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  • Writer's pictureChase Blackwood

Is the Eye of Sauron the Eye of Providence?

"Far off the shadows of Sauron hung; but torn by some gust of wind out of the world, or else moved by some great disquiet within, the mantling clouds swirled, and for a moment drew aside; and then he saw, rising black, blacker and darker than the vast shades amid which it stood, the cruel pinnacles and iron crown of the topmost tower of Barad-dûr. One moment only it stared out, but as from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing Eye; and then the shadows were furled again and the terrible vision was removed."—The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter III "Mount Doom"

The Eye of Sauron and the Eye of Providence are distinct symbols, but they both carry significant meanings in their respective contexts. Let's explore the two symbols and their meanings, as well as the allegorical use of the one eye in "The Lord of the Rings."

  1. Eye of Sauron: As mentioned earlier, the Eye of Sauron is a symbol in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." It represents the dark lord Sauron's malevolent power and his control over his minions. The Eye serves as a metaphorical extension of Sauron's will, searching for the One Ring and surveilling his enemies.

  2. Eye of Providence: The Eye of Providence is a symbol that depicts an eye enclosed within a triangle and often surrounded by rays of light. It has a long history and has been used by various cultures and religions to represent the all-seeing eye of the creator or divine providence. The symbol has been associated with protection, observation, guidance, and divine knowledge.

J.R.R. Tolkein was a devout Christian who had stated that his beliefs had influenced his writings and its themes, namely ideas like good versus evil, however, he wanted his works to stand alone on their own merit. That being stated, it is still a fun thought exercise to pull thematic elements out of his works and examine them.

In this case, let's examine the underlying thematic element of the Eye of Sauron. It's an element that is crucial to the story of Lord of the Rings, and can be considered analogous to a piece of symbolism that we find all over the world (on the back of the dollar bill, on the shirt of famous musicians and Hollywood stars, to governmental buildings, and Free Masonic halls.)

As Tolkien was a staunch Christian, I think it appropriate to include a few verses from the Bible for context.

  1. Psalm 33:18 (NIV): "But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love."

  2. Proverbs 15:3 (NIV): "The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good."

  3. Zechariah 4:10 (NIV): "Who dares despise the day of small things since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?"

  4. 1 Peter 3:12 (NIV): "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

These quotes tie in the themes of watchfulness and good versus evil, which one could argue is the main theme of Lord of the Rings. What's interesting is that all these quotes refers to eyes plural, not singular. Is this purely semantics? Is this an accident? Can one assume that eye and eyes are interchangeable?

From a linguistic standpoint, I believe one could. From a symbolic standpoint tied to historical context and the beliefs of Christian and Free Masonic groups, I'd argue that one cannot conflate the two, as they appear to be different.

A small note, as examining these two symbols has posed some more challenges than I had initially anticipated. Here it is, note: Freemasonry is a secretive society, and its teachings and rituals are only known to its members. Therefore, the exact quotes or references to the Eye of Providence within Masonic handbooks would typically not be publicly accessible. The interpretation and significance of the symbol may vary among different Masonic jurisdictions and lodges.

There are websites and texts that allude to the Eye of Providence being tied to a secret. One that only the highest members of secret societies and Freemasonry are made aware of. That the one eye, is in fact, tied to Baphomet, and that the greater power they refer to is Lucifer, and the one eye, represents him. Many of these claims are hard to verify, and lack evidence.

So, the idea of the Eye of Providence being tied to Lucifer or Freemasonry as a secret symbol is a conspiracy theory that is difficult to prove. Freemasonry states they do use the symbol, but it represents the watchful eye of God, not Lucifer.

Meaning of the One Eye: The one eye, or the singular eye, is a concept found in various mythologies and religions. It can symbolize different things depending on the context. In some beliefs, it represents spiritual enlightenment or a higher state of consciousness. In other contexts, it can represent a symbol of power, knowledge, or surveillance.

In "The Lord of the Rings," the Eye of Sauron is a singular eye, which can be interpreted as a representation of Sauron's all-seeing and ever-watchful nature, as well as his desire for dominance and control.

Use of Allegory in the Battle between Good and Evil: As mentioned earlier, "The Lord of the Rings" is filled with allegorical elements that explore the battle between good and evil. The struggle against Sauron and his forces can be seen as a reflection of the timeless conflict between darkness and light, tyranny and freedom, and corruption and purity. The One Ring itself can be viewed as an allegory for the corrupting influence of power and the moral choices individuals must face when tempted by it.

Tolkien's use of allegory and symbolism allows readers to connect with deeper themes and contemplate the nature of good and evil in their own lives and the world around them. The story's enduring appeal lies in its ability to convey profound messages while captivating readers with an imaginative and epic narrative.

Ultimately, any analogy can get lost in the weeds, and supersede any creative genius purposefully or accidently implied by the author. Does a watchful eye, surveilling everything represent good or evil? Are the two symbols coincidental? Are they analogous? Well, I guess that's for the reader to decide.

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Ivan Kost
Ivan Kost
Apr 01

When’s your next book in the series coming out?

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