Monday, November 8, 2010

The White and the Black

"Through the darkness of future past
The magician longs to see
One chance out between two worlds
Fire walk with me"
-Twin Peaks


Twin Peaks would air for a mere year and half, producing a total of 30 episodes -a proverbial radar blip in the public consciousness. Yet it would have a profound effect on most who saw it, garnering one of the most polarized responses in television history. When the pilot aired in 1990 it was hailed as one of the most brilliant two hours in the history of the medium. Buzz would continue to grow throughout the first season making the series into a full-blown pop culture phenomenon -series co-creator David Lynch would be slapped on the cover of Time magazine in no small part due to the show's popularity.




Then in season two the show lost viewership more rapidly than it had gained them. After the central mystery of the show, the murder of Laura Palmer, was revealed midway through season two ratings totally collapsed and the series was not renewed for a third season. In general the series was criticized for becoming to bizarre and enigmatic, and after Laura's killer was disclosed, directionless. It was one of the most rapid rises and falls from grace a TV series, or practically any other medium of pop art, had ever experienced.

Despite the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the direction the series concluded in it still commanded one of the most loyal followings of any TV show ever. Individual episodes such as the pilot are still hailed as some of the finest work to ever grace the small screen. Ambitious, high-concept shows such as the X-Files (which would pick up a few cast members Peaks, none-the-least of which was David Duchovny), Lost, Carnivale, among others, would not have been possible without Twin Peaks.




20 years after the series ended it still has a unique power over the viewer. Why is it that I, along with countless others, are drawn to it over and over again? Why does it still inspire countless Internet debates and interruptions decades after its vague ending aired? And why does it still seem disturbingly relevant to the world that we live in today?

The first time I watched the Twin Peaks series all the way through I realized that I had seen something significant but I did not understand why. Certainly it was an outstanding show with ample mystery and humanity to spare. Yet there was something about it, especially in regards to its mythology, that seemed both timeless and essential. Indeed, something very important was being revealed and it would take me over a decade to fully grasp what that was. It would take hours upon hours of reading various tomes on the occult and magick for the revelations to even begin sinking in. Jason Miller of the Strategic Sorcery blog described viewing the complete series as a 'magickal initiation' and I suppose that's as apt a description as one is likely to find.

You see, Twin Peaks is essentially a metaphor for the occult conflict that ravages our world today. Seriously. Below I will develop this premise at great length but be forewarned: Ample spoilers from both the series and the Twin Peaks movie, Fire Walk With Me, will be revealed. Further, many of the points I will be making will be hard to follow for anyone that hasn't watched the series or is at least familiar with the mythology surrounding it. So...




The central plot of the series revolves around the murder of Laura Palmer, a seemingly angelic high school girl who delivers meals to the elderly and disabled when she's not getting straight A's or accepting the homecoming crown. Shock grips the all American town of Twin Peaks, located in Washington state along the border with Canada, where the coffee is always fresh, all the women are beautiful, and the bird sing a pretty song. But as strapping FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) soon learns, both Laura Palmer and the town of Twin Peaks itself are filled with dark and terrible secrets.




Not long into the series it's revealed that Laura had a wild streak that included ample lovers and cocaine use along with occasional ventures into drug dealing and prostitution that lead all the way up to some of the most powerful and prominent men in the town. A casino and brothel along with a vast drug smuggling operation reside just across the border and are controlled by the local robber barons. A secret society and a top secret military operation related to Project Blue Book also loom large in the town's many mysteries along with those strange ruins out at owl cave...




And that's only scrapping the surface for Twin Peaks is literal sea of twilight language and hidden history. As the show progresses we learn that there are powerful supernatural forces at work in the day to day lives of the various characters. Laura herself endured years of sexual and mental abuse at the hands of her own father, Leland Palmer, who would go on to murder her. If incest and infanticide weren't twisted enough, there's an even darker level: Leland himself was not working of his own free will, but under the possession of BOB, a powerful entity described as a wizard's familiar, that takes the form of a long-haired, blue jean clad hippie when it opts to manifest.




Laura and Leland are hardly the only ones under the influence of spirits. Agent Cooper experiences an especially bizarre dream shortly after his arrival in which he visits are Red Room 25 years in the future and meets a dancing dwarf and a woman the looks exactly like Laura Palmer. As the dwarf speaks in riddles, Laura whispers the name of her killer in the ear of Cooper, who promptly awakens from the dream, but forgets the name. Its no matter though as the dream was filled with symbolic clues that go on to play a major role in solving Laura's murder.




This is not the only vision Cooper experiences -he begins to see a Giant quite frequently in season 2 as well who drops equally enigmatic clues. Other major character throughout the series also experience visions and visitations -Laura's mother Sarah, Major Briggs, the Log Lady, etc, etc.

As the mythology develops it becomes clear that the struggle taking place in Twins Peaks is not one of Earthly origins, but is designed and directed by entities from beyond, inhabiting separate plains from our world known as the White and Black Lodges...


The concept of a White and Black Lodge has played a strong role in the mythos of much of the modern occult revival, especially within Theosophy. Russian mystic H.P. Blavatsky believed that the White Lodge, or the Great White Brotherhood, was an uber-secret order of Adepts that had guided the spiritual development of mankind since the earliest ages. Originally many of the ancient Mystery Schools (according to HPB), as well as Freemasonry, were under the control of the White Lodge.




Presumably Twin Peaks' local secret society, the Bookhouse Boys, would be agents of the White Lodge. Sheriff Truman, Deputy Hawk, Big Ed, and eventually Cooper as well several other beloved characters are all members of the Bookhouse Boys. According to Sheriff Truman, a kind of evil surrounds the town in the old woods and the Bookhouse Boys are a society that has existed for years to combat it.




According to Blavatsk the Black Lodge was a group of dark sorcerers bent on enslaving mankind through the aid of parasitical entities that they made pacts with in the spirit world for earthly power. Organizations such as the Jesuits and Illuminati were considered agents of the Black Lodge. Allegedly they had infiltrated the Masons and other Enlightenment era secret societies and turned them toward a Left-Hand path.




Clearly the thinking of Blavatsky had a strong influence on Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost as they plotted Twin Peaks mythology. They even give rogue FBI agent and all around Black Lodge seeker Windom Earle several lines about the Dugpas, Left-Hand path Buddhists described as being black magicians and Black Lodge adepts in the writings of HPB. Blavatsky was greatly mistaken about the real life Dugpas, who by all accounts are peaceful sect, but that's beside the point...

Much debate has ranged amongst the Twin Peaks fanbase as to what exactly the White and Black Lodge are. The most detailed description the audience received of the two places was from the after mentioned Windom Earle, who stated:

"Once upon a time, there was a place of great goodness, called the White Lodge. Gentle fawns gamboled there amidst happy, laughing spirits. The sounds of innocence and joy filled the air. And when it rained, it rained sweet nectar that infused one's heart with a desire to live life in truth and beauty. Generally speaking, a ghastly place, reeking of virtue's sour smell. Engorged with the whispered prayers of kneeling mothers, mewling newborns, and fools, young and old, compelled to do good without reason ... But, I am happy to point out that our story does not end in this wretched place of saccharine excess. For there's another place, its opposite:

"A place of almost unimaginable power, chock full of dark forces and vicious secrets. No prayers dare enter this frightful maw. The spirits there care not for good deeds or priestly invocations, they're as like to rip the flesh from your bone as greet you with a happy "good day." And if harnessed, these spirits in this hidden land of unmuffled screams and broken hearts would offer up a power so vast that its bearer might reorder the Earth itself to his liking."



The Black Lodge most likely exist in a separate dimension from our own. Major Briggs was stationed in Twin Peaks as part of Project Blue Book, which Windom Earle also worked on briefly in the 1960s. Project Blue Book was of course the US government's real life investigation into the UFO phenomenon. Briggs was assigned to Twin Peaks specifically to track any communications that may have come to the small, isolated town. Initially the audience is led to believe that these communications are coming from outer space but, as the show progresses, are found to come from within Owl Cave, which is used to open up a portal with the Black Lodge.




This would make the inhabitants of Black Lodge a kind of inter-dimensional aliens. Strange as this may sound, this is a view remarkably consistent with the theories of computer scientist and UFO researcher Jacques Vallee as well as journalists John Keel, author of The Mothman Prophecies. Vallee is famous for his speculation that Medieval encounters with dwarfs, fairies, and elves, among other mythological creatures, was an extension of the UFO phenomenon. In Twin Peaks the 'aliens' appear as dwarfs, giants, doppelgangers, and so forth, all of which is consistent with ancient folklore. I've written extensively on this subject here for those wishing more information on this fascinating topic.




Another hint is given via the supposed entrance to the Black Lodge, which is located at a place known as Glastonbury Grove. Glastonbury is of course home to the legendary Glastonbury Abbey and, in myth, the burial spot of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. Glastonbury has also been closely associated with Avalon in the Arthurian cycle -Medieval monks used to claim that it was Avalon.




It also apparently served as some kind of Druid-esque religious site in the pre-Christan era. Glastonbury is home to a so-called 'landscape zodiak' -that is a series of earthworks, field tracks, ground markings, and so forth that resemble a giant star map from space. The Glastonbury zodiac was first rediscovered in the 16th century by John Dee, the court philosopher and alchemist to Elizabeth I. Dee claimed that he was first told of the zodiac while he and Edward Kelley were channeling the Macrobes, entities Dee believed to be angels. Dee went to Glastonbury and found the zodiac based on the directions of the Macrobes. He also found something else there which he vaguely referred to as the Philosopher's Stone, of which all alchemist were engaged in the search for.




In legend Glastonbury was seen as a portal into another world, into Avalon. Perhaps that's what Dee believed that he located there. It surely is what Cooper and Earle locate at Glastonbury Groves in Twin Peaks. But in the tricky mythology of the show, Glastonbury Groves is not the only entrance. In a scene edited from the Fire Walk With Me movie, AWOL FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries enters an elevator in a Buenos Aires hotel and promptly enters the Black Lodge. In our world he goes missing for two years and reappears in the FBI offices in Philadelphia.




This plays into some of the theories I've written on concerning ley lines and toponomy -That certain points across the Earth are considered places of energy and where the veil between dimensions is thin. Typically holy sites are built on or near these areas to harness this energy. Glastonbury Abbey would be an example of this as would Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, West Virginia. More can be read on these topics here and here.




The mythology of Twin Peaks seems to work on similar principles. The town of Twin Peaks is clearly a 'window' area where entities from another world can seep through from time to time. So to seems to be Buenos Aires and the summer home where Leland Palmer was first possessed by BOB. Twin Peaks also features Native American holy sites denoting the significance of the area as do many regions across the United States that feature mounds and medicine wheels. In Twin Peaks there is Owl Cave which is filled with Native artwork in which a map to Glastonbury Grove is hidden. Glastonbury Grove itself features natural earthworks as markings that was common to ancient holy sites.

Another interesting aspect of the entrance to the Black Lodge at Glastonbury Grove is that Jupiter and Saturn have to be in conjunction for the portal to open, at least on our side. Jupiter and Saturn were hugely important in Greek and Roman mythology. Saturn represented the cruel god Cronus who ate his children at birth to maintain power. Jupiter represents Zeus, the son of Cronus who was saved and able to grow up and eventually kill his father. Cronus was the cruel and wicked god while Zeus was the savior god.




In the Twin Peaks mythology Saturn and Jupiter seem to play a similar role. Rings were used to denote Saturn and Cronus in antiquity on account of the rings surrounding Saturn the planet. Rings seem to play a like role in Twin Peaks and members of the Black Lodge. For instance the Giant takes Cooper's ring from him after dropping a series of enigmatic clues in a vision Dale has after he's been shot. The Giant tells him that his ring will be returned after he finds all of the Giant's clues to be true and it is once Cooper realizes Leland is the killer.




Then there's the so-called 'Owl Creek' ring that plays a major role in Fire Walk With Me. Numerous characters -Teresa Banks, FBI agent Chet Desmond, Laura, etc -come into contact with it shortly before having an encounter with the Black Lodge inhabitants. The ring that seems to represent some kind alchemical wedding between the wearer and Mike, a powerful magician and BOB's former killing partner.




Mike says that BOB was his familiar that he made a pact with. Perhaps the ring was symbolic or the original alchemical pact Mike made with BOB and he now gives it to the victims of BOB as way of protecting them.

And this brings me to the entities themselves that inhabit the Black Lodge. As previously stated, they seem to reside in a kind alternative dimension from our own. Frequently their motives are incomprehensible outside of feeding (more on that later). Essentially every entity encountered is an agent of the Black Lodge, even ones such as the Giant and the old woman and her grandson who superficially seem to be trying to help the assorted series characters. Yet all the help they offer ultimately leads people to the Black Lodge itself or possession by the entity residing within.




Encounters with these entities are deeply strange and baffling as are many UFO and paranormal experiences. The entities frequently use symbolism, even in their word phrasings, rather than direct messages for the clues they drop. This is the 'twisted language' South American shamans speak of when they note spirit dialogues in dreams and visions. I've written more on twisted and twilight language that can be read here.

Finally, there's the feeding. The primary form of currency in the Black Lodge seems to be garmonbozia, the pain and suffering of victims, which is represented in the Black Lodge by creamed-corn. The entities in turn feed upon the garmonbozia. In other words, they're feeding upon the negative emotional states of the people they possess and torment.




This is remarkably similar to Micheal Tsarion's theories concerning John Dee, the previously mentioned 16th century alchemist. Tsarion speculated in Atlantis, Alien Visitation, and Genetic Manipulation that Dee had entered into a dialogue with nonhuman entities he referred to as Macrobes. Dee struck a bargain with these beings.




On the one hand they would give knowledge of advanced technologies that would otherwise take humans additional centuries to develop. In theory this is why technology went through such a radical acceleration during the Renaissance. On the other hand, in exchange for this technology the Macrobes demanded blood and lots of it. This led to the massive growth in warfare during the same area.

In Twin Peaks the arrangement between the entities of the Black Lodge and humans seem to be similar. Essentially humans are promised great earthly power, and perhaps immortality, in exchange for the occasional sacrificial victim. Presumably Mike began as a human being but upon the pact he formed with BOB gradually became a like entity, both cheating death but losing his humanity in the process. Rogue FBI agent Windom Earle is also seeking the Lodge for earthly power as well.


All in all this is a rather remarkable mythology for a television show. Given the blatant references to HP Blavatsky it seems likely the creators were not unaware of the illusions they were making. David Lynch is a well known advocate of Transcendental Meditation, having written a book on it and starting his own foundation to further its advancement. I suspect he's read more than his fair share of occult and esoteric works over the years as many such themes appear time and again in his work, but especially in Twin Peaks.

I've often wondered if his career was temporarily derailed in the 1990s because he revealed to much in the series. Lynch literally went from being the toast of the town with his Time cover and Palme d'Or award from Cannes in 1990 to barely being able to drum up funding for a feature by the time Lost Highway came out in 1997. Until The Straight Story the features he did release were savagely attacked by the critics and struggled to receive distribution. I've always been baffled by the reception Highway received from critics in relation to the highly lauded Mulholland Drive. Both films tackle common ground and feature a similar structure yet the former was endlessly attacked as being incomprehensible while the later was considered Oscar worthy. Perhaps it was decided Lynch had learned his lesson by then?


Inevitably the subconscious and the twilight language that resides within also played a heavy role in creating the series mythology. It goes without saying that synchronicities tend to increase the deeper into the occult one delves making the line between the intentional and coincidental all the thinner. Either way, any one hoping to learn the hidden mysteries of the world is urged to watch Twin Peaks. The series is just strange enough to capture reality in a way fiction rarely can.

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