Saturday, October 19, 2019

Persephone, the Strawberry Girl

As Secret Sun readers all realize, the old gods are back at their desks after a long vacation. Well, call it a working vacation. 

See, the truth is that no legitimate historian will ever tell you that the old gods ever truly went away. The myths you hear about Christian Rome and Medieval Europe being some kind of East Germany run by the Taliban are just corny propaganda conjured up by laudanum-addicted pederastic toffs during the Enlightenment, and later cemented into postmodern canon by overprivileged Boomers with terminal daddy issues. 

The old gods were pretty well-established in rural regions-- hence the terms "pagan" and "heathen" both essentially meaning "redneck"-- and just did a bit of cosplay as saints and angels and so on when ol' Pope Leo realized there was no getting rid of them. 

Ovid and the classics were pored over in the monasteries during the so-called Dark Ages and by the Renaissance the old gods were bloody everywhere you turned. Hercules was the patron of Florence, for Pete's sake.

No matter what you call 'em, the old gods are back. It's a shame Jung isn't taught anywhere anymore because people might be able to recognize them in their shiny new cyber-togs, but luckily you can still come here and have me explain it all to you. Well, until they have me killed, anyway.

And one of the big bosses in the post-postmodern pantheon is Persephone. The Queen of Hell splashed down with the rise of feminist witchcraft in the early 70s, and now is the subject of countless semi-competent drawings on wherever people are posting such things in the post-Tumblr, post DeviantArt era.

Motifs from the myth of Persephone have been baked into all kinds of pop culture phenomena, like the first Star Wars trilogy, the Twilight series and The Princess Bride. Persephone is so deeply embedded into The X-Files, the franchise is practically liturgical. 

And the Queen of Hell was a big favorite with goth chicks back in the day and probably encoded into various Billie Eilish videos. I'd look for it there but there's some drying paint and growing grass I need to watch instead.

And the Jeff Buckley-centric Broadway smasheroo Hadestown is all about Persephone. So ol' Pomegranate Breath is more relevant than she's been for quite some time yet. It's a pretty primal myth, so you can see the appeal. 

There's even a movie on the way called Persephone, which looks incredibly tedious to my jaded eyes. It's one of these new-model space movies based on the Interstellar template. 

I don't know why Hollywood keeps wanting to throw money at these projects seeing how they never seem to light the box office alight, but that's a Hollywood problem, not a Secret Sun problem.

The Queen of Hell has even lent her name to a browser for GM crops, which seems entirely appropriate in these times we live within. 

I'm not quite sure what PERSEPHONE is an acronym for here, or if it actually is an acronym. It has something to do with cancer treatment, so I guess there'll be a lot of need for it after the Persophone genome browser is up and running.

Anyhow, the reason I bring this all up is I was watching an episode of one of my favorite TV series, Da Vinci's Inquest. 

The origin of this long-running Canadian police procedural is very Sun-jacent. Basically, it's a show that pretty much everyone outside of the stars and main writers of The X-Files went to work on when that series upped stakes and moved to Los Fallen Angeles. 

And I mean everyone; the two shows shared nearly 300 actors and staffers in common. It takes place in Vancouver before the People's Revolution Army bought the place up. And the show runner was a guy named Chris Haddock, believe it or not.

The first season finale is a two-parter about a married couple of serial killers. The wife would chat up single women in bars and then slip them mickeys when their marks went to the ladies'. Then they'd take their victims to a rape dungeon and videotape them being violated. 

The drama centers on the abduction of a young woman named Joanna, who escapes from the killers' lair and is discovered in a strawberry field.

On the Fraser River.  I mean, what do you even say by this point?

Joanna is played by Gabrielle Miller ("Our Town" "Syzygy") and is interviewed here by Detectives Mick Foley and Leo Shannon (played by Ian Tracey of "The Walk" fame and the late, great Donnelly Rhodes of "Shapes" and "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man" renown).

I think the thing I love about this show is that with all these Irish surnames it kind of reminds me of Boston back in the day, only the cops in this show are Canadians and not Bulger-era Bostonians. Meaning they're not all crazy, corrupt and violent assholes. 

So it's like an alternate-reality Boston.

Anyway, our Persephone analog takes Foley and Shannon out to where she believes she was held prisoner by the psycho killers. 

And wouldn't you just know it, she identifies the spot by the confluence of the Fraser River, the main road and a railroad line.

So yeah, "Road, River and Rail." 

I know, I know. Believe me, I know. Plus, Fraser. 

"Joanna" recalls both Oannes and Inanna, both associated with the underworld, so that's a gimme. But more important is the name Gabrielle, a feminine rendering of the Archangel Gabriel, who is commonly associated with apocalyptic prophecy, largely thanks to his connections to the Prophet Daniel.

Tilda Swinton played Gabriel in the Constantine movie, a canny and historically-harmonious bit of casting, on account of angels have been commonly depicted as trans or as crossdressers since Byzantine times.  

Gabrielle Miller even played a psychic in an episode of the sci-fi series First Wave, which combined sub X-Files alien colonization drama with Nostradamus prophecy. So we're already well into the Secret Sun weeds here.

Miller was also in a film called Marine Life with Cybill Shepherd, because... oh Christ, why not at this point? 

Peter Outerbridge co-starred. Secret Sun readers might remember him from Millennium, where he played Special Agent Barry Baldwin. 

Secret Sun readers might also remember that Millennium sampled the intro to "When Mama Was Moth" for those ominous kick drums that opened each scene. Because if you're going to do a series about the Apocalypse, you'd bloody well better pay tribute to its prophetess.

Gabrielle Miller also appeared in an episode of Stargate SG-1 as Thetys. I'm assuming that's a misspelling of 'Thetis', only I don't hate myself quite enough to watch the entire episode. 

I mean, it's close, but I still hold on to that teeny-tiny shred of self-regard. It's pathetic, I realize, but we all have to get through the day somehow.

And here we are yet again. Thetis, often depicted as the mother of Achilles, was a sea nymph...

... who possessed the abilities to prophesy and shapeshift. Which certainly should sound very familiar to Sunsters

That pose also vaguely reminds me of the cover to Milk and Kisses. Because I am a very sick person.

Of course, one of the main characters in that season of SG-1 was USAF Major Janet Frasier, played by Teryl Rothery of "Excelsis Dei" fame. 

Speaking of Stargates, "Excelsis Dei" was the episode about the old folks popping magic mushrooms, in case you forgot.

Gabrielle Miller also appeared on an episode of Frasier. As one does. 

Back to Da Vinci's Inquest, we see Joanna escape from the killer's lair through a basement window, a motif well familiar to X-Files fans from The X-Files: I Want to Believe (in Every Mystery Religion).

In fact, we also see such an escape in the flat-out Eleusinian episode "Oubliette," featuring a very young Jewel Staite. 

Who - of course - was a co-star on Da Vinci's Inquest. 

Jewel Staite later played a strawberry fetishist in Firefly, introduced to the forbidden fruit by space preacher Shepherd Book.

On the planet Persephone. 

Hey; like I said, I'll gladly stop when it stops. But it never does. Ever.

Also in the Da Vinci episode is David Lewis, who also plays Agent Kresge in "Oubliette." Kresge being one of Carter's go-to tells that we're watching pure ritual drama (hint: the K in K-Mart stands for Kresge).

The situation was highly reminiscent of the apocalyptic cult's rape dungeon in Witnesses, the French detective series we talked about a while back. 

Only that dungeon was plastered with icons of Our Blessed Lady and her Sibyl-Servants, for reasons that should probably indicate what exactly we are watching unfold there.

As you'd expect, the Hades figure is closely associated or identified with motor vehicles. Another sign we are watching archetypal drama here, seeing how Hades was associated with his chariot. Oddly enough, no dogs that I noticed. Haddock clearly doesn't have the eye for detail Carter does.

The male killer's name is Dean Resnick, Resnick being an occupational surname for a butcher. Note Duncan Fraser of "Fire" fame. That's the one where Crowley LARPs as Drew Barrymore and Mick Jagger plays Mulder's college girlfriend. 

At least I think it was Mick Jagger.

Anyway, the tapes the killers made of their sex tortures become a main plot point in the second half. The tag team here brings it a bit further back from Persephone's descent to the underworld to Ishtar's, but it's a distinction without a difference.

"Dean" and tape recordings immediately brought to mind another Persephone drama, in this case our beloved BBC folk horror series Requiem. There the tapes were made of Carysphone in Dean House.

Mere sync or something deeper? Can't rightly say. Need more data.

That said, we all know what-- or who-- was visually identified with tapes back in the good old days.

And we all know who recorded a very harrowing incantation to Persephone as well. I can't really say definitively at the moment, but I don't think the title for this nail-biter was chosen at random. 

All I can say for now is that I think the bits of lyrics about time-pieces and paper chases fit in all too well with the howling refrain of "here's what it says," something people are known to say when they get bad news in the mail and read the details to someone else. 

And that fits in all too well with things we know about Our Lady's dolorous passions and other bits of lyrics in other songs. In other words, I don't think she's screaming in this song just to stretch her vocal cords. She suffered so that you may heal. Doubt it at your peril.

Note that tape recordings were also a motif in Poison Ivy, the Drew Barrymore vehicle this YouTuber paired with the tune. Goes well together, don't you think?


Hollywood princess Willow Smith has discovered the sublime enchantments of Grangemouth's Finest and has been talking them up while promoting her new album.

This is no surprise, we've heard stars like Beyonce and Rihanna feeling the deep in recent years, but it's notable to hear this being openly acknowledged by someone other than The Weeknd, now that Fraserfarian Archbishop Prince Rogers Nelson is no longer with us.

But I bring it up because Willow's dad is starring in the new Ang Lee film, Gemini Man, as his own Twin. 

Coincidence? Well, if you believe in that sort of thing. Hey, we don't judge here.

Gemini Man was previously the title of an old Leslie Stevens project, just to fold in some more Sunliness into the mix. Loosely based on HG Wells' The Invisible Man, if you can believe it. And you know who HG Wells leads us back to, right?

Sure you do. 

Oddly enough, Paul "Ruby Stars Are" Rudd plays his own Twin in a recent Netflix project. And you know what movie he co-starred in, right?

Sure you do. And you know what prophetic anthem was the centerpiece of that film, right? Sure you do.

The question really becomes are all these people are aware of this coding, or are they being used by unseen (or unseeable) powers to seed this stuff out there?

I'm very strongly leaning towards the latter, truth to tell. I honestly don't think most of these people are clever enough to be putting all this out there intentionally. 

Some of it? Sure. That's what artists and ritualists of all kinds have always done. But it really has gone so far past the point of overkill that we may as well be in orbit.

I mean, I've been feeding it to you guys as I find it, but I'll tell you honest to God I'm hesitant to put it all together in one place. I mean, this isn't just your everyday synchronicity.Earthshaking events are also happening out there in Meatspace and apparently have been for a long time.

I also think that what we call "reality" is a lot more unknowable and more terrifying than we generally understand it to be and that we're looking at a major scientific-- if not ontological-- crisis barreling towards us. I mean, it's really a bit Lovecraftian for me at this point, only minus the tentacles.

More on that in my next rant.

In other news, the new Maleficent movie poster has Michelle Pfeiffer overdoing it with the Pearlies and "Now We Are" Angelina Jolie attempting to rock some Betty Fraser Eyes.

Better luck next time, Ange.  

Paris Hilton was prancing around in this hideous frock at some function. That's gotta be some kind of initiatory hazing, because that thing looks like 80s bathroom wallpaper from Zayre's. Maybe she's pledging for the Bene Frasserit auxiliary lay sisterhood.

And I hadn't noticed before, but suspected Crypto-Frase (or "Clandestine Bene Frasserit Sister") Ariana Grande played a Siren on a tooth-gnashingly unfunny Saturday Night Live sketch a couple years back. 

I know it's a cliche to dunk on SNL but mother of fuck, it's just bloody grim. It's the Gobi Desert of laughs. And keeps getting worse. Believe it or not, I actually do like to be entertained.

Speaking of secret ritual observances, apparently you can order a Fraisier-topped Frappucino from a secret menu at Starbucks this month. If you go for that kind of thing. I think it looks atrocious. 

Plus, the politics of it.

Finally, this very Dark Skies* story from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. 

I wonder if they're doing 5G testing there or something. They've been doing in my burg for three years now. And we've had a lot of trees dying for no apparent reason. It's quite unsettling, but so is everything else these days. 

Here's a helpful map if you want to go see what's what for yourself. The museum is conveniently located between the borough of Elizabeth and Frazer Park. 

Send us links for pix if you do decide to go.