Friday, February 04, 2011

Star Wars Symbol Cycle: A Long Time Ago

Isis became a slave during her search for Osiris

Return of the Jedi is generally seen as the least of the three original films.
A lot of this has to do with the Ewoks, the feral teddy bears that are featured heavily throughout the film. In truth they're no different than the Jawas or any of the other cutesy characters throughout the trilogy. That is, until you get the to the the odious "Yub Nub" production number at the end of the original cut (it literally sent my friends and I out screaming of the movie theater in 1983, as we watched junior high dreams being stomped on).

In fairness, the Ewok scenes are also balanced out by the oppressive darkness of Luke Skywalker's confrontation with the Emperor, the battle for Endor and some riveting action scenes. But it may well be that the Ewoks are there to deflect any criticism over a hidden narrative being uncovered here (and Lucas wisely deleted "Yub Nub" for the film's 1999 re-release). We'll get to that later.

Just as Osiris' casket became the centerpiece in the palace of Byblos, so too is Han

The first act of Return of the Jedi parallels with the Osirian mythos, with the ever-present echoes of the Contendings of Horus and Set. Leia again plays the part of Isis, Solo is Osiris, Chewbacca plays the part of Anubis, C3PO plays the part of Thoth. Jabba is Set to Luke’s Horus (the outer desert is the province of Set in the myths). The action opens back on the desert planet of Tatooine (Jedi repeats several plot points and visuals of the previous films). Han Solo is still entombed in carbonite and under the power of Jabba the Hutt.

Let the Sol shine

Dressed androgynously as a bounty hunter, Leia releases Solo from his carbonite tomb, but is found out by Jabba and his cronies and forced into slavery. This mirrors Isis’ role as slave girl in Phoenicia when she was searching for Osiris’ body. But the process in which Han is freed parallels Isis sneaking into the nursery of the prince of Byblos to burn away his mortality. She too was caught in the act (note that Han has "Sol" in his name).

Luke descends to the Underworld to defeat Death

Luke arrives on the scene and like Hercules (the original global superstar messiah) descends to a symbolic Underworld where he kills a monster that looks suspiciously like Ammit the Devourer. The action moves out to the desert where Jabba intends to feed Luke and Solo to a giant sand monster (the Sarlacc) that recalls both Apohis and a giant orifice (as well as the worms of Dune). The speeding gray hovercrafts stand in for the stone ships which Horus and Set raced. Jabba the Hutt also recalls Baron Harkonnen in Dune, another major touchstone for Lucas in the creation of Star Wars.

Uh, what's that on your chin, Jabba?
Set's favorite food was lettuce, associated with the god Min.
Look it up, but not at work.

Just as Solo and Luke are about to be killed, Luke works his Jedi magic and destroys Jabba along with his entourage (Jedi magic recalls the folklore about the Templars, who were widely believed to be magicians).

More Templar symbolism- the twins share a horse

The scene then changes to the rebel base on Endor. Our heroes meet up with the rebels, who are there to disable the force-field protecting the new Death Star. Fearing he'll endanger the mission because of his psychic link to his father, Luke surrenders to Vader and brought to meet the Emperor.

C3Po initiates the Ewoks into the mysteries of the gods

Luke, Leia, Chewbacca and C3PO then encounter the Ewoks, essentially a race of stone-age teddy bears/protohominids. The Ewoks plan to sacrifice Sol-O-Siris to C3PO, whom they believe is their god (shades of The Golden Bough). Luke’s Jedi magic sways the Ewoks, who then assist the rebels in defeating the Imperial garrison and disabling the force field.

And here are the Merpeople, right on schedule

Luke encounters Emperor Palpatine in orbit over Endor, who demands that he submit to the Dark Side. Luke refuses and the Emperor commands that Vader destroy his son. It is here that Luke and Vader’s roles shift. Luke is still Horus, but Vader is morphing into his new role as Osiris.

Signaling this new identity, Vader rebels and throws the Emperor into a pit, another gaping orifice like the Sarlacc. In doing so, Vader is mortally wounded and dies in Luke’s arms. Luke removes his mask so Vader could die with dignity. Secret Sun readers remember that the removal of the space helmet is often linked to Baptist symbolism, and that Baptist worship is linked to Osiris through Oannes.

Han and Lando share another intimate moment

The new Death Star is destroyed. Vader is then cremated by Luke at a celebration in the woods of Endor and then appears as a ghost along with Yoda and Ben, forming a kind of Trinity.

WHO'S WHO

It becomes clear that Yoda/Merlin is a stand-in for Obi-Wan/Merlin following Yoda's death. Whose ghost does Luke encounter as soon as Yoda mangles his last sentence? Apparently Lucas didn't originally plan to kill Obi-Wan (and Alec Guinness wasn't too happy about it either).

Left: Demeter. Right: Oannes.

The Merman General Ackbar (from "Mon Calimari," of all places) fits smack dab into the exegesis we've been trying to unravel around these parts. The Fishmen seem to be in charge of this war, tying back to Oannes and the Nommo and all of the rest of it. I can't help but think of Robert Temple's claim that the Nommo are in hibernation in Saturnian orbit.

Note Ackbar's partnership with Mon Mothma. This is our Demeter/Cybele/Rhea earth -mother figure. "Mon" is short for mondo, or world, and the "Moth" is Mother with diminutive "Ma" attached. (who's the wiseguy yelling "mothman?") This offers us a tantalizing clue. Ackbar means "Great," and connects us etymologically to the mermen known as the Cabeiri, loyal companions to the Earth Mother from the ancient Mysteries. From Theoi.com:
THE KABEIROI (or Cabeiri) were twin gods or daimones (spirits) who presided over the orgiastic dances of the mysteries of Samothrake which were performed in honour of the goddesses Demeter, Persephone, and Hekate. They were also famed metal-workers, dwarf-like sons of the god Hephaistos, who served their father at his Lemnian forge. Like their mother Kabeiro, the pair were also sea-divinities, who protected and came to the aid of sailors in distress.
C3P0 really nails the "messenger of the gods" role in Jedi, translating all over creation. He also repeats that weird dream-logic ritual in which he suffers as the gods do. Remember that Horus lost an eye in battle with Set, and here we see C3p0 lose his as Luke battles Jabba the Sett.

The Emperor's Praetorian Guard remind me of something, I just can't put my finger on it...

...can someone help me out?

Maybe this guy can.

Then there's the new Death Star.

Seeing it in orbit around that green and verdant Endor reminds me of theories circulating in the Exopolitical community that our own moon is so anomalous because it's artificial. Remember that the first time we see the first Death Star, it's referred to as a moon. Watch this:



Some exopol researchers believe that there are still aliens on the Moon, which they say accounts for the fact that there are no serious plans to go back there (or go there period, depending on your POV) even though there are several serious Mars programs in the works.

Which makes this anomalous image from the Moon that many have compared to C3P0, though for some reason it's been called "Data's Head." So if the Death Star is the Moon, what does that make Endor?

The word ‘Endor’ originally comes from the Bible. In 1 Sam 28:4–25, The Witch of Endor used a talisman to commune with the spirits of the dead (note that magic plays a major role in the various Ewok spinoffs). She was consulted by the Hebrew King Saul (“Sol”) to contact the spirit of the prophet Samuel, an inconvenient act of holy necromancy that has driven religious conservatives out of their minds for millennia.

But Endor has another meaning.

JRR Tolkien was another obvious influence for Lucas, and Peter Jackson's masterful Lord of the Rings films gave geeks a new definition of the word "trilogy." It would also give them a new definition of "Endor":
"Middle-earth" is a literal translation of the Old English term Middangeard, referring to this world, and the habitable lands of men. Tolkien translated "Middle-earth" as Endor (or sometimes Endóre) and Ennor in the Elvish languages Quenya and Sindarin, respectively. The north of Endor became the Eurasian land-mass after the primitive Earth was transformed into the round world of today.
Endor is the "land of men."

Earth
.

A long time ago.


So if the Death Star is the Moon and Endor is the Earth, who the hell are the Ewoks?

ARE WE NOT MEN?

"Ewoks have a difficult time separating fact from myth.
This may be the great strength of their society."
Voren Na'al Galaxy Guide 5: Return of the Jedi

The Golden God talks about the War in the Stars
and the sufferings of the gods

So how would an Ewok describe Return of the Jedi? He'd say it's about giant aliens who came down from the sky with amazing powers and terrible magic. In the midst of this the Golden God fulfilled the prophecies and walked among the people and taught them the secrets of the gods and about the war in Heaven. The other gods then asked the Ewoks to join them in battle against the demons with their terrible beasts.

The gods defeated their enemies and left Endor, promising one day to return. The shamans and chiefs were entrusted to teach subsequent generations the stories of the gods that the Golden God taught them. Which is essentially the same story told in this book...


Here's Sitchin's (admittedly controversial) version:

Eons ago, the Earth was a battlefield. Mighty armies clashed, led by giant warriors meticulously skilled in the art of combat. These wars would shape man's destiny and live on for centuries in legend, song and religious lore -- brutal and terrible conflicts that began lifetimes earlier on another planet.

In the astonishing third volume of Zecharia Sitchin's The Earth Chronicles, the internationally renowned scholar parts the mists of myth and time to return to the violent beginnings of humanity -- employing ancient text, religious documents and archaeological findings to reconstruct epic events that support the existence of extraterrestrial "god" who once set nation against nation, army against army, and man against man.


Maybe this is why Lucas wanted the Ewoks to be so cloyingly cute. That way if any of his many critics in the religious establishment -- who were already on the warpath about all of the Force stuff -- figured out the story, they'd be laughed at for making such a big deal over a movie about a bunch of teddy bears in space.



Remember also that Lucas himself was on the warpath against Battlestar Galactica, which ended up back on Earth itself with the short-lived Galactica 1980 series. So it might make sense to him to steal that thunder back, but bring the action to Earth in the dim, dark past and do so in a way that would throw the religious parasites off his scent.

As always, there's a precedent for the Ewoks in the Jack Kirby Canon. As we looked at before, Kirby created a comic called Devil Dinosaur, which featured short, fur-covered protohumans interacting with, um, dinosaurs. The Creationists probably loved it, at least until Kirby began stoking his ancient astronaut obsession . Before setting about rewriting the Book of Genesis, Kirby had his protohumans dealing with alien invaders.

There was also a lot of scenes that Lucas may have used for mood, never mind that the ATATs and similar walkers in Jedi were essentially robotic versions of dinosaurs themselves.

So it all ends up on Endor - Earth - with giant gods (to Ewoks, at least) battling with their magic while a neolithic tribal society with no concept of the cosmos outside of their forest watch in amazement.

Lucas said he wanted a primitive society to play a pivotal role in defeating the Empire (his first choice was the Wookies, but decided they were too technologically advanced), but it seems as if the Ewoks are serving another agenda as well. You can't read as many Jack Kirby comics as Lucas seems to have without being punched in the face repeatedly by Kirby's all-consuming obsession with alien gods, especially alien gods given to using Earth as their battlefield.

And the fact remains that pretty much every single major Sci-Fi franchise is essentially about ancient astronauts; BSG, Star Trek, The X-Files, Stargate, Doctor Who, Transformers, Yu Gi Oh, and so on. So it only makes sense that the meme shows up somewhere in the Star Wars Universe. It also explains the ancient mythological elements being tied to futuristic technology, and technology existing in a pre-modern political environment.

What the Star Wars saga then becomes is our story. C3p0 acts like every sky god in our history, teaching the natives about their world and the worlds out there. And the myths that formed the bedrock of the ancient world are the magic that the human imagination can create trying to explain something it experienced but doesn't quite understand.

SYNC LOG UPDATE: Reader Deb points us to this story on HuffPost today, about a forest-dwelling "uncontacted" tribe in Peru. The visual connections between them and the Ewoks (named for an indigenous tribe in California) are striking. Make note of the narrator.

SYNC LOG UPDATE II: Check out this new Volkswagen commercial. Thanks to Reader Jason.

SECRET SUN READING LIST