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Friday, April 10, 2020

Gregory Arnott on the occult in 'Twin Peaks'

[This is reprinted by permission; Gregory explains the background in the intro below.

This seems like a good time to mention that I wrote to Scott Apel last year and asked if RAW was a fan of Twin Peaks (because I liked the show, and  because it "seemed" like something RAW might like. Scott replied, "As far as I can recall, Twin Peaks just never came up in our conversations. I was a huge fan, too, but I don't recall ever discussing the show (or Lynch in general, for that matter) with Bob. He was really more interested in older, classical directors like Welles and Hawkes. I don't think we ever discussed many modern directors in any depth."

One more note: April 8 was the 30th anniversary of Twin Peaks. -- The Management]

This was originally written before Season 3 was announced under the title “Under the Sycamore Trees: Magic and Mystery in Tibet Part I &II”. It was published on Who Forted, which is now known as Week in Weird; its founders, Greg and Dana Newkirk, have become well-known for their seminal paranormal investigation series Hellier. I wrote this under a pseudonym and was surprised by how unashamed I was of the articles when occasion led me to reread them. Considering that Mark Frost’s Secret History of Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier both incorporated hunks of magical history and that the AVClub recently ran a Mystical Twin Peaks Reading List I thought this essay might be of some small interest. A lot of it turned up to be nothing as of The Return; Talbot Mundy, who I thought of as one of the biggest “scoops” in the original piece, had no influence for example. Still, I hope that this stands as the work of an enthusiastic fan and practitioner that helps to alleviate the tedium of isolation. I have tried to edit out the mistakes of a younger self. - Gregory, April 2020

“For I am like a refiner’s fire.”

Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see
One chance out between two worlds:
Fire, walk with me.

Part I An Invitation to Love: The Black Lodge Edition

 A couple of years ago I called my best friend crying in a state of turmoil; I was yelling at him for not warning me about the end of Twin Peaks. Granted, at the time I was embroiled in a nasty love affair, drinking pretty heavily, and have always been an emotionally volatile person. All those things considered, there’s still something to a show that can elucidate such a violent reaction. Twin Peaks is shit hot television for multiple reasons; one of these may be its magical elements of composition.

About a year later I was more-or-less fixed up and in a much better place when another friend was viewing David Lynch and Mark Frost’s show for the first time. When it ended he, like so many other viewers, felt screwed out of a satisfying conclusion. There were so many stories and ideas to be explored that were curtailed by the cruel executives at ABC and the general stupidity of the American viewing public. (I mean, seriously…it seems like goddamn Two and a Half Men has been on for decades.) It was on the first day of this year, which already seems like a fucking lifetime ago, that I made him a guide to some of the occult underpinnings present in the show for his further amusement and edification. Humorously, perhaps tellingly, I titled the guide the “Black Lodge Do-It-Yourself Possession Kit.”

In the likely circumstance that some, if not most, of the readers looking over this aren’t overly familiar with the show, here’s a rundown for you. Twin Peaks was a television series aired for little more than a year from 1990-91. Famous today for its cult following, it was known at the time for being one of the strangest shows to ever be broadcast. Understandably, as one of its creators, David Lynch, should be immediately recognizable as one of the most important filmmakers and surrealists of the late twentieth century. With a repertoire of films such as Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, and the spectacular Blue Velvet under his belt by the time he collaborated with Mark Frost on the show, weird things could generally be expected from him. To grossly oversimplify the plot, Twin Peaks is about the investigation of the murder of local homecoming queen Laura Palmer by the quirky and admirable F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle McLachlan), which takes place in the eponymous town which is a vital character in its own right. Filled with brilliant, if disconcerting, camera work and character development it also included themes such as possession (perhaps demonic), prophetic dreams, and the posited battle between good and evil, all juxtaposed with a (decidedly sinister) small town atmosphere, cherry pie, and excessive caffeine abuse.

In my ever humble opinion, Twin Peaks is essential viewing for any paranormal enthusiast. While it wasn’t the first supernatural television show by any means it still made an undeniable impact on that part of our culture. Unlike its younger brother The X Files (whose David Duchovny guest starred in TP as the cross-dressing DEA Agent Denise), Twin Peaks isn’t valuable to our interests because of any obvious parallels with real-world anomalous phenomena. It is valuable because in its very fabric there is something uncanny taking place; while much of this can be attributed to artistic mastery and subtle psychological manipulation I would argue that there is an authentic, if not exactly appetizing, dose of magic and the occult to the whole matter. Then again, I wouldn’t really argue those elements are mutually exclusive. What I’m positing is Twin Peaks may be the event, the anomaly, itself. So pour yourself a damn fine cup of coffee and prepare for the Occult Secrets of Twin Peaks to be revealed.

During the second season, things get weird. Not that they haven’t already been weird but the whole show, and town, seem to disintegrate after creators answer the infamous question; “Who killed Laura Palmer?” During the second season the elements that any viewer will come to associate with a motif that occurred in the third episode after the pilot, a famously bizarre dream sequence in a red room, come back with a fury. References to the Lodges, cosmic forces of good and evil that seem to be based conversely outside of the town and inside of the hearts of man, are replete in actions of the characters and events in the town as the violent, mind-wrenching game of chess between Agent Cooper and his former, now mad, mentor Windom Earle draws toward a terrifying stalemate. The conclusion, or what we’re provided in place of a conclusion, occurs under the sycamore trees…

“Once upon a time, there was a place of great goodness, called the White Lodge.” So begins Windom Earle’s parable about the genesis of the Lodges, both White and Black. Typically, white represents goodness and purity, while black represents evil and power…the power to reorder the earth itself. Among the fans of the series it is generally known that Lynch and Frost borrowed the concept from an adventure novel, The Devil’s Guard by Talbot Mundy.  This particular novel takes place in the continuity of Mundy’s Jimgrim and Ramsden series which were published during the 1920’s and 30’s. Jimgrim is the nickname of an adventurer, an Allan Quartermain type, whose excursions into the “Orient” draw him into encounters with mysterious immortals and secret societies. Mundy himself was involved with the Theosophical Society, the occult group started by the marvelously disreputable Madam Blavatsky and responsible for much of the magical revival of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. During the time he authored The Devil’s Guard he was not only a member of the Society but a prominent member. Whilst discussing the resurrection of pulp adventure during the second magical revival of the twentieth century, Gary Lachman describes Mundy as an ex-confidence man (oh well; Blavatsky and Gurdjieff were both implicated in very mundane confidence schemes at points), who was the “master of the mystical adventure” with his tales constituting the main precursor of Indiana Jones.

In Mundy’s novel, which supposedly differs from much of the contemporary writing about the Far East due to the fact that it paints Asian peoples as equal to Westerners (I’m not so sure about this statement, but at least his villains aren’t bumbling or stock-board stereotypes… even then he may use “the Old Jew” as a descriptor too much.), the explorers are drawn through the Himalayas where a battle is taking place between two rival Lodges. The narrator, Ramsden, is a proto-Agent Cooper as he upholds morality and loyalty and searches for his onetime compatriot Elmer Rait, whose lust for knowledge and association with the the Black Lodge with its dugpa sorcerers makes him a nice analog for Windom Earle. Naturally the Black Lodge is at war with the White Lodge. Most of the reviews I have read from the reviews of Mundy’s novel dismiss it as unimportant beyond the point that it contains the original concept of the Lodges. This is ridiculous, as not only is Mundy regarded as an entertaining writer (leading me to suspect they haven’t actually read the book,) it also contains the story of the dugpas.

“These evil sorcerers, dugpas, they call them, cultivate evil for the sake of evil and nothing else…this ardent purity has allowed them to access a secret place of great power…”

This is a pretty terrifying concept, I’m sure you’ll agree, as explained by the wretched Earle who wants to bargain with or become one of these black magicians. Like the many other nuances that make Twin Peaks so entertaining and immersive this is never fully fleshed out or explained. It is up to the viewer to decide what the dugpas are and if one is ever present in the show. Perhaps Killer BOB, who is primarily portrayed as a trans-migratory spirit, is a dugpa; there are ways, probably incorrect, to interpret the series that imply that BOB was once a serial killer as a man. He could have made a bargain that made him into a dugpa. Personally I don’t think so. Due to BOB’s enormous power I feel he is one of the “native inhabitants” of the Black Lodge. In a way this makes the dugpas all the more terrifying. Who or what are they? Where are they?

The little historical information I can find tells me that in “reality” the dugpas or “the red-hats” are a sect of left-hand (a term for mystic traditions typically regarded as dark or evil) Tibetan Buddhists founded in the thirteenth century. They are reminiscent and oftentimes confused with the Bonpas or Bon Sorcerers. These wicked mystics are present in Alexandra David-Neel’s A Tibetan Tale of Love and Magic, which I have not read; I do know that they are described as boiling down hapless travelers that stray into the mountain vales under their domain into an ointment that grants youth. David-Neel also tells us that “dugpa” means thunder, due to the fact they were the first sect to build their monastery in the midst of a thunder storm. Perhaps it was the wrath of the heavens raging at their defiance: in Mundy’s novel they are depicted as failed initiates to the White Lodge who, out of resentment and lust, have turned to forbidden knowledge to aid their rebellion. Supposedly some sects that are descended from the dugpas still exist openly in the world today.

Aside from the swastikas, does this man look evil to you? (A joke. I know.)

When I first read the description of the Black and White Lodges I was immediately reminded of Aleister Crowley’s Moonchild: of The Butterfly Net; Katie Rife mentions this in her AV Club piece as well. Published in 1917, Crowley’s best known novel consists of the operation to create a “moonchild”, a messiah or antichrist depending on personal persuasion/grade of initiation, by the White Lodge and the attempts of the Black Lodge to thwart any such occurrence. Here the White Lodge is a thinly veiled portrayal of Crowley’s own magical society, the A.’.A.’. It would then go to follow that the Black Lodge would be populated by his enemies and former colleagues from the Order of the Golden Dawn. While I really like Crowley and pretty well agree with his conclusions about people, it goes without saying that the characters should be taken with a grain of salt. Crowley is a trickster working in the field of admitted fiction; that said, he also went back and declared Moonchild to be a fanciful retelling of an actual magical operation. If that’s true then maybe the moonchild or its descendants walking around out there…Crowley indicates it was brought to North America. In the novel there are some pretty genius explanations of magical concepts and ethics and again, despite what modern critics say I think it is a cracking good read.

Moonchild Versus Dugpas: the secret war that affects your everyday life; I smell a book deal. I can’t believe how much there is to write about this topic. Twin Peaks is a famously complicated show, however, and like any surrealist work it mimics the unconsciousness. As any psychoanalyst can tell you, dreams and the unconsciousness can be interpreted; as many an artist will tell you they can be interpreted endlessly. It looks like this is going to have to be a two–parter, one for each Lodge, and next time around we’ll look at the fearsome Dweller on the Threshold, why there should be a free Tibet, and making the magic of Twin Peaks “work.”

Note: On further consideration, Cooper, with his career excellence and abundance of wisdom, is much more akin to Jimgrim than Ramsden. Ramsden, who is a stolid friend, simple, but pure is much more like Sheriff Truman. By reading The Devil’s Guard and drawing obvious conjectures --obvious upon a little bit of meditation that is -- I feel that one can find where Twin Peaks would have ended up if it had been continued.

Part II Save the Pine Weasel: The White Lodge Edition

“I also avoided the mysterious cloudy valley just north of True Lhassa, where two rival cults of sorcerers (or perhaps more-that-human supernatural forces) called the White Lodge and the Black Lodge are believed to be at war, with human souls and freakish twilight entities both as their pawns”. “…while traveling further south, just past the logging town of Twin Peaks, with its many interesting Indian legends, we find areas of dense forest sometimes called “Deep, Deep Woods” by the locals. Doll-like creatures have been seen here, thought to by some to be escapees from the otherworldly realm we shall hear word of that exists beyond some spatial flaw above the fields of Kansas. Others have insisted that these sinister and smiling toy-things have their origins, along with various other extra-human creatures, in a supposedly haunted dell within the Deep, Deep Woods called Glastonbury Grove, but this cannot be verified.” – from The New Traveller’s Almanac by Alan Moore

Simpsons did it. 

I know from exploring magic that the young magician is often surprised by the sublime symbols found in unexpected places. A stray comment shatters a problem you had been hung up over for weeks, a book seems to correlate with a vision you had the night before, a television show seems like some sort of broadcast from fucked up Illuminati central. The last is how I felt when I was watching Twin Peaks for the first time.

At the time I was finishing up the chapter in The Living Qabalah by Will Parfitt where the reader is exploring the concepts of Geburah and Chesed before heading onto the Abyss. According to the mythology of Twin Peaks, the Black Lodge opens up when Jupiter and Saturn meet. Jupiter, qabalistically represents the sphere of Chesed, whereas Saturn represents Binah. The space between the two spheres is not bridged by a path and the magician must dive from Chesed into the Abyss, between Jupiter and Saturn, and hope to come out on the other side. The Abyss is also the door to “other dimensions” and the key to what Kenneth Grant dubs “the Nightside of Eden.” The realm of the qlippoth, in a word, evil; the similarities to the Black Lodge are apparent. Now to survive the Abyss, or Daath, and the Black Lodge the magician must undergo a rigorous and too-easily-failed test. In the Qabalah it is complete and perfect ego loss. In Twin Peaks it is a test of courage…a wrestling match with the ugly parts of oneself. As one character, the stoic Deputy Hawk, the son of a Zuni shaman, says “there you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it ‘The Dweller on the Threshold.'” As far as I know, the Dweller on the Threshold does not actually originate from Zuni cosmology, but is originally found in the writings of Edward Bulwer-Lytton (that is not to say that I know for sure there is no analogous figure in some Native myths). Lord Lytton writes about the Dweller in his novel Zanoni, a lengthy book that Gary Lachman dubs a treasure-trove of occult knowledge. It is a somewhat cumbersome novel to the modern reader, though I enjoyed it enough. Regrettably there aren’t very many good editions in print today, but you can read it on Project Gutenberg at the link above.

Zanoni is the name of an immortal magician whom the narrator persuades to teach him the ways of the mysteries. Tie this into the French Revolution, elements of opera, and a love affair and you have a novel that inspired Dickens’ ending to A Tale of Two Cities. In the book the Dweller is an entity, like Hawk explains, “your shadow self”, that must be overcome through resolution and perfect bravery before further initiation. Like a commentor had pointed out on an earlier article; “fear is failure and the forerunner of failure.”

In his Dedalus Book of the Occult Lachman put forth the interesting theory that Lytton’s “Dweller” was based on his youthful depression and sense of isolation. Lytton was certainly involved with the occult and a few Rosicrucian societies active during his lifetime; he hobnobbed with the Qabalist Eliphas Levi when he crossed the channel and may have been present at the French magi’s evocation of the shade of Apollonius of Tyana. No matter where it came from, the entity has been brought to the attention of would-be mystics in the writings of Madame Blavatsky and other occultists ever since its inception. I’ve encountered a “dweller” once in a lucid dream; I didn’t realize what it was until I read about it in Lon Milo Duquette’s Low Magick. I’ll share with you what I wrote down for a friend in a collection of my encounters with “astral” beings.

“Later during the summer I had another encounter with these spaces. I entered into them differently however, through a doorway within a dream. During the dream I became aware that I was dreaming thanks to the usual rushing in the left ear and quickly returned to the bedroom when my body lay supine. Things took a terrifying turn at this point and I imagined/encountered some rabid being trying to get into the bedroom door. It screamed and howled and generally caused a fearful ruckus. As I girded myself to go and fight off the thing I woke up completely with my girlfriend shaking me. I had been screaming in my sleep.”- from “A Victim of the Higher Space: The Incident of the Angel and Other Phantoms.”

Duquette describes them as fearsome entities that are, in reality, or in whatever bizarre person’s conception of “reality” this is, perfectly harmless. He describes them as spirits, archetypes, whathaveyou, that have “sunk” from higher realms and now exist as empty cartridges. My meeting with one was unpleasant but it was nothing like what we’re led to believe happened in the Black Lodge. That is why I would posit the Ordeal of the Abyss is a closer analogy to what is going on in Twin Peaks than the Dweller on the Threshold. Going back to our earlier discussion of Tibetan sorcery, let’s consider Tibetan Buddhism. It is widely known to have a decidedly mystical bent compared to other forms of Buddhism and is famous for the fascination it holds for many spiritual seekers. In the third episode after the pilot, where many of the seeds for the Lodge system are set up, Agent Cooper attempts to find a lead on Laura Palmer’s death in a peculiar manner. After a lecture on the country of Tibet, which he mentions throughout the series, he demonstrates his “Tibetan method” of deduction. This is based around a dream and mind/body coordination; it consists of throwing rocks at a bottle while an assistant recites the names of suspects. Whenever he hits the bottle it means they should investigate whichever name had been called out last. This idiosyncratic detective method is part of what makes the show such a joy. In our world, David Lynch is a supporter for a free Tibet, and Cooper even states that before he dies he’d like to see an autonomous Tibet.

From what I’m told, the best introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and the general sense of what makes it unique is the Tibetan Book of the Dead or the Bardo Thodol. The book, which was immensely popular during the Sixties and was adapted by Timothy Leary into a manual for psychedelic trips, describes the events that the soul undergoes after death on its way to reincarnation. Another introduction would be anarchist and spiritual seeker Alexandra David-Neel’s fascinating account of her travels in Tibet (she was the first Westerner in Lhasa)  Mystery and Magic in Tibet, available from Dover Books. Herein the reader may find some of what attracts Lynch and Cooper to the mountainous country. Much of the Western conception of “magical Tibet” comes from the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky who claimed to have met her Mahatmas, her masters and representatives of The Great White Lodge, there before coming to the West to disseminate her learning. While I’ve read very little of Blavatsky’s works I do know her famous, but again probably fictitious, Book of Dzyan is supposedly an ancient Tibetan text. Fragments of this work The Stanzas are included in her magnum opus The Secret Doctrine which is itself the sourcebook of Theosophy and a major text of occultism. If one is interested in these matters it may be worthwhile to look at The Mahatma Letters which is allegedly a collection of correspondences sent to Blavatsky and other leaders of the Theosophical Society from their “ascended masters.”

In the supplement book Welcome to Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to the Town, a Theosophical Society is mentioned as being active in the town and holding meetings outside as well as eisteddvodai (Welsh Poetry Blow-outs). Pete Martell and the Log Lady are rumored to have been members, and Agent Cooper was known to attend during his time in town. Another event mentioned in the supplement book is the Twin Peaks “Passion Play” where the players, sponsored by the Bookhouse Boys that Cooper and Sheriff Truman belong to, reenact the triumph of good over evil. The cast members are armed with the sword, chalice, crucifix, and chrysanthemum which I would hazard to guess is Lynch or the author’s reimagining of the Rose of western magic. They are confronted by a guardian who mysteriously appears and it goes on from there until the dawn breaks heralding the triumph of good. A classic initiation rite that takes place in April. April is the cruelest month…this is all fertile imagery drawn from Frazer’s Golden Bough, Rosicrucianism, and the mystery plays of the High Middle Ages that presented the stories of creation.

One early commentator I found (which I have unfortunately not been able to find again), who actually performed dream experiments using material from Twin Peaks, believed that the Passion Play would be the concluding factor if the series had been allowed to continue. He has some pretty convincing arguments for this including a headline included elsewhere in the book “Mystery play saves Peaks season” that innocuously refers to the local Football team. Take into consideration that the Passion Play takes place at Glastonbury Grove, the entrance to the Black Lodge, and the assumption becomes more reasonable. Another group that is only mentioned in this book is the malignant Circular Lodge who are said to practice blood rites as well a ritual cannibalism. It is mentioned that they have a unique connection to Owl Cave, the place where the map of the Black Lodge was found, and occupied it during the fifties renaming it “Elk Cave”. Their origins, and where the accounts of their loathsome practice are derived, extend into the prehistory of Twin Peaks. Their belief in circular time and a moment of retribution may also hold a key to the nature of the dugpas and the Black Lodge. A haunting ad is placed in the Access Guide that confirms their continued existence and secrecy.

Another book which I don’t believe is mentioned anywhere in Twin Peaks that may be a good introduction to the White Lodge is Lost Horizon by James Hilton. A thoroughly enjoyable read, this is the book that introduced Shangri La to the world. Of course, Shangri La was based itself upon the mythical paradise of Shambhala. That said, it is also generally agreed upon by fans of the series that the White Lodge is not a physical location at all. After listening to Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish, my guess would be that the “White Lodge” is found in the depths of Transcendental Meditation. At least, I imagine it would be there in Lynch’s estimation, considering he is a devotee of that movement. Started by the famous Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of the Beatles fame, it is often praised for its verifiable trance states and psychological affects, and conversely criticized for requiring payment from practitioners. As Annie Blackburn declares “teetotaling and prayer” and the cure for a hangover, I would prescribe “yoga and prayer” as the first step for anyone looking for peace or deeper meaning in life. Annie gives that advice to Cooper and Sheriff Truman while the two are eating and drinking coffee at the R. R. Diner. The Diner is a common theme and setting throughout the series and David Lynch has expressed his love of diners; “There’s a safety in thinking in a diner. You can have your coffee or your milkshake, and you can go off into strange dark areas, and always come back to the safety of the diner.” There is definitely an aura to diners; they are a liminal area, often just dives at interstate stops or along the road, but also incredibly familiar, almost like you’re near home. I guess what I’m saying is there’s a magic to this particular piece of Americana to the weary and seeking soul.

For UFO devotees there’s an interesting plot point that involves two of the most important characters in the show: Project Blue Book. Both Windom Earle, the human personification of evil, and Major Garland Briggs, the human personification of good, have been or are involved in the government investigation of anomalies. The real Project Blue Book was started in 1952 and ended in 1970; it also concerned itself solely with UFOs.  It is still famous for being the only major, and public, government operation considering UFOs and for its small percentage of “unexplained” cases. It involved Dr. J. Allen Hynek who designed the close encounter classification system and who is famous for being one of the few academics to take the UFO phenomenon seriously. Hynek’s organization of scientists and academics took its name from Rosicrucian manifestos and societies: The Invisible College.

90s mashup of Rainforest Cafe and UFO abduction. 

In the series Windom Earle goes mad while working for Blue Book, especially after his superiors won’t put any credence into his theories about the Black Lodge. Later, during the course of the show, Major Briggs approaches Agent Cooper and shows him a nonsensical radio transmission, ostensibly from deep space,  that mentions his name and the phrase “the owls are not what they seem.” It later turns out that that particular transmission came from within the woods that surround the town of Twin Peaks. Briggs’ character is fascinating for his connection to the White Lodge and his mysterious role in the whole TP universe. He mysteriously disappears during the course of the series and reappears in just as strange a manner (wearing a forties era pilot’s uniform--possibly a reference to the pilots who have disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle) after an abduction into some transdimensional space. Later everything may hinge on Briggs and his unflappable sense of honor, duty, and goodness.

There are two more elements I’d like to cover. The first is a point I don’t think any other commentator has ever brought up. Throughout the show Cooper uses a voice recorder to recount his exploits, his suspicions, his random thoughts, all dictated to “Diane.” While a major presence in the show, Diane is never shown though the viewer automatically reasons she is Coop’s attached receptionist back at the Bureau. Diane, of course, is short for “Diana”; the Roman name of Artemis, the Greek Olympian Goddess of the Moon and the Hunt. When considering the Qabalah, every god can be allocated to one of the ten spheres; Diana is heavily associated with Yesod, the realm of dreams and imagination. Now as any magician knows, imagination is very important. It is at times your world, the landscape that you interact with to achieve your goals, and it is sometimes your companion as well. You spend a lot of time with it and running thoughts through it. While I’m decently certain Lynch or Frost didn’t purposefully insert this into the series, I would guess that “Diane” is Cooper’s imagination. He uses her to sort his thoughts, come up with the dreams and Tibetan methods that guide him, and as she is the goddess of the hunt she is instrumental in helping Cooper hunt down Laura’s killer, Earle, and BOB.

For the last bit we will, like the series, return to the Black Lodge and an account of sorcery that I stumbled across in Jorge Luis Borges and Co.’s The Book of Fantasy. It is a piece by William Butler Yeats who was a member of the Golden Dawn and heavily involved in magic in general. Titled The Sorcerers, it is collected in Yeats’s Celtic Twilight as well, purportedly as fiction. I would easily declare that it is nothing of the sort, at least not in Yeats’s mind. It should be noted here that a toast from Yeats is recited earlier during the series by Pete Martell, “wine comes in at the mouth”. The piece is a short retelling of an encounter with some government clerks who also dabbled in black magic; the invoking of evil spirits to be exact. They take the poet to a location, not, mind you, their main location, where he witnesses them bring spirits into themselves. Though he refuses to be entranced as they are--an easily understood and countered process for a magician--he begins to feel the effects of their magic and must fight it off. He observes the bizarre behavior of the other magicians. When the ceremony is over, he asks the “more powerful of the two sorcerers” a question. Before I tell you what the question is, consider the job of the dark magi; they are clerks…utterly banal, much like the small town atmosphere of Twin Peaks in fact. For those who have seen the series, the conclusion of Yeats’s story will make the end of that series as clear as day, at least for a moment.

“‘What would happen if one of your spirits had overpowered me?’ ‘You would go out of this room,’ he answered, ‘with his character added to your own.’” Think about that next time you see the final shot of the series and the final possession we are permitted to witness. Consider that we are the stuff that dreams are made of. It would therefore go to follow that we are able to manipulate or be manipulated by dreams themselves into visions of vitality. A work such as Twin Peaks crafted from surrealism, the hidden parts of man, and the influences discussed here is certainly a ripe work for exploration. While I wouldn’t try this with Wodehouse, and I would indicate that no matter how hard you try with Harry Potter nothing will happen, there are works, such as Lovecraft’s fiction, that lend themselves to this unconscious transformation.

For more information on the series I’d check out what the Log Lady has to say. Or check out Frost and Lynch’s series predecessor, the gnostic swinging sixties spy-fi The Prisoner.  It would follow that Alan Moore’s new film Jimmy’s End, which is part of a large project titled The Show, draws deeply from Lynch’s series as an inspiration. There’s a lot more to discuss and find out for yourself.

Note: After reading a small discourse (which I cannot find) on the connection between Twin Peaks and Whitley Strieber’s classic account of abduction Communion I had to agree with the author’s conclusions. There is a lot of confusion when considering the nature of the owls in the series and their connection to the Lodges. Are they observers for the inhabitants, intermediate vessels, or disguises? The author of that discourse points out that Strieber, before gaining any memory of what happened to him the night before, merely recalls a barn owl staring at him through the window that evening. He (or she) points out various other connections here. Taking into consideration that Communion is purportedly nonfiction and of great interest to the paranormal community this makes the implications of Twin Peaks all the more exciting.

It has been a pleasure speaking with you.

“We are certain that ancient, taloned bird sees what we do not, knows what we never will.  And some night, silent as a gliding feather, its immensity will engulf us at fireside to  tell us things we want to know as well as those we don’t.  In the shadowed forest we’re pulled by that lurking and alluring ghost and we are enthralled.”- from Owlwise by Firelight 


Rarebit Fiend said...

I should make a couple of updates: I have since read Magic and Mystery in Tibet which while it doesn't contribute much to my speculation on Twin Peaks, according to memory, it did inform me about Bon practices. Not that David-Neel should be considering the anthropological expert on the matter but Bon as she describes it is the fantastical native religion of Tibet. Of course most of David-Neel's narrative frames Tibet in a fantastic, orientalist light.

I have also since read (abridged- I don't have that much time) Blavatsky's works "The Secret Doctrine" and "Isis Unveiled" and found little to connect them to Twin Peaks.

When I corresponded briefly with Gary Lachman about this he corroborated that Blavatsky herself didn't write often about "the Lodges." About Talbot Mundy he had this to say "As for Talbot Mundy, he was involved with Katharine Tingley’s Point Loma Theosophical center, which was a different kettle of fish from Blavatsky or Tingley’s nemesis, Anni Besant."

The recent AVClub article does a better job by actually interviewing Mark Frost who says he took the concept of the Lodges from Dion Fortune's "Psychic Self-Defense" which I have had for years and never read because I find Fortune, aside from her Dr. Taverner stories, dreadfully boring or a little too out there. He also points out that Alice Bailey, theosophist, was a large influence on his thinking.

Oz Fritz said...

Great read! I never saw "Twin Peaks." Dugpas remind me of the Furies from the film "Big Trouble in Little China." I have "Zanoni" on my reading list now. "Psychic Self-Defense" proved very useful to me when I read it years ago.

Rarebit Fiend said...

@Oz- Thanks for reading! I really enjoyed "Zanoni" and his novella "A Strange Story" which I believe is also on Crowley's A.'.A.'. syllabus. Did you ever read "The Coming Race?"

I'll have to give Fortune's book a read then! I've always meant to get around to it. I have plenty of time now.