Monday, February 09, 2009

AstroGnostic: Witch Mountain and Sirius Rising


Note sunrise and Heavenly Beam

Abstract: Is Witch Mountain simply mindless entertainment or a subversive Astro-Gnostic parable pointing us to deeper truths about our own origins?



In our last installment we looked at the new Witch Mountain film (premiering 3/13/09), which semiotically places "Horus Scorpion" in the role of the alien children's protector. The children are named Sara and Seth, strangely enough, seeing that Seth is a variant spelling of Set, Horus' uncle and rival.


However, many scholars believe that Set didn't become a villain in Egyptian mythology until he was adopted as the patron god of the Hyksos, the foreign occupiers of Lower Egypt who were expelled at the end of the Seventeenth Dynasty (which we recently looked at in relation to the Flight 1549 drama). In fact, "Horus-Set" was a binary god in some cult centers (see above).

It's interesting to note that both Sara and Seth are Biblical names as well, both of which etymologically point to other mythological figures: Saraswati (roughly the equivalent of Hathor, meaning "House of Horus") and Set, respectively. "Sara" also reminds us of Sarah Palin, the cougar queen/Sekhmet resonator.

THIRTEEN AND ELEVEN

In any event, I promised we'd look at the original Escape to Witch Mountain, so let's get into it. Here's a short synopsis from a Witch Mountain fan site:
Tony Malone, 13, and his sister Tia, 11, orphaned by the loss of their foster parents, live in a children's home. Their incredible psychic powers attract rich and powerful Aristotle Bolt, who has his assistant, Lucas Deranian, adopt them as wards to exploit them. Terrified, they escape with the aid of a new friend, Jason O' Day, in his camper. Jason agrees to help them find Stony Creek, a cryptic map in Tia's possession.

Pursued by Bolt, Deranian, and the police, the youngsters are jailed but once again escape. As time runs out, the children remember they are castaways from another planet and are soon led by one of their own kind, Uncle Bene, to a flying Saucer that blasts off for the sanctuary of Witch Mountain, leaving their captors below far behind.
Now, this is quite different from the novel. The Bolt character is a new creation and Jason O'Day (played by Eddie Albert) was "Father O'Day" in the novel. The novel took place on the East Coast (Witch Mountain was in the Blue Ridge Mountains) and the movie is filmed in the area around Monterey and Big Sur in California.

THE MEMENTO

The Witch Mountain stories essentially play like Gnostic parables. The two children are aliens who fell to Earth from their home planet in a binary star system (Sirius, surely), just as the Aeons fell from the Pleroma (meaning "the Fullness") in Gnostic theology.

Their one link to their true identity and their return to their extraterrestrial home is the "Star Case," which they don't understand how to use. Another synopsis, from Fantastic Fiction:
Some terrifying experience has blocked Tony and Tia's memory of the past. But because they have supernatural powers, they are sure that they come from another world---and that their people still exist somewhere. Then Tony and Tia find that they must escape from men who want to use their special powers for evil. They begin a desperate search to find their true home---which leads them to the strange and mysterious Witch Mountain.
The Star Case plotline is startlingly similar to the foundational Gnostic parable, The Hymn of the Pearl, in which a prince is given a pearl to take on his travels so that he might remember his true identity. Doubly so in light of the fact that the Escape novel portrays the world in which the alien children travel in similarly bleak terms to the Hymn:

But in some way other or another
They found out that I was not their countryman,
And they dealt with me treacherously,
And gave their food to eat.
I forget that I was a son of kings,
And I served their king;
And I forgot the pearl,
For which my parents had sent me,
And because of the burden of their oppressions
I lay in a deep sleep.
But all this things that befell me
My parents perceived, and were grieved for me;
And proclamation was made in our kingdom,
That every one should come to our gate

The Star Case color-scheme in the film is identical to the classical blue-and-gold of Freemasonry. Which makes sense in context of the Masonic veneration of the Stairway to Sirius. But in the context of the film, it also points to a "lost secret" of Freemasonry, that has also been forgotten and/or corrupted in a quest for temporal power.

33rd Degree Mason Manly Palmer Hall addressed the motif of the blue and gold in the context of a hidden, inner reality in his tract The Lost Keys of Freemasonry or The Secret of Hiram Abiff. Hall identifies blue and gold with Sirius, the five-pointed star:
This is the Robe of Glory, the garment of Blue and Gold which, shining forth as a five-pointed star of light, heralds the birth of the Christ within. Man is then indeed a son of God, pouring forth from the depths of his own being the light rays which are the life of man. Striking hearts that have long been cold, this spiritual ray raises them from the dead. It is the living light which illuminates those still buried in the darkness of materiality. It is the power which raises by the strong grip of the lion's paw. It is the Great Light which, seeking forever the spark of itself within all living things, reawakens dead ideals and smothered aspirations with the power of the Master's Eternal Word.
Of course, the problem with secret societies is that they often devolve into power-seeking cliques, concerned only with material and temporal power. Though often necessary in oppressive societies, secrecy endows a sense of superiority and entitlement, which lends itself to an adversarial posture towards everyone outside of the group. Which brings us to the next major player in this drama...

THE ILLUMINIST

We first meet the film's villain, Aristotle Bolt, as he consults with Three Magi (literally). Notice that the floor beneath their feet is a Zodiac, and that they advise that the moon is in Aries.* This shot is crucial, since maps and stars form the basis of the drama.

Bolt is the classic conspiratorial archetype of an "Illuminist"- a wealthy and powerful aristocrat who dabbles in the occult in a quest for total control. It's interesting to note that his surname is the opposite of the novel's author, Alexander Key. "Bolt" represents control and "Key" represents freedom (note that Aristotle was Alexander the Great's tutor).


Bolt is tired of the Magi's song-and-dance, and at 00:13:33 his assistant Lucas Deranian brings him news that he has discovered two genuine psychics, Tony and Tia. Bolt has Deranian adopt the children from an orphanage and sets them up in his mansion (and yeah, the whole situation seems unbearably creepy in this day and age).

While in Bolt's custody, Tony and Tia discover that beneath the top plate of the Star Case is a map showing the location of Witch Mountain.** The two decide to escape and follow the map, even though their memories are not fully recovered.


This is probably the most important shot in the film. After seeing the two aliens discover a map beneath a depiction of a binary star, we see them facing a pack of dogs sent to prevent their escape. However, Tina can telepathically communicate with the dogs and she sends them after Bolt's goons. In other words, the dogs have allied themselves with Tony and Tia.


Following the stellar motifs established by Bolt and the Zodiac, could it be that Tony and Tia represent Sirius A and B, and that the dogs are the other stars in Canis Major? In light of the implied parapolitics of the story, it's interesting to note that Bolt shouts "those dogs will ruin all my plans!" during the escape.

J-A-S-O-N

The Masonic parallels continue when the kids meet Jason O'Day, a vacationing widower. Jason ultimately helps the kids reach Witch Mountain, but not before providing us with some (alleged) semiotic gems.

For instance, the name Jason ties into the captain of the Argonauts (which we'll be looking at again here soon) and the theories about the Jason Scholars, a mysterious group who may or may not actually exist. From a UFO conspiracy site:

The JASON Group is a scientific organization formed and hired by the JASON Society and the U.S. Government Founders of the JASON Group include members of the famous Manhattan Project, which brought together almost every leading physicist in the nation to build the atomic bomb during World War II. The group is made up mostly of theoretical physicists and is the most elite gathering of scientific minds in the United States. As of 1987 the membership included four Nobel Prize winners. Today JASON continues to offer scientific help the government cannot find anywhere else. They are probably the only group of scientists in the United States that know the true state of highest technology.

That certainly fits into parable here- could Jason O'Day represent this mysterious group of scientists? If anyone were to have contact with aliens from Sirius, it would be such a group. Perhaps this is a further clue...

Jason's "brother" is named Hiram, as in Hiram Abiff. Jason plans for the kids to hold up at Hiram's house, which is "two miles outside of town, up the north road" (in Freemasonry, the North represents God's throne).

But when the three get there, Hiram isn't home (which coincides with the Empty Chair of the North in Masonic lodges). Semiotically, we're back to Hall's "secret of Hiram Abiff."

How about that?

SIRIUS PIECE OF REAL ESTATE

So, are we in fact looking at the same Stairway to Sirius symbolism again? Is The Rock resonating Barack Obama, who will "preside" over open contact with beings from Sirius? Maybe the filming locations offer us clues. From imdb.com:
Big Sur, California, USA
Carmel, California, USA
Felton, California, USA
Menlo Park, California, USA
Monterey Peninsula, California, USA
Palo Alto, California, USA
Wow. Well, Menlo Park is the home to Google and Stanford Research Institute, which pioneered scientific research into the psychic abilities Tony and Tia possess. Palo Alto is the home to PARC (on 3333 Coyote Rd) which pioneered many of the computer innovations we take for granted today. And Big Sur is home to Esalen, which is no stranger to alien and UFO research itself.†

There are any number of high tech and fringe tech companies in this area, which makes it a fascinating place to film a story about marooned aliens, especially given my suspicions as to the source of it all. And those same companies have allowed all of us a peek behind the curtain as the literature of some of these secret societies is no longer locked in basements, but accessible in seconds. Though we mustn't fool ourselves into thinking we're getting anything more than a peek...

WHY NOW?

Ain't it something, that this deceptively juvenile mythos makes its big-budget return this year, of all years? What it ultimately means and where it's all going is still an open question. Let's return to the topic when the new film comes out.

In the meantime, anyone want to lay odds on some sort of disclosure event, whether real or manufactured, by the end of this year?

UPDATE: The Rock's next role? As the Tooth Fairy. I kid you not.

UPDATE II: Thoth Pavel checks in with some indispensable information on the real-life Witch Mountain in the comments section.


NOTES

*Note that the Age of Aries saw the emergence of monotheism in Egypt and later in Israel, and that both Judaism and Islam follow a lunar calendar.

**Interesting crypto-etymology- Stony Creek has Masonic echoes and Misty Valley recalls the Mystery Religions.

†Jacques Vallee is closely associated with Esalen and the high-tech industries in this area. Check out Devin's excerpts from Vallee's
Passport to Magonia here and here.

SECRET SUN READING LIST