Ghostwood: Angry Nature Spirits in Twin Peaks

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Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

“My people believe that the White Lodge is a place where the spirits that rule man and nature here reside.”

-Deputy Hawk

Throughout Twin Peaks the series and the film Fire Walk With Me, we repeatedly encounter the symbol of wood, and cutting through wood. The sawmill, the Log Lady, Josie being trapped in a drawer knob at the Great Northern, and, of course, the ever-present trees. Hidden in the plot is an environmental message: The preservation of Ghostwood, which is threatened by industrial development. In Fire Walk With Me, woodcutting tools like axes and chainsaws are recurring motifs. All of this suggests something: Could the Dugpas be some form of angry nature spirits, attacking the humans who threaten their home?

Twin Peaks‘ symbolism encourages us to connect spirits with nature, which is an element seen in every ancient culture’s lore. In Greek myth, Nymphs known as Dryads live in trees, and have been known to attack humans who attempt to cut down their home. In Egyptian mythology, two turquoise sycamores stand at the Eastern gate where the Sun God Ra rises each day. A key aspect of Native American cultures, whose symbols permeate Twin Peaks‘ mythos, is that every aspect of nature has a spirit, and is connected to the Earth Mother. The Cherokee tribe tells a tale of how humans and animals came to possess fire. It was granted to them by beings known as the Thunders, who sent down a bolt of lightning, which struck a hollow sycamore tree, causing it to catch on fire. From there, the animals were tasked with collecting the fire. Among the animals who attempted to retrieve it were three owls.

Entrance_daylight

This story is a fascinating read, considering how many key symbols it has in common with the mythology of Twin Peaks. As we all know, at Glastonbury Grove, the entrance to the Lodges is inside a circle of sycamore trees; very similar to the divine fire being lit inside a hollow sycamore tree. The Egyptians closely associated the sycamore with the Goddess Hathor, and it was seen as a symbol of both life and death. The tree was thought to grow in the underworld where its fruit was food for departed souls.

Some Native American tribes refer to the Sycamore Tree as “the Ghosts of the Forest,” and tell sinister tales about them, such as this example:

Probably the most notable Sycamore Indian lore stems from along the Little Kanawha River valley near Freeport. The Wyandotte’s spoke of twin Sycamore trees that stood along the old Indian trail near the Hughes River. As legends states, the great chief of the Evil Spirits became angry at two of his followers and cast them out along the water. These two evil spirits that had been cast across the water ended up colliding against two stately sycamore trees. All at once, the evilness spread into the trees causing them to become deformed with the limbs becoming grotesque. The Indians always believed these two trees were inhabited by the evil spirits and would be very careful when passing by. When settlers arrived and heard these tales, they would often laugh. That is until one of the settlers was found dead under one of the trees with the horrified look of having been scared to death frozen upon his face. Occasionally a defiant settler would scoff at the “haunted” trees and brag that he would cut them down for firewood. Usually after these threats were made…ill misfortune would occur to the unlucky boaster. One of the last known attempts to cut the evil trees down was made in 1840. This gentleman grabbed an axe to hack into one of the vexed trees and missed. The axe glanced off the tree and ended up lodged inside his leg. An artery was struck causing blood to spew at the base of the trunk where he promptly bled to death.

(Source: Fireside Folklore: Sycamore Trees

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Daphne transforms into a tree. Painting by Nicolas Poussin.

The idea of cast out evil spirits as seen in this tale is eerily similar to the backstory of BOB, and his Lucifer-like nature. It also plays along nicely with Twin Peaks‘ narrative of “evil in the woods.” But there isn’t just evil lurking in the woods: In fact, all kinds of spirits are dwelling in wood in Twin Peaks. The fact that Josie is trapped in the wood in the Great Northern Hotel, where she died, and the implication that the spirit of the Log Lady’s husband resides in the log she carries, is just another example of spirits in wood seen in the series. This idea is common in mythology, where we see cases of people dying and becoming flowers, or being transformed into trees to escape unwanted pursuit (such as in the case of Daphne).

From these myths, we can see the concurrent themes of spirits, nature, and the life and death cycle. With such evidence, it is not outrageous to believe that the forest of Twin Peaks, so aptly named the Ghostwood, would possess some manner of sentience.

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An intriguing subplot in Twin Peaks which was never properly explored was the Ghostwood Development Project, originally conceived of by Ben Horne, and later spearheaded by Catherine Martell. Had this plot continued, it might have revealed an intriguing, environmental message: Nature spirits angered by the imminent destruction of their home, as more and more incursions are made upon the woods, by the townsfolk, the sawmill, and the looming Ghostwood Development Project. This would provide greater meaning for  the latter two within the story, and elaborate on the backstory of the Dugpas.

Native American teachings emphasize the importance of nature; that plants and animals have spirits just as human beings do, and thus we should treat nature with love and respect. These spirits, if not treated respectfully, can turn on people, and cause them varying degrees of trouble. This message, when applied to Twin Peaks, provides the Dugpas with another, deeper motive, rather than just doing evil for evil’s sake, to feed off the suffering of humans. What makes a nature spirit angry? When its home is threatened. Certainly, that sawmill must cause the Lodge spirits some grievances… Perhaps they only decided to interfere with humans once their home began being trespassed upon? This would provide a compelling motivation for these supernatural villains, making them more complex and almost sympathetic.

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The portrayal of Dugpas as Nature Spirits is further supported by their shapeshifting abilities; an attribute commonly associated with nature spirits such as the Norse Vættir or the Horned God Cernunnos. Furthermore, Hawk describes the White Lodge as being occupied by spirits that control nature. This by itself is a fairly vague statement, however, if we provide this statement with the proper context, it becomes reasonable evidence for the “angry nature spirit” idea. Of course, this is referring to the White Lodge, but the Black Lodge being the “shadow-self” of the White Lodge, it is not illogical to believe that it possesses an equatable concept. From this, we can infer that the Black Lodge contains the spirits of the darker side of nature: Those associated with death and decay, which are both necessary for the existence of nature, but are cause of much grief for those living in it.

This reminds us that nature is amoral, and dualistic. Alongside great beauty is terrible ugliness. However, it is only the human mind that provides this context. Nature by itself is neither ugly nor beautiful, neither kind nor cruel. Much like entering the Lodges, what you see depends on your own mind, and your own spiritual well-being. An animal carcass is sorrow for its kin, but bounty for those who will feed on its meat. In this way, the Lodges reflect Nature in its purest form: To Annie Blackburn, the Black Lodge is a place of horrors, but to Windom Earle, it appears as a place of bountiful power, until, of course, those powers of death and decay claims him, as well.

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Whether or not you subscribe to this theory, it is undeniable that the forces of nature pose as a powerful presence in Twin Peaks, from the eerie wind blowing through the Douglas Firs, to the ominous hooting of the owls in the night. The powers of Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and Spirit are all prominent, and play a role in this story. And in the town of Twin Peaks, there may very well be a war between the forces of nature and human development.

“There is only one way to save a forest, an idea, or anything of value: and that is by refusing to stand by and watch it die. There is a law of nature which is more fundamental to life than the laws of man. And when something you care about is in danger, you must act to save it, or lose it forever.”

-Audrey Horne

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Beyond Life and Death, Part 1: Cooper’s Voyage Through the Black Lodge, and What It Means

BeyondLife&Death

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Warning: Contains massive spoilers for the final episode of Twin Peaks Season 2.

“The shadow-self of the White Lodge. The legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it ‘The Dweller on the Threshold’ … But it is said, if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul.”

-Deputy Hawk

We all know that the final episode of Twin Peaks Season 2 revolves around Agent Cooper and his exploration of the other dimension known as the Black Lodge. What you may not know, however, is what, exactly, it means. In this first segment, we will do a scene-by-scene analysis of Cooper’s pilgrimage through the Black Lodge, and attempt to shed some light on the mysteries that lie beyond life and death.

Evil Doppelgangers of Cooper and Leland.

Evil Doppelgangers of Cooper and Leland.

The journey through the Black Lodge is, ultimately, a test of one’s true character. Cooper must face his “Shadow,” or, in Lynch-Frost language, his “Doppelganger,” or “the Dweller on the Threshold.” He must confront everything he feels guilty for, particularly all the deaths he could not prevent: Laura, Maddy, Leland, and Caroline. He also encounters a specter of Annie, whose death he fears he will not be able to stop. He also faces one of (if not the) most traumatic events of his life: The murder of Caroline Earle, his illicit love, and the attempted murder of Cooper himself. This is similar to many accounts of NDE’s (Near-Death Experiences), wherein people say that they go through a “Life Review.” In this Life Review, they experience everything that has happened to them in their lives, and not only feel all their own emotions again, but feel the emotions of the people whom their actions affected, making them aware of the consequences to their choices in life. With this in mind, let us proceed with our scene-by-scene analysis of Cooper’s journey through the Black Lodge.

The entrance to the Black Lodge, surrounded by Sycamore Trees.

The entrance to the Black Lodge, surrounded by Sycamore Trees.

First, Cooper enters the Lodge, and the lights begin to flicker in a strobe effect, mirroring the black and white/dark and light pattern on the Lodge floor. Cooper stares, wide-eyed, as the Man From Another Place dances by, and seats himself in the black chair. Jimmy Scott sings the final lines of “Sycamore Trees,” then vanishes.

Let’s talk about this song for a moment. It is given prominence, as it is playing when Cooper first enters the Lodge, but what is its significance? Of course sycamores are the kind of trees that encircle the portal to the Lodges in Twin Peaks’ woods, and these trees have an intriguing symbolism in the lore of Ancient Egypt:

“In Egypt the Holy Sycamore is said to stand on the threshold of life and death, connecting the worlds.”

(Source: Ancient Wisdom Foundation: Tree Lore)

That’s a bit on the nose, I would say, and most likely why Mark Frost chose to use them. However, with David Lynch, it might be another story. Lynch has always been inspired by music, as most famously seen with Blue Velvet, and music is most likely a source of inspiration for him here, as well. There is a classic standard from the 1930s, entitled Dream a Little Dream of Me. Here are the lyrics:

Stars shining bright above you, night breezes seem to whisper, “I love you”.
Birds singing in the sycamore tree, “Dream a little dream of me”.
Say “nighty-night” and kiss me. Just hold me tight and tell me you’ll miss me.
While I’m alone and blue as can be, dream a little dream of me.

Stars fading, but I linger on, dear.
Still craving your kiss, I’m longing to linger till dawn, dear.
Just saying this: Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you.
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams whatever they be, dream a little dream of me.

Stars fading, but I linger on, dear.
Still craving your kiss, I’m longing to linger till dawn, dear.
Just saying this: Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you.
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams whatever they be, dream a little dream of me.

This classic has similar lyrics to the Lynch/Badalamenti penned song, Sycamore Trees. Notice also certain elements that coincide with imagery from Twin Peaks: Sycamore trees, dreams (The Lodge is seen in the dreams of Cooper and Laura), kisses (Laura kisses Cooper before she tells him the identity of her killer), the stars (celestial events are connected with the Lodges), and birdsong (“Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song.”) Have a listen to this version by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, because this sounds like it could be the version that inspired David Lynch to create the first scene where Laura meets Cooper in the Black Lodge:

Returning to our analysis, let’s take a moment to examine the Waiting Room decor:

There is an oddly specific lamp sitting on a small table in this room: A 1939 World’s Fair Saturn Lamp. Saturn is the Roman God of the harvest, and, as such, was considered to reign over the cycles of time as well. Time is shown to be non-linear in the Lodge, and the presence of this lamp could be referring to this fact. Perhaps a more important point, however, is the identity of Saturn as the lord of the harvest, as the Dugpas harvest pain and suffering to feed on. In mythology, Saturn was also known to have devoured his children, which is similar in the way that Leland murdered his daughter Laura and niece Maddy, and BOB devoured their pain and suffering. Also consider that the people BOB inhabited were “his children.”

Notice the Grecian-style statue in the background: It is called the Venus Pudica and I shall return to it later.

Cooper sits in a black chair, across from the Man From Another Place. The Man From Another Place tells him, “When you see me again, it won’t be me,” a foreshadow of the later appearance of the Man From Another Place’s Doppelganger. He asks, “Would you like some coffee?” (which doesn’t come right away) and informs Cooper that some of his friends are there. This indicates that Cooper will have to meet the spirits or representations of important people in his life. Cooper looks up and watches as Laura walks in and sits down in the black chair next to the Man From Another Place. She winks at Coop, and snaps her fingers, leaving her middle and index fingers pointing sharply downward. In Lynch’s later film, Inland Empire, snapping is used almost as a magical gesture by Laura Dern’s characters, and her sex worker friends. (I will cover magical gestures in a later article.) Laura then tells Cooper, “I’ll see you in 25 years,” referencing the eventuality of Cooper being trapped in the Black Lodge for 25 years. She then says “Meanwhile…” (remember this for later) and holds her hands up in a cryptic pose.

“Meanwhile…”

Meanwhile: Also seen during the waiting room sequence, and accompanied by the words “meanwhile”. The gesture is later mirrored by the “doppelganger Laura” during Cooper’s Black Lodge test, before she starts to scream hysterically. The exact meaning of the sign is controversial, but allegedly refers to a vedic mudra meaning “do not fear”. Other theories suggest that she is holding an imaginary object, like a picture, a vase, or (my interpretation) perhaps a pillow. The pose looks similar to that of a person asleep holding their pillow, but upright. It is interesting that Laura makes the sign after saying “I’ll see you in 25 years“. It has been suggested that the sign foreshadows what Cooper will experience in between, that is, being trapped inside the Red Room, or as Jeffries puts it: “[living] inside a dream“.

-From the Twin Peaks Gazette

Laura’s hand gesture is similar, though not identical, to the vedic abhaya mudra, or “Do Not Fear” hand gesture. This fits so well with the circumstances and symbols of Twin Peaks that I feel we should overlook the slight variation of the pose and consider them to have the same meaning. Laura’s spirit is appearing to Cooper to remind him not to fear the Black Lodge, as that would ensure his demise. Laura’s expression in this scene also seems to be blissful, or aloof; much like depictions of the Buddha. Notice also that this is actually Laura, not her Doppelganger.

The vedic abhaya mudra, or

The vedic abhaya mudra, or “Fear Not” pose: One palm facing forward, and the other facing upward.

Laura disappears, and a moment later, the Elderly Bellhop is sitting in her place, holding a cup of coffee. The Bellhop makes the “Indian Whooping Call.” The significance of the whooping call may be one of two things: 1) It has to do with interactions between the Dugpas and the Native Americans in the past, since, based on what Hawk tells Cooper, the Native Americans had knowledge of the Black and White Lodges, or 2) it represents the wind whistling in the trees; Considering the statement in The Missing Pieces, “We have descended from pure air,” spoken by the Man from Another Place during the meeting above the convenience store, as well as other references to air and wind in the series, such as the repeated imagery of the wind blowing through the trees, we can associate the Dugpas with this element.

The Bellhop says, “Hallelujah,” and the Man From Another Place says “Hallelujah” back. “Hallelujah” originated as a command to a congregation of people to praise the God Yahweh. Its significance here, I cannot say, except that it is yet another example of ritualistic behavior exhibited by the Dugpas (For more analysis on this subject, review my article “With This Ring, I Thee Wed”). It may, however, play into the theory that the Giant and the Man From Another Place have been wanting to put a stop to BOB’s antics, and Cooper may be the savior they’ve been waiting for: The one who can reign in the rogue agent who has the fury of his own momentum.

The Elderly Bellhop serves Cooper coffee, then turns into the Giant. The Giant sits down in the chair next to the Man From Another Place and says with a smirk, “One and the same.” This is to say, the Giant was most likely possessing the Bellhop in the same way that BOB possessed Leland, and the spirit MIKE was possessing Philip Gerard. Similar antics are most likely also in play in the cases of Mrs Tremond/Chalfont and her grandson. It is also possible that the Log Lady’s husband is similarly possessing and speaking through her log; we see these similarities again with Josie being trapped in the wood of the Great Northern Hotel. The famous line, “The owls are not what they seem,” may allude to the owls being used in this same manner, being possessed by Lodge spirits in order to watch the human world. The Giant is finally letting Cooper in on his secret.

BOB with an Owl overlaying his face, suggesting that he might be possessing the owls to disguise himself.

BOB with an Owl overlaying his face, suggesting that he might be possessing the owls to disguise himself.

The Giant then disappears, and the Man From Another Place begins rubbing his hands together. This may mean that he is satisfied with the way things are going, or it may be one of the mysterious “magical hand gestures” that I have noticed occur in many of David Lynch’s works. Cooper looks at the steaming cup of coffee left by the Elderly Bellhop. He attempts to drink the coffee, only to find it solidified. He shows it to the Man From Another Place, who looks pleased. Cooper looks at his coffee again, and tips the glass. This time the coffee spills like normal. Cooper is confused, and looks to the Man From Another Place for answers, only to have him look off in another direction, seemingly angry. Finally, Cooper tips the mug again, and it pours out slowly: It seems to have transformed into something like tar (perhaps oil?). The Man From Another Place looks unhappy, and, looking off at some unseen thing or person, says, “Wow, Bob, wow,” and “Fire walk with me.”

There is an interesting theory about this scene, and it goes as follows: The coffee is a sort of fortune telling device that the Dugpas are using to predict how Cooper will fare in his test. At first it is solid and unmoving, and the Man From Another Place looks satisfied. This means that Cooper, at first, will be steadfast and brave, and potentially defeat BOB. Then, it takes a darker turn, when it transmutes into the motor oil, suggesting the presence of BOB. Then, finally, the coffee runs, predicting that, ultimately, when Cooper faces BOB and his evil Doppelganger, he will run. The Man From Another Place then looks angrily at perhaps an invisible BOB and says to him, “Wow, Bob, wow,” as in, “Impressive, BOB: Looks like you win, again.” Other theories related to this scene are that the changes in the coffee represent the manipulation of time — slowing down, or freezing entirely, and that the hand rubbing motion made by the Man From Another Place represents the conjuring of heat or fire by use of friction. Another interesting thing of note: Both the words “Bob” and “Wow” are the same backwards and forwards. This could suggest the mutability of time, and linear events.

Nobody likes stiff coffee.

That coffee might be a little stale…

The idea of the coffee being an important fortune telling device is not as far-fetched as you might initially think, especially considering David Lynch’s (and Cooper’s) obvious adoration of the beverage. It actually reminds me quite a bit of the concept of reading tea leaves.

When the Man From Another Place says “Fire walk with me,” it is almost as if he is resigned, as if to say that BOB is on his way, and the ritual is about to begin, whether Cooper is destined to persevere, or not.

Flames explode in the darkness, announcing the approach of BOB and the Doppelgangers. The light begins to flicker. This strobe effect, I believe, is a variation on the Black Lodge carpet – the black-and-white chevron pattern. Hence, I believe they both represent the duality of light and dark within everyone, as well as referencing the Black and White Lodges. We also hear Laura’s dying scream in the distance, as if it is “moving through time” to reach Agent Cooper. Cooper gets up and walks out of the room. The Man From Another Place has disappeared. Cooper enters the hallway and walks toward the Venus DeMilo statue, parts the curtains next to it, and walks into another room, identical to the first.

Let me break here and talk about the two statues in the Lodge. There are a few points to make. First let’s note that these are both depictions of the Goddess Venus, and thus are another planetary reference (along with Saturn) within the Black Lodge. Another thing to note is that this is another example of Doppelgangers in Twin Peaks.

The first is the Venus DeMilo, which has a couple of connections to Lynch: Gordon Cole refers to it as “the babe with no arms” when comparing Shelly to the statue. Incidentally, shortly after Twin Peaks ended, David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer, put out the movie Boxing Helena, which was built entirely around the symbolic connotations of the Venus DeMilo. The film also starred Sherilyn Fenn, a.k.a. Audrey Horne, as the Venus figure.

The Venus DeMilo as seen in the Black Lodge.

The Venus DeMilo as seen in the Black Lodge.

The other is Venus Pudica (meaning “modest Venus”). This represents the “Virgin” archetype, the dual half of the more sensuous Venus DeMilo.

The Venus Pudica seen in the background of the Black Lodge.

The Venus Pudica seen in the background of the Black Lodge.

It’s probably my imagination playing tricks on me, but from a certain angle, it almost looks as if she looks like she is pointing with her right hand into the empty space of the room, perhaps at the same unseen thing that the Man From Another Place is gazing at when he says “Wow, Bob, wow.” Or, as seen above, she may be pointing to Laura, who is, in a way, the “Venus” of the Black Lodge.

These statues are another reference to duality, being two different depictions of the same Goddess. On the one hand, Venus brings loving couples together, but on the other hand, the word “venereal” (as in “venereal disease”) is derived from her name. Through Venus, we can be shown both the light and dark sides of love and lust. Being a Goddess of sex, Venus could be thought to represent Laura and her own struggles with the contrasting personality traits, particularly her sexual relationships. Another way of looking at it is that the DeMilo represents Laura, and the Pudica represents Maddy, her more timid lookalike cousin.

Venus Pudica could also be related to the story of Eve and the apple in the garden on Eden, as she is covering her nudity as if in shame. This could tie back to those feelings of disgust and shame that Laura felt when she prostituted herself and did drugs. In The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, Laura wonders if it was her discovery of her own sexuality that brought BOB to her, as a form of punishment.

Returning to the narrative… Cooper enters another room, which looks just like the first, except it is devoid of life. He leaves, goes back down the hallway, and enters what may be the first room, again. The Man From Another Place is there. He points toward Cooper (or in the direction he should be going) and says “Wrong way.” Cooper turns, goes back down the hall, and enters what should be the room he left earlier. It looks the same, only empty of any occupants, but we soon hear the Man From Another Place laughing maniacally. He appears out of nowhere, and dances in reverse to his chair and sits down. This is not the normal Man From Another Place, this is his Doppelganger, and this is what the Man From Another Place means when he tells Cooper, “When you see me again, it won’t be me.” The Doppelganger says, “Another friend.” This relates to the Man From Another Place’s earlier statement to Cooper, “Some of your friends are here.” The Doppelganger then laughs and hides behind the chair he was sitting in, right as Maddy walks in.

Maddy tilts her head coquettishly and says, “I’m Maddy. Watch out for my cousin.” Of course it refers to Laura, but not the Laura we’re thinking of: Her evil Doppelganger. I think this indicates that this Maddy is also a Doppelganger, and not her actual spirit. However, as we do not get a close look at her eyes, we cannot tell for sure where she is or isn’t. Cooper turns away and Maddy vanishes.

Cooper returns to the other room. This time, the room appears completely devoid of any people, spirits, or furniture. Then Cooper sees something out of the corner of his eye and turns his head to the left, where he sees the Man From Another Place’s Doppelganger, who says, “Doppelganger.” This can be construed as a warning, or an announcement: We are here, and we’re coming for you.

Doppelganger.

Doppelganger.

Cooper then looks to the right, where he see Laura’s Doppelganger (this is the cousin Doppelganger Maddy was warning Cooper about), holding the “Meanwhile…” pose. Only now, instead of an expression of aloofness or bliss, she looks angry.Her hands shake with rage, and her lips curl into a sneer as she says, “Meanwhile…,” then begins to scream. Of course this is Laura’s death scream. She backs up and steps behind a new chair, one that is particularly unique: It is red, with two conjoined seats, both facing opposite directions. This of course is another representation of duality.

A unique chair in the Black Lodge.

A unique chair in the Black Lodge.

She then runs up and screams in Cooper’s face, as if mocking him with her death, as he will never be able to save her. Cooper, frightened, turns and runs. Note that after Cooper leaves, we see a shot of Doppelganger Laura’s screaming face. This particular shot is not a continuous one, using the strobe light; it is actually two different shots of Laura’s face, interchanging. Another example of duality.

Cooper enters the other room, but begins to stagger. Confused, he looks down to see blood running from his torso. This is because the Doppelgangers have succeeded in frightening him, and now he is slowly being drained by them. Of course, this wound also mirrors the one dealt to him by Windom Earle in Pittsburgh, when Caroline Earle was murdered. Cooper looks at the trail of blood he has left, and follows it back out into the hallway. Judging by the trail, he has been bleeding since he left the room with Laura’s Doppelganger: Notice that that was also the first instance he showed obvious fear.

Cooper peers into the room, clutching his injury, and sees himself, lying wounded on the floor, holding the murdered Caroline Earle. When she sits up, however, we see that she is actually Annie in Caroline’s dress.

Annie replacing Caroline in her murder scene.

Annie replacing Caroline in her murder scene.

Annie looks confused, scared, and seems to be unable to speak. The strobe light begins again. The next few seconds are actually a continuous shot of the Lodge’s chevron floor lit by the strobe light. This shot fades into a view of the red curtains as Cooper walks through the hallway again. I believe this indicates a time lapse: He’s been wandering around for a while. Things get a bit more confusing here. Cooper looks into the room and sees Annie, wearing her black dress from earlier, standing there. She walks up to him and says, “Dale. I saw the face of the man who killed me.” Of course, this is referring to Windom Earle. Cooper does not understand this. She tells him, “It was my husband.” Again, this means Windom, but it could be a foreshadow to something we may see in the new season. I’ll get back to that in the second part of this article. Everything here has a dual meaning: Some of it just relates to Caroline’s past, but it is also playing on Cooper’s anxieties over Annie’s potential death.

Confused, Cooper says Annie’s name again, only to have her respond with, “Who’s Annie? It’s me.” She then turns into Caroline, who continues to say, “It’s me.” However, notice the appearance of Caroline’s eyes: They are the same as the Doppelgangers of Laura, Maddy, Leland, and the Man From Another Place. To me, this suggests that Caroline herself is not trapped in the Black Lodge. We are only seeing a sort of “puppet” of her, created by the Black Lodge to test Cooper.

Caroline Earle in the Black Lodge, with eyes similar to those of a Doppelganger.

Caroline Earle in the Black Lodge, with the eyes of a Doppelganger.

She then turns back into Annie, but wearing Caroline’s dress. She touches Cooper’s face lovingly and says, “You must be mistaken. I’m alive.” This is actually Annie responding to Cooper earlier, when he asked, “The face of the man who killed you?” Suddenly Annie’s hand is gone from Cooper’s face, and she has turned into angry Doppelganger Laura, who continues to scream, before stopping abruptly and standing, staring angrily at Cooper. Cooper then flinches as she turns into Windom Earle.

Now, it must be noted that this scene has played a large part in shaping people’s interpretation of Cooper’s journey through the Black Lodge. Many people take this scene as an indication that the interchanging Annie, Caroline and Laura were all just Windom Earle using the power of the Black Lodge to shape-shift, and scare the wits out of Cooper. Some even believe that all the spirits that we see in the Lodge are Windom in disguise. I don’t believe this for several reasons. First of all, there are too many bits of hidden wisdom spoken for me for think that Windom could pull off imitating the Lodge spirits all this time. Windom, no matter how evil he may be, is just an arrogant human who went insane. He’s too weak to control to Black Lodge’s magic to this extent. Also, Windom has not made any sacrifice yet, thus has harvested no garmonbozia, and so has most likely not received any power from the Lodge. And finally, everything thus far has gone according to Hawk’s descriptions of the Black Lodge, and what one must go through within. Therefore, it is my opinion that Windom had nothing to do with any of the events, between him taking Annie and entering the Lodge, and his reappearance in front of Cooper. I even believe that Windom was not aware of Cooper’s presence until that moment, and has no idea that the Black Lodge is also playing tricks.

Windom addresses Cooper, and then Annie, wearing her own black dress, materializes. She is breathing heavily, as suggested by her movements. She looks from Cooper to Windom, then disappears again. This implies to me that Windom is holding her captive, in a sort of psychic cell, and he is only showing her to Cooper to prove that he has her. She is his bargaining chip.

In the corner of this room, we in fact see the table from Fire Walk With Me (The one in the Lodge, when the Man From Another Place shows Cooper the ring). This table has golden wings holding it up, perhaps connecting it to the Angels of the White Lodge. However, because the Owl Ring is seen on it in Fire Walk With Me, it is also connected to the sacrificial rituals the Dugpas of the Black Lodge perform.

Windom laughs maniacally and says, “If you give me your soul, I’ll let Annie live.” Of course Cooper consents unflinchingly. Here’s where things start to get even more confusing.

Windom stabs Cooper, right where he stabbed him in Pittsburgh, and Cooper falls. However, the wound is bloodless: It is actually a psychic attack, and Windom is taking Cooper’s soul. Then everything explodes into fire, announcing the arrival of BOB. The scene where Windom stabs Cooper is played in reverse, suggesting that it has been undone (this would mean Cooper got his soul back). The strobe begins again, and Windom cries out for help as BOB gets a hold of him and begins torturing him. BOB says “Be quiet,” which mutes Windom’s screams. BOB then tells Cooper, “You go. He’s wrong. He can’t ask for your soul. I will take his.” This indicates again to me how powerless Windom really is.

BOB takes Windom Earle's soul.

BOB takes Windom Earle’s soul.

Windom begins to scream again, and we see fire go into his head, seemingly at BOB’s beckoning. Windom then goes still and quiet. BOB has presumably taken his soul. Cooper walks slowly out of the room. As he does, however, another figure comes running up behind the red curtains. It is Cooper’s Doppelganger. Even if BOB told him to go, it isn’t that simple: There is still another trial that Cooper must pass. The Doppelganger laughs with BOB, who still has Windom.

(This is the last we see of Windom Earle.)

Leland's Doppelganger tells Cooper,

Leland’s Doppelganger tells Cooper, “I did not kill anyone.”

Back in the hall, Cooper is about to enter another room when Leland Palmer’s Doppelganger steps out, laughing, from an area where there should be nothing. His hair is its original brown shade. Doppelganger Leland tells Cooper “I did not kill anybody,” which is a reference to Leland’s role as a pawn in BOB’s murders, and Cooper’s guilt that he could not save Leland. He steps toward Cooper, seemingly trying to intimidate him, but Cooper avoids him and parts to curtains to enter the other room. However, he steals one last look backward at Leland’s Doppelganger, and sees his own emerge from the other end of the hall. This is a continuation of his mistake of not facing his Doppelganger, but instead continuing to search for Annie. Cooper steps into the other room, and the Doppelganger enters the hallway. He and Leland’s Doppelganger smile and laugh.

The appearance of Leland’s Doppelganger is significant because of what is about to happen to Cooper: He is about to be a vessel for BOB. The only other vessel for BOB that we have met is Leland, hence his Doppelganger’s appearance at the end of the Black Lodge sequence.

Now, instead of going back and forth down the hallway, Cooper is running consistently through the rooms of the Lodge, most of which are empty. Doppelganger Cooper laughs as he pursues Cooper, and as he finally catches his quarry, the strobe light once again begins to flash, and we see BOB’s face smiling into the camera. The scene in the Lodge fades into the scene of the entrance – red curtains hanging in the circle of Sycamore trees. There is a spotlight on the curtains, and it become brighter right as two bodies suddenly materialize outside…

Cooper made the fatal mistake when he ran from his Doppelganger: He had already shown fear, but I believe that, if he had ultimately faced his Doppelganger, the “Dweller on the Threshold,” he could had succeeded. The fact that he ran at that crucial moment is what spelled demise for Cooper, and why he ended up trapped there for 25 years, while his Doppelganger and BOB run amok.

So that is the sum of what, exactly, happened to Cooper inside the Lodge. So what does that mean for the future of Agent Cooper and Twin Peaks? We will explore that in the second part of this article; Beyond Life and Death, Part 2: The Rebirth of Agent Cooper.

To Be continued.

To be continued.

“With This Ring, I Thee Wed”

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks

The circle of Sycamore Trees at Glastonbury Grove, where the entrance to the Lodges is located.

The circle of Sycamore Trees at Glastonbury Grove, where the entrance to the Lodges is located.

“BOB and I, when we were killing together, it was this, this perfect relationship. Appetite, satisfaction; a golden circle.” -The One-Armed Man

A circle of trees… A golden ring… A spinning ceiling fan… A gem with a mysterious insignia… A phone with a little ring… A circle of burning candles… A beautiful girl’s ring… A cycle of appetite and satisfaction.

There are many rings, and references to rings, in Twin Peaks; The ring with the Owl Cave insignia on it (which for the sake of brevity we will call the “Owl Ring”); Cooper’s ring, which the Giant takes and returns to him once the killer’s identity is revealed; Audrey’s query to Cooper, “Do you like my ring?” But what does all that mean? Some of them are arguably less significant than others, but, according to my theory, any small reference to “rings” or “circles” is there to reinforce the importance of the more overt ring symbols. In this article, we will focus on the meaning behind these symbols, and what is perhaps the true meaning of the Owl Ring.

The Little Man From Another Place holding the Owl Ring.

The Little Man From Another Place holding the Owl Ring.

We already know that the Owl Ring is associated with BOB, MIKE and their victims: Both Teresa Banks and Laura Palmer were wearing it before they died, and Annie Blackburn returned from the Black Lodge with it on her finger. Agent Chester Desmond, in his investigation into Teresa’s murder, discovers the Owl Ring, and afterwards, disappears. In Agent Philip Jeffries’ flashback, we see the Little Man from Another Place put the Owl Ring on the green Formica table and say: “With this ring, I thee wed,” after which Mrs. Tremond’s Grandson/the Chalfont boy points at BOB and says “Fell a victim,” which may be an order, or a statement. I believe it was an order.

The Chalfont boy telling BOB to "fell a victim."

The Chalfont boy telling BOB to “fell a victim.”

Mrs. Tremond expresses her dislike of creamed corn to Donna.

Mrs. Tremond expresses her dislike of creamed corn to Donna.

It is my theory that the Chalfonts are the Black Lodge Dopplegangers of the Tremonds: The Chalfonts are working only to aid in the collection of more Garmonbozia, manipulating Laura and making it easier for her to slip into BOB’s clutches (I believe the painting they gave her is designed as a kind of trap), while the Tremonds give Donna clues about the identity of Laura’s killer. In Jeffries’ vision, we are seeing the Chalfont boy participating in the Black Lodge ritual and commanding BOB to go fetch them more Garmonbozia. We know that circles are often used in real-life rituals, and we even see MIKE ritualistically chanting “Fire Walk With Me” as he lights a circle of twelve candle, mimicking the circle of twelve sycamore trees surrounding the entrance to the Lodge in Glastonbury Grove; an entrance which can only be opened by a ritualistic act of either Love or Fear. It seems to me that the multiple mentions of “rings” and “circles” implies a cyclical nature to these ritualistic killings: In these almost ritualistic murders, there is always a Killer (BOB inside of a Vessel) and a Victim, to whom he is wedded. As long as Laura did not put on the ring, she would not be the Victim: She would be the Vessel for the Killer. However, once she put the Owl Ring on, she was ritualistically wed to Killer BOB, and thus had to be murdered, in order to faithfully complete the ritual. It appears that there is some law that the denizens of the Black Lodge must follow, binding them to the rules of this feeding ritual. Once the Owl Ring has been placed upon the chosen Victim’s finger, the Killer must execute them. Agent Chet Desmond finds the Owl Ring in a mound of dirt underneath the Chalfont’s trailer, so presumably another ritual was taking place, had taken place, or was about to take place there. This may have been where Teresa’s sacrifice was made, as she was killed very nearby in her trailer, or it may have been set in order to sacrifice Desmond himself. But if Desmond was not sacrificed, then what happened to him? Why did he disappear after finding the Owl Ring? Judging by what we already know about the Black Lodge, he most likely slipped into that world, and became trapped there, as Agent Cooper eventually would. This is, perhaps, also part of the ritual cycle: A detective investigates the murder of a woman, and the detective goes missing. Theoretical examples of this would be Teresa Banks/Chet Desmond and Sam Stanley, Laura Palmer/Dale Cooper, and Judy(?)/Philip Jeffries.

MIKE performs the Fire Walk With Me Ritual.

MIKE performs the Fire Walk With Me Ritual.

Taking this theory further, it is a possibility that Audrey’s reference to her ring may have been an early foreshadow to the purpose of the Owl Ring: To indicate who BOB’s next victim would be. This was meant, according to my theory, to reference early on the fact that Audrey would eventually be BOB’s intended victim, after he had possessed Evil Cooper (This is before the character of Annie was made up to take Audrey’s place).

The question is where MIKE fits into this ritual. He refers to BOB as his partner, and says that they killed together, which implies that they both played the role of Killer. Another possibility is that BOB was more of a servant to MIKE; he executed the Victim on behalf of MIKE, and delivered the Garmonbozia to him. In Cooper’s dream-vision, MIKE portrays himself almost as having been enslaved to the killing impulse until he cut his left arm off. The left arm may be a significant choice here, as it references not only the “Left-Hand” or “Sinister” Path, but also the ring finger, which in American tradition is on the left hand. In the final episode, as the path to the Black Lodge is opening up, Cooper, Pete, and a woman at the Double R experience tremors in their hands as a sort of presentiment. Major Briggs also, arguably, experiences this hand tremor when he is picked up after having been injected with truth serum: Both hands (and indeed his whole body) are shaking, but, when he is in the sheriff’s department, he is holding up his left hand, with his wedding ring on it, against his face, which may be reinforcing the significance of the ring finger in Twin Peaks’ symbolism. (Interesting note: Cooper, Pete and the woman at the diner all experience tremors in their right hands.) We have seen that MIKE wore Owl Ring on his right pinky finger while showing it to Laura: Is it possible that, before he cut off his left arm, he wore the evil ring on his own left hand during these times? And is it possible that wearing the Owl Ring is what allowed MIKE to possess Philip Gerard in the first place? We can only speculate.

MIKE wearing the Owl Ring.

MIKE wearing the Owl Ring

Two more important elements to note are the cycle of the planets and time loops. The cycle of the planets is of great significance to the Lodges and its residence, as it is by watching for certain alignments that one may know when the portal to the Lodges will open. We may also speculate that it was important to them because certain rituals could or should only be performed during certain alignments (think of the Pagan Sabbats, for example, which are celebrations taking place during certain planetary alignments). Time loops are also a noticeable aspect not only of Twin Peaks, but in many of David Lynch’s films. Fire Walk With Me is notoriously both a prequel and a sequel to the series, as events that occur both before and after the events of the series take place in a very disorienting manner. How is Annie Blackburn seen in Laura’s bed, speaking words she says after the events of the series finale? How is Dale Cooper already in the Lodge, speaking to Laura in her dream? How is Cooper an old man in the Lodge, while Laura is still a young woman? The answer is: Because time is not linear in the Lodges, as it is in our world. When it comes to the Black Lodge, time twists and turns, and when it interacts with this world, it may be that time loops and warps are a symptom of its interferences. This may be how Cooper and Annie are able to speak to Laura across time, and Cooper is seen as old, while Laura appears to still be young (although there may be other explanations for these instances). Hence the “ring” symbolism could also refer to the all-important cycle of the planets, as well as the bizarre time loops cause by the Black Lodge.

The full Owl Cave symbol.

The full Owl Cave symbol.

A final question: What is the significance of the symbol emblazoned on the ring, and why is it the same as the petroglyphs in Owl Cave? Well, it seems that the Black Lodge’s occupants have been crossing into this world for some time: They seem to have had encounters with the Native Americans, working their way into their folklore, which Hawk recounts to Agent Cooper. In the early days of their journeys into this world, the Dugpas may have had encounters with early humans, who then drew what they had seen onto the walls of what would become Owl Cave. Another possibility is that an early incarnation of the Bookhouse Boys is responsible for the drawings and strange mechanisms in Owl Cave. It is implied that the Bookhouse Boys have known about something deep in the woods for some time now, though they may never have been entirely sure what it was. They may have learned about the Black Lodge and its occupants, and hidden the information in Owl Cave, so that future initiates could find it if need be, and so the information could not be misused by those with an evil heart, such as Windom Earle. Whatever the reason was, it is most probable that the symbol has been used by the Dugpas for ritualistic purposes for centuries. It looks like a stylized owl, and though that interpretation is accurate, we all know that the owls are not what they seem, and therefore, neither is the symbol. I believe that the symbol can also be interpreted thusly: The “wings” are the Twin Peaks which give the town its name, and the diamond shape between them is the portal to the Lodges.

Another important thing of note: Tibetan Buddhism uses the idea of karma, which, among other things, plays a large role in the death experience, and controls what happens to a person when they die. If you are a good person, who chose wisely, acted kindly, and chose the path of love and light, then you would ascend to a higher level when you died. If, however, you lived as a cruel, ignorant or violent person, you could get caught in a karmic circle of pain and suffering, and be forced to reincarnate over and over again, until you evolve spiritually and become a better person. By choosing not to face his shadow self, and instead running from him in fear, Cooper was choosing the lower path; the path of fear and ignorance. Thus, instead of finding his way safely through the Black Lodge, he was trapped in a loop, unable to escape.

In summary: The Black Lodge denizens participate in an ancient ritual; a cycle of blood sacrifices. As part of the ritual, they created a special ring (the Owl Ring) to mark their chosen sacrifices. These sacrifices result in the production of Garmonbozia (pain and suffering), which the Dugpas feed upon. The various ring and circle symbols scattered throughout Twin Peaks reinforce the significance of this object to the central storyline. By taking Cooper’s ring, the Giant was not only giving him a sign that he’d finally found the killer, but was also giving him a visually key with which he could decipher the rest of the mystery. Too bad he didn’t get the chance before the series was cancelled. But with Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks in 2016, there is a chance the Giant’s clue may not go entirely unnoticed.