Monday, December 29, 2008

Looking for Signs at the End of the Age

"Tell the king; the fair wrought house has fallen.
No shelter has Apollo, nor sacred laurel leaves;

The fountains are now silent; the voice is stilled.

It is finished."
- The Delphic Oracle, 393 AD

When you reach the end of an age, the myths and the symbols that once defined that age begin to turn against it. Often in horrifying and merciless ways.

Conjoined twin Faith dies on Christmas Day, weeks after her sister Hope failed to survive separation
A conjoined twin who had survived 11 hours of surgery to separate her from sister died on Christmas Day, it was announced yesterday.
Faith Williams died "from the complexities of her condition" 23 days after her sister, Hope, died in an operation to separate the pair of infants. Doctors at Great Ormond Street hospital had given Faith a 50% chance of survival.
It gets worse from there, as we see in the Santa Claus Massacre in California:
The man who, dressed as Santa Claus, killed nine people at a Christmas Eve party planned to flee to Canada the next day, but California police believe he decided to kill himself instead because of severe burn injuries. Pardo rigged his rental car so that if someone tried to remove the Santa suit, the car would explode.

Police believe Pardo's injuries came after he set fire to the home using a homemade flamethrower. Raney also said Pardo came to his former in-laws' home with $17,000 strapped to his legs and inside a girdle, indicating he may have wanted quick access to his money as he fled the country.

Raney also spoke about a pipe bomb that exploded in Pardo's rental car Thursday night. He said Pardo had rigged the rental car so that if someone tried to remove the Santa suit, the car would explode."-
As if not enough that the killer was dressed as Santa, he was also a usher at his church.
Pardo, several neighbors said, was a quiet, unassuming man who enjoyed tending his garden and regularly ushered at the evening Sunday Mass at Holy Redeemer.

"Bruce?" said an incredulous Jan Detanna, the head usher at the church, when told about the attack by a reporter on the phone. "I'm just -- this is shocking. He was the nicest guy you could imagine. Always a pleasure to talk to, always a big smile."- LA Times
I have a feeling that we're at the beginning of a sickening new wave of atrocities, as the old certainties of bourgeois life melt away. The old world that many people spent their lives taking for granted now seems very cold and gray and unforgiving.

But there are signs of hope in the gloom, are there not? How about the "Christmas Miracle" of the woman who was discovered alive by a rescue dog after being buried for three days under three feet of snow?
A Canadian woman who disappeared during a blizzard has been found alive, buried in 23 inches of snow, three days after her sport utility vehicle got stuck in a snowy field. A police dog found Donna Molnar, 55, on Monday, near Ancaster, Ontario, a few hundred yards from her SUV, conscious and wearing little more than a winter jacket. The police said the snow may have insulated her from temperatures as low as 2 degrees (F).- AP

Ace the Wonder Dog, who found Molnar.
The woman works as a secretary at a Catholic highschool and her husband credits her strong faith for her survival:

"She is a strong Catholic ... and spends a lot of time praying for others involved in personal tragedies and family issues," he said, fighting to keep the exhaustion etched on his face at bay. "I believe the reason she survived is because God literally reached down and cradled her until they could find her."- Hamilton Spectator
However, the deeper you go into this story, the more complicated it becomes. No one is quite sure what she was doing out in a blizzard in the first place:

Her family believes she needed to buy some baking supplies and headed out in the family van to a store. The family thinks Donna was forced off the road by the extremely poor visibility and driving conditions along Fiddler's Green Road at the height of the blizzard and then found herself trapped when a highway snow plow sealed off the parking lot. Molnar said it is possible his wife tried to walk to a nearby home for help and became disoriented. "I think she may have fallen ... or twisted her ankle and couldn't go any further. We don't know, though, it's pure speculation."- Hamilton Spectator
Her family believes she was going for groceries in the driving snow, but the woman herself claimed that she just wanted to go for a little stroll:

"She was lucid, and said, 'Wow. I've been here a long time!' and then she apologized and said, 'I just wanted to take a walk, I'm sorry to have caused you any trouble,' " said Staff Sgt. Mark Cox of the Hamilton Police Department..." -CNN
But not only was this woman ill with a "terrible" cold, it turns out she has some issues with depression and also with her meds, requiring that her family keep a close eye on her:

Annie Molnar said her daughter-in-law had been suffering from depression and having a difficult time adjusting to a new medication. She'd also come down with a terrible cold. Her husband was keeping a close eye on her, Ms. Molnar said, but on Friday afternoon he left her sitting alone on a couch in the family room while he went into the basement for a few minutes.

When he came back upstairs, Ms. Molnar was gone. He opened the front door, looked through the blowing snow, and saw that she'd taken the van. She'd left baking materials on the counter. - Globe and Mail

And it also turns out the holidays are not a good time for her:

Eight years ago, Donna's father-in-law died on Dec. 22. Two years later, Ms. Molnar's mother died on Christmas Day. - Globe and Mail
Molnar suffered a severe case of frostbite during her ordeal and is hospitalized in serious condition. The doctors were unwilling to tell the media whether or not her badly frostbitten limbs will have to be amputated. I'm sure no one will follow up; amputation doesn't fit the "miracle" narrative.

Neither do the conflicting stories on what a sick woman who needed close supervision for severe depression was doing going alone to the grocery store in a driving blizzard, or how she ended up on a deserted country road in a field several hundred feet away from her car.

Two things caught my eye about this story. The first is the woman's name, Donna Molnar, which -believe it or not- roughly translates into "Our Lady of the Grain," the title of Demeter in the Eleusinian Mysteries. 

Scholars today believe that the myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, who is abducted by Hades and forced to spent 6 months of every year as his queen, comes from Neolithic times, and was meant to mythologize the months of the winter when the Earth lay barren, in northern climes at least.

An unsubtle signifier

The strange links to that myth and the story of dogs finding a woman beneath the Canadian snow tie back to The X-Files. In this case through the unjustly-maligned (and grossly-misunderstood) I Want to Believe, that we looked at in relation to the emerging Sirius symbology recently. 

Filmed in icy Pemberton, BC, dogs are a central conceit in the film, as are women being buried in the ice (as well as dismembered limbs). But so is the death of certainty, and a cold, gray reality filling the void as servants of the public trust betray us all.

I Want to Believe is not interested in pandering. It presents a world of thoughtless law enforcement officers and heartless medical bureaucrats, all perfectly content to let people die if it makes their job easier, as well as doctors performing the worst atrocities on random victims simply out of scientific curiosity. 

And all of this horror is presented in a very matter-of-fact manner, as being simply a part of our everyday reality.

Not the stuff of summer escapism. But for me it sits quite well next to a whole host of other films that were poorly-received upon release like Blade Runner, Jacob's Ladder, Dark City, Dagon, and Solaris. These are among my very favorite films for the deep and profound truths they tell, and all of them seemed to need a few years to find an audience.

Scully, who plays the role of Demeter in I Want to Believe (with a dying boy named Christian in Persephone's place, reminding us of the parallels between the Eleusinian mysteries and the later Christian stories) played the same role in one of my favorite all-time X-Files two-parter's, "Christmas Carol/Emily".

In this gut-punching MythArc story (inexplicably left off the MythArc boxsets, as were some other key eps) Scully discovers that her ova had been taken during her abduction and an alien-human hybrid named Emily was created and given to an adoptive family. When the two parents are murdered, Emily is taken off a course of treatment given by a shady pharmceutical company under the care of a Dr. Calderon, who is actually a shape-shifting alien himself. This ultimately results in Emily's slow and horrible death while Scully is forced to watch impotently.

The semiotic parallel here is through Dr. Calderon, whose name means ’cauldron.’ In myth, Hades controlled the ‘Cauldron of Abundance,’ also known as the ‘Cauldron of Rebirth.’ The alien potions that keep Emily alive are a symbolic rendering of this cauldron. 

As with Persephone and Demeter, Emily is taken from Scully and in her place is only a pile of ash, symbolizing the land made barren by Demeter’s curse. Interestingly, the gold crucifix that Scully had given Emily lies unhelpfully amongst the ashes.

As I like to say, we're now living in an X-Files world, and because it inconveniently reminded us of that fact, the second film may have suffered. But as this latest sync with the Christmas "miracle" shows, the absolutely unparalelled Synchromystic power of the Ten Thirteen universe is still alive and kicking.

Which gives me hope, for reasons I can't quite explain.

UPDATE: Ean Begg fans will particularly appreciate this one- a black woman named Magdaline discovered locked in the trunk of her Vauxhall Astra, after a 10-day ordeal in Scotland.

LONDON – A woman found bound in the trunk of her own car may have been there for well over a week, police in Scotland said Saturday.

Officers found Magdeline Makola, dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia, on Friday.

Police said the 38-year-old nurse had been restrained so she couldn't escape and was wearing pajamas when two officers discovered her in the Vauxhall Astra in Airdrie, east of Glasgow. The officers had heard cries coming from the car and then broke into the vehicle to access the trunk and free her.

Magdeline was last heard from on the 17th. She lives in Livingston, Scotland, just a town or two over from Roslin, site of the now-infamous Rosslyn Chapel. According to a Templar historian, Rosslyn has one of the famous Black Madonnas, commonly believed to be adaptations of Isis and Horus iconography

This synchronicity seems to play into the expectations of Christian mystics like Matthew Fox:
Every archetype has its seasons. They come and go according to the deepest, often unconscious, needs of the psyche both personal and collective. Today the Black Madonna is returning. She is coming, not going, and she is calling us to something new (and very ancient as well). The last time the Black Madonna played a major role in western culture and psyche was the twelfth century renaissance, a renaissance that the great historian M.D. Chenu said was the “only renaissance that worked in the West.”
Many modern mystics have also identified the Black Madonna with Mary Magdalene and the mythos of the Grail Bloodline. They should be excited by this story as well, if they happen to be looking for signs and wonders.

The Astra fascinates me as well, since Vauxhall's logo is the griffin, associated with victory in Ancient Egypt. As far as Magdeline's last name, there is a Makola Market, a renowned shopping center in Ghana. 

That country lies next to Ivory Coast, which is where Scully's secret identity as Isis was allegedly revealed...

...which brings me back to aliens and ancient astronauts and the Apocalypse. I have a one-track mind, I guess.

UPDATE II: Here's a sign of the Apocalypse, if ever I saw one. A sign of something, at least.

UPDATE III: Another eerie parallel to I Want to Believe- an avalanche buries 7 snowmobilers alive in British Columbia.

UPDATE IV: Another tragic Christmas death in the snow, this time in Idaho. Click here for CNN report. Note "Magic" and "17" in screenshot. 

I truly hope there's something to be learned from all of this horror.