"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates (470-399 BCE)
"All that we are is the result of what we have thought." - Buddha
"Know Thyself." - Oracle at Delphi
Continuing from the last post, Albedo (and Nigredo before that), we reach the intermediate stage of Xanthosis, or The Yellowing. Typically the stages are done in three's as there are three alchemical substances: salt, sulphur and mercury. However, I felt it necessary to break this down a bit more and introduce the hermetic allegory of the peacock's tail, otherwise known as Cauda Pavonis. This stage represents the quick color change which signals that the attainment of the Stone is near. A warning is given to alchemists not to believe their work is complete at this stage, however, and not to get too excited or distracted as that may disrupt the process and endanger the completion of the Stone.
Mercurius:The Alchemist and The Thief enter a room with the design of the third-eye chakra on the floor, complete with Om/Aum symbol in the center. Also, there is an albino peacock walking around the room, a symbol of enlightenment according to Jodorowsky, hence the fitting title for this part of the series, The Peacocks Tail or cauda pavonis.
The remaining darkness unfolds like the multi-coloured petals of a metallic flower. Each jewel-like petal scintillates in a constellation of sapphires, opals, emeralds, amethysts, rubies, chalcedon, and onyx. The colors shift and merge, wink and dissipate, like an incarnation of Iris.
The colors irradiate from the centre like the rays of Sol contained within the circle of Luna. There are many eyes which yet form the iris of the single astral Eye. This we call the Cauda Pavonis. It watches me as I sit in front of it, pausing between one word and another. I see my own face, thoughtful, slightly skewed, as in a mirror image. The Eye sees into my heart and my heart goes out to it. I am no longer myself.
The replicas represent seven planets, but not the traditional seven, as The Alchemist is already the sun, and The Thief is shown in a deleted scene with the symbol of the moon, and in that same scene The Written Woman is shown with the symbol for mercury. Together these three characters may constitute the Three Essentials of Alchemy. The (seven) Planets continue from Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The Planets are shown be be perversions and inversions of their traditional symbolism. Even the planetary symbol is sometimes inverted to show that this is literally the case with these characters.
“The fish thinks about his hunger, not about the fisherman. It is the master who seeks the disciple. You want to know the secret, but man cannot see nothing but himself. To accomplish the alchemical work you will have these companions. They are thieves like you, but on another level. They are the most powerful people on the planet. Industrialists and politicians."
The first Planet we are introduced to is Fon of the planet Venus. He is a man, contrary to the idea of venus, and his symbol is also an inversion of the traditional logo, though the color is a greenish-blue and is typical for the planet. The employees at his factory are all women, and he sometimes picks from them one to be his wife, one of many wives that is. He also only makes love to them during working hours.
A few of his wives appear to be quite young, and I'm reminded that his name “Fon” is similar to “a fawn,” or a satyr - the wildly sexual forest gods such as Pan. The movie shows he and his new wife making love and she pulls a handful of white hearts and pours them in her mouth and on her face. It's one of many times that Jodorowsky uses analogous elements in his film rather than showing the actual object/thing, but it also reminds me of how rice is traditionally thrown over a newlywed couple to signify fertility: the new wife of Fon is shown pregnant immediately after he chooses her. Additionally, these white “pearls of jizdom” are the base form of “pearls of wisdom.” Often great mystical truths are symbolized by sexual ideas, though they aren't meant to be taken literally: sex for pleasure is a distraction. A very fun distraction, I might add, but not the type of eternal bliss one on a journey to enlightenment is seeking. Buddha and others have been tempted with pleasures of the flesh. Speaking of analogies, I just learned via the commentary which I was finally able to get the subtitles working on, that Fon's new wife here is actually a transvestite, a man who became a woman, and thus combines the two halves in an alchemical rebis/hermaphrodite of sorts.
The difference between being immortal and immoral is the cross, or the letter t/T. Odin hung on the World Tree and received Wisdom, Jesus was crucified and went to the Otherworld and came back. Without the death to the physical, one is stuck in the pleasure focused state and doesn't find true bliss.
His father is the boss of the company but he is deaf, dumb and blind. When he makes a decision, he puts his hand between the legs of the mummy of his wife, and if she is dry the answer is “no.” Their business is beauty, but as this is an inversion of traditional venus, the beauty is only an illusion. They make a line of masks which are permanent beautiful faces. They even beautify dead bodies and animate them for lively funerals. They also make fake muscles for men to put on their bodies, as well as cod-pieces to increase the size of their bulge. As you can see, it's all egoic beauty, and does not change the person internally, where external beauty begins. It is said that people who are fairly enlightened tend to have magnetic attractiveness, not really how they look, but something which people pick up on and want to be around. So working on internal beauty will have an effect on the external, but working solely on the external only masks the internal ugliness. The rest of The Planets are also inversions of what they would typically stand for.
Next we come to Isla of Mars. Here we have a woman symbolizing mars, again an inversion, and again the typical mars logo is inverted as well. She sleeps in a black triangular room inside a black shielded bed (like the Batmobile actually) with 3 dogs and 2 other lesbian women. The two women are the ones The Alchemist is cleaning up in the opening scenes of the movie, which I mention in the beginning of the previous post in this series. Isla dresses as a man as well. The theme song for this part of the movie is called Sapphic Sleep which represents female homosexuality.
Isla makes weapons with the help of her many male secretaries workforce who dress in drag. They make bombers, bombs, ray guns, deadly bacteria, antimatter waves, carcinogenic gases, etc.
She even makes weapons for the young generation and it's sit-ins and marches (referring to the late sixties peace movement). Instead of putting flowers into gun barrels, Isla provides peace protesters with grenade necklaces, psychedelic shotguns, rock-n-roll weapons, and even mystical weapons for religious people.
Klen of Jupiter lives in an opulant mansion with his wife who doesn't love him and a kid who is only interested in getting his allowance. His son is shown in a deleted scene with a naked girl laying in bed with him, like father like son, as the father, Klen, also has a mistress we'll see in a minute. This deleted scene is pretty interesting however, as it depicts a chapel room in the house with a cross made of televisions (used by Marilyn Manson in a concert) and a picture of The Flash where Jesus should be. The cross made of cubic boxes is so freaking awesome... As we all know a cube unfolded is a cross, and a tesseract unfolded is a cubic cross (with another box in front and behind the middle one). Plus not only is it boxes, it's television sets, microcosms of the fake world or matrix we inhabit. It also reminds me of the boxy amplifiers which replace the body of a dead man in Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box" video (see my: Heart Shaped Coffin post). I love this scene, too bad it was deleted because they were afraid the naked little girl would be off-putting to some. There are also more paintings by Jodorowsky (I'm guessing) in this room, all comic and sexual. And the image of The Flash is from a comic cover of a comic where Flash loses his memory and believes himself to be an 8-year old kid. The Flash: “They say I'm The Flash! If it only were true I could help them! Please make it come true God!” Rings of Pinocchio to me, but also something Jesus may have had to deal with being told he was the son of God as he was growing up. Not sure if it was planned this way, but Flash is related to Hermes/Thoth and therefore wisdom, so wisdom is being venerated, though here in an inverted world it is comic and fantasy.
Klen meets up with his young hippie mistress and they go to his factory where they make sexual art, most of which actually incorporates naked living people into the art. The best part of this guys factory is the giant robotic vagina 'love machine.' Yes, a giant mechanical vagina. The "seX-Box" needs to be stimulated with a large 'electronic wand' and brought to climax. The result of a successful attempt is a baby robot. Yup, that's life, going through the robotic motions which may result in procreation so that a new generation can again go through the motions, so on and so forth. Jodorowsky comments that this is a mixing of geometry and biology, machines with humans, and that the machine is becoming more human by giving birth. He muses that machines can help people evolve, and today that is happening with the use of binaural beats, bio-feedback and self-hypnosis technology which people can use to stimulate increased memory, better meditation, lucid dreaming, and out of body experiences.
Sel of Saturn caters to children. It's funny, because the god Saturn is known for eating his children! I didn't take too many pictures of her scenes, but Sel hangs out with dwarfs who dress as Santa. Although he doesn't mention it, Jodorowsky has connected Santa with Saturn/Satan. She dresses as a clown and plays with them, but once she gets to her factory it's all business. I think she switches places with the tall guy who follows her around, but it's hard to tell with all the makeup.
She runs a toy factory where she makes toy weapons to indoctrinate future generations into wanting to go to war against whoever the State wants to go to war with (in this case, it's Peru). They start them young by planning 15 years in advance and then making toys which subconsciously make the kids hate the future enemy. Her workforce, contrary to her target audience, is entirely made up of the elderly. Might as well use people close to death to promote death. Some of them even appear to be veterans of previous wars.
Berg of the aptly named Uranus is an effeminate mommas boy who lives with his frighteningly sexual mother
(warning: this scene of the movie may give you nightmares!). Jodorowsky explains that Uranus symbolized to him the dark and depraved side of humans. Jodorowsky wanted this movie to transform not only the audience but the people acting in it, so all the characters basically play themselves, and in this case the gay character Berg is actually a gay man; the same goes for the lesbian Isla of mars, and the millionaire Klen who was actually a millionaire, and so on.
The mother is played by a screwball who hung around the studios looking for work as an extra, but the most notable thing about her is that she has no belly button! Jodorowsky likens her to Eve, as Eve was born from Adam's rib and had no need for a belly button and umbilical cord. She doesn't like the only small window in their room and even says that it is too big and needs to be covered up; she wants to totally seal themselves off from the world (compare to the gay mamma's boy in Stephen Kings “It” is isn't allowed to go out in play very often). Anyways, he wears a lot of pentacles and has a shirt with a large “5” on it. I'm just letting you know the details in case someone else cares to interpret, some of these scenes are pretty damn bizarre! :)
These two work for the government as financial advisors. Their report to the government advises the killing of four million citizens in the next five years to boost the economy. The president then orders the opening of “gas-chambers, gas-schools, gas-universities, gas-libraries, gas-museums, gas-dance-halls, gas-whorehouses, etc.”
Axon of Neptune is a police chief. His symbol is inverted and can be seen during a large Naziesque ceremony. A new candidate who has apparently volunteered to work for Axon is splayed out on an altar with his genitals exposed. Axon rides up with a ridiculously giant machine gun and then gets out some scissors and cuts off the boys testicles (ouch!). Axon explains that 999 other “heroes” have made the same sacrifice to work for Axon, and this boys testicles complete Axon's sanctuary of 1,000 (pairs of) testicles.
I don't know about you, but the one thing my house is missing is a shrine room walled with castrated organs! The boy is given The Holy Book which is all about believing in Axon: “Axon is the truth, the power and the light.” His fascist programming guide, I guess.
Axon has a mohawk which is probably from the Roman/Fascist tradition and not the American Indian tradition (such as those worn by punks). Axon's troops clash with student protesters, but instead of of actually hurting each other, they splash paint on each other and mimic shooting, stabbing and decapitations. It's all external obvious special effects. It seems to be indicating a thin line between horror movies and real horror, or how war is televised and turned out as entertainment.
Finally we come to Lut of Pluto. And like Pluto to dog, he hangs out with Mickey Mouse, or rather a bunch of young boys dressed as Minnie Mouse. It's pretty clear he abuses children, and the Disney touch adds a bit of realism here. Lut is an architect, but his planet is named for the god of the Underworld, Pluto. (God of Underworld... The Architect...) Jodorosky says, "I think one of the greatest evils of contemporary society is architecture, because of its geometric, linear forms."
Lut built an apartment complex which was a total failure because he was building homes when all people need is shelter. All the tenants of this project are shown to be crippled, a comment on what living in a boxy environment does to living organisms which need natural surroundings. His next great idea is a community of suspended coffin shaped boxes for people to live in, because the tenant can eat at the factory and doesn't need a kitchen, and only needs a place to sleep in safety. Reminds me of the Japanese "sleeping tubes" people who work in the city use if they can't make it home that night. (They appear in the movie Fast And the Furious: Tokyo Drift, actually.)
Together these seven Planets with The Written Woman and The Alchemist represent the 9 symbols of the enneagram, though they are a perversion of what they are supposed to be. The Thief doesn't get counted because he is the person searching for enlightenment and the rest are anthropomorphic representations of his self. The Alchemist wears the enneagram (9-pointed star) and Alexander Jodorowsky mentions that each character represents a place on the enneagram in commentary for a deleted scene. I don't know much about this thingy, so here's the wiki quote you were waiting for:
The Enneagram of Personality is mostly taught and understood as a psychospiritual typology (a model of personality types) but is also presented in ways intended to discover and develop higher states of being, essence and enlightenment. Each Enneagram personality type expresses a distinctive and habitual pattern of thinking and emotions. The behavioral characteristics of the personality types are less distinctive. By recognizing their personality pattern a person may be able to use the Enneagram as an effective method for self-understanding and self-development.”See wikipedia for the nine personality types. The symbol was used by spiritual teacher Gurdjieff who may have learned it from Sufis or Christian monks.
The octagon, highly prized in synchromystic circles for it's connections to star-gates and the center of the Milky Way, and to the Holy Grail, is sometimes referred to as an enneagram (meaning nine) and this is because often times the center of a symbol is a hidden extra point, so an octagon really has a ninth central point. As pointed out by me previously, the “stargate” from the movie Stargate has nine “chevrons,” though only seven are active, and there were nine trees planted around the edge of the fountain sculpture (water-door symbol) which used to sit at the center of the World Trade Center plaza (see this video by Labyrinth of the Psychonaut for more.)
Each Planet is connected to a point on the Enneagram symbol: 1 is Sel/Saturn, 2 is Axon/Neptune, 3 is The Written Woman/Mercury, 4 is Berg/Uranus, 5 is Lut/Pluto, 6 is Isla/Mars, 7 is Fon/Venus, 8 is Klen/Jupiter, and 9 is The Alchemist/Sun. Together they ultimately represent the parts of a person (The Thief), and a connection may be made to the City of the Nine Gates of Hindu mythology where the nine gates represent openings in the body, as well as the Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Shadows which is the fictional nine keys to open the Underworld/Otherworld from the movie The Ninth Gate, as well as the 9 days Odin hung on the world tree, the thrice-three (nine) gates of hell, and so on.
the nine levels of a 3D sri yantra
From Secrets Of The Ninja: "Between these [three centers of power] are nine "gates" up the spinal column that enable the Ninja to collect Qi in the Hara, cultivate it through the breathing techniques, and elevate it to the Mysterious Chamber of the Mind to achieve enlightenment."
In the other series of articles I started in January '09 with Heart Shaped Coffin I noted the interchangeability or rather connectivity of both seven and nine as being the number of layers, gates, domains, etc, and there are also systems which have nine major chakras as opposed to the more common seven. Really, there are thousands of chakras or plexuses that could potentially be mapped out, but seven or nine are the main ones running up the spinal column from the perineum to above the skull. If you're into mind-bending fractal based physics, check out Dan Winter's page on the number nine which resonates with this stuff.
The Great Work is done when the Seven again are One. That's my version of this quote: “It Is Finished When Seven Are One." It represents the idea of bringing the seven planets/metals/traits together into a perfect balance in a single vessel – you (the alchemist/fool/hero).
The group of seven Planets gets together at the Red Tower of The Alchemist. The Alchemist explains: "You have power and money, but you are mortal. You know you cannot escape death. but immortality can be obtained."
He continues speaking during a slide presentation of various holy mountains, "In old traditions they speak of holy mountains. The Meru mountain in India, Mount Kualua of the taoists, Himalaya, Mountain of The Philosophers, the Rosicrucian mountain, the Kabbalistic mountain. There are many holy mountains. The legend is always the same. Nine immortal men live on top of the mountain. From the highest peak they direct our world. They hold the secret to the conquest of death. They are more than forty-thousand years old.” “But they were once like ourselves. If others have succeeded in conquering death, why must we accept it? I know where the immortals live and how to obtain their secret.” He shows them ancient Rosicrucian manuscript which depicts the immortals and shows where they live: The Holy Mountain of Lotus Island.
The Alchemist continues, "We must unite our forces to assault The Holy Mountain and rob it's wise men of the secret of immortality. But to conquor the immortals, we too must become wise men. The elements of chemistry are many but finite. So too are the techniques of enlightenment. With the correct formula, any human being can become enlightened. The immmortals are a group. If we are to succeed, we must cease to be individuals and become a collective being."
The group now enters a yellow room shaped like an eye. The seven Planets and The Thief and The Written Woman and The Alchemist all take their seats around a circular table with a fire pit in the center. "Burn your money" says The Alchemist. They don't seem happy, but the promise of immortality out-weighs their attachment to money/material possessions/life. The Thief had earlier been indoctrinated to the world of money (being paid to take tourist pictures, and working on the animal circus), and now for him money is what makes the world go 'round, so he hides some money up his sleeves. The Alchemist notices: "Thief! If you don't want to die - kill your money!"
"There must be some kind of way out of here, said The Joker to The Theif"
Now the Alchemist says "We shall destroy the self image." Together they burn paper effigies of themselves. The Alchemist: "When the self concept thinks this is I and that is Mine he binds himself, and he forgets the Great Self." The Planets and the rest have become one unit now, but there is still some refining to take place as they journey to Lotus Island and up The Holy Mountain. The journey continues in the final post of this series later...
From The Belly Of The Whale: "As Marcus Aurelius writes, it is one of 'the noblest functions of reason to know whether it is time to walk out of the world or not.' Unknowing and uncertain, the philosopher walks."
Continue with the last post in this series here: The Holy Mountain - Rubedo.