Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sirius Rises -Update 7/23/12

Yes folks, it's that time of year again. Either the Dog Days of Summer are already upon, or they soon will be. In the ancient world the Dog Days constituted one of the most important time frames of the year for several of the great civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The concept of the Dog Days derives from the heliacal rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. In the ancient world Sirius was of not little significance. 
"Sirius, or Serios, was the most important star in the ancient world. It was so important during one period of Egyptian history that some documents refer to Egypt itself as the Seriadic Land, after the Greek name for the star. Norman Lockyer, the 19th-century astronomer and specialist in temple orientation, surveyed no fewer than seven ancient Egyptian temples which were oriented to Sirius."
(The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital, David Ovason, pg. 139)
The actual significance of Sirius is far beyond the scope of this article, but the curious reader is advised to explore several of my prior posts on Sirius, beginning here and here. For the time being, we shall roll with Crowley disciple Kenneth Grant's occult definition of Sirius:
"In the Arcane Tradition, the vast star, Sirius, symbolizes the sun behind the sun, i.e. the true father of our Universe. Sirius was the primordial star of all time, as the duplicator or renewer (of time cycles). He was known in Egypt as the Doubling One, therefore a Creator or reflector of the Image. Sirius, or Set, was the original 'headless one' --the light of the lower region (the South) who was known (in Egypt) as An (the dog), hence Set-an (Satan), Lord of the infernal regions, the place of heat, later interpreted in a moral sense as 'hell.'"
(The Magical Revival, pg. 226-227)
Sirius seemingly acquired its association with time keeping due to its heliacal rising coinciding with the flooding of the Nile. This day marked the beginning of the Egyptian calendar and the Dog Days of Summer. The Greeks and especially the Romans would embrace this time frame.
"Throughout Latin literature there are many references to 'the Dog Days' which followed the heliacal rising of Sirius in the summer. These hot, parched days were thought by that time to derive some of their ferocity and dryness from the 'searing' of Sirius. Traditions arose of Sirius being 'red' because it was in fact red at its heliacal rising, just as any other body at the horizon is red. When making rhetorical allusions to the Dog Days, the Latins would often speak of Sirius being red at the time, which it was."
(The Sirius Mystery, Robert Temple, pg. 86)

As can be imagined, the Dog Days were considered to be an evil time, marked by strife, chaos and madness. Despite the reverence and fear the ancients showed the Dog Days remarkably little about them has passed down to us. Even the actual dating of the Dog Days is highly debated. Robert Anton Wilson placed the time of the Dog Days as running from July 23rd till September 8th. Others have the Dog Days only lasting a month, and thus ending on August 23rd. Others still, such as David Ovason, have the Dog Days starting much sooner, on July 3rd, and stretching into early September. Given the significance the ancients attached to the Dog Days it is rather peculiar that there is so little consensus as to what the actual dates were.

What's more, there apparently were some kind of bizarre rituals associated with the Dog Days which numerous modern scholars hold to have been sexual in nature. The classical mythologists Carl Ruck and Danny Staples, while discussing the mythological hound Maira, write:
"At Athens, Maira was transmuted to the heavens as Canis Minor, the constellation of the Lesser Dog. With Sirius, the Canis Major, she ushers in the dog days of summer with her morning rising, the days whose unbearable heat makes women's uncontrollable sexuality still dangerous, as in the old days: for men, the month for a safe marriage was January; but transported to the skies, these dog days produce the heat necessary for the ripening of the grapes, as well as the dryness that drives off the damaging blight or black rot that would destroy the crop with the kind of fungal mold that is the antithesis of the beneficial yeast --and which is the curse these chthonic hounds would place on cities who do not know how to appease them, as they are at Athens."
(The World of Classical Myth, pg. 85)
In other words, it was feared that the Dog Days produced an uncontrollable sexuality in women, which implies that they were originally celebrated with orgiastic rites (presumably dominated by women) during Greece's matriarchal period. This is in stark contrast to the theory of famed poet and author Robert Graves:
"The Dog with which Aesculapius is pictured, like the dog Anubis, the companion of Egyptian Thoth, and the dog which always attended Melkarth the Phoenician Hercules, is a symbol of the Underworld; also of the dog-priests, called Enariae, who attended the Great Goddess of the Eastern Mediterranean and indulged in sodomitic frenzies in the Dog days at the rising of the Dog-star, Sirius."
(The White Goddess, pg. 53)
Perhaps the men of Athens simply didn't want to include women in their orgiastic rites so as to maintain the purity of the rituals? Or perhaps another partner that could also be refereed to as 'bitch' had long since been used by men in these rites.
"Crowley identified the heart of the Thelemic current with one particular Star. In Occult Tradition, this is 'the Sun behind the Sun,' the Hidden God, the vast star Sirius, or Sothis, which opened the zodiacal year of 365 days as well as the Great Year of approximately 26,000 years. 
"According to Herodotus..., the Egyptians celebrated the annual return of this Star, or God, with obscene rites characterized by bestial copulation. Thus, the Dog-Star. Crowley knew that no rite of antiquity was without magical purpose. He performed exhaustive experiments with this formula... and found it more effective, in many ways, than the formula of normal sexual magick which Theodor Reuss, following Kellner, had incorporated in the O.T.O."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pg. 50-51) 
Thus, the Dog Days potentially featured 'traditional' orgies, 'sodomitic frenzies,' and/or bestiality as part of the rituals of this glorious time. It also featured sacrifice, naturally. In some accounts the Romans were said to have sacrificed a brown dog at the onset of the Dog Days. However, there may have been even more sinister practices in an earlier period.
"The story about the puppies recalls the Roman habit of sacrificing red puppies in the Spring to avert the baleful influence of the Dog-star on their grain; the sacrifice was really to the Barley-mother who had the Dog-star as her attendant. Rhiannon, in fact, is the Mare-Demeter, a successor of the Sow-Demeter Cerridwen. That the Mare-Demeter devoured her children, like the Sow-Demeter, is proved by the myth of Leucippe ('White Mare') the Orchomenan, who with her two sisters ran wild and devoured her son Hippasus ('foal'); and by the myth recorded by Pausanias, that when Rhea gave birth to Poseidon she offered her lover Cronos a foal to eat instead of the child, whom she gave secretly into the charge of the shepherds of the Arcadian Arne."
(The White Goddess, Robert Graves, pg. 385)

Is it possible then that the sacrifice of a brown dog or red puppies that the Romans traditionally offered to Sirius was originally a human being, possibly even a baby? Ponder this for a moment as we turn to the present.

As noted above, the Dog Days were seen as a time of strife, chaos, and madness. This is a fitting description of the current state of affairs in the United States. We are in the midst of the worst drought in over 50 years, a situation that has already produced numerous wildfires and could potentially lead to global food shortages. As reports of a 20% increase in armed conflicts are coming in we are mauling further costly military adventures in Iran and Syria (in addition to the widespread use of drone warfare being employed by the current regime) all the while the US economy continues to stagnate. The US Presidential is heating up, but does anyone really give a damn anymore? Liberals are having a harder and harder time everyday telling the difference between Barack Obama and his predecessor. Conservatives are horrified by the creeping 'socialism' of Obama's regime, yet aren't convinced that they will fair any better under the corporatism of Mitty Romney. And then there's the every growing body of peoples that can't tell the difference between the two parties anymore and will thus be abstaining.

Unfortunately, politics will be out in force anyway. The 2012 elections will inevitably spark a steep rise in arrests and police actions in the coming months as politicians attempt to justify their re-election and the effectiveness of current policies. Meanwhile, the press is hard at work creating a 'zombie epidemic' by ensuring incidents like this continue to grab headlines. Then on Friday, July 20th, we had quite a dozy: a shooting spree that claimed the lives of 12 and injured dozens more occurred in a Colorado movie theater during the premier of the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, the latest installment in Christopher Nolan's hugely popular Batman series. 

James Eagan Holmes (right), the obligatory lone-nut, three-named shooter authorities are insisting committed the shootings by his lonesome

Many conspiracy theorists and synchro-watchers have been closely following this film for months. As a major summer tent-pole release it will inevitably be filled with symbolism and predictive programming. Long before it was released it was already tapping into the current zeitgeist. Loren Coleman has already written a series of outstanding blogs, which can be found herehere and here, about the synchronistic link between Bane, the chief villain in the latest Batman film, and Bain Capital, the financial institution that threatens to derail the presidential bid of Mitt Romney.

Personally, Recluse has had little interest in the latest Batman film. Like Christopher Knowles, I was deeply disturbed by the blatant fascism of The Dark Knight, the second of Nolan's Batman films. Beyond that, there's just something about Nolan's Batman movies that I find unsettling. I think it has to do with the stark 'realism' of his take on Batman --its like all the 'magic' has been stripped out of the character in Nolan's quest to bring Batman out the comic world from which he hails. While Tim Burton's earlier Batman films were not without their faults, they at least managed to take the darkness Frank Miller brought to the character in the 1980s and combine it with a fairy tale-like world fitting of such an adaption. Nolan, by contrast, has reduced Batman to a neo-con symbol of the War on Terror --the just dictator that must protect the public at all costs.

Christopher Nolan (top), the director of the current Batman trilogy, and the right-wing Frank Miller (bottom), the creator of Sin City who brought his own dark style to the Batman comics in he 1980s

With Friday's shootings, the fascist dreams of Nolan's Batman films are fast becoming a reality. Already movie theaters across the country are displaying an increased police presence. In modern America even attending a movie requires the protection of the police state according to the powers that be. Strangely, a preview of Friday's shooting spree was already present in one of Miller's most celebrated 1980s Batman works, The Dark Knight Returns, as this Washington Times article notes. The comic was set in the future where Gotham City (as well as much of modern America) was overrun by crime while America has fallen into a dictatorship. And now life is imitating art, again.

the notorious sequence from Miller's The Dark Knight Returns that preceded the Aurora shootings

Ah, but there's more synchronicity. The shooting took place in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. Much has already been made of the closeness of Aurora to Littleton, Colorado, site of the notorious Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Curiously few have mentioned that Aurora is less than 20 miles from the notorious Denver International Airport. From its swastika shaped runways, Masonic dedications, and apocalyptic murals, the DIA has long been a favorite of conspiracy researchers. I've already written extensively on the DIA before here for those wishing for more details.

the Swastika-like runways of the Denver International Airport (DIA)

For our purposes here the most striking connection the DIA has to the Aurora shootings is the statue of Anubis the former now features. Anubis is commonly known as the Egyptian god of the dead, but he also has a strong association with Sirius. He is commonly depicted with the head of a jackal, but in earlier incarnations he was dog-headed. He was the companion of Isis, whom some have argued was the embodiment of Sirius. In other cases Sirius was the star of Isis, with Anubis standing in for Sirius when Isis was depicted with him.
 "In the Egyptian mythology, the connection between the stellar goddess Isis and Sirius was expressed by the notion that Anubis (to use the Greek name for the star god) was her guardian dog. The image of a celestial woman with a dog is not without hidden significance, for the dog exists on a lower plane of being than both human and gods. It is thus intermediary between the goddess and 'those below her' --that is, the mass of humanity. In arcane art --as, for example, in the tarot pack --the presence of a do is usually intended to point to the lower self. It represents that inner darkness which has not yet been sloughed off, to allow the inner light to intensify."
(The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital, David Ovason, pg. 140)

An earlier Robert Graves quote also mentioned the celestial-woman-and-dog image that symbolized Sirius in antiquity. Anubis and Isis are but one manifestation of this image. Thus, Anubis is yet another aspect of the Dog Dogs as are the bizarre sex rites and sacrifices mentioned above that thrived in antiquity. 

And now, in twenty-first century America, we have just witnessed a large scale shooting days before the onset of the Dog Days (or possibly in the midst of them), mere miles away from the most prominent modern statue of Anubis in the world.


UPDATE 7/23/12 --Happy Dog Days!

A few other curious connections that link the Aurora shootings with Sirius have occurred to me. The first concerns the total number of victims: 12 people were murdered while 58 were injured. This makes a grand total of 70 victims in all. The number 70 is closely linked with both Sirius and the Dog Days.
"Sirius was, astronomically, the foundation of the entire Egyptian religious system. Its celestial movements determined the Egyptian calender, which is even known as the Sothic Calender. Its heliacal rising marked the beginning of the Egyptian year and roughly coincided with the flooding of the Nile.. The heliacal rising was the occasion of an important feast. One can imagine a kind of New Year-cum-Easter. The heliacal rising was the occasion when Sirius again rose into visibility in the sky after a period of seventy days of being out of sight, during which time it was conceived as being in the Duat, or underworld. A further connection with Anubis comes in here, as Anubis was conceived of as embalming Sothis for these seventy days in the Duat. An embalmed mummy is supposed to come alive again. And this is what happened to the mummy of Sothis. Sothis is reborn on the occasion of her heliacal rising."
(The Sirius Mystery, Robert Temple, pg. 129) 
Here we find yet another connection between the Aurora shootings and Sirius, but also between Sirius and Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead. As mentioned previously (and displayed across this blog), there is a large statue of Anubis at the Denver International Airport, located roughly 20 miles from Aurora.

The name Aurora itself means 'dawn', while Colorado means 'red.' This has led several synch-watchers, most notably Loren Coleman, to revisit the notorious 1984 action film Red Dawn, which I've written briefly on before here. However the combination that Colorado and Aurora produces, red dawn, could just as easily be an allusion to the heliacal rising of Sirius as it is to the Milius film. When Sirius returned to visibility after a 70 day absence it appeared as red in the sky during the heliacal rising, thus producing a red dawn at the onset of the Dog Days.

Finally, there's a vague connection to Aurora and Royal Astronomical Society fellow Robert Temple's 'oracle octave'/Sirius lines theory that I'll briefly address. Here's a quick rundown of Temple's speculations:
"The Sirius Mystery, an important new book by Robert K.G. Temple, explores the role of the star Sirius in the mystical and religious affairs of the earliest civilizations of the Mideast and Mediterranean. In his fifth chapter, on the geodetic locations of the various oracle shrines of the ancient world, Temple points out that these places were arranged along nine bands of latitude, from 31º30' N through 39º30' N."
(Weird America, William Grimstad, pg. 48)
Temple essentially argues that most of the major oracle centers of antiquity in the Mediterranean, such as the ones at Delphi and Delos, were originally oriented toward Sirius and were separated from each other by one degree of latitude. I've written much more on this theory before here, so I do not wish to delve into it here. I will point out, however, that the oracle of Dodona (one of Temple's main Sirius oracles) is located on almost the same latitude line as Aurora. Specifically, Dodona is at roughly 39º32' N while the Aurora theater were the shooting occurred is located at 39º70' N.

The Century Theater in Aurora, Colorado where the shooting occurred (top) and the Oracle at Dodona (bottom)

And it is here that I shall leave things for now. The Aurora shootings are truly shocking and pivotal events, but whether they represent an actual plot by the Cryptocracy, or the sheer power of memes, archetypes and synchronicity remains to be seen. Certainly the timing of the event is beneficial to certain factions in the United States, while the location is riddled with defense contractors and other military/intelligence personnel (Denver is just a little over an hour away from Colorado Springs, one of the major meccas of the Military-industrial complex). But nothing close to a smoke gun has been reported as yet.

All we can be certain of is that something sinister as afoot. So while we can, let's dig some Super Fury Animals.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Being the Triple Goddess Part II

Welcome to part two of my examination of the 1999 cult classic Being John Malkovich, a film loosely revolving around Craig Schwartz (John Cusack), a puppeteer attempting to take over the mind of the actor John Malkovich via a portal he finds in the office building he works at. In part one I briefly chronicled the story line of Malkovich in addition to the main characters before delving into its extensive use of the Triple Goddess, especially in the characters of Lotte (Cameron Diaz), Craig's wife, and Maxine (Catherine Keener), his coworker. I argued that both heavily embodied aspects of the Triple Goddess while being presented in the context of the Madonna/Whore duality. This is a concept I wish to explore in further depth here, but first I would like to consider the curious numerology of Malkovich in addition to several of themes before elaborating further. So, on to the numbers. 

Craig and Malkovich (top), Maxine (middle) and Lotte (bottom)

There has been much speculation as to why the floor which Craig works on in the Merton Flemming Building is located between the seventh and eighth floor, or seven and half (which he first encounters at the 7:30 run time of the film). The film gives us a rather amusing explanation: Upon being hired, Craig is sent to watch an uber cheesy training video that explains the seventh and half floor. The film opens with a shot of the Twin Towers (naturally) before moving on to a hideous reenactment of the event leading to the building of the seven and a half floor. Craig witnesses the saga of the Scottish Captain Merton, one of the founders of the Merton Flemming Building, who supposedly fell in love with an undersized woman and built a floor on which her height would appear to be normal. Craig first encounters Maxine during the training video, who informs him that it's all bullshit. I'm inclined to agree, so let's consider some other possibilities.

Craig and Maxine on the 7 1/2 floor

Some have speculated that the seventh and a half floor is a play on the legendary Fellini film 8 1/2, but this is only scratching the surface. Both the numbers seven and eight, which seven and a half falls between, have much occult significance. Of seven, Manly P. Hall writes:
"By the Pythagoreans the heptad --7-- was called 'worthy of veneration.' It was held to be the number of religion, because man is controlled by seven celestial spirits to whom it is proper for him to make offerings. It was called the number of life, because it was believed that human creatures born in the seventh month of embryonic life usually lived, but those born in the eight month often died. One author called it the Motherless Virgin, Minerva, because it was not born of a mother but out of the crown, or the head of the Father, the monad. Keywords of the heptad are fortune, occasion, custody, control, government, judgement, dreams, voices, sounds, and that which leads all things to their end. Deities whose attributes were expressed by the heptad were Aegis, Osiris, Mars, and Cleo (one of the muses)."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, pg. 219)
In Gematria Aleister Crowley refers to seven as the most perfect of all numbers, which in his estimation made it most evil. Eight is another number that ties in closely to the notion of perfection, or perfect order.
"Universally eight is the number of cosmic balance. With the addition of the intermediate points, it is the number of the cardinal points and the number of the pointers on the weather-vane of the Tower of the Winds in Athens. It is often the number of spokes in a wheel, in the rowels of Celtic bits and in the Buddhist Wheel of the Law. There are eight petals on the lotus and eight paths in the Way, eight Trigrams in the I Ching and eight pillars in the Temple of Heaven. There are also eight angels which support the Throne of Heaven and it also the number --in what precise form is not known --of the Mirror of Amaterasu. As the pillars of the Temple of Heaven, the angelic supporters and the octagonal plan of the lingam would indicate, the number eight and the octagon have also the quality of intermediation between the square and the circle, between Heaven and Earth, and are therefore linked with the intermediate world."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 342)
The 'intermediate world' is a fair description of the universe of Malkovich, but it still doesn't feel quite right. Crowley disciple Kenneth Grant also had an interesting take on the number eight, with some allusions to seven, as well.
"Cheth is the number Eight, which is the Seal of Hermes-Thoth-Mercury, the God of Magick. The figure 8 is, by shape, the Caduceus of Mercury and the emblem of Infinity. In The Book of Law, Hadit (or Set) declares 'I am eight, and one in eight.' The identification is with Sothis the manifestor of the Seven Stars of Polaris (the Great Bear constellation which symbolizes the Dragon --Nuit). She is the Mother of the Primal Gods, and her formula of Change, or Magick, is manifested in One, her Son, i.e. Sothis or Sirius, who, in his occult character symbolizes the Son behind the Sun... 
"Cheth (8. 418), 'k', being the number of the Great Work, is a formula used by occultists, as well as alchemists, to denote the consummation of the marriage of individual and cosmic consciousness."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pgs. 22-23) 

Nut (top) and Thoth (bottom)

Seven is thus the number of the star goddess while eight is the number of her son. Crowley believed that the new Aeon he was ushering in would be of Horus, the son. This would supersede the Aeon of Osiris , which had in turn overthrown the Aeon of Isis. The Aeon of Horus would bring forth a new age of goddess worship. Given the strong themes of matriarchy Malkovich displays, which were discussed in part one, the numbers seven and eight are thus both apt for the film. That the portal to Malkovich's mind is located between the seventh and eighth floor may represent the transition that is occurring with the return of matriarchy --the Age is upon us but not quite in bloom yet.

Another curious theory of the significance of seven and a half is it's association with the number 15 as 7.5 plus 7.5 adds up to that number. Thus, everyone working at LesterCorp goes up and down fifteen floors total on a typical work day. What's more, the time frame that most individuals can stay in the mind of Malkovich is given at 15 minutes.

When many people think of the number 15, they think of the expression '15 minutes of fame,' a reference to short-lived celebrity for an individual or group. 15 has all types of occult associations as well. In the Tarot, the fifteenth trump is the Devil card. In Gematria Crowley describes 15 as the mystical number of Geburah, one of the Sephirots in the Kabbalah. 15 also has a curious association with the Triple Goddess of antiquity.
"...the White Moon-goddess whose sacred number is thirteen in so far as her courses coincide with the solar year, but fifteen in so far as the full moon falls on the fifteenth day of each lunation. Fifteen is also the multiple of three and five: three expressing the three phases of the moon and the Goddess's three aspects of maiden, nymph and hag, and five expressing the five stations of her year: Birth, Initiation, Consummation, Repose, and Death."
(The White Goddess, Robert Graves, pg. 245
So much, then, for the numbers. Let us now move on to the themes of Malkovich. An obvious one that should be evident to anyone who routinely tries to find esoteric meanings in film is that of initiation. The journey into Malkovich's mind in a way parallels initiation into Freemasonry. In Malkovich, the candidate must journey down a nearly darkened, slime covered tunnel until a force seizes the candidate and pulls them towards a glowing light. Now, consider initiation into the first degree of Freemasonry:
"In the first-degree ritual, the lodge is opened by the assembled Masons --according to tradition there must be at least seven present, including the... Worshipful Master --and the applicant for initiation must wait in a special room outside where he is divested of most of his clothing and everything made of metal, such as jewelry, watch, and the like. The lodge at this time is said to represent the first floor of Solomon's Temple. 
"The applicant is then dressed in a coarse white garment, and portions of his body are laid bare; a breast, an arm, and the heel of his foot. He is blindfolded and led to the entrance of the lodge room or temple by a man carrying a sword, accompanied by two others. 
"After a series of knocks (usually three) on the door and an exchange of words the door is opened and the prospective initiate is led inside, across the threshold, and suddenly feels the sharp point of a sword against his chest. He is still blindfolded, cannot know how many people there are watching him, and has no idea what to do next. In every case, he will be prompted by a voice at his shoulder as to how to respond to the questions that are asked him... 
"Finally, once all the information has been imparted in the form of long speeches replete with arcane references that the candidate cannot possibly understand completely on first hearing, and after the candidate has taken the appropriate oaths, the blindfold is removed and, blinking, the new initiate realizes he is facing a man sitting on a throne with a light behind him. This may be the only light in the room, or the strongest one. 
"The effect would be impressive, a subtle shock to the nervous system after all the wandering around in the dark --which is, after all, what the initiation represents. The candidate is referred to as a traveler in the dark, seeking the light; as a man from the West, going to the East..."
(The Secret Temple, Peter Levenda, pgs. 11-13)

In Malkovich various characters, most notably Craig Schwartz (John Cusack), pass through the threshold of a door and wander in darkness. Eventually they are pulled forward and receive the light, or in this case, enter actor John Malkovich's mind. Interestingly, the Schwartz character first enters Malkovich's mind carrying a piece of wood which doesn't leave Malkovich's mind with him. Wood had a most appropriate symbolic meaning to the Celts that fits its use in Malkovich:
"In Celtic tradition, wood and trees partake of learning in all its shapes and aspects. The traditional Irish alphabet, ogham, was cut most frequently in wood and only carved in stone on grave monuments. There is complete homonymity between the words for 'learning' and 'wood' in all Celtic languages (Irish, fid; Welsh, gwydd; Breton, gwez (tree) and gouez, from the root gouzout, 'to know'). Unlike the Gualish druids, Irish seldom used oak, but more often yew, hazel or service trees, literature rarely distinguishing between them. Hazel-nut was the fruit of wisdom and knowledge. Birch and apple also played a leading part in the symbolism of the Otherworld... 
"In general terms, however, the symbolism of wood is constant --it possess superhuman wisdom and knowledge."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pgs. 1123-1124)
Wood as a symbol of learning is in keeping with the theme of initiation Malkovich establishes early on. Curiously, Craig's piece of wood stays in Malkovich's mind throughout the film, only leaving when Craig finally relinquishes control of Malkovich to Dr. Lester to free Maxine, whom he believes Lester has kidnapped. In reality Craig has been duped, Maxine having already opted to leave him for Lotte, Craig's wife. Craig thus gave up a glimpse of the mysteries of the universe for unrequited love, hence his piece of wood is also ejected with him during his final exit from Malkovich. Craig has failed initiation, big time.

Despite the implications of living inside the mind of another, Craig does little with Malkovich other than launch his once-fledgling puppeteer career. He briefly achieves the fame that so long alluded him as Malkovich, but he remains the same person. Malkovich's physical features even begin to change, taking on more of Craig's appearance. Craig ultimately cannot see past the material implications of being John Malkovich.

His wife, Lotte, is the polar opposite. Her travels inside John Malkovich transform her dramatically over the course of the movie. She begins as a stereotypical dutiful wife, supporting Craig while he attempts to launch his pitiful puppeteer career all the while remaining both emotionally and sexually unfulfilled by their marriage. Upon entering Malkovich's mind, she begins to almost immediately rethink her sexuality and gender --At one point she even considers surgery to transform herself into a man. Eventually she falls in love with Maxine, bringing together the various natures of the Triple Goddess which both female leads embody. Thus, Lotte achieves the appropriate transformation from initiation.

Maxine ravishing Malkovich after Lotte enters his mind

Lotte also embodies one of the most compelling themes of Malkovich, namely hermaphroditism. This comes into play shortly after Lotte's first venture inside the mind of Malkovich. Having seen the light, she glowing rambles to Craig:
"I think it's kinda sexy John Malkovich has a portal, y'know, sort of like, it's like, like he has a vagina. It's sort of vaginal, y'know, like he has a, he has a penis and a vagina. I mean, it's sort of like... Malkovich's... feminine side. I like that."
Initially after being exposed to Malkovich Lotte considers a sex change, but backs off once she discovers sex with Maxine-via-Malkovich. After experiencing hermaphroditic sex, a mere sex change simply won't suffice. Maxine, who becomes aware of Lotte's female presence while engaged in coitus with Malkovich, is also smitten with this sensation, and begins to fall in love with Lotte. When Craig eventually discovers a way to stay in Malkovich indefinitely, his duel masculine presence doesn't seem to satisfy Maxine in the same way Lotte was able too.

The concept of hermaphroditism continues to pop up throughout the films. The Malkovich character embodies hermaphroditism --as the Lotte quote above indicates, the portal into his mind constitutes a kind of mental vagina. When Malkovich himself ventures into his own mind in one of the film's most celebrated sequences he appears in a plush restaurant during the lunch rush where every figure, man and woman, is Malkovich.

One instance of Malkovich in drag
Other characters also partake in the hermaphroditism. The group of friends Dr. Lester plans to take with him into Malkovich is comprised of both men and women, and several of the women seem especially keen on experiencing sex as a man. Craig is eventually trapped in the body of Emily, Maxine and Lotte's daughter, who is the next vessel Dr. Lester and his group will use. This gives Emily a purely hermaphroditic soul, as she is comprised equally of female (her own) and male (Craig's) spirits.

Maxine, Dr. Lester (the geezer with his arms around Lotte) and the group he plans to take into Malkovich
The hermaphrodite is one of the most ancient symbols known to humanity. Many of the world's ancient religions are riddled with allusion to hermaphroditism, including Christianity.
"Primordial separation which created cosmically, that is, differentiated, light and darkness, Heaven and Earth, is also the separation of Yin and Yang which created, in addition to those fundamental opposites, heat and cold and male and female. They are the Japanese Izanagi and Izanami, originally interfused in the egg of Chaos, as well as the Egyptian Ptah and the Akkadian Tiamat. According to the Rig-Veda, the hermaphrodite was the pied milch-cow which was also the bull with plentiful semen. One produces two according to Taoism and thus the primordial Adam was in no sense male, but hermaphrodite, becoming Adam and Eve. 
"Indeed hermaphrodites are often depicted as twin beings, each possessing the attributes of the two sexes and on the point of separation. This is a particularly important factor in explaining the cosmogonic significance of Indian erotic sculptures. Thus Shiva, a hermaphrodite deity since he is identified with the formless First Cause of manifestation, is often depicted tightly clasping Shakti, his own power, depicted as a female deity. 
"Further traces of hermaphroditism are to be discerned in Adonis, Dionysus, Cybele and Castor and Pollux, the last-named echoing Izanagi and Izanami. Such examples could be quoted for ever, for, in the last resort --as Ancient Greek theogony most amply proves --all deities were bisexual, which meant that they did not need a mate to bear children. Ritual hermaphroditism, as Mircea Eliade emphasizes, represents the totality of the united magico-religious forces of both sexes.  
"As a sign of totality, the hermaphrodite is as apparent at the end of time as at its beginning. In the eschatological vision of salvation, the individual is regenerated into a wholeness in which differences between the sexes no longer exist. This echoes the 'mystic marriage' of so many traditional literary sources and thus re-echoes the image of Shiva with his Shakti."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 498)
The hermaphrodite is also highly important in the occult. In some strands, the ultimate creative force in the universe is depicted as being hermaphroditic. Thirty-third degree Freemason Manly P. Hall informs us:
"When the plural and androgynous Hebrew word Elohim was translated into the singular and sexless word God, the opening chapters of Genesis were rendered comparatively meaningless. It may have been feared that had the word been correctly translated as 'the male and female creative agencies,' the Christians would have been justly accused of worshiping a plurality of gods in the face of their repeated claims to monotheism! The plural form of the pronouns us and our reveals unmistakably, however, the pantheistic nature of Divinity. Further, the androgynous constitution of the Elohim (God) is disclosed in the next verse, where he (referring to God) is said to have created man in his own image, male and female; or, more properly, as the division of the sexes had not yet taken place, male-female. This is a deathblow to the time-honored concept that God is a masculine potency as portrayed by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The Elohim then order these androgynous beings to be fruitful. Note that neither the masculine nor the feminine principal as yet existed in a separate state! And, lastly, note the word 'replenish.' The prefix re denotes 'back to an original or former state or position,' or 'repetition or restoration...' This definite referrence to a humanity existing prior to the 'creation of man' described in Genesis must be evident to the most casual reader of Scripture."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, pgs. 399-400)
Mercurius, a major figure in alchemy

Both Gnostic and alchemical strands of the occult heavily incorporate hermaphroditism. Major deities in both, such as Abraxas and Mercurius, were frequently depicted as hermaphrodites. Hermaphroditism is also extremely important to Thelema, the spiritual philosophy developed by the notorious magician Aleister Crowley. One of the chief symbols of Thelema was the phoenix, which has historically been depicted as an androgynous entity.
"The Hidden God, Set (represented astronomically by Sirius, the Dog-Star) typified the peculiar formula of the Eleventh Degree pf the O.T.O., which could be applied to the male or the female. It is this sense that we must understand the symbol of the Phoenix, the title which Crowley assumed in secret conclave with Frater Achad in 1915 in connection with the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Order. 
"The Phoenix or Ibis is the Bird of Cyclic Return and an apt symbol of the God who administers to and by himself, his own clyster. He is thus the Double-Wanded One in a physical as well as in a mystical sense."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pg. 51) 

A few pages later Grant goes on to further explain the 'Double-Wanded One.'
"The biune glyph, or two in one, of alternating and opposite forces gave rise to the image of the Androgyne long before the drama of Jesus and Satan contending on the Mount. 
"In the Cult of Thelema, Therion (Beast 666) and Baphomet are two types of the 'Devil,' or image of the Double Power. The Double-Wanded One combines the solar and hermetic functions of Therion and Baphomet, and both these functions involve the formula of the Beast and the Woman conjoined. 
"The Devil is the Dual One (11 or eleven), the Double-Wanded One, having the attributes of male and female potencies according to the solar or hermetic nature of the rite."
(ibid, pg. 53)
Abraxas, one instance of the 'Double-Wanded One

Strangely, the coitus between Maxine and Craig-as-Malkovich seems to best embody Crowley's notion of the Double Wanded One. The reference to clyster (another name for an enema) in the first Grant quote seems to indicate anal sex. In the next quote Grant speaks of Therion and Baphomet, both male entities, becoming one in the Double Wanded One, who then approaches the Woman, Babalon. In the case of Malkovich, Craig penetrates Malkovich via his portal, who then penetrates Maxine (the Scarlet Woman) via her Graal.

Stranger still, Malkovich features ample shots of the Twin Towers throughout, which was infamously destroyed during the 9/11 'terror attacks.' If eleven is the number of hermaphroditism, as Grant seems to be implying, it makes the continuous shots of the Twin Towers all the more curious. The Twin Towers themselves have the appearance of the number eleven, which makes their appearance rather apt the first time Craig departs the Malkovich portal. They're also one of the first images seen in the 7 1/2 floor training video presentation Craig takes in upon being hired at LesterCorp, and where he first meets Maxine.

But enough about hermaphroditism for the time being. Before wrapping things up there is one final theme running through Malkovich that I would like to briefly examine, namely psychic vampirism. Of late this concept has taken on a lot of New Age associations but in reality the concept of psychic vampirism is very old. In fact, the modern concept of vampirism, in which an individual physically drinks the blood of another, may have derived from a far older concept of energy transference. Manly P. Hall traces these concepts back to the famed alchemist (and opium peddler), Paracelsus.
"Differing widely from the elementals and also the incubus and succubus is the vampire, which is defined by Paracelsus as the astral body of a person either living or dead (usually the latter state). The vampire seeks to prolong existence upon the physical plane by robbing the living of their vital energies and misappropriating such energies to its own ends.
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall, pg. 342)
In the modern era the concept of psychic or energy vampires first gained traction in the early twentieth century via the famed occultist Dion Fortune. Psychic vampirism was apparently what pushed Fortune into her occult pursuits in the first place.
"In her twentieth year she suffered a traumatic experience which determined the course of her life. It occurred while she was working at an educational establishment. Her employer, the principal of the establishment, was a domineering and unscrupulous woman of a particularly malevolent disposition who had lived in India for many years. When anyone antagonized her, she responded by directing a current of baleful energy that ate like acid into the object of her attack. One such onslaught was enough to reduce Fortune to a state of total prostration, which shattered her mentally and physically. How she recovered her balance and regained health and vitality is told in her book Psychic Self Defense. It was this critical experience that induced her to study analytical psychology, to join the Theosophical Society and devote herself to occultism."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pgs. 174-175)
Dion Fortune

Naturally Crowley incorporated psychic vampirism into his philosophy, even claiming to have both engaged in it and to have fought off attacks using it. As can be expected, there is much overlap with sex magick in Crowley's view of psychic vampirism.
"Innumerable tales of horror have elaborated the theme of the malevolent mummy, which, on being unwrapped, exhibited signs of recent feeding though having lain dead for centuries. The magically imprisoned shade used the mummy as a basis for its activities; a situation not impossible in actual fact. If victuals were not periodically supplied by relatives or friends of the deceased, the corpse would turn its attention to living people. Posthumous rites and food-offerings were originally of a propitiatory kind, designed to offset the hideous hauntings with which the literature of occultism abounds. It is at this level of mythology that the legend of the vampire has its roots. The magical formula of rejuvenation involves an analogous process with the significant difference that the vampire is alive, not dead. 
"Although Crowley only once resorted to sorcery of this kind, he knew certain Adepts who made a habit of it, and he was on one occasion involved in mortal combat with one of them... 
"In the Comment to Liber Agape, the Book containing the secret sex-magical instructions given to members of the Sovereign Sanctuary, O.T.O., appears the following pertinent paragraph: 
" 'The Vampire selects the victim, stout and vigorous as may be, and, with the magical intention of transferring all that strength to himself, exhausts the quarry by a suitable use of the body, most usually by the mouth, without himself entering in any way into the matter. And this is thought by some to partake of the nature of Black Magic.  
" 'The exhaustion should be complete; if the work be skilfully executed, a few minutes should suffice to produce a state resembling, and not far removed from, coma. 
" 'Experts may push this practice to the point of death of the victim, thus not merely obtaining the physical strength, but imprisoning and enslaving the soul. The soul then serves as a familiar spirit. 
" 'The practice is held to be dangerous. It was used by the late Oscar Wilde, and by Mr. and Mrs. 'Horos' also, in modified form by S.L. Mathers and his wife, and by E.W. Berridge. 
" 'The ineptitude of the three latter saved them from the fate of the three former...' 
"Crowley himself practiced a form of Moon Magick for the purpose of replenishing his sexual energies after they had been depleted by prolonged magical ceremonies, but on no occasion did he carry the practice to the point of death. It is unmitigated Black Magic, and utterly contrary to the Law of Thelema to interfere with the Will of other individuals, much less to rob them of life. Crowley's partners were always willing; the act was never in the nature of an assault, nor did it give them anything but pleasure, as his Magical Record repeatedly shows. On the contrary, in the case of exceptionally vital and robust women, he considered it essential to their well-being to drain off superfluous energy."
(ibid, pgs. 140-141)
Malkovich is riddled with instances of psychic vampirism. The most obvious is the character of Captain Merton, the shipping merchant who first discovered the mind portal and built the Merton Flemming building around it. Merton has extended his life for decades, first as Dr. Lester, and soon as Malkovich. He invades his host's mind by way of the portal, and soon takes over control of all their facilities. The host consciousness is forever trapped in the subconscious while Merton is in complete control, feeding off of the host's vitality until the time comes to jump into another vessel. This is the common practice of a parasite.

Dr. Lester (Orson Bean

Craig is also a very vampiric character. Throughout the film he is frequently depicted as weak and subdued. Initially he 'feeds' off of Lotte, using her money while he attempts to launch his puppeteering career. Lotte is fast running out of vitality herself, seeming rather diminished in the opening sequences of the film until she enters Malkovich. Perhaps this is why she finally puts her foot down and forces Craig to get a job --she knows she is about to fade away unless Craig finds someone else to feed upon.

Enter Maxine, a character overflowing with sexual energy at the onset of the film. For this reason, virtually every character in the film wishes to feed off of her. By Maxine is a kind of vampire herself, feeding off the lust she inspires in others. Thus, she, Lotte, and Craig become a kind of vampiric trinity, feeding off the energies and lusts of one another.

Then there's Malkovich, the one character everyone wishes to feed off of. As a successful actor, his vitality is self evident. What's more, the act of living through a character in a film or TV series, as many fans do, is itself a kind of psychic vampirism in and of itself. The various characters of Malkovich trying to live as Malkovich is an apt metaphor for the widespread psychic vampirism the peoples the United States engage when they obsess over celebrities.

And it is here that I shall wrap things up. Over the course of this post we've examined the numerical significance of Malkovich in addition to its themes of initiation, hermaphroditism and psychic vampirism. In part one of this series I examined the symbolism of the Triple Goddess running throughout the film, as the title of this series indicates. As we've seen, all of the key numbers used in Malkovich are related to the Goddess or her tradition in one way or another. What's more, initiation and hermaphroditism are also heavily associated with the goddess tradition.

the Triple Goddess

In the Robert Graves quote used earlier in this piece it was stated that initiation was one of the five stages of the Goddess. Many of the Mystery cults of the ancient world were centered around Goddess worship and were structured according to various degrees of initiation in reflection of the Goddess' connection to it. Malkovich heavily incorporates elements of initiation as well. What's more, Craig's journey through the film mirrors the stages of the Goddess: birth (his being hired at LesterCorp and discovering a new love interest constitutes a rebirth of sorts), initiation (discovering the Malkovich portal), consummation (Craig figuring out how to stay in Malkovich permanently and thus becoming 'one' with Malkovich), Repose (Craig's success as a puppeteer and relationship with Maxine while controlling Malkovich), and death (Craig leaving Malkovich and becoming trapped in Emily).

The Triple Goddess has an equally strong link to hermaphroditism. One of the earliest guises of the Threefold Goddess was the Potnia Theron, the Mistress of the Animals or Lady of the Beasts, and more recently, the Lady of the Pillars. Her hermaphroditism was more apparent in this form than later ones.
"All of these beasts of the Lady of the Pillar have sexual connotations, and like her magical flowers, they can suggest the possessing spirit of her mate or consort. Their attendance upon her derives from her basic nature as primordially both sexes in one, or hermaphrodite, male as well as female. This can be blatantly explicit, as in the early examples of the very early figurine of a goddess with a phallic head. 
"Or more stylized, like the numerous Cycladie idols with exaggeratedly long necks and female bodies that suggest male genitals, the so-called 'fiddle-case' goddesses. The same symbolism underlies the portrayal of the goddess as a mother nursing her own male child of both sexes, or flanked by human youths, instead of beasts, one of each sex. Sometimes the masculine part of her identity is indicated by the serpents she wields or has twined about her head, the so-called 'snake goddess' or by the birds perched atop her head. The bird is often merged as part of her own body, and she is winged, or raises her two arms in the typical prayerful gesture of the Minoan goddess, suggestive, in its painted striated feathers, or her bird-like wings, a pose that also imitates the lunar crescent. Sometimes the pose with the prayerful crescent is only one in a series of idols, where the other versions in the sequence round out the crescent into a full circle representing the phases of the moon, to depict the trinity of her sisterhood... 
"But even without her digital men, even apart from her flowers and the wings or birds, serpents, and beasts teeming about her body, there would be no mistaking the nature of this Lady with the elongated neck and startling face. This is the Lady of the Pillar, the mainstay of the enclosure. She needs no other maleness to complement her own womanhood."
(Te World of Classical Myth, Carl Ruck & Danny Staples, pgs. 33-34)
the  Potnia Theron
And so it is with Malkovich as well. Maxine becomes pregnant with a female daughter which she later discovers was fathered by Lotte --while in Malkovich's body, naturally. In a way this fulfills the ritual of the Lady's consort, who impregnated the queen while possessed by the spirit of the Great Goddess.

Emily, the daughter of Maxine and Lotte, also completes the threefold nature of the Goddess. As I noted in part one, Malkovich initially divides the Goddess into the Madonna/Whore structure of the Solar era, even as the threefold nature of Maxine and Lotte cannot be contained. Finally the threefold nature is realized with Emily, who becomes the maiden. Maxine is both nymph and mother by films end, bringing totality to the second stage of the Goddess. Finally Lotte, the true Lady of the Beasts, assumes the mantle of the crone/witch/wise woman.


When last we see Malkovich, he is firmly under the control of Captain Merton/Dr. Lester. Malkovich is now aging and already Captain Merton is forming another group of friends to take with him into the next vessel. In Malkovich's final scene Captain Merton is in the midst of recruiting Charlie Sheen for this purpose. But there may be a major problem Merton has not seemingly considered: the next vessel is Emily. I don't normally wish for sequels, but Malkovich II may be compelling. Would Captain Merton be a match for the Triple Goddess in her full nature?

Only Kaufman knows....

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Being the Triple Goddess Part I

The 1999 cult classic Being John Malkovich has a very fitting opening sequence: Puppeteer Craig Schwartz (John Cusack), looming god-like over his wooden creation made exactly in his own image, stages a truly creepy performance. The show opens with a close up of the curtains covering Schwartz's puppet stage, highly reminiscent of another cult classic, David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Blue, which appears throughout the film, is a most curious color in and of itself. According to the thirty-third degree Freemason Manly P. Hall, blue is the color of consciousness itself.
"Consciousness, intelligence, and force are fittingly symbolized by the colors blue, yellow, and red. The therapeutic effects of the colors, moreover, are in harmony with this concept, for blue is a fine, soothing, electrical color... 
"The ancients conceived the spirit of man to correspond with the color blue, the mind with yellow, and the body with red. The fiery condition of the inferno merely symbolizes the nature of the sphere or plane of force of which it is composed. In the Greek Mysteries the irrational sphere was always considered as red, for it represented the condition in which the consciousness is enslaved by the lusts and passions of the lower nature. In India certain of the gods --usually attributes of Vishnu --are depicted with blue skin to signify their divine and supermundane constitution. According to esoteric philosophy, blue is the true and sacred color of the sun. The apparent orange-yellow shade of this orb is the result of its rays being immersed in the substances of the illusionary world."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, pgs. 146-147)

Obviously then blue is a most fitting color for a film that deals heavily with the nature of consciousness and reality itself. As the film opens, the blue curtain is parted and a puppet version of Schwartz breaks into a solemn dance at the behalf of his creator's fingers. The puppet appears and acts so life-like that the viewer may think that they are viewing snippets of a forgotten Harryhausen film at first. Schwartz looms above the whole scene, an eerie expression upon his face. For a film that revolves around control of various kinds, especially the control of consciousness, this is a most apt beginning.

Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) with his creations
Before going any further, here's a brief rundown of Malkovich for those of you that have not yet seen it: Schwartz is an unemployed puppeteer married to the animal-obsessed Lotte (an almost unrecognizable Cameron Diaz) in a totally passionless union. After much prodding by Lotte, Craig finally decides to enter the job market. He takes on a position of file clerk for LesterCorp, a company located in the Merton Flemming Building on the 7 1/2 floor. The 7 1/2 floor, true to its name, is a mini-floor, featuring ceilings no hire than four feet so that all employees must walked stooped over when moving about. While working for LesterCorp, Craig makes two discoveries that will have major implications for his future: the first is coworker Maxine (Catherine Keener), who he falls hopelessly in love with, much to Maxine's annoyance. The second is a small doorway, hidden by filing cabinets and a fake wall, the leads into the mind of actor John Malkovich. Typically a person can stay in the mind of Malkovich, seeing what he sees, for fifteen minutes or so before being spit out and dropped beside the New Jersey Turnpike and a picturesque view of the Twin Towers.

Lotte (top), Maxine (middle), and Malkovich (bottom)

Craig shares this discovery with both Lotte and Maxine. Lotte has a life changing experience in which she begins to rethink her sexuality and gender, and ultimately falling in love with Maxine. Maxine, who never actually ventures into the Malkovich portal until the final minutes of the film, immediately devises a way to exploit the portal for financial gain and kinky lesbian-sex-by-way-of-Malkovich with Lotte (much to Charlie Sheen's delight).

Now that that's out of the way, let us briefly consider the two chief creative forces behind the film, director Spike Jonze and scribe Charlie Kaufman. Malkovich was the first major film either was involved in. Previously Jonze had mainly worked in music videos, famously directing the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" video, among others. Malkovich scored Jonze mondo accolades and hipster cred, setting him up to direct other critically received films, such as the vastly overrated Adaptation (which Kaufman also wrote) and the more recent Where the Wild Things Are. He would also take on the occasional acting gig, such as the role of the hapless Conrad Vig in Three Kings, as well as lowering the nation's collective IQ by co-creating and producing the MTV series Jackass.

Spike Jonze

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is a far more interesting figure. In the late 1990s and early 00s Kaufman would briefly make surreal, heady art films such as Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which won him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) commercially viable before 'mainstream' sensibilities once again prevailed. Aside from MalkovichAdaptation, and Mind, Kaufman also wrote Human Nature, the CIA mind control epic that is Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (which marked the directorial debut of George Clooney), as well as Synecdoche, New York (which Kaufman also directed) before going on hiatus.

Charlie Kaufman

Kaufman's work is highly surreal and symbolic. The nature of reality and mind control are reoccurring themes in many of the scripts he's worked on. Curiously, apes appear constantly in his films as well. In Malkovich Lotte has a pet chimp named Elijah who frees her at a crucial moment. This is a curious combination as Elijah was the name of one of the chief prophets of the Old Testament while Satan has been described as the 'Ape of God' due to his ability to only mimic God (as opposed to creating original works), as apes mimic humans.

Malkovich's Elijah (top) and the prophet Elijah (bottom)

The name Lotte is also an interesting choice. Lotte is the name of the object of Werther's affection in the notorious The Sorrows of Young Werther by Faust author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The novel, first published in 1774, would become infamous for a slew of suicides inspired by it.
"Sociologists studying the media and the cultural contagion of suicidal behaviors were the first to recognize the copycat effect. In 1974, University of California at San Diego sociologist David P. Phillips coined the phrase Werther effect to describe the copycat phenomenon. The name Werther comes from the 1774 novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe... In the story, the youthful character Werther falls in love with a woman who is promised to another. Always melodramatic, Werther decides that his life cannot go on and that his love is lost. He then dresses in boots, a blue coat, and a yellow vest, sits at his desk with an open book, and, literally at the eleventh hour, shoots himself. In the years that followed, throughout Europe, so many young men shot themselves while dressed as Werther and seated at their writing desks with an open copy of The Sorrows of Young Werther in front of them that the book was banned in Italy, Germany, and Denmark."
(The Copycat Effect, Loren Coleman, pg. 2)
Werther and Lotte
Malkovich's Lotte becomes something on an object of affection as the film progresses, at least in the eyes of the man-eating Maxine. As mentioned above, Maxine is initially an object of obsession for both Lotte and Craig, but as the film unfolds Maxine becomes increasingly fixated on Lotte, first when she is the mind of Malkovich and later in the flesh.

While we're playing the name game, we have to address the Maxine character, whose last name is Lund. Maxine is the feminine version of Max, which originally was an abbreviation for Maximilian. Maximilian was in turn an adaption of Maximus, a Roman name meaning greatest or largest. It was at times applied to religious functions, such as the Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of ancient Rome.

Lund, by contrast, is an Old Norse word meaning grove. In the ancient world, sacred groves were among oldest temples known to humanity, and were typically centered around goddess worship. Even as the modern era set in groves were still used by the witch cults of Europe for their rituals as well by various indigenous peoples.
"...the Ancient Greeks and Romans dedicated woods, rather than wood, to different deities, and they symbolized the mysterious abode of the godhead. Each god had his special wood and if he inspired reverential dread there, it was also a place where he was offered worship and prayer. The Romans could neither cut nor prune the trees in a sacred wood without preliminary and expiatory sacrifice. Forests and sacred groves were centres of life, reservoirs of refreshment, water, warmth, like a kind of womb, and hence were yet one more maternal symbol. They were sources of regeneration, often occurring in dreams with this significance and revealing the longing for security and renewal. They are a very forcible expression of the unconscious. Underwoods and deep forests of tall trees have also been compared with caverns and grottoes and this resemblance comes out in so many landscape paintings. All of which serves to confirm the symbolism of a vast and inexhaustible reservoir of life and mysterious knowledge. Even today the tradition of sacred groves, the preserve of initiation-societies, remains alive in many regions of Black Africa."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 1124) 

Taken together, Maxine's name implies 'greatest grove,' which has a rather religious and witchy ring to it. Maxine is presented as a rather witch-like figure --She has an almost supernatural sexual appeal to both men and women for much of the film, giving her almost unlimited control over others. Even Malkovich falls under her spell, despite her calling him Lotte during coitus. Maxine is referred to directly as a witch by Malkovich during a conversation with Charlie Sheen (also playing himself) in one of the film's funniest exchanges:
Malkovich: Charlie, I don't know anything about the girl, man! She could be like a fucking witch or something!
Charlie: That's even better! Hot lesbian witches! Think about it! It's fucking genius!
Sheen as himself in Malkovich

Maxine and Lotte are ultimately highly archetypal characters, displaying numerous associations with the Great Mother of antiquity. Lotte displays many of the maternal aspects, as well as her constant association with animals --One guise of the Great Mother was Potnia Theron, the 'Mistress of Animals.' Maxine by contrast displays the unrestrained sexuality of matriarchy, with the two principal male characters, Craig and Malkovich, serving has her consorts. Both Lotte and Maxine share ample characteristics with both the maiden and mother/nymph, but the Great Mother was a Threefold Goddess.
"This goddess of earthly nature, this Great Mother had many names in the different languages of her people, some of these names were eventually assimilated into Greek. She could be known, for example, as Persephone, a fearful name that suggested 'Destruction and Slaughter' by a false etymology, as if the name was Greek. And this Great Mother was, in fact, a goddess of death, but not just of death. Death as birth, and birth as rebirth. Death as the source of life. Another of her names was Deo, the Mother, which was assimilated into Greek as Demeter, whom the Romans called Ceres. The ceral grains that are nourished by the fertile rotting remains of life were her gift. Still another of her names was Hekate, the witch, the one who, again by a false etymology, always 'got her will,' the Willful One. The three belonged together, inseparable, pacing the three aspects of a woman's experience, as maiden Persephone, mother Demeter, and the postmenopausal crone, Hekate. The Great Mother had always these three aspects, seen also in the phases of the moon, whose lunar periods, waxing, full, and waning, mirrored the fertility of a woman's menstrual cycles."
(The World of Classical Myth, Carl Ruck and Danny Staples, pg. 22)  

Hecate in her triple form

Robert Graves refers to the mother stage of the Threefold Goddess as the nymph at times during his epic The White Goddess. This stems from the fact that the chaste mother image of the middle stage of femininity was a later addition. Originally the female aristocracy of matriarchies had relations with multiple consorts when trying to become pregnant, making the paternity of their children ambiguous at best.
"...the cult of the Great Mother was degraded and the primal goddess became the whore, and, in the curious language of the ancients carried over by Crowley, virgin to all (Pan). This means that she received all comers and could not identify the father of her children; hence they were the fatherless, the bastards of Bast. 
"The Scarlet Woman, Babalon, was the outcome of this change in primitive sociology."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pgs. 62-63)
Lotte and Maxine are seemingly symbolic of this change. Despite displaying numerous aspects of the Threefold Goddess, they are reduced to the Christian duality of the female: Madonna or whore. Initially Lotte and Maxine fit neatly into this two categories, Lotte the dutiful wife who supports her delusional husband through thick and thin, Maxine as the scarlet temptress that threatens to tear apart their union. But as the film progresses Lotte and Maxine both break out of these narrow roles to assume more and more aspects of the Triple Goddess. Maxine ultimately becomes impregnated via multiple lovers, as will be examined later.

By contrast, the men are barely even worth considering. The allegedly far right-wing John Malkovich is largely a parody of himself, and essentially a stand in for the notion of celebrity. The main male character, Craig Schwartz, is totally enslaved to Maxine throughout the film. Even after he devises a way to control Malkovich and remain permanently in his mind, and thus fulfill Maxine's fantasy of regular coitus with two souls at once, he cannot maintain her interest for more than a few months. Ultimately he cedes control of Malkovich to his boss, Dr. Lester, to rescue Maxine, who he believes was kidnapped by Lester. In reality Maxine simply left Craig/Malkovich for her true love, Lotte, and promptly rejects Craig even after he relinquishes Malkovich on her behalf. Craig is ultimately nothing more than a postmodern cuckold.

Even the mysterious Dr. Lester is rather pitiful in the grand scheme of things. As the film unfolds the viewer learns that Dr. Lester is in fact Captain Merton, the builder of the Merton Flemming Building. Merton discovered that a portal to another's mind existed within the building, and built the 7 1/2 floor to have a doorway to it. Merton took control of Dr. Lester and now Merton-as-Lester plans to take control of Malkovich, this time with other geezers whose consciousness he wants to preserve with him inside Malkovich. Craig puts this plan in jeopardy, which Merton impotently tries to stop, all the way obsessing over his speech-challenged secretary. Ultimately it falls upon Lotte and Maxine to defeat Craig, which they do by traveling inside Malkovich's mind together.

Dr. Lester (Orson Bean)

Captain Merton's name seems to be an allusion to Merlin, the legendary wizard of the Authrian cycle. Like Merlin, Merton ages in reverse, growing younger eventually when he takes over another vessel. But this is about the extent of Merton's magic. Otherwise, he's confined to rambling, satirical accounts of Crowleyian sex magick, where he speaks of becoming Eros and of his semen being manna from heaven. Apparently Dr. Lester/Captain Merton and his merry band were a kind of Satanic cult in the original draft of the script bent on taking over the world. I'm glad that Kaufman opted to go the goddess route. Malkovich is far more subversive this way. 

So much for Malkovich's principal characters. I'm going to wrap things up at this point. In the next installment we shall examine the interesting use of numbers in Malkovich and begin breaking down several of the major themes. Stay tuned.