The Way to Mordor

It had been three days since Frodo and Sam split from the rest of the party and already, they grew despondent.

"Well master, we're in a fix and no mistake," said Sam. There was no easy path for the hobbits to follow. They found themselves scaling barren slopes only to retrace their steps. Sometimes they would trek for hours only to discover that they had come a full circle. There was need of haste. Their slow progress would only profit the enemy.

As night fell on the third day, Frodo spotted some strange creature crawling down the cliff towards them. As it neared the bottom of the sheer cliff wall it slipped and fell. Sam sprang upon it in an instant.

It was Gollum. He had been trailing the hobbits, now he was their captive.

Gollum was drawn not by Frodo but by the ring which he carried. A long time ago Gollum was also a hobbit. His name then was Smeagol. As Smeagol he came upon the ring and wore it freely. Soon Smeagol was completely possessed by the One Ring. This was how Smeagol became the twisted and tormented creature now known as Gollum.

Bilbo stole the ring from Gollum and passed it on to Frodo. But Gollum sorely missed the Ring and was still drawn by its magnetic pull. Gollum could not stand light of any kind. He moved about only in the dark, where neither the sun nor the moon could shine upon him.

Yet Gollum had a secret value – he knew the way in and out of Mordor. Previously he had been captured by the Dark Lord but had now escaped and come looking for the One Ring. Gollum would be Frodo's guide into the dark heart of Mordor.

"Yesss, yes indeed," said Gollum sitting up. "Nice hobbits! We will come with them. Find them safe paths in the dark, yes we will."

To return the Ring to the cracks of doom Frodo must first enter the land of Mordor. Mordor is the kingdom of the Dark Lord, a barren and treeless place where life struggled and failed. The land of Mordor is a picture of our own industrialised world and the social system we have established over the past two hundred years. The blackened Mordor stands in stark contrast to the greenery of the Shire and the elven cities of Rivendell and Lothlorien. It is a world where nature has been downtrodden, raped and abused. Frodo’s journey toward Mordor reflects the struggle to bring a new consciousness into the barren culture in which we live.

For Frodo there is no clear path to follow. There is no path just as there is no established moral code which may guide us. If we wish to live an ecologically conscious lifestyle then we are to pioneer a new way. In these early days, an ecological code of ethics is yet to be formulated let alone enforced. This lack of a moral code is common to the beginning of a new era.

In the pre-Christian era the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament were offered as a new moral code by which one should live. The Ten Commandments dictated such rules as one should not steal, kill, lie, or commit adultery. For many centuries these Ten Commandments served well but there came a point where Mosaic Law failed to remain a suitable moral challenge for the prevailing culture. It was in the Book of Job that Mosaic Law first showed its age and impotence.

The Book of Job tells the story of God’s most faithful servant, Job. Job was an outstanding citizen and could not be faulted. As God looked proudly upon Job, Satan raised the question as to whether Job obeyed God’s laws out of fear and respect or out of his love for God. With God’s permission, Job was to be put to the test. Satan wreaked the greatest havoc upon Job's life, stopping short of taking his life. His stocks were destroyed, his children were killed, and Job was cursed with foul disease. Ultimately there was nothing left for Job to fear from God. Yet still Job remained true.

Jung felt that Job’s greater moral stand cleared the way and inspired the birth of Christ. Christ brought with him a new moral code. Where Mosaic Law outlined what one should not do (“Thou shalt not...”) the teachings of Christ asked that we act out of a love of God, our neighbour, and the whole of creation. Edinger points out that where “Mosaic Law recognized only the reality of deeds, Jesus recognized the reality of inner psychic states.”21 Edinger quotes the following two extracts from the New Testament.

You have heard that it was said to men of old, “You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.…22


You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.23

The New Testament brought forth a new morality, not to replace that of the Old Testament, but to enhance and supersede it. And for the past two thousand years these teachings of Christianity have served us well. We are now a more humane society now than we were previously. Yet, as we enter a new era, the moral challenge posed by Christ’s teachings has also grown old and insufficient. The German philosopher, Frederick Nietzsche, was amongst the first to recognise this need for a new morality. In his Thus spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche wrote:

Once the sin against God was the greatest sin; but God died, and these sinners died with him. To sin against the earth is now the most dreadful thing.24

Just as Mosaic Law offered little or no challenge for Job, the New Testament fails to serve us to the same extent as it did two thousand years ago. The ongoing evolution of consciousness requires a new moral challenge to further our growth and development. And we have this challenge. It is the global crisis - the quest to return the Ring.

Christianity has little to say about how we should manage our waterways, forests, and the earth beneath us. There is no code of ethics regarding economic management or the use of our technology. We have nothing to call to attention our modern-day sins. So, we flounder in the dark, committing a new breed of ecological crimes. This is the immediate problem for Sam and Frodo. They have no map to guide them through the dark lands of Mordor. In 1956 Jung wrote:

As at the beginning of the Christian Era, so again today we are faced with the problem of the moral backwardness which has failed to keep pace with our scientific, technical, and social developments. 25

Jung felt that the greatest sin was ignorance, and that redemption from ignorance came only through the creation of consciousness. In Jung’s psychology the creation of consciousness begins with an exploration of the shadow. For out of the darkness a new light is born.

Of the many shadow figures in the story of the Lord of the Rings, it is Gollum who presents the most human (or hobbit like) face. In the story Gandalf tells us that Gollum was once himself a hobbit who stumbled upon the Ring and became horribly possessed by his ‘precious’ discovery. When he talked of Gollum, Gandalf expressed some hope that Gollum may be cured before he died. He also instructed Frodo and the elves to look upon Gollum with some sympathy and sense of importance. Gandalf felt that for good or ill, Gollum still had some part to play in the fate of the Ring. Remembering this, Frodo, who had originally wished Gollum dead, stayed the hand of Sam when Gollum was first captured.

Gollum may be recognized as that part of ourselves which enjoys the convenience and comfort provided by our modern-day technology. Despite the darker face of this technology, we all enjoy the benefits of fast travel, abundant energy supplies, personal wealth, and easy living. Yet we must also ask ourselves how much we value clean air, clean water and the peace and accord of life. For these are just a few of nature’s treasures that we have traded for our modern world.

Whilst we would rather not see our world in crisis, we continue to live a lifestyle which is not sustainable. Gollum has not the capacity to see through to the evil heart of the Ring. He wants it only for himself. Just as we have become terribly accustomed to our modern lifestyle, Gollum is possessed by the Ring. There is no way Gollum would allow the Ring to be sacrificed and destroyed; he thereby acts as an agent of the Dark Lord.

Marie Louise von Franz points out that the collective shadow reaches us through our personal shadow. In our own small way, we all contribute to the collective destruction of this planet. Yet, just as the collective shadow comes up through our personal shadow, the reverse is also true. Through working upon our personal shadow, we may find our way through to, and transform the collective shadow.

Gollum knows the way in and out of Mordor; he is to be Frodo’s guide. To transform the collective shadow, we must start simply with ourselves. In admitting and addressing one’s own contribution to the global crisis one works toward a greater solution - ultimately freeing us all from the collective shadow which plagues us now.

Unlike the Dark Lord, Gollum does not seek destruction, he seeks only his precious Ring. He is an ambiguous figure neither wholly good nor evil, and in this way serves as a bridge between the two. To follow Gollum is to struggle with the problem which is ourselves. This is done through an acceptance, not denial, of our desires. Jung argues that “it is no easy matter to live a life modelled on Christ, but unspeakably harder to live one’s own life as truly as Christ lived his.” In wrestling with our darkness, we create a deeper morality, a morality which is more like what one would call a conscience which leads to an ethical way of being.


21 Edinger, Ego and Archetype.
22 Mathew 5:21-22
23 Ibid. 5:27-28
24 Nietzsche's Thus spoke Zarathustra, Book 1. Prologue 3.
25 Jung, “The Undiscovered Self,” Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par 586.