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Thread: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

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    JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    Have you ever stopped to think about the original basis of Tolkien's drawings of heraldry, symbols, logos? Have you, like me, simply accepted them as coming straight out of his imagination, having their basis in a private symbolism of his own?

    While researching the symbolism of rings for quite another purpose, I quite by chance (or serendipity) came across a website with a very startling assertion: That a great many of Tolkien's designs — such as the design of Moria's Gate, for instance — are based on ancient Freemason symbolism! Since the discussion depends almost entirely upon the examination and comparison of graphics, instead of talking about it I refer you to http://www.darkstar1.co.uk/ring.html , and let you see and contemplate for yourself. You just might be as startled as I was. At the least, it's food for thought!

    Barley

    PS: For those who wish to delve further into this: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=tolkien+freemason
    • Legolas: "The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli."
    "And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess," said the Dwarf. —RotK: Bk. 3, Ch. 9
    • By dint of railing at idiots we run the risk of becoming idiots ourselves. —Gustave Flaubert
    • Arguing with a fool is like wrestling a pig in the mud. Eventually you realize the pig is enjoying it.—Gay N. Drehr
    • With the truth, one cannot live. To be able to live, one needs illusions. —Otto Rank
    • The final belief is to believe in a fiction which you know to be a fiction...It is the belief and not the god that counts. —Wallace Stevens
    • It's all about how well you treat yourself and others. —Barley

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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    There was a time when I was thinking that Tolkien may very well have had some connections with Free Masonry, so that you have found a lot of similarities only serves as more 'evidence' to me.

    But I still haven't found any source that can tell if he really was, though...
    "Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    My first impression was similar to one idea mentioned in your first link:
    His sources are pagan (The Kalevala, the Ring Cycle of the Niebulung, ancient Celtic and Germanic myth, etc.
    So I don't buy the mason theory... yet
    ZNet
    "No longer mere earthbeings and planetbeings are we, but bright children of the stars! And together we shall dance in and out of ten billion years, celebrating the gift of consciousness until the stars themselves grow cold and weary, and our thoughts turn again to the beginning." - lady Deirdre Skye, Alpha Centauri T.B.S.

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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    Once again Barley, you have sparked my interest in things which i cannot begin to comprehend. But lack of understanding does not deter my fascination. I'm at the point where I'm looking for my own conclusions on a lot of life's most puzzling questions. I am currently delving into texts of the Sumerians.... if anyone has any input or interesting theories, please....... let me in.
    Thanks,
    Spank
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    "Who is not satisfied with himself will grow; who is not sure of his own correctness will learn many things."
    "We live now upon an island amid many perils, and our hands are now more often upon the bowstring than upon the harp" - Haldir of Lorien



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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    Tolkien also borrowed from Greek Mythology. Are you suggesting he embraced polytheism too? Besides, the only similarity I can make out is that both are arches. As far as arches go, they seem quite unique.
    Praise be to Nero's Neptune; the Titanic sails at dawn
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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hammersmith
    Are you suggesting he embraced polytheism too?
    I'm suggesting nothing. I simply offer what I found.

    Quote Originally Posted by SpankusArililius
    Once again Barley, you have sparked my interest in things which I cannot begin to comprehend. But lack of understanding does not deter my fascination.
    That's the kind of attitude I love!!! (Don't forget: what we don't comprehend outnumbers what we do, as the aggregate particles of the Gobi desert outnumber a grain of sand...so you're in good company!)

    I'm at the point where I'm looking for my own conclusions on a lot of life's most puzzling questions. I am currently delving into texts of the Sumerians.... if anyone has any input or interesting theories, please....... let me in.
    Thanks,
    Spank
    I would love to get into that with you, aber es ist verboten bei unser Füherer!

    Once upon a time early in my checkered career of spiritual wanderlust, I investigated Theosophy — now there's something as exotic and juicy as a ripe plum! When you're done with the Sumerians, you might look into that too.

    Barley
    Last edited by Barliman Butterbur; 02-19-2008 at 03:33 AM.
    • Legolas: "The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli."
    "And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess," said the Dwarf. —RotK: Bk. 3, Ch. 9
    • By dint of railing at idiots we run the risk of becoming idiots ourselves. —Gustave Flaubert
    • Arguing with a fool is like wrestling a pig in the mud. Eventually you realize the pig is enjoying it.—Gay N. Drehr
    • With the truth, one cannot live. To be able to live, one needs illusions. —Otto Rank
    • The final belief is to believe in a fiction which you know to be a fiction...It is the belief and not the god that counts. —Wallace Stevens
    • It's all about how well you treat yourself and others. —Barley

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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    I believe Tolkien's intentions (with all of middle-earth) were to create an extremely large myth that created a "reality" behind (and encompassed almost all of) the mythologies of Europe at the time. this is evident in almost every story within the realms of Middle Earth. every one could be twisted or "perverted" into a modern myth. I think the similarities are merely evidence that he knew of Freemasonry, and it influenced his writings and fictitious world, just like every other story he'd read as a child.

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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    Well, I don't think it is necessarily his belief system. He stated his devotion to Catholicism on more than one occasion. Here's my take: Many writers during the English Renaissance heavily employed Classical myth (Greek and Roman Gods and Goddess) into Christian Literature. Take, for example, John Milton's Paradise Lost, and also much of Shakespeare's work, and many others. John Milton is an example of a fervant Christian (Anglican - hated Catholics, but still). Yet, he used classical allusions to false Gods without feeling as though he was abandoning his faith. Why couldn't Tolkien have done the same thing with the Free Masonry symbols. Every author and artist is influenced in some way or another. That doesn't mean that they necessarily believe ver batum everything they are influenced by.
    "Despite the depth of her fatigue, she dreamed: as if the mind or spirit requires no energy, or, rather, feeds from some source other than the body, flowing almost continuously." -Rick Bass in "The Lives of Rocks"

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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    It's doubtful that Tolkien was a Freemason. Don't forget that in England during his time, Catholics weren't exactly welcome in the Lodges, nor did they seek membership. It may still be the case, I don't know. I'm an American Freemason and know Brethren from many different religious traditions.

    I think the key is in Tolkien's intentions to create a believable Middle-earth that existed many thousands of years ago. Naturally, he would draw upon (consciously or no) symbolism that can be found in Europe -- the same symbolism that Freemasonry borrows.

    The meaning behind Royal Arch symbolism are intrinsic to Masonic belief, but they aren't necessarily Masonic in origin. Freemasonry draws upon a lot of heterogeneous Western (ie European) traditions, Biblical referents, Renaissance-era metaphysics, and so on and employs them in what could be viewed allegorically. In Masonic ritual, symbols acts as instruments of instruction and knowledge, often presented in parable form.

    However, in Tolkien's conception, the symbolism is contained within his construct, mythology and universe. The two pillars clearly represent the Two Trees, for instance, (or perhaps the Sun and Moon, or even the Lamps of the Valar) and in no way intellectually function like the Masonic pillars. There's no lesson to be learned from the Moria Gate.

    To me, it's like comparing Der Ring of the Niebelungenlied and The One Ring of LoTR. Yes, there are similarities, and rings of magic are part of many old legends, but each is a sui generis object within the context of their respective tales.

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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    I'm mildly surprised (though gratified) that someone has taken up this thread again (I thought it died long ago), but more to the point has added things of interest!

    My paternal grandfather was a Freemason in his early life. He lost everything in the Crash, and never again had the time nor money (nor, I suppose, the enthusiasm) to indulge it.

    Great and permanent poverty coming hard on the heels of fairly significant wealth can certainly put a kink in one's mystico/spiritual proclivities...

    Barley
    • Legolas: "The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli."
    "And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess," said the Dwarf. —RotK: Bk. 3, Ch. 9
    • By dint of railing at idiots we run the risk of becoming idiots ourselves. —Gustave Flaubert
    • Arguing with a fool is like wrestling a pig in the mud. Eventually you realize the pig is enjoying it.—Gay N. Drehr
    • With the truth, one cannot live. To be able to live, one needs illusions. —Otto Rank
    • The final belief is to believe in a fiction which you know to be a fiction...It is the belief and not the god that counts. —Wallace Stevens
    • It's all about how well you treat yourself and others. —Barley

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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    Presumably you mean This sort of thing. There are also examples chiselled into tombstones of Tolkien-like symbols.

    I think it's far more likely that both Tolkien and the Freemasons drew on older symbolism. I have long been fascinated by pilgrim badges, which I believe have pre-Christian origins and were either re-assigned as was, or adapted from their original meanings, to sell to an eager Christianised populace. The one called the Yorkist Sun looks very much like a the symbol for a Silmaril, to me.

    Haldatyaro speculates about the two trees matching masonic pillars. If they compare to any pillars at all, I would say it was the pillars of fire and cloud that guided the Exodus from Egypt. (fire by night, cloud by day). However, I prefer the more obvious sun and moon representations. Do trees (or a tree) provide the origins of the sun and moon in any other mythologies, I wonder? I'd be interested to know.
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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    I've found that Freemasonic imagery has generally been "found" in some of the most unlikely places, as if Freemasonry somehow influences and permeates everything. The problem is, of course, that it doesn't, and a lot of information on Freemasonry is simply, well, wrong.

    A good example is the ascription of Freemasonic imagery to the Whitechapel Murders of 1888, most famously considered in the comic book "From Hell", which drew on other sources. Somehow, the ways the murders were commited prove that Jack the Ripper was a Freemason.

    Except, of course, there is no such evidence. Stephen Knight's books on Jack the Ripper (claiming he was the Freemason William Gull) and on Freemason are both based on the shakiest of foundations.

    That brings me to Tolkien. I would agree that they might have used imagery, but the site you (Barley) posted oh-so-long ago seems to be going into Tolkien's works with the a priori assumption that he was using specific Freemason images. As we might all guess...if you think something is there in the first place, you're bound to find it's true no matter how false your initial assertion may be.
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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    Nice to see this thread activated again after three years! I thought it pretty much had seen its day.

    (And lo and behold — this, on 2/18/08 — turns out to be my 2600th post, long in the coming! I would have been up to 3400, but they subtracted 800 in the "Great Purge" a few years back, a silly attempt to try to weed out posts that deserved to be "not counted" from those that did... )

    To Mike: Yes, it certainly was a long time ago! Looking at the link I included in the original post, there still seems to me to be startling similarities between those particular/specific drawings and some of those done by Tolkien.

    Barley
    • Legolas: "The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli."
    "And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess," said the Dwarf. —RotK: Bk. 3, Ch. 9
    • By dint of railing at idiots we run the risk of becoming idiots ourselves. —Gustave Flaubert
    • Arguing with a fool is like wrestling a pig in the mud. Eventually you realize the pig is enjoying it.—Gay N. Drehr
    • With the truth, one cannot live. To be able to live, one needs illusions. —Otto Rank
    • The final belief is to believe in a fiction which you know to be a fiction...It is the belief and not the god that counts. —Wallace Stevens
    • It's all about how well you treat yourself and others. —Barley

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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    I am a Freemason and lifetime Tolkien fan. periodically I read the series through again. [as im sure most of you do]

    I would like to point out, that in the early pages of The Hobbit, there is a masonic reference that is unmistakable.

    because of my oath to the masons I can't reveal on this forum the exact phrase. and in fact Tolkien does not use the precise masonic phrasing.

    an argument could be made that the phrase is merely a coincidence or accident, and that no true masonic link exists.

    since the phrase regards Bilbo who is a favorable character. it seems to imply a pro masonic view and not an anti masonic view of the author our beloved Tolkien.

    Given Tolkien's considerable intellect, and knowing what his passions were [launguages, codes, maps, secrets] and the fact the masons are an ancient organization . . . it is fair to say at a minimum: 1) he knew about the organization 2) he took an interest at some point. [wether he joined or not]

    here are some posibilities:

    1) Because of his oath, he deliberatly did not use the precise masonic phrase, but left it as a clue to wary readers.

    2) Maybe he joined and then later renounced his membership, and kept that fact a secret.

    3) Maybe he was a full member, and kept that fact secret.

    4) maybe he was highly knowledgable about the masons, and their symbols, but simply had no desire to join, and left the phrase to play with those of us, knowing we would enjoy the mystery and intrigue.

    somthing else to consider.

    a number of famous authors who are known to be masons, and make subtle and not so subtle references to masonry in their respective writings

    Mark Twain
    Edgar Allen Poe
    Sir Arthuer Conon Doyle
    Victor Hugo
    Alexander Dumas
    Edgar Rice Burroughs

    Poe and Doyle were fond of cyphers.

    Hugo's the Hunch back of Notre Dame. the first 1/3 of that classic book is a mysterious treaties on the subject of architecture

    Dumas: one of the muskiteers, Arimis is also a Jesuit priest, who must keep it secret because the history of the time the Jesuits, are estranged from the larger body of the Catholic church. [the jesuits persue an interest in science considerd heiretical]

    So, anyone want to rethink Tolkien's affiliation?

    -Mack

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    Re: JRR Tolkien: True Blue Roman Catholic — or Closet Freemason?

    Freemasonry has been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church since 28 April, 1738; when Pope Clement XII published Constitution “In Eminenti”. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the condemnation was for:

    • The peculiar, “unsectarian” … character of Freemasonry, by which theoretically and practically it undermines the Catholic and Christian faith…
    • The inscrutable secrecy…, “perverting the hearts of the simple”, ruining their spiritual and temporal welfare.
    • The oaths of secrecy and of fidelity to Masonry and Masonic work, which cannot be justified in their scope, their object, or their form, and cannot, therefore, induce any obligation. The oaths are condemnable, because the scope and object of Masonry are “wicked” and condemnable…
    • The danger which such societies involve for the security and “tranquility of the State” and for “the spiritual health of souls”…

    In his encyclical Humanum Genus, “On Freemasonry”, April 20, 1884, Pope Leo XIII wrote (¶ 2),
    …At this period, however, the partisans of evil seems to be combining together, and to be struggling with united vehemence, led on or assisted by that strongly organized and widespread association called the Freemasons. No longer making any secret of their purposes, they are now boldly rising up against God Himself. They are planning the destruction of holy Church publicly and openly, and this with the set purpose of utterly despoiling the nations of Christendom, if it were possible, of the blessings obtained for us through Jesus Christ our Savior. …
    The Office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a “Declaration On Masonic Associations” on 26 November 1983. The document was signed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect – the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI.

    Since the Church began to declare her mind concerning Freemasonry, her negative judgment has been inspired by many reasons, both practical and doctrinal. She judged Freemasonry not merely responsible for subversive activity in her regard, but from the earliest pontifical documents on the subject and in particular in the Encyclical Humanum Genus by Leo XIII (20 April 1884), the Magisterium of the Church has denounced in Freemasonry philosophical ideas and moral conceptions opposed to Catholic doctrine. For Leo XIII, they essentially led back to a rationalistic naturalism, the inspiration of its plans and activities against the Church. In his Letter to the Italian people Custodi (8 December 1892), he wrote: «Let us remember that Christianity and Freemasonry are essentially irreconcilable, so that enrolment in one means separation from the other».…

    …the Sacred Congregation points out to the faithful that this membership objectively constitutes a grave sin and by specifying that the members of a Masonic association may not receive Holy Communion, it intends to enlighten the conscience of the faithful about a grave consequence which must derive from their belonging to a Masonic lodge.

    Finally, the Sacred Congregation declares that «it is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above». …
    An article entitled “Irreconcilability between Christian faith and Freemasonry” appeared on March 11, 1985, in L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican organ. It incidentally clarifies the situation at the time Tolkien died:
    In this regard, the text also refers to the Declaration of 17 February 1981, which already reserved to the Apostolic See all pronouncements on the nature of these associations which may have implied derogations from the Canon Law then in force (Can. 2335). In the same way, the new document issued by the S.C.D.F. in November 1983 expresses identical intentions of reserve concerning pronouncements which would differ from the judgment expressed here on the irreconcilability of Masonic principles with the Catholic faith, on the gravity of the act of joining a lodge and on the consequences which arise from it for receiving Holy Communion.
    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic. His mother, he, and his brother Arthur were disowned by the Tolkien family when his mother converted to Roman Catholicism after his father’s early and unexpected death; he blamed her subsequent early death in part on the hardship she suffered on behalf of her Faith. Tolkien and Arthur grew up in a Catholic orphanage. The greatest influence on his young life after the demise of his mother was a Catholic priest. Tolkien was intensely devoted to the Catholic Church and participated in its liturgy and services.

    While I am not privy to JRR Tolkien’s interior thoughts, any secret associations he may have maintained, or any unpublished writings he may have left – particularly had he sought to keep them secret or hidden – given the uncompromising position of the Catholic Church against Freemasonry during his lifetime, a position which has been maintained and clarified since his death in 1973, in my opinion, it is not credible to assert to that JRR Tolkien was a Freemason.
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