The Bone Queen #BookReview

bonequeen

I was not familiar with Alison Croggon’s epic saga “The Books of Pellinor”, so when I picked up The Bone Queen, which is a recently written and published sequel to the 4-book “Pellinor” series, I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately for me, though, since the book is a sequel I was introduced to the characters and their stories without feeling like I was missing out on key information.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the writing. I have been yearning for deeper fiction for a while now, specifically deeper fantasy, having gotten tired of the commercial and easily digestible fantasy books that are all the rage nowadays. I definetely got what I wanted. The writing is beautiful, some might perhaps find the pace a bit slow in the beginning, but I personally relished the chance of losing myself in the beautiful narrative and the carefully-constructed words.

The fantasy in this book is not only deep and soulful, but also somewhat scientific–without losing the intuitive edge that makes magic and fantasy so alluring in stories. It pulled me in right away, and didn’t let me go until the last page. Magic and the state of a person’s soul is intimately related in this book, so whatever level of spirituality you’re at directly influences the amount of magical talent that is latent within you. Hence, the most talented magicians are usually people with well-developed and articulated souls, masters in a way, which all reminded me a bit of the jedi order without feeling like it was a complete rip-off (because it’s not, at all. There’s no light-sabers, for starters).

The characters are well-developed, and not only that, but they’re mature. They have a degree of self-awareness that I have missed seeing in the characters of recent books (what with their irritating naiveté and emotional immaturity). This doesn’t mean that the characters in The Bone Queen don’t have flaws. By all means, they do, even the most spiritually advanced magicians have some very real and serious flaws, it would be unrealistic if they didn’t. But these flaws are approached and dealt with from a mature place, through mature perspectives, and this is what marks the difference in this book.

If I have one qualm it would be the pacing of the plot. Nothing major happens for a while, which is all right because the narrative and the characters push the story forwards anyways, but then everything happens so suddenly in the last third of the book that I was left struggling to keep up with this rapid change of pace. What’s more, the conflict is resolved so swiftly in the last chapters that it felt somewhat anti-climactic.

I definetely want to buy and read the rest of the books in The Pellinor Series, which were written approximately 10-15 years ago (the first book, “The Gift”, was published in 2003). What’s more, I would like to make The Pellinor Series part of my print collection, starting with The Bone Queen which I serendipitously bought as a paperback. I usually read from my kindle nowadays and am in the process of donating a large number of my print books to free up space in my print library. I only want to keep the print books that I really like, the books I would like my children to read someday, and the books which are timeless classics. Everything else just takes up space. But The Pellinor Series, I believe, would stand the test.

I recommend this book to any fantasy fan that is interested in a deeper system of magic than what is currently displayed in the popular, recently published fantasy books of today.

Rating: ****

#BookReview FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake

frostb

YA high fantasy

I am a huge fan of fantasy, it doesn’t matter if it’s adult fantasy or YA or MG, it is absolutely my favorite genre as a reader (and writer) and I will eagerly read any category it is in. That said, I have had trouble finding good fantasy as of late, and YA fantasy in particular is filled with the same tropes, themes, plot points, and conflicts, to the point where it starts to get repetitive and one book blends into the other.

“Frostblood”, by Elly Blake, is not entirely excluded from this phenomena. There is a chosen one; a boy which starts off as a rival of sorts but ends up morphing into a romantic love interest; an arena of gladiators which is sort of reminiscent to “The Hunger Games” where only one comes out alive; and a far-off land divided into different factions that are branded by their abilities.

But even though this book is not entirely fresh, it doesn’t mean it’s not good. The best part of the story, for me, was right in the middle, when the romance actually starts to develop, which I found touching and well-done. The character of the boy was fleshed out to perfection, and even though the protagonist, Ruby, was oblivious to his family roots, it’s something that an attentive reader can predict basically almost after the first third of the book is over. Which is why the climactic moment of the book doesn’t feel so climactic in the end, but rather predictable, and Ruby seems naïve for not having figured it out.

Ruby not seeing this big revelation coming is something that can be traced to her age. Characters in YA novels are so immersed in their own feelings and thoughts that they are hardly attentive to other character’s intentions/backgrounds/feelings, which makes most of them seem either naïve, self-absorbed, bad observers, or a combination of the three. Ruby also suffers from this.

Even though I mentioned that the boy’s character was fleshed out to perfection, I have to add that he undergoes such a change towards the end of this book that it’s hard not to think of it as character assassination up to a point. He goes from being this reserved, controlled, icy warrior to a boy completely subdued by his romantic feelings for the main character. Of course we can attribute this to true love, but it would have been nice if some of the “frosty” elements of his character wouldn’t have been completely wiped out by the end of the novel.

Another point I had trouble with was the introduction of new characters in the middle of the novel. Having met them later on in the story, it’s hard for me as a reader to connect with them or even care whether they live or die. Some characters also felt boxy and stereotypical, while others were so unpredictable to the point of being incomprehensible to me. When one of these characters dies and another is devastated by it, I failed to connect with the character’s feelings of devastation, because there was no build-up in this relationship for me to care about him losing a person so close to his heart.

This is a good story, and I commend Blake for having completed it so successfully and tying up all the loose ends. The mythological aspects of it are also interesting, what with the gods and demons which turn out to be more real than Ruby, or I, ever expected them to be, which I’m okay with. This is a fantasy after all. However, this book could have stood alone. There is a sequel coming out, and I understand the whole story is a series, when it could have ended perfectly there and then (with a few minor tweaks and perhaps a chapter or two more to wrap up the story), making it a legit stand-alone fantasy book without the need of any continuation.

Rating: **

#BookReview A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab

shade of magic

Fantasy

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab is a gem of a fantasy in a sea of over-hyped books with the same used and reused tropes and unrealistic characters. Schwab’s fantasy is none of this, and it shines with its brilliancy and gives this reader a much needed breath of fresh air.

The characters are original—from spoiled yet brave Kell to ruthless, cunning and funny Lila—the setting is so rich that it’s quite easy to suspend your belief and get lost in this tale of the four Londons, and the plot and pacing moves ahead with breathtaking speed. This story has tight writing, entertaining plot, and engaging action from the beginning to the end. I would have liked some scenes to be more drawn out, but no matter. I can forgive this. The plot must move on.

Kell, the main character, is to die for. I don’t think I’ve read a book with a male main character that is just the right degrees of tough and soft, the right balance between cutthroat and sensible, and spoiled yet deeply realistic. The bond he has with his brother, Rhy, the Prince of Red London, is also just the right amount of touching without bordering on being cheesy. Kell is an immensely likeable character, one of those characters that the reader can’t help but love, like Harry Potter, or Gandalf. Only Kell is neither a boy nor an ancient wizard, but a man in the prime of his life.

But that is not all. Lila, the girl in the story, steals the show. What with her dreams of adventures and being a pirate, this cutthroat girl is a little more “fringe”, or a-lot more “fringe”, than Kell, and the story is made all the brighter for it. She is not afraid to fight, she is not afraid to kill, and she listens to her gut, even if her gut impels her to walk right into the most dangerous setting she has ever encountered in her life. Reading her and following her around in the story was an absolute treat.

I recommend this book to any fantasy reader out there. Really, any of you, whether you enjoy epic fantasy, urban fantasy, high or low fantasy, just fantasy in general. It will not disappoint. I am very much looking forward to reading the second and third installment of this series.

Rating: *****

Previous review: HUNTED by Meagan Spooner

Coming up: THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen

#BookReview HUNTED by Meagan Spooner

hunted

YA fantasy/ fairy tale re-telling

HUNTED by Meagan Spooner is a re-telling of the classic story of The Beauty and the Beast set in Russia somewhere around the 1200’s. I was expecting to like this book, and I did, even though I haven’t read much fairy tale re-tellings. It started off a bit slow and didn’t really get going until about 25% of the way through. There was a-lot of backstory and scenes I felt could’ve been reduced or cut out at the very beginning to make the pacing a little bit tighter, but then again all of the pieces fell together to form a neat little picture by the end of it all, so it’s hard not to see this book as perfectly complete the way it is.

I liked the Fairy Tale background of it all and the way the main characters seemed be in tune with a magical or spiritual world in the deep woods that is just outside the reach of the rest of the characters. The fact that it was set in snowy Russia also gave the story the perfect ambience for the plot to develop.

The beast was my favorite character, he felt so human throughout the entire story that my heart broke for him in almost every scene he was in. Beauty was a relatable character, if at times she fell a little flat and repetitive in terms of her feelings. Discovering the true identity of the beast was also a nice treat within the story and perfectly in tune with its Fairy Tale background.

I wish there would’ve been a little more romance. I’m usually all for toning down the romance in YA, but this time I wish it would’ve been turned up. By the end of the story, while it was clear the beauty and the beast loved each other, it didn’t necessarily feel like romantic love, but a love between two kindred spirits who don’t really feel like lovers, just like really, really good friends.

Because of the Fairy Tale background and the original spin to this classic story, I give it four stars. Because of the lack of romance and the somewhat slow beginning and repetitive feelings of the main character, I don’t give it the full five stars.

Rating: ****

Previous Review: WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT by April Genevieve Tucholke

Coming up: A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab

#BookReview WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT by April Genevieve Tucholke

Wink Poppy Midnight

YA mystery/suspense

I decided to read “Wink Poppy Midnight” by April Genevieve Tucholke because I am a fan of her debut novel, “By the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” (I am currently reading the sequel, “Between the Spark and the Burn”, and liking it well enough), and find her writing both enthralling and magical by moments. I like her as a writer and consider her to be very talented, which means I will likely read all of her work as it keeps coming out.

Tucholke has mastered a certain lyrical style that fits the mood, ambience, and themes of her stories to perfection. In this sense, “Wink Poppy Midnight” doesn’t disappoint. The same enthralling writing is still there, even though I would like to point out it felt a bit more unrealistic this time around. To a certain degree, the author needs to subtly separate his or herself, and her underlying voice, from the characters she writes and who they are. At moments, especially when it came to Wink, Tucholke’s own voice seemed to impregnate the character and the narration completely, and I couldn’t tell if it was Wink or Tucholke speaking, and this detracted from the “realness” of the character itself.

Wink shines best when viewed through the eyes of Midnight, who idealizes her, but Midnight himself I found to be a weak character, probably the weakest of the trio. I didn’t understand how he could not react more strongly to certain events in the plot, and grew frustrated with this, but I could not tell if this was just a part of his character or if it showed a lack in Tucholke’s writing and interpretation of him. Writing boys is different than writing girls, they are by nature much more aggressive and upfront, but Midnight I found to be passive, malleable, and easily manipulated, which annoyed me. However, this could just be a matter of personal taste.

The best character, the most fleshed out, and vivid, and realistic, and understandable character was by far the “villain” of the Story: Poppy. Followed by mystical Wink, and then by Midnight.

Speaking of the story, there is not really a defined plot to it, which is totally okay with me. The characters decide the events of the story, they are the ones furthering the plot along, and one character in particular is the mastermind of all that happens. There are several twists and turns, more than I could predict, which was great, because I love a good surprise.

One character is a hero, one character is a villain, and one character is a liar… or so the blurb of this book goes. What’s fascinating is finding out exactly who is who, and if any of them fit any of these labels exactly (Spoiler: They don’t. We’re all human, we’re all a mix of everything, both good and bad, and nothing is ever what it seems).

The one point, the one single point which I found confusing and which prevents me from giving this book a higher rating, is the fact that I didn’t understand the primary motive of the book’s most enigmatic character. I didn’t understand why they did everything they did… and for what reason. And frankly, if I don’t understand the reason, the aftertaste of this leaves me feeling that the character is sort of psychopathic/sociopathic, and maybe even the true villain of it all. It would have been nice to have a bit more clarity regarding this character’s motive.

Besides that, this is a fun, entertaining, and suspenseful read.

Rating: ***

Coming up: HUNTED by Meagan Spooner

Tales of a Shaman in the Making #BookReview 

I’m a sequential reader, which means I try not to start reading a new book until I’m done with the one I am already reading. However, when I finally got around to reading “Tales of a Shaman in the Making” by Katie McLaughlin, I am pleased to say I was hooked and finished it all in one sitting. I know the author personally, so some of the stories and struggles that she so beautifully presents in this book weren’t new to me—but the vulnerability and the openness through which she expresses herself in this book allowed me, as a reader, to enter more deeply into her experiences and to truly understand where she was coming from when all of this happened to her.

Katie is a writer with a clear eye for detail. Like Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of abundance, she appreciates the finer things in life: The beauty of a landscape, the way people present themselves and even dress, the energy that is radiated from certain spaces, the pleasure of a hot cup of coffee. She acknowledges and is in tune with these finer things. She knows what is beautiful and distinguished and appreciates it without letting it become the center of her attention, which would make her observations superficial. Instead, the beauty that she notices in her surroundings reflect an inner state, a yearning for the spiritual beauty that inspires and molds all forms of natural beauty and the forms of the physical world. I enjoyed the way she described her observation of people’s appearances and the spaces she was in and the effects it had on her. I could also very clearly and vividly imagine all of the natural settings that surrounded her mind’s eye during her shamanic meditations and also her descriptions of the various shamanic rituals.

“Tales of a Shaman in the Making” is essentially the fictionalized autobiographical story of the author’s introduction to the Shamanic Path and the hardships she endured with her first shamanic spiritual teacher. I say fictionalized not because I believe the events depicted are anything less than true, but because names have been altered and some details of the author’s life during that time have been changed in order to move the story along and keep it centered on what it is—the story of her calling to the Shamanic path. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to do when relating a story, and in some cases, such as with this book, it helps depict the underlying truth that the author wishes to convey in a much clearer way. I respect and understand the approach, even though I would have liked to hear more from the author regarding her experiences during this time-frame with the other spiritual practices in her life, such as Yoga for instance, or even her travels across Asia and other parts of the world.

One of the most compelling characters of this novel is the protagonist’s animal spirit guide / totem, which is a mighty wolf. The wolf is reminiscent (to this reader at least) of the Norse God Odin and his unbounded wisdom. One of my favorite scenes of the book was towards the end, during the protagonist’s meditation in the pine-tree forest where she’s confronted by a pack of wolves who all but force her to face her fears and heal herself, like a true Shaman should. And she does. The author is also very wolf-like in her own way, even though it’s subtle. She notices when somebody appears weak, or when someone says the wrong thing, and is in tune with the natural hierarchy present in any group. She also automatically notices who she admires and respects and who she doesn’t, something that not all people are so aware of in themselves, which is a very wolf-like thing. I believe this is one of the reasons that her eventual ‘exile’ from her first shamanic tribe hurt her so much—as a wolf-like spirit, it was like being cast out unfairly from the pack. And a pack, to a wolf, means family.

Without giving too much away (no spoilers), I found the real beauty of this book to be in the climactic scene where the protagonist finally confronts her teacher, the person who had been sending so much harm her way. It was very touching for me to read how she managed to view the flaws of her teacher from the highest point—indeed, from the point of view of the Higher Self—and forgive and understand her. From a spiritual perspective, I consider this a great thing and possibly the most important lesson for the readers of this book. To choose to love, rather than to give in to the reactionary feelings of anger or revenge… what is more, to choose to understand and view the other person in a way that is loving and gracious and respectful of the other person’s being, even though the other person has done nothing but try to harm you, is the wise thing to do and indicative of the author’s personal growth through all of this process. She could have easily succumbed to the dark side and chosen to lower her energy to match that of the person harming her. You know, fight fire with fire. But instead she chose to let go. She chose to see the situation with grace, and to focus on her growth, on her intentions, and on her own personal path and mission. It feels, for all intents and purposes, like she passed a very important test.

Like the author mentions many times during the book, a person’s growth is ongoing. We can be focused on having pristine thoughts and emotions one day and succumb to our shadows the next… it’s all part of the human experience. What is important, however (especially for those people who, like the author of this book, have chosen to make a difference in the world through their energy work) is to continually strive to become a conduit or channel for that which is greater than our physical, human form with all of its defects. In simple terms, to let the light shine through. And I believe this is what the author achieved during this first test on her path, and also one of the thing she is doing with this book.

All in all a very nice read, I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the Shamanic path or spirituality in general. I am certainly looking forward to the author’s future works and hope to read about her experiences teaching others on the path, and many more experiences to come.

Good vs. Evil in Harry Potter

potter

The most perverse and ugly type of evil arises from a lust for power. There is no greater example in modern literature of this than Lord Voldemort. He sacrificed his soul in order to become immortal and severed the ties to his humanity by becoming a merciless killer. And yet a boy with no extraordinary magical talent defeated him. How, and why?

In JK Rowling’s famous fantasy novels, the main villain is driven by an insatiable lust for power; a desire to have it all; to rule over everyone and to become master of everything, even death.

What can we do against such ruthlessness? How to fight against someone with such an enormously fierce desire for power that it towers over everyone and crushes everything on its way?

In reality, there is nothing different between the fictional Voldemort and the people that control the masses in our ‘muggle’ world. Politicians, corporations, pharmaceuticals, newspapers, the military-industrial complex, the food industry, bankers, and others with obscene amounts of money at their disposition. They seek to control and desire power, even at the cost of the lives and wellbeing of others.

In a sense, the people running these organizations have also sacrificed their humanity. They have stepped over and hurt others in order to benefit themselves. And to continue benefiting, they have also sought to control. They are the real-life characterization of the greatest Dark Wizard in the wizarding world.

I ask again–What can we do? By we I mean us ordinary folk, the people who wake up every day and fight for our dreams and for a better world? What can we–the people with no power and no desire for it–do in the face of such odds?

In Rowling’s story, there was a prophecy that stated that a boy named Harry Potter would either defeat Lord Voldemort or be killed by his hand. This boy happened to be just an ordinary wizard. Granted, one who survived great personal tragedy, but ordinary nonetheless.

He was quick on his feet and thought fast, which made him outstanding in Defense Against the Dark Arts, but even with this he was no match against Voldemort.

Nevertheless, he won.

There were a couple of things that made Harry different. He was noble. He was selfless. He was brave. He thought of the well being of others before his own. He cared about people, which made him kind. He was determined. He never gave up, even when it seemed there was no hope and nothing to be done.

In the end, he faced death, and he faced it alone. He sacrificed himself in the hope, and only the hope, that it would save others even if it meant he would be destroyed.

All of these qualities stem from one ruling principle, and that is Love.

Love is what enabled Harry to finally take out Voldemort (with the help of a hundred others who stood by his side). How can this help us fight against our very own Dark Lords? The truth is, there is no easy answer. There wasn’t an easy answer in Rowling’s books, either, and they had a prophecy going for them, at least.

Before he died, Dumbledore had speculated Harry would survive his confrontation with Voldemort, but it was only speculation. He wasn’t sure. In these types of battles, one can never be sure.

But in the end, what nurtured Voldemort’s power was fear. What nurtured Harry’s power, on the other hand, was Love. And if there is one certain thing in this world is that Love is greater than Fear.

So what can we do in the face of such overwhelming evil?

Well, we can Love. We can think of others, act for others, seek to understand people and help them rather than judge and condemn. We can be noble. We can be selfless. We can be brave.

If we all started acting this way, the world would be a different place. It may not solve all problems, not right away at least. But it’s a good place to start.

The Golden Compass & The Tarot

compass

So I just finished re-reading this book called “The Golden Compass” about an 11-yr old girl called Lyra in an alternate world where people have their souls outside their bodies, which they call “daemons”, who take on the form of animals and have personalities of their own.

Lyra sets out on an epic adventure alongside her daemon, called Pantalaimon, (whom she affectionately refers to as “Pan”, like the Greek God), in order to free her Father, Lord Asriel, from prison, who is being kept there by her mother, Ms. Coulter, because of his “heretical experiments” on Dust, a mysterious particle that is falling from heaven that can only be observed through special instruments, and which Lord Asriel believes can solve the mystery of parallel worlds.

Lyra is also running away from her mother, who works for the Church, and who is conducting cruel experiments on Children by cutting away their daemons from their bodies to “keep Dust from settling on them”, because to them, Dust is representative of the original sin, and they want to destroy it.

Lyra, alongside her friend Roger, finally reach the North and save Lord Asriel, who takes Roger and kills him by ripping away his daemon, and then uses the tremendous amount of DUST that is released by his unnatural death to open a bridge between the worlds in the Sky. He walks out of his world, and into our own… and Lyra, devastated but intent on finding the source of Dust herself to thwart both her parents’ aims, follows him into the unknown.

NOW.

How did Lyra get to the North?

She had this device called an “Alethiometer”, effectively a type of Golden Compass with different symbols and rotating needles that she could read by getting into a ‘trance’ state, and asking questions on what to do and where to go and how to get there. Depending on which symbols the needle landed on and the combination between them, she got her answer. And the Alethiometer was always right.

At first Lyra reckoned it was a spirit who was moving the needles. But as she deepened her relationship with the “Alethiometer”, which epistemologically means “Truth-reader”, she began to feel as if the needles were being moved by something more mysterious, a deeper, higher conscience of sorts.

THE TAROT is like Lyra’s Alethiometer, it is the equivalent in our world to this instrument.

The tarot cards are symbols, and the symbols have symbols within themselves, and the meanings of the cards vary depending on the placement and order of the spread.

Lyra intuitively related the meaning of the symbols in her golden compass. When we read the Tarot, a sort of intuition is needed too, which is built by deepening our relationship to the symbol, as well as our understanding of it.

Which is done by…

Meditating on the Tarot.

The Lord of the Rings from the perspective of Spiritual Science

lord of the rings

Let’s start with the interesting question of J.R.R. Tolkien being conversant in esoteric matters or not. It is my personal belief he wasn’t. As far as the intellectual life of his individuality goes, I would describe him as a devout Orthodox Roman Catholic, the kind who goes to mass regularly. However, this individual also happened to have an incredibly inspired soul life and a rich imagination. And perhaps because of this combination—a creative mind of genius proportions and an active devotion in his religious practice—this individual was able to connect to the spiritual worlds intuitively, bypassing the intellect. The great spiritual truths that he intuited became the consequent ideological basis of his whole mythology.

If we study J.R.R. Tolkien’s work from the perspective of spiritual science, we can come to the conclusion that there are many parallels between the findings of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research and Tolkien’s creation. Actually, ‘creation’ might not actually be the right word here.

Many great artists of the past have said that they felt their material was somehow ‘given to them’. Wagner said it, and so did Tolkien in this case. He felt he had ‘discovered’ Middle-Earth rather than created it.

The reason there are parallels between Steiner’s research and Tolkien’s art is because both were connecting to the same objective spiritual reality. In this way, it makes sense for Tolkien to have felt he was ‘discovering’ something rather than ‘creating’ it: the ‘something’ he was discovering was actually the spiritual world.
Here are some of the greatest parallels between the LOTR and Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research:

Gandalf, Galadriel and Elrond as Initiates

There’s a scene at the end of Volume VI (Return of the King) that I discovered during my last reading of LOTR that caught my attention. Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel are sitting together in a circle around a fire-place. This happens a night or two before their final sail to Valinor, the Sacred Lands of the Far West. They are speaking to each other, but not with words. They are sitting still, in complete control. Sometimes Gandalf laughs, or Galadriel’s eyes sparkle. They are speaking to each through their own minds, through the currents of the higher worlds.

These three figures of the saga are the representatives of the figure of the Initiate. Galadriel and Elrond can be seen as the ancient Initiates, the kind who has preserved the knowledge from days of yore. They are the oldest of Elves in Middle-Earth and have come from a time that has already faded away.
Galadriel and Elrond are imbued with deep wisdom.

So is Gandalf, but his path is different. His is a path of action.
He is the representative of the modern Initiate. His path is through doing, he must directly influence the events of the earth. It’s funny to me how many times during the saga Gandalf is accused of being a trouble-maker.

Virtually all nations in Middle-Earth have a different name or description for how his presence or message suddenly altered events in their lands irrevocably. He’s not a trouble-maker; this is the vulgar appreciation of his actions. Rather, he moves people to courage, like he did with Bilbo in The Hobbit, in order to create great events that change the fate of the world towards the good. These events hardly go unnoticed, and hence his reputation. Once he finds the ring of power, his mission becomes to defeat Sauron, whichever way he can.

Coming back to the Elves…

The Elves had their Golden years in the first ages of Middle-Earth. During this age, they held an open dialogue with deities, could talk to trees and wake them up, and created huge natural kingdoms. The Elves, in this comparison we are making here, are the same as the Atlanteans. Atlantis, before it became so corrupted that God had to punish his children with a flood, was a kingdom of great prosperity and productivity.

According to Steiner’s spiritual research into Atlantis, the Atlanteans could easily manipulate the earth’s life-force and in this way create great natural structures and edifices. In this sense, they could ‘speak the trees awake’, just like the Elves. The wisest Atlanteans were also the bearers of spiritual knowledge that they had gathered directly from communion with higher spiritual beings… the same way the Old Elves held open dialogue with their own gods.

Sauron and Saruman as the Two Evils

Sauron is Ahriman. This much is clear. He wants to take over Middle-Earth and create a kingdom of dark machinery and corrupted evil slaves, destroying all of its beauty and natural resources. Tolkien had a very high love of nature; industry pained him to a high degree. This point of view is evident in his work. Sauron’s industry is ahrimanic.

The Eye of Sauron is also so powerful, it can slowly consume and destroy everything that is good in you… it robs you of your soul.
When Sam and Frodo were nearing Mt. Doom, Sam starts speaking to Frodo of the Shire. Frodo answers, in a daze of darkness, that he cannot remember the Shire, or its Rivers, or its Hills.

All he can see is the Ring of Fire…. The Eye of Sauron, the unsurpassable evil, the polar extremity of death and suffering and destruction and doom. Prolonged exposure to the darkness of Sauron was destroying Frodo’s soul. Frodo was sacrificing himself to this darkness in order to save Middle-Earth.

Saruman, on the other hand, is representative of Lucifer. Saruman was a good power, he was part of the Council of the Five Magicians, but he became corrupted and fell prey to the lust of power and disdain for the plans and designs of the higher powers. He was once Saruman the White…but he became Saruman the Many-Colored!

Fallen Lucifer is also no longer pure or ‘white’ (if we think of colors symbolically in this manner in order to relate the similarities in both concepts), and he’s also a rebel spirit. Lucifer rebelled against The Father’s designs for the world, just like Saruman rebelled against Middle-Earth’s White Council.

The name of the second book Tolkien’s trilogy is called ‘The Two Towers’.

Just like there are two evils in our own world, there were two types of evil in Middle-Earth actively vying for power, working from their two respective towers.

Frodo as the Christ Impulse

Frodo sacrifices himself in order to save Middle-Earth. His quest is as much external as internal: He has to go on a stealth mission across Middle-Earth directly into the heart of the enemy’s land, and he also has to fight the temptation to give in to the great power of the ring. In the end, he doesn’t quite fulfill his mission… When he’s standing at the edge of the scalding river of lava in the center of Mt. Doom, Frodo decides to take the ring for himself, and puts it on to become invisible and flee.

Gollum, right at that moment, jumps Frodo and bites his finger off, taking the ring for himself. Frodo resisted and there was a struggle, which resulted in Gollum falling with the ring to his fiery death at the pits of Mt. Doom.

Gollum acts as a shadow version of the Hobbits in this saga. He is a hobbit who has completely become his shadow self, due to the influence of the ring. However, if it weren’t for this corrupted hobbit and the chain of events that led the three of them (Sam, Frodo and Gollum) to Mt. Doom… Middle-Earth would have been lost, because Frodo was not, in the end, strong enough to resist the dark power of the ring.

The Nazgul or Wringraiths as corrupted mankind / Aragorn as representative of noble mankind

The 9 Nazgul or Wringraiths were the Kings of Old who willingly submitted themselves to Sauron’s service in exchange for immortality, dominion, force and power. On the other hand, we have Aragorn, the main human character in the saga, who fights to reclaim his kingdom and institute peace once more in Middle-Earth. He fights the noble fight, and does so because it is his right as heir to the throne and because he must do it to help others… just as we are called to fight for the sake of others and because it is also right for ourselves.

The Ring

The Ring is a curious object. Tolkien actually took this idea from Wagner’s Nibelungeid, or The Ring of the Nibelungs. It is the greatest of Sauron’s powers amassed into a single object; it is an object of power. Sauron needs it so much because without it, he is a blob of suspended ether in the form of an eye that cannot himself work in the physical world. He needs the ring in order to have a body. He needs the ring in order to incarnate.

These are some of the greatest parallels that can be drawn. There are others that I am working on. The concept of the Ring, and Gollum as the representative of a Shadow Self, as you may or may have not surmised, are concepts that I have breached, but are not quite complete to me.

I admire Tolkien immensely for the qualities in his soul that allowed him to be creatively open to these spiritual truths… the coloring that he gave them I also find deeply interesting; I love his mythology and his works, and the symbols and everything.

It is the ideal for an artist, I believe, to reach this level of connection and inspiration with higher realities, and then be able to express these truths through their own unique perspective.

Because of this, I have always respected Tolkien, and consider him perhaps the best fantasy writer of all times.