On the Edge of Mount Doom

Now that the Hobbits were inside Mordor, they no longer needed Gollum as a guide. For, in the distance, they could see Orodruin- the fire mountain and the goal of their journey. They now travelled disguised as orcs. Sam had managed to find some orc garb and helmets which fitted almost perfectly. Soon they would be standing at the cracks of Mount Doom.

With each day the burden of the Ring grew heavier for Frodo. He had held the Ring for so long now that, he too, had begun to succumb to its spell. With every small step Frodo took towards Mount Doom he also had to fight back an overwhelming desire to keep the One Ring.

Frodo was near exhaustion. He often thought his task was too great and would fall into despair. Yet, as always, Sam was there to help him, at times carrying Frodo when he could no longer walk.

Frodo no longer required Gollum as his guide. They now travelled as orcs. In the process of integrating the shadow we reach a point where our failings become obvious. We no longer need to seek out our darkness, instead it is fully apparent and experienced as an all too real element of our being. In taking on the garb of the orcs, the hobbits were barely distinguishable from the enemy. When we realise the shadow, we no longer see ourselves as so different from the enemy.

At times Frodo felt his hand reaching out for Ring and he would have to fight to hold it back. Having held the Ring for so long, Frodo had now developed a strong attachment to the Ring – he had become like Gollum. Frodo was torn between opposite desires. On the one hand he sought the destruction of the Ring, on the other he wished to keep it for himself. Frodo was now at war with himself. The battle between green and black now raged within his very being.

In our modern world we may easily feel that it is impossible to lead an ethical lifestyle. One may start by using public transport and recycling household waste. But the more one explores the issue the more it is revealed that our ecologically destructive technology has penetrated every facet of our existence. It is there in the food we eat, in our investments, in the materials we use to build and power our homes. As we continue with our lives, we knowingly live in sin, all the time wrestling with our emerging conscience.

Like Christ carrying the cross, Frodo’s journey toward Mount Doom is a slow and tormented passage. The closer Frodo came to the fire mountain the heavier the Ring felt as it hung on its chain about his neck. The weight of the Ring is the weight of the guilt, which wells up out of the conscious recognition of one’s own crimes against nature.

At this stage the correct attitude is to feel guilty – to fully experience one’s personal contribution to the global crisis. Though it may appear otherwise, the experience of guilt is a positive development. For guilt is a conscious suffering of the opposites of good and evil as they exist within oneself.

Our guilt marks a coming to consciousness. As Jung says, “Only unconsciousness makes no difference between good and evil.”26 In his warning to humanity, Answer to Job, Jung writes:

The guilty man is eminently suitable and is therefore chosen to become the vessel for the continuing incarnation, not the guiltless one who holds aloof from the world and refuses to pay his tribute to life, for in him the dark God would find no room.27

Guiltlessness is a lack of awareness, the ‘guilty man’ is the one who is no longer ignorant. In our guilt we take full ownership of our shadow. We realise the dark God within, giving him the human face and body, which he so fervently desires. Ultimately, our guilt is the womb of a new morality.

Throughout the story of the Lord of the Rings, the Dark Lord Sauron is depicted as an energy which seeks to be embodied. He appears only as a fiery eye in the distance whose gaze is felt most strongly whenever Frodo wears the Ring. To be seen by this dark face of God is to be singled out as a point of incarnation. The more conscious one becomes the more interest this dark God takes - and the heavier one feels.

Sam pushed Frodo on towards the fire mountain, at times carrying his master. When he lifted Frodo, he did not feel the weight of the Ring. Sam had remained unattached to the Ring. Having held it once, he freely returned it to Frodo’s possession. The Ring held no control over Sam. As the simple man, Sam is akin to an aspect of ourselves which refuses to take up the offerings of modern-day technology. Our simplicity has no desire for the power of technology. Time and time again we may need to fall back upon this simplicity as we battle with our conscience and seek to live a holistic life.

Up the mountain they climbed until, at last, they stood at the cracks of Mount Doom. The fires belched before them. Frodo stepped nearer to the edge and drew the Ring out from beneath his garments. Then he turned to Sam and spoke with a clear voice.

"I have come," he said. "But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!" Then suddenly, as he set the Ring upon his finger, he vanished from sight.

At that very instant Gollum sprang from behind the rocks and knocked Sam to the ground. When Sam next looked up, he saw Gollum, on the edge of the abyss, fighting like mad with an unseen foe. Gollum's hands drew up towards his mouth, his fangs gleamed then snapped. Frodo gave a cry and reappeared there, at the chasm's edge.

The crazed Gollum danced, holding aloft the Ring with Frodo's severed finger still in its circle. But he danced too far. Gollum wavered on the edge then fell, Ring and all, into the fires of Mount Doom.

There was a roar, the earth shook, towers fell, and mountains slid. The fire mountain flared up and the sky broke with lightning. Frodo turned to his friend, as the world about them collapsed, "Well this is the end Sam."

Frodo now felt light and relieved. The burden of the Ring had lifted from his being. Then Sam noticed Frodo's maimed and bleeding hand and cursed Gollum. But Frodo advised that they forgive Gollum.

"But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. Gandalf was right when he said that even Gollum may have something yet to do.”

The fact that Frodo reneged, after coming so far, is a frightening end to our story. To see the Ring destroyed by accident and madness presents an ill omen for the fate of our own world. Our only solace is that the Ring is ultimately sacrificed.

It seems that Gollum is destined to be the last of the Ring bearers. Frodo's efforts brought the Ring to the edge, but it was Gollum who returned it to the cracks of Mount Doom. Frodo tried but failed to sacrifice the One Ring. It had to be taken from him. At that very point where Frodo claims the Ring as his own, it is snatched back by Gollum.

Frodo is overcome by Gollum. When we claim the Ring, we fall into a self-destructive madness. We become Gollum. There will always be that within us which shall seek to hold onto the One Ring. Such stupidity shall bring about its own destruction. This is, of course, a very grim fate for, not only the individual, but any culture, society, company, or group which is possessed by the Ring. In holding onto the Ring, we ultimately annihilate ourselves.

Holding onto our destructive technology is a madness destined to failure. The farmer who continues to use pesticides will soon poison his own soil. The country which allows its forests to be logged will simply have no more forests. The car manufacturer who fails to design a pollution free vehicle will, one day, lose business. As individuals, holding onto the Ring may mean having no time for one’s creative life, children, inner work, or personal health. Such individual fails to grow beyond themselves and make an impact on life.

There are so many ways in which we may prove to be our own undoing – we need to become conscious of them all. Will we weaken our genetics or render ourselves infertile through the abuse of medications or from poisons in our diet? Will we suffocate ourselves with our own exhausts? Maybe our social systems will collapse with the loss of community spirit. Or will we fight to the death over a growing scarcity of natural resources. How far can we remove ourselves from a central point of balance without suffering the terrible consequences?

Gollum, the last of the Ring bearers, falls along with the Ring. We should remember that Gollum was also once a hobbit who became possessed by the Ring. That is, Gollum represents our human selves. With Christ, the angry and righteous God of the Old Testament sacrificed his only begotten son. Now it is Gollum who must fall along with the Ring.

The whole of humanity has now been hung upon the cross of the global crisis. With the impending realisation of God within, modern man has become the new point of sacrifice. It is a vain hope that we might sneak through into the future unscathed. Like Gollum, we too have been corrupted by the power of our technology. We have been caught in a divine yet destructive drama.

Jung felt that “there is no coming to consciousness without suffering”28 and it is likely that the global crisis will need to get worse before we are shocked into the consciousness that is required of us. The only question that remains is how much of our destructive capacity will we need to act out before we stand back and recognise what we have become?

What saved Middle Earth from complete destruction was the fact that Frodo had already come so far. Were the Ring to be snatched away by Gollum at any earlier point, it would have certainly found its way back to the Dark Lord.

Frodo’s efforts allowed Gollum’s madness to burst through without dire consequences. We can only hope to offer the same service. Frodo took on the burden of the Ring for the whole of Middle Earth. Similarly, when we, as individuals, acknowledge the dark God within, we reduce the need for him to force his way into consciousness through some catastrophic event. What we meet inwardly has no need to manifest outwardly, as our fate.29 Through suffering the opposites within, we relieve the world of the need to serve as a stage for this divine drama that has beset our time.

It is believed that Christ died on the cross for all our sins. In offering up himself as a sacrifice, he served as a buffer against a direct confrontation with the dark side of God. With Christ the vengeful Yahweh of the Old Testament was transformed into the loving father God of the new era.

Two thousand years later we have now been called upon to play a similar role. In raising our awareness, we may yet avert complete disaster. Our psychological health and our capacity for consciousness now plays a key role in our survival as a species. The rejected divinity of nature must now be appeased. The global crisis needs to be transformed into a global awareness. Regarding this need for consciousness Jung writes:

We therefore need more light, more goodness and moral strength, and must wash off as much of the obnoxious blackness as possible, otherwise we shall not be able to assimilate the dark God who wants to become man, and at the same time endure him without perishing.30

Frodo’s attachment to the Ring left him wounded. Frodo lost the finger which previously wore the One Ring. Sam, however, comes through the whole ordeal without injury or regret. In the end it is a matter of degree. That which is possessed by the Ring, as is Gollum, is fated toward self-destruction and has no future. The semi-attached, like Frodo, is left wounded. The unattached, like Sam, survives and moves on to form a new world.  


26 Jung, Aion, CW9, par 97.
27 Jung, Answer to Job, CW 11, par 746.
28 TBD
29 This principle is especially apparent to anyone experienced in working with the unconscious by the way of the dream. In working with dreams, the eruptions of the unconscious are lived on a psychological level. As a result of dream work the individual will often suffer a greater degree of inner torment, whilst outwardly the individual is a picture of peace and calm. What has happened is that the dreamer has managed to contain and integrate the dynamics of the unconscious. Dreams that pass by unresolved typically spill over into life and manifest as a physical event. If we then fail to learn from the event, the next target becomes the body and its various states of disease. Above all the deeper Self seeks to be made conscious. When this consciousness is not available, the Self will manifest as an actual event or circumstance which aims to bring about the desired awareness. For example, the global crisis is simply the dark and unacknowledged face of a global consciousness.
30 Jung, Answer to Job, CW11 par 742.