by Alex Rivera (Check the first part of the article)
The Eternal Wound.
In the first half of the film, Papa Javier tends to the wounds of a sick Adam, on his ribs, while sitting in a bathtub. This scene hints at Kabbalistic and Gnostic legends of the psychic Adam created as a “golem.” The Babylonian Talmud tells us this exactly. “How was Adam created? In the first hour his dust was collected; in the second his form was created; in the third he became a shapeless mass [golem]…” The fact that Adam is dying and has a wound on his side also reminds us of the Grail romance stories like Parzival with the Grail King Amfortas and his perpetual wound that is also tied with the Grail Kingdom. It also reminds us of the human condition that many later Christian theologians would identify with “original sin.” An interesting aspect of Papa Javier is that he is also a writer or poet. Over at OverLords of Chaos, the author summarizes Anfortas’ role as the Grail King.
Anfortas is the King of the Grail Knights who has been felled by moral ruin brought about by a perversion that has disrupted the blessed union between the heart and the brain. This terrible affliction has robbed the King of all moral resolution and the once proud figure is now abased. The wound of Anfortas is symbolic of his failure to bring fruition to the process of spiritual development. Wolfram uses the symbol of the bleeding spear to depict the powers of the instincts ascending to the brain to obstruct the healing powers of the Grail. That is why when Parzival first enters the Grail castle it is the sight of the bleeding spear that causes a sevenfold increase in the pain and anguish of the wounded king, and the endless lamentations of the assembled knights.
In both Wagner’s Parzifal and Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, when Parzifal encounters the king, he sees that the Fisher King is in constant pain and suffering. He is kept alive by the Grail itself (a magical stone in this version), however, the wound has not healed and his continuously ill state has also made his kingdom a wasteland where nothing can grow and thrive. The wound is to his thigh, or between the thighs—another way of saying he is castrated, as was the Fisher King in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s version of the story. In a way, the Grail King is connected to both Christ and Adam. The Grail King is also called the “Fisher King” or the “King of the Pieces.”
Fishing is a somewhat passive activity of sending a hook into the depths of water (Pisces) and waiting for the fish (Christ, the Savior) to come. In 2 Enoch and The Cave of Treasures, Adam is presented as the King and High Priest of Eden, who eventually loses his royal garments when he is cursed and expelled from Eden along with Eve. 1 Corinthians 15:22, calls Jesus Christ the “Last Adam” or the “Second Adam” where the glory of the risen Christ “who is the image of God” is seen as the restoration of the original Adam as High Priest and Grail King of the New Jerusalem through the resurrection. Interestingly, the Pisces symbol can be seen in the lighter that JLaw uses to ignite the oil that causes the eventual destruction of the house–hence, ending the age of Pisces, into a “New Aeon.”
The Cave of Treasures even tells us that after Adam had lived two hundred and twenty-three days in the Cave of Treasures in the Mountain of God after the (quite literal) fall from Eden (at the very top), God sent His angels to tell him to take Eve to wife, and to give the gold plates in the Cave to Eve as a betrothal gift. Adam obeyed the divine command, and Eve bore him twins, Cain and his sister Lûwâ, in a cave under the huge rock which Satan once hurled at Adam, wishing to kill him. Later, Eve again brought forth twins, Abel and his sister, Aklemyâ.
In Mother!, Ed Harris’ oldest son kills his younger son over the Eddy Adam’s will (which says his inheritance will go into a trust controlled by the woman), while Papa Javier watches over them and doesn’t get involved. Furthermore, the same texts tell us that Adam was the first priest, and was present when Cain and Abel made their offerings to YHWH.
For the Kabbalists, Cain was actually the product of Eve having sex with Samael, the devil, while Adam has sex with Lilith and Naamah and bear his demonic children who would eventually become plagues on mankind like we see in the Zohar. Cain also wanders off into the woods (or the wilderness, the Land of Nod) with a gash on his forehead from a tussle with Papa Javier, hence the “Mark of Cain.”
Ed Harris’s wife, Michelle Pfeiffer also has some Kabbalistic inclinations herself. While her role in the story appears to be Eve, she actually has a closer affinity with Lilith. One could also interpret this scene as the sexual union between Lilith and Samael, who forms the “Other God” being the Beast, similar to the one featured in the Book of Revelation. While Lilith is celebrated as a feminist icon or hero, she is actually a Qliphothic, entropic goddess of death. Lilith exists in Jewish folklore which also continues the myth of the Owl Lady, Inanna or Ishtar in the form of Lilith. Lilith herself appears in the third millennium B.C.E., in a Sumerian text called the Inanna, Gilgamesh and the Huluppu Tree featured in the Epic of Gilgamesh. She is mentioned only once in the entire Bible in a prophecy that states that when the land is turned into a wilderness on the day of Yahweh’s vengeance:
…the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There the hoot owl shall nest and lay eggs, hatch them out and gather them in her shadow; There shall the kites assemble, none shall be missing its mate. Look in the book of the LORD and read: No one of these shall be lacking, For the mouth of the LORD has ordered it, and his spirit shall gather them there. It is he who casts the lot for them, and with his hands he marks off their shares of her; They shall possess her forever, and dwell there from generation to generation. (Isaiah 34:14-17).
Although only mentioned once in the Bible, Lilith was so well-known in the 8th century B.C.E. Israel that everyone was afraid of her. Sages wrote about her dangerous doings in the Talmud as men were warned not to sleep alone in a house at night because the Liliths (there were more than one) would conceive demons from their nocturnal emissions. There were also male Lili-s or (Incubi) who mated with the women while they slept. The Liliths or (Succubus) were jealous of married couples and hated the children conceived in ordinary human wedlock. They would attack the little children, suck their blood, and strangle them. It was the Lilith that caused barrenness, miscarriages, or complications during pregnancy and delivery. In one scene, Michelle Pheiffer’s Lilith actually gives JLaw the evil eye during the eulogy of her son Abel. Her constant “harping” on JLaw having children with Papa Javier is notable.
The symbols of Lilith are owls, as Lilith is portrayed having the feet of them, and wings. The term “harpy” is applicable. The Sumerian goddess, Lilith, known as the Lady of the Breasts, was also symbolized as an owl. Lilith is also related to the god Moloch, whose symbol is also an owl, and also a God of Sacrifice. Another symbol of Moloch is the six-pointed star or hexagram (which also connects to the Beast of Revelation, solar mystery cults and its infamous number 666). Moloch is a deity whose worship was marked by the sacrificial burning of children, which is where get the term “holocaust” from. (II Kings 23:10, Jer 32:35). In the Treatise on the Left Emanation by R. Isaac b. Jacob Ha-Kohen, he explains the origins of Lilith and her relationship with another fallen angel, Samael, the Blind One.
In this tradition it is made clear that Samael and Lilith were born as one, similar to the form of Adam and Eve who were also born as one, reflecting what is above. This is the account of Lilith which was received by the Sages in the Secret Knowledge of the Palaces. The Matron Lilith is the mate of Samael. Both of them were born at the same hour in the image of Adam and Eve, intertwined in each other. Asmodeus the great king of the demons has as a mate the Lesser (younger) Lilith, daughter of the king whose name is Qafsefoni. The name of his mate is Mehetabel daughter of Matred, and their daughter is Lilith. This is the exact text of what is written in The Chapters of the Lesser Palaces as we have received it, word for word and letter for letter. And the scholars of this wisdom possess a very profound tradition from the ancients.
They found it stated in those Chapters that Samael, the great prince of them all, grew exceedingly jealous of Asmodeus the king of the demons because of this Lilith who is called Lilith the Maiden (the young). She is in the form of a beautiful woman from her head to her waist. But from the waist down she is burning fire–like mother like daughter. She is called Mehetabel daughter of Matred, and the meaning is something immersed (mabu tabal). The meaning here is that her intentions are never for the good. She only seeks to incite wars and various demons of war and the war between Daughter Lilith and Matron Lilith.
The Kabbalistic Zohar also tells us about the serpent‐demons Lilith and Samael, who had once been two halves of the only creature in existence. God had split them apart deliberately, castrating the male demon, Samael, but they still longed for one another. It was said that if they were ever able to mate again, it would destroy creation. These demons were associated by nineteenth‐century occultist Stanislas de Guaita with the hermaphrodite Baphomet in the sigils he created, one of which was later adopted by the Church of Satan as its official logo. According to Theomagica, Lilith connects to Malkuth, on the Tree of Death. In a way, Lilith is indirectly responsible for the “fall” of that particular Sephiroth, and the creation of fallen shells of matter, much like Sophia. Lilith is the chief Goddess/Demoness of the religion of the Babylonians and what the Revelation of St. John the Divine, calls “Mystery Babylon the Great” and the “Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.” In Proverbs (5:3-6), we also see connections with death, who is depicted as feminine, black widow/Lilith-like figure.
For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.
In Greek myths, we see the goddess Persephone was raped and kidnapped by Hades to dwell in the underworld and forced to marry its king. After this unholy marriage, she became cursed to stay eternally in hell because she ate the food of the realm of the dead. Giving in to her hunger, she ate six pomegranate seeds, damning herself for a few months at a time to the underworld, coinciding with the seasons of agriculture. In a way, Papa Javier also functions in the same way that Hades does since JLaw is in a sense “raped” because she is almost taken as a hostage and cannot even leave the house and one could even interpret the house to be a prison.
There are a few choice scenes where JLaw notices a large bloody gash in the wood floors which only gets worse as the story unfolds. (At one point in the film, JLaw actually steps in it, breaking it open.) This could symbolize the opening to the underworld. And like the fallen, deficient Grail Kingdom, the House of JLaw also degenerates. This is especially evident when JLaw tunes in into the (quite literal) heartbeat of the house, as it corrodes with blackness with each time she closes her eyes. The heartbeat also vaguely resembles a fetus. The heart of the matter though belongs to that of the mysteries and rites of the pagans, as we will soon see.
Halfway through the film, Papa Javier decides to inseminate JLaw and get her preggers. 9 months pass without much of a fuss besides the one funeral dinner for Adam’s son, Abel. The 9-month interim passes without a hitch. During this time, Papa Javier is inspired by a nice bang with JLaw and gets struck by the muse and starts writing like a crazy person. (I can relate. But, having a chance with JLaw? Yeah, in my dreams.) He then publishes his new book and suddenly hosts of people come flocking inside to get a glimpse of the now famous author when they crash Papa Javier and JLaw’s private dinner. Then things go straight to the shitter.
The house becomes a straight up war zone. This is, of course, a not so subtle analogy of the various wars, battles and terrorist attacks while invoking the Divine Name as a form of blasphemy. In fact, there is one scenario where the entire house is in smoldering ruins, as well as its entire countryside surroundings. Papa Javier somehow saves JLaw from the apocalyptic war-zone as she wails in birth-pangs and hides her on one of the higher levels of the house. That is when JLaw has a baby boy. This is where things get interesting, to say the least. Papa Javier, with a strange look in his eyes, begs JLaw to pass his son to him. She refuses, fearing the worst.
Indeed, her nightmares come true when she passes out and see’s Papa Javier pass the newborn infant to his sycophantic crowd as the baby crowd surfs while pissing itself (yes, literally). We also do see the High Priest of the Papa Javier cult. On various cult members, he places marks placed on their heads that appear to be horns made out of ash as sort of an inverse mockery of Ash-Wednesday during Lent. When JLaw realizes the baby is missing, she runs through the crowd and suddenly faces the crazed bald, High Priest with the horn above his left eye. The little horn symbol could point to the nightmarish vision of the “Beast” as foretold in Daniel, chapter 7.
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Returning to the Kabbalah, the backbone of all occult and magical initatory systems, there is a Latin saying of “Daemon Est Deus Inversus” which essentially means the Devil is God inverted, reminding us of the Qliphothic Beast of Lilith and Samael. Helena Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine §XI, tells us more about the “Demon est Deus Inversus” or the Anti-God, Satan and his Manichaeanesque relationship with the Most High God.
That which the student will do well to remember is that, with every people except the Christian nations, the Devil is to this day no worse an entity than the opposite aspect in the dual nature of the so-called Creator. This is only natural. One cannot claim God as the synthesis of the whole Universe, as Omnipresent and Omniscient and Infinite, and then divorce him from evil. As there is far more evil than good in the world, it follows on logical grounds that either God must include evil, or stand as the direct cause of it, or else surrender his claims to absoluteness. The ancients understood this so well that their philosophers — now followed by the Kabalists — defined evil as the lining of God or Good: Demon est Deus inversus, being a very old adage. Indeed, evil is but an antagonizing blind force in nature; it is reaction, opposition, and contrast, — evil for some, good for others. There is no malum in se: only the shadow of light, without which light could have no existence, even in our perceptions. If evil disappeared, good would disappear along with it from Earth.
The significance of this should be obvious. The sacrifice of the infant symbolizes the descent and consumption of the divine spirit into the inferno of the Satanic matter by demonic powers. When JLaw shrieks “Where is he? Where’s my baby?” The priest replies. “He’s not dead. The voice still cries out to be heard. Loud and strong. Listen!” JLaw looks around the crowd and they all break out in sobbing on cue. There is a specific reason for this, as we will see. “Can you hear that? That’s the sound of humanity” The priest boldly proclaims, mirroring Papa Javier’s impromptu eulogy earlier in the wake scene for Adam’s son, Abel. JLaw pushes past the zealot, she finds the baby has been torn apart on a makeshift altar and devoured. Some people really eat religion up! She takes a shard of glass and begins attacking those partaking of her child until the zealot knocks her out with a blow to head from the doorknob. The followers tear her clothes off and beat her mercilessly until He comes to her rescue. Here is the dialogue script between JLaw and Papa Javier.
Him: We can’t let him die for nothing. We can’t. Maybe what happened could change everything. Everyone. Her: What are you talking about? Him: We — you and I — have to find a way to forgive them. Him: We can’t let him die for nothing. We can’t. Maybe what happened could change everything. Everyone. Her: They butchered our son! Him: I know. Her: You’re insane!
Indeed, Aronofsky clearly does not have a high opinion of Christianity. But beyond the surface level of the Eucharistic symbolism in this scene, there are other layers—specifically, that of Orphic and Babylonian ones. The ritual consumption of J.Law’s child not only represents the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as atonement for all mankind and the Eucharist, but it also represents the story of the child Dionysus being ripped apart by the Titans and with Zeus enacting vengeance against them because of this monstrous act. Dionysus was ripped apart into pieces except for his heart, as its saved so Zeus can impregnate Semele with the god Dionysus. We also see echoes of this in the Greek play The Bacchae, as well.
From the ashes of the Titans and the remains of Dionysus, man is created as half divine and half infernal. This was the original sin, according to the Orphic mysteries. According to the Orphic mysteries, mankind has both the divine Dionysian element and the infernal Titanic natures, since they were born out of the ashes of the vanquished Titans and that only the virtuous pursuit of Orphic/Platonic philosophy can tame the titanic part of them. These are just some of the numerous parallels between Orphic mystery religion and Christianity and Gnosticism. Orphic Bacchus-cults offered this atonement to free the divine side of man, and was, therefore, a competitive cult to the Christ cult offering resurrection for the soul. In a sense, the crowd inside Papa Javier’s house could very well be connected to the demonic titans that consume the Dionysus child.
Orphism, attributed to the mythical Orpheus, is the teachings of an ancient Greek philosophical cult which exerted great influence on Hellenism, and later on Western mysticism and occultism. The chief teachings are of reincarnation, a Greek version of karma (or fate), a history of the universe which was formed by Chronos who formed an egg and created the first king of the gods—whom Zeus supplanted and fathered Dionysus—the divine child. Orphism had a great impact on alchemy, as well. The Orphic myth of the ripping apart of Dionysus appears to be one of many ancient rites of which the king is killed for the sake of the land’s fertility. In a sense, the tearing apart of Dionysus is the rite of re-fertilizing or germinating of the land with his divine blood, just as Tammuz and Osiris were divided and scattered. Macrobius in the Saturnalia observed about the Orphic myth:
In their Mystery-tradition Dionysos is represented as being torn limb from limb by the fury of the Titans, and after the pieces have been buried, as coming together again and whole and one. By offering itself for division from its undivided state, and by returning to the undivided from the divided, this Dionysian process both fulfills the duties of the cosmos and also performs the mysteries of its own nature.
According to one website dedicated to the controversial author Immanuel Velikovsky, Velikovsky himself writes that in the Babylonian mysteries, Tammuz was a dying and rising god that died and was then hidden in the underworld; his death was the reason for a fast, accompanied by lamentations of the women of the land. Tammuz was also seen as a mask for Saturn or Chronos and his return to life in resurrection was the chief motifs of the passion. Tammuz’ wife, Ishtar or Inanna also descended into the underworld to visit her sister Ereshkigal, as a sort of mystery initiation drama. Osiris, Tammuz and Dionysus, for the author, are all actually based on Saturn. Tammuz worship is also mentioned in Ezekiel 8 as “detestable.”
We also see the Orphic myth reflected in later Manichaean cosmology, which states that the “Primal Man” was torn apart by demonic archons from the dark hell-realms when it was sent by the Kingdom of Light to do battle with the invading Darkness and harvested of its light for the creation of the physical cosmos. For James Frazier of The Golden Bough, this was the basis for the key primitive ritual of regularly killing and replacing the king in whom the god of vegetation resides, in order to ensure good crops for the communal harvest in the spring for human survival depends on vegetation to feed themselves and their livestock. Frazier writes:
But if these personages represent, as they certainly do, the spirit of vegetation in spring, the question arises, why kill them? What is the object of slaying the spirit of vegetation at any time and above all in spring, when his services are most wanted? The only probable answer to this question seems to be given in the explanation already proposed of the custom of killing the divine king or priest. The divine life, incarnate in a material and mortal body, is liable to be tainted and corrupted by the weakness of the frail medium in which it is for a time enshrined; and if it is to be saved from the increasing enfeeblement which it must necessarily share with its human incarnation as he advances in years, it must be detached from him before, or at least as soon as, he exhibits signs of decay, in order to be transferred to a vigorous successor. This is done by killing the old representative of the god and conveying the divine spirit from him to a new incarnation.
The killing of the god, that is, of his human incarnation, is therefore merely a necessary step to his revival or resurrection in a better form. Far from being an extinction of the divine spirit, it is only the beginning of a purer and stronger manifestation of it. If this explanation holds good of the custom of killing divine kings and priests in general, it is still more obviously applicable to the custom of annually killing the representative of the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation in spring. For the decay of plant life in winter is readily interpreted by primitive man as an enfeeblement of the spirit of vegetation; the spirit has, he thinks, grown old and weak and must therefore be renovated by being slain and brought to life in a younger and fresher form. Thus the killing of the representative of the tree-spirit in spring is regarded as a means to promote and quicken the growth of vegetation. For the killing of the tree-spirit is associated always (we must suppose) implicitly, and sometimes explicitly also, with a revival or resurrection of him in a more youthful and vigorous form. (p. 261,262 The Golden Bough)
One also cannot escape what the church father, Epiphanius, explained as explicit accusations which describe Gnostic rituals in pornographic and profoundly disturbing descriptions in the Panarion (26: 3.3-5.8). Please see a guest article on my site, for more information. However, we should approach this with due caution since it is only Epiphanius who describes these Gnostic orgies in such explicit terms. In fact, church fathers like Hippolytus (Ref. V.2) weren’t talking about Gnostic orgies necessarily but was in fact, discussing the ritual orgies of the gentile pagans! Gnostics by in large rejected the agape love feasts but Hippolytus’ thing was to connect Gentile paganism with Gnosticism.
These are the heads of very numerous discourses which (the Naassene) asserts James the brother of the Lord handed down to Mariamne. In order, then, that these impious (heretics) may no longer belie Mariamne or James, or the Saviour Himself, let us come to the mystic rites (whence these have derived their figment) — to a consideration, if it seems right, of both the Barbarian and Grecian (mysteries) — and let us see how these (heretics), collecting together the secret and ineffable mysteries of all the Gentiles, are uttering falsehoods against Christ, and are making dupes of those who are not acquainted with these orgies of the Gentiles. For since the foundation of the doctrine with them is the man Adam, and they say that concerning him it has been written, Who shall declare his generation? Isaiah 53:8 learn how, partly deriving from the Gentiles the undiscoverable and diversified generation of the man, they fictitiously apply it to Christ.
Towards the end of the film, JLaw decides she’s had enough of the baby cannibal Eucharist and decides to the blow up the house and kill everyone inside by the fire. JLaw is successful in this endeavor when everything is blown to bits. And so the Armageddon ritual is complete. Papa Javier finds JLaw as a new crispy critter as she asks him “Where are you taking me?” Papa Javier replies “The beginning.” He later rips out her Dionysian heart (with her consent), crushes it, to reveal the shining crystal inside. He places the crystal heart in a display case and the world of Mother!, is recreated or regenerated once more by the sacrifice of the infant and the blazing fires set off by Sophia.
Papa Javier, the immortal demiurge and unconquerable Grail King, that he is, survives the apocalypse ritual. The land is now born anew and a new Sophia has taken her place as the wife of Papa Javier as she calls out to him with another “baby?”. Could this be a reference to Sophia’s proclamation of the baby Demiurge in diapers, Yaldabaoth, as being called out by her “Child, pass through to here” from On the Origin of the World? Only Darren Aronofsky, the great master Hollywood Kabbalist knows for sure.
For more on Alex’s Gnostic insights, please visit his site. And certainly check out our interview with Rob Sullivan where we also discuss Mother!
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