In my series on PSYOPS and UFOs I noted X-Files creator Chris Carter's curious overlap with the intelligence community, especially the notorious Richard Doty:
"Years after his AFOSI involvement with saucer researchers, Doty's career reached an apotheosis of sorts when he was actually invited to become a consultant for The X-Files, a position he says he held from 1994 to 1996. In time, he also wrote the screenplay for an episode, 'The Blessing Way,' which aired on September 22, 1995, although producer Chris Carter received writing credit. Doty also appeared as an extra in two episodes: 'Anasazi,' which aired on May 19, 1995, and 'Paper Clip,' shown on September 29 of the same year. He tried to write another, but says that it was 'killed' by a government agency that he was required to run everything past before turning any of it in for production. After the final season of the show, X-File producer Chris Carter was reportedly spotted at the Los Angeles FBI shooting range, which makes one wonder who was courting whom."
(Project Beta, Greg Bishop, pgs. 82-83)
In early installments, which can be viewed here, here, and here, I noted the curious overlap between certain X-Files plot lines and aspects of the disinformation campaign the military and various intelligence organizations have used in the UFO community. In general, I believe Carter has much more of an insider's view than many in the blogosphere have been willing to acknowledge. As a disclosure, X-Files just happens to be the Recluse's all time favorite show -I still watch an episode every night before I go to bed. But now I mainly watch it as a marvel of mass manipulation, than actual entertainment.
As I have stated in my PSYOPS/UFO blogs and various other pieces, I am not a big believer in the extraterrestrial hypothesis. What is more, I believe the extraterrestrial hypothesis has been massively manipulated by the intelligence community for over half a century, largely creating the modern UFOlogy in the process. In the 1990s the X-Files made much of this disinformation mainstream, in addition to having an enormous influence on the zeitgeist of both mainstream and underground culture. I daresay Doty and company were most certainly pleased with this state of affairs. Subversive, The X-Files was not -like much science fiction, it was an exercise in mass conditioning.
The same cannot be said, however, of another series Chris Carter over saw during his 90s heyday, namely Millennium. Outside of season II, which frequently went over the top as it shamelessly pursued some of the more outlandish aspects of conspiracy culture, the series offered both striking insights into the Cryptocracy itself in addition to the remarkable symbolism of the Mysteries. It was the anti-X-Files, subtle and somber in its path to true initiation. Even the campy season II manages an apt jab at its beloved sibling via the enigmatic Millennium Group initiate and handler Peter Watts:
"Can you imagine the effect conclusive evidence of doomsday would have on a world in which millions actually believe they've been abducted and experimented on by aliens with the knowledge and cooperation of government officials? A country that obsessed for decades on Elvis sightings? Roswell?"
("Owls", Season II")
|John Locke himself, the great Terry O'Quinn, as Peter Watts|
Millennium would hint at, and at times overtly reveal, some of the darkest secrets of the Cryptocracy on a massive stage. One suspects it was tolerated for much the same reason confessionals such as Tragedy and Hope and Fire in the Minds of Men were finally made widely available by the 1990s... Because much of the broader public would have no interest in reading these dry and daunting books in an age of gluttony. Thus, the Revealation of the Method is accomplished with no real threat to the Cryptocracy.
For the carefree late 90s, with its boy bands and suburban pleasure dins, Millennium was as much out of place as a hippie at a Nazi rally. It took the ominous atmosphere of X-Files and Se7en and went into overdrive with it. But instead of providing the audience with at times outlandish plot points and dry humor (as Files did) and sexy leads (as both did), Millennium went with relentlessly grim story lines and grizzled character actors like the series star Lance Henriksen and the great Terry O'Quinn, who had an important reoccurring role (the above mentioned Peter Watts). Even when the series did attempt to lighten up a bit in season II under the direction of eventual Final Destination creators Glen Morgan and James Wong it felt forced, and even downright mean spirited at times... The season ended with what appeared to be the Apocalypse.
|Lance Henriksen as Frank Black, the lead character|
A cloud of darkness and gloom always seemed to linger over the show. Combine that with the enigmatic plot lines and undercurrents of the remarkable seasons one and three and you have a recipe the ADD-riddled populace of the US was sure to shun. Thus, Revelation of the Method always lingered, tentatively at first in season one, but then going into overdrive in season three when it was clear the show's fortunes were doomed.
For the many of you unfamiliar with this gem, I'll point you to a brief overview from Wikipedia:
"Millennium featured Frank Black, a freelance forensic profiler and former FBI agent with a unique ability to see the world through the eyes of serial killers and murderers, though he adamantly proclaims he is not psychic. Black worked for the mysterious Millennium Group, whose power and sinister agenda were increasingly explored throughout the series.
"Black lived in Seattle with his wife Catherine and daughter Jordan. Jordan was eventually revealed to have inherited some measure of her father's 'gift', suggesting that Frank's abilities may in fact be at least partially psychic in nature, after all.
"The first season dealt primarily with Black pursuing various serial killers and other murderers, with only occasional references to the Group's true purpose. The second season introduced more overtly supernatural occurrences into the show's mythology, with Frank often coming into conflict with forces that appeared to be apocalyptic or even demonic in nature. The final season showed Frank returning to Washington, D.C. to work with the FBI following the death of his wife at the hands of the Group, where he was joined by a new partner, Emma Hollis. Despite Frank's warnings and the evidence of her own eyes, Emma ultimately joined the Group. Frank is last seen escaping from Washington, having taken Jordan from school."
|Frank with Catherine & Jordan, his wife and daughter respectively|
Some fans have argued that the show was originally intended to be an especially dark crime drama without conspiratorial or supernatural elements. Along this line of thinking, these elements were only added after season one when Chris Carter virtually left the show to refocus his attention on X-Files. The after mentioned duo of Morgan and Wong is generally credited with taking the show firmly out of the 'crime drama' gerne, which apparently split Carter's Ten Thirteen Productions company into seperate factions. Eventually Morgan and Wong left and Carter returned in a diminished capacity to take Millennium back to its 'roots' in season three. But those roots were always far more grounded in the esoteric than many still realize.
To be sure, the conspiratorial and supernatural elements that would become comically direct in season two and mysteriously present in season three, were especially subtle in the first season. But they were none the less present, from the first episode. Look no further than the logo of both the Millennium Group and the series itself: the ouroboros. This ancient symbol is beyond loaded.
"A serpent biting its own tail symbolizes a closed cycle of development. At the same time this symbol enshrines ideas of motion, continuity, self-fertilization and, consequently, of the eternal homecoming. The image's circular shape gives rise to another explanation -the marriage of the chthonian world, represented by the serpent, and the celestial world, represented by the circle. Confirmation of this interpretation might be found in some examples in which the ouroboros is part black and part white. It would thus bear the meaning of the marriage of opposing principles, Heaven and Earth, night and day, the Chinese yang, and yin, and of all the properties possessed by these opposing elements...
"Another interpretation may see in the ouroboros the contrast between different planes of being. The serpent biting its tail falls into the shape of a circle, a break with its linear development which would seem to mark as big a change as emergence upon a higher level of existence, a level of celestial or spiritualized existence, symbolized by the circle. The serpent thus transcends the plane of brute life to move forward in the direction of the most basic living impulses. This explanation, however, depends upon the symbolism of the circle, the image of celestial perfection. An opposite image may be conjured up by the serpent biting its tail, ceaselessly revolving around itself enclosed within its own cycle, and that is the image of the Samara, the Wheel of Life. As one condemned never to escape its own cycle and raise itself to a higher plane, the ouroboros symbolizes eternal return, the endless cycle of rebirth and a continual repetition which betrays the dominance of a basic death-wish."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Chevalier & Gheerbrant, pgs. 728-729)
A closed cycle of development, good and evil, material and spiritual... All of these themes play heavily into the series. The final interpretation concerning the Wheel of Life and the death-wish that it implies is especially apt for the Millennium Group circa season three, but more on that later.
The episodes of the first season are generally dominated by what could be described as a 'serial-killer-of-the-week' format. This formula is established in the pilot in which a serial killer referred to as 'the Frenchman' prowls the strip clubs and gay hang-outs of the Seattle area on a mission to 'cleanse' the plague-infested city. As an added twist, however, this killer is plagued with hellish images of a lake of fire filled with the souls of the damned. And so to is profiler and Millennium Group consultant Frank Black (Henriksen) once he begins investigating the case on behalf of the Seattle police. Are the images that both the Frenchman and Frank see mentally simply signs of insanity, or do they point to something much deeper? The show would continue to toy with this notion till the end of its run.
But it is the second episode, titled "Gehenna" (and written by Carter himself), that initiation truly begins. Here Frank, working with the Millennium Group, is summed to San Francisco to investigate a most curious case: large quantities of human ashes are discovered in the flowerbeds of a local park. As the investigation progresses Frank uncovers an apocalyptic cult with a bizarre ritual in which disobedient members are fed doses of LSD in an abandoned factory yard, and then stalked by the cult leader who appears in half-human/half-beast form to the intoxicated victim. Eventually the victim is led into an industrial furnace in which they're burned alive. Consider the implications of this -a modern, entheogen-using cult involved in human sacrifice via immolation.
Carl A.P. Ruck and Blaise Staples in The Apples of Apollo, using the Greek myth of Ixion as a starting point, go on to connect the fiery sacrifices of the Druids and entheogens. Initially they argue that a particular kind of mistletoe can produce hallucinations and that it was used in the sacrifices of the Druids:
"Although mistletoe grows commonly on various trees, such as apple, poplar, and willow, it was only the much rarer form found on the oak that the Druids considered sacred... It was present at all their religious rituals, and they did eat it, sometimes making a potion from it. They were experienced herbalists, and may have had procedures for extracting the desired chemicals...
"It was fed as well to the victims for their rites of human sacrifice..."
Ruck and Staples go on to link the Greek myth of Ixion, who was bound to a burning wheel, with the wicker man of the Druids in which a victim was burned alive in a cage of wickerwood formed in the likeness of a giant human. Ruck and Staples note that the wheel of Ixion was described as being made of wicker. They go on to state:
"Ixion is the solar wheel, the sacrificial offering, fed on celestial fire and burnt for the winter solstice, perhaps the ceremonial purpose for such elaborate solar calenders or observatories as Stonehenge, where drawings have been detected that some identify as mushroom designs. In later European midsummer festivities, a similar ritual, without the victim, was still performed: burning wheels, in imitation of the solar disk, were set to roll downhill. And in Scandinavian countries, chaplets of flowers are worn, illuminated with a crown of candles. In England as late as the first half of this century, woven spheres of mistletoe and twigs were set afire on New Year's, and replaced with a new one to be kept in the house as a ward against evil and the fall of lightening until the following year's ritual conflagration. A token victim is often commemorated by placing a shoe in the brickwork of the hearth when it is constructed. Ceramic versions of such shoes would originally have had a similar symbolism."
(ibid, pg. 24)
Another instance of immolation and drugs (in this case opiates) appearing in Classical Greek culture in this institution of the 'pharmakos', a human scapegoat that was drugged before his sacrifice. Continuing with Ruck and Staples:
"...the Lotos, the stinging nettle tree, Celtis australis; to eat of its sweet opiate fruit induced such a stupor that one lost all desire to return home again. It is just such visions of paradise that the drugged victims of Apollo (and Artemis) are induced to see so that they hasten willingly to their immolation, singing joyously their last, most beautiful song, like the prophetic swan, that is the god's bird, standing on the threshold of death and seeing the world to come. Such victims were called the pharmakos, drugged upon the pharmakon or 'medicine.' As with the Druids, criminals were used as offerings, treated as if they were the god; but when the available supply of subjects wwas insufficient, others might have to be called upon to fill the lack."Thus, by episode two, Millennium had already moved well beyond the boundaries of mere crime drama. Further, the Celts and the Greeks were hardly the only people with vague traditions linking entheogens to human sacrifice... Hints of similar customs can be found in the various Mesoamerican religions, for instance. Of course, modern cults convicted of human sacrifice (or mass murder, if you prefer), have also been heavily involved in drugs. Consider the cases of both the Chicago based Ripper Crew and the Matamoros/Mexico City cult based round the notorious Adolfo Constanzo. Then there's the Manson Family, whom I wrote on here and here.
(ibid, pg. 32)
The bizarre links to ancient cults do not end with "Gehenna". Episode four, called "The Judge", concerns a mysterious figure calling himself 'the Judge' who recruits ex-cons to carry out the sentences his 'court' imposes upon individuals who have seemingly beaten the system. In this case I am reminded of the Vehmic courts of Medieval Germany, secret tribunals in which the uninitiated were forbidden to attend upon pain of death. Wikipedia notes:
"The Vehmic courts, Vehmgericht, holy vehme, or just the Vehm, also spelt Feme, are names given to a "proto-vigilante" tribunal system of Westphalia active during the later Middle Ages, based on a fraternal organisation of lay judges called “free judges” (German: Freischöffen or French: francs-juges). The principal seat of the courts was in Dortmund. The proceedings were sometimes secret, leading to the alternative titles of “secret courts” (German: heimliches Gericht), “silent courts” (German: Stillgericht), or “forbidden courts” (German: verbotene Gerichte). The courts took jurisdiction over all crimes during the Late Middle Ages, and those condemned by the tribunal were done away with by secret means. After the execution of the death sentence, the corpse was hung on a tree to advertise the fact and deter others."
In the case of both "Gehenna" and "The Judge", the nature of the individual behind the killings is left ambiguous. Superficially they are only especially evil humans, yet the impressions Frank receives from his ability to see inside the mind of killers hint at something darker, and more supernatural. But more on that in a bit.
Another interesting cult depicted in season one is of the doomsday variety and appears in episode 13, "Force Majeure". In this one Frank and Peter Watts become involved in the investigation of the deaths of two girls in different parts of the country who are later revealed to be identical twins born seven years part. The twins also both have astronomical symbols of conjunction carved into their thighs. Both deaths are suicides, the first by self immolation, the other by diving into a waterfall. Interestingly, both fire and water are symbols of cleansing and regeneration.
The episode goes on to reveal that these blond-haired, blue-eyed urchins have other siblings of varying ages spread out across the country. All of these women, 20 in number, received phone calls from their 'father,' an old man confined to an iron-lung, summoning them to 'The Atrium' at Pocatello, Idaho. The old man believes that apocalypse is coming on May 5, 2000 and to this end he began breeding identical offspring through a complex fertilization process. The aura of Nazism is thick -the old man explains to Frank that the world had become corrupt beyond repair and that his blond-haired, blue-eyed creations were the perfect children for the next millennium, and a better world.
When authorities round the remaining girls into a school bus to remove them from 'The Atrium' it is revealed that the bus driver, a blond-haired, blue-eyed lad, is the male version of the old man's perfect children. Authorities later find the school bus abandoned, the children having completely vanished. Various aspects "Force Majeure" would later be worked into season three brilliantly, so keep it in mind.
Entheogens would also continue to play an illuminating (har har) role in the first season beyond the episode of "Gehenna". "Lion Like Hunting a Flame" features a sexually repressed serial killer who both drugs some of his victims with ecstasy in addition to taking the drug himself while performing the murders. The killer is later revealed to be a pharmacist, a word derived from the Greek 'pharmakeus', meaning a drug, druggist, spelling-giving potion, poisoner, and by extension magician or sorcerer -essentially the Greek equivalent of a shaman. This makes for an interesting continuation of "Gehenna", in which a kind of modern day pharmakos ritual was displayed. In this case, the killer acts as a kind of anti-shaman. In traditions the world over the shaman consumes entheogens in order to 'see' the illness afflicting his patients in order to heal them. Here the murderer consumes entheogens in order to fulfill his fantasies that climax in murder.
The definitive drug episode of season one, however, is "Walkabout." Here Frank unwittingly goes on a vision quest with several other people while participating in what they think is a test for an antidepressant dubbed 'Proloft' (modeled after Prozac and Zoloft). Instead, the water color in which the room was held was spiked with some kind of hallucinogen that amplifies Frank's 'gift,' leading to hellish visions. Frank's not the only one that has a bad trip -another participant gauges his eyes out with his own hands and ultimately dies.
|Frank on a vision quest|
Its ultimately revealed the a rogue member of the drug company behind Proloft is trying to dose the US populace with the 'Smooth Time' drug Frank consumed during the trial in order to 'wake up' a nation of zombies put to sleep by the same drug company the man works for. Besides predicting the epidemic of prescription drug abuse the coming decade would usher in, this episode is also especially noteworthy for its depiction of Frank's 'gift.'
In an earlier episode, "Sacrament", Frank's young daughter Jordan displayed abilities similar to Frank's. Both Chris Carter and Lance Henriksen have long denounced the notion that Frank is psychic, describing the visions he sees as a kind of visualization of how Frank's profiling abilities work. Yet "Sacrament" seemingly blew a hole in this interpretation when Jordan also experienced visions similar to Frank's. In "Walkabout" Frank overtly acknowledges the possibility that Jordan has inherited his 'gift' and states that he took the drug for her sake, attempting to find something that would spare her the images that appear in his own mind.
|Some of Frank's visions|
If the series tentatively dipped its toe in the pool of the supernatural initially in season one, it became much bolder with "Lamentation" and "Powers, Principalities, Thrones, and Dominions". The former, written by Chris Carter himself, marked the first appearance of the reoccurring character of Lucy Butler. The typical viewer would probably view Lucy as a demon, though in Millennium both demons and angels are a bit closer to the daimonic as we begin to glimpse by "Powers, Principalities, Thrones, and Dominions". For more on my concepts of daimons and angels, check here and here, respectively.
"Lamentation" begins as a some what conventional serial-killer-of-the-week type episode, with Frank and the Millennium Group being called in to investigate the escape of Ephraim Fabricant, a serial killer Frank's profile helped capture during his FBI days. Peter Watts soon discovers that Fabricant had a female pen-pal who eventually exchanged wedding vows with. This leads Frank and Watts to the after mentioned Miss Butler. Frank soon unravels a trail of bodies surrounding Lucy in addition to springing her hubby from the joint. Things don't go so well for Fabricant, however, when Lucy removes his only kidney without anesthesia. Lucy goes on to place said kidney in the refrigerator back at Frank's house in Seattle. Shortly afterwards she puts in an appearance in the flesh, relatively speaking. Catherine glimpses a long-haired male bearing a striking resemblance to Lucy standing at the top of the staircase.
Frank had already realized his family was in danger and dispatched Det. Bob Bletcher, an old friend of Frank's and a reoccuring character throughout season one, to his residence to protect Catherine and Jordan. After getting Frank's family out of the house safely Bletcher makes the fatal mistake of reentering to search for the invader.
In one of the most striking sequences of the entire series, Bletcher encounters Lucy still standing at the top of the staircase in the darkened house. As lightening flashes, she begins to descend. In that light the being walking down the stairs first appears as Lucy to Bletcher, then as the long-haired man Catherine witnessed earlier, and finally in a demonic form.
Bletcher's body is latter found hanging from a wall stud in Frank's basement with his throat cut. Frank goes to confront Fabricant one last time before he dies. Fabricant grips Frank's arm and howls that some unknown evil knows Frank.
While episodes like the after mentioned "Gehenna" and "The Judge" hinted at some kind of supernatural presence behind the monstrous human stand-ins, "Lamentation" gave a face to this presence in the guise of Lucy Butler. "Powers, Principalities, Thrones, and Dominions" showed other aspects of it. The title of course derives from the order of angels, more of which can be found here. In brief, the basic structure of the Christian order of angels broke them into three spheres. Thrones, who are charged with administrating divine justice, are of the first sphere. Interestingly, they are sometimes linked linked with the Ophanim, angels that appear as a fiery wheel double wheel covered in eyes.
Dominions are of the highest rank of the second order and regulate the duties of the lower angels. The Powers are also of the second order, at the lowest level. They are warrior angels charged with overseeing the distribution of power amongst human kind. The Principalities, who are of the highest rank of the lowest order, work closely with the Powers in carrying out the orders of the Dominions.
Anyway, back to the episode. In this one Frank is called to investigate a murder with heavy occult overtones with Peter Watts on behalf of the Millennium Group. Local police later take in a suspect named Martin after he slashes the neck of a nanny, a la Det. Bob Bletcher in the previous episode. Interestingly, the neck some times symbolizes the communication between the soul and body. Cutting it would obviously sever that communication.
The state's case against Martin quickly begins to fall apart, however, when a slick defense lawyer named Alistair Pepper (har har) arrives on the scene. As the case against Martin crumbles, Pepper offers Frank a mysterious job which he declines. Later in a court room appearance Martin stands up and confesses to the murder of Bletcher with Pepper at his side just as he seems poised to walk away a free man. Later he's transferred to Seattle where he slits his own throat with a razor blade in his jail cell.
Shortly thereafter a close colleague of Frank's in the Millennium Group helping with the investigation is found murdered in his hotel room with a ceremonial dagger protruding from his chest. Frank and Watts arrive just as the killer slips down a fire escape. Frank gives chase and follows him into a near by super market. As Frank follows the unknown man across the isles he appears at first as Pepper, and then later as Lucy Butler, before exiting the store.
This being, in the guise of Pepper, walks out of the store with his groceries and he heads for his car. In another one of the iconical sequences of the series, a young man named Sammael approaches Pepper with a gun and utters a strange on invocation:
"By Uriel, and by Raziel, powers, principalities, thrones and dominions, I bind and command you: Stand!"He precedes to shoot Pepper, but Frank sees it what appears to be a bolt of lightening or pure energy pass out of Sammael's palm and into Pepper's chest. Sammael immediately drops the gun. When Frank goes to retrieve it, he sees that its still cocked, as if it was never physically fired. Later when Frank goes to visit Sammael in police custody he tells Frank that Pepper "suffered the consequences of his own error." It is strongly implied that Sammael is a being similar to Lucy and Pepper, but of a more benevolent nature -an angel, in other words. His name is most interesting, however.
|Pepper and Sammael|
In Jewish lore Sammael, or commonly spelled as Samael, is considered to be the angel of death -an accuser, seducer, and destroyer. He is morally ambiguous to say the least, and has at times been linked to Satan. His role in Gnosticism, which would play a major role in season two, is also interesting. According to The Nature of the Rulers Samael is the name of the Demiurge:
"The leader of the authorities is blind. [Because of his] power, ignorance, and arrogance he said with [power], 'I am God, there is no other [but me].'
"When he said this, he sinned against [the realm of the All]. This boast rose up to Incorruptibility, and a voice answered from Incorruptibility and said, 'You are wrong, Samael' -which means 'blind god.'"
(The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, Meyer, pg. 191)
As the show progressed, the moral ambiguity of these angelic beings become more overt, but more on that (and much more) in the next installment.