Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Astrology of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" Trilogy, Part One

What's up, Doc?!

Gosh it's good to be back! Back and reborn! And boy have I had some things on my mind! So, so, so much to think about and say, but the most pressing is this little gem that finally struck me like a bolt. It's been rolling ever since! Settle in, folks, because this is going to be a long one! But she won't let me rest until I get this out there, and she wants to be told, so here we go!

I'm going to tell you how I watch Lord of the Rings.

(Disclaimer: I have not read the books. I know, I know. I started, got bored, liked the films better, put it down. The films sufficiently capture the astrology, to our benefit!)

What I have puzzled out is this: Tolkien's tale is a learning tool that synthesizes the twelve signs of the zodiac, dividing the Great Wheel up into its twelve signs and further into its 36 faces (the ten degree portions within each 30 degree sign). Because the Tarot is based on the faces, we also get the bonus of weaving the Cards into our learning. And the final piece of the puzzle is the Tree of Life found in Kabbalah. Understanding all of these pieces and how they fit together unlocks the astrotheological dimension of Tolkien's work, and watching Tolkien's work helps us understand the synthesis of the fundamentals of esoteric thought. I've gotta hand it to Tolkien: this is perhaps the most comprehensive understanding of the Wheel I have seen, and it has blown my mind wide open in gratitude and Joy!

The two pieces of the key essential to unlocking Tolkien's narrative are the astrological Thema Mundi and the Kabbalah's Tree of Life.

Let's start with the Thema Mundi.



If this term is unfamiliar, the Thema Mundi is the big map, the big cosmology of our experience here on Earth. It is the geocentric understanding of our place in creation, the order of the Heavens and our place therein. It's map of the Earth at the center with the planetary spheres around it. We start with Earth at the center, and if we climb the ladder upward (it's a two-way street, mind you), we reach the planetary spheres in the following order:

Moon
Mercury
Venus
Sun
Mars
Jupiter
Saturn
Fixed Stars

I know, I know, the fixed stars aren't planets, but they are taken into account in the grand scheme. They can also be called the Firmament (one of the two that were divided). There are some characters in LOTR that clear this up, so hang in there.

Now, these wanderers traverse the Great Circle established by the Sun in a band we call the Tropical Zodiac. Big important note here: the Tropical Zodiac is NOT the same thing as the constellations that bear the same names as the signs, but it is, confusingly, derived from the Sun's passage through them on the ecliptic (a fancy word for the path the Sun takes). Nor is the Wheel of Twelve the same thing as the sidereal zodiac, but I digress.

The Zodiac is a division of the circle into twelve equal portions of 30 degrees each (this is a Babylonian invention), and each of those wanderers I listed above (the fixed stars don't wander, so they're off in the green room for this part) is particularly strong in a portion of the circle and is therefore said to "rule" it.

The signs of the zodiac are also referred to as Houses, but they are especially referred to and imagined as Kingdoms. This is a big point which Tolkien will heavily draw upon. Just like a Kingdom, there is a King or Queen who rules it, as well as a planet who acts on behalf of that regent (known in the astro-jargon as a domicile ruler). I've heard the term Prime Minister used to describe this actor, but I've found that the domicile ruler is acted upon by the regent in the kingdom as much as it acts for the regent. We'll see that elaborated, too, later on when we arrive at one of the many Kingdoms (read: zodiac signs) which populate Middle Earth. There are a few on the Wheel which do not have regents, however, so the governors of them act under their own agency in that place, so to speak.

Here are the Kingdoms, listed with regent first followed by the governor/governed (where there's only one planet listed, that planet is a governor only):

Leo: Sun
Virgo: Mercury, Mercury
Libra: Saturn, Venus
Scorpio: Mars
Sagittarius: South Node, Jupiter
Aquarius: Saturn
Pisces: Venus, Jupiter
Aries: Sun, Mars
Taurus: Moon, Venus
Gemini: North Node, Mercury
Cancer: Jupiter, Moon

(Note: the image above of the Wheel only shows governors/domicile rulers, not the regents!)

Now, you're probably wondering what those two oddballs that I didn't prep you for are on the list. What're the North and South Nodes? While neither planets nor stars, these two Nodes are the point at which the Sun's orbit and the Moon's orbit intersect (from our point on earth), and when the Sun and Moon meet in a New Moon (conjunction, sharing the same degree) or a Full Moon (opposed to each other from the same degree) on the "nodal axis," we get an eclipse. It's an axis because these points are always 180 degrees apart - a straight line. Geometry! So that means a total solar eclipse (a New Moon) occurs when the two meet on the North Node. In this event, the earth stands completely outside the pair and is shadowed. A Lunar eclipse occurs under a Full Moon when the Sun is on the North Node and the Moon is on the South Node, making the earth in between the two (which is why the Moon then gets our ruddy brown shadow on her at this time). In Vedic astrology (aka, what they do in India), the North and South nodes of the Moon are imagined as a Dragon, where the North Node is the head (that point is called Rahu), and the South Node is the tail (called Ketu).

All of that Dragon talk was necessary because Tolkien uses these two points as planets (an important aspect which has fallen out of the West due to our loss of tradition transmission, but which is retained in Vedic astrology and for whose use Tolkien has made a strong case). Of course, Tolkien introduces us to a Dragon in the narrative events which precede the Trilogy, and Smaug, too, has relation to Gold (guess what the One Ring is made of?) as all Dragons do. More on that later.

Oh, you're also probably wondering why Mercury is his own governor in Virgo. Like many of the other planets, Mercury is connected to more than one sign, in this case, Gemini and Virgo. The regents in astrology (also, a Regent's shout-out to anyone who delights in Warehouse 13) are called the "exalted" rulers, and it's kind of like saying that the planets are at their absolute strongest and best when in their own Kingdoms. In Gemini, the Kingdom of the Dragon's Head (N. Node), we see Gemini divided in two (the experience of having two minds in one head - schizoid we might say), but in Virgo, that doubleness is unified and there we get Mercury as One (coherent thought and follow-through, etc). But, don't go poo-poo'ing Gemini just yet: that kingdom signifies the possibility for Joy.

At this point, we've divided the Wheel up into twelve 30 degree signs/houses/kingdoms. However, there's more than one way to divide a wheel (cats are sacred, don't go there), and while the Babylonians gave us the Zodiac, the Egyptians were looking at the sky and using it differently for their Time. The wise ones of Egypt used ten-degree star clusters in order to time their rituals (especially at night), so that yields a circle of 36 ten-degree places, which are called Faces in astrology. The same planetary order I listed above functions for these Faces, except it starts in descending order of the planets, moving from the farthest out at Saturn and going in order to the Moon before starting all over again at the top (Saturn) when one runs out of planets. The hours of the day are divided up in the same way! Most astrologers throughout history use the Sun's equinoctial entry into Aries as the start of the year (the point where days begin to be longer than nights and the Sun is "gaining" in strength - though as Tolkien will show, there are other starting points), and this is also where the Faces begin their list, too, but fun fact: the whole circle starts with Mars, but no one knows why. The philosophy behind that has been lost to history for now. Thus, we'd start the Faces At zero degrees of Aries with Mars, then the next ten degrees goes to the Sun, the next ten to Venus, and so forth. Astrology as we know it is a synthesis of the Babylonian Zodiac Signs plus the Egyptian Faces, and each sign will have (potentially) an Exalted Ruler, a Governing Ruler, plus three Faces, each bearing the countenance and visage of its ruling planet. So if we take Aries, that means we have the Sun as Regent, Mars as Governor/Governed, three Faces ruled by Mars (first ten degrees), the Sun (second ten degrees), and Venus (third ten degrees). Next we'd pick up with Taurus with the Moon as Regent, Venus as Governor/Governed, and three Faces ruled by Mercury (first ten degrees), the Moon (second ten degrees) and Saturn (third ten degrees). Notice how, for the Faces, we picked right back up from where we left off with Venus in Aries and went on to Mercury, and notice in Taurus we reached the end of the list for Face rulers with the Moon and started back up again with Saturn.

By the way, all of this contextual groundwork is available in book form (and on my shelf) by some amazing, saintly, God-like, light-bearing, wonderful astrologers. Chris Brennan's Hellenistic Astrology is foundational, Austin Coppock's 36 Faces is essential for astrology and for LOTR watching, Lee Lehman's Essential Dignities (not to mention her books on horary and medical astrology) is great, and Benjamin Dykes' entire oeuvre or translation makes the heavens themselves sing, but he has great introductory books that are very accessible. Crowley's Book of Thoth takes the reader through the Tarot and Kabbalah, but it should be read hand in hand with Coppock's 36 Faces.  Having a Rider-Waite tarot deck on hand would also help (I wouldn't start my Tarot exploration with Crowley but build to it after familiarizing with Rider-Waite and the help of Coppock).

Speaking of Tarot and Kabbalah, we now leave the Wheel behind and look to the Tree. Here we also get some super cool and fun Pythagorean number theory (it's probably way older than Pythagoras), which honestly is pretty new in my wheel house so I'm not going to be able to provide tons of context here. However, Tolkien taught it all to me, so I can walk you through this much. And besides, I'm a sight-reader (musician); I have the patron saint of the-show-must-go-on as my guide!



The tree consists of numbers one through ten, the big sacred Numbers. While not all numbers correspond to a planet, each planet does correspond to a number:

9 Moon
8 Mercury
7 Venus
6 Sun
5 Mars
4 Jupiter
3 Saturn

Tolkien's story will elaborate these, so I'll let him do the talking for me as I point to the clues along the way.

Ok, enough groundwork, let's get started with this beloved story!

PROLOGUE

That voiceover of Galadriel gets me every time! "The world has changed." Go ahead, hear her say it in your Mind. It's related to our starting point in this story, for when we pick up the tale with Bilbo in the Shire, we're in a point in the Zodiac called Change (the first Face of the solstitial sign Capricorn, Kingdom of Mars, Domicile of Saturn).

Now, brilliant little sprite that Tolkien is, the word "Rings" in this story has multiple meanings. It's referring to the Great Wheel that is the Zodiac, the rim of the Sun (the crown atop the King's head), the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life, and the rings worn by Ring Bearers in the story.

The numbers Tokien chooses in his story are no accident: they correspond a Ring (Sephira, which I imagine more in 3D as spheres) on the Tree of Life.

First, we are told that Three rings were given to the elves. Looking back up on the list, we see that three is the number which corresponds to the planet Saturn, and it is the first planet assigned to a sephira/number. But Tolkein leaves out two numbers prior, so we must explore those. The One is given the title of the Crown, and we could consider it as pure Mind prior to manifestation. It rings with the unknowability and awesomeness of what we'd call God. Here we do not even have the elements differentiated yet; this One is beyond elemental structure, prior to any division. It is ovum prior to fertilization, prior to the magical Creative act of dividing, and as such it cannot be known directly. We must get to the Three before that can even be possible. The Two, while divided and differentiated from the One, seems to us as the One because it is the closest thing to elemental spirit that we can grasp. Thus, in the Tarot, even though the elemental suits each contain an ace as undifferentiated seed aspect of manifestation/knowability, it cannot even be grasped as an element until we get to the two of each suit, thus Two to us seems like One. Crowley describes the number Two as Will (presumably of God), but like two points on a line, one can notice the polarity and division going on here. Without the metaxical, unifying quality of the Three, we remain antagonistic and volatile in the Two.

So, we come back to the elves, who are the Three, and thus very high up there on the Tree of Life, indicating that they are closer to the One (they are immortal, wisest of beings, fairest). But the elves here, being the Three in the grand scheme, represent the very notion of Element itself. Saturn in astrology would correspond to the foundational structure of life, its very building blocks. Atoms and Adams. The Hellenistic world that brought forth astrology understood there to be four Elements: Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. In astrology, there are twelve signs, which means dividing the elements up equally among the signs renders three sets of four. We call the elements Triplicities. See the Three there?

The elves in and of themselves participate in harmonizing the Mind of God and as such are a way of knowing the One. Even more, they are the very feeling of Spirit in Nature, or perhaps the Anima Mundi, Soul of the World. Being the elements, it's no leap to see that what we would understand as Elementals (dryads, nymphs, mermaids, Shakespeare's Ariel, perhaps even the fiery Jinn) are the elves themselves. We'll see them leave Middle Earth and become these beings when they "go into the West." The West is the point at which Spirit descends into Material Form, so they ensoul the world and become its elements. With Frodo, Bilbo, and Gandalf along for the ride, apparently. (What aspect of the World-Soul would they be???)

They are also immortal because they represent the very drive of Element to endure and remain itself. There is an inertia at work here, which we'll see more of in all things connected to the planet Saturn (which would include the One Ring). Elemental Being wishes to remain itself, and it calls to mind the Mystery of Endurance in a world of Growth and Decay. Gold stays Gold, Diamond stays Diamond...and we've probably all worked with people or have family members who, damn it, have not budged an inch and do the same shit that annoys me every day! By the way, Saturn is also the primary material which is worked in transformation (aka, Alchemy). Your elemental self that wants to become something more yet resists it at the same time. But, here's a fun Mystery for y'all: the number 3 would also correspond to Despair. Weird, huh? Remember how Galadriel, when offered the Ring, turns weird glowy-green and says, "All shall look on me and despair?" Could this be our own souls looking out at the unchanging elements of nature and seeing no possibility of redemption in its ever-Being? No wonder you don't want her with that damn ring!

Oh, I forgot: our elvish Saturn-Three friends would also correspond to The World card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot. That's Saturn itself. World-as-Elements. Reach out and touch those building blocks.

Moving along, we narratively skip the Four, but it it worth noting that our story's Number Four (which one is that on the Enterprise?) is Gandalf! He's otherwise known as our good Friend, Jupiter. The astrological glyph for the planet Jupiter is literally the number 4, so that one wasn't hard to figure out. But Gandalf-Jupiter-Four is in charge of Destiny and all the means by which we know it. A big one in this story is History, Epochs or the great Ages of time, books, and wisdom, not to mention great journeys over distant lands, maps (yes, Bilbo is also a Jupiter-Four, why do you think Gandalf targeted him?) His gray-ness to me is that of continents drifting; he is Plate Tectonics! But this is also the Wheel of Fortune itself (yes the Tarot one, too), the endless cycle of life-death-rebirth that keeps turning until one's part to play has been achieved, destiny met. Remember when he tells Frodo that both he and Bilbo were meant to have the Ring? And that reincarnation, obviously!

Now to the Five. Here we have to pop over to the Hobbit film where Bilbo asks Gandalf if there are any other wizards, to which he responds there are Five. The Five on the Tree refers to the planet Mars and thus wizards. But wait! If Fives are wizards, why is Gandalf set in the Four camp? Here we get to one of the fundamentals of Tolkien's story: the Tree of Life has been split down the middle. In the Tree we find a total of three "pillars": two on each side (containing numbers 3-5-8 and 2-4-7) and one in the middle (containing 1-6-9-10. Note that One-Crown in there!). Not only can the Tree be read vertically, there are some horizontal unions to be found. We could read a tier comprised of the Four and the Five, as well as a tier below that comprised of Seven and Eight. Our two wizards in the Trilogy stand polarized, Four to Five, Jupiter to Mars (a classical antipathy, btw).

I am struck by the color hierarchy of wizards. We have two Blue, one Brown, one Gray, and one White. To my eyes and ears, one wizard for each level of Creation in the world:

Brown = plant and animal life, care of Vegetative and Sensitive souls

Grey = stone and mountain, the moving and changing of Ages

White = beings endowed with self-consciousness (Spirit?), care of Rational soul

Blue = the two firmaments, both of which are water (those above and those below), care of cosmos?

These two Blue wizards are of particular tickle to my fancy, not least of all since they're all over my psyche already and at least one has appeared in visionary work. And one is sitting on my desk now, but anyway. They're so big, vast, maybe old, that they are beyond Memory and Name. We saw how Gandalf became White; what does one have to do to achieve Blue?

The connection between Mars and Magic is an ancient one and takes us right back to the blacksmith. This is the guy in the village who works iron and keeps fire. A guy who knows the secrets of Fire and Metal. People got married over the blacksmith's anvil, and it's still a sacred, magical object. The blacksmith married folks. Take a think on that one. Who has the secret of Effort and Binding? The Blacksmith. The Magician. Gandalf identifies himself as a Servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. We would do well to remember that THIS is Mars. Gandalf = Blacksmith = constructive Mars.

Notice what Mars-Sarumon, a destructive image of Mars, does to the Earth and to other living beings. It's not good. It's Industrialization, the Rape of the Planet. Mars as Wolf, Mars as Rapist, Mars as Murderer. Sauron is a Saturn figure in many ways, all Blackness and Shadow. Black is Saturn's color, and the Sauron-Sarumon relationship can be seen as an inversion of the rulerships in the important solstitial sign Capricorn. In the Shire, we see Mars as King (gardener Sam, caring effort = irrigation, the Nile River) ruling Saturn (the black soil, Egypt, the Shire's soft, cow-poopy dirt). Sauron-Sauromon inverts this life-giving sign and instead we get The Devil of the Tarot, Profanity, Death, Monoculture, No Perspective, Black Earth full of Fire (Mt. Doom, Eisengard's Industrial Furnaces) instead of irrigation.

Moving on, our Six is the Sun. That's Aragorn. Our first man! I mean, are the wizards men at this point? Are they super-men? Taoist masters? Anyway, Six is our King, and notice how he's on that all important and vulnerable middle pillar of the tree. Oh, did I mention he's completely selfless and therefore dreamy and awesome? Now, you want archetypal masculinity, show me someone who puts down his/her life to preserve yours. Real marriage material! Though Gandalf has mastered this, too (Balrog), and let's face it. I'd say yes. He probably knows Tantra.

Seven brings us to the Dwarves, and Seven is the number of Venus. Desire. Notice that they get a reputation for being greedy and for digging too deeply into rock and going crazy. They don't live in irrigated Shire Soil, they're below under gray mountains (remember the Hobbit and Gandalf's maneuvering dwarf  mountain affairs?). Beings in this story who stray too far from life-bearing irrigated soil don't do so well. Here, though, is our Mistress of Beauty, pulling gemstones out of the earth, you know, Hearts of Mountains, and then crafting them into beautifully, artfully made objects.

The topic of beautiful crafts brings us to Eight, Mercury's number. The dwarves at their best seem to occupy this Seven-Eight duo, where the Seven-Venus part is the beautiful substance, and the Eight-Mercury part is the crafting of that substance into something novel, delightful, and intricate. But, Middle Earth is divided, and as the Hobbit shows us, things on the Delightful Crafts front haven't been a party for the dwarves. Using gold (aka, the blood of the Earth) for money will get you every time!

The antipathy between elves and dwarves seems to me based on the Elves-Saturn-Three wanting to maintain their natural essence, whereas the Dwarves-Seven/Eight-Venus/Mercury wants to get in their, pull the essence out and craft it. It would extend to using any of nature's element to make stuff: chopping down a tree to build a house, cutting up a diamond to make a ring, using water to power a hydroelectric damn, all of human ingenuity harnessing nature for its own ends. Let's just think about how industrialization and the trash mountain the size of Texas floating in the sea might make the elves AND dwarves feel. Mercury crafts cherished objects of delight, people. When's the last time you held something truly Delightful in your hand? And if you even bring up a smart phone, you are dead to me.

Nine! Nine rings given to Men! Nine is the sephira of the Moon. It's back to the middle pillar on the tree. Six (Sun, King) sits atop Nine (Moon, the King's subjects). Galadriel tells us that Men, above all else, desire Power. This is the last stop before the very bottom of the Tree, which is number Ten, the Kingdom, the good ol' root chakra. Ten would be maximum manifestation here, farthest from the God-Mind at One (remember how those elves were up there and super close?), and thus things down here get pretty dense. Gravity takes over and pulls. Basically what we're seeing here is a centralization of power (remember how humans are on the middle, center pillar?).

Notice how Sauron is the very principle of centralization of power. The tree is thus not only split down the middle, it's also inverted (materialism the Ten as the One). Not a bad thing in its essence, this Inversion. I'm experimenting with it myself these days to great effect (though it does carry its own brand of mind-fuckery with it). Think of that Hanged Man card of the Tarot. There's something important and valuable in Inversion, but centralization of power is an inversion that does not end well. Never mind that it's running the world right now as I type this, but what's a stylish crafty wizard to do? Can't put the Kingdom at the Crown. But it seems Men love to do this, so the Ring pretty much devours them like a bag of chips. And then you get those awful Nine, those Scorpionic wraiths full of death and venom. Absolutely anti-Life. So if you have the Moon in Scorpio, do not accept rings from strangers.

I've got to wonder if those Hobbits aren't down there at number Ten, being even smaller than men, closer to the ground, unregarded in the affairs of men, "beneath them." I'm also playing with putting the Nodes at One and Ten and seeing what happens, but that's still bubbling over on the Dr. Bunson Honeydew burner.

Boy that was a helluva lot of Tree of Life, Numbers, and the cast of characters! And we haven't even left the Prologue yet! I want to point out that the Anti-Life Monoculture Inversion and schizoid severing of the Tree of Life manifests in the astrological oppositions across signs becoming enemies: Aries hates Libra, Taurus hates Scorpio, etc. The opposition of two signs or planets (being 180 degrees apart) in astrology is considered the most malevolent and antagonistic of aspects. It is one based in blindness and a whole lotta crazy. BUT! And it's a big but, the opposition can also mean seeing eye-to-eye, an image depicted most often (and certainly in LOTR) as Marriage. A union of equals. (You may want to pick up your copy of Romeo and Juliet at this point and give it a review. Hint: the boy and the girl are part of one Soul-Mind.) Part of the opposition's malevolence seems to be its inherent instability, that it can be an either/or situation but you don't know how it's going to go: it's either antagonistic enemies or eye-to-eye marriage unions. Or it's both! Fuck! Remember that Two way back up at the top of the Tree of Life as yet unharmonized by the Three? Two dimensions just give lines, they don't give planes. They don't give relationship, they don't give perspective. If anything, they represent one perspective and one only. But if we must rely on the virtue of men to make marriage and not war, I'm made nervous. Hell, I have a hard enough time trying check my own blindness; doing this on a macro level probably shouldn't be attempted by many, but if you're going to be Aragorn, that means you've mastered the skill and are worthy of Right Effort. As have all of our leaders, right?

We'll return to the idea of astrological opposites more; Tolkien will show us what it's like to have the King or Governor of a sign in the kingdom opposite it (which means: far, far away from your own land and in Wilderness, in bondage or slavery, with the lowest self-esteem possible, and generally fucking up at everything. Which is common and happens all the time in horoscopes, including mine. Ain't life grand?!).

Let's get back to the Prologue. Sauron has handed out all the rings, but then we find he pulled a fast one and worked a secret binding spell. What did he do? In the fires of Mount Doom, he makes a master ring that centralizes power in him. BUT! And again, it's a big but, he did this working on a Solar eclipse on the North Node. Over and over in the Trilogy, Sauron (and is corresponding Kingdom) is described as the Shadow, and what they're talking about is the eclipse shadow onto the earth. Remember that when an eclipse happens on the North Node of the Moon, the Moon moves in between the Earth and the Sun, blotting out its light and casting a shadow onto the face of the earth. This Shadow is Sauron. And it's always a potential. Eclipses happen regularly every six months.

In astrotheological cosmology, the Sun is not the source of life itself. That is God. The Sun is merely a vessel that the light shines through. To mistake the Sun for the source is the ultimate act of blasphemy and sin, the rotting I-am-Divine corruption that is centralized power (hmmm, a French guy called the Sun King, anyone?), the ultimate materialist mistake that leads to insanity. One may imagine the sun as a great hole through which Light shines. When an eclipse comes along, it effectively plugs that hole for a number of minutes, leaving us bereft of the Light and Knowing. (Pendulums go haywire during eclipses, and we still don't know why. Bye, physics!) This is the Black Sun, the alchemical nigredo, the sun putrified into the toxic lead shit, the Head of the Dragon Swallowing the Sun, the heartbeat stopped dead in your chest, choleric Spirit and Energy grown melancholic, dark, heavy, and insane. It is incredibly dangerous, and a time during which one does not want to initiate an action, for anything undertaken during a North Node eclipse binds in the darkness. Or, we could also say it binds to darkness. Remember how Gemini is the Kingdom of the North Node, the Head of the Dragon? The sign of the Two Towers (spoiler alert) is especially vulnerable to a North Node solar eclipse, and it seems that the result is the schizoid splitting of the mind, the severing of the Tree of Life and its inversion. Wanna know where you go insane? Gemini, and by melancholic black extension, Saturn's Kingdom (Libra). It's worth noting here that in the transformative art of Alchemy, in order to remain motive and resist getting pulled into the inertia-black hole of the nigredo (the blackening of the work), the alchemist must become "blacker than black." One must learn to see through, imagine into the Blackness. (James Hillman's Alchemical Psychology is essential reading.) But, hey, every being in Middle Earth is prey to the Black Sun, so we know that this is a universal Effort.

Side note: I feel like Blacker than Black needs to be some sort of alchemical black-xploitation film, wherein our hero has to beat the evil white wizard by becoming blacker than black. And hot as fuck.

So, here we are. Sauron not only does a binding spell under the correct conditions to work a binding, he also does it in secret. Secrecy is a long-standing aspect of any New Moon, but it certainly works and doubles up when its an eclipse New Moon. (Bonus astro tip: you also don't want to start anything under a New Moon because there is too much unknowable in the system. Terrible time for a wedding or a website launch.) Conjunction with the Sun also is the same thing as death. A planet's passage across the sun has always been imagined as it's death and rebirth: it disappears from sight under the Sun's beams, burns up as it reaches the Heart of the Sun, starts to come out the other side, and once it can be seen by the eye again, it is reborn. Many myths narrate this: Innana/Ishtar's (Venus) descent to see her sister, Queen of the Dead, springs to mind. Or Buffy dropping into the death-portal in season five to save Dawn. So, you don't want to be doing things under a planet's combustion (technical term for conjunction with the Sun - though an opposition to it would also have been viewed as debilitating), unless you're psychopathic Sauron of course and actually want the power of death for your very own. Which means it'll make you insane and kill you. I mean, death is pretty much the definition of Binding. What's more certain and binding than death?

And boy what a binding he worked. The One Ring is Black Gold, Saturn-Sun as one, lead coated in gold, with all the melancholic gravity of the core of the Earth. And what does it make you say?

"Mine."


You know you're under a binding spell when something becomes "precious" to you. You know you're under a binding spell when you feel something "belongs to you." Ownership. Be careful what you let in. (Vampires are not sexy. Do not believe the cultural conditioning.)

So, the Ring makes hell on earth for all the living beings, but when a King (uh oh, a highly susceptible middle pillar Man!) gets a hold of it and takes it to the Center of the Sun (Mt. Doom), the Ring's curse gets him, since after all, is it a Black Hole and made of pure Gravity. We know it leads to Isildor's death, but before it kills him he's so crazy that not only does he give in to it's Gravitational Binding, he fucking binds everyone in his family yet to be born to the damn thing! Because it's precious to him, he binds everyone else to it! The Ring in this instance has won; there is no more King left. There is only Binding.

Which brings to mind my favorite line from Star Wars, spoken by Obi Wan: "He's more machine than man now." Because I use it like a Mad Lib at every opportunity. Because, you know, being consumed by the Ring is hilarious!

Oh, did I mention that Star Wars might just use a "few" of these themes?

My current theory is that when the Ring comes to a person, that's a North Node conjunction happening. The solar eclipse manifests (N. Node = manifesting, but more than you can handle) in one's life. But when it is taken away and lost, that's a Lunar Eclipse happening: the Moon carries the Death-Gold far away (remember how I mentioned that 180 degrees thing meaning removal from the kingdom?). Our Hobbits in the story represent this South Node Moon action. And where is farther removed physically and spiritually from Mordor? The antithesis is the Shire, and that's where the Hobbits bear it (it's opposite, too, in the sense that Mordor is an inverted Shire). The Ring ultimately wants to be in its own Kingdom (Mordor, Sauron), which would be its North Node eclipse point (and remember, Gemini will play in here). But a Hobbit grabs it and takes it to the polar opposite. To destroy it, the Hobbits have to take it back to its point of origin, its own Kingdom. Remember how a Full Moon eclipse looks with the Moon stained ruddy with shadow? Yeah, that's a Hobbit with the Ring, either Bilbo or Frodo (remember how Frodo's delicate little Moon-body gets poisoned on Weathertop because of it?). The Moon bears this terrible sacrifice for us, blessed creature! Bilbo intercepted it and brought it the first half of the circle, the "zenith" at the Shire, and Frodo must complete the task and carry it around the other half to "culmination-return."

So there we have it! Some context and background in astrology and Kabbalah to get us through the Prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring! We have planets, signs, rulerships, kingdoms, a Tree of Life, numbers/Sephiroth, pillars, eclipses, inversions, a cast of characters, magical workings, and the framework for an epic story around the Great Wheel!

The next installments coming up will clarify any fundamentals here further; after all, LOTR is a way to teach you these ideas through narrative! I'll go scene by scene from the films, which is basically going sign by sign (and nested within, Face by Face) of the zodiac, pointing out the keys that Tokien has embedded in his story.

But for now,

That's all, folks!