- The Book of Common Prayer
"I have looked into the eye of this island and what I saw was beautiful." - John Locke on Lost
Recently, this past week, one of my smaller children was instructed to think up and create a painting in school and he brought home a lovely picture of a giant eye descending from the sky and falling into the sea. It reflects a change in the world. Dreamers today dream of returning to earth. 50 years ago they dreamed of Eyes flying and rising into the Universe, and that is the psychic core of UFO dreams, visions and apparitions. (Photo courtesy of Carlo Cuman, Giuliano and Michele Edoni and Giampaolo Salvato.)
Here in the age of cyber faith there are on-line astral temples for Elvis worshipers and the
This is apparent with the advent of flight, space exploration and TV and radio broadcast in the past century. The first intrepid footsteps into the Age of Aquarius occurred in the 1890s thereabouts. They brought a perception of ourselves as flying in the air and sent us producing devises to fly.
The epochal journey of Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins (“three men in a boat” – see The Three Celestial Ones in this blog, January, 2006) to the moon in a mission named for the sun god Apollo would mark the great change in July, 1969, just as the Beatles were winding down and John Lennon had married Yoko Ono in his white suit at Gibraltar. Norman Mailer described the interior of the VAB [
But comfort level with air and space-based consciousness did not come easily and perhaps the heroic achievements of the Apollo astronauts were necessary for it to be realized. The astronauts were travelers not only to the moon but to a new condition of human consciousness. Psychologically it was, as Armstrong said, “. . . one giant step forward for mankind.” Earthrise, seeing the earth rise above the lunar horizon from the moon, would change how we saw ourselves in the universe, wrote mythologist Joseph Campbell, much like
This movie could be considered a psychological companion piece to Star Wars, where one floats freely in space as if in the interior of the mind. It clears the deck of the tenacious Star Trek state of mind, viewing outsiders in outer space with hostility and suspicion like an imperial conqueror going to other planets.
Close Encounters is distinctly different from Sci-fi movies of the 1950s, movies like War of the Worlds, in particular, in which great “eyes” suddenly appear in the cities and blast the cities away. The Fifties response of course was to blast the aliens away before they blasted you, transferring a hostile enemy from Nazi Germany to the U.S.S.R. to an ambiguous alien invasion in ten short years.
C.G. Jung was fascinated by U.F.O. sightings in the 1950s and as early as 1946 he began to collect data on people who had “visitations.” He wrote the monograph Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies in 1958 and it was translated from the German the following year and included in volume 10 of his Collected Works, Civilization in Transition, in 1964. The learned establishments viewed it with as much trepidation as they did little green men from outer space (air-wise projections of the Green Man there, for the Age of Aquarius – Osiris had a green face as well), but as always, the hippies and the art students got into it right away.
Jung wrote in his monograph, to the chagrin of the mainstream of American psychologists and behaviorists of the day (and today):
“As we know from ancient Egyptian history they (UFOs) are manifestations of psychic changes which always appear at the end of one Platonic month and at the beginning of another. Apparently they are changes in the constellation of psychic dominants, of the archetypes, or “gods” as they used to be called which bring about, or accompany, long-lasting transformation of the collective psyche. This transformation started in the historical era and left its traces first in the passing of the aeon of Taurus into that of Aries, and then of Aries into Pieces, whose beginning coincides with the rise of Christianity. We are now nearing that great change which may be expected when the springpoint enters Aquarius.”
Characteristically, when one would see or dream of a UFO, Jung reported, he or she would report a light so bright that it burned the viewer’s face. This represents a confrontation with the unconscious with great impact on a people who have been away from the unconscious for a very long historical period. (First day awake. This is the music of Pink Floyd as well.)
Jung reversed the flow. We shouldn’t fear these things, he said. We should welcome them. And when we do we will begin to engage the new consciousness.
I don’t know if Stephen Spielberg was listening, but I expect he was, as his breathtaking movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, followed just that prescription. Spielberg’s screenplay is based on the book The UFO Experience (1972) by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who portrays alien encounters as optimistic, benevolent and loving. The dreamers in the movie follow their visions and welcome the intruders fro Outer Space rather than blast them away.
This was followed by the Spielberg movie E.T., screenplay by Melissa Mathison - a well-known contributor to Tibetan Buddhist causes. E.T. is the story of the sweet-faced extra-terrestrial and it was accompanied by a famous poster featuring the Hand of God touching the little alien, like Michelangelo’s picture of God touching Adam’s hand in the Creation scene on the Sistine Chapel. (By the end of the century aliens are less than divine and we have become completely acclimated to critters from outer space. In the Spielberg blockbuster a few years back, Men in Black, they pass for ordinary citizens in
That would set the course. From then on out, Outer Space would be an element we would feel familiar in. Indeed, from then until the end of the century all epics would take place in the air or in space. The Star Wars sage presented a Taoist and Zen primer and would carry for 30 years. There are specific references throughout the series to Zen, Buddhism and Taoism. A “Quigon-ginn” for example, is a Taoist avatar. John Wayne, the 1950s man on horseback, would be the last of the earth-bound heroes.
No one understood the sci-fi alien encounter genre better than Chris Carter, creator of The X Files, whose agents, Scully and Mulder, are often between worlds, earth-bound and alien, and aliens are sometimes viewed as ourselves on another astral plane or ourselves evolved from DNA from an extra-terrestrial species. The X Files, which took some of its impetus from Harvard psychiatrist John E. Mack’s book, Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens, progressively moves the genre away from us against them, to a situation where we somehow share something with the aliens: I am he. (Like Santa and the Beatles, The X Files has a shadow production; Chris Carter’s darker Millennium, broadcast during the same period.)
David Duchovny, educated at Yale and
For the record, in the final episode of The X Files on May 19, 2002, in which Scully and Mulder are reunited, the Cigarette-Smoking Man reveals that the world will end on December 22, 2012. That is, the “alien invasion” -- which suggests the new consciousness taking precedence over the old -- will be completed on that day. In the final scene, Scully and Mulder realize they are seeking the same thing - he as a UFO investigator and she as a Roman Catholic. Mulder takes Scully’s cross in his hand that she has been wearing on her neck throughout the series. It is interesting that it is exactly that worn by John Lennon in his last pictures with the
The ultimate Aquarian episode and one of the best is The Blessing Way, in which Mulder is left for dead by the Cigarette Smoking Man, then taken to the Land of the Dead where he meets his father, and is raised again from the dead or near-dead and “born again.” He is guided through the Land of the Dead and brought back by a Native American shaman during the birth of the White Buffalo on a
The X Files’ final regular series episode with Scully and Mulder together is a virtual Nativity scene with alien visitors, complete with guiding star and the Lone Gunmen presented as the three Magi bearing gifts. The child Scully bears is ultimately given up for adoption to a family that lives under the flag of the White Buffalo.
The child is the Chosen One, the Aquarian, and the White Buffalo is the symbol of Aquarius. (Both Close Encounters and The X-Files have tag lines that suggest religious faith. The movie poster for Close Encounters reads, “We are not alone.” In The X-Files, there is a poster of a flying saucer in Agent Mulder’s office that reads, “I want to believe.”)
By the turn of the millennium, but even the tenacious Star Trek crew has turned the corner. One of the very last chapters, Andromeda, staring the dreamy, New Age Kevin Sorbo as Dylan – no authoritarian Captain Kirk, just Dylan – the ship’s commander, casts its crew as “keepers of the way,” a page right out of Lao Tsu and the Tao te Ching, although the commander still has a tendency to break heads.
The desire to conquer the universe is a phantom. The Star Trek series began coming “back to earth” in the 1986 feature Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home, the self-paroding tale of the Enterprise crew coming back to earth in the 1980s to save the whales, one of the most engaging of the series, directed by Leonard Nimoy. After his retirement from the series William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the long-running series, wrote a book called Get a Life about Trekie cult followers. Trekies later became the subject of the hilarious spoof Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver, who played Captain Kirk’s dark cosmic sister, Lieutenant Ripley, in the Alien series. Trekies aside, Captian Kirk and Lieutenant Ripley are both Master Aquarians working their way through the murky ambiguity unknown of an unknown future. “To boldly go where no man has gone before”; that would be to the new millennium.
A few years back a movie in the original genre of War of the Worlds was made called Independence Day. It was a classic right-of-passage movie in which the whole world united in a manly way to blast an alien ship out of the sky that looked a little like a giant flea about the size of the Empire State Building. Presidential hopeful and World War II era veteran Bob Dole attended the opening with Reagan-era culture czar William Bennett (where was Agent Smith?) to publicly declare it “a great movie.” Which it was. But not the kind of thing you see that much of nowadays.
This year Spielberg has made a remake of War of the Worlds and in my opinion it is his best effort and his best movie ever. The Spielberg remake virtually returns the genre to its beginning, folding time back to 1954. It is shot with some dense-looking color process that looks like the movies Jean-Luc Goddard and Francois Truffaut made in the early Fifties with only the barest-of-bones film making equipment. The Extraverted and heroic engagement of the characters reaching out to the aliens in E.T. and Close Encounters is over. The film has more the anxious tempo of Jaws – crowds milling around and tension and chaos building on the streets. It is a father-and-son movie of generations moving in different directions. The movie confirms my observation that somewhere in the interior of the psyche, everyone in the world is either a Yankee fan or a Red Sox fan (see “The Center of the Earth,” October, last). In this movie the father wears a Yankees cap and the son wears a Red Sox cap. And the movie is a journey movie going from an (Extraverted)
We are a land-based species and cannot live in outer space. It should be the most obvious fact of human nature. By the beginning of the new century we have returned to earth (and to its quality of the Unconscious, Middle Earth). Spielberg's A/I (2001) is a high-tech retelling of the Old World Pinochio story (the myth/dream of an old man at a spiritual loss and carving his Savior/Messiah out of a tree, like the Prague Golem story of the 16th century Rabbi Loeb). In Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and The Matrix, there is no longer the belief that the alien is really out there, in space, and that we should go after him, but that space fiction and its inhabitants are representative of an inner condition, as it has been right along in the Star Wars series. And in the magnificent animated feature film, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, (2002) we re-enter the natural world of earth, air, fire and water that we left behind when we said good bye to Abbess Hildegard in the 12th century. Perhaps like Haku, we will remember our name.
As all things looked to the sky in the 1950s, today all paths return to earth. Tolkien’s Rings series enters a state preceding the maedeval period, State of Heaven brings us Christian on Islam war is the 12th century, the best seller The DaVinci Code, contains riddles of a far earlier day and Harry Potter. The Deathless Child of Old England, returns us to where we came.
My experience with dreams and extraordinary dreams in the past few years tells the same story. One woman for example, dreamed of gold coins coming from the Pope while a contemporary suitor offered her only coins of chocolate covered with gold paper. Another had a similar dream with old gold marked by
I am outside the earth’s atmosphere, or in another realm.
I am sitting in a tree that is growing there.
It has leaves made of thin gold foil, and it looks
like a cherry tree. I don’t want to be there, the sun
shines all the time, there is never any night - it
feels surreal and I want to get home, or to earth,
I feel I should not be there. I try to climb down,
but every move I make takes me further up the tree,
not down. I decide that the only way to get down is
to jump - I think that this must be my destiny, and
if this is so, God will not let me die. Next to me
I find a piece of rope that is made of three ropes
twisted together. I pick it up and it is alive, and
purple and pulsating. I jump out of the tree, holding
this live, pulsating rope. I am falling into the
atmosphere and the wind is rushing past me, I am falling
like a skydiver without a parachute, freefalling. I look
up at the sky now and it is a beautiful combination of
pink, blue and purple, like a magnificent sunrise.
I also see that the rope that I am holding is attached
to the sky. I know eventually that it will pull me to
a stop if I keep hold of it. Every thing goes black
suddenly, but I am still aware, I am not dead, I rest
for a while. Then I see a light. It is as if I am
looking through a window into a light room from the
darkness. I see a dresser in the room, and I think
to myself 'this is my grandfathers dresser', I watch
the room for a while. Then suddenly my whole body
feels pressure, and there is pressure on the top
of my head. I am pushed past this pressure and
I suddenly see a baby being born, and I hear a
baby's cry and then I realise that the baby is me
and it is me that is crying and I am the baby -
I sense that I am a boy and my self awareness fades
and I become the baby and I am crying.
The dream here is a vision of Andromeda, Mother in the Sky, who holds the two fish dangling at the end of the rope. She visits us again. This is a cosmic dream of the new Creation – born female last time, this time a boy.
Our space journey did not begin with Flash Gorden or Captain Kirk. It began with