The last post finished with Aleister Crowley, this one starts with him and his connection to Twin Peaks. When I read somewhere on the Internet that in Crowley`s novel Moonchild there also appear two lodges – one good, the other evil – I was all ears. The good lodge is led by Simon Iff, a powerful mystic and magician (who features as an occult detective in Crowley`s short stories!). Cyril Grey, an accomplice of Simon Iff, seduces the young Lisa la Giuffria and introduces her into his circle of white magicians. His ultimate goal: He wants to impregnate Lisa with the soul of an ethereal, “perfect” being which should save the world.
While Moonchild deals with familiar and traditional magical themes – reincarnation, homunculi, black magic – there are also certain parallels to the more unconventional magical occurrences in Twin Peaks. In Moonchild`s so-called “White Lodge”, a villa in Italy, there is also a Venus statue which seems to be the counterpart to the Lynchian one in the Black Lodge: it is made of black marble, the figure looks back and down over its shoulder. (There is also a certain unity of colours in Crowley`s lodges which reminds us of the Twin Peaks lodges.) In Moonchild`s White Lodge, Lisa takes part in a ritual, which transforms her into Iliel, the “vessel” for the soon-to-be-born Moonchild.
The whole ritual and the visions that follow seem Lynchian at its best: Lisa/Iliel watches some small, alien-like, one-eyed creatures run towards her, and, a moment later, a mysterious egg (!) lies between her feet. Next she is standing in an alley of some city, and sees a wretched old man sitting in front of a house (who reminds me of Twin Peaks` Carl in this moment). He gives her a stone tablet with inscriptions, and the scene changes again. She finds herself in the arms of her former lover, now enemy, then somewhere in a ball-room, centuries in the past (maybe a former version of the Bang-Bang-Bar), then finally back at the terrace of the White Lodge. F** Hell, this is a real Lynchian psychedelic trip and it was written as soon as 1929!
It also reminds me of that scene with the Giant and Lady Dido in episode 8, where for the first time we get to see what presumably is the “real” White Lodge. The Giant spits out rays of light, which (trans)form into a glooming ball. The Lady then sends the ball, with Laura Palmer`s face in it, to earth. Is Laura the “Moonchild”, the ethereal, godlike being which shall defeat all evil? Is Lisa la Giuffria/Iliel the inspiration for Sarah Palmer, who will presumably give birth to the Moonchild? (Also note a later scene in Moonchild, where Lisa/Iliel receives the Moonchild`s soul from heaven – via rays of light.)
In another one of Lisas/Iliels dreams, an “Old Lady” appears, who bears distinctive similarities to the Log Lady of the Twin Peaks universe. She is always sitting at the side of a path leading to two towers (!). Lisa`/Iliel`s conversations with her go like this:
“May I help you?” said Iliel, “in whatever you are doing?”
The Old Lady sighed very bitterly, and said that she was trying to make a fire.
“But you haven’t got any sticks.”
“We never use sticks to make a fire — in this country.”
The last three words were in sing-song.
“Then what do you burn?”
Anything round, and anything red, and anything ripe — in this country.”
“Then how do you get fire?”
“There is no fire — in this country.”
“But you said you were making a fire!”
“Trying to make a fire, my dear; we are always trying, and never succeeding — in this country.”
“And how long have you been trying?”
“There is no time — in this country.”
The wood sticks, the fire, the absence of time – ring any bells? (Except in this case, she is short of the material she wants to make a fire with – a Non-Log Lady, so-to-speak.) Like the Log Lady in Twin Peaks, the “Old Lady” seems to be Moonchild`s Oracle of Delphi – a stoic old woman who seems in constant meditation and whose riddles turn out to be helpful in the end. (Fire, in the Twin Peaks context, is always a symbol of an evocation/manifestation of evil – so is the absence of fire in Moonchild a sign that the evil forces are still contained?)
As to the existing evil forces in Moonchild, the “White Lodge” is constantly threatened by a circle of black sorcerers, the “Black Lodge”. The headquarters of the “Black Lodge” are situated beneath a brothel in Paris (we are reminded of One Eyed Jack`s) which is owned by two sinister fellows named Douglas and Balloch. (Oh, and, their symbol is a seal ring, by the way). Any “visitor” would first have to go upstairs into one of the bedrooms and then pull a lever, which causes the floor to descend to a hidden corridor which leads to the cellar (a cunning mechanism which reminds me of certain gimmicks in Twin Peaks – remember the lever Windham Earle pulled in the Owl Cave which indirectly led him to the Black Lodge). Cruelty against women is, as in Twin Peaks, daily fare in Moonchild`s Black Lodge; especially Douglas “feeds” off his wife`s pain, forcing her into prostitution and certain black rituals. (And we are reminded that throughout centuries the underground culture of sorcerers in England has always been a white-male-dominated world, much like Lynch`s America of today.) By the end of the novel, Douglas tries to conjure a female ghost who should kill the soon-to-be-born Moonchild of Lisa/Iliel. Fortunately, the conjuration fails.
In the last part, the Old Lady finally leads Lisa/Iliel to a place where she can enter the “other world”. It’s called “Stonehenge” – the equivalent to Twin Peaks`”Glastonbury Grove”. Lisa/Iliel has to climb into a cleft between rocks. Therein, the Old Lady opens a window and pushes her outside. Like Good Cooper in the second/third (?) episode, she falls through space – and lands in an alternate universe where she must make her way to a castle on an islet (I`m not quite sure if it`s the White Lodge or some other castle.) The castle ground is covered with oil – like the oil around the “Glastonbury grove” with the sycamore trees. In the end, she is forced to confront her own fears, to choose between good and evil.
Did Lynch and Frost actually read Aleister Crowley`s Moonchild or did they just unconsciously choose magical symbols which are part of a large and well-known pool of metaphors anyway (paradise vs. hell, hidden chambers, wise men, magic rings)? Or are we going to see more black-and-white-scenes in future episodes which show us Sarah Palmer dealing with her difficult, life-changing task? Are we going to see her version of the story, visions both horrifying and strangely beautiful? (I surely hope so.) In any case, I`m going to watch out for more clues which could point to a distinctive Crowleyan influence.
P.S. Next I`m probably going to check out William S. Burrough`s novel Cities of Red Night or the writings of Dion Fortune… see here