Kurt Russell as Ego, the Localized Demiurgis

Kurt Russell as Ego, the Localized Demiurgis

Sure enough, as soon as I finish complaining about the recent run of Disney Corp’s Marvel film catalog in comparison to the DC mythos, director James Gunn rolls out a bit of Jack Kirby mysticism in Disney’s most recent film.  Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, at its most esoteric level, depicts memes of the occult, the trinity, the demi-god, and my personal favorite, the demiurgis.

Warning: spoilers are most certainly ahead.

What is the Demiurgis?

First and foremost, let’s define this term once more.

Demiurge, or Demiurgus, literally means “public worker,” and the word was applied to a craftsman plying his craft for the public’s benefit.  Later, this word was set aside to designate the “Great Artificer or Fabricator, the Architect of the universe.”

Per Platonism, the Demiurgus stands above the lesser gods of a mythical and natural disposition.  The Demiurgus is “the one God and the father of work, which has been made by him, and will not be destroyed as long as he so wills it.”  This deity can only work with what exists before it; ideas, archetypes, and constructions do not change and the Demiurgus is dependent upon these “eternal” forms for constructive purposes.  This deity does not represent “one who produces out of nothing,” but rather “one who fashions, shapes, and models.”

A Jack Kirby cosmic form

In the majority of Gnostic systems of existence, matter and spirit are the two highest principles of the cosmos.  The two principles must be separate; therefore there must be a supreme Deity who exists in spirit, and there must also be a subordinate “Deity” or creator that is responsible for the fabrication of the material world.  Above this deity there exists a “higher principle above him,” or the supreme Deity.

Later systems of thought speculated that the “God” of the Old Testament was indeed the Demiurge.  Further analysis has speculated that the Demiurge is the most powerful of all the archons, or a group of control parameters/emanations that keep the universe in order, keep matter in place, and define time.

The Demiurgus, ultimately, is thought to be responsible for preventing our species from achieving “gnosis,” or superior or celestial knowledge, by imprisoning our spirit with our material bodies.  It is the Demiurge, or Demiurgus, that is a simple discharge that is several degrees removed from the Godhead.  It is the archon that holds dominion over our material, physical reality.

What is a Celestial?

The Celestial is a Jack Kirby creation that first appeared in the Eternals #2 of July 1976.  Kirby the mystic once again created a very “highly charged esoteric archetype” to be used for the generation and continuation of Marvel’s comic book mythology.  Kirby envisioned the Celestials as a race of trans-humanistic gods, who over time blended the technological with the primal and mythic.  Other things of interest regarding the Celestial mythology (not all were originated by Kirby):

  • They have bred with the human species to create two types of “demi-gods”
    • The Eternals : a near immortal god-like species of human beings
    • The Deviants : a less powerful god-like species of human beings
  • They have altered the human genetic code for over “a million years”
    • No apparent explanation exists regarding this motive
  • Their birth is a “grand and horrible cosmic event” and requires the energy and matter of a galaxy’s death
    • No apparent explanation exists regarding their means of reproduction
  • Their origin is unconfirmed by the Marvel mythos
    • They are a race of engineers and scientists who find purpose in their existence by manipulating various life forms in the cosmos
  • The source of their power is unknown

Who Is Ego?

“The Colonizers of Rigel feared nothing – except what lay at the heart of a region of space that they called the Black Galaxy.  A forbidding area in which the space seemed to take on fluid characteristics and was filled with bizarre, organic-seeming formations, the Black Galaxy was identified as a “bioverse” – a spaced occupied by an alien, living system.  Venturing to the (Black Galaxy’s) center, Thor and the Recorder came face to continent sized face with Ego the Living Planet.” (i)

Ego (the Living Planet) is yet another Jack Kirby creation, and made its initial appearance in the Thor 132 and 133 story arc.  Per the Wiki-machine, the idea of a live planet made sense to Kirby as :

I began to experiment …and that’s how Ego came about. … A planet that was alive; a planet that was intelligent. That was nothing new either because there had been other stories [about] live planets but that’s not acceptable. … [Y]ou would say, ‘Yeah, that’s wild,’ but how do you relate to it? Why is it alive? So I felt somewhere out in the universe, the universe … becomes denser and turns liquid — and that in this liquid, there was a giant multiple virus, and if [it] remained isolated for millions and millions of years, it would … begin to evolve by itself and it would begin to think. By the time we reached it, it might be quite superior to us — and that was Ego.

Of course, we first encountered Kirby’s living planet idea here, but it is Wikipedia, after all.

Ego, from a Jungian perspective, is the conscious self, the “IT,” the central and experience filtering complex of consciousness.  It is “a complex datum of experience which is constituted first of all by your general awareness of your body, of your existence, and secondly by your awareness data.” (ii)  Ego is the “I;” it is the active, willing, and doing part of the self.

What I enjoyed about Gunn’s treatment was his synthesis of two Kirby archetypes and his use of this synthesis in the story.  Ego’s character combines the characteristics of both the Celestial and the living planet.  The character is very old, very ancient, very “I,” and possesses the ability to fabricate geometric, material forms through assistance and manipulation of his “light.”

I guess when in doubt, always return to Kirby’s work (especially when developing a sequel).

Who is Meredith Quill?

Meredith is a human female local to Missouri, USA.  She met the “human avatar” model of Ego during the 1980’s on Earth. Later, she and Ego consummated their love and she gave birth to their child, Peter Quinn.

Meredith is the possible animus / Virgin Mary /Mother Mary archetype of the story.  As the movie plays out, we learn that Ego was able to seduce and impregnate many different female life forms throughout its existence, with the goal of generating a powerful, semi-equivalent demi-god offspring.  All had failed to this point, yet the character of Meredith was gifted enough to conceive Peter, a human male who shares the power of containing the “light of Ego.”  Peter is the “immaculate conception,” as it were, and his mother, Meredith, the good, positive female magician archetype is responsible for this conception.

Meredith would later go on to pass away from a brain tumor that her beloved Ego imparted upon her.

And Who is Peter Quill?

The child of Ego the Celestial and Meredith Quill the human, Peter Quill is “currently” the outlaw/superhero known as Star-Lord in the Disney motion picture mythos.  He is a possible “demi-god;” the offspring of human (female) and deity (Celestial).

Per the cinematic story, Ego becomes aware of the possibility of his son through learned knowledge that Peter was able to hold an Infinity Stone (see GOTG Volume 1).

The New Marvel Trinity

“My attempt to make the most sacred of all dogmatic symbols, the Trinity, an object of psychological study is an undertaking of whose audacity I am very well aware.” C. Jung

Returning to film’s narrative, we bear witness to the union of the Celestial, Ego, and the human, Meredith Quinn, which generates the hybrid Celestial/human Peter Quinn.  This is possibly representative of what Carl Jung discusses in his “A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity.”

Jung states that the trinity differs from his definition of the triad.  The triad is simply three unique elements or entities that are in close relationship to one another.  The trinity, however, “is the joining together of threes as one and, at the same time, an expansion of the one into three.”  Influenced by Timaeus (who, by the way, described the Demiurgus from the Platonic tradition), Jung thought the trinity was a relationship of Oneness to Threeness by way of the equilateral triangle.

How so? Briefly, we see that the Trinity is a movement from One, the Other, and the Third.  The Other is opposed to One, as One “seeks to hold to its one-and-alone existence.”  The One can not exist without the Other, yet the Other pushes away from the One in order for it too to exist.  Only through this tension and combination of opposites will a release occur, out of which comes the Third.”  (paraphrasing article iii).

From this perspective, in Guardians of the Galaxy, we see the Trinity of the One (Celestial non-human Ego) with the Other (human Meredith Quill) combine to form the Third (Peter Quill) to satisfy the tension of the opposites and the great cosmological equation.  The human being is the true, pure opposite of Deity; therein lies the ability of Ego and Meredith to successfully reproduce the Third, or produce the release of the combination of opposites.  I think the framework of the film’s Trinity is important as it suggests that man holds a special place in the greater Universe.  When the two reconcile to relieve cosmic tension, the Third, or “Illumined” human is generated to bring balance back to the One and the Other.

Side note : of course, once knowledge of the One intentionally murdering the Other is realized by the Third,  we see the Third push back with a severe and swift vengeance. The equation, by default, is no longer in balance.

Final Speculative Thoughts

I’ve only seen the film once, and in fairness, I did have two pints of my favorite local Pale Ale beforehand.  I thought the film was going to be “so-so;” perhaps due to me having some unfavorable bias towards Disney of late, I didn’t expect much in respect to the sequel.  Yet when the idea of Kurt Russell as a Jack Kirby invention known as a Celestial came on to the screen, my ears and eyes immediately came to life.

I can’t help it, they are so good!

Per Jung, the myth of the Trinity is very old, and for the most part, long forgotten by today’s population hungry for mythological consumption.  However, applying Jung’s framework of analysis to the film’s use of the Trinity mythology hints at topics seen again and again: the combination of “true” opposites that need one another to coexist.  The One can not exist without the Other; the Other can not exist unless it is repulsed by the One; and the Third can not exist unless there is reconciliation and discharge between the One and the Other.

Trinity archetype aside, I found the inclusion of a demiurigic-style entity in the film fascinating. This is a sentient intelligence who:

  • Has no idea where it came from
  • Existed for millions of year in a state of innocence
  • At some point in time became self-aware
  • Learned over time to manipulate “light” into matter
  • Fabricated, or artificed, a material world through its self-taught/self-learned “engineering/building” skills
  • Cross-bred with lesser life forms in an attempt to expand its dominion and its ability to manipulate matter in the universe
  • Used a gross pollination agent, or physical manifestation of its light, in vegetation form, in an attempt to expand its dominion and its ability to manipulate matter in the universe

The offspring of cross breeding in effect generated the energy required for the localized Demiurge to expand its zone of spiritual control; or, the Demiurge employed sex magic to extend its control of the spiritual plane.  The planting of vegetation, or vegetation magic, generated the means for the Demiurge to it expand its zone of control of the material realm.

This entity thought it had become the ultimate union of matter, spirit, and the Supreme God, and as such, thought it was immortal and superior to all other life and matter within the greater Universe.  It thought it to was the true Great Architect of the Universe, the great transhumanistic success story.

Yet this being, this creature of illumination, this intelligent being who perfected spirit, matter, science, and creation was ultimately confined to a unique local spatial area of the grander universe.  The intelligence was unable to ‘create’ or hold ownership of matter and spirit in all of the Cosmos; instead, Ego, the mighty Celestial of unknown origin, resorted to cheap parlour tricks of planting his seed on other worlds through vegetation and sexual magic in the hopes extending its parameters of future control.  And, in the end, Ego was finite and held to the unyielding law of the Universe: nothing can escape mortality on a long enough time scale.

I find the implications of this staggering.  We see Frazier-esque magic rituals; Kubrick-esque Star-children; the idea of an all powerful, yet localized cosmic architect; and glimpses into a larger mystery cult knowledge base that Jack Kirby may (or may not) have been privy to.  As always, I have no idea what the filmmakers know or intended to share with the adoring public at large, but I thought the ideas that could be derived from the movie plot to be highly esoteric and enjoyable.

So if you have a chance, watch the film and drop a line.  And should the director/writer James Gunn happens to read this, rest assured, a) your film was great and b) this author will be enjoying a cold Moon Man beverage this week while watching our mutual second favorite Disney Demiurge: Chris Harrison.

Up next : finally, a breakdown on the mysticism of DC’s Rebirth #1.

References

Ferdinand Christian. The Church History Of The First Three Centuries. 1st ed. London: Williams and Norgate, 1878. Print.(Baur)

‘http://www.cbr.com/celestials-15-facts-that-make-marvels-space-gods-scary-af/

i. Kirby, Jack, and John Morrow. The Collected Jack Kirby Collector. 1st ed. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Pub., 2004. Print.

ii. Jung CG. Analytical psychology: its theory and practice. London: : Ark Paperbacks; 1990.

iii.  Revisiting Jung’s ‘‘A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity’’: Some Implications for Psychoanalysis and Religion” Amy Bentley Lamborn

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