Saturday, January 5, 2013

Aurora and the Kallikantzaris -Updated 1/7/13

Tragedy has struck Aurora, Colorado again. This past summer gunman James Eagan Holmes killed 12 and wounded 58 other individuals during a midnight showing of the latest Batman film on July 20, an event I chronicled before here. Since then a wave of bizarre and increasingly deadly mass shootings have terrorized the nation, climaxing with the Newtown school massacre on December 14.

Holmes (top) and Newtown shooter Adam Lanza (bottom)

The latest incident in Aurora revolved around hostage standoff that ended with four people, including the gunman, dead. MSNBC reports:
"Three people were found dead inside a home in Aurora, Colo., after a gunman took them hostage early Saturday morning, police told NBC affiliate KUSA. The gunman was also shot and killed by police after hours of failed negotiation attempts.

"Another person who had been inside the house was able to escape and alert authorities, KUSA reported.

"Officers were called to a town home around 3 a.m. after reports of shots fired. Several nearby homes were evacuated for safety reasons and police sent out emergency notifications for the other residents in the area."

This event occurred at a time when James Eagan Holmes has been back in the news (naturally). On Wednesday a judge set a preliminary hearing for Holmes, who is expected back in court of January 7. Meanwhile, the movie theater in which the shooting occurred was planning a reopening on January 17, a plan that is already spurring much outrage. Incidentally (or not) the number 17 has long been considered unlucky.
"The Ancient Romans seem to have regarded the number seventeen as unlucky since an anagram of the letters of which it is composed (XVII) gives the word VIXI, I have lived."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 867)

Italian culture still considers 17 to be a most unlucky number to this day. Details are still extremely sketchy, but I was immediately struck by the twilight language of the date of this shooting: January 5. Most recently January 5 marked the twelfth day of Christmas but it has a far more ancient association. In ancient times December 25 was regarded as the winter solstice throughout Europe and the twelve days following that date, ending on January 6, were considered a time in which the axis mundi between this world and the metaphysical realm was thin. It was said that it was easier for various mythological creatures such as satyrs, centaurs, elves and fairies to cross over into the real world during this time.

the Axis Mundi

Possibly the most curious of these creatures said to be able to cross over were the Kallikantzaris, gremlin-like creatures.
"The Kallikantzari are essentially gremlins, little people with the legs of an ass (horse) or a goat. They are overall hairy and dark skinned; generally they are benign, but like leprechauns and other diminutive beings, can by sly and devious. While not exactly evil, they have several rapine qualities: they love to dance (to ecstasy) and are extremely sexual. If given the opportunity, they will carry off human women to their caves during the twelve days they are allowed to emerge from the bowels of the earth: the days between Christmas (December 25) and Epiphany (January 6). Only at night do they come out of these caves, where they spend the day eating toads and lizards. After the twelve day allowance, they return to the underworld, where they spend the rest of the year trying to saw... through the trunk of the great tree of the earth --the axis mundi."
(The Apples of Apollo, Carl A. P. Ruck, Blaise Daniel Staples & Clark Heinrich, pg. 39)

It will be most interesting to see if the Kallikantzari or the twelve days of the solstice somehow factor into this tragedy. So dear reader, please keep your eyes peeled for all things gremlins.

UPDATE 1/7/13:

While I've yet to find any ties with gremlins in this event there are some interesting associations with the winner solstice  The great Loren Coleman has already published an excellent blog on this incident, which can be read here, but here's a brief snippet:
"The second gunman to cause multiple fatalies in Aurora, Colorado in seven months has been identified by neighbors as 33-year-old Sonny Archuleta. Aurora is also the location of the The Dark Knight Rises shootings on July 20, 2012. 
"The surname Archuleta is a family name which was originated in the Basque Country of Spain. Archuleta is of Castillian derivation of Basque Aretxuloeta, which ultimately comes from the place name Arechavaleta (Basque: Aretxabaleta). The placename uses the Basque words '(h)aritz' (oak tree), 'zabal' (wide) and 'eta' (indicating plurality), with the combined meaning of 'wide place where oak trees grow.'"  
the Green Knight

The association of the gunman's name with the oak tree is interesting.  As regular readers of this blog will remember the oak tree appears connection with the winter solstice in the Arthurian myths involving Gawain and the Green Knight.  Of this association the legendary poet and historian Robert Graves noted:
" the Green Knight is an immortal giant whose club is a holly-bush. He and Sir Gawain...  a typical Hercules, make a compact to behead one another at alternative New Years --meaning midsummer and midwinter --but in effect the Holly Knight spares the Oak Knight.

"... the Oak Knight and Holly Knight fought every first of May until Doomsday. Since medieval practice St. John the Baptist, who lost his head on St. John's Day, took over the oak king's titles and customs, it was natural to let Jesus, John's merciful successor, take over the holly king's."
(The White Goddess, pgs. 179-180)
Thus, according to this myth, the oak king would have recently decapitated the holly king this past solstice. The Aurora theater massacre occurred on July 20, 2012, a little less than a month after the summer solstice, which is typically celebrated on June 24. It would be interesting to know if James Eagan Holmes had any associations with holly. More on this topic can be found here.

Sonny Archuleta, the shooter
The latest Aurora shooter also had an associations superheroes, naturally. Pictures of the gunman reveal a prominent Superman tattoo upon his chest. Batman and Superman have often had a curious relationship with one another, sometimes being allies, sometimes being enemies. Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (which was fingered as a possible inspiration for Holmes rampage due to a sequence depicting a theater shooting) series depicted a battle between an aging Batman and Superman, for instance. Are Batman and Superman in some way modern stand-ins for the oak and holly kings?


  1. Marks my words there will be an assassination attempt to kill Beyonce during her concert at Superbowl 2013.

    I have lived = I was here (it's Beyonce's song) Check the official clip for it than watch Fith Element movie. Look for Diva Plavalaguna scene where she sings at the opera.

  2. Hi, it was great to see you using Kallikanzari in this post. Very well known in Orthodox culture. On the night of the 5th, apart from making sure all Xmas decorations are down, we are suppose to make 'xero-diyana', which are flower and water patties fryed in oil, which are then thrown out onto the roof tops of the houses to feed the Kallikanzari thus stopping them from entering the home and causing all sorts of Gremlin-like troubles!

    Happy New Year to you.

  3. Anon-

    We shall see.


    I discovered the Kallikanzari from the book "Apples of Apollo," which deals with their ancient connections to entheogens. I didn't realize that they were still so prevalent in modern Orthodox culture! That's fascinating.

    Happy New Year's to you to.:)