I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about Fathers Day. It’s hard to say I’m thankful for my father. When I was a kid, the most positive male role model I had was a fictional character in ridiculous blue tights and a red cape.
As I wrote once before, my brother and I didn’t need a bogeyman to fear, because the most terrible monster we knew sat with us at the dinner table. But now I know he took much worse abuse from his parents, so these days I pity him more than I resent him. He had a poor example to follow, and I think…I hope…that deep down he was doing the best he could to raise us right. Read more on “The End of the Family Line” »
I went to your funeral today. Everyone was there. Your mother, your sister, your brother. Your cousins, and aunts and uncles. Your nieces and nephews, running around in their brightly colored clothing, looking out of place among the black and dim hues, playing on their game systems and making round trips to the refreshment tables.
“I cannot make liberty my aim unless I make that of others equally my aim.” — Jean-Paul Sartre
WARNING: This article contains plot spoilers and possibly PTSD triggers. Please proceed with caution.
I was already excited to see George Miller’s return to the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Mad Max after a 30 year hiatus, but when I read that so-called “men’s rights activists” were getting their tighty whities in a bunch over the feminist subtext in Mad Max: Fury Road, I was positively chomping at the bit. Now that I’ve seen it, I have to say the subtext is more like…you know…text. And I couldn’t be happier about that.
Don’t get me wrong, Fury Road is still one hell of an action movie. It assaults the senses with a spectacle of gorgeously photographed destruction, infused with enough high octane energy to make me feel like I had gulped down a dozen pots of coffee long after the lights came back up. ‘Splosions! Pile-ups! Testosterone! Oh my! But woven into Miller’s fiery masterpiece is a feminist narrative told with such a brilliant economy of storytelling that it’s clear there’s a meaning behind this spectacle and its consequences. Read more on “Furiosa’s Road: Mad Max as Feminist Ally” »
“Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most…human.”
Today, the world lost one of its best humans. Over the course of nearly 50 years as Spock on television and film, Leonard Nimoy had more to say about humanity while playing an alien, and said it with more profundity and relevance, than many actors have done playing human characters. And it should be noted that Nimoy did as much to develop his character as any writer or director. With every performance, he seemed to add more and more layers to Spock’s enigma. Read more on “In Memory of Leonard Nimoy” »
Science fiction and fantasy books and movies often delve into the fantastic, the unreal, the magical, the impossible…and yet so often they reflect a deeper truths. Sometimes, what looks like magic is actually just incredibly advanced technology.
I’m an admitted nerd for the old 1980’s David Lynch movie Dune. However, I never read the book until I had already been leading rituals and teaching classes in the modern Pagan community. Then I realized something: A fair number of the trance techniques that I use are right out of the Bene Gesserit handbook.
The Bene Gesserit, if you’re unfamiliar with Dune, are an order of sisters in the far distant future of humankind. They are committed to intense learning and control, and they manipulate bloodlines and politics using techniques such as trance states or altered states of consciousness. They also focus on language, speech, body language, context, and psychology. They were colloquially known as “witches” because of how supernatural their powers seemed, but their powers were, at the core, rooted in science and discipline.
“Whether ’tis Nobler in the minde to suffer
The Slings and Arrowes of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?” — Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1
Growing up the middle child in a dysfunctional family gave me two intense compulsions to carry on into adulthood: 1) to always try to fix things rather than give up, and 2) to help people, particularly and especially the underdogs—people who are unable to help or defend themselves for one reason or another.
For better or worse, society tends to encourage these impulses by ascribing them to the archetype of the hero. Tribes and civilizations worldwide have romanticized the mythic hero archetype, often elevating the heroic character’s status to that of a god.
Taylor Ellwood is a student of various occult philosophies and practices, and is an exploratory developer and practitioner of his own system of ritual magic. He is the author of Pop Culture Magick and the managing non-fiction editor of Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press.
Recently, Taylor published an article on the growing phenomenon of communicating real esoteric concepts through fictional storytelling. Here is a brief excerpt:
“Pop culture is a viable medium for sharing esoteric concepts and secrets with people who aren’t necessarily practicing magic at this time. That such information is becoming increasingly prevalent speaks to the fact that it fulfills a need for our society at large that likely can’t be met through mainstream religious practices, which are less about empowering individuals and more about presenting a top down approach to spirituality that expects people to lessen themselves for the deity they worship.”
You can read the full article on Taylor’s blog, Magical Experiments. I highly recommend checking out his site.
There’s a quote from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi that has nagged at me for years. In my 20’s, it was an inspiring quote that brought a lot of energy to me when the chips were down and I was fighting the good fight.
After I did a lot of feminist leadership training, I reversed my opinion on the line: “Your hate has made you powerful.”
Here’s what has itched at me. Hate is “bad,” right? So why is it some of my greatest creative bursts come when I’ve been enraged enough to see red? I have painted large murals in mere hours when fueled by my wrath…I have felt that hot, dark pulse of creative inspiration in a moment of anger.
But if I am feeling hate, then I’m not a spiritually-developed, balanced person, right?
“Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, ‘Understandest thou what thou readest?’” — Acts 8:30 (KJV)
Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, Noah, an adaptation of the Judeo-Christian global flood myth, has garnered both admiration and condemnation from critics and audiences around the world. The film’s reception from the Christian right blazes with all the same fire and brimstone of righteous indignation that had been stoked by Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ back in 1988. Some reviews are flavored with the sour taste of blatant anti-Semitism, and sneer with prejudice at the writer-director’s Jewish roots. His personal interpretation and elucidation on the flood story rankles so-called experts of scripture who believe with a blinding passion that there can be only one text on which to base the story and only one correct interpretation thereof.
In my opinion, Noah is a beautiful and moving work of art, and with it Aronofsky has shown a scholarly understanding of the purpose of myth to convey meaning rather than fact. Noah exhibits a blatant defiance against the irrational notion of mythological interpretive absolutism. It does so on the macro level with its scholastically eclectic overall story, as well as on the micro level in its depiction of conflicting motivations between its characters. Everyone in the film has their own unique belief about what the will of the Creator is. None of their opinions are wholly correct, nor are they necessarily incorrect. Such as it is when different people experience the ineffable and indescribable Divine from their own unique perspective, and such are the religious conflicts that continue to rage outside the cineplex, in the real world, among real people.
This is why I am writing this dissection of Aronofsky’s film based on its own merits rather than my own opinions about religion, because arguing over religion makes about as much sense as arguing over poetry. In my opinion, anyone who would presume to take away your freedom to think for yourself should be viewed with extreme suspicion, even if that person is your local ordained holy man.