This post will be short. I seem to see the Kabbalah everywhere, but it must be because those patterns are quite powerful and universal, that they they end up being reused in some form no matter the mythology you’re dealing with.

Yet I was still surprised that at the core Tolkien’s mythology is a redress of Kabbalah fundamental idea. There are reflections here and there, but what is unmistakable is the concept of “desire” that evolves with the evolution of civilization. Creating a need for “more”. In Kabbalah this need is transcendental, the need for spirituality, while in Tolkien’s mythology it becomes a need for “Art”. But these two are intimately similar, because in Kabbalah the ultimate desire, stimulated by spirituality, is about “becoming like god”. Equivalence of form. And the idea of Art in Tolkien’s mythology is also intimately the love for Creation, or sub-creation through art. So it’s the Creation made manifest, which, as explained in the story of Númenór, can even become blasphemy and a threat.

But that’s not all. Even more, Tolkien’s “excuse” for why mortality is a “gift”, and his explanation of its purpose, coincide perfectly with the reasons given by Kabbalah:

The view is taken (as clearly reappears later in the case of the Hobbits that have the Ring for a while) that each ‘Kind’ has a natural span, integral to its biological and spiritual nature. This cannot really be increased qualitatively or quantitatively; so that prolongation in time is like stretching a wire out ever tauter, or ‘spreading butter ever thinner’ – it becomes an intolerable torment.

Which corresponds exactly to how Kabbalistic “hierarchies” work.

One Comment

  1. I enjoyed your articles. I recently had a similar experience of revisiting The Silmarillion.

    I don’t know anything about Kabbalah, but Tolkien’s legendarium was certainly informed (to put it mildly) by his Catholicism and its Jewish heritage. Man’s Creation, Fall and telos or doom (as he puts it), though not explicitly described, are remythologized by placing them within a mythological age of Elves and angelic creatures, who have their own history of Creation, Fall and ultimate Doom. Pure genius! Whenever Elves or Men are deceived by demonic powers into resisting their ultimate End, such as by creating Rings of Power to preserve Elvendom in Middle-Earth and resist its inevitable fading, or waging war on the angelic hierarchy in order to seize immortality, misery ensues.

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