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

By Jay Weidner and Sharron Rose

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 Mystčre 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


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