Are Good and Evil Equal?

An interesting idea occurred to me the other day. Really, it was perhaps more of an intuition than an idea, an idea being what one creates one’s self. The other is perhaps more of a perception than an imaginary construct. The observation I had was this: I notice in some metaphysical and fantasy writings the balances occurring between light and shadow, right and wrong, and good and evil.

There are two examples of this that I happened to come across the other day. The first is a series of books most of us are familiar with, The Lord of the Rings. You’ll notice that in the beginning of the book, there’s a haunting rhyme about the nature of the rings, some of which are good, some of which are bad. What I noticed was that the number of good rings in the poem equal ten. This is also true for the number of evil rings. The One Ring and the nine rings of mortal men doomed to die, the ones worn by the ringwraiths, amount to ten, while the seven dwarf rings and the three elven rings also amount to the same number. Is this pure chance? Did Tolkein intend this sort of equilibrium between light and dark semblances in his voluminous, enthralling series of books. We can only conjecture. I’ve read a little bit about Tolkein’s past but can remember reading nothing about this issue. So is this fact some sort of unconscious archetype that emerged within his mind, some sort of advanced algorithim that quietly found its way into his mind, the origins of which he was oblivious to himself? Maybe, but the fact that the number ten emerges so neatly, as if some numerological figure, suggests an interesting possibility about what he and other myth makers are saying about the nature of evil.

The second example is perhaps even more interesting, and this one is connected to the significations of the planets in astrology. We all probably know that there are, or were, seven major planets in astrology, each of which governs some field of life as conduit for the expression of the gods. Nearly all ancient cultures believed in this ancient lore, and it is a telling trait that the planets’ significations are also configured in a way that form a type of symmetry or balance between good and evil. As you might already know, Jupiter, Venus, and Moon are the benefic planets, which often give us blessings and favors in life, while the so-called malefics are Saturn, Mars, and Sun, which are believed to cause humanity greater hardship and struggle. Mercury is a considered a neutral, a sort of referee who takes on the guise and characteristics of the other planets it is associated with. So here the paradigm is found again: a symmetrical balance of forces that interplay and all have a complex functioning within the human existence. And again, like in Lord of the Rings, these forces are completely equal.

Does this mean that good and evil, the oldest plot formula in mythology and storytelling, are in fact a balanced force within creation? I suspect maybe it does.


10 thoughts on “Are Good and Evil Equal?

    1. I think that’s true. To some extent, though, I see Tolkein as very pessimistic sometimes in viewing the Ring as more powerful than most wizards save a few, such as Bombadil. There’s sort of a shock and awe aspect to the way he views evil. The poem seems to suggest sort of a fair match, but its’ a debatable point.

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    1. Yin-Yang is another example of what I’m talking about. It’s good to raise I think there’s actually a number of examples of this sort of symmetry and numerological significance in mythology and even in new stories like Star Wars, where it talks about the bringing balance to the Force. The list goes on so that one wonders if this is all some type of Jungian archetype.


    2. I haven’t studied anti-matter, but an interesting scientific idea I came across the other day is about the balance between night and day on earth, both of which are roughly equal on an annual basis. Some parts of the globe experience more daylight than nighttime, but for the most part, night and day are both of equal balance.


  1. Just another view, if you would like to read my post ‘Compassion (The Post)!’. I show the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ balances in our lives and the purpose that they have. Without them we would not learn about ourselves. It would be like isolating someone with all good or all bad, and it would be all they know and would affect how they face life. We have both so that we can understand and then appreciate what we do have, and in doing so it guides us in life 😀


    1. It’s a good point you raise. I used to be into thinking like this, such as light needs the darkness to be perceived, etc. However, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that darkness is not something that’s part of some cosmic “divine plan,” so to speak. Things like the Holocaust seem to have little benefit to the world, other perhaps than some powerful tales coming out of it. People seem to assume God is totally in control, and that everything in their life has some sort of purpose. I guess I’m no longer comfortable with such a view. A major theme in my books is the presence of dark entity, who challenges the creator gods and hampers their efforts to create a utopia. Still, you are right in some way; I think there’s some challenge in the game to keep people awake and thinking. A story is sort of boring if it’s all about things that don’t go wrong. A story about a clash between good and evil draws attention more.

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  2. It’s certainly old, this one. Milton? Paradise Lost and Regained? In the end, who was good and who was evil? Satan is a proud warrior, God is too, although I always thought Him a little patronising. So who fits where in the Great Scheme, and does it really matter? We can’t experience happiness without first having done the Slough of Despond, can we? So I guess we wouldn’t recognise good if we didn’t have evil as a comparison. (I think I’ll have an Evil Day today…)


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