Friday, February 1, 2013

You Wear The Pointy Hat, You Take The Responsibility

Here is an interesting line of continuity that sort of fascinates me, because I am geeky for all things wizardly.

The official insignia for the highest order of initiates (the Pater) of the Mithraic Mysteries in ancient Rome were a pointy hat, a staff, a jeweled ring, a cape, and robes.

Some people think this influenced the official insignia for a Roman Catholic bishop (although an argument can and has been made for origins in the Aaronic priesthood). The bishop's insignia includes a pointy hat (or miter), a staff (or crozier), a jeweled ring, a cape (or chasuble), and robes.
Now J. R. R. Tolkien was a Catholic, and the highest visible spiritual authority in his book The Lord of the Rings is the wizard Gandalf, who wears a pointy hat, carries a staff, has a jeweled ring (Narya, the Ring of Fire), and wears a cloak and dresses in robes.
And the image of Gandalf (traditional as it may be) has influenced how most literary wizards have been portrayed since.

Any point to this lineage? Maybe not, but I find it worth musing on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are too far off in wondering about that. I showed your post to my wife who was rasied a Roman Catholic, has a variety applicable degrees and is something of a Tolkien scholar. She says that Catholic Imagery is present throughout TLOR books but also Celtic, Germanic and Persian ideas about how a Mage or Wise Man should look. I am not as well-read as she but she says the crook in Gandalf's hat is a significant nod to pagan tradition but that his actions throughout the books are similar to the Apostle Peter and since he is credited as the first Pope...we get back to your original thesis!