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

By Jay Weidner and Sharron Rose

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.



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