I normally hate pop culture. I think most ghosthunting shows are bunk or sensationalism. I think a lot of ghost hunting shows are a result of “I want to experience something” rather than I want to grow. Hellier started out with “what do they want to tell us” which was the only reason I stayed with it. It’s aliens and lizard people, but there’s that small bit of wanting to know what’s the overarching plan.
I just got done watching Hellier season 1 and season 2. I feel like it was good but just short of great. The first season can comfortably be skipped. If you’re just along for the ritual, really the finale of season 2 is the only bit you need. The only thing you need to know are that they’re (allegedly) ghost hunters and interested in the UFO cult. If you’re looking for X-Files evidence of little green men, it’s not here. The other frustrating thing is a lot of threads never run to completion. However this overall contributes to a sense of honesty about the show – people who end up in prison or otherwise incapacitated or removed from the story simply have to stay as they are. If season 3 is the operation of the magic and religion they’ve created for themselves, then season 1 and 2 become important as the instillation of the vocabulary. For the viewer, season 1 is the initiation. Another nod to Season 3.
I wish the show had more introspection. It seems like everyone is so caught up in the moment that the introspection – asking why – never happens. The ending of season 2 is the first time anyone offers up a “why” which I think is a critical part of the arc.
On their treatment of Crowley, I think that Crowley is Crowley and I think people tend to read too deeply into The Book of the Law and similar material as a sum. The importance of the book of the law and similar works of art is that they are art. They exist in the “information universe” as something to interpret. There is no right or wrong interpretation of art, there are simply things which speak to the beholder and things which exist silently. I’ve never been into Andy Warhol, for instance, I don’t think I would have any sort of mystical experience looking at a can of soup. You are supposed to frame your experiences against the art. The art (or rituals) itself is supposed to have hallmarks or touchstones of sorts (like NOX, or passwords and power words) which inspire emotional states the ritualist has worked to internalize through repetition. The mystic (pagan?), on the other hand, realizes these states from external stimulus and can use those as their stepping stones.
The same goes for the treatment of ritual, and I think they’ve arrived at a huge truth but backwards from how most people approach it. I think there’s a large set of people interested in authentic ritual, and I think there’s a much smaller set of people taken by ritual and that they are in this category. Ritual is largely comprised of the Hero’s Journey – the difference is that the Ritualist is the Hero. The last episode is just a goldmine here. The bones of the ritual experience are to announce that there will be a journey. After that, there is the journey, which involves leaving the comfortable “home space”. They do this literally and figuratively when they walk into the cave (the underworld) and then follow the magic recipe of making a circle and consecrating a space. Their ritual is effective because it works on the internal space and the external space. Their consecration of the tools (even the camera and laptop) announce that the tools themselves belong in this new space – it’s no different from packing a backpack and going hiking as they announce they are bringing these things on the journey. Then there is the adversity, the stressor. Again, they solidly nail the thing: The hike in introduces stress, they’re cold, they’re a bit afraid, and then finally they play the tones which introduce nausea to most of them. This is not an intellectual grappling of the mythology, this is now a visceral effect. Crowley’s “worship me with strange drugs” is exactly a nod to this as comfortable, familiar things don’t inspire the right state. Instead of drugs, however, this is music, and this is perfectly fine. It’s probably better too since music does not leave anyone unconscious on the floor for the night. Then there is the resolution and the acceptance, which manifests itself as some legitimate introspection from Tyler. When Tyler realizes the “optimal frustration”, it’s this leap from the experience of the moment into the why. Once they arrive at the why, there is acceptance, which then enables them to move further into the cave and accept this new location in their psychic landscape. The heros journey is resolved as they return home.
The hypnosis I could live without, I feel that entire thread in the second season is almost reprehensible and akin to slipping someone some hallucinogenics. A small amount of people will have the constitution to look back on the experience and learn from it. Most people will be injured by the experience. I don’t have much to say there except to say that the person seems worse off having had the experience and this is one of the unresolved threads. Similar to the woman sending the original emails to eventually ends up in prison – they don’t have the required coping mechanisms for their experience nor the mystical or Jungian psychological framework to process their experience and so they’re left destroyed on the rocks between the liminal places. I think both the ritualist and the mystic experience terror the first time there’s a concrete notion of something outside of themselves. But without processing it and continuing to put framing around it, they are left in fear.
What of the UFO cult? Why UFOs at all? Conner makes a small quip in the second season that “maybe UFOs are an experience in our mind”. That’s a really valuable observation, and it moves UFOs as “spacecraft” to UFOs as some spiritual thing. I’m not familiar with the UFO cult at all, so I found the idea novel. What if, in the age of atheism and the iphone, spiritual beings had to find a comfortable new archetype which to occupy? The Unknown, Highest God is one which cannot be put into words or archetypes or art – or knowingness – and so anything in the “information fabric” of the universe is fair game. Our underworld becomes caves rather than the center of the Earth. Demons (daemons) and landvetter become little green goblins. Angels become other beings from the sky – aliens with qabalistic names – and their chariots pulled by bulls or cats or wolves turn into silvery discs. The rules, the things that fundamentally make up the universe, all still apply to our new angel-aliens. So does the experience of art and synchronicity – the language is the same too. It’s just now placed in terms of technology. Where do they come from? Not from tall mountains or the bottom of oceans or other, difficult to access places. Walking further into the cave was a conquest of sorts – “we now belong here, we can operate in this space at will”. The same for man walking on the moon. Now our aliens and our astrology has to move further out to the stars themselves. These are the places mankind has not been, they still represent the deep woods and the caves of Pan. They live in the realm of the wild places where people are not and cannot be except as visitors or guests. To follow Crowley and Parsons here – the spacecraft of all sorts are a hymn TO PAN, a stabbing forth on an adventure into the wilds.
Finally the part I find most encouraging is the movement from terror to wonder. I think wonderment is the long-term fuel in ritual, as the terror can only last so long and doesn’t typically allow introspection. I find that folks who don’t identify as Christians (myself included) can operate the Enochian system fueled by wonder alone. Even when the crew goes down the “wrong path” of GPS coordinates and such, they do so out of Wonder and it still produces results. Even these small rituals work. I am glad they have found their Wonder (Window) and can hopefully take an active part in creating rituals in Season 3 as their “new magic”.
Speculation hat on: Wonder and Window are both related words and have their root word in vind (wind) in old german or norse. I would suspect season 3 has a wind theme, suchas windmills, since we seem to be playing a lot with the European mythology space.