The Breaking of the Fellowship

For ten days the party journeyed down the river. They were not without company. At one point Sam thought he saw a log with eyes, floating down along with the boats. He voiced his concern to Frodo, who was not surprised. He too had seen those same eyes way back in the elven forest. Aragorn confirmed their suspicions. Gollum had been following them from as far back as Bree, perhaps further.

The enemy was never far off. The Ring Wraiths had taken to the skies and were again searching for Frodo. On the eighth day the party escaped an ambush of orcs, who had hidden themselves along one side of the river. A watch was placed at night.

Now the time came when Aragorn could no longer lead the party. Should they go west with Boromir and fight in the wars of Gondor? Should they turn towards the east to face the fear and the shadow? Or should the fellowship break so that each may go this way and that as each may choose?

"Well Frodo," said Aragorn. "I fear that the burden is laid upon you. You are the bearer appointed by the council. Your own way you alone can choose."

Frodo did not answer at once. He needed time to think and walked off to be alone.

Boromir followed Frodo and asked Frodo to reconsider the need to destroy the Ring. Boromir longed for the Ring and as he continued a madness filled his eyes. He asked Frodo to hand him the Ring so that he might use it in the war against the enemy. When Frodo refused to part with the Ring Boromir grew furious and attempted to take the Ring by force. By slipping the Ring on his finger Frodo was rendered invisible and escaped Boromir’s attack.

Frodo was now certain of what he needed to do. The Ring was far too dangerous to be held onto. He had no choice but to embark upon his sole journey into the black heart of Mordor. There he would throw back the Ring and free Middle Earth of its evil.

Frodo decided to sneak away lest the others try to follow. Their purpose lay elsewhere. By leaving without saying farewell, Frodo would give the others no choice but to continue in their own direction.

While Frodo prepared to leave, the rest of the party had begun to worry about him. A hoard of orcs attacked. Boromir fought valiantly but was overcome. When Aragorn reached him, Boromir, with his last breath, explained what had happened and how sorry he was. He recognised that he had become overpowered by the temptation of the Ring.

In their search for Frodo only Sam read his master's mind correctly, turning and running back to the boats. There Sam found Frodo slinking off in one of the canoes. Jumping into the water, Sam caught the tail of the boat and Frodo pulled him aboard. In no way would Sam leave the side of his master.

The warrior Boromir stands in contrast to Aragorn. Aragorn would not take nor accept the Ring. Yet, with honour and good intention, Boromir would hold onto the Ring and use its power. Boromir’s desire for the Ring ran deeper than he was aware of. When Boromir approached Frodo and asked for the Ring this madness was revealed. Only later, once it was too late, did he realise his error.

Boromir is another masculine energy at work within the drama of the global crisis. His is the attitude which feels that, with sufficient integrity, we may safely hold onto our technological power and worldly ambitions. This attitude fails to recognise that we already have more power and control than we can ethically manage. Our capacity to act as the safe custodians of power, is already far outstripped by the power which we currently have at our disposal. For proof of this we need only look at the escalated state of the global crisis.

Boromir can be seen in that aspect of our selves which seeks to do good but remains caught by the temptation of worldly progress. We are captured by Boromir’s madness whenever we seek an even greater degree of control over life – despite the intention of putting this power to good use. What is required is less of this ambition and masculine drive. We need to honour the slower rhythm of nature. We cannot force nature. We need to stop, slow down and relinquish power.

All too often, upon review of our life goals and ambitions, we find them sorely lacking in any real depth. In our progress we have left so much behind. Our sense of community, time for our children and our inner life have all been lost amidst the fast pace of our modern world. Boromir is this blind ambition. He is that ambition which has no soul at its heart. These are the ambitions of the individual, companies and countries that are cut off from the deeper Self. There is no inner consultation as to what is truly worthwhile.

When Frodo recognises this madness and temptation to power in even the honourable Boromir, he is convinced that the only way forward is to see to the destruction of the Ring. The individual who can recognise blind ambition within himself, is ready to turn and serve the deeper purpose of the whole of life.

Frodo had to begin his sole journey. He could not wait any longer. Aragorn and the others were needed to fight the more worldly battle against Mordor. So begins the inner dimension of the quest. One turns to face the Dark Lord within, that great western shadow at the root of our troubles.

Typically, we see the shadow as it is projected out onto other people, groups, and cultures. Unfortunately battling the shadow outwardly does little to loosen the grip it holds upon us inwardly. It has been told that when Jung was asked about whether we would survive our times he replied that we would, so long as enough people did their own inner work.

This inner work begins with this honest examination of one’s own self. It is no longer a matter of attending rallies, signing petitions, or voting for the Green political parties. At some point one stops and asks oneself, "What have I really achieved?" You may question whether you have made any real and functional changes within your own life! Like Middle Earth’s dependence on Frodo, the fate of the world rests with the individual. If we cannot change ourselves, then we cannot change the world around us.