This is not a movie review, as 'The Blair Witch Project' doesn't really directly tie into any of the subjects covered on this blog. However, the movie's curious use of a little-known ancient rune makes it worth looking at. After having viewed the movie again, I will try to make sense of it within the context of the 1999 film.
To start with, the movie itself was one of those unusual low-budget, box office success stories. It was filmed as an amateur documentary about a fictional "legend" around the tiny town of Burkittsville, and the surrounding Black Hills Forest, in Maryland. It's more of an interesting one-time-watch thriller; although it was a forerunner for a lot of similar thriller/horror movies since that time.
I don't want to do a review, but I'll just mention three small interesting factoids before looking at the symbol. One, the main character was played by a then 24 year old Amanda Donohoe; and instead of becoming a star, she has all but disappeared from the industry. That's in stark contrast to the way it usually works with a big box office success. Two, apparently there is no "Black Hills Forest," and the movie was filmed in a small wooded area with a few trails. Three, the real town of Burkittsville (pop. 151) soon became the involuntary recipient of many, mostly young, "tourists" who seemed to believe that the movie was real.
Guido von List called the ancient five-pointed symbol the "Vehme star rose" (Vehm/Feme = "5"). However, he did not include this symbol among his runes in his famous book 'Secret of the Runes'. He did include it among the modern expressions of the ancient symbols, but it appeared as a Sumerian Pentacle. He only hinted the Vehme as a symbol of ancient Europe, but never expanded--that I could see--upon this. From his enthusiasm of the ancient Alpine/Germanic "Feme" symbol, one would think that he surely would have included it among his bread-and-butter Listian runes. He did not.
If there was so much peripheral symbolism surrounding the "Feme" spirituality, then it would seem that there must have been some chief symbol... even if it were a very simple five points. According to Crossroad.to, RadioLiberty.com, and other sites, the "Blair Witch" (Feme) is A five-pointed compound symbol with a center triangel (see below) pointing down. The five lines resemble the microcosmic man with arms and legs outstretched inside a circle (with a pentagram in the background)-- a magic symbol or charm among medieval alchemists and wizards. That would place the symbol in the Medieval time period (5th to 15th centuries).
According to CastleOfSpirits.com......
The stick figures in the forest - what do they mean?
The producers of the film say that the stick-man is based on and taken from an ancient Rune, it basically means a warning - they say that with the large amount of stick figures hanging in the forest which mean "warning", Josh, Heather and Mike just don't get it - it's a BLOODY BIG WARNING!!! right there in front of them.
It is also said that the figures hanging in the trees in the forest represent spirits of the dead being able to travel between earth and the spirit world.
The trees, with their roots in the earth and branches up in the air, serve as bridges between the earth and spirit world. When the stick men are hung in a tree they provide a way for the spirit to travel between worlds. Although it is not shown, Heather cut down one of these figures to have a closer look. You hear Josh later on tormenting her with the camera yelling "you cut down one of the Blair Witch's Trinkets and now she's after you". Well it's not just that the Blair Witch is after Heather for cutting it down and giving the witch the sh**s, but when she cut the figure down it supposedly traps the spirit in one of the worlds. Heather therefore trapped the spirit on earth, and the spirit didn't seem terribly impressed by that fact!.
So far they've done numerous amounts of things to really piss off both the Blair Witch and the spirit world. BOY ARE THEY IN FOR IT!
If the producers of 'The Blair Witch Project' said that the symbol was from an "ancient rune," then that may add some credibility to "the Feme" legend (Feme=Five elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit) of ancient Europe. If so, then it would have likely been from pre-Germanic Europe... the proto-Europeans.. the Alpine sub-race; which then crossed over into expressions of later Germanic culture. Also, the concept of the figures hanging in the trees in the forest represent spirits of the dead being able to travel between earth and the spirit world is right out of List's writings! Now, to me, that lends greater credibility to the "ancient rune" legend.
During one scene later in the movie, the main character (apparently a fictional "Heather Donohoe" played by Heather Donohoe)--while frantically fumbling around something with her hands--is wearing a Pentacle ring. It was just shown for a split second, so it was one of those clues for the more observant viewers. Of course, the Pentagram and the Vehme mean the same thing. In other words... the irony that she is terrified of the five-pointed Vehme, while actually wearing a five-pointed Pentagram of the same spiritual meaning, on her five-pointed/fingered hand. Of course, these symbols are not to be feared... and are merely ancient symbols of science, including the metaphysical/spirit world.
Although the movie doesn't offer a whole lot for repeated viewings, I find remote areas to hold endless appeal. The simple trails through wood and brush, where you may find yourself temporarily "lost," are a refreshing change from the increasingly micro-managed society that we live in. In our genetic memory, the sight of the coming night holds an ominous feeling; as during the scenes which reflected this, and the portrayed reality of this concept, and further reinforced by the rural surroundings.
Our ancestors feared the night, which was one of the main reasons that they loved the Sun... and the Moon... "the Alfather" and "the Almother." The Alfather = the Sun, the law of the universe, the hunt and agriculture of the day; The Almother = the Moon, especially the full moon giving light and symbolically protecting us when we are the most vulnerable at night, the Justice of our planet. Law + Justice = Family (and ancient clan, tribe, and nation... and "freedom" itself); not domination by one, or the other, but both.
Note: On the cover drawing of Guido von List's 1898 book 'The Invincible' is shown two five-pointed flowers of some type. Is this List's "Vehme star rose?" I have not read that book yet, but it's nice to see that it was translated (now out-of-stock) so that I may have a chance to purchase it at some point.
10-31-13 ADDITION - 'Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2' (2000)
The sequel produced nothing new as far as insight into the vehmic star. It was shown a few times, and that's about it. The film was about a "research team"--called "The Blair Witch Hunt Team"--which ascends upon Burkittsville, Maryland amid "Blair Witch movie tourists" doing the same. The five members (the five points of the vehme?) were pretty much like most semi-annoying young adult characters cast in B-horror movies. While sometimes these types of characters grow on you, this group did not. The group included a Wiccan woman and a "Goth" woman who was the hanger-on of the team.
The Wiccan character was habitually complaining about negativity and exploitation of her religion... yet the title of this movie was a major exploitation of the "book of shadows," which is simply a Wiccan's spiritual diary. A "Goth" is usually a youth or young adult who dresses in all black, with black makeup, sometimes dyes their hair black, and is attracted to dark imagery.
This movie received low critical reviews. I had seen it once before, probably late one evening, and wasn't really impressed with it. However, when watching it the other evening when I was feeling more awake, it's actually not a bad movie. It's very captivating at the end, and would have been fine as a low-budget horror flick. Apparently, there is going to be a third movie in the series.