OK, so here we are.
This all started back in May, when Chris Cornell died in the MGM Grand after performing with Soundgarden at the Fox Theatre on the Detroit River. The next day Twin Peaks: The Return premiered at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. At first I didn't make anything of that little conjunction there. But then I felt that familiar buzz in my sinuses and went hunting for connections.
And so it is that a symbol-set that I'd been following from the earliest days of this blog began to reveal itself in ways I could never have anticipated.
The Siren, who is fast-becoming one of the most ubiquitous icons in the world, is a post-postmodern reification of a lineage of goddesses tracing back as far as we have writing. And so she has decided to reemerge and act out her archetypal psychodramas, commandeering the biggest stories in pop culture at that moment for her own purposes.
And if you know the history involved here, you'll also know this isn't exactly what you might call good news. And it's not entirely evident that the Siren has done all of this on her own. If you catch my drift.
As it happens, Chris Cornell played the Siren's doomed shepherd-boy consort, who dies and reincarnates over and over and over again. Cornell's close friend Jeff Buckley had done so twenty years before.
And Twin Peaks, which in many ways owes its very existence to the Siren, incarnated her in the person of the reborn Laura Palmer.
The Mitochondrial Eve of this whole aesthetic vision isn’t something by Lynch, but rather This Mortal Coil’s cover of “Song To The Siren,” which transforms Tim Buckley’s longing folk song into an existential lament at once dirgelike and intensely sensual—la petite mort in song form. Lynch adored the song and wanted to use it for Blue Velvet but couldn’t clear the rights, and so he was pointed in the direction of Badalamenti, who co-wrote “Mysteries Of Love” for singer Julee Cruise as a replacement.
That song—an imitation of a cover—established the Twin Peaks musical rubric: a female singer gliding through swanlike synthesizers that flit imperceptibly between elegance and elegy.-- "If you want to understand what’s going on in Twin Peaks, just listen to it"As I sorted through the briar patch of connections linking all these things together it began to dawn on me that this wasn't just some game of synchronistic Postman, that something very big and very bad was going to come of all this.
I think a lot of readers were a bit bemused by all the bandwidth I was burning trying to unpack it all, since a lot of the symbolism and history is admittedly a bit obscure.
But here's the thing: "obscure" is also a synonym for "esoteric" or "occult." You with me here?
And as it happens, Chris Cornell's death was followed by Chester Bennington's, which in turn was followed by the Great American Eclipse, which in turn was followed by this string of hurricanes battering the Gulf of Mexico.
And oh yeah, Episode Eight. That happened.
OK, so we looked at the symbolism connected to Harvey in the previous post, but the three storms currently hovering over the Gulf are connected to the Siren as well.
But let's start with the Eclipse. As a reader helpfully informed us the day of the eclipse is connected to the Siren in the Sabian symbol system, an astrological lexicon created in the 1920s. The description for that particular dates reads: “A mermaid emerges from the ocean waves ready for rebirth in human form.”
Now, like so many other incredibly dangerous things, mermaids have been commodified and neutered by modern consumer culture and turned into cutesy little mascots. But the fact is that mermaids were historically seen as duplicitous and destructive creatures, dating back to when they were first syncretized with the Sirens.
The evolution of the Siren from birdwoman to Mermaid is probably a reflection of the worship of Ishtar in Babylon to her re-incarnation as AtargatisAnd lo and behold, Mermaids were also identified with the destructive power of the sea. And more specifically, with storms.
In British folklore they can be bringers of bad fortune, capable of causing storms and killing humans.
Some of the bad things that mermaids are accused of include telling sailors their ship is doomed and enchanting sailors and causing shipwrecks. Seeing a mermaid is a sure sign of a violent storm to come. In other stories, they deliberately drag people down in the water and squeeze the life out of drowning men. They also take men down to their underwater kingdoms.And:
Both sirens and mermaids have musical talents; bird-sirens sing and play the pipes and the lyre, whereas mermaids rely on their voices to entice sailors to their death. Mermaids can raise and calm storms at will and, like the Sphinx, they can trap men with questions and riddles. In nineteenth-century Greek folklore, sailors in the Black Sea may meet the fish-woman Gorgona, who asks, ‘Does Alexander live?’ If they do not give the correct answer, ‘He lives and rules the world’, Gorgona will raise a storm and kill all aboard.And:
As a general rule, Mermaids usually meant trouble to the people of Europe, and fishermen and sailors in particular. The presence of these odd creatures could mean a terrible storm was a-brewin’ at sea, or that your luck was about to change from good to bad, or that you were about to be taken down to the bottom of the sea to die. 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About MermaidsSo we saw the destruction Harvey wrought and the connections to Twin Peaks, now we are looking at Katia, Irma and Jose. All of this coinciding with the series' finale, I should add.
Let's just start with Irma. Looking at the evolution of names (for instance, how Polly is derived from Miryam or Sean is derived from Jochanan), it's really not much of a stretch that someone might regard Irma as a placeholder for "Mermaid," in an occult, in-joke kind of fashion (yeah yeah, I looked up the origin of "Irma" as soon as I heard about the hurricane).
In other words, Irma-> Mirma -> Mermaid isn't even a half-step, etymologically speaking. If you don't get this kind of thing, you probably ended up here by mistake.
Next, Katia: the name is a diminutive of Katherine, a Greek name that etymologists are still arguing over.
Longtime readers might remember that I believe Katherine is an occult or Hermetic portmanteau of Ka-Athyr-Ein, meaning "to bear the Ka of Hathor."
This is a blending of Greek and Egyptian, entirely appropriate to where this name first popped up. Note that the Shrine of St. Catherine and an important shrine to Hathor are practically neighbors to each other in the Sinai Peninsula. Not an accident by my reckoning.
And Hathor is not only associated with the sky, as so many other goddesses in the Siren lineage, she's also associated with destruction and disaster.
The Book of the Heavenly Cow states that while Ra was ruling the earth, humans began plotting against him. Ra sent Hathor, in the form of the warlike goddess Sekhmet, to destroy them. Hathor (as Sekhmet) became bloodthirsty and the slaughter was great because she could not be stopped. As the slaughter continued, Ra saw the chaos down below and decided to stop the blood-thirsty goddess. So he poured huge quantities of blood-coloured beer on the ground to trick Sekhmet. She drank so much of it—thinking it to be blood—that she became drunk and returned to her former gentle self as Hathor.
And finally, we have Jose, derived from the Biblical Yosef. This is a fascinating figure in light of all this synchronistic spaghetti we're sorting through, in that he's not only associated with dreams ("we live inside a dream") and Egypt, he's also believed by some scholars to be based on Osiris.
From a Reddit Bible History thread:
On this, cf. Ulmer's Egyptian Cultural Icons in Midrash (esp. the section "Joseph's Burial in the Nile and the Burial of Osiris," 112f.). Ulmer writes:
If we review the literary elements of the Osiris myth and the literary elements of the midrashic texts in respect to Joseph's burial, we may perceive certain similarities. In midrashic texts, Joseph in his coffin was thrown into the Nile by the Egyptians or more specifically by the Egyptian magicians. In the Osiris myth, Osiris is trapped by his brother Seth in a coffin, which is enclosed in lead before it is thrown into the Nile by the magicians. Mainly a single detail in several of the midrashic texts, Joseph's metal coffin, resembles Plutarch's elaborations of the myth.
And one magical technique that might be applicable to the midrashic story is hydromancy after all, Moses is attempting to locate Joseph and his coffin in the water of the Nile and Moses is casting magical paraphernalia into the Nile. Moses' action is somewhat similar to [an] Egyptian water ritual.
Meaning "Son of Alester." Huh.
UPDATE: For some reason, tiny McAlester is also home to an enormous Scottish Rite temple. Oh, and a military base. I'm sure the two are not related in any way.
And this, from the Burning Man website.
The Central Coast Art & Music Festival takes place August 12&13, 2017 on the beach in Cayucos, CA. We are a free festival dedicated to raising awareness about the global threat of plastic pollution in our oceans. We use large-scale art installations to engage our attendees, create buzz, plant seeds of thought, and leave a lasting impression.
This year we are seeking an artist to create a Mermaid out of 10,000 plastic bottles to show the immensity of the number of bottle an average person uses during their lifetime.OK. Well, mermaids are in this year, right? Sure. But why? Maybe there are other, deeper threads of meaning woven through all of this.
TO BE CONTINUED