Saturday, December 21, 2013

'Valhalla Rising' movie review

'Valhalla Rising' Wikipedia page (2009 film)

Valhalla Rising is a 2009 English-language film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Mads Mikkelsen. The film takes place in 1000 AD and follows a Norse warrior named One-Eye and a boy as they travel with a band of Christian Crusaders in pursuit of a Crusade. Instead, they find themselves in an unknown and unfamiliar land. The film was shot entirely in Scotland. Title is derived from the combination of Kenneth Anger's 'Scorpio Rising' and 'Lucifer Rising' with a Viking-theme.

At the beginning of the movie, there is the following text:




This text suggests an Odinic theme. The "fringes of the Earth" meant Scandinavia. Recent Viking depictions on film look more Gaulish to me; maybe that's just how I perceive it. Anyway, according to Norse mythology, Odin sacrificed one of his eyes in order to gain the "Wisdom of the Ages." In addition, In a sacrifice to himself, the highest of the gods, he was hanged from the world tree Yggdrasil for nine days and nights, pierced by his own spear, in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds (from the Odin Wikipedia page). The main character, One-Eye, was missing this left eye which is the same eye that Odin is depicted as missing. Also, at the beginning of the film, One-Eye is in chains or tied with rope. This suggests that One-Eye is an allegory for Odin; and he is consistently shown as having visions of future happenings.

Throughout the movie, a clear but subtle "Christian vs. Heathen" theme plays itself out. One Heathen early on says about Christians "They eat their own god, eat his flesh, drink his blood, abominable." The landscape of Scandinavia is shown to be very harsh, dark, misty, and foreboding. After achieving his freedom, he and his followers hook up with Norse Christian warriors who had just slaughtered a clan of Heathens. They are on their way to the Holy Land, Jerusalem, to fight for the Crusades. Although One-Eye does not speak, he seems to be a Heathen who slowly takes everyone to "Hell," which to me meant back to Heathen-style "evolutionary struggle."

According to the book 'Creed of Iron': The Aryan God Wotan is known to have sacrificed his left eye in the Well of Mimir to attain great knowledge, to split the veil of light into the knowledge of the infinite dark. This is all highly arcane and symbolic. The left eye represents the circular moon, the right eye, the circular sun. In the movie, One-Eye is so brutal and ruthless at times that I'm almost thinking that with his left eye gone (feminine energy), he is--symbolically-speaking--out of balance with only his right eye (masculine energy). Christianity, if you study it's Astrotheologic origins, is heavily "male energy," yet they are up against the Heathen One-Eye with perhaps the same energy unbalance.


Spoiler alert beyond this point!




When they finally make it out of a long, dark, foggy abyss, they find themselves in fresh inland waters; amid a land of mountains, lakes, and forests. They now believe that they're in Jerusalem; and I can't help but think that One-Eye, the symbolic "Odin," has somehow lured them to this place to teach them once-and-for-all about real evolutionary struggle... Heathen style! One-Eye symbolically marks this place by stacking stones by the waters. The new land seems to have some strange affects upon all of them. The ruthless leader of this band of Christian Crusaders stabs his longtime friend when he feels that he has betrayed him by following One-Eye... then proclaims "Only men of faith deserve the riches of my new Jerusalem."

At the end, after facing off against the Christians, One-Eye sacrifices himself to a tribe of Mongol warriors in order to save the young boy who has served him throughout the movie. Now, could that be symbolic of a "Christ-like figure?" Finally, there appears to be symbolism of One-Eye moving on to Valhalla. I found it interesting to try to pick up on the movie's symbolism; then later read narrative of the "five parts" or acts of the film to see how close I was or wasn't.

3-4-14 Addition: It has come to my attention that they had sailed--not eastward--but westward to North America. So then the final part of the movie was probably somewhere in what is today Canada, and the Mongol warriors were actually Amerindians.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Keep close to Nature's heart"

"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."

--John Muir


Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Yule walk" - an individual tradition

Last evening, I engaged in what I have come to call my annual "Yule walk" after the defacto Winter and the approaching Yule. I started it some years ago without even thinking of it as a "thing" in of itself, or any type of annual "tradition." It can be whatever someone wants it to be, but for me it's a very individual tradition. It's an opportunity--two or three weeks before the chaos of Christmas and New Years--to take a reflective walk on a cold night by yourself. It should be a personal spiritual endeavor to connect with the past, present, and future at this dramatic weather-shifting time of the year. A time of the year that strongly feels like an "ending"... with a new "beginning" intuitively "visible" in the distance.

Several years ago, amidst some very negative issues for me, I took this reflective walk which resulted in a powerful spiritual experience... which then cemented the concept for me of actually naming it and making it an annual tradition. Last evening I had somewhat of an upset stomach... and somehow the spiritual sparks didn't happen for me. You cannot force it. I did enjoy it, and I did reflect on some of the things that I wanted to. Of course I could just go again, but somehow once in December feels right.

I hike all the time, but there's a difference here in that.. you should feel free to just stop at certain points when you see something that you would like to gaze at or when you want to complete an important thought. It isn't a walk in the woods, the foothills, or at the beach. You should be able to see some homes in the distance, which are lit up against the cold dark sky... and which may remind one of holiday seasons past. For me, I see some old homes in the distance, against the mountain slope. I have roots here, so I feel the full connection to the past; but that specific geographical element isn't entirely necessary as I will explain.

The brightest "star" in the sky is actually the planet Venus
I just wanted to describe what a perfect Yule walk is to me. For me, a Yule walk is like a December Samhain, therefore choosing the right time is important. Generally--Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday--are the best nights. Friday and Saturday are "busy evenings," Sunday evenings are filled with the pressure of starting a new week, and Monday evenings have a certain pressure associated with them. Mid-week just feels right... with Wednesday or Thursday usually perfect. Unlike Samhain, I think the mid-evening, 7-9 PM is best.

I recall many years ago, of a joyful experience when we were hit with an early cold season in November; so I wouldn't rule out--for myself--of having a November Yule walk. However, mid-December really seems most appropriate. I think a nice clear cold dark evening is best! It's best to choose a place which has special significance for you. I think a place that is neither remote nor too bustling... and relatively quiet. If you don't live in a place where you have roots... then perhaps a semi-urban setting at the base of a nearby mountain or high point. The mountain can then become your antennae to the world.. and the past. Also, an industrial section or a business park should be quiet at night; and they are well-lit in case you don't like to walk in a place that is too dark.

I remember back in the 90s, a movie called 'Beautiful Girls' which really brought up the issue of people from a small town coming back home for Christmas. In other words.... the polar opposites of--on one side--the image of a warm home with all of the relatives together on a cold Winter night during the holidays... and of--on the other side--people living far away from their roots for any number of reasons, usually economic. This issue is like a question which doesn't really have an answer. I remember I worked with a young woman from South San Francisco, who moved to New York City to be with a boyfriend from there, and six months later she came back saying "there's no place like home!" South City wasn't so bad after all.. within that idea. This concept is part of the Yule walk I think. 

There are certain issues that I like to ponder during this walk, and they usually relate to "the past" in relation to the present. Perhaps even things before your time, but within the basis of a certain continuity. However, all of this is tied to the personal perspective... your place in the world, over time. Not "ego," but how you fit into larger concepts over time. I mean, if you think about it, for example, "1890" really wasn't so long ago! There are many houses from that time still around. Your great grandparents, or two or three greats, were alive then... and they probably were with many relatives by the fireplace during the holidays... some "place." That long forgotten "place" is part of you, and part of the Yule walk.

Although my Yule walk didn't pan out exactly as I had hoped, I did have one experience which is worth mentioning. As one point, as I walked along a moon-lit trail on the outskirts of the city, I came to a fork in the trail. In one direction, a trail led to an old train tunnel; beyond which there was total darkness, and a place that one would not want to walk in at night. In the other direction, the moon-lit trail continued. In some ways, it could have represented the choices of fate that we make in life. As I stood there for a moment at this remote spot, an owl came by and landed on an awning above the ramp of a loading dock of a small well-maintained old-fashioned commercial building which was nettled against the trees of a lower mountain slope.

The large fluttering wings certainly got my attention, as well as a second owl  then landing next to the first one. After about ten seconds of staring at the owls' backs, which were slightly illuminated by the moon and distant lights, the owl on the far side of me leaned over and looked directly at me. Never before has any animal looked at me with such intensity as I looked upon it's slightly illuminated face... into those burning eyes. After a moment, they suddenly took off in my direction and flew off almost directly in the sky above me. If this was an animal messenger, then what was the message? The owl is a powerful ancient symbol of wisdom; and to me, it somehow represents the character trait of "firm but fair." Perhaps it was to share the spirit-wisdom of my Yule walk with others?

This walk should be crafted to fit your individual-self. It's a time to ponder different times and places in relation to your life; and it should be at a time where you don't feel rushed. It's a time where you should feel free to conjure up creative thoughts about time and place without having to ask for some special permission. Allow your mind to run free. Think about a favorite ancestor that you never knew. Look into the dark sky--at the moon, the mountaintop, or at Venus--and say their name out loud!! That person is still alive, because they are you. They may even hear you. Maybe they even see you if they're between lives and if the spirits open the door; and you may add the title of their relation to you or vice-versa, or anything else, out loud as well. The Yule walk is about spiritual-grounding, creativity, and connecting to the best of the past.... leading to hopefully bringing out the best in you in the coming year.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Now fragmented... Comet ISON is here

I somehow managed to miss the Science Channel special on Saturday, but YouTube is on fire with ISON videos of every type. Apparently the amazing above NASA video is from the initial flyby, where it later looped around the Sun closely, and was then broken and burned up quite a bit. The now dying comet is making it's way back again, and may be visible in the coming week... especially on the fifteenth. It appears that some of the debris will be heading into our atmosphere. So if you can stand sitting out on a clear cold night for an hour or two, you may see some of them burning up in the sky. The predawn hours are thought to be the best time for viewing.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Giant horned "Cernunnos-like" stone head in central China

"Shennong (the Divine Farmer) is the legendary originator of Chinese herbal medicine" (see 'The Lessons of Shennong'). If there were any temples of this magnitude relating to the very ancient horned god of Europe, then they were destroyed long ago with the rise of Christianity. Strangely, this stone face and it's backdrop look ancient European. "Horns" were an ancient symbol of strength, virility, fertility, and the warrior spirit in many places in the northern hemisphere.