Tolkien's works are far more than just "books" and Tolkien himself, far more than just an "author of fiction".
I found this article to be exemplary in its dissection of the Lord of the Rings with regards to the art of alchemy and the changing of the Ages.
Truly enlightening and a great read for those that seek greater truths - enjoy!
Part One Rings of Time:
The Four Ages, the Precession of the Equinoxes and the Quality of Time
In contrast to the materially based teachings offered to us by today's schools and institutions of higher learning, the teachings of Alchemy (which
flowed from Egypt into the mystic heart of the Hebrew, Islamic and Christian
traditions) as well as the Tantric teachings of India and Tibet, present a
deeply spiritual view of human history and evolution. As documented in the book,
The Path of the Priestess; A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine, by
Sharron Rose, this view is completely at variance with that of the modern
scientific Darwinian perspective.1 Rather than perceive past and future from a
purely linear point of view, the great adepts, and masters of these ancient
spiritually based traditions, knew that the flow of time and human experience is
not linear but cyclic. In other words, in the same way that we as human beings
experience the ebb and flow of cycles such as the seasons of nature, the phases
of the moon, birth, growth, maturation and death, humanity, as a whole,
experiences the rise and fall of a larger cycle of existence known as the Maha
Yuga. This Maha Yuga or Great Cycle is composed of four ages known as the Satya
Yuga, or Golden Age, the Treta Yuga or Silver Age, the Dvapara Yuga or Bronze
Age and the Kali Yuga or Iron Age.
The teachings state that as this cycle begins, the world and all of its inhabitants are totally aligned with deep spiritual principles, the natural
world and shimmering realms of Divinity. It is a time of unity, splendor, grace
and luminosity. However, as the cycle unfolds and these Ages metaphorically
progress, from gold to silver to bronze to iron, the bulk of humanity moves
further and further away from this pure, unsullied, essential knowledge and
experience of spirit. As time moves on, there is a gradual distancing from the
Primordial Source and descent towards an age of total materialization and
concretization. With each successive Age, faith, integrity, and allegiance to
spiritual values is decreased by one-fourth. The veils between the realms of
spirit and matter become thicker, and our resistance to the forces of darkness
becomes weaker. By the final Age of the cycle, the pure light of spirit is all
but extinguished. Only a quarter of the original Divine energy of truth, virtue
and integrity remains and even that energy diminishes with the unfolding of the
final Age. This final stage of the cycle, in which we now reside, is known as
the Iron Age. According to the texts, it is the Age our race has lived in for at
least 6000 years. It is the period of time known to us today as history.
8 pages of photos and info on link