Through the Darkness of Future’s Past: The Magician and the Devilish One

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Written for Twin Peaks Freaks by Eden H. Roquelaire.

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for Twin Peaks the series and Fire Walk With Me.

“Through the darkness of future’s past, the magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds… Fire Walk With Me.”

Undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating arcs of Twin Peaks was the mystery of MIKE and the One-Armed Man, Philip Gerard. Unfortunately, Gerard disappears from the series after Season 2, episode 9 (“Arbitrary Law”), and his reappearance in the film Fire Walk with Me brings up more mysteries than answers.

After watching Fire Walk With Me, I think I was left with the most questions about MIKE and BOB. There were a lot of things bugging me. What were the origins of MIKE? Was he an ordinary man once, or a spirit like BOB? Was the Man from Another Place truly helping Cooper, if he was indeed the “evil” left arm? Why, indeed, was the Man From Another Place a representation of MIKE’s arm? Who is MIKE, anyway, and whose side is he on?

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Angels and Demons:

My first theory involving MIKE also involves the Angel seen at the end of Fire Walk With Me. It is an important point that angels seem to exist in the Twin Peaks universe, or else some being is using the image of an angel to appear to humans. The being that Laura sees is her angel, the one she was hoping for, and, in her perception, the angel came for her in the end. Most likely, this was an emissary from the White Lodge, taking the appearance of an angel in order to appear to Laura when it came to guide her to the next plain of existence.

So, if angels exist (to an extent) in the Twin Peaks universe, is it possible that they appear anywhere else in the series?

When I first saw Cooper’s dream sequence, where MIKE is introduced, my mind immediately drew an association between him and the Archangel Michael, based mostly just on their shared name, and their connections with Christianity. As I delved deeper, I found that this association actually makes even more sense than I initially thought, and helps to explain his relationship with BOB. Correlations can be found between MIKE and BOB, and the Archangel Michael and the Dragon of Revelations.

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MIKE is the Archangel Michael, adversary of the Devil/Dragon/Lucifer, who will strike him down during the Apocalypse. In Muslim lore, the Archangel Michael is believed to have wings the color of emerald, paralleling the stone in Owl Ring and the color of the infamous Formica table. Michael is also said to have been given dominion over the forces of nature, such as wind, snow, rain, and lightning — wind being a recurring element in David Lynch’s movies, and lightning tying in with the symbolism of the Dugpas. Michael is also an angel strongly associated with repentance, and MIKE is first presented to us as a repentant killer, desperate to atone for his crimes after seeing “the face of God.” Michael’s planetary affiliation is Mercury, the planet of alchemy and ritual magic. In Roman mythology, Mercury is the God of Magicians, which connects to the Magician who “longs to see.”

BOB is Lucifer/the Devil/the Dragon, who, with “the fury of his own momentum,” breaks away from the other Dugpas (similar to how Lucifer leaves Heaven, wanting to run his own Kingdom). Both are strongly associated with fire, death, and “the evil that men do.” When we first see BOB in Cooper’s dream, he is in the basement. This can have psychological connotations, such as representing evil’s residency in the depths of the subconscious, but it could also connect to the Devil’s place in subterranean Hell. In the battle that takes place in Revelations, Lucifer, in the form of a Dragon, battles the Archangel Michael, and is finally defeated. This conflict between the two mirrors MIKE’s need to defeat BOB.

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Another intriguing clue into the nature of this relationship is that MIKE refers to BOB as his “familiar.” This implies that, though he is “similar” to BOB, they are not equal, as BOB would seem to be his servant. A familiar, in Black Magic folklore, is a demon that takes animal form to serve a witch or warlock. This would imply that BOB was once servile to MIKE, and perhaps the other Lodge spirits, until he gained “the fury of his own momentum” and broke away.

Piecing these clues together begins to weave a convincing narrative: MIKE and BOB are spirits, possessing human forms, who work together, killing and sowing misery in order to collect garmonbozia for themselves and the other Lodge spirits. However, BOB becomes greedy, and breaks away from the rest of the spirits, stealing all the garmonbozia for himself. At some point, MIKE has a divine revelation, repents, and removes his own left arm, which severs his connection with BOB. (Perhaps this betrayal is what spurred BOB on to leave in the first place?) As part of his penance, MIKE attempts to hunt BOB down and stop him. However, here is where we reach one of many contradictions in MIKE’s character: If he is now seeking penance, and no longer wants to kill with BOB, why does he want his share of the garmonbozia, or pain and sorrow?

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It could be that, in spite of what he may wish to be, MIKE is still a Lodge spirit, and thus needs to consume garmonbozia in order to survive. Another theory is that he is still being manipulated by his evil left arm (the Man from Another Place), who is seeking his portion of pain and sorrow. The third, and, in my opinion, most depressing theory, is that MIKE is lying when he pretends to be an agent of good. He has not repented, he is still a creature of the Black Lodge in body, mind and spirit, still happy to subsist on the pain and sorrow of others. He only works with Cooper in order to find BOB faster, and claim his share.

The Magician Who Saw the Face of God:

Another point of interest: In the dream where Laura meets Cooper in the Black Lodge, she believes that he is MIKE, and, in an early draft of the script, Cooper reaffirms this, saying “Laura and I had the same dream, but in her dream, I was MIKE.” Considering the recurrence of chronological anomalies in Twin Peaks, could it be possible… that Cooper is MIKE?

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“Bob and I … when we were killing together … there
was a perfect relationship; appetite and satisfaction. A
golden circle.”

It has been noted by fans that we never see MIKE’s true face in the same way that we see BOB’s. Some have theorized that the true face of MIKE is the Man from Another Place, but I would argue that he is “the Arm,” as he says, and therefore can’t be the face as well. So… is it possible that Agent Cooper, in the future, becomes MIKE? In my article predicting the potential future of Cooper, I propose that he is destined to become a shaman, or magician, in order to defeat BOB. Following this logic, he could become the same magician from MIKE’s poem, the one who can look back “through the darkness of future’s past,” as he seems to do in Fire Walk with Me when he warns Laura not to take the ring. Cooper, like MIKE, most likely ends up killing together with BOB after his return from the Black Lodge, perhaps until he (or rather, the Good Dale) experiences the visitation from the Angel alongside Laura (this could represent “the face of God”). At this point, speculation becomes more tricky. Cooper taking off the left arm could mean a few different things, and perhaps isn’t meant to be taken literally. He may have a confrontation with the Man from Another Place (who states, “I am the arm”), which leads him to freeing himself of BOB’s influence. It may very well be that Cooper becomes trapped in a time loop, his evil Doppelganger freely killing with BOB, while the Good Dale, trapped in the Lodge, becomes a powerful magician, and uses his powers to communicate back through time to give himself vital clues about BOB’s identity, and try to save Laura Palmer.

However, this would mean that his goal is potentially impossible, as it would cause a paradox if he were to succeed in saving Laura. This could explain some of MIKE’s seemingly erratic behavior, as he is repeatedly going back to this point through time, and trying different methods, in desperation, to save Laura and help his past self stop BOB. Perhaps this is the reason for MIKE’s reference to his relationship with BOB being “a golden circle”: A direct reference to Cooper’s ring, which he gave the giant. Perhaps MIKE is telling him, “I know something about you that no one else would know.”

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“Who do you think that is there?”

It could be that, once Cooper ascends to being a shaman, he becomes an agent of the White Lodge, in other words, an angel. And an Archangel at that: He is to be their warrior, who will cast down the Devilish One. MIKE could be an honorific title bestowed upon him as an Archangel, or it could be a code name so that he can remain unrecognized by his younger self.

The Left-Hand Path:

On the general symbolism of hands and arms in the Twin Peaks mythos, there are many points to consider, some less obvious than others. There are numerous references to rings, which, of course, are worn on hands, but also have their own significance within the series. One ring, the “Owl Ring,” directly connects to the significance of arms. Before Teresa Banks died, her arm was said to have gone completely numb. It is implicated that there is a connection between this phenomena and the wearing of the Owl Ring, as Laura’s arm goes numb when she awakes with the Owl Ring in her hand. When the doorway to the Lodges are about to open, hands of the townsfolk are seen trembling violently, apparently in reaction to the celestial and/or interdimensional event. One of the earliest and most memorable references to arms is Laura’s statement, “Sometimes my arms bend back,” referring to the fact that her arms were bound behind her the night she was murdered. This has no tie-in with the mythos of Twin Peaks, but it serves as an essential clue in Cooper’s investigation, and reinforces the recurring motif of hands and arms. During the Lodge sequences, Laura is seen to make a few cryptic hand gestures. The so-called “Meanwhile” pose, which is theorized to be a version of a Tibetan Buddhist hand sign, meaning “Fear not,” and is a warning to Agent Cooper not to feel fear in the Lodge. What Laura could also be saying is that, in the meanwhile until she and Cooper meet again, he will be achieving this state of zen fearlessness. The nose tap, which probably refers either to Laura’s cocaine use, or the disclosure of a secret, or both. A nose tap often is used to indicate some kind of secret communication is taking place, and that is just what is happening when Laura makes the gesture to Cooper. Finally, there is the “snapping and pointing” gesture, which has not yet been given a satisfactory translation. It may be connected to a similar gesture Laura makes while having sex with a client in “the Pink Room,” and thus could have some sexual meaning.

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MIKE having removed his left arm is very telling, as following “the Left Hand Path” is a term for being a follower of the Devil. By cutting off his left arm, he is cutting off his connection to “the devilish one.” However, nearly all other symbolism involving hands involves the right hand. This could simply be because the majority of people, including the actors in these scenes, are right-handed, and tended naturally to use their right hand. However, I would imagine that if David Lynch wanted it to be the left hand, he would specify it, and it would have shown up as such. The use of the right hand rather than the left hand, if one wanted to ascribe meaning to it, could signify a person’s alignment to the steps of the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path, which are Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

Hands are a significant symbol in Twin Peaks, because they represent a individual’s actions; i.e., the good or evil that one does, which is such an integral point in the narrative.

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It is my conclusion, based on this evidence, that there must be a final confrontation between MIKE and BOB, the Archangel and the Dragon. And there will be, however, not in the form that we might expect, especially with BOB’s actor, Frank Silva, having sadly passed away in 1995. How this resolution takes place is anyone’s guess, but it would be fitting if it took the form of Agent Cooper confronting his own inner Devil and casting it out. An important recurring symbol in the series is duality, and the need for balance. It is only fitting that the series should end with Agent Cooper restoring balance within his own soul, as well as the town of Twin Peaks.

“Even the ones who laugh are sometimes caught without an answer: these creatures who introduce themselves but we swear we have met them somewhere before. Yes, look in the mirror. What do you see? Is it a dream, or a nightmare? Are we being introduced against our will? Are they mirrors? I can see the smoke. I can smell the fire. The battle is drawing nigh.”

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Beyond Life and Death, Part 2: The Return of Agent Cooper

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Warning: Contains spoilers for Twin Peaks Season 2.

Note: This is the second part of a two-part article. To read the first part, click here.

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Without doubt, the most anticipated moment of the new season of Twin Peaks is the return of Agent Cooper. Speculations abound as to how this might go. Is Cooper still possessed by BOB? Has he killed anyone? Or was BOB cast out of him already? If the Good Dale is still in the Black Lodge, what has he been doing all this time? Is Laura still there with him? Is he still being pursued by the terrifying Doppelgangers? In this article, we will theorize how Agent Cooper might return to the series.

So we’ve journeyed through the Black Lodge, and analyzed the many symbols that confronted Agent Cooper during his pilgrimage to rescue Annie Blackburn. We have some idea of the meanings behind these symbols, but what does all this mean for the future of the Good Dale? What has happened to our hero?

As Hawk said in his description of the Black Lodge, any being passing through the Lodge will have their soul “utterly annihilated” if they do not demonstrate perfect courage. When Cooper is forced to confront all of his demons — his fears, his regrets, his desires — he keeps a cool facade, until the very end, when, shaken by his confrontation with Windom Earle, the man who tried to murder him, and whose wife he loved, Cooper sees the ultimate embodiment of all his weaknesses, and the evil that might dwell in his own heart: His Doppelganger. Instead of facing his Doppelganger, Cooper turns and runs from him.

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It is because he ran that he was overtaken. But in what way was Cooper’s soul “utterly annihilated”? Wouldn’t that mean his soul would cease to exist? Not necessarily. Legends are often mistranslated and/or misinterpreted, and this seems to be such a case. In reality, it seems that the soul is simply removed, rather than actually destroyed, leaving the vessel empty and able to be possessed by evil spirits. Based on the dream shared by Cooper and Laura, we know that Cooper’s spirit still exists in the Lodge 25 years later, and thus we know his spirit was, thankfully, not annihilated, but still exists somehow.

So why say that the spirit would be “utterly annihilated,” giving the impression that it would no longer exist at all? One could say that Hawk was just misinformed, and that is a possibility, but all the rest of Hawk’s information seems accurate. So why would this be wrong? Perhaps it is a case of mistranslation: “Utterly annihilated” could just mean it will be overwhelmed, defeated, and captured by the dark spirits within the Black Lodge. However this leads us to another question: What exactly is BOB doing to the souls of those he possesses?

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Knowing Twin Peaks‘s penchant for references to Tibetan Buddhism, I think this ties in with reincarnation. According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the afterlife must be strictly prepared for during one’s lifetime. If an individual fails to live by Right Thought, Right Action, Right Words, and goes into the afterlife unprepared, they will re-enter the cycle of reincarnation instead of ascending to a higher spiritual plain. The Tibetan Book of the Dead tells us that, as a spirit is leaving its body and heading into the afterlife, it will meet a series of entities in pairs of two, who will test the spirit. These beings are almost exact mirror images of each other, and laden with symbolism. One represents letting go of the physical plain, and the other represents material temptation. Choosing the correct one will lead your spirit towards a higher plain, while choosing the wrong one will lead you back into the circle of reincarnation.

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I believe that the Dugpas are purposely manipulating people to keep them in the cycle of reincarnation. Keeping them in their physical bodies, unable to reach the higher plain, keeps them in the cycle of pain and suffering (garmonbozia), which in turn feeds the Dugpas and continues their equivocal cycle of appetite and satisfaction (the “golden ring” described by MIKE). The Doppelgangers that appear in the Lodge are similar to the entities that appear to the spirit in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In fact, I believe, in Cooper’s experience, that Laura is a prime example of this: Good Laura represents letting go and ascending to a higher plain, as she has actually transcended to the White Lodge (more on that in a bit), while her Doppelganger represents Cooper’s guilt, and his inability to let go of the past.

[For more analysis on the symbolism of rings in Twin Peaks, click here.]

So any body possessed by BOB is being made to suffer, and being fed off of. Perhaps being “utterly annihilated” takes time, as the soul is slowly feasted upon by the Dugpas. Note that Leland seems to not have become possessed by BOB by entering the Black Lodge and being overtaken, and he still had moments of being able to control his own body. However, Cooper failed his test in the Black Lodge, and so had his spirit “utterly annihilated”; in other words, his spirit is no longer able to occupy his body AT ALL. Instead, it is trapped in the Black Lodge to be food for the Dugpas, until it is completely devoured.

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Now, here’s a tricky part: What exactly does it mean when Laura says, “Meanwhile…”? I’ve got a theory, but it gets a little complicated, so hang in there.

I believe it is another allusion to the non-linear procession of time in the Lodge, and is a hint at the importance of its existence. The non-linear time flow can explain many puzzling elements of Twin Peaks. Think about what Laura’s Doppelganger is really saying to Cooper in the Lodge: She says, “Meanwhile…” and starts screaming. But that’s not just any scream; that’s her scream from the night she was killed in the train car. So what does that mean?

The Good Laura will see him again in 25 years. Meanwhile, she is still going to be murdered in the train car.

This event both has happened already, and hasn’t happened yet. Remember that the “25 years Later” scene is a dream that Cooper and Laura shared at different times. This dream is technically taking place in three different times: When Laura had the dream before her murder, when Cooper had the dream after the murder, and 25 years later, when it “actually” happens.

It is key to remember that the Black Lodge does not run by time as we perceive it. Because of that, time travel (for lack of a better term) is technically possible. This power could be used for both good and evil. If a powerful psychic on the side of Good, like, say, Agent Cooper, was able to harness this power, imagine the heroism they could achieve. Maybe saving a certain  character from a bank vault explosion? Or sending messages back through time to warn Laura about the ring? Who knows. We are getting into an area of total speculation, but there are some amazing possibilities when we consider the warping of time in the Lodge.

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So, what does this mean for Cooper in the aftermath of Season 2?

There are many signs throughout the series and in the film that suggest that Cooper will become a shaman. Keep in mind that, from the beginning of the series, we are shown that Cooper is special. He is highly intuitive, borderline psychic perhaps, describing himself as “a powerful sender” of mental images. So we know that Cooper has some mystic abilities already. But there seems to be evidence that these powers became stronger in the course of his hero’s journey.

In the episode “Traces to Nowhere,” we see Cooper fashioning a wooden whistle. Later, he stands in the doorway of his hotel room and blows on the whistle before smiling in satisfaction and entering the room. The subtext is that this whistle is meant to scare away any evil spirits that might be dwelling in the room. This is an old superstition:

“…the older belief that the friendly wind would blow if an evil spirit had not stifled it, and that whistling would scare the evil spirit and the kindly breeze would be able to blow.”

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Cooper is satisfied with his whistle.

Cooper is satisfied with his whistle.

So we can see Coop, in a small way, being connected to purification rituals. But big deal, right? That doesn’t make him a shaman. However, let’s move to our next example before you form your opinion:

In the episode “Arbitrary Law,” when it becomes apparent that Leland is dying, Cooper turns Leland onto his left side, and speaks to him, guiding him through his death experience, so that he passes into the afterlife safely. This is related to a Tibetan Buddhist death rite, which requires a shaman to accompany an individual during their time of death. The shaman is to turn the dying individual onto their side and talk them through the experience to help guide them successfully into the afterlife, and out of the cycle of reincarnation. This is exactly what Cooper does once he realizes that Leland is dying. Notice how he even makes a point to turn Leland onto his side.

Agent Cooper talks Leland through his death experience.

Agent Cooper talks Leland through his death experience.

Finally, let’s look at the ending scene of Fire Walk With Me, where we have the rare experience of seeing Laura Palmer and Agent Cooper, the two heroes of Twin Peaks, together. It was recently rumored to be of particular significance as some sort of foreshadow to what would happen in season 3. Whether this rumor is true or not, I believe it gives us a clue about Agent Cooper’s character development. Let’s re-watch this beautiful scene:

It looks like Cooper is doing the same thing for Laura as he did for Leland. If you subscribe to the popular theory that this scene depicts Laura ascending to the White Lodge, then think about what Cooper’s presence during this scene means. He has a hand place comfortingly on her back as the angel appears. Perhaps he brought the angel to her? But how did Cooper acquire a skill like that?

We can theorize that Cooper and Laura have already been in the Black Lodge for a while by this scene, since Laura appears resigned to being stuck in the Black Lodge, whereas Cooper seems to be endowed with renewed hope of escape; very different from how he appeared when he was talking to the Man from Another Place. This idea would give Cooper time to investigate the Black Lodge, perhaps to realize why he failed his test, and to learn and grow from his near-fatal mistake. Perhaps he found a way of communicating with the angels of the White Lodge. Cooper is no fool, and as powerful as the Black Lodge is, I believe there’s no way it could continue to outsmart him; especially since he is known to already be gifted with some form of psychic abilities.

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But if Cooper can aid people in escaping the Black Lodge, why has he himself not left yet?

The first possible answer to this is that Cooper has only found one way out, and that is into the White Lodge. Perhaps one cannot enter the White Lodge unless they are truly dead. In this case, it’s not the exit Coop is looking for. Another possibility is that he actually did go with Laura into the White Lodge, and met with the good spirits that live there. Perhaps he even ran into Major Briggs while he was there, and learned how to escape the Black Lodge for good? Either way, what this scene implies is that Cooper has grown and become more powerful while he has been trapped. I believe that, the next time we see Agent Cooper, he will be a fully-fledged shaman, capable of using his powers to overcome the forces of the Black Lodge.

So, in sum, what does all this mean for the fate of Agent Cooper, both in body and soul?

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It means that, in the last 25 years, Agent Cooper has most likely sharpened his psychic abilities, and is now an Agent of the White Lodge. 25 years is a long time, and it’s plenty of time for an inquisitive and determined soul to evolve and become stronger than ever. If this is true, Cooper could be as powerful (or more powerful) than BOB, especially if we consider the non-linear procession of time in the Black Lodge, 25 years to us may be an eternity to someone trapped in the Black Lodge. And I doubt Cooper would just be sitting idly by in all this time.

Until next time…

“All things considered, being shot is not as bad as I always thought it might be. As long as you can keep the fear from your mind. But I guess you can say that about almost anything in life. It’s not so bad as long as you can keep the fear from your mind.”

-Agent Dale B. Cooper

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

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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.

Sacred Clown Time

Written by Eden H Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers for Twin Peaks within the article.

"Trickster Parade" by Kelly Moore

“Trickster Parade” by Kelly Moore

The words of the Heyoka are like a lightning bolt which can pierce the heart, for the Heyoka’s words can have a “sharp edge.”

– Wambli Sina Win

Every Twin Peaks fan is familiar with the Native American imagery that appears throughout the series, but it turns out that the tribal influence may go deeper than just inspiring the look of the show: In fact, it may be the source for the central story-line.

The Black Lodge and the Dugpas.

Sacred Clowns are often depicted as painted in black and white.

Sacred Clowns are often depicted as painted in black and white, like the carpet on the floor of the Black Lodge.

There are many correlations between the Dugpas and the beings known as the Heyoka, or Sacred Clowns of Native American culture, that suggest they may have been the source of inspiration for the Black Lodge’s denizens. Some connections include their backwards-speak and use of cryptic words:

Heyókȟa are thought of as being backwards-forwards, upside-down, or contrary in nature. It was manifest by doing things backwards or unconventionally — riding a horse backwards, wearing clothes inside-out, or speaking in a backwards language. For example, if food were scarce, a heyókȟa would sit around and complain about how full he was; during a baking hot heat wave a heyókȟa would shiver with cold and put on gloves and cover himself with a thick blanket.

(Source: Wikipedia – Heyoka)

The Heyoka never tell you something straight out; they make you use your own mental power to learn the meaning behind the words. They use a lack of logic to mock the conventions of our world, and challenge the minds of their disciples. It is interesting to note that the main source of our information on the Dugpas and the Black Lodge is Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill, a Native American of an unspecified tribe (it is implied that he may be Blackfoot). This again suggests that they have an origin in Native American lore. Plus, we have seen the Man From Another Place make what is referred to as an “Indian whooping call.” Also take a look at this image of a Heyoka Medicine Man:

“Stanley Good Voice Elk, a heyoka, burns sage to ritually purify his surroundings. In Oglala spirituality, heyokas are recipients of sacred visions who employ clownish speech and behavior to provoke spiritual awareness and “keep balance,” says Good Voice Elk. Through his mask, he channels the power of an inherited spirit, which transforms him into Spider Respects Nothing.” —National Geographic

“Stanley Good Voice Elk, a heyoka, burns sage to ritually purify his surroundings. In Oglala spirituality, heyokas are recipients of sacred visions who employ clownish speech and behavior to provoke spiritual awareness and “keep balance,” says Good Voice Elk. Through his mask, he channels the power of an inherited spirit, which transforms him into Spider Respects Nothing.” —National Geographic

Does it look familiar?

The Jumping Man, seen in Fire Walk With Me.

The Jumping Man, seen in Fire Walk With Me.

That is the so-called “Jumping Man,” who appears in Fire Walk With Me, most notably dancing at the meeting above the convenience store. He carries a stick, perhaps a dowsing rod, and hops around. He is speculated to be a magician or priest. Perhaps he is a Heyoka?

Various Native American tribes have versions of these beings: the Cherokee have the Boogers, the Zuni have the Ne’wekwe, and the Lakota call them the Heyoka.

“The Spirit of perversity and chaos, considered both as a divine entity in its own right, and the effects of that spirit upon humans. The entity is double-faced, showing joy on one side and grief on the other. He is said to be the source of meteors, and in other ways exhibits most of the characteristic heyoka attributes. Mortals who dream of Wakinyan often become heyokas.”

(Source: Obsidian’s Lair “A Lakota Pantheon“)

A person who becomes a Heyoka is one who is inspired by a visit from a Wakinyan or Thunderbird, a powerful spiritual being who is always cloaked in storm clouds. The Thunderbird usually appears to them in a dream, which is considered to be a communication from the Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit (or Great Mystery) of the Lakota.

The Sacred Clowns are known to do bizarre things that are contrary to our logic, including speak and walking backwards, saying the opposite of what they mean, wearing cold weather clothes in hot climates, laughing when sad, and crying when happy. They are said to be able to interpret dreams. They also have a connection to celestial bodies and electricity, as they are associated with lightning, and the legendary Thunderbird.

“The heyoka were different in three primary ways from the other sorts of clowns. They were truly unpredictable, and could do the unexpected or tasteless even during the most solemn of occasions. Moreso than other clowns, they really seemed to be insane. Also, they were thought to be more inspired by trans-human supernatural forces (as individuals driven by spirits rather than group conventions), and to have a closer link to wakan or power than other clowns. Not surprisingly, these unique differences were seen as the result of their having visions of Thunderbird, a unique and transforming experience.”

Steve Mizrach, Thunderbird and Trickster

The rites of sacred clowning are also practiced in Tibetan Buddhism, which, as we know, has a powerful influence on Coop. A clown in Tibetan Buddhism would be to do absurd things – wear shoes on one’s head, call a stone soft, wear rags to meet a prince and expensive clothes to meet a pauper. The method behind this is to teach disciples of Buddhism to think outside the bonds of the reality we are familiar with, to consider less orthodox explanations, and encourage a sense of wonder and curiosity. When one assumes they know everything there is to know, then the mind is not open to learn.

The Laughing Buddha

The Laughing Buddha

“The clown does not fit in, indeed refuses to fit into, the patterns and constructions of the conventional world, representing some other order of being. The clown gets everything wrong: dress, decorum, logic, speech, gestures, and movements; yet in this wrongness is a rightness of another sort. Out of this foolishness rises another level of wisdom.”

(Source: The Laughing Buddha: Zen and the Comic Spirit by Conrad Hyers

In its own way, David Lynch’s work itself does this, by way of his absurdist humor, which sometimes occurs at the most inappropriate of times. It makes us laugh amidst the horror and tragedy going on around us. This act of unsettling our minds and giving rise to doubt causes us to reconsider what we believe is happening, and what it means. In a sense, it forces us to search for new meaning in the familiar.

Let us consider also some of David Lynch’s music. Here’s the cover for his album The Big Dream:

David Lynch's "The Big Dream"

David Lynch’s “The Big Dream”

It’s a man being struck by a lightning bolt, and of course, the title of the album is “The Big Dream.” This implies it is a dream of some importance, perhaps a “divine revelation” of sorts. Could this cover be a representation of a revelation from the Thunderbird, in the form of a dream?

Now you might be saying, “But the Dugpas aren’t good beings; they aren’t teachers or benefactors to humanity.” I would argue that the Dugpas are neither good nor bad; some go rogue, as BOB did, but the Man From Another Place has been shown helping Cooper, as has the Giant. I would say that this is because they had a common interest, and therefore could be compelled to help Cooper. BOB is the only one, I would venture to say, who evokes evil. The others who dwell in the Lodge are amoral, and only act in their own self-interest. This in and of itself ties in with the sporadic nature of the Sacred Clown teachers, who work with opposites and contrast. Both the Dugpas and Sacred Clowns fit into the Trickster category of deities and spirits, along with characters such as Loki, Anansi, Crow, and Prometheus. Often these beings are shown as acting dangerously and amorally, but sometimes these actions also benefit humans, as shown in the tale of Prometheus stealing fire. Other times, the character may start out doing more harmless fun, but eventually graduate to all-out chaos and evil, such as Loki and his plot to murder the light god Balder. Trickster spirits are never easy to pin down; as soon as you think you have them figured out, they change their nature.

That brings us to another David Lynch album, “Crazy Clown Time”:

David Lynch's "Crazy Clown Time"

David Lynch’s “Crazy Clown Time”

The lyrics to this song portray an animalistic party, full of drinking, spitting and stripping. This ties into our second definition of clowns in Lynchian symbolism. It is important to note that David Lynch has connected his Clown symbolism with base and degrading behavior, rather than the “Sacred Clown” archetype, which is about spiritual evolution. Lynch talks about how negative behavior, such as irresponsible drinking, drugs and partying, throws the soul off-balance and causes spiritual disintegration: Deep down, you become depressed and angry, though you continue to suppress these feelings with the negative actions that are causing them in the first place. It is a vicious cycle, or, as Lynch calls it, a “Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit.”

“I call that depression and anger the Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity. It’ssuffocating, and that rubber stinks. But once you start meditating and diving within, the clown suit starts to dissolve. You finally realize how putrid was the stink when it starts to go. Then, when it dissolves, you have freedom.”

(Source: The Utne Reader, “Deep Thoughts by David Lynch“)

A good example of Lynch’s use of this negative clown archetype would be its association with Jacques Renault and Leo Johnson, two of the most notorious party people in Twin Peaks:

Leo isn't clowning around... well, maybe a little, actually.

Leo isn’t clowning around… well, maybe a little, actually.

The clown painting found in Jacques Renault's apartment.

The clown painting found in Jacques Renault’s apartment.

And this symbolism isn’t limited to Twin Peaks. Remember Ben singing about the Candy Colored Clown in Frank Booth’s favorite song?

Dean Stockwell ("Ben") sings Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" to Frank Booth in Blue Velvet

Dean Stockwell (“Ben”) sings Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” to Frank Booth in Blue Velvet

And the way Frank paints his lips when he listens to the same song later?

Frank Booth

Frank Booth smears his lips with red lipstick while listening to a song about a “candy colored clown”

These characters are both associated with drugs, violence, and all-around debased behavior, just as Jacques and Leo are. This is their “Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity” that they bury themselves in rather than facing their demons and evolving as people.

Both Frank and Killer BOB are used in their respective stories as representations of “the evil that men do,” as Jeffrey asks Sandy in a philosophical moment, “Why are there people like Frank in the world?” Sandy tells him that love and light is the only thing that can and will destroy the darkness in the hearts of humanity. In this way, we can associate the characters of Frank and BOB with each other, and thus connect the clown imagery this way. BOB is also always depicted as smiling and laughing, and is described as “eager for fun” in this poem:

He is BOB, eager for fun. He wears a smile, everybody run!”

-MIKE the One-Armed Man

Of course, BOB’s idea of fun is one of evil and debauchery, spreading the suffocating negativity everywhere he goes.

So it’s inarguable that Lynch has used this negative clown symbol before, but does that invalidate the possibility that he has also used the Sacred Clown symbol? I will leave conclusions up to you, but I personally think that the evidence points to uses of both meanings. After all, Lynch has a well-known infatuation with duality and double-edged meanings, and the connections between the Dugpas and the Sacred Clowns are notable enough not to be ignored. Take another look at the scene “Above the Convenience Store”:

The meeting "Above the Convenience Store"

The meeting “Above the Convenience Store”

Definitely looks like it could be the Black Lodge’s idea of a party, where they gather to feed on the Garmonbozia that BOB has collected. There is the Jumping Man in the corner, who, as we discussed, may be a Heyoka. Perhaps he is leading the feeding ceremony. BOB is sitting at the table, throwing his head back in uproarious laughter.

As a final point, let us discuss the Greek God Dionysus. He is the God of wine, revelry, feasting, ecstasy, and is the all-around life of the party. He and his parties are dual-natured: They can bring about both horrible violence and beautiful knowledge. Many of the parties end with his followers, the Bacchantes, ripping apart uninitiated passersby, as was the case with Orpheus. However, this was also a cult of the secrets of the Earth, where one could learn Nature Magick and arcane wisdom. There was obvious risk in being involved in this cult, but there were benefits that could make those risks justifiable. Similarly, Cooper is taking a sizable risk in entering the Black Lodge; however, if he succeeds, the benefits could be worth it. If he loses, he will be ripped apart, spiritually.

Trickster Spirits are beings of both chaos and wisdom: There are some things that you can only learn from these beings, and yet to learn from them takes tremendous risk. However, it is often in our times of darkness, strife, and chaos that we have our revelations, and realize important things about ourselves. It is through trial that we evolve, and through constant questioning that we learn. The Sacred Clowns and Tricksters of various cultures embody that chaotic path to wisdom.

“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.