rising of the center of the galaxy in 2012. The enigmatic French alchemist Fulcanelli, in his classic Le Mystère Des Cathédrales unquestionably tells the reader that the Cross of Hendaye is marking the end of the Iron Age, the last of the Four Great Ages. 4 According to ancient lore the Iron Age is an Age where the world turns to steel, black magic becomes religion and Men lust for control and dominion over both human beings and the very earth itself. The earth, the air and the water become polluted. Wars, famines, and plagues envelop the human race. Time itself speeds up until exhausted, the world and the Age come to an end and a new cycle begins. These are many of the events that also occur at the end of each of the Second and Third Ages of The Lord of the Rings for each is in essence a microcosm of the entire cycle. Tolkien uses this concept of the upheaval that occurs at the end of each Age as his backdrop to the story of Frodo and the Ring.

These Four Ages according to Fulcanelli, the Cross of Hendaye and many ancient texts, are mapped by the twelve signs of the zodiac. Like the numbers on a clock the Golden Age begins when the hand passes the twelve. The next age, or Silver Age occurs when the hand passes three, the Bronze Age, or Third Age, begins when the hand passes six and the Iron Age, or last Age begins when the hand passes nine. Each of these four quadrants is marked by one of the main signs of the zodiac, Scorpio, Taurus, Leo and Aquarius.

Perhaps this fact is not well known to all of you but the twelve signs of the zodiac are actually marking the process called the precession of the equinox. The earth is tilted in space at 23 degrees. It wobbles slowly on its central axis like a spinning top. This backward wobble is so slow that it takes 72 years for it to pass through one degree of the circumference of the wobble. In other words, if a certain star such as Sirius was rising over a certain point, say a nearby mountain peak on the day you were born, it would take 72 years for the rising of Sirius to move one degree away from that same point on that same day of the year.

The fact that the stars were not fixed in the heaven but were slowly moving backwards is not only central to understanding the alchemical thesis but was perhaps the greatest single secret being taught in the mystery schools of Egypt, Greece and India. The common exoteric knowledge was that the sky was fixed and unchanging. But the adepts and esoteric masters knew that even the heavens were in motion. Since the movement of the stars was so slow the only possible way to map the precession of the equinoxes was through many generations, each successive generation continued this extensive and valuable work. Slowly, over many centuries, the exact map of the precession of the equinoxes was drawn. These clever priests/scientists/initiates had come to realize that it took an enormous amount of time, approximately 26,000 years, to go through one complete precession. So they divided up the nearly 26,000 yearlong cycle into twelve segments affixing a zodiacal 'month' to every 2,160 years in each of the signs. Therefore, if you begin your precession count at Aquarius it will take twelve times 2,160 or 25,920 years for Aquarius to return to its original position again.

The members of these ancient Mystery Schools also began noticing that a change in the quality of time, i.e. which sign or zodiacal 'month' you were in, also caused a change on the surface of the earth and in behavior patterns of humans, plants and animals. Being part of an initiatic organization such as the priesthood or sacred society, whose wisdom was handed down through a direct chain of transmission from master to student, their rituals, studies and training allowed them to be privy to an extraordinary body of knowledge. This knowledge enabled them to commune with the forces of nature and the more subtle beings of their reality. What we refer to today as extra-sensory or paranormal abilities such as clairvoyance, telekinesis, telepathy, and the capacity to journey in dreams and visions across the planet, to the stars, into other dimensions and even through the veils of time itself were as commonplace to them as surfing the internet is to people of our modern world. 5

Using a combination of observation, meditation, contemplation and discussion, the initiates of these Mystery Schools chronicled human behavior patterns, plant cycles, animal behavior, and a sundry of other physical, emotional and mental occurrences, signs and portents that allowed them to recognize the unique nature, quality and characteristics of each of the twelve signs. From their observations they became aware that each place on the giant zodiacal clock brought forth its own traits and manifestations just as high noon is different than sunrise. They also noticed that at the cusp of the four great signs these changes in behavior, growth, etc. were more clearly pronounced. Indeed, it appeared to them that each of the four aspects of this great cycle actually brought forth different types of beings, different types of behavior. They also observed and chronicled the changing relationship of humanity to the physical and spiritual dimensions of reality noticing that as the Ages unfolded, the world and its beings were actuality densifying. As a result of this densification, with each successive Age, humanity began to focus to a greater and greater extent on the material world and lose touch with the more subtle realms of spirit. The knowledge accrued from these observations eventually became known as the Sacred Science of Alchemy.

To describe the unique qualities and attributes of each of these Ages, these Sacred Scientists used the symbolic language of metals - gold, silver, bronze and iron. Interestingly, these four metals gain molecular density as they move from gold to iron. So it would seem, according to this paradigm that as the Four Ages unfold, gravity is increased and the packing of molecules becomes denser. And now, if the Cross of Hendaye, the writings of Fulcanelli and the work of John Major Jenkins, as well as our own research into Alchemy and Tantra is correct, we are at the end of the Fourth Age, the Age of Iron. But what does this really mean? Is it the literal 'end of the world' as chronicled in mystical texts from the Book of Revelations, to the Corpus Hermeticum of the alchemists, to the Tantras of India, and the teachings of Shamanic cultures throughout the world? Or does it indicate a time of great change and renewal? If, the ultimate alchemical goal is the transformation of lead into gold, then the end of the Iron Age can only herald the dawn of the Golden Age. This is the Age when the fulfillment of humanities true purpose on earth and the full flowering of the primary vision of the Creator becomes manifest. For as any alchemist will tell you, out of the depths of darkness comes the greatest light.

Upon reading The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and other works of J.R.R. Tolkien, it is clear that these questions gave him much fuel for contemplation. There are so many parallels between Tolkien's work and alchemical knowledge that one cannot help but surmise that he must have been aware of this ancient view of the Ages with its unique perspective on creation, history and the pre-history of humanity and deftly wove it into the very fabric of his tales.

His epic tale The Silmarillion presents Tolkien's cosmology from the beginning of Creation to the Third Age of Middle-Earth. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is really a documentation of the transition from the Third Age to the Fourth. According to the alchemical lore, the period that we consider 'history' equates with the beginning of the Fourth Age, or 6,500 years ago. Myths and legends that concern the events and experiences that happened prior to this time period are said to have taken pace in 'pre-history'. Tolkien states that imaginatively his 'history' is supposed to take place in a period of the actual Old World of this planet. 6 Interestingly, this is nearly the same time that Tolkien dates the events that unfold in The Lord of the Rings.

Through a unique constellation of innate gifts, experiences and other factors, which led to a deep philosophical understanding of the forces that shape our reality, J.R.R. Tolkien was able to become a witness to, and documenter of, the deeply profound spiritual history of humanity, especially that of the English, Celtic and Northern Peoples of Europe. He describes these gifts as a 'sensibility to linguistic patterns', which have an emotional effect on him in the same manner as color or music; the 'passionate love of growing things' and a 'deep response to legends that have what he called the North-western temper and temperature.' 7 Having being drawn to and immersing himself in the beauty and power of the great epics of Greece, Scandinavia, Finland, Germany and more, he wanted to ' restore to the English an epic tradition and present them with a mythology of their own."8 In a letter to his friend Milton Waldman dated 1951 that can be found at the beginning of The Silmarillion, Tolkien states,

" I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of it's own (bound up with it's tongue and soil), not of the quality that I sought, and found (as an ingredient) in legends of other lands.". "Once upon a time, I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic-fairy-story ­ the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths ­ which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country. "

From the tremendous response to The Lord of the Rings that continues to grow and swell with time, it is clear that in this noble and heroic task, J.R.R. Tolkien has achieved his goal. For in this monumental work he has struck a chord that resonates deep within the hearts of so many of us.

The Language of the Birds

What is it about The Rings Trilogy that touches our hearts so deeply? It is the subtlety, grace and eloquence of Tolkien's language, the manner in which it speaks to us of wistful memories of an Age gone by. That is really what makes the books so appealing. From childhood, Tolkien had a gift for creating 'imaginary' languages. This gift, which lay at the root of his work, this ability to attune his ears and inner sensibility to those of a more subtle vibratory frequency, naturally led him to take up philology (the study of language) as his profession. This scholarship allowed him to trace words, expressions and vernacular backwards through history and culture to their root source. This research into the roots of language, known in the alchemical lore as the 'Language of the Birds' or 'Language of the Gods', would logically lead him to ponder the hidden mysteries or secret messages which have been passed down from the ancients through the vehicle of the spoken and written word.

In Le Mystère des Cathédrales, Fulcanelli describes this sacred language or argot as, " the language which teaches the mystery of things and unveils the most hidden truths." He tells us that it was the 'parent and doyen' of all languages, that it was the "knowledge of this language which Jesus revealed to his Apostles, by sending them his spirit, the Holy Ghost, " and that "tradition assures us that men spoke it before the building of the Tower of Babel, " an event which Fulcanelli describes as causing this "sacred language to be perverted and to be totally forgotten by the greater part of humanity". 9 Fulcanelli also tells us that this arcane language of the spirit uses the law of phonetics in which the ear of the listener and eye of the reader is focused upon sound and meaning rather than spelling.10 Through his lifetime of research and attunement to the sacred origins of language, through the art of 'listening' and pondering the relationship of sound to manifestation, communication and the origins of the root language of a race, Tolkien came to realize that each name, word and descriptive phrase was the current manifestation of a cultural tapestry that wove itself backwards through thousands of years of history.

In other words, his study of the history of language placed Tolkien at the paragon of arcane knowledge that, once decoded, revealed the secret history of our race. The Bible tells us that," In the beginning was the word" and it was through his studies into the origins and development of words and language, as well as the great legends of ancient civilizations that Tolkien came to understand the way that a culture is shaped and re-shaped through history. The 'quality' of time would also have been revealed to him through his study of the history of linguistic meaning. As words are reshaped they reflect the 'quality' of their era. Like anyone who delves ever more deeply backwards into history, Tolkien came upon the essential questions; Who/what are the forces that shape and re-shape history? What is their source? What is their fundamental purpose? What is our relationship to these powerful forces? Who are we?

While pondering questions such as these, Tolkien came to understand that it was very likely that, once upon a time, what we today would consider strange and magical forms of sentient beings, did exist in our world. Elves, Dwarves, Wizards and possibly even Hobbits, or creatures very much like them, appeared to be embedded in the languages that he studied. Whether Tolkien actually believed that these creatures existed in our past is not as important as the fact that his understanding of philology revealed their presence. Did his attunement to the subtle vibratory frequencies of sound, an attunement more refined than the majority of humanity cares to experience in this Age of the Machine, allow him to travel back in time to a former Age of our world to perceive the presence of creatures such as these?

Tolkien himself describes the process by which he created/documented his story as a linking together of tales that arose in his mind as 'given' things, a record of "what was already 'there' somewhere, not of 'inventing'." 11 By listening to and contemplating the fundamental sounds or seed syllables of words drawn from ancient European culture, was Tolkien tuning in to the essential spirit of Old Europe and the voices of his ancestors? In a letter dated 7 September 1955, Tolkien tells us,

"..the name Frodo is a real name from the German tradition. Its Old English form was Froda. Its obvious connection with the old word frod, meaning etymologically 'wise by experience', but it had mythological connexions with legends of the Golden Age of the North."

From his philological research, and immersion into the teachings of Catholicism, which have their root source in the Old Testament of the Hebrews and the story of Genesis, Tolkien must have become aware that each sound has a corresponding essence/ vibratory frequency that brings thought into manifestation. He could even have known about the debate on the nature of sound and words that took place in the Middle Ages between the Realists and Nominalists on the metaphysical significance of language. As eloquently documented by philosopher and cultural historian Jeremy Naydler in his book Temple of the Cosmos, the Realists argued from the perspective that all sounds are sacred, having their origins in the Divine. For them as for the great Alchemical and Tantric adepts, and Kabbalistic, Sufi and Christian mystics, words, express by their very nature, the spiritual essence of a thing. In contrast, the secularly oriented Nominalists insisted that words are merely a product of human convention, arbitrarily created by human beings for the purpose of convenience and communication. From their viewpoint, words have no connection whatsoever to the inner nature of things. 12 Due to this 'victory' of the Nominalists, the vast majority of Europeans lost their connection to one of the greatest mysteries of their tradition, and heritage - knowledge of the truly sacred nature of sound and language. But Tolkien, whose years of linguistic research and decipherment had re-tuned his sensibilities, clearly had intimate knowledge of this ancient spiritually oriented view of the role of sound in the creation and manifestation of reality. In The Silmarillion he describes the process of creation in a manner that corresponds to creation myths from numerous ancient cultures across the planet,

"In the beginning, Eru, the One, who in Elvish tongue is named Ilúvatar, made the Ainur of his thought; and they made a great music before him. In this Music the World was begun: for Ilúvatar made visible the song of the Ainur, and they beheld it as a light in the darkness. And many among them became enamoured of its beauty, and of its history which they saw beginning and unfolding as in a vision. Therefore, Ilúvatar gave to their vision Being, and set it amid the Void, and the Secret Fire was sent to burn at the heart of the World. "

Fulcanelli calls the secret fire an 'occult agent, which to give a hint about its form, is more like water than flame." He states that, "This fire or burning water is the vital spark communicated by the Creator to inert matter, it is the spirit enclosed within things. "13 He also refers to the secret fire as "the universal spirit that allows the artist or alchemist, the 'imitator of Nature and of the Divine Great Work to separate in his little world the luminous, clear, crystalline parts from the dark, course and dense parts. "14

Gandalf the Wizard was very likely modeled after the tales of the Alchemical Masters of old. He plays a prominent role in the story of the Third Age of Middle-earth. During his confrontation with the monstrous Balrog in the depths of Moria, he refers to himself as the 'servant of the secret fire'. Tolkien in a letter to Robert Murray, dated 4 November 1954, describes Gandalf as well as the other wizards as 'incarnate angels' sent to Middle-earth in the Third Age as stewards and emissaries to assist Elves and Men in their resistance to the forces of darkness as the next challenge for its dominion by the Dark Lord Sauron begins to materialize. Reminiscent of the primary goals of the great Alchemical Masters, the fundamental role of the Wizards as conceived by Tolkien is to foster, nourish and strengthen this universal spirit within humanity by educating them, advising them and keeping their hearts and minds continuously focused upon the ' Way of the Light'. They are, in essence, the 'Hermetic Brotherhood' of Alchemy. Through this sacred endeavor, the courage and fortitude to resist the enticements of the dark forces that inevitably arise both within and without will be reinforced, and the essential mission of the Divine Great Work, that of keeping the vital spark of the secret fire pure and uncontaminated will be fulfilled.

In Tolkien's tale, as in our world, even the great masters are capable of error with its inexorable descent into darkness. The wizards Gandalf and the powerful leader of his order Saruman, like those that adorn the pages of the alchemical lore, are not exempt from being tested. By weaving the story of Gandalf's continuous struggle towards the light as demonstrated in his self-sacrificing acts contrasted with the egregious, self-aggrandizing acts of the fallen Sauruman, Tolkien is again bringing into focus the unavoidable choice that befalls each and every one of us no matter how far we rise in knowledge, power and influence. But by sacrificing himself Gandalf not only saves Frodo, the Ring and the Fellowship but he is turned from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White. It is this selfless act that transforms him and gives him a greater degree of wisdom and power than ever before. For this battle with and victory over the Balrog through the depths of the underworld allows him to become an even greater 'servant of the light' who can more effectively challenge the dark, corrupted power of Sauruman. 15

Is it possible that through his research, Tolkien uncovered the magical 'Language of the Birds', and discovered that the fabled lore of Alchemy also appeared to resonate through these languages? It is clear that through this knowledge of alchemical lore, Tolkien also couldn't have helped but notice that the weave of language appeared to be growing tighter as these languages approached the Modern Age, that language, like our culture, our bodies and the earth itself appears to be densifying through time and the Four Ages of Humanity.

Tolkien's Cosmology ­

The Story of the Ages and the Perpetual Battle of Good and Evil

" I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear. There cannot be any ' story' without a fall ­ all stories are ultimately about the fall "

-J.R.R. Tolkien from the Preface to The Silmarillion

In Tolkien's cosmology, which takes us from the moment of creation to the beginnings of the Fourth Age of Middle-earth, the essential philosophical concerns that lie at the core of our reality are brought forward and elucidated upon through the story line, thoughts and actions of his characters, whether they be Elves, Wizards or Men. By being bequeathed the gift of 'free will' by the Creator, Tolkien's characters, like each and every one of us, is given the opportunity to choose between good and evil, egotism and selflessness, God and Satan- to follow the path of the light or fall into darkness and corruption. As in the epic legends such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata of India, the Kalivala of Finland and Norse mythology, in every Age of the world, there is a seduction by and fall towards darkness, with a corresponding battle between the forces of good and evil to set the world aright again for the people of the coming Age. The story of Tolkien's world, like that of our own, is one of the continuous battle of opposing forces, of light and darkness, good and evil, beauty and horror, magic and the machine.

To gain a greater perspective on The Rings Trilogy, one must take a look at Tolkien's history of the Ages. As in all great creation tales, the unfolding and development of the Ages begins with what he refers to as a cosmological myth. As documented in The Silmarillion, from the harmonic convergence of the Valar, (Primal Powers of the Creator) the creative vision of the Earth appears. In the same manner as the alchemical teachings of the Ages relates the story of the First or Golden Age as being the Age when the gods inhabit the earth, Tolkien's Valar, in order to fully manifest their vision, descend from the heavens and dwell upon the Earth, sometimes as beings of light, sometimes in material bodies. 16 At the utmost West of the world they create their home or Paradise known as Valinor and begin to prepare the Earth for the coming of God's Children, the Elves known as the 'First-born' and Men, known as the 'Followers'. But in Tolkien's ontology, as in many of the great epics, almost immediately there is a 'fall' by the greatest of the Valars named Melkor who later became known as Morgoth in the Elvin tongue. He was the original dark force who, during this First Age, perverted Sauron, one of the inhabitants of Valinor to his service, taking him as his chief servant and representative of evil. In his tale entitled Valaquenta from The Silmarillion, Tolkien describes this first 'fall' of Melkor,

" From splendour he fell through arrogance to contempt for all things save himself, a spirit wasteful and pitiless. Understanding he turned to subtlety in perverting to his own will all that he would use, until he became a liar without shame. He began with the desire of the Light, but when he could not possess it for himself alone, he descended though fire and wrath into a great burning, down into Darkness. And darkness he used most in his evil works upon Arda (Earth) and filled it with fear for all living things. " (S 31)

So from the beginning of the actual formation of the earth out of the music and vision of the Gods the corruption of the Divine Art of Creation began. Having fallen from grace in a manner reminiscent of the Demiurge of the Christian Gnostics, Melkor could never create of his own accord but merely produce counterfeit versions of pre-existing beings by twisting, distorting and manipulating those created by the One. In this way, he brought forth a rift into the world. For from the moment that he 'fell' and turned his face towards egotism and tyranny, Melkor became an irritant that could not be ignored.

With the coming of the spirit of Melkor into the world, the great epic of Middle-earth truly begins. Tolkien's First Age is primarily concerned with the story of the awakening, activities and 'fall' of many of the First-born Elves and their battles with Melkor and Sauron. This ultimately sets the stage for the expulsion of many of the Elves from Valinor/ Paradise and their first contact with the Men of Middle-earth. The First Age ends with the arousal of the Power of the Gods against Melkor and Sauron (inspired by the vision of Ragnarok from Norse mythology), the destruction of their realm and Melkor's expulsion from the World into the Void. As in the alchemical story of the Ages, the veils between the worlds begin to fall, and the sight of Paradise although still visible to the banished Elves from their Blessed Land of Eressëa is removed from the sight of Middle-earth.

Númenor/Atlantis and The Second Age of Middle-earth

The history of Tolkien's Second Age is primarily concerned with the rise and fall of Númenor, a tale that obviously corresponds to the story of the mythic isle of Atlantis that is so prominent in alchemical lore. Tolkien weaves this legend into his tale for a number of reasons but to a great part due to what he refers to as his 'Atlantis haunting'. In a letter to W.H. Auden, he describes his tale of Númenor as a "personal alteration of the Atlantic myth and/or tradition, and accommodation of it to my general mythology." He tells him,

"Of all the mythical or 'archetypal' images this is the one most deeply seated in my imagination, and for many years I had a recurrent Atlantis dream: the stupendous and ineluctable wave advancing from the Sea or over the land, sometimes dark, sometimes green and sunlit." 17

This dream of the great catastrophe that brings on the end of the Second Age, which haunted Tolkien from childhood, is given to Faramir of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings. Here again, Tolkien's design parallels that of Alchemy, for in the lore it is the fall of Atlantis that ends the Second Age or Silver Age known as the Age of Ritual.

It is in Númenor/ Atlantis that we first truly encounter the crucial issue of Death and Immortality, an issue of monumental importance in both Tolkien's work and the Great Work of Alchemy. In his cosmogony, Tolkien's deep-seated reflections on this subject are articulated through the relationship between God/the One and his Children, the 'First-born' Elves and Men the 'Followers'. In their creation he gives each race a natural life span that is unique to their biological and spiritual nature. To the Elves he gives extraordinary grace, insight, wisdom, and loveliness of face and form along with a corresponding ability to "conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children." In addition, the Creator gives them the much-coveted gift of immortality and states that, "theirs shall be the greater bliss in this world." 18

But in the end, this precious gift actually contains their doom. Tolkien tells us,

"The doom of the Elves is to be immortal, to love the beauty of the world, to bring it to full flower with their gifts of delicacy and perfection, to last while it lasts, never leaving even when 'slain', but returning ­ and yet, when the Followers come, to teach them, and make way for them, to 'fade' as the Followers grow and absorb the life from which both proceed."

Although they can be slain and return to the Blessed Lands, the Elves must remain in the world until the 'end of days', corresponding to the end of the Cyclic Ages of Time, and do not ultimately die until the world itself dies. And in this there is a great sorrow and poignancy. For as Tolkien states, in the end the Elves "live ultimately only by the thin line of blood that was mingled with that of Men, among whom it was the only real claim to nobility." 19

From this perspective, in Tolkien's world, at the end of the day, mortality, which many consider the curse of humanity is perceived as a crucial gift. In his tale entitled, Of the Beginning of Days from The Silmarrilion, Tolkien states,

"It is one with this gift of freedom that the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart whither the Elves know not. The sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Ilúvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy. Yet, of old, the Valar declared to the Elves in Valinor that Men shall join in the Second Music of the Ainur; whereas Ilúvatar has not revealed what he purposes for the Elves after the World's end."

From this statement we may infer that it was Tolkien's belief that even though we are mortal, human beings hold a unique and powerful position in the cycles of creation. For from his viewpoint human beings will not only continue to intertwine their energy and essence with that of the earth until the end of the current cycle, but will ultimately play a part in the creation of the next great cycle.

This theme of death and immortality supplies the focal point for Tolkien's tale of Númenor/Atlantis and the Second Age. In discussing his tale of the rise and fall of this great kingdom of Men he tells us that there were three distinct stages, which have clear parallels in the Atlantian myth. At the dawn of the Second Age, the good Men who had assisted the Elves in their battle against Melkor and Sauron were gifted with great wisdom and an extension of their life-span to that of three times of most mortals. However, understanding the innate weakness of Men, the nature of Time and how achievements in the material world may lead to attachment and corruption, the gods placed a ban on the Númenóreans; that they could never set foot on the 'immortal lands' or even sail towards them.

At first, the Men of Númenor, obedient to the laws of the Creator, did not attempt to sail West to the 'immortal lands' but throughout Middle-earth renewing and expanding their knowledge of the truth and the scope and nature of the World. All good Númenóreans, like their descendant the Dúnedain Aragorn, lived in alignment with the laws of the One and understood that death was not a punishment but an intrinsic part of the Creator's original design for them and like Aragorn died of 'free will' when they felt it was time to do so. 20 Yet, as the Second Age unfolded, and their knowledge of artistry, craftsmanship, and magic grew, rather than accept the beauty of this gift with grace and gratitude, many of the Númenóreans slowly began to perceive it with revulsion even coveting the gifts of the immortals. Living on an island, amidst the wide sea, they became masters of the art of ship-building and sea-craft. Restricted from sailing Westward to the Blessed Lands of the immortals, they began to set their sights to the east, south and north.

Therefore, the Númenóreans journeyed throughout Middle-earth bringing knowledge of agriculture, tool making, and more to the Men of Middle-earth, who came to look upon these tall and long-lived Sea Men as gods. But as their delight in the nature of their lives grew, so did their desire for life-everlasting and always at the back of their minds was a yearning for the undying lands of Elves and gods. And so their inner turmoil increased and their bliss was diminished. As their fear of death increased, their wise men spent their days in seeking out ways to prolong life, but like the ancient Egyptians, could only discover the art of mummification or the preservation of dead flesh. They began to build great tombs and their minds turned with increasing frequency towards power and wealth in the material world.

By the time Ar-Pharazôn, the twenty-fifth King of Númenor came to power, the Númenóreans had established great settlements upon Middle-earth and set themselves up as Kings and Lords of Men. But all this time, the influence of the Dark Shadow began to spread over Middle-earth, for even though Melkor had been physically imprisoned in the Void, his will remained active and the seeds of corruption he had planted continued to grow in his followers and especially his servant Sauron who, in this Second Age of Middle-earth, created and began to wield the One Ring, binding many to him. Hearing of Sauron's growing threat, desiring to have power and dominion over Middle-earth for himself, Ar-Pharazôn decided to make war upon Sauron and to take Sauron as his own servant.

Seeing the might of Númenor arrayed against him, Sauron who still retained beauty of form, power of persuasion and immense knowledge of the Black Arts, cleverly allowed himself to be taken hostage and brought to the great kingdom where after three years he had ingratiated himself with Ar-Pharazôn to the extent that he became the closest of the his counselors. Perceiving the desire for immortality, which lay at the core of the Kings discontent, Sauron spoke to him of the powers of Melkor the Dark Lord who could offer power beyond that of the Valar. Such was Sauron's gift of persuasion that Ar-Pharazôn turned his kingdom to the worship of Melkor and the dark, building a great temple where ghastly sacrifices were made to Melkor so that he should release them from Death. But Death did not depart from the Númenóreans, in fact amidst this evil it came sooner and a great madness came over the land. Ar-Pharazôn, now fully under the influence of Sauron, decided to sail to the land of the immortals to make war upon them. But as in every Age, the forces of goodness and truth still lived in the hearts of some. These were the ancestors of Aragorn, known as the Faithful. Amandil, their leader bid his family, Elendil, Isildur and the Faithful to collect all the artifacts, heirlooms, books and treasures created in the days of wisdom and take them onto great ships and sail from Númenor.

It was at this time as the prayers to the Dark Lord increased and Ar-Pharazôn and his fleet moved Westward to the Blessed Lands, terrible storms and earthquakes appeared in Númenor. And at the moment he stepped upon the shore of Valinor, the Creator

"showed forth his power and changed the fashion of the world; a great chasm opened in the sea between Númenor and the Deathless Lands, and the waters flowed down into it." 21 In their ships the Númenóreans were drawn into the abyss. As in the legend of Atlantis, Númenor itself was overtaken by a great wave and disappeared forever. The shape of the world was changed. The sight of the Blessed Lands of the immortals was removed from the Earth. The Earth became round and Men could only travel within its circles, never again physically perceiving what Tolkien refers to as the 'Straight Way'.

It is interesting to note that the information decoded from the Cross of Hendaye parallels this imaginative vision of human history. Dividing time into four sections of about 6,500 years each, the cross also bears an inscription that leads one to discover the origins of Atlantis at Teohuanoco in Bolivia. As documented in The Mysteries of the Great Cross of Hendaye, Bolivian professor Arthur Posnansky examined the ancient ruins there and concluded that they were built around 13,000 B.C. The high waters of Lake Titicaca bear deep-sea creatures. If the end of the Second Age was 13,000 years ago, then it is possible that the ancient civilization that occupied Peru was somehow wiped out during the shift from the Second to the Third Age of the precession of the equinoxes. 22

The Third Age of Middle-earth

This is the age of the Great War of the Rings, as documented in The Rings Trilogy. It begins with the founding of the Kingdom of Gondor by the Faithful of the Númenóreans, the defeat of Sauron and the taking of the One Ring by Isildur. It concludes with the destruction of the Ring of Power and the coronation of Aragorn as King of Middle-earth. This signals the end of the Third Age and third phase of the bid for ultimate power by the forces of evil.

In each Age, these opposing forces are pitted against each other and ultimately a great battle ensues between them, which becomes the transitional phase between one Age and the next. There is a simultaneous cleansing of the world and suppression and binding of the manifestation of evil. At the same time at the end of each Age there is a separation or veil that arises and the pure lands of the Gods and immortals disappear from the sight of those beings who still dwell in Middle-Earth.

In Tolkien's cosmology, as in the Alchemical and Tantric teachings on the Ages the veils between the worlds of spirit and matter grow ever denser as the ages unfold. With the fall of Númenor (Atlantis), at the end of the Second Age, Tolkien tells us,

"there is no visible dwelling of the divine or immortal on earth. Valinor , the dwelling place of the gods (or Paradise) is removed, remaining only in the memory of the earth." Men may now sail West as far as they may but will return only into the east and so back again. For the world is round and finite, [like the Ring] -a circle inescapable ­ save by Death. Only the 'immortals', the lingering Elves, may still, if they will, wearying of the circle of the world, take ship and find the 'Straight Way', and come to the ancient or True West and be at peace." 23

According to The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, each group of sentient beings that inhabit Middle-earth not only has a place but also a time. As the Third Age ends, Tolkien makes it quite clear that the Age of the fantastic beings that occupy Middle-earth, the Elves, Dwarves, Wizards and more is also ending. The 'immortal' Elves are heading for the West and 'fading' from the sight of humanity. In alchemical terms this means that they are leaving this plane of existence. The Elves are not leaving Middle-earth because they want to, they are exiting this mortal plane because they have no choice. And so Men are left alone at the end of the book. They have learned the ways of war, the ways of metallic magic we call Alchemy through Sauron and Saruman's cunning. It could even be argued that the purpose of Sauron's war was to destroy the world of Men and forestall the oncoming Iron Age and to attempt to abort the final dissolution of the Third Age. In this context, the Great War of the Ring is not so much the genocide of Men, but a struggle by a mighty sorcerer to halt the inevitable approach of the dreaded Iron Age.

Magic, and the Machine
Sub-creation, the 'Fall', and The Ring of Power

"Anyway, all this is mainly concerned with the Fall, Mortality and the Machine.. With the Fall inevitably, and that motive occurs in several modes. With Mortality, especially as it affects art and the creative (or as I should say sub-creative) desire. This desire is at once wedded to a passionate love of the real primary world, and hense filled with the sense of mortality, and yet unsatisfied by it. It has various opportunities of 'Fall'. It may become possessive, clinging to the things made as' it's own', the sub-creator wishes to be the Lord and God of his private creation. He will rebel against the laws of the creator ­ especially against mortality. Both of these (alone or together) will lead to the desire for Power, for making the will more quickly effective, - and so to the Machine (or Magic).

-J. R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R.Tolkien

Here we come upon another major theme found in Tolkien's work ­ the relationship between Creation, Art, desire, power and immortality. True adepts from the great esoteric traditions of humanity speak of the trap of personal power and the grasping nature of the individuated ego that desires its own dominion and therefore, immortality above all else. For as the adept, spoken of in the alchemical lore as the artist and imitator of Nature and the divine Great Work, rises in knowledge and aptitude, as he/she delves into the heart of nature and the elements, seeking the elusive prima materia, philosophers stone, and 'elixir of life', there is always the opportunity for a 'fall' or error. Too often, like the wizard Saruman in The Rings Trilogy, the aspiring adept becomes the victim of a type of mental distortion and disequilibria, which Tolkien describes as a perversion of their Art into Power. Seduced and perverted by his/her ever growing communion with 'forces' that promise endless treasures, extraordinary physical and psychic abilities, power over men and 'phenomena', and of course, immortality, the alchemist, having forsaken the essential interior or spiritually oriented aim of this Divine Art becomes ensnared in an ever-tightening net of darkness and delusion that is essentially antithetical to the ultimate goal of the Great Work.

Tolkien tells us that the Elves are placed in his works to demonstrate the difference between pure unsullied magic and what we refer to as black magic or sorcery. He states that their 'magic' is Art, "delivered from many of its human limitations; more effortless, more quick, more complete (product and vision in unflawed correspondence). And its object is Art not Power, sub-creation, not domination and tyrannous re-forming of Creation." 24

Here let us spend a moment on the subject of the Magical Arts. Magic in its essential form is the communion and resonance with and phenomenal display of a spiritual power, energy or force. At its root it is a pure unsullied creative force. In Tolkien's world, as in our own, since the time of the first 'fall' there have been two main opposing streams of this 'sub-creative' magical force. The first is the development of innate powers or talents for the purpose of a growth and flowering of the original seed essence or pure vision of the Divine. This magic or Art, filled with divine light and healing power is that of those whose hearts remain true to the light such as Galadriel, Elrond, Gandalf, and Aragorn. The second and contrary stream as defined by Tolkien is "all use of external plans or devices (apparatus) instead of developments of these inherent inner powers or talents - or even the use of these talents with the corrupted motive of dominating; bulldozing the real world, or coercing other wills." 25 This is the dark magic of the Machine, the black magic of Sauron, and all those beings that he bred through genetic manipulation, or the corrupted magic of the Elves, Men and Wizards, whose minds they poisoned and swayed with their dark nefarious promises and temptations.

Masters of all great initiatic traditions such as Alchemy tell us that the acquisition of 'the dark powers' such as demonstrated by Sauron and Saruman are but a distraction that divert him/her from the true goal of gnosis, communion and reunion with the Divine Source. Yet, as one gains in knowledge and power, as one comes to understand the essence of the forces of creation, there is always the lure of the darkness and the time of testing. Tolkien, in the Fellowship of the Ring, illustrates this test that ultimately exists for each one of us with every choice that we make. For, having been gifted with 'free will' like the characters of the Ring Trilogy, it is up to us to choose which path we will follow. Galadriel, who has taken part in the drama of the Earth since the Elder Days of the First Age, is given the ultimate test of her devotion to the Divine Path of the Light, when she is offered the Ring by Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring;

" For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands. And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely!"

But having contemplated the possible results of this situation, having seen firsthand the horrific results of this type of dark magic, she recognizes the spiritual corruption that possession of the Ring would bring her;

"In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightening! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love me and despair!"

Galadriel makes her choice - to align herself with the forces of universal beauty and harmony. It is a selfless and melancholy choice for she knows that with this choice her time in Middle-earth will be at its end. Now she will diminish, go into the West and 'fade'.

Throughout alchemical lore one finds story after story of this type of testing of the adept. As the Ages unfold and the forces of darkness and densification spread, there are constant warnings given concerning the use of power for personal gain. The seduction of the Satanic forces and the implanting of the desire to close oneself to wonders of the world of spirit and reign supreme in the material world are recurrent themes in the literature. The agonizing results of corruption of the soul of the adept by the dark powers are constantly elucidated. This degeneration in our current Age of a deeply spiritually oriented and genuine sub-creative Art, handed down through the Ages from Master to student in an unbroken line of transmission into a mere display of power and dominion over the forces of nature for personal benefit and aggrandizement, is what has given the Great Art of Alchemy such a negative connotation in some circles.

But for the true alchemical adept, turning lead into gold is merely a metaphor for the process by which the lead or prima materia of the psychophysical body is transformed into the pure gold of enlightenment, in which the adept comes into total alignment and harmony with the Divine. Genuine masters and adepts who, as a by-product of their devotion to Divine Principles and 'inner' spiritual work have acquired certain powers that we would call magical or miraculous, refrain from exhibiting these powers except under the most serious of circumstances. Why is it that Galadriel, Gandalf , Elrond, Aragorn and Faramir refuse to take up the Ring? Filled with wisdom, love, and virtue, they know in the depths of their beings that their task is to be of service to the continuance of the ever-unfolding vision and laws of the One True Creator.

The Power of the One Ring

The chief power (of all the Rings alike) was the prevention or slowing of decay (i.e. 'change' viewed as a regrettable thing), the preservation of what is desired or loved, or its semblance. But also they enhanced the natural powers of a possessor ­ thus approaching 'magic', a motive easily corruptible into evil, a lust for domination.'

-J.R.R. Tolkien from the Preface to The Silmarillion

The Three Rings of Power were brought forward into this world through the Elves innate powers of creative envisioning for the distinct purpose of preserving beauty in the world. These Rings did assist in the slowing of aging and deterioration, but unlike the One Ring, they did not confer the power of invisibility. At the same time, in the depths of the subterranean fire of his Evil Kingdom, Sauron secretly forged the One Ring that held within it the power of all the Rings. The One Ring gave him ultimate control over the other Rings, for it granted him the ability to read the thoughts of anyone who used them, influence their actions, and in the end bind them to his will. Due to the fact that Sauron had the one Ring he easily gained control over the minds and wills of the largest part of the Númenóreans, which led to the downfall of this first great Kingdom of Men.

To cement his dominion over Middle-earth, Sauron had secretly forged the One Ring. But as Tolkien tells us, in order to do this he was "obliged to let a great part of his own inherent power pass into the One Ring." Here Tolkien brings us to a subject that is much discussed in alchemical circles. That of the residual impact or imprint of one's vivifying energy, life force or personal power (called the Ka by the ancient Egyptians) left on objects, places and even in the minds of those one has come into contact with in a way that will have a certain psychic influence upon them. By placing so much of his own Ka into the One Ring, Sauron was able to infect the minds, disturb the hearts and influence the actions of all those who possessed it with his evil intentions. His Ka, or psychic residue contaminates all who touch the Ring, binding them to him bending their will, twisting their minds. Like a vampyre from the ancient tales, Sauron, through the vehicle of the Ring, inserts within them the stain of his dark force and indelible fingerprint of evil. While the Ring may for a time, lengthen the days of a living being, slowly and inevitably it sucks up their life force and will to resist him. Tolkien tells us that "so great was the Ring's power of lust that anyone who used it became mastered by it; it was beyond the strength of any will (even his own) to injure it, cast it away or neglect it." 26

Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo and most likely all of the others that bore the Ring, made the happy discovery that they would not age as long has they had it in their keeping. Bilbo's age catches up with him nearly immediately after he gives the Ring to Frodo. This is the 'false immortality', or as the eminent scholar and historian Robert Lawlor calls it, 'premature immortality,' that is both an indication of our desires for the Golden Age and a trap that will condemn our souls. This false immortality destroys the true gift of humankind, which lies in the possibility of the ultimate re-union with the Divine.

It cannot be overemphasized that Tolkien equates the Ring with the Machine. Today, at the end of the Fourth Age, the Ring encircles us like the fence that surrounds the unicorn in the famous French tapestry. Bewildered by its beauty and astounded by its power, it seduces us into its trap. Like the Ring, technology offers us a 'false immortality'. Like Sauron and the corrupted wizard Sauruman, unashamed of their audacity, our technocrats promise us that this 'false immortality' equals freedom and life. Just open your eyes and look around. The purveyors of technology constantly promise a world of free energy and genetic miracles that will extend life and feed the world. Indeed one of their main promises is that they can eventually create an immortal human being. Technocratic philosophers even preach that it will one day be possible to download the human soul onto a microchip. This is the final seduction of the Ring or Machine that Tolkien knew would herald the end of this Age.

But one must realize that the Ring, or the Machine, is an addiction, just as evil is an addiction- and like every addiction- it is filled with denial. As soon as Boromir touched the Ring, he could not resist its call. The pitiful creature Gollum, whose name and nature is most likely derived from the legends of the golems created by the dark alchemists cum sorcerers of Seventeenth century Europe, is practically consumed by it. 27 Bilbo, for a moment turns almost demonic in his desire to keep the Ring and the closer he gets to Mt. Doom, the more the bright selfless spirit of valiant Frodo becomes weighted down by it and obsessed with it. This power of the Ring is clearly made evident with the weakening of Frodo's body and spirit in each successive time he chooses to put it on his finger. In The Return of the King, he describes this experience,

"No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked in the dark, Sam, there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and all else fades."

It is the insertion of Sauron's Ka into the One Ring and its subsequent invasion of and supremacy over the 'free will' of both Gollum and Frodo that in the end lead to Saurons demise. For even though Frodo, as he stands at the Crack of Doom, is overpowered by Sauron's dark force embedded in the Ring and chooses to deny the quest and keep the Ring for himself, it is his pity, generosity and compassion towards the miserable creature, coupled with Gollum's all-consuming greed that brings about the destruction of the Ring. With this destruction, comes dissolution of Sauron's power.

Conclusion

In the ancient teachings on the Four Ages, as the cycle of time unfolds, the world and its inhabitants take on greater and greater density and therefore 'magic' localizes into more and more dense material. The Ring is the perfect embodiment for the densification of these magical energies. Indeed, as Frodo gets closer to Mt. Doom the Ring grows heavier and Frodo grows more tired. Frodo himself begins to show signs of corruption the longer he bears the Ring. This corruption carries its weight all the way to the end when despite overwhelming odds, Frodo, Sam and Gollum actually make it to the brim of Mt. Doom. At this point Frodo apparently abandons his quest to destroy the Ring. For now the band of metal has become a prison from which Frodo cannot escape. It is only through the greed of Gollum that the Ring falls into Mt. Doom.

And this is in essence Tolkien's message. That even though the odds are overwhelmingly against us, even though greed and corruption consume our very souls in this Final Age of the cycle, even though everything appears to be lost and the forces of darkness are about to lay claim to victory, somehow, someway good triumphs. Tolkien appears to be saying that there are superior forces that have our interests at heart and that these superior forces are guiding our race and our species. These forces, that occupy what we might refer to as 'upper earth', wield their invisible hand to insure that Frodo succeeds and that we survive. Tolkien tells us that even the smallest of us is important. That creatures like the Hobbits Frodo and Sam can virtually alone defeat the powers of darkness and that they have an invisible ally that makes sure that they succeed.

It is no coincidence that the film version of The Lord Of The Rings was released in 2001, 2002 and 2003. The Cross of Hendaye marks the Autumnal equinox of 2002 as the climax of history. Utilizing the Magical Alchemy of Light and sound, Peter Jackson's filmic representation of The Rings Trilogy bookends that year perfectly. A few months before the initial release of the first film, the end of the Fourth Age was inaugurated by the destruction of the Two Towers in New York City. Fulcanelli warns us in Le Mystere des Cathedrales that the end of this Age will soon be upon us and that the northern hemisphere will be tried by fire. 28 As we are writing this article, the northern hemisphere is just completing its hottest summer in 500 years. As an anomaly this would not be disturbing, but the fact is, that in the last 11 years since 1992, each summer has grown hotter than the one before. Due to Greenhouse gasses, output from the sun, or perhaps just because it's the end of the Age our planet is being burned up just like the Ring in the fires of MT. Doom.

As a boy, Tolkien watched the beloved forest that surrounded his home in England being destroyed by the consuming maw of the Industrial Revolution. By the time that he left to go fight in the Great War, the smokestacks and fires of the hellish Iron Age had completely consumed the rustic village where he grew up. He then saw all of his childhood friends murdered and destroyed by the machine guns, poison gasses and barbed wire trenches of WWI. As he recovered from his wounds he sat beneath a giant oak tree in the South of France and conceived the genesis for The Lord of the Rings. He later told many writers, readers and critics that The Lord of the Rings was not an allegory for WWI, WW2 or anything in a modern sense.

As Tolkien nursed his wounds he contemplated his personal experience of the terrors of this Age of Iron, death and destruction. His deep Catholicism and his intuitive artistic spirit combined to create this story of the end of the Third Age and the dawn of the Fourth Age. The Lord of the Rings also acted as a warning that our Age was also going to end soon. This is why Tolkien bristled whenever a critic or reader attempted to imply that The Lord of the Rings was an allegory. To Tolkien, Lord of the Rings was a mythical reimagining of the history of Europe 6,000 ­7,000 years ago.

From the alchemical perspective of the cyclic flow of time, out of the darkness of this Age of Iron, a new Golden Age of humanity will begin. The 'quality of time' will be altered and in an instant our reality will be transformed. The true Masters and adepts of spiritual traditions from around the world will tell you that the seeds of this transformation exist within each and every human being, in fact it is for this reason that they call the human body the 'sacred alchemical vessel of transformation'. For having been gifted by the Divine with 'free will', in every moment, we have the power to choose our own path. As Frodo, Gandalf, Sam, Aragorn and their friends did in The Lord of the Rings, we must open our hearts and walk the Path of the Light. Not because it is easy, but because we know that it is right. We are all Frodos, each and every one of us. Like Frodo, we have within us the potential for great deeds of courage and self-sacrifice. Despite everything, Frodo does destroy the Ring of Power. Sauron's dominion is ended, the world is cleansed and a new Age begins. This is the beauty of Tolkien's tale. Through this eloquent and powerful work of Art, Tolkien proves that he is of the lineage of great artists who have graced the Age of Iron. Steeped in alchemical principles and an ancient spiritual tradition that reaches back into the Third Age, both Tolkien's and Jackson's Lord of the Rings are harbingers of where we are from and also where we are headed.

Endnotes

1. For greater insight into the Alchemical/Tantric view of the unfolding of the Ages see Rose, Sharron, The Path of the Priestess; A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions International, 2003) pp.124-147.

2. Weidner, Jay and Bridges, Vincent, Mysteries of the Great Cross at Hendaye; Alchemy and the End of Time (Rochester, Vt.: .Destiny Books, 2003)

3. See Jenkins, John Major, Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, (.Santa Fe, NM: Bear and Co., 1998)

4. Fulcanelli, Le Mystère Des Cathédrales (Las Vegas, NV: Brotherhood of Life, 1984) pp.170-171

5. Rose, pp.131-134

6. Carpenter, Humphrey, ed., The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000) p.246

7. Ibid, p. 212

8. Ibid, p.231

9. Fulcanelli, p.44

10. Johnson, K.R., The Fulcanelli Phenomenon (Jersey, Great Britain: Neville Spearman Ltd, 1980) p. 215

11. Tolkien, J.R.R., The Silmarillion (New York, Houghton Miflin Co. 2001) p. xii

12.Naydler, Jeremy, Temple of the Cosmos (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions

International, 1996) pp.139-140



ENTRANCE