Sunday, October 27, 2019

Persephone Rising: The Queen of Hell

A lot of people have told me that the recent post on the Persephone archetype personally resonated with them, and with good reason. The archetype most definitely seems to be rising, but maybe in ways that aren't all that flashy or showy to the public at large.

It feels a bit more like what Lovecraft had described in "The Call of Cthulhu," a kind of scrambled signal only picked up by the sensitives, the dreamers and the rest of the black sheep among us.

Persephone keeps popping up when I least expect her to, at least these days. But maybe that's a function of this process of unveiling we've all been struggling to wrap our heads around. It seems to be appearing in both pop culture and the news cycle, almost in spite of the attempts to appropriate the current with all the contrived Dianic symbolism and messaging being injected at the same time. 

So, to make a long story short, the Honey Maiden caught my attention again purely by accident, as per usual. Or if you prefer, her honey mouth got me all fool gold by chance. See, I was looking for a DVD to watch while exercising last night and got out a Cracker season set I got at a book sale but never watched. I'd actually forgotten I even had it. 

But I looked at the back cover and read this plot synopsis for "The Big Crunch":
The case of an abducted young girl found naked and covered in mystic graffiti has brought (Cracker and Penhaligon) up against a strange religious cult and their preacher Kenneth Trant.
Which obviously proves I didn't even look at the frickin' case before I shelved this thing. So imagine my shock when I realized who played our Persephone in this ridiculously highly charged ritual drama...

... none other than the postmodern Pythia herself, a young Samantha Morton. As it happens, this unfortunately seems to be a bit of typecasting.

That said, the script is so loaded with symbols thrown out and left dangling with such wild abandon that you can't possibly imagine it's not being embedded with signals to whomever understands them, for whatever reason. 

Given that the series was produced in 1994 (it first aired on Halloween of that year), it seems pretty likely that whoever may understand them was probably not a Secret Sun reader, but possibly someone read in at a somewhat higher level.

Morton plays a religiously-devout schoolgirl who is lured into a sexual relationship by the charismatic preacher of an apocalyptic Protestant sect. Sadly for her, she and the preacher are caught shagging on a tree branch by the preacher's nosy sister-in-law, who takes snapshots. 

Now, the script is somewhat dated in that it presents a Catholic priest as a paragon of virtue in contrast to the heretic Proddie preacher, but this may be a bit of an olive branch given that Cracker's series' producer also penned the film Priest*, which kicked up a firestorm back around the same time.

I certainly sat up and paid attention when I discovered that just as in the Persephone ritual drama we looked at previously, Morton's character is named Joanne and the man accused of her murder is named Dean. 

Coincidence? I can't rightly say but I'm keeping my ears peeled for the next time those names pop up.

Dean is a bit soft in the head and obsesses on Joanne, using the passage Joanne reads in church from the Apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, with the business about "seeing through a glass darkly" and so on, which Dean uses to flash his fingers in an annoying mirror sign throughout the story.

Plot twist: the preacher's wife is the abductor here, luring Joanne off the streets after being shown the photos of the dirty deed (I doubt a film processor would have printed those photos back in 1994, but hey; artistic license). Either way, it provides with the requisite chariot symbolism, which we'll soon see again.

Joanne is a bit church-mad and doesn't try to deny the thing she's got going with the preacher. She even blurts out they they are to be married because she's pregnant with his baby. Read the room, Joanne.

So this obviously pisses off the preacher's wife so she and her sister toss the little trollop ass over tea kettle into the basement, giving us the requisite descent to the Underworld symbolism. Sure, the gender roles here are switched, but hey, gender-fluidity, right? Myths are full of it. Loosen up.

Unfortunately for Joanne, it so happens that the preacher and his inner circle aren't actually Christians but subscribe to some weird occult brand of Cosmicism. 

And since the young mother-to-be isn't willing to play ball and go for an abortion, they decide it just might be time for a good, old-fashioned ritual sacrifice. Bust out the killin' candles, Mama.

Joanne is daubed with arcane symbols and then wrapped up in a shroud. 

She's then forced to recite verses from Revelation 18-- the fall of the Whore of Babalon stuff-- while being force-fed gin, grain alcohol and Tylenol tablets (here under the British name, Paracetamol), standing in for the pomegranate seeds that Hades fed to Persephone.

It's some dark, ugly shit and not what you'd call easy to watch. Especially for 1994 television.

Meanwhile, we have the mother playing the role of Demeter and making a public appeal for Joanne's return.

We return to the Chariot motif when the preacher's cuck of a brother is told to gas up the van and shred Joanne's body up at his recycling plant. A pretty stupid idea IMO, but I think the writer's intent was to signal he was recycling the old dramas here. Or something.

The brother, the only one apparently still clinging to some vestige of his old faith, loses his nerve and has Dean dispose of the body, which is packed into a cardboard box and not yet a body. For reasons not entirely clear, Dean refuses to do as he's told and opens the box and sees Joanne in all her ritual-murder-victim finery. 

The semi-nudity here may be meant to draw parallels to Inanna, since I'm starting to think "Joanne" might be code for her. I'm not married to that yet, though.

Dean is only intermittently engaged in reality so he lets Joanne wander off to a nearby shopping mall, where we see her on an escalator, indicating her ascent from the Underworld. Note the requisite Twinning.

Not sure if there's a House of Fraser outlet in that particular mall. Probably.

Dean sets a fire at the recycling plant, bringing both the requisite Hell symbolism and Hagrid in on the case. Joanne eventually dies in the hospital from Tylenol poisoning and Hagrid becomes particularly fixated on the symbols, believing them to be the key to solving the Mystery of her death. 

Hagrid has a nose for bullshit so susses out pretty quick that the preacher and his inner circle are responsible for Joanne's ritual murder. Things happen and he eventually figures that the symbols are some Cosmicist reference to the Big Bang and primordial chaos.

Which got me to wondering about that preacher's odd name....

...Kenneth Trant. 

Because me being me, the first thing I think of is "Kenneth Grant," the self-styled heir to Aleister Crowley who had an obsession with Lovecraft, one of the literary world's best-known Cosmicists. He also had an obsession with ruddy cups and overflowing grails, but we'll save that for another time.

All of this is particularly sync-worthy because Trant's wife is depicted as the real power behind the throne, just as Steffi Grant was with the Typhonian OTO. 

And syncfully enough, Steffi Grant recently joined her husband in the Eldritch realms.

Now, take the name, the apocalypticism, the libido, the secret sacrificial rites and the bit about the primordial chaos and I have to wonder what the writers here are trying to tell us. Grant is a pretty obscure name even among occultists and not exactly a go-to for a TV writer in 1994 looking for an allegorical baddie for his cop show.

Unless the TV writer is Ted Whitehead, who seems to have some passing familiarity with the milieu. Telling tales out of school, are we Teddy? Tantalizing. Makes you wonder what Kenny might have been up to when attending certain private functions.

Reading Kenneth Grant, at least for me, is like sifting through the dumpster at a mental institution, but you do get the odd moments of lucidity:
It is evident that both Lovecraft and Crowley were registering communications from an unknown source. The equally sensitive, and, in his way, equally austere. Austin Osman Spare, also sensed these forces looming behind Lovecraft’s work. The present writer once gave Spare a volume of Lovecraft’s stories to read. It inspired him to illustrate the horror of these vast cosmic presences. He felt them pressing on his consciousness, almost paralyzing movement. 
It is inevitable that one such as Lovecraft, with deep elemental contacts, should at some time or other have worshipped pagan gods, and so he did: “I have in literal truth built altars to Pan, Apollo. Diana, and Athena, and have watched for dryads and satyrs in the woods and fields at dusk. 
Once I firmly thought I beheld some of these sylvan creatures dancing under autumnal oaks; a kind of “religious experience” as true in its way as the subjective ecstasies of any Christian. I have seen the hoofed Pan and the sisters of the Hesperian Phaethusa.” 

The "Through a Glass, Darkly" motif is also sync-nificant given the fact that the FBI recently declassified its files on the Finders, the sicko child-abduction cult that had heretofore been only the province of rumor and conjecture. And MSM whitewash jobs, of course.

All of this is triply fascinating given the fact that we're talking about our old friend Samantha Morton again, who, like a certain other familiar face, is an IRL Persephone. The rough contours of her life story are spelled out here, but are in fact a lot more complicated that even this brutal summary would lead you to believe:
(Morton) has six half-siblings from her parents' relationships subsequent to their 1979 divorce. She lived with her father until she was eight, when she was made a ward of court because neither of her parents could care for her and her siblings. 
Her father was an abusive alcoholic, and her mother was involved in a violent relationship with her second husband; as a result, she never lived with her parents again. The next nine years were spent in and out of foster care and children's homes. 
During that time, she attended West Bridgford Comprehensive School and joined the Central Junior Television Workshop when she was 13, soon being offered small-screen roles in Soldier Soldier and Boon. Under the effects of drugs, she threatened an older girl who had been bullying her. She was convicted of making threats to kill and served 18 weeks in an attendance centre. 
A very familiar story, indeed. Apparently, our Persephone here also has deep ties to Scotland and spent a lot of time in the Glasgow-Edinburgh region as a child. Her stepfather was a Scot and a stand-in for him was depicted by Robert Carlyle in Morton's roman a clef, The Unwanted. Her own stand-in is named Lucy for some reason.

Morton would play some other interesting Caledonian type roles, including Mary, Queen of Scots in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and the title role in Morvern Callar.

Morton continued out in the Persephonic tradition when she played a teenaged prostitute in the British series, Band of Gold. And no, I've never seen this video before, in case you're wondering. But it certainly goes.

Morton first made a splash stateside with the Woody Allen film, Sweet and Lowdown, appropriately enough for a Persephone archetype such as herself. But her real breakthrough came in the 2002 Spielberg smasheroo, Minority Report, very loosely based on a Philip. K Dick novella.

Having read the original story and the original screenplay, I can tell you that there was quite a bit of, uh, iconography added to the rewrite, including all the water symbolism, the Twins, the subplot with the mother and the lost child and mirroring with John Anderton's son and all the drowning imagery thereto. 

I also have questions about the "Agatha Christie" explanation for her character's name, given all said iconography and the particular timing in which it was added written into the script. 

But I have questions about so many other things with this particular topic, so what's a few more?

You really, really don't want to get me started on that, but let me just mention that Minority Report's version of Pluto, Max Van Sydow, has some interesting strawberry symbolism sprinkled throughout his filmography. 

Plus, I think there was a picture Mr. Von Sydow had done about a teenaged girl (with a Scottish name to boot) who was spiritually possessed. Film scholar Rob Ager argues there's a strong Persephonian subtext to that film as well. Again, very germane.

But let me also add that Minority Report seems more relevant than ever, especially this week.

Morton would later play the other side of the coin, turning in an absolutely chilling performance as Moors Murderer Myra Hindley in the 2006 film, Longford

I can't verify it as yet but I have read reports that Hindley was herself a witch and her Scottish partner-in-crime Ian Brady had some dealings with Jimmy Savile, who apparently saw Scotland as his happy, horny hunting ground in the 1970s. Apparently, a lot of his mates did too. Perfidious Albion.

Morton played the Martian Sola in the underrated 2012 film, John Carter. It was she who initiated Carter into the Barsoomian language by feeding him a special milk. Don't recall presently if kisses were involved. Maybe that was off-screen.

More recently, Morton has reversed roles in The Walking Dead, playing the villain Alpha, the leader of the Whisperers who is introduced as desperately searching for her lost daughter, Lydia.

Things seem to come full-circle, with the lost maiden becoming a Queen herself and repeating the cycle her own mother did when searching for her. Someone boring might go on about the growing seasons and the rest of it bliddidy-bla-bla, but sadly there's no one boring here. Sorry.

Appropriately, it seems since Morton's own daughter, Esme Miles-Creed, is playing a kind of lost girl herself in the Amazon series Hanna, based on the 2010 film starring Saoirse Ronan, about whom no more needs to be said to Sun readers. 

I will point out that Esme does have her mother's BFEs, though. And they apparently have similar taste in music, both citing some old combo from the UK as among their top favorites. Go figure.

Morton's preternatural acting gifts are on full display in Alpha role, even if the makeup artists seem to go out of their way as much as possible to look like, well, kind of like Aleister Crowley. 

Appropriately, given that she's clearly cast as a Queen of Hell leading an army of demons. It's nice to see an actress willing to throw herself so deeply into a role like that, vanity be damned.

Time was I wouldn't watch The Walking Dead if you stapled me to a chair, but I must say I am intrigued over this particular storyline.

Bonus factoid: the name Samantha was relatively unused until it became Elizabeth Montgomery's character's name on Bewitched. And don't forget there's another famous Persephone that goes by the name.

The "Lydia" name is also quite fascinating, given that it was the province that housed the seven churches of Revelation, and was referenced in Cracker via the First Corinthians reading.

 Patmos, the island upon which St. John received the Apocalypse, lies off its coast.

Finally, a couple people have asked me what I thought about NASA's new Artemis logo. I think it's probably more a depiction of Tanit, also associated with the Moon. Seems to be more their style.

* Bonus factoid: Priest starred Linus Roache, who played in another Mystery drama of a film, The  Forgotten. Priest has a sexual abuse subplot with a girl named Lisa. Which is a pet form of... aw, you know already.