Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Year of Thinking Magically Addenda: To and from the Force

At their best, movies once offered us gnosis of a kind that the ancients could only write their weird apocalypses about. It's part of a larger phenomenon- the most enthusiastic adopters of any new communication technology are people selling either religion or sex. Both offer an escape from the grinding boredom of life.

It's no wonder then that fundamentalists are so anti-Hollywood. It's not the sex and violence that really bothers them- it's the competition. In the Middle Ages, the Church was the place you went to live that escape; where you heard the music and the legends and saw the great, luminous depictions of the superheroes of ancient Jewish mythology. The first motion picture dealt a mortal blow to that exclusive franchise that Darwin could only dream of. Each cinematic innovation-- sound, color, 3D, special effects -- was just another nail in the coffin.

And then Star Wars came along and struck mortal terror into the hearts of religious profiteers. Why would a film preaching morality and self-sacrifice be such a threat? Because it offered an alternative cosmology- a panentheistic philosophy that drew heavily from Buddhism, Native American shamanism and as we've discussed, Carlos Casteneda.

As we see explained by Yoda, the Force is an entirely plausible vision of divinity- an essentially sentient energy that can be grasped, understood and utilized by the initiate. But it was a two-edged sword -- if you were greedy or hateful, the Dark Side would rise up and destroy your soul. Maybe that struck a bit too close to home with the film's critics.

The Force is elegant in its simplicity, and plausible in the extreme. You didn't need to buy into the sci-fi reality onscreen to understand the Force. I often wonder if it was the Force that really sold Star Wars to the world. It was a one-two punch: dazzling visuals and action, undergirded by this powerful, simple philosophy of practical magic.

As we've seen, Lucas seemed to lose interest in the Force as a philosophy after Empire Strikes Back and used it as an all-purpose wireless power grid for the Jedi to use to shoot plasma beams from their fingertips. Since writing the previous post I actually tried watching the prequels, but couldn't make it through the first half of the first one. I opted for a hilarious YouTube critique of Attack of the Clones, that brilliantly cataloged the utter chaos I was seeing onscreen. But the reviewer quite cannily compared Yoda's elegant soliloquy about the power of the Force with the crass, reductionist chatter about "midichlorians" from Phantom Menace.

I'm not going to pile on Lucas here. I understand him in a way. I think he's very much an example of the types I'm very well familiar from a life spent in Fandom. I understand the obsessiveness, the overwhelming need for control, the meticulous focus on meaningless trivia. The irony here is that the early drafts of Star Wars: A New Hope were every bit as fractured, incoherent and overstuffed as the prequels, at least that's how the Lucas bio I recently read framed it.

The difference then was that Lucas had to whip it into shape because he was writing on Fox's dime, and had people around him such as his ex-wife and ex-producer to tell him he was writing garbage and to go back and make sense of it. The evolution of the Force is explained in an excellent article on Lucas and Gary Kurtz from The synopsis included from the early drafts of the first film echoes the total narrative mayhem of the prequels:
In this version, the Force has two aspects: Bogan, the evil, and the good, Ashla (from C.S. Lewis's Aslan). Skywalker, apparently unburdened by the celibacy imposed in earlier versions, had twelve sons, to whom he passed this knowledge. They became the Jedi-Bendu, and 'brought peace and justice to the galaxy' -- by what means isn't specified. All this ended in the Clone Wars when the Great Senate, in league with the Power and Transport Guilds, allowed knowledge of Bogon to fall into the hands of the Sith Knights, personal bodyguards to the emperor. The Sith hunted down the Jedi -- though not the father of Luke, Biggs and Windy, 'The Starkiller,' the search for whom begins a theme of the film. Once he finds them, Luke will give him the Kiber Crystal, which has the power to amplify the Ashla force a hundred times.

'Anybody who read those drafts,' recalls Kurtz, 'said, "What are you doing here? This is absolute gobbledegook."' He urged Lucas, who later defined his religion as 'Buddhist Methodist', to go for something simpler and more universal. 'Comparative Religion is one of the things I studied in university,' says Kurtz. 'I also studied the Buddhist and Hindu sects, and studied Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, and also Native American spirituality; shamanistic methods and so on. I got out a lot of my old books and we talked about it. If you trace back most religious thought to the teachings of the great prophets, whether Judeo-Christian, or Muslim, or even Hindu or Buddhist, you start to see a lot of similarities. The core philosophies are very very similar. The most obvious one is the Buddhist tradition about karma -- the karmic action that comes out of cause and effect. So the Force is an amalgamation of lots of different things.

'I saw Ben Kenobi as a shaman, really, rather than a character tied to any conventional religious background. The American Indians look upon God as the Great Mystery -- that's what they call him. [Their religion] is about the universal energy you can draw on through individual effort. You draw on the energy of the Great Mystery in the dances and tribal prayers. [I thought] this would be a good way to connect with this, since it's simple enough that you don't have to go through weeks and weeks of explanation trying to get some sense of what the religious philosophy is. And it's true enough, in the sense that it's based logically on a real belief system. We wanted to avoid that problem of imposing some sort of religious messiah on our characters so that we could have some sort of religious history. So there is a Joseph Campbell connection, but it's just one of many.'
The fact that all of the magic vanished from the franchise following Kurtz's firing after Empire certainly bolsters the arguments that he was the force behind the Force. The point here though is that the best fiction draws heavily on reality. So when you have a film so divorced from reality as Star Wars, the familiarity and plausibility of the Force becomes all the more alluring, because in a way it's the only part of the story that seems familiar to us. It's a magical philosophy that doesn't rely on banishing spells and secret alphabets but on concentration, deepened perception, unlearning and radical intuition. It heightens latent human abilities rather than creating new ones, like the best of our own magical traditions.

Battlestar Galactica recreator Ron Moore has a new series about a magical police force. The name? Why 17th Precinct, of course. Thanks to Deb for the tip.


  1. Dude, you totally read my frickin mind, or I read yours! I was just sitting here pondering these things, then I hit refresh and BAM! You say it way better than I was thinking it.

    You walk a fine line between shamanism and logic on this blog, and the fruits of your labour sure are tasty. We need more of this stuff, and it aint easy to do. I thank you for all your work.

  2. You sir are a shaman of the highest order and able to tap the Great Archetype at will. My hat is off to you!

  3. That's the problem with our society...we've lost our shaman.

  4. Hey again, Chris

    This post is savvy in the extreme. The Force is indeed a very plausible and elegant concept, and I think that you're right when you muse that it was this concept that sold Star Wars to the world.

    It's one of the best definitions of magic that I've seen in movies, becuase it places both the power and responsibility squarely at the initiate's feet.

    Like you mentioned before, it's not some elaborate and nonsensical spellcraft like out of the Harry Potter universe - some arcane preexisting dogma/ritualism that grants power along with its exclusivity.

    The Force is what IS, not what MIGHT be. Personally I don't have a problem with the more overt and dramatic uses of the Force for telekenesis. If telekenesis is possible (and I'm geek-certain that it is) then something very much like the Force is what allows such a phenomena to occur.

    We use electrical and nuclear energy for dramatic effects all the time. I don't even have a problem with using the Force to shoot plasma bolts from fingertips, as such a thing seems wholly plausible to me, given the right set of contexts. And this is what it's really about - contexts.

    In good story-telling context is always key. You can make anything feel believable if you approach it in the right way, contextualise it intelligently and don't underestimate your audience.

    In a wonderful british sitcom called 'Spaced', a character played by Simon Pegg refers to Phantom Menace as "a jumped-up fireworks display of a toy advert."
    Bang on the money, IMHO. It's like whoever made those f*ckin prequels had never SEEN Star Wars and certainly didn't love it like a fan.

    They didn't use the Force, in other words. What the f*ck are midichlorians, and who even gives a shit?


  5. a new addition to a nice site..
    free dwnldbl ebooks..
    The Knowledge Files....

    ...and speakin' of 'The Force'...

    the kybalion

    enjoy, chris.

  6. I was just quoting the "don't try, do" ohilosophy this weekend to my friend.

    The music is also very pwoerful .

  7. The world in which we live needs much more radical intuition. Shine forth brave souls. Dennis

  8. About your last comment,
    on the "grover/Yoda", voice,
    I have never heard of some
    one being bothered by it...
    it probably could have been
    better in hindsight.

    On this post; I think it is
    interesting how people make
    the connection between the
    various shamanistic disciplines
    of our history and the Star
    Wars mythos....everyone has
    that moment when the realize
    that Yoda is deeply connected
    to all the great masters of
    the it makes the
    films that much more powerful.

    Only the Old Testament prophets
    are like shamans though, as
    Jesus is more than a common

    I don't get offended if a
    person lumps Jesus into the,
    " just another prophet or
    teacher", category, because
    not everyone has been gifted
    with the understanding we
    Christians have about Christ.

    We do have the ,"Force", and
    we call it the Holy Spirit,
    as this is the pantheistic,
    immanent presence of the
    triune God in our universe.

    A Christian who thinks the
    ,"force", is from the devil,
    is crazy and does not
    understand the Holy Spirit.

    Thanks for that quote from
    Kurtz, it illuminates Lucas a
    bit more.

    For some of us Christians, we
    don't bother with films or
    TV because they distract us
    from our spiritual practice.

    We obey God out of gratitude,
    which comes from reverence,
    not the fear that comes from
    aversion to pain.

    It is undeniable though, the
    power electronic media has
    over the person, few can have
    a relationship with God that
    is as exciting as a big time
    action or sci-fi film with
    all the emotional content
    which strikes into the heart.

  9. Here is another possible influence to Star Wars:

    We all must be grasping at and seriously grabbing very similar threads these days... Us renegades and seekers are accessing these memes, although from different sources and experiences, from the same energy/info/thought patterns clearly. We're plugged into the same "ley line"!! And it's been going on for some time now. The last few months have been an orgy of synchronistic ecstatic blissfulness of monumental proportions!!!

    So I haven't been to this site for a few weeks due to internet issues. Finally back on the scene, I somehow got into Stewart Swerdlow and his book Blue Blood True Blood. Interesting stuff... it then reminded me of the Terra Papers, which I found so I could compare the two histories. That got me into some old lectures and radio interviews by R. Morningsky on youtube:

    Very cool stuff as I had not seen these before (when he was touring my Quest was still in its infancy). What really blew my mind was this: during these last few weeks without internet, I got the serious urge to review my brain books The Frontal Lobes Supercharge, Brain Magic, and The Book of Wands by Neil Slade ( These books talk about being able to train your brain to use the "other 90% of the brain" that is dormant. Needless to say, brain function and possibilities (and magic) have been "on my mind". So last night I'm listening to Morningsky talk about how our brains have been reprogrammed to forget our past and how we only use 10% of our brains. What a coincidence!! We have been trained to mostly use our R-Complex or reptile part of the brain. Me Me Me! Fight or flight and all that crap. David Icke has been talking alot about this lately also. Now today I go here and the topics lately have been "Thinking Magically" and "Possibility Thinking"... Holy Bible Thumping Shiite!!!

    One other thing that blew my mind is at the very end of part one of his radio interview Morningsky talks about indigenous prophecy and the Second Coming or Return of "God" (star being) in the year 2011! Whether or not this will take place (or in what form) remains to be seen, but isn't this one of the memes we've been discussing lately? All the symbolism of Space X and the Uroboros and the rituals to be seen from space (as well as this planet feeling like a prison) has been on this forum's mind as of late and I happen to hear a fifteen year old interview for the first time last nite predicting the return of aliens (which isn't really news to me... I'm only talking of the TIMING of it all).

    This is all happening for a reason, obviously, and we The Order of the Secret Sun are at the forefront of it all. Stay astute, observe... and Think Magically!!
    Tip of the cap to you all!

  10. I missed the more esoteric aspects of the force after the prequels came out as well. The difference between the Light and Dark sides of the force was not so much good versus evil, because the bright side of the force did not wish to eradicate the dark. It involved accepting the existence of both and denied the binary and false concept that one must "fight the dark side." Instead, the wise choice is to simply choose the light, the dark side would always descend to its own level. By turning it into a conflict, then the Jedi would be choosing the Dark Side regardless since conflict is in the dark side of the force.

    This was Anakin's primary failure. His desire to fight for good against evil led him to confuse his choices and by trying to fight evil he eventually became its greatest champion. For me, the concept was more about understanding or shifting one's perception from divisive to holistic.

    Yoda from Empire and Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman are two of the best examples in shared culture of this ability to see beyond good and evil to healthy whole.

  11. Thank you for amazing me every day!

    SOLAR SAIL STUNNER: When NASA's prototype solar sail, NanoSail-D, got stuck onboard its FASTSAT mothership in Dec. 2010, most observers figured the mission was lost. Not so fast. On Jan. 17th, NanoSail-D spontaneously ejected itself into Earth orbit, and the sail could be deployed as early as Jan. 20th.

    17- it's a good number.

    Best wishes from your daily reader, Delorus



  14. You just made Star Wars make sense to me. I want to watch it again now. Thanks.

  15. Pete Hoge, is it necessary for you to explain how some Xtians think about the holy spirit? Your agenda here at the sun of an occult nature is Xtian thru and thru. Missionary man is not a shaman. What healing has the cross(an instrument of torture) brought to this terra firma? Zero. Who needs more black iron prisons? Free ones mind and when your only passion is compassion, the universe is presented. That is my take and I need none of any Xtian Dogma to find and embrace my Gnosis. Dennis

  16. Pete Hoge perhaps all Xtians should refrain from media and it's inherent disdain for the inquisition. I have empathy for your ignorance of what is Gnostic in nature. Shamans are concerned for their tribe and it's health. The Xtians are concerned in tithes and abuse of power. The Irish church said it all about the universal Xtians (catholics) no abuse should be told to the authorities(police). What say you to such inhumanity? How can Catholics have any moral highground? I am angry, and incencesed that we all know it still abounds behind the alter of the universal church. A non-married celebate priest has so many sins(falling short of his duties) No sin to me to have warm thoughts of our female sisters. Get a clue about the misygony of the Catholic church. Hail Isis and all that is female! Shineforth brave souls! Dennis from bug-tussel.

  17. @ Dennis:

    I admit that I tied my opinion
    on Star Wars into Christian
    ideology a bit too selfishly
    but I will not deny Christ and
    his amazing power, which is
    true ,"Gnosis", or knowledge
    that is revealed through steps.
    IMHO.....there is a reason that
    Simon Magus begged St.Peter to
    sell him the secret of their
    power in the Holy Spirit, and
    that is because it was true.

    The Catholic Church is not evil,
    it is the hearts of men who
    sin that make evil. Also a
    Catholic male who loves and
    obeys God through Christ will
    never hate women.

    There were Christian shamans
    like St. Francis who were
    very concerned with the health
    of their, " tribe".

  18. I have been following your blog for a while... Here is more magical thinking--the Huffington Post just put this up, "Two Suns? Twin Stars Could Be Visible From Earth By 2012."

    The Secret Sun has gone mainstream and scheduled a prime time appearance;-) @


  19. Lucas had some pretty amazing vision. The seeds of The Force are planted in the original film from 1977, seeds that, obviously, exploded into the fertile minds of a spaced out generation looking for a common bond. There was no need to delve further, no room to complexify something that had been alchemically distilled into two hours of sound and vision and ultimately, a Word: the Force. It's ALL there, and for any mature adult who understood this Force, they realised that the way forward was to exit the movie theater, and actualize the message in action.
    Flash forward over 33 years, and five empire building sequels, the original film is set to be rereleasef in 3D to a brand new generation of fertilized brains, already primed for the Message. All the commercial clap trap and marketing was tailored for a movie to have it's 3D clone released as it's own sequel! Genius.

  20. Another great post Chris.
    One thing I'm noticing as I make my way through your blog is that it's like a fine wine,gradually improving with age.I have to say this is one of the best blogs that I have stumbled across on the internet,and you seem to be
    ...I can't quite find the words
    ...divinely guided,maybe?..would be close ...shaman?..,if not,you seem to be heading in that direction.
    This blog is like a fine tapestry being woven,like a masterpiece taking shape.
    Just keep following your synchronious intuition...because the Force seems to be leading you in the right direction...and not just you,but others who follow this blog,also...well that's what my intuition tells me,anyway.-)

  21. Star Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaars!
    Nothin but Star Waaaaaaaaaaaaaars!
    Give me those Star Waaaaaaaaaaaars!
    Don't let them eeeeeeeend!

  22. Great post! I was thinking about the white magic vs. black magic metaphor last night, and realized that there is also a third form of "magic" on display in Star Wars: the "grey magic" of space travel, which finds its gnostic vision in the "raining stars" of the jump to lightspeed. Lucas uses another form of grey magic, that of the tools of cinema. Lucas was largely (and now entirely) a grey magician, a master of imagery and sound. At the height of his powers, he created another world of the imagination that has become a part of the collective dream of world culture. Currently, he is producing products in exchange for money. Both are examples of grey magic, one high, one low.

  23. Star Wars is rife with themes that seem to derive their origin from Thelema and the Western Esoteric Tradition. This article covers a few aspects. Whether or not this was actually intended by Lucas is an interesting question, but ultimately irrelevant. Call it synchronicity--call it magic(k).

    If Lucas truly was not anticipating a sequel, then aspects of the first film can only be attributed to such synchronicity. Fans have long noted that "Vader" is Dutch for "father," for instance. A New Hope ends with a medal ceremony lifted from Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will--if this was the intended end to the series, it would end on a decidedly ironic note. Luke had not yet plumbed the depths of his own subconscious, and thus the victory is hollow.

    In the Tarot, Yod is the Hebrew letter attributed to the Hermit (Golden Dawn attribution)--Yoda. The cloud city of Bespin looks like the Wheel of Fortune--where our heroes' fortune changes. The Devil is Jabba (complete with the requisite chains); the Tower is the Death Star; Endor is the Moon (with barking dogs/Ewoks). The Millennium Falcon? The Aeon of Horus.

    This article presents an interesting Jungian evaluation of Attack of the Clones. Perhaps Lucas is not as dumb as we think; perhaps there are simply larger "forces" at work.

  24. A very good article. I come across so much self serving fluff that I wasn't expecting to read the whole thing , but I did and will read more now. Thanks.

    Who am I? The author of those ancient weird apocalypses, that hold more than you can imagine. The force is fantasy, but there is a real analogy. For insights into what comes soon and why, read my recent press release(s) to grasp what the light and dark are, in truth.

    33rd Degree Secrets Published to Help Awaken World from Long Nightmare

    May the [Truth (light...)] be with you...

    Peace and Wisdom...

  25. In the last couple of weeks you've helped me understand Star Wars better than I have in the past. Before, I simply saw it as high quality space opera with a tinge of mystical reality. Which is why I was not at all disappointed when the prequels fell flat. I shrugged and moved on. I feel a much keener loss now, and can empathize with the fanboys that felt that their world was shattered with Return of the Jedi and the prequel movies.

    @ Dennis - I understand the frustration that you are displaying as well. At the same time, most of the Christians that I know personally and well come to similar conclusions to mine through a different path. I know that that faith has been used to oppress, and lock out minds and souls away, but what religion hasn't? Only the ones that haven't had the chance to yet. I can't begrudge people coming to their enlightenment through the man of Nazareth, and Christian mysticism and shamanism holds many well-documented concepts that make discussing such things easier, simply by giving people words to do it with, just as Star Wars does. I won't complain about people using Buddhist, Taoist, Wiccan and Kemetic terms to discuss what we are discussing here. In the crude communication of written and spoken language we use what tools we can.

    At the same time, I agree with your final sentiment. Amma, Auset! May it be so, Lady Isis!

  26. Chris, I just posted another article on my sight (Meta-Logic Café), and I think it will tie-into the whole interstellar vibe you're letting out quite nicely. Plaese tell me what you think. I wish I could leave Etemenanki a message so that he might give me his two cents as well (since he also inspired me on this one), but alas, I don't have a credit card that would allow me to comment on his sight. j/k ;)

  27. I like the prequels.

    "Midichlorian" is just Lucasspeak for bloodline, or, more obviously, DNA. The mark of those who are "strong with the force", not the force itself.

    Virgin birth is hardly reductionist.

    Anakin/Vader doesn't bring balance to the force by destroying the Sith, but by destroying the Sith and the Jedi.

    Luke is the last of the Jedi, the order will die with him.

    Jar Jar is a homage to Gunga Din type characters. If he was in a Quentin Tarantino movie everyone would be cool with it.

    I'll agree George Lucas needs editors and not sycophants but I don't think he's making movies JUST to sell toys.

    Don't forget that those toys everyone complains about funded the invention of the amazing computer based effects we enjoy today.

  28. More on the tow suns only with a Star Wars take on it...

    The Earth could soon see two suns - just like Luke Skywalker saw on Tatooine in the Star Wars film (pictured)

  29. Once again, Knowlesy, stellar observations. Just up today, 25 Janus-wary, on world renowned Hedge-crosser, Robin Artisson's blog, Tracks in the Witchwood, this blogticle, The Cavalcade. I was fortunate to have once actually (Akashally?) witnessed Her with Her attendants, surprisingly enough in Bear Mountain Preserve, upstate NY. There are, indeed, many ways to Magic, & Elfhame is just one of them. Be well ~ A.Q.E. von Th.