I was reading something recently that dumped all over The Matrix (1999), the movie that gave us the term “red-pilled.”
It’s pretty gnostic, but I liked it. I did not see the second two in the series.
But now there is a new one coming at Christmas, and John Morehead posted the trailer at TheoFantastique. It’s on YouTube, so I lifted that. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Jada Plnkett Smith will be back.
Meanwhile, are Matrix, Reloaded and Revolutions worth watching? Is there more there than CGI and explosions?
The sound track for the trailer is “White Rabbit” which rock historians know was released in 1967. That song has legs! (Insert Energizer Bunny joke here.)
The homeless children’s chief ally is a beautiful angel they have nicknamed the Blue Lady. She has pale blue skin and lives in the ocean, but she is hobbled by a spell. “The demons made it so she only has power if you know her secret name,” says Andre, whose mother has been through three rehabilitation programs for crack addiction. “If you and your friends on a corner on a street when a car comes shooting bullets and only one child yells out her true name, all will be safe. Even if bullets tearing your skin, the Blue Lady makes them fall on the ground. She can talk to us, even without her name. She says: ‘Hold on.'”
Folktales are usually an inheritance from family or homeland. But what if you are a child enduring a continual, grueling, dangerous journey? No adult can steel such a child against the outcast’s fate: the endless slurs and snubs, the threats, the fear. What these determined children do is snatch dark and bright fragments of Halloween fables, TV news, and candy-colored Bible-story leaflets from street-corner preachers, and like birds building a nest from scraps, weave their own myths. The “secret stories” are carefully guarded knowledge, never shared with older siblings or parents for fear of being ridiculed — or spanked for blasphemy. But their accounts of an exiled God who cannot or will not respond to human pleas as his angels wage war with Hell is, to shelter children, a plausible explanation for having no safe home, and one that engages them in an epic clash.
The reporter sees these “myths” as a response to the kids’ social distress. But do they also reveal an underlying predilection for a sort of cobbled-together Gnosticism?
But I owe her thanks for sending me to graduate school, for in the 1970s, when I came back to Colorado after my undergraduate years at Reed, CUT (then called “Summit Lighthouse“) was headquartered at One Broadmoor Avenue, Colorado Springs, a prestigious address, in a red-brick 1930s mansion built by some Oklahoman oilman.
I had never heard of Summit Lighthouse and as a Pagan was not too interested in quasi-gnostic metaphysical magical chanting–they called it “decreeing”–but a visiting friend wanted to see it, and so we went.
We picked up some pamphlets and got a tour of the public rooms from some of the followers, who despite the content of the teachings, had a definite Young Republican vibe too them. We did not meet Elizabeth Clare Prophet herself.
(If there was magic worked on behalf of President Reagan, CUT was working it.)
Later, as a reporter for the Colorado Springs Sun, I was approached by Mrs. Prophet’s disaffected ex-secretary, who offered herself as a source for a feature story on the group. Mrs. Prophet herself did not do interviews–as high as an outsider could go was the group’s spokesman, Murray Steinman.
Writing that story (and a couple of others on other groups) gave me more satisfaction than my regular work on the business beat. I credit them with nudging me towards an eventual decision to go to graduate school in religious studies, because I realized that as a newspaperman I could not really examine new religious movements in any depth.
Later, too, my chief interest in CUT was whether they would sell some of the land they bought for their “end of the world” retreat north of Yellowstone National Park in a deal arranged by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to keep an elk-migration corridor open.
Metaphysical movements come and go, but the elk should endure.
• Raw food and Linux: Interview with two Pagans. Raw food is fine, but it’s easy to look good if you are in your twenties and have the bone structure … As for Linux, that’s fine too, but I have no real reason to switch from Mac OS X. Just not geeky enough—or you could say that I prefer to be geeky about other things.
Some people feel that nobody should read the book, and some feel that everybody should read it. The truth is, nobody really knows. Most of what has been said about the book — what it is, what it means — is the product of guesswork, because from the time it was begun in 1914 in a smallish town in Switzerland, it seems that only about two dozen people have managed to read or even have much of a look at it.
Of those who did see it, at least one person, an educated Englishwoman who was allowed to read some of the book in the 1920s, thought it held infinite wisdom — “There are people in my country who would read it from cover to cover without stopping to breathe scarcely,” she wrote — while another, a well-known literary type who glimpsed it shortly after, deemed it both fascinating and worrisome, concluding that it was the work of a psychotic.
So for the better part of the past century, despite the fact that it is thought to be the pivotal work of one of the era’s great thinkers, the book has existed mostly just as a rumor, cosseted behind the skeins of its own legend — revered and puzzled over only from a great distance.
Gnostic and occult ideas are obviously the predominant feature of Jungian thought. Nonetheless, most people remain unaware of the fact that the occult ideas on which Jung worked were hardly original discoveries of his, as Jung leaves the impression they were; such ideas were ubiquitous in the decaying culture centers of Middle Europe in the years prior to World War II. Most people remain equally unaware that occult practices also lie at the heart of Jung’s own theory, clinical practice, and inner experiences. For the most part this is because these ideas have been presented in the Jungian literature, are explained in Jungian training, and when they appear in patients’ dreams will be interpreted almost exclusively in symbolic terms, not literally. So, for example, an alchemical picture of a man and woman coupling in a bath-or a dream of something similar-will be taken solely as a metaphor, of a “union of opposites.”
It can and should be argued that even so, these occult ideas tend to undermine moral standards.
Dreher goes all Lovecraftian on this one, as do some commenters.
• The latest weird search query to bring a visitor to this blog: “Is New Mexico a polytheistic, monotheistic, or animistic religion?” Hello? New Mexico is a state. No wonder that for years New Mexico Magazine has had a standing column on geographical confusion called “One of Our 50 is Missing.”
TheoFantastique [Morehead] : Cinema has also changed in its depiction of the witch. Are fairytale depictions as in Harry Potter, as well as those which depict the empowerment of the feminine perhaps the most common modes of expression in contemporary film?
Carrol Fry: Yes, the empowerment of the feminine is the most popular adaptation, whether the film is supportive of critical. I’m sure this has to do with attracting an audience for the film. But Pagans might well feel that Hollywood slights their spiritual paths by concentrating nearly exclusively on feminist Wicca, and then just on the most sensational elements. By the way, there’s a strong subtext of feminist Wicca in that no one much notices, most obviously in Sophie’s (named for Sophia from the Gnostic tradition) blunders into a Wiccan ceremony in which her grandfather is “drawing down the moon” as a coven ceremony. There are a few other witch films that are not part of the culture wars, romantic films such as I Married a Witch and Bell, Book and Candle that are neither the silly version of witches (that have nothing to do with Neo-Paganism[sic]) such as the Harry Potter novels and films nor adaptations of Wicca.
My own experience with Wikipedia is tiny — making minor edits on three or four articles — but I know that there are people who must spend hours every day on it.
Other stories about “revert wars” and similar cyber-squabbles involving political figures are common enough, so I can believe that one or two judgmental editors could mess with (in this case) Gnosticism too.
For some reason, Pagan-related articles have fared better. But I know that some of the Pagan editors are the same folks who were on the former Compuserve Pagan forum circa 1990–people who spend an awful lot of time in cyberspace.
Gnosticism, says Canadian Gnostic priest Jordan Statford (and blogger), is not a Jewish or Christian heresy, but stands alone, “too heretical for other faiths. . . . the Secret Church of the Holy Grail.”
“Originating in the intellectual ‘café societies’ of Alexandria around 200 BCE, the original Gnostics were Greek-educated Jews, living in Egypt, on the doorstep of the Roman Empire. Theirs was the realm of diverse and interplaying cultures, of ideas and imagination. Gnostics unflinchingly explored the borders of myth and archetype, of metaphors and dreams, of creativity and poetic expression.”
(Sometimes he makes them sound like beatniks of the ancient Mediterraean.)
Also included are
• A dictionary of Gnostic terms such as archon and demiurge.
• A ritual calendar that starts with Candlemas, equating Bridget with Sophia, both as “goddesses” of wisdom and creativity, and runs through the feast of the apostle John, December 27. (Not real goddesses but “symbol[s] for an aspect of something greater.”)
• A question-and-answer section, viz., “Do Gnostics deny the historical Jesus?”
Answer: He is an archetype; “these stories don’t need to be historically true to be valuable.”
There is no original sin in Stratford’s Gnosticism; instead there is a story of loss. (I have suggested before that this story underlies the appeal of such fantasies as Anna Anderson’s claim to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia.)
All Gnostics are in exile from heaven; they need to be reminded of their divine spark within; they need to be told that “the system” is not the world. And salvation comes not from faith-there is the rupture with orthodox Christianity-nor from works, but through enlightenment, gnosis.
Stratford wants to contrast Gnosticism with the “credal” or doctrinal religions. I think the opposite term to “credal” (following Harvey Whitehouse) is “imagistic” – not dependent on doctrine but on small-scale experience involving all the senses.
Stratford, in fact, wishes to link one of Gnosticism’s arms to contemporary Paganism, but I am not so sure of that.
Ultimately there is a chasm between them. Gnosticism cannot be separated from a belief that the world was simply made wrong: “There’s that certainty that something is wrong with the universe, and creeping paranoia that (a) this is somehow not the real world and (b) the forces in charge of this world are hiding something secret, something powerful.” It is a religion of psychic exile.
We may say that there is more to the world than This Side (the “nonempirical” part, but we don’t reject any of it. The gods pop up everywhere: Aphrodite in a shoe-store window display, as Ginette Paris once said.
Some Pagans may feel alienated (for good cause), but we have no reason to be in exile. This is our world, the parts that you can see and the parts that you cannot.