Saturday, January 21, 2012

Groundhog Day (Getting Off The Grid or Karmic Wheel)

One of the major themes we have come to see here is the mystery play, the monomyth, the grid -all forms of Plato's Cave, the Matrix, Black Iron Prison, and on and on. The question then becomes, how the hell do we get unstuck from this endless loop? Well, that endless loop seems to be the Karmic Wheel - and there's only one way out of that. You have not to write or rite your way out, but to right your way out...

Since it's that time of year, let us turn to the most wonderful example of this narrative, Groundhog Day. Phil Conners finds himself stuck reliving the same day over and over. He always wakes up at 6, as 6 is the number of Carbon (the material world) and the number of Man (see also: The Prisoner). Phil is also the name of the groundhog, telling us that this is going to be a story about a confrontation with the shadow.
Though Phil and Rita’s romance is essential to the plot, it is not, however, the only gauge of progress. Throughout the movie, the groundhog seems to function as Phil’s nonhuman doppelganger. Both are weathermen and they share the same name. Phil suspects a link but wrongly concludes that as long as Phil the groundhog sees his shadow, he will be doomed to relive February 2nd. (This initiates a tragicomic incident in which he kills himself and the groundhog.) But what we eventually come to realize is that it is not Phil the groundhog’s shadow that proves crucial, it is Phil the man’s. As long as Phil wakes up in the morning and sees his shadow, there will be for him more winter, more of the same. But if he awakes without a shadow, he will be given spring, new life. (Michael P. Foley)

Groundhog Day is February 2nd or 2/2, and as we will see, it encodes the 22 Trumps of the Tarot. Our first hint at this, aside from the date, is the radio that wakes him every day with two morning djs telling us to "rise and shine Woodchuck-chuckers." (I never realized this, but a Woodchuck and a Groundhog are the same thing. Go figure.)

Anyway, the Woodchuck should remind us of something Eleleth has made clear a number of times: In the esoteric depths of Duckburg, there is such a thing as a "Junior Woodchuck Guidebook." As this book "has an answer to everything. EVERYTHING" and is "the only book which contains all the knowledge of the world", we should realize that it is the book of the Tarot.
This post is greatly inspired by Eleleth's work and his chapter in The Sync Book.

So, let us begin walking the familiar path and see if we can resolve some shadow issues...and, maybe, figure out a way home.

0. The Fool
The fool begins his quest at the edge of a cliff and here we see Phil looking as if he is about to walk off the east coast. On the card, the fool holds a staff that is meant to be a phallus with the energies of the sun behind it. Here we see Phil with a hot red line sticking out of his crotch and what appears to be a sun.

1. The Magician
The Magician is the fool at his next leg of the journey. He is calling down the power of "Air"... is Phil.

2. The High Priestess
Next we meet Rita (who will become his love and his salvation -ie ticket out of here) and bang, right away, the first shot is her standing in blue on a blue background between two pillars.

3. The Empress
Once they travel to the land where Phil is to confront his shadow, we meet another woman who is also standing between two pillars, dressed in blue & white, and she even has a moon-like globe between the pillars with her...

...while she is undoubtedly an aspect of the High Priestess, her role here is as Phil's temporary landlady, and this makes her the Empress of the shadowlands.

4. The Emperor
In classic Tarot decks the Emperor is only shown from one side. Phil steps out of the Empress' bed and breakfast and onto the street where he meets an old man (whom he will later call "Pop" many times) seen only in profile...
...he is the old man or old god that must give way for Phil's rebirth. But, we're a long way off from that. No, Phil has just started his quest. This is evidenced by looking across the street from the Emperor and getting a glimpse at Phil's quest for the Philosopher's Stone.

5. The Pope or Hierophant
Next Phil observes the head of the town give his decree while surrounded by his priests. The top hats are a nice touch.

6. The Lovers
Phil tries to leave town but gets snowed in. As Rita talks to Phil in this scene, we see the married couple hanging on the wall behind them, creating a mirror or echo effect. They are not lovers yet, but they will be. Standing next to them, is their camera man...
...making him not unlike the cupid that "shoots" the lovers.

7. The Chariot
Once Phil becomes trapped, not only in the town, but in an endless loop of a repeating day, he decides there are no consequences to his actions. He then takes the wheel of a car/chariot and drives recklessly. Note the two companions. Here his ego and carelessness are in control.

8. Justice
Driving the chariot recklessly, leads to a confrontation with "Justice"

9. The Hermit
Since every day is a new day without consequences, he begins to bed all the women in town. Now, although Phil becomes overcome by lust at this point and not a hermit in the classical sense, he is acting as the Tarot's Hermit here - he is not in control of himself or his sexual energies. His "serpent wand...developed as a poison"

10. The Wheel of Fortune
It is this lack of self-control that keeps him trapped on the Karmic Wheel.

11. Strength
It is not until he decides to add Rita to his list of conquests that he is faced with a force more powerful than even the Karmic Wheel: unrequited love and a woman actually deserving it.
When she resists him, the energy of his libido is redirected. He will now have to struggle with those energies and, at first, fails miserably.

12. & 13. The Hanged Man & Death
Here we see Phil give up on life and he tries to kill himself a number of times ... yet the meaning of the Death card is "change." Poignant then that he should attempt suicide the first time with his animal-nature along for the ride (recall that Phil is also the name of the Groundhog). Though not the same thing as a Groundhog or a Woodchuck, we should also recall Bill Murray's previous animal foe, the gopher from Caddyshack. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Lest you think the Hanged Man card was skipped, as Phil recounts to Rita his many suicide attempts, we are assured: "I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozed, HUNG, electrocuted..."

14. Temperance
Sometimes, the more things change, the more things change. Phil finally realizes that a physical death is not going to release him from The Wheel/Grid/Matrix. He needs to become a new person. We see him begin his first day of a changed heart holding the two cups of the Temperance Card...
...sculpting the angel upon it...
...and again with the two cups/bowls.

15. The Devil
Now that Phil wants to be a better person, he tries to help out the old homeless man, who you may recall as our Emperor from the beginning. But, try as he might, Phil cannot save him. Even in this time-loop, time catches up with the old man. Where Phil has found himself essentially immortal, he cannot save the past. Here, in another decent into the underworld, he must confront the dark truth of life. Even good things pass -- all the more reason to appreciate life.
It should also be noted that the meaning of the Devil card is also connected to controlling lust. Fitting then, that the next day after accepting the death of the old man (thus becoming a new man himself), he is asked by Rita to go for a coffee date. He turns her down saying he has errands to run, hence he controls his lust, because his (great) work is not done.

16. The Tower
The first of his errands is saving a young boy falling out of a tree. The ladder makes it enough of a tower, but the color of his clothes seals the deal.

17. The Star
He ends a day of working in the service of humanity and becomes a bit of a local celebrity. Not for the reason of being a TV star, as it was at the beginning of the film, but for the right reasons. Those who have redeemed themselves and transformed themselves are the ones to be elevated to "star" status, not the false idols of pop music and various talking heads.

18. The Moon
Of course, as soon as he leaves the party, having (mostly) won over his lady love, they exit into the moonlight. Here he carves her face in ice.
She is now the elevated High Priestess, as she was between the twin pillars at the beginning, is here associated with the Moon, and is now a lady of Ice (Isis).

19. & 20. The Sun & Judgement
The next morning, the alarm clock blares as the trumpet of Judgement. As we seem to have skipped the joy of The Sun card, we are left to wonder what his judgement was, but not for long...
Rita is in bed with him and silences the alarm. No need to worry, love has conquered all. Phil is free from the endless loop of the mystery play - only after learning the lessons he needed to.
All that's left is to climb over that last wall together...

21. The World
The separate male and female forces have become one. Framed in the arched wreath of the card, they climb over the fence and out into the world. It is theirs for the making.


"It used to be my life, now it's become my story"
-Van Morrison, Pay The Devil

Phil is played by "Bill" Murray (the bill of karmic debt)--there's a price on (= "PRIS ON") his head. Rita, as another emblem of Grace, purchases him for $339.88 (33/88), thus liberating him from the endlessly-spinning wheel. Phil has to get the girl.
Like grace, Rita comes to Phil as a freely given gift; like the kingdom of Heaven, she confers on him an ineffable bliss. Rita’s purchase of Phil is literally a redemption or buying back from the slave block. (As she coos to him later, “You’re mine; I own you.”) . . .

(Because the cycle is broken by the consummation of love and desire rather than the abandonment of it, the story cannot be seen as an allegory for Eastern religious thought. And because this “eternal” recurrence is terminated by love and classical virtue, it is a refutation rather than an endorsement of Nietzsche.) (Michael P. Foley)

Julius Evola, The Hermetic Tradition, p. 150

The Great Work of Pygmalion

A parallel; or, how to free Winona (Persephone)

Phil's interactions with Rita are always framed around his creation of an ice scupture. As his relationship with her improves, the sculptures become more realistic (a sort of Imitatio Mariae).

The movie never identifies who trapped Phil in this time-loop, but it does offer a few hints. Throughout the story, one of the windows in Phil's room is frosted over in such a way that it forms a pattern resembling that of an eye. Is this the proverbial Eye of Providence, the all-seeing eye, the eye of God, watching Phil's progress in the time-loop journey? The 'HOW' of how Phil became trapped is never addressed in the script, and aside from his early anxiety, he shows no curiosity as to how it all started.[11]

In the second revision of the script by Harold Ramis, (January 7, 1992), Phil's disaffected ex-lover Stephanie, reading from a book of curses and incantations, places Phil's business card, a Tarot card of the hanged man, some powder and oil in a small plate which then spontaneously bursts into flames. To complete the spell she picks up a broken watch and tosses it into the fire. The watch crystal is cracked and the hands are frozen at 5:59.

The 'WHY' of Phil's entrapment becomes clear as the movie enfolds. Phil is a lonely, self-centered, “putz” of a man. To end the absurdity of his existence, he is thrown into a situation not of his making, and can only escape by working through his demons and achieving a transformation – a rebirth – since even multiple suicide attempts cannot free him from the time-loop. Egocentric by nature (Rita calls it his defining characteristic), Phil is slow to realize this, experiencing countless Groundhog Days until he finally accepts his fate, and reaches out to Rita with sincerity. . . . (Thomas M. Ciesla)

The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.

(Are you crazy if your TV talks to you, or is it all part of the Game?)

"Well, whichever one it was really clocked you."

(This must be what Purgatory sounds like)

(Tell my wife I love her very much)

A second temporality is the biotemporal[15] 'duration without progression' experienced by the people of Punxsutawney. Apparently recruited by a higher power to assist Phil on his journey of self-realization, the entire town is trapped in a Kafkaesque world, forced to re-live the same day, experiencing a fate as absurd as Sisyphus,[16] though blissfully unaware of their circumstances. . . . (Thomas M. Ciesla)

Every story in this book actually happened. You should know more than anyone... because you're in this book.

The TV show Once Upon a Time tells a similar story.

Henry: He doesn't know.
Emma: That he's a fairy tale character.
Henry: None of them do. They don't remember who they are.

Henry (Harry again) receives a book (the Book of Archetypes, i.e. the TARO) from his teacher (the High Priestess) and learns that everyone in his town (Storybrooke) is a fictional character, caught in a never-ending time loop. Emma Swan (a bail-bondsperson, again personifying Grace) must inject herself into the loop in order to free them from the never-ending Mystery Play.

Time's frozen in Hill Valley in Back to the Future, too. (A consequence of the original Lightning Flash.)

"What in the hell is this book I keep hearing about?"

Mary Margaret (MM) is Snow White with the Book--as the occultists say: "Rota Taro Orat Tora Ator," "The Wheel of Taro[t] speaks the Law of Ator [Hathor, or Love]."

Rachel Weisz (= "White") as Snow White

The Fountain

Searching for the Crimson Hexagon

The mathematician and philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was the daughter of the mathematician Theon Alexandricus (ca. 335–405) and last librarian of the Library of Alexandria in the Museum of Alexandria. . . . Carl Sagan, in Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, gave a detailed speculative description of Hypatia's death, linking it with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

The Fountain: "She has written a book which apparently tells the story of Tomás the conquistador, but when she collapses at a museum, she becomes convinced that she won't live long enough to finish the book and asks Tommy to write the final chapter. She dies shortly thereafter and Tommy dedicates himself to curing not only her disease, but death itself."

"Aronofsky described the astronaut period as a homage to David Bowie's "Space Oddity"; the protagonist's name "Tom" originating from the Major Tom of the popular song."

Alexandria Zahra Jones, Bowie and Iman's daughter

--we have to write/right our way out of the labyrinth . . .

("We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us — the labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.")~J.C.

"We're almost there . . ."

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