Tolkien’s Hidden Pictures: Anthroposophy and the Enchantment in Middle-earth
“Despite the plethora of scholarship and commentary on Tolkien’s fiction, I make the case that our felt experience of The Lord of the Rings has yet to be coherently understood and that such coherence is achieved through an exploration of the story’s ‘hidden pictures.’ The real value of this story for our world has remained elusive, like how dreams can haunt us until we finally map the dream images onto our experience. When we take the feelings and associations of dream images seriously, they can guide us to the right understanding of the dream.” — Mark McGivern
Those who know and love J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy know that it is not only an inexhaustible source of wonder, delight, and excitement, but also a profound tale relevant to our time and to the vital question: What does it mean to be a human being?
Rediscovered by each new generation, this story has proved captivating ever since its publication in 1954. It’s a good story, to be sure, but is there something more — a profound aspect that we recognize or sense, speaking directly to something deeper and hidden within us?
Many scholars and commentators have attempted to address this and similar questions. Tolkien scholarship has achieved remarkable insights into his unique use of language, his deep knowledge of storytelling aesthetics in our human heritage of myths, and his ability to weave together an exploration of myriad themes into one story.
Nevertheless, few if any scholars have approached the profoundest aspects of Tolkien’s work with the esoteric spiritual insights of Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy as the basis for illuminating their studies. With Tolkien’s Hidden Pictures, Mark McGivern does exactly this, while also building upon the work of scholars such as Verlyn Flieger, whose open-hearted and serious studies, born of love and appreciation for Tolkien’s masterpiece, already suggest the depths, the “hidden pictures,” and the lessons for life and human possibilities contained in The Lord of the Rings.
Anyone interested in delving more deeply into the imagery, feelings, and forms of Tolkien’s great work will find in this volume an illuminating and accessible resource in McGivern’s concise, well-researched, and insightful study.
C O N T E N T S:
Part 1. The Great Escape
1a. Escapism as Response
1b. A New Approach Emerges
1c. Limitations of the Christian Perspective
Part 2. The Discovery of Hidden Pictures
2a. Patrick Curry’s Concentric Circles
2b. A Jungian Architecture of Archetypes
2c. Verlyn Flieger’s Barfieldian Blueprint
Part 3. An Indirect Orientation to Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy
3a. A Comparison of Jung and Steiner on Myth and the Human Being
3b. Images of the Threefold Soul in Modern Storytelling
Part 4. The Hidden Picture of Spiritual Initiation Revealed through Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy
4a. The Fellowship of the Ring
4b. The Road to Rivendell: From Atavistic to Historical to Transformational Consciousness
4c. The Road to Mordor: The Initiatory Experiences of Gandalf, Aragorn, and Frodo
4d. The Road to the Shire: A Conscious Life of Soul
4e. A Summary of the Hidden Picture of Spiritual Initiation
Part 5: Inner Forms, Enchantment, and Meaning
5a. Commonalities Among the Inner Forms
5b. The Enchantments of Place, Authenticity, Integral Meaning, and Transformation
5c. The Most Comprehensive Inner Form
5d. The One Ring and Evil: Shadow of the Developing Consciousness Soul
Part 6. The “Secret of the Whole”
6a. Image Over Narrative
6b. Tolkien’s Personal Images
Part 7. The Value of The Lord of the Rings as a Modern Myth
About the Author
Mark McGivern is an educator, former Waldorf class teacher, editor, and writer, with a strong interest in the experience of mythic imagery. He is the co-founder of the educational initiative Ubuntu Learning: Practical Studies in Anthroposophy. Mark is also the editor of Perspectives and a mentor in the Rudolf Steiner College Foundations Program. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.