Friday, March 07, 2008

Atum Kadmon & The 40 Year Old Virgin, part 1

In Ancient Rome, the priests of the mother goddess Cybele called the Galloi would ritually castrate themselves in honor of her consort, the castrated god Attis. The Galloi were sort of a combination of glam rocker and trannie whore, earning their pay as street musicians or temple prostitutes.

The self-castration ritual carried over into the early Christian era, with many church fathers castrating themselves and becoming eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven. Today we're all expected to sit around and admire their devotion, not realizing that eunuchs were automatically assumed then to be passive sex partners. What that says about the allegedly "celibate" clergy is beyond the mandate of this blog. But it's clear that this was yet another facet of early Christianity taken from pagan sources.

The rites of Cybele and Attis bring us back to Isis and Osiris, who like Attis was associated with vegetation and was himself castrated by his brother Set. And Isis and Osiris bring us to the center of all modern mysteries in the symbolic realm. And floating above them all is Atum, the androgynous god of creation, whose footprints Jake Kotze has labored so diligently to trace.

Steve Carrell at the Ausurs (aka the Oscars), feminized yet again

It's the thesis of The Secret Sun that there are two essential belief systems at work in the world: the exoteric religions of the masses, which are divergent and constantly at odds, and the esoteric beliefs of the Mysteries, which may make concessions to their surrounding myths and beliefs but are essentially harmonious, contiguous and often act in collusion.

And time and again- whether in Christian Mysticism, the Jewish Kabbalah, Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, etc.- you see this androgynous ideal. Conspiracy theorist Alan Watt believes that the ruling elites want to create a hermaphroditic race as part of the reordering of Nature. There's certainly been no shortage of hermaphroditic symbolism in the media lately (that whole Wendy's campaign last year comes to mind, or most of the "Fans" tribe on the current Survivor), but I don't think I can sign on to that theory quite yet. And none of this would be surprising to Jung, with his Anima/Animus compensatory archetypes. The sequencing of symbols in The 40-Year Virgin, which a lot of people see simply as a dopey comedy, certainly can be seen in a Jungian context, a ritual context of the earth goddess coaxing life from the dying/resurrecting god, or in the context of elite conditioning towards Watt's predicted future. It's your call.

There's that 17 again

Our first look at Virgin dealt with the identifying symbols of the story itself- the Osirian mummy, the Baptist symbolism, etc. But there is so much more. As we will see with many of these Solar love story films, the male figure is the passive figure and the female figure is the initiator. The 40-Year Virgin is no different. We're also going to look at two other central motifs- castration and resurrection- at work in several other films along these lines as well.

But one of those esoteric traditions that venerate an androgynous figure is the Kabbalah, in the form of the Primordial Man, Adam Kadmon. Those who see Egyptian influences on the Kabbalah point to Adam Kadmon as an obvious adaption of Atum.

What is interesting here is that the "40 year-old virgin" in the film is named Andy, which is a pet form of the Greek version of Adam, Andrew. And his age is important in the context of this story since Jewish men were not allowed to study the Kabbalah until they were themselves 40.

The Sages state that it is "only at the age of 40 that the disciple is fit to understand properly the thought of his master," for "40 years is the age of wisdom." That is why, in general, the kabbalists prefer to "transmit" their teaching to disciples who are at least 40 years old. In their opinion, at that age the human soul becomes spiritually mature. The Hebrew word 'neshamah,' soul, confirms this; the letters which compose it also make up the words 'mem shanah,' 40 years.
With all this in mind, next we will take a look at the androgynous symbolism in the film and it's relationship to the esoteric mysteries. It's a long way down this particular rabbit hole.

To Be Continued


  1. CK,

    This is a fascinating line of inquiry, and I look forward to the next installment!

    I happened to watch the movie "Superbad" over the weekend (my wife and son were at the inlaws!) I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am now thinking about it in the context of your post here.

    In particular, I think about a scene in the bar between the 2 cops and "McLovin," where the cops suggest that to meet a girl you go to a farmers market or a pumpkin patch, because all you meet at bars are (literally) whores. Also, the Evan character clearly has a madonna/whore fixation going with the object of his fancy, Becca. He thinks too highly of her to be comfortable contemplating sex with her in the same crude terms that he uses with his friends. Evan is also a fairly androgynous/feminine character, to the point where I expected the movie's climax (sorry for the pun) to actually reveal him as gay.

    Anyway, all this rambling makes me wonder if the androgynous/hermaphrodite/40-year old virgin stuff is really about working through men's hangups about sex, masculinity, mother attachment, etc. In 40YOV and Superbad, both, we see misfits who are really unable to buy into stereotypical "masculine" sex roles coming to terms with a less forceful, but more integrated and attractive, gender/sex role. It's all about accepting the fact that no man is "he-man dominator" all the time, that women can be both sexy and maternal (they are not contradictory), and that a long-term coexistence between men and women requires that each incorporate some of the other. I'm now 41, and I can tell you that at that age one's sex drive and perception of women does begin to alter one's priorities. Clearly, as one sees with Repubican congressman, the 40+ year old he-males often go too far and want only domination and humiliation from women to achieve arousal.

  2. Good stuff Sun

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I have been avoiding some of these posts, I'm afraid to say...

    I still intend to catch the later seasons of X-Files and Millennium (2K) one day. I am trying to decide if I should read all those spoilers..


    Have a great weekend!

  3. 40 = M , via the Hebrew letter/number system which corresponds to THE HANGED MAN card which always seems a tad initiatory .

  4. I'll be watching this thread with considerable interest.

  5. Why couldn't a eunuch remain celibate? It may have been done as an extreme way of showing dedication to the vow, after all. I don't see why one eunuch in one context would be bound to anothers', especially considering the radical shifts from godess cults to the Church.
    I know early Christianity was infused with pagan remnants, but "came out of"? - I can't make that leap..

  6. Luke, I was putting the practice in its cultural context. Many eunuchs were celibate in the pagan world. But there was always a definite stigma against them and that's how you should see the Christian practice, since no one in the Roman world thought they were anything but another disreputable eastern cult.

  7. Also Luke- castrating yourself is forbidden in the Old Testament- see
    Deuteronomy 23:1. This was a pagan practice, exclusively.

  8. Oh, I don't doubt that it was a pagan practice, even then, but I do question their ostensible motives- It's hard to imagine a direct line between the two. Both may have satisfied the same psychological urge.
    I don't mean to be a pest, btw. I enjoy your blog a great deal

  9. Have you seen the Robot Chicken installment of the "33 Year Old Virgin?" A couple of the scenes look beyond chance: @ Adult Swim

  10. Have you seen the Robot Chicken installment of the "33 Year Old Virgin?" A few of the scenes are strongly solar and pi resonant. Episode @ AdultSwim

  11. the 41 yearold virgin is coming out VOD this month!