10 Secret Reasons Why The Avengers Is the Best Superhero Film
According to Boxofficemojo.com, Marvel's The Avengers ranks as the third most successful film of all time with a global haul of $1.5 billion. Rotten Tomatoes notes the alignment of critics (92% approval) and audiences (96%.) Like other epic fantasy franchises at the top of the list -- from Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter and The Matrix -- The Avengers resonates universally with audiences and critics across the globe because of its exciting reinventions of classical mythology, religious metaphor, and esoteric symbols.
What follows is my attempt to unpack some of these references and describe what I believe to be their cumulative effect: The Avengers is the best superhero film yet made, both in its entertainment level and moral values. Over at the Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last and Travis D. Smith can have their debate of Batman vs Spider-Man. The Avengers rise over them both, providing a much richer fantasy for young people to embrace as they begin the journey toward adulthood.
1. The Invigorating "Live to Rise" Theme Song Explicitly Reveals the Film's Hidden Hermetic Goal: Directing the Viewer to Understand Their Life as an Expression of the Rise, Fall, Death, and Resurrection of the Sun.
The lyrics to the new Soundgarden song -- embedded above -- used prominently in the film's advertising and closing credits:
What if all you understand,
Could fit into the center of our hand,
Then you found it wasn't you,
Who held the sum of everything you knew,
Like the sun we will live to rise,
Like the sun we will live and die,
And then ignite again,
Like the sun we will live to rise again,
Dr. Israel Regardie's The One Year Manual: Twelve Steps to Spiritual Enlightenment offers a series of short chapters with practical exercises for improving one's life. The book distills a lifetime's worth of engagement with Hermeticism to transform a spiritual practice cloaked in mystery and confusion into an accessible tool for those of all faith traditions.
The book's exercises involve instruction in prayer, relaxation, rhythmic breathing, meditative ritual, and the development of concentration. Throughout the text Regardie draws from ancient Egyptian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and scientific traditions to show how one can plug in any deity and use the book's rituals to help grow closer to one's conception of the Higher Power.
My friend Rob Taylor suggested The One Year Manual to me last December and I experimented with its techniques throughout 2012. I agree with the author that the book's first exercise -- the Four Adorations -- is the most essential and the only one to practice daily, which I do:
In former great ages, man realized intuitively his relationship to nature and to the living universe in which he lived and was a part. He felt his unity with all the elements. In the fullness of his life he worshipped the Sun as a visible symbol of the unknown God in whom we live and move and have our being. It is axiomatic that light is life and both are dependent upon the Sun — which thus becomes a vital symbol of God.
In our modern scientific age of gadgets and things, with our unnatural way of life divorced from contact with the dynamic root of things, we may once more progress towards the full awareness of the source of life and love and liberty, we make ritual gestures of affirming a link between the Sun and ourselves. Upon the basis of these gestures of adoration, every act in life may be dedicated in such a way that living itself becomes sanctified and transformed.
Though God is a unity, the Sun, as a symbol of God, appears differently at each of its four daily stations — dawn, noon, sunset and midnight. Therefore an adoration is directed towards the Sun at each of these four stations.
At dawn, or upon arising, he should perform whatever abulations are customary and then turning towards the East, say audibly:
Hail unto Thee who art Ra in thy rising,
Even unto Thee who art Ra in thy strength,
Who travellest over the Heavens in Thy bark
At the Uprising of the Sun.
Tahuti standeth in His splendour at the prow
And Ra-Hoor abideth at the helm.
Hail unto Thee from the Abodes of the Night!
Much of the symbolism inherent in this simple adoration may be missed by the student for some considerable time. It does not matter just yet. But this should not be permitted to serve as an obstacle to daily practice, nor to deter him from adoring God in the form of the rising Sun every day of his life.
Regardie then explains how the prayer changes at each time of day with different Egyptian gods representing the sun later at noon, sunrise, and night. Here's a hieroglyph depicting the image of the prayer and the deities referenced: Tahuti (Thoth, the ankh,) Ra-Hoor (Horus the Hawk-headed), and the sun deity Ra (the solar disk):
The great value of the "Four Adorations" comes not in the words of the prayer or the Egyptian gods Regardie suggests. Evangelical Christians could just as easily substitute God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. What matters is how the prayer -- adapted from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead -- breaks up the idea of God into multiple parts, asserting that individual deities can only express aspects of a Transcendent God existing beyond human comprehension. We can only hold pieces of God in our head at a time.
What if all you understand,
Could fit into the center of our hand,
Then you found it wasn’t you,
Who held the sum of everything you knew,
Here we see the mechanism for the gradual transition from polytheism to monotheism. It's not just a matter of belief in one god versus the worship of many. The revolution came not in the idea of a single deity, but an abstract deity defined not in a single symbol -- like a Golden Calf -- but in the ongoing transformation of one symbol into another. In the Judeo-Christian monotheism that arose out of the polytheism of the Mediterranean world, God was not a Thing. God was the invisible process through which nothing transforms into something. God isn't a man sitting up in the clouds or an animal-headed supernatural being sailing across the sky in a boat. God is the four-fold process we see manifest in the rise of the sun and the turn of the seasons. And the more we worship this process -- Regardie recommends stopping at the same time every day for a moment of reflection and devotion -- the more we can apply it to transform ourselves and our world.
Its with this Hermetic understanding -- God as a process of continual death and resurrection, "Like the sun we will live to rise again," -- that I approach the heroes and villains of The Avengers with the Tarot deck in hand. The cards each represent aspects of this process of transformation. They are not a fortune-telling or future-predicting device any more than the future changes when the individual seeing the cards chooses to respond to the reminder of the values they represent.
The next 8 pages will each focus on the mythological significance of each hero and villain in The Avengers. The conclusion will explore what story pours out after all these elements liquify in the blender of cinema. My apologies for the length -- this is really more of a short ebook rather than a long article. Caveat emptor.
We begin first with the film that carved a space for Marvel at the box office, 2008's Iron Man and its brilliant, capitalist-hero Tony Stark, an exciting reinvention of the suit of Swords (spades in the playing card deck) fueled by a $140 million budget.
2. Iron Man Embodies the Sword: Tony Stark Has Mastered His Intellect.
In 2010, a lawsuit from the family of artist Jack Kirby against Marvel comics prompted a deposition from writer Stan Lee on the origins of the company's very profitable characters. Here's what he said about Iron Man:
Q. Let’s talk a little — let’s talk about Iron Man. Tell us about how Iron Man came about, how he was created, the back story with regard to Iron Man.
STAN LEE: I will try to make it shorter. It was the same type of thing. I was looking for somebody new. And I thought — I don’t know why I thought it, somebody in a suit of armor. And what if it was iron armor. He would be so powerful. So for some reason I have always been fascinated by Howard Hughes. I thought I would get a hero like Howard Hughes.
He’s an inventor. He’s a multimillionaire. He’s good looking. He likes the women. And but I got to make something tragic about him. And then it occurred to me if he — somehow when he got his iron armor — it’s a long story — but he gets into a fight, and he gets injured in his chest. And his heart is injured, and he has to wear this little thing that runs the iron armor. He has to wear that on his chest because it also keeps his heart beating. And that would make him a tragic figure as well as the most powerful guy. So I thought the readers would like him even more with that little bit added to it.
Among the strange paradoxes of the superhero genre: we want godlike heroes to admire but give them too much power and we grow bored. Every hero needs his weaknesses and shortcomings or else the story will produce inadequate dramatic tension. In Tony Stark this manifests in the imbalance of a superhuman intellect but with immature, impulsive emotions.
The Iron Man fantasy is an exhilarating one. Tony lives the teenage boy's daydream. He's the smartest inventor on the planet and the CEO of a billion-dollar, industrial giant but he has a broken heart both before and after his transformation into Iron Man. He's a notorious playboy and alcoholic. If he's so smart then what has taken him so long to get through adolescence and recognize his own psychological problems?
Mental abilities are only one component of the team. Pure reason and raw intellectual talent are not enough to save us.
As the mind falls, the heart rises to catch it. The second film in Marvel's rebooted trilogy picks up thematically where Iron Man concludes. What does the story of the Hulk teach about emotions?
Stan Lee on his inspiration for a brilliant scientist who struggles to control the powerful emotions that transform him into a mindless beast:
Q. Okay. Let’s go now to the Incredible Hulk. And could you tell us how The Incredible Hulk came about? What was your idea for him?
STAN LEE: Well, same thing. I was trying to — it was my job to come up with new characters and to expand the line as much as I could. So I was trying to think again what can I do that’s different. I liked the thing very much, and I thought, what if I get somebody who is a real monster? And I remembered I had always in the old movie Frankenstein with Boris Karloff I had always thought that that monster was the good guy because he didn’t want to hurt anybody, but those idiots with torches who were always chasing him up and down the hills.
Q. He was a misunderstood monster.
STAN LEE: A mis — you said it better than I could have. So I thought it would be fun to get a monster who is really good but nobody knows it, and they fight him. But then the more I thought about it, I figured it could be dull after awhile just having people chasing a monster. And I remember Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I thought, why not treat him like Jekyll and Hyde? He’s really a normal man who can’t help turning into a monster, and it would make a very interesting story if when he needs his monstrous strength the most, the poor guy turns back into a normal man. I could get a lot of story complications. So I thought that would be good.
The story arc of the Hulk is about recognizing that our curses can become our greatest blessings. Initially the Hulk stories start as modern variations of their Frankenstein roots. The Hulk is more monster than hero. It's only as the story progresses that he comes to in time realize that he can learn to control when he transforms into the Hulk and then remain conscious and use the awesome power for Good instead of Evil.
In the films we see this arc conclude in The Avengers. Bruce Banner has learned to summon up his emotions and control them, so that his rage can become a weapon to help save humanity:
Washington became a rebel and a revolutionary well aware that, in the event of defeat, just as Franklin said, he would be hanged, drawn and quartered by the king’s justice. As the culprit in chief, he could expect no mercy. The revolutionaries all fought, he later said, “with halters around our necks.” But his recurrence to the imagery of hanging — and to the real thing — reminds us not only of his courage and realism, but also of the remarkable, even perpetual fury he usually buried or concealed behind a calm, stony façade. When he had reached the limit of his patience with war profiteers at Valley Forge, Washington erupted in a violent rage that would not have surprised any of his subordinates — “I would to God,” he burst out to the president of Congress, “that one of the most atrocious of each state was hung in gibbets upon a gallows five times as high as the one prepared for Haman.”
These gallows and halters show us something else as well: the discipline, the iron will that sets Washington apart from almost all of his contemporaries. In the Benedict Arnold affair, when the captured British spy John Andre, a handsome and sympathetic figure, pleaded to be executed like a gentleman by a firing squad, Washington turned his back. Despite the wrenching protests of Hamilton and Lafayette, he ordered Andre hanged in full view of the army, as an example to his own soldiers and a message to the British. “Policy,” he explained to the French admiral Rochambeau, “required a sacrifice.”
4. Thor Embodies the Wand, the Magic Hammer Mjolnir Requires the Mastery of the Will Through Self-Sacrifice. One Must Smash the Ego Before the Great Work Can Begin. It's More Important to Do Something Great Than To Be Someone Great. Doing Over Being.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
The origins of Thor are obvious -- Stan Lee pulled him directly from Norse mythology. I didn't find a similar explanation of Thor's beginnings from the deposition. So here's another interview with Lee, featuring a typical fanboy-style question but including a telling answer revealing one of the big problems with the character:
Roy: And now I have what Evans and Novak would call on their show, "The Big Question," which the editor requested me to ask you: Which is stronger, Thor or the Hulk?
Stan: I would have to guess that Thor is stronger, only because he is a god and probably can't be killed. Again, I don't know how the guys have been writing him lately, but I thought of him as invulnerable.
The story of Thor only becomes interesting when he chooses to give up his god powers and die for mankind. We've heard this before; it's one of the core myths of Western civilization. Thor succeeds so much as a film because it adopts the Christ narrative. Life only becomes meaningful when we find something more important than living. Like resurrection and immortality.
One of the clever arguments that led me astray from God for over a decade, one of the proofs offered by New Atheists for the falsehood of Christianity: if Jesus really rose from the dead then how come there are so many other stories of dying and rising gods throughout history? Instead of the Gospel's claims of resurrection being a historical fact, isn't it much more likely that Christianity just borrowed pre-existing myths? At their root, aren't these dying and rising god, Thor type stories just metaphors for the change of the season and the dying and rising crops?
For a long time I took this as a key reason to reject the belief that I'd held like a zealot during my teen years: Jesus Christ was both wholly God and wholly man and had literally died and rose from the dead for the sin of mankind and all who believed in Him would have "eternal life."
But the truth is that actually the prevalence of these narratives doesn't disprove whether the resurrection of the individual known as Jesus of Nazareth actually occurred. And practicing Christianity isn't reliant on proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the Resurrection happened. All Christians need to do is show that if one chooses to worship resurrection and eternal life instead of death and the cruelty of Mother Nature then a happier existence follows.
At the end of the day that's the only case for any kind of religious practice that can withstand the strikes from the sword of rational thought. Choosing to believe in a Higher Power will make you a stronger person with a more developed Will. The final key component of the Avengers demonstrates this in a literal fashion and takes the superhero story back down to earth...
5. Captain America Embodies the Disk, Steve Rogers Has Mastered the Physical World. As the Super Soldier He Stands Shield-in-Hand as an Inspiring Symbol Against Nazi Slavery.
Back to Stan Lee's deposition on the origins of the Marvel universe's pantheon of demi-gods:
Q. To your recollection, were there any characters that Kirby had created before he was working with you or anyone at Marvel that he brought to Marvel and then were then published by Marvel?
STAN LEE: No, I don’t believe so. I don’t recall any. Oh, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Captain America, for God’s sake. He and Joe Simon had created Captain America.
STAN LEE: Now, by the time in the 60s, Jack came to work for us, we weren’t — there was no more Captain America. We weren’t publishing it because Martin Goodman thought it was just a World War II character and people wouldn’t be interested in it anymore.
I always loved the character, so I decided to bring it back. And I tried to write a story where he had been frozen in a glacier for years, and they found him and he came back to life, and so forth. And I tried to give him some personality where he always felt — he was an anachronism. He was living in our day, but yet he had the values of 20 or 30 years ago. And I tried to make him a little bit interesting.
Captain America reflects the ideal American soldier both in body and patriotic values -- two realms not often understood as interrelated. He reveals that the real power lies in ideas. Captain America's authority flows from his moral character -- the pursuit of mastering one's mind, emotions, and will generates the strength to control one's own body and then the rest of the physical world. One must master his body in order to accurately project his will out from it.
We don't often realize that the shield is not just a big hunk of metal one hides behind. Captain America reminds us of its devastating use as a weapon. With shield in hand one can deflect an opponent's attacks back at him. Then, when the moment is right and they are most vulnerable, you fling your shield with precision like a discus. Just because the shield is smooth doesn't mean the edges can't cut deep.
Here's a clip of Breitbart.com Editor-At-Large Ben Shapiro providing an example of how to do this in real life:
And here's what the edge of the shield feels like:
SHAPRIO: This is what I wanted to ask you, Piers, because I have seen you talk about assault weapons a lot, and I have seen Mark Kelly talk about assault weapons. The vast majority of murders in this country that are committed with guns are committed with handguns, they are not committed assault weapons. Are you willing to ban handguns in this country, across this country?
MORGAN: No, that's not what I'm asking for.
SHAPIRO: Why not? Don't you care about the kids who are being killed in Chicago as much as the kids in Sandy Hook?
MORGAN: Yes, I do.
SHAPIRO: Then why don't you care about banning the handguns in Chicago?
6. As The Four Super-Humans Represent the Elemental Forces of Creation, the Three Human Avengers Invoking Them Symbolize Incarnations of the Wizard-Warriors Who Have Summoned Them Throughout History and Myth.
First, Nick Fury Descends from Queen Elizabeth's Spymaster, the Renaissance Hermeticist John Dee (1527–1608.)
The fictional genealogy goes like this: in 1965 Marvel rebooted Nick Fury from a tough World War II commander into a James Bond-inspired super spy leading the elite anti-terrorism force SHIELD.
Once we reach Bond, the direct connection to Hermeticism appears:
This is the glyph that John Dee, the Renaissance scientist, Hermeticist, and spy, used in his communiques with Queen Elizabeth. It's the origin of James Bond's "007" name and his "For Your Eyes Only" motto. The Slash above the two 00s (two eyes) is meant to mean a covering of the eyes.
The eyes have further significance when we consider the most distinguishing characteristic of Fury, his eye patch:
The act of losing an eye in combat against the tyrants goes back deep. Returning again to Egyptian mythology, consider first the wound received in the battle between Horus and Seth, and second the role of Tahuti (god of magic, writing and medicine) in the healing:
In the fight with Seth, Horus lost his left eye (and Seth his testicles - symbols of the causes of revolt, violence, sexual perversity and turbulence). This left Eye of Horus is the endangered & injured Eye, also called "the black eye" (his "empty Eye" torn out), associated with the cycle of the Moon (its destruction is associated with the New Moon, its restoration with the Full Moon). It was miraculously filled and completed by Thoth and then given back to Horus (as it is brought to Pharaoh) as a "full Eye" or "Eye of Thoth"
This balance between two struggling natural forces finds further expression in another well-known Hermetic symbol, now adapted in our culture to signify medicine:
Male deities were not the only ones of the Egyptian Pantheon capable of healing and restoring balance. Thoth's female equivalent, in some cases depicted as his wife, was the Ostrich-feather wearing Ma'at, usually depicted as a young woman...
7. Black Widow Invokes Multiple Goddess Symbols. But In the Film She Embodies the Daughter Goddess Ma'at, A Deity Who Eventually Evolved Into An Abstraction, Reemerging today As the Avenging Spirit of Law, Order, Blind Justice, Liberty, Freedom, and Morality.
The statue is a classical female figure of Freedom wearing flowing draperies. Her right hand rests upon the hilt of a sheathed sword; her left holds a laurel wreath of victory and the shield of the United States with 13 stripes. Her helmet is encircled by stars and features a crest composed of an eagle's head, feathers, and talons, a reference to the costume of Native Americans. A brooch inscribed "U.S." secures her fringed robes. She stands on a cast-iron globe encircled with the words E Pluribus Unum, the national motto at the time of her placement atop the dome.
Scarlett Johannson as the Black Widow acts as a balancing force on the Avengers team. She represents the young goddess mediating the conflicting forces weighing down on the scale, acting as a crucial team member helping to contain the temperaments of Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, and Captain America. She is the cursed spider Arachne, weaving the team together, all while remaining concealed behind her own veil of mystery.
The effect of a deity -- or the modern variant, the fictional character -- hiding themselves, their weaknesses, and their origins can provoke a gradual evolution from a defined god into an abstraction. The Black Widow as a character is like this -- today more Marvel's embodiment of the James Bond femme fatale persona than a memorable personality like the film's male protagonists. This kind of evolution from deity to symbol took place in the ancient Egyptian's polytheistic religion too. The goddess Ma'at, depicted with wings and an ostrich feather, became more of a transcendent spirit that enveloped the entire universe, rather than a deity engaging in battles with rivals:
In the illustration on page 5 for Captain America and the Pentacle, I included an excerpt from Aleister Crowley's Magick Book IV:
"... the three stages in the history of philosophy, in which the three objects of study were successively Nature, God, and Man."
Crowley's philosophical system of Thelema posits that one can understand human history as a series of Aeons based on which of the Egyptian god archetypes dominates. The first three Aeons:
- Aeon of Isis -- Worship of a mother goddess. Humanity during pre-history, pre-Biblical, and the hunter-gatherer stage. People lived in harmony and obedience to the tyranny and cruelty of Mother Nature.
- Aeon of Osiris -- Worship of a dying-and-rising father god. The Classical and medieval historical eras where humanity was characterized by obedience to such frequently tyrannical authorities as Church, Crown, and State.
- Aeon of Horus -- Rebellious, individualistic worship of the childish self. Crowley announced that the Aeon of Horus began in 1904. And when one considers the 20th century as when the Child King began his reign, downgrading the maturity over humanity then a whole lot makes more sense.
Throughout his life Crowley primarily sought to spread the new law of his conception of this Aeon of Horus. He did not spend as much time imagining what Aeons could follow, instead thinking that immature humanity would require centuries to grow up. But he still did lay the seeds for mystics in his tradition to imagine a more mature future. Mark Green wrote on the development of he concept of an Aeon of Ma'at:
Horus is, like Mars, a God of War and Vengeance, and this was seen by Crowley as fitting for an Aeon of the "Law of the Battle of Conquest". Crowley made only a few mentions of the Aeon following Horus, for example in a diary entry in 1923, where he refers to a "wordless Aeon," and in a commentary to the Book of the Law where he states that an Aeon of Ma'at would follow that of Horus. However, in 1936, he wrote a letter to Charles Stanfield Jones, a magical student known as Frater Achad, where he admitted the possibility of an Aeon of Ma'at arriving simultaneously with the Aeon of Horus. It is Frater Achad who first claimed that the Aeon of the Daughter commenced in 1948, and would run parallel to the Aeon of Horus. This is known as the "Twin Current". He explained this apparent overlap by viewing the cycles of time as running in spirals, so each Aeon runs above and below the others at any given time.
This past year saw much speculation about what would happen when the Mayan calendar ran out on December 21 (and how the ideas surrounding the New Age event could be exploited for political purposes). But the day passed more or less without incident. No giant, Monty Python-style deities appearing in the sky to unite humanity and bring about utopia. Likewise, no violent apocalypse, either.
But what if Aeons didn't stop and start so obviously? What if the Aeons drift gradually into another? How could we tell if we were living through a chaotic time when the rebellious impulses of the son and the responsible justice of the daughter both existed in the same time, warring for supremacy in one very confused body? In the return of weaker, androgynous characters who are the first to become seduced by the false gods of nature...
8. Hawkeye Blends Two Archetypes, The Masculine Hawk-Headed Horus, and the Feminine Archer-Huntress Goddess. It's Not a Coincidence that He's the Film's Most Androgynous Hero - Nor That He Is Among the First Enslaved By Loki.
In virtually every way Hawkeye is the weakest member of the team. Whereas the other characters move freely throughout the Marvel universe and have identities of their own, Hawkeye appeared as a villain in only three issues before becoming a hero and joining the original Avengers line-up. As far as powers go he's nothing special - a master archer, hardly an alluring power no matter how many "trick arrows" the writers can imagine him having at the most convenient times.
The filmmakers don't make things any easier for building up Hawkeye. For much of the movie he's morally blind -- his eyes go black for a moment as Loki's wand poisons his heart and enslaves his mind and body.
Again with the eyes as a central symbol, from the San Graal library, a repository of online information on mythology and esotericism:
The word utchat, sometimes spelled udjat, refers to Egypt's sacred eye symbol. The right eye is called the Eye of Ra, symbolizing the sun. The left is called the Eye of Thoth, symbolizing the moon. Both eyes together are the Two Eyes Of Horus The Elder. The eye is the part of the body able to perceive light, and is therefore the symbol for spiritual ability.
So what are we to make of the eye so frequently obscured and distorted, particularly in our androgynous icons? It often accompanies distortions and mutilations of the body too..
To blind oneself to masculinity and femininity is to deny both our creative abilities and responsibilities.
‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.16‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.17‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,18I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
But what's there to see once you have new eyes and can recognize Mother Nature for the cruel "bloody bitch" she is?
9. Loki represents the Tyranny of Nature-Worshiping Fertility Cults, the Pre-Biblical Polytheistic Religions That Treated People Like Objects Through Practicing Human Sacrifice and Temple Prostitution.
Thanos, the Villain Teased After the Credits as the Sequel's Antagonist, More Explicitly Represents the Same Theme Since He Literally Worships Death and Seeks Her Love Through Genocide.
The filmmakers almost make this one too obvious. Forty minutes into the film Loki barges into a ritzy event at a museum in Germany. He grabs Dr. Heinrich Shafer, an official with security clearances, throws him onto an ancient, bullheaded altar, and uses a terrifying mechanical device to rip out and scan his eye (again with the eyes!). He then sends a holographic projection to the hypnotized Hawkeye at a remote location so he can steal a rare mineral needed for the doomsday machine.
So much of our popular culture today relies on this premise. From R-rated horror movies to the moralizing '80s cartoons of Millennials' youth, it's become such a cliche that we take it for granted (and ignore its real-world equivalents): an evil cult of barbarians want to kill and enslave everyone else. They have no rational reason for doing so, they just have their strange gods who demand a blood sacrifice. The recent satirical horror movie The Cabin in the Woods depicted the much-maligned genre's connection to the ancient ritual of human sacrifice in an inventive way. (Ironically, Chris Hemsworth who plays Thor also stars in this one and dies for our sins again.)
Cartoons like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe feature the sorcerer Skeletor as the antagonist; likewise the Thundercats wage war against Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living.
Why do we take such satisfaction in seeing those who worship death defeated by a balance of masculine and feminine power?
10. The Avengers Re-imagines the Book of Exodus, the Foundational Story of Western Civilization. When We Strive to Master All Four Elements of our Being and Utilize Them to Annihilate Evil We Imitate God. The Four Symbols at the Heart of the Western Mystery Tradition Derive from the Four Hebrew Letters of God's Name, the Tetragrammaton, the Magic Spell Given by God to Moses, Manifested in the 10 Plagues. When We Understand God As a Verb We Free Ourselves From the Chains of Idolatry.
3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you[b] will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,[d] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.
The Divine process of time and change conquers all of nature's idols. Each of the 10 plagues represented a different polytheistic noun-god conquered by a Verb-God. We are not slaves to our natures, but called to transform ourselves and the limits placed before us.
The general understanding of mysticism is that it's more flexible than "traditional" or "orthodox" methods of practicing religion. In one sense that's true, but in another the opposite is the case: the mystic knowingly, consciously chooses sometimes to be a fundamentalist, interpreting the text in a literal fashion, and then performing the ritual his holy books dictate. If you don't genuinely believe then the magic doesn't work and the angels won't show up. So if the Bible says that God is the verb "to be" then so be it. And if the religions with such a foundation really work as advertised then we can find that out through the experimental method.
Yod he vau he om
Brothers, sisters roam!
Sunlight ride on!
Yod he vau he om
Let's ride on!
Yes I understand
Yes I know that will
Yes I am one man
Yes I understand
Yes I know that will
Yes I am one man
Yod he vau he om
Yod he vau he om
Yod he vau he om
And so I too turn to God for inspiration and guidance in this dark, confused political age. In October I published the first edition of a regularly expanding list of texts that helped to define three political-cultural ideological hybrids: 23 Books for Counterculture Conservatives, Tea Party Occultists, and Capitalist Wizards. My new, revised definitions:
Someone with both classical liberal politics and some combination of quirky artistic tastes, unusual lifestyle choices, natural diet, fashion sensibilities, sexual choices, or religious beliefs. Often this mindset comes as a result of a political shift later in life.
Archetypal example: New Media troublemaker and publisher, the late Andrew Breitbart.
Tea Party Occultist
One who identifies with both the founding fathers’ Enlightenment politics and Masonic spiritual values — and perceives their relationship. Religious Liberty requires a government based in Political Liberty and a military to fight the barbarian idolaters who would take away both. Alternative definition: one who identifies with both the “Right-Wing” Tea Party movement and the Right-Hand path of the Western Mystery Tradition, adequately defined here by Wikipedia.
Archetypal example: James Wasserman, author, book designer, and a “founding father” of the modern revivals of the mystical secret society the Ordo Templi Orientis and its religion Thelema.
One who understands the magical abilities of the free market to create value, wealth, and prosperity out of nothing but hard work, great ideas, and good luck. In free societies you really can wave your wand and turn lead into gold. All wealth begins when the entrepreneurs who will someday create it first dream and then put pen to paper to lay out their plan. Writing creates wealth. The ridiculous level of comfort in our society today — our government can afford to pay for the luxury of a cell phone for “poor” people — could happen because hundreds of years ago men wrote that the pursuit of happiness was an innate right.
Archetypal Example: Walt Disney. What began as imaginations in his head and sketches of a mouse would one day become a billion dollar multimedia empire with DisneyLand — our Mecca — as the permanent celebratory reminder of how the imagination can manifest mental and spiritual wealth into the material world.
A few weeks later, after the election's disappointment, I offered these three reasons justifying my decision to join the GOP -- something I had no intention of doing if Mitt Romney had won -- and begin calling myself an Anti-Slavery Republican:
1. Today I’m joining the Republican Party because I recognize that it’s not enough to take back the culture. We could spend four years pushing the culture and expanding the base and then it would be all for naught because incompetent GOP establishment hacks cannot run a campaign.
2. Today I’m joining the Republican Party because over the coming years as ideological factions compete for influence the antisemitic elements within the party — Ron Paul’s Paleo-Libertarian, Old Right, Anarcho Capitalist, Conspiracy Theory cult coalition — threaten to gain greater power.
3. Today I’m joining the Republican Party because as I’ve returned to Bible-based religion and a faith in God during the past year I’ve come to understand the story of the ancient Israelites rebelling against slavery and idolatry as the basis for Western Civilization, our ancestors’ flight from Europe, and the founding of this nation. The Republican Party was founded as the anti-slavery Party. It still is today.
Thus, for 2013 I will expand my project and in future articles link all four hybrids together as my own expression of Tetragrammaton. I invite others to offer their input and suggestions. We're all capable of emulating The Avengers and Exodus, of bringing together the heroism within us to defeat the evil threat from above in the world and below in our hearts.
Paraphrasing what Kathy Shaidle argued last week "Grown Men Don’t Read Comic Books: Here’s an Alternative (That Might Just Save America)," these fantasy stories only have value to the degree in which they inspire us to become the heroes of our own lives.
Related at PJ Lifestyle on The Avengers:
Andrew Klavan: The Avengers Stands Up for America