Analogical Meaning in Lord of the Rings
by Mark Murdock
part 2 of 6
I Am What Eye Am
So to recap: Tolkien’s ring can represent the ego. If so, the adventure out of the Shire is one available to us all. But before we follow our feet out the door, there is something we must know. There are very real dangers along the path.
It’s now time to address the symbolism of Sauron.
Sauros is Greek for Lizard. Sauron is the serpent, the reptile. Serpent symbolism is as vast as any, but clearly Tolkien’s serpent represents the concept of the dark lord.
Sauron lacks corporeal form and is depicted as an all-seeing eye at the top of an obelisk-like structure. The all-seeing eye is an ancient Egyptian symbol traced back to the solar cult of Aton and is commonly associated with power groups like the Illuminati and the Freemasons. Note, too, another Egyptian connection: Egypt was known as the black land, and Mordor is also the black land.
Sauron then can represent the dark force behind the power elite who have ruled civilization throughout history. The Freemasons use the eye to depict The Great Architect of the Universe, the demiurge or, as the Gnostics refer to him, Ialdaboth, the false god.
As the all-seeing eye, Sauron sweeps the land in search of the ring and in search of knowledge. Here is another clue. For as Freemason Francis Bacon stated: knowledge is power. The all-seeing eye seeks power, seeks to control and dominate all it beholds.
All of this — the dark lord, the false god, the power-seeking ruler — leads us back into ego territory again: the all-seeing eye or all-seeing “I”? Even the phallic obelisk on which the eye is perched is representative of the pronoun “I.”
Yet Sauron is not just another representation of the ego. Sauron represents the capstone eye to a pyramid of power. For as Tolkien tells us of the power of the One Ring, no matter who believes themselves to wield it, it is ultimately Sauron who is in control. All of the magical rings were bound to his One Ring.
This suggests that all of our individual ego strivings towards power flow upward into a greater network of power from which an elite few can control the many. We see this revealed today. The greatest threat to individual freedom is centralized, corporatized power — the New World Order.
We are all wired into Sauron through our rings, our individual egos.
Each of us possesses a “reptilian brain,” the brain stem, the seat of our flight or fight response. Could this be the biological home to our own ego rings? Or is there perhaps a separate reptilian race as David Icke suggests: a blue-blood line of soulless creatures that control the world’s nations and trace their ancestry back to the Genesis Sons of God?
Or could both be true? Could our rings, our egos, be a Trojan-horse tool of our enslavement engineered into us by a non-human master race? As Tolkien states, Sauron is the enemy of the free peoples of Middle Earth.
Speculative perhaps and yet all of this sounds strangely familiar...
It was the Serpent that offered Eve the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve and Adam ate the fruit and became self-aware. God then banished them from Eden.
Tolkien’s story is another variant on the biblical Fall of Man.
We have been corrupted by the serpent Sauron in the form of a ring of power (ego i.e. self-awareness). The ring enters the Shire (Eden) and the decision is made by Gandalf (spiritual guide) to leave.
God warns Adam and Eve that they will die if they eat of the tree’s fruit. The serpent states otherwise and convinces Eve to try, telling her she will become like a god. Eve in fact did not die, but perhaps God meant something else...
The gift of self-awareness comes with a steep price. Our consciousness identifies with the temporal illusion. We become trapped in our reflections. And this separate identity does indeed die. To know good and evil is to know death. Frodo removes the ring and sets out to destroy it. Almost immediately he is pursued by the Ring-wraiths, the nine undead human kings. The act of removing the ring is accompanied by the threat of death.
And so are we when we undertake the journey to destroy our false self. For we seek to destroy the only identity we have ever known. There is nothing but death that awaits us; not physical death per se, but an ending. And this experience is terribly frightening.
It’s enough to question why anyone would undertake such a journey...
Frodo’s choice is clear: he goes to save the Shire. And herein is the final clue to the symbolism of Sauron. For the Shire is the Hobbit home, a bountiful land filled with round, womb-like houses built into the earth itself. The Shire is clearly a symbol for the feminine. This is what Frodo seeks to defend.
Sauron, and the ring itself, both represent the masculine principle. The ring is crafted for the finger, a symbol of the phallus. The tower of Sauron is also a phallus. Even the structure of the ego pronoun “I” is phallic.
Yet it is not the masculine principle that is inherently evil, only its perversion and its domination over the feminine. There was a time in our prediluvian history where masculine and feminine principles were in balance. We trusted in the land and our needs were provided. We lived in a paradise; we lived in Eden; we lived in the Shire.
Something changed all that: the Serpent race’s introduction of the self-aware ego — Sauron forged the One Ring.
And the balance is no more. Mordor is a wasteland. The forests of Isengard are ravaged for their resources. Everywhere we turn we witness the imbalance: technology, consumerism, science, war. The domineering masculine seeks to appropriate, develop and tyrannize the feminine in order to consolidate power.
The symbolism of Sauron is both diverse and consistent: Sauron is the imbalanced masculine principle; Sauron is the all-seeing eye, the shadowy force behind global domination; Sauron is the ole’ Serpent, the proselytizer of self-awareness.
So how do we defend the feminine?
Frodo set off on foot with the ring safely tucked away, but what about our more psychological journey? How do we “bear” our egos instead of operating from within them?
Any time we willingly face our fears of the unknown, and place our trust in something wholly unknowable (the Feminine), we have in essence rejected power and are holding our ring at bay.
But when we yield to fear, when it drives us to control the unknown, we in effect slip on our ring and enter its dimension — a world in which our combined efforts flow up to the capstone eye, the elite with tremendous power.
We become a cog in their grand machine. We one day find ourselves sitting in a mortgaged home, eating factory food, watching television and drinking beer. Secure, yes, but alive, questionable, and awake, no.
So, not only do we need to identify the ring of power, but we need to remove it from our finger. In the East, the practice of meditation is used to calm the mind and disengage the ego. Just sit.
But in the West it’s just the opposite or complementary path. In the West, we take the Journey of the Hero. We leave Eden. We embark on an odyssey. We leave the Shire and go in search of our destiny. This is a time in people’s lives that they remember as a trial and test of great courage.
These are the times we feel most alive.
That is the next step after we identify and isolate the ring of power. We must leave our realm of false security and risk the unknown. We must save the Shire.
We, like the Tarot’s Fool, must take a journey. It need not be a physical trip necessarily, but our masculine power-based security must be left behind. Turn off the TV; quit the job you’ve hated; leave the relationship that lacks love.
We go to destroy the imbalance, the ring. And we do not travel alone...
To be continued...
Copyright © 2008 by Mark Murdock