The Lord of the Rings Symbolism
The first instalment of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings was released on DVD and video this week in Britain. When I first saw the film 'The Fellowship of the Ring' at the cinema I noticed a very familiar set of symbols. The Symbolism in question appears on the door to the dwarven caverns of Moria, a gateway that initially blocks the progress of the beleaguered Fellowship.
A symbolic arch is supported by 2 pillars, themselves wrapped by climbing vegetation. The arch bears an inscription written in an ancient form of Elvish, saying "The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter." Drawn below the arch are seven stars and a crown, and below these can be found a much larger star (the 'Star of the House of Feanor').
This motif is very similar to the Royal Arch of the Freemasons, who also incorporate seven stars into the space below the arch. Their arch is comprised of 7 houses of the zodiac, whose position in the sky binds the Duat. As such, the seven stars cannot denote the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus, nor the Corona Borealis, or Northern Crown. They are also not suggestive of any stars present in the Duat itself, specifically around Sirius or Orion. The 'Star of the House of Feanor', however, may be analogous with Sirius if we compare the Door of Durin and the Freemasonic Royal Arch. This then gives us a very specific sky location, into which are incorporated a crown and seven stars.
For reasons which will become apparent in a moment, I proposed that this symbolism might be the same as that of Nibiru, indicating its perihelion location in the sky.
When I first suggested this 6 months or so ago, I received a very informative e-mail from Greg Frey, and I would like to share his thoughts with you here:
"The gateway to Moria in the movie is reproduced directly from Tolkien's drawing in the book " The Lord of the Rings Lord of the Rings". His symbols I'm afraid have nothing to do with alchemy or anything else esoteric. They are a reference to the 7 Dwarven Kings and their rings of power.
"To understand the symbolism in Tolkien you would need to read the The Silmarillion also by Tolkien. Although some parallels will be found with esoteric symbolism I think you would do well to remember that Tolkien was a devout Christian. The parallels I mentioned will be evident for two reasons, neither of them conscious on Tolkien's part:
1) His sources are pagan (The Kalevala, the Ring Cycle of the Niebulung, ancient Celtic and Germanic myth, etc.) and
2) in writing The Silmarillion he accessed the Collective Unconscious of the human race, where many of these archetypal symbols are deeply embedded." (1)
Indeed, the seven stars may well be representative of the seven rings of the Dwarven Lords rather than anything astronomical per se, but I think that Greg's final point is very important. There is a lot of subconscious archetypal imagery at play here, in a Jungian sense, and the initial source of the symbolism may be very deep indeed. Of course, being a devout Christian need not preclude one from esoteric interests. Most Freemasons are Christian, and the new Archbishop of Canterbury is not above the donning of a Druid's mantle!
Let us compare Tolkien's Door of Durin with
the Royal Arch and the equivalent alchemical imagery:
The Royal Arch is fascinating because it gives us a particular sky location for this symbolism, one that should not include 7 stars. It also boasts a cometary star, highly suggestive of the rogue 10th Planet, Nibiru, in this context. Is Nibiru the crowned Eagle, the Returning King of the celestial deep? Tolkien also gives us the crown among the seven stars. This symbolism is very powerful, and the Door of Durin might therefore be seen as one of Initiation. Could the Crown be that of Christ? If we look at the same symbolism deployed on the Talisman of Orpheus then this parallel becomes very clear indeed:
I think this helps to answer Greg Frey's point about Tolkien. His mixture of Pagan sources and Christian belief is quite gnostic, in the broadest sense of the word, and is in keeping with the arcane mixture of symbols that we are comparing here. If Nibiru was the Messianic Star then its archetypal signature within the Collective Unconscious would be very strong. Tolkien's incredible imagination would be fertile ground for its re-emergence.
Even if Tolkien was unconsciously applying these symbols, apply them he did. The parallels are too striking to be entirely coincidental. But more tantalising is the possibility that he consciously applied symbols from Pagan sources that were very ancient and mysterious, ones that have been largely eradicated, or altered beyond recognition, by orthodox Christian belief.
Only through the passing down of these ancient symbols by esoteric schools such as Alchemy are we even able to make these comparisons. Was Tolkien an Initiate, then? I can't answer this question, but I'm tempted to think so. I would certainly be interested in researching this possibility.
Is the Crown and its companion Seven Stars equivalent to the Messianic Star, taking the guise of the Dark Star Nibiru and its moons? This is a more speculative claim, but one that may be deserving of some consideration.
I've received quite a few interesting snippets of information about this web-page. Here's something from 'c1thorkel red':
"JRR Tolkien has himself supplied quite a different interpretation for the symbols he melded into the structure of Narvi's Door upon the western flank of Moria. I will restrict myself to a discussion of the seven stars alone, to make this just a brief note: they are in Tolkien's realm the seven brightest stars of the constellation Valacirca, the "Sickle of the Valar," which he identifies with Ursa Major and which his Dwarves called "Durin's Crown." (see, in the hardbound edition of the The Lord of the Rings, volume III, p. 439 the index items found under "Star, as emblem:" #3 "Seven stars (above a crown and anvil), emblems of Durin I 318; ... represented the [constellation] Plough [= Ursa Major]." (2)
The semi-circular arrangement certainly doesn't look like Ursa Major, though...and the Plough (Big Dipper) obviously doesn't look like a crown either. Surely the 'Northern Crown' constellation would have been a better candidate? So, is this an 'occult blind' used by Tolkien to hide more esoteric knowledge?
A similar set of symbols is deployed by Tolkien for the Kingdom of Gondor. As well as the White Tree of Gondor, seven stars are also apparent on the Gondor flags (as pointed out to me by Martin Wells). In this case these cannot denote the seven rings given to the dwarves, as Gondor is a kingdom of men. But things become even more intriguing when looking at the symbols used on the breastplate of Aragorn upon his Coronation, towards the end of the movie 'Return of the King'.
This black breastplate shows the same seven stars and crown symbol that is used on the Door of Moria, that has the Masonic connotations we have looked at. Of course, Tolkien was himself Roman Catholic, and surely no Freemason (although Roman Catholics are sometimes Masons, I am given to understand), but he does seem to have dipped into the iconography of the Royal Arch degree nevertheless (see above).
It's more difficult to dismiss this 'coincidence' in the case of Aragorn's breastplate. He is, after all, the returning King, intimately connecting the meaning of the symbols with the Royal Arch. There are self-evident analogies with a Messianic return, connected with celestial imagery. It's easy to create a meaningful link to the return of an ancient 'Royal' Planet.
When I saw this symbolism in the film I couldn't help but be impressed with the Egyptian styling. The crown looks a little like a scarab, but might also represent a Winged Disc. The larger design below is presumably a stylised version of the White Tree of Gondor, and looks to have a central focus of a Cross, or Crucifix. Again, this is in keeping with the 'Talisman of Orpheus', with its Crucified figure (Bacchus/Orpheus/Christ) below the semi-circle of seven stars and the crescent.
The Cross and the Tree may be inter-changeable symbols, which creates quite a striking parallel between the imagery used by Tolkien and the ancient esoteric symbols that I associate with the Dark Star. It's a bizarre thread to develop, I know, but the symbolism speaks for itself.
White Tree, Seven Stars, and Crown Standard
Here's a image of a ship standard of Gondor. It's not clear to me whether this is actually authentic Tolkein symbolism, or post-Lord of the Rings fabrication. But the symbolism employed is further clarification of the Dark Star link.
"The lead ship displays a standard for Gondor, thus they are not enemies (Side 2, 29:13)." (3)
We have the white tree of Gondor here, as before, and the seven stars. What is more surprising , perhaps, is the introduction of a Winged Crown. This clarifies the Crown symbol further, bringing it that bit closer to the Winged Disc which I believe this is akin to.
The Rosicrucian Crown and Seven Stars
Greg Jenner has kindly supplied me with some examples of Masonic Symbolism that correlate well with Tolkien's own. The most striking (so far) is this one, which Greg describes as follows:
"It is a certificate of membership in 'The Societas Rosicruciana' in Anglia founded in 1886 by a group of Freemasons." (4)
This is the 'Rosicrucian Society in England'. My copy of 'The Rungs of the Ladder' (1999) by Michael J. Stayt emphatically notes that this is not a Masonic order, but a Society of Freemasons.
Regarding the nature of the Masonic Rosicrucian Society, Michael Stayt goes on to write:
"The qualification for membership is to be a Master Mason and a Christian. Perhaps even more important is the need to be interested in the deeper subjects surrounding Freemasonry and a willingness to study them. The Society was formed in 1865...Each of the First Order ceremonies covers a specific aspect of esoteric study and marks a specific stage in the personal development of the Frater (Brother) involved... The Society encourages study of all arcane and esoteric subjects, but from a theoretical rather than a practical standpoint. Time is devoted to the presentation of papers and members are exhorted to write and present papers. These may be on any non-Masonic subject, but examples might include:...astrology, astronomy, alchemy, theosophy...and especially the Kabbalah." (5)
Which is very interesting because there is an almost Gnostic flavour to this Christian Masonic area of study. It feels a lot like my Dark Star theory itself, in fact, where an unusual set of symbols can be found across a wide variety of religious, esoteric and mythological disciplines, requiring a wide net to be thrown.
Below is an image of the certificate on the left, and a detail on the right. Apparently, this certificate should not really be in circulation at all, but should have been passed back to the organisation upon the death of the member of the Order.
Greg has highlighted the fiery Crown and seven stars symbolism in colour:
I received some interesting information from a member one of the S.R.I.A.'s Freemasonic colleges. As way of explanation, "Frater X" quotes the words one of their founding Supreme Magi, William Robert Woodman, showing that the 'stars and crown' symbolism owes much to the Kabbalah of the ancient Hebrews:
"The Seven Stars represent the seven
lower Sephiroth from Khesed to Malcooth inclusive, and these are also
equivalent to the seven planets and seven angels governing them. Cassiel,
Sachiel, Zamael, Michael, Anael, Raphael and Gabriel, representing Saturn,
Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Venus, Mercury and Luna."
"The Crown of Glory is emblematical of the First Sephira the Crown (Kether), which represents the highest Trinity of the Sephiroth, Macroprospus the Father. This Trinity added to the preceeding seven stars is ten, the number of the Sephiroth." (6)
Actually, this rather aids our cause, because a link with the 7 ancient planets of alchemy is established. The 8th planet is clearly the most significant, and represents a Trinity in the Kabbalah. A planetary system in its own right, perhaps? This is a remarkable find, and I'm very grateful to Greg Jenner for passing this along, and to Frater X for this fascinating information.
Quite a project!
Jordan Rapp wrote to me in 2012 with this very interesting set of further speculative thoughts and ideas. I reproduce his correspondence here in full, with permission:
"So for a school project I had
to find symbolism in a book and do a speech on it so I decided to take on The Lord of the Rings and I came across your webpage which helped me a ton to find
the symbolism I was looking for. I already knew that The Lord of The Rings had
Rosicrucian ideals, so your page just hardened my thoughts. I would like to
share with you some other points I came across in my research.
1. The nine Nazgul represent the number of immortality, being three sets of three.
2. The Elves going to the west is major idea in Rosicrucian ideals was that the New western world would bring new knowledge to the human race.
3. Middle Earth is symbolic of the Egyptian After life; in which the dead did not die, they just lived in another place and chanced hazards and problems along the way. If you made it through the end you would be immortal. A idea that the Rosicrucian’s thought as correct.
4. The Grey Havens is the place that the elves went to when they died after that they were immortal much like the Egyptian after life.
5.In Norse Mythology Gimli, is a sanctuary that is always peaceful and has a roof made of solid gold, much like the Christian idea of heaven. This place is created after the rapture and re-creation of Earth, for the remaining Gods and Goddesses to go and live.
6. Water is an important symbol in the book as it is a source of life and salvation. Twice people are saved by falling into water from deadly heights (like Gandalf and Aragorn). The white horses that are supplied by the river, near the Elven City of Rivendell, save Frodo when he is trying to escape the Black Rider.
7.The Black Riders are cloaked in all black a symbol of evil and power
8. The Witch King’s other name used only once after his death is Dwimmerlaik, which is an actual word, etymologically meaning phantom.
9. I have found The twilight Saga uses the same imagery of the Rosicrucian's as does Harry Potter ( Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling.)
10. The white tree represents the end (or death of) death the,
last enemy to be destroyed in Christianity was death.
There are tons more symbols if you count alchemy symbolism (the Ents, White tree, different stones) and various colors used to describe the world." (3)
I bet that school project blew his teacher away completely!
Written by Andy Lloyd, 6th August 2002, 13th January 2004 and January 2007
author of 'The Dark Star' (2005), 'Ezekiel One' (2009), 'The Followers of Horus' (2010) and 'Darker Stars' (2018)
1) Correspondence from Greg Frey 2003
2) Correspondence from 'c1thorkel red' January 2004
3) "J.R.R. Tolkien's The Return of the King CED"
4) Correspondence from Greg Jenner 2007
5) Michael J. Stayt "The Rungs of the Ladder" 1999
6) Correspondence from "Frater X" 2007
7) Correspondence from Jordan Rapp 18 January 2012
Further correspondence about the esoteric meaning of the Doors of Durin can be found on my blog:
Andy Lloyd "The Doors of Durin" 30 December 2016