Paranormal Activity 3 and the Masonic Nexus

occult symbol, satanic symbol, pentagram, symbols in the movieIt’s Halloween, time for spooky movies, and the new film Paranormal Activity 3 does a terrific job in delivering the spooktacular. If you haven’t followed the series, Paranormal Activity 3 is actually the first story installment of the trilogy giving us the foundation of its Paranormal predecessors.

I won’t give away the plot (big house, bumps in the night, and Ghost Hunter esque videography) but in the climax of the movie, the audience is treated to a glimpse of perhaps why the activity is so paranormal and a tease of things to come. Its a fun film and perfect for the season and with the end of the film, I can only say that there needs to be a pre-prequel to tell the story of the apparition/demon Toby and what really is going on at Grandmas house.  But it was the end of the film that I found myself pulling it into the Masonic nexus of freemason symbols.

Neared its end, there came a scene that made me chuckle and find a thread to pull with a link to Freemasonry. In the films transition from a faux cinéma vérité into a DIY shaky camera aesthetic, a la Blair Witch Project, we catch a glimpse of the why the activity is so paranormal. This is the last 15 minutes of the film that Derrick Deane of says “.. will ‘Mess You Up For Life'” which is right about where we find the Masonic connection.

It’s obvious that the sinister Paranormal Activity is coming from somewhere. Its not so obvious from where.  Its not the benign ghosts from the Disney Haunted Mansion, or the night vision sleuthing of Syfy’s Ghost Hunters. On the wall, in the manner of the Satanic Panic films from the 80’s, is the Luciferian leverage to make it really creepy.

If you go watch the film, pay attention to the unicorn.

In the blur between the faux cinéma vérité and shakey cam we, from the vantage of the hapless cinematographer and stepfather Dennis, find ourselves looking for the missing wife and step kids amidst a flurry of things that go bump in the night. There, on the all where the cute and cuddly unicorn once rested is a modified Magical Triangle of Solomon followed by a quick camera pan to the infamous Sigil of Baphomet on the opposite wall.

While, neither of the symbols are truly freemason symbols, the Magical Triangle comes out of a tradition of King Solomon, the wise king and one third Master Architect behind the construction of the great Temple constructed in his name to house the ark of the covenant.

magical triangle of solomonChristian tradition holds the wise king was benign and kingly in status, but when you read deeper into the subtext of Judaism and Islam, as Lon Milo Duquette does in his book The Key to Solomon’s Key: Is This the Lost Symbol of Masonry?, we discover a king, prophet, and wizard, on the level of the great eastern Magi. Duquette writes “…he [Solomon] could talk with animals, fly through the air on a magical carpet, and cause others to fly through the air to him.” One other thing Solomon is thought to of done was summon evil spirits. The Triangle comes out of a work called The Lesser Key of Solomon the King or Clavicula Solominis Regis, a work originally translated by MacGregor Mathers who, in occult circles, was a well known Golden Dawn mage and Masonic devotee in the rebirth of magical spiritualism.

As the symbol goes the triangle with the circle, Duquette refers to is as the Magical Triangle within which Solomon commanded evil spirits. As it was used in ritual practice, it was a place on within which the magician inscribed on the ground to hold the demons he summoned. While it looks good in the movie on a wall, the symbols when used to summon “evil spirits” it is to be made 2 feet from a Magical Circle on the ground in evocations.

pentagram, rams head, sigil of baphometThe Sigil of Baphomet is a bit more abstract in the Masonic landscape. Coming out of the work of French Occultist Eliphas Lévi, the pentagram with a rams head is more a device to illustrate (represent) evil than serve as any summoning symbol. Often the illustration includes the words Samael and Lilith which are inscribed in the middle and come from the work La Clef de la magie noire, by French Occultist Stanislas de Guaita. Guaita was a student of Levi’s work and elaborated in image to Levi’s conception. The Church of Satan website says of the symbol “…oriented in the opposite direction, the pentagrammatic Star is nothing more than a symbol of iniquity, perdition, blasphemy: its two points in the air become the horns of the foul Goat threatening Heaven, and whose head is framed with the stellar pentacle, with its low ears in the side branches, and its beard in disorder in the single lower point.”

Levi’s work, in time, became important in the occult world at the rise of spiritualism in the late 1800’s along side with tarot cards, Ouija boards, astrology, and séances. Evidence of Levi’s influence can be traced into the workings of the Golden Dawn which is in and of itself an extrapolation of Masonic degree work.

So, with those two images at the end of the film, from an occultist’s point of view, it’s easy to see the film maker’s idea of connecting the Paranormal Activity to some form of magical summoning from which the terror ensues. Without a doubt, the two symbols have been absorbed by the black magic community and fallen into the material culture of all things evil, with Paranormal Activity 3 becoming the latest instance. As viewers watch the film and begin to ask themselves the meaning of the two symbols, it makes me wonder if it will incite another decade of Satanic Panic as it did in the 80’s or if the sinister black magic of the cinema will be treated as just another work of cult fiction made to titillate the timid with the evils of witchcraft and black magic shrouded in the horror things that go bump in the night.


When Masonry and Satanism Crossed Paths

The Gate – There’s a Passageway – A Gate Behind Which the Demons Wait to Take Back What Was Once Theirs.

Stepping past the Crowley references and guys wearing funny robes and hats, at some point the idea of Freemasonry and Satanism came together so as to ignite the idea that the fraternity is sinisterly evil. And, after spending some time with the campy horror film The Gate, I was struck by the prominently place iconography of the fraternity at the heart of the evil malfeasance in the film.

In a brand sense, the film made no bones about equating Freemasonry ( in the image of the square and compass) with summoning demons bent on bringing back the “old Gods” especially in a film devoid of any other significant branding.

Its a pretty obscure film these days, out of our contemporary memory, but at the outer edges of this present generations adolescence. What I found most interesting was that prominence that it was given in a film that really only promoted the band Killer Dwarfs. the only other major “Brand” in the film I caught was the square and compass.

You can get the first hint of it in this clip at 01:15 (its much more discernible on the big screen).

In the scene is a voice over that says: “…there is a passage way in between all physical worlds the world of light and pleasure and the spiritual world of madness and pain, a gate behind which the demons await for the chance to take back what is theirs.”

It picks up again when “the Dark Book-the bible for demons” teaches listeners how to summon the old God demons. Its backward masking at its finest, but a reinforcement of the idea of brand association between Freemasonry and Satanism.

Its featured pretty prominently in a few of the scenes of this campy 80s horror film, but even as cheesy films go, this one had a pretty decent box office for the day, #2 rank, 1,139 theaters (the 18th highest PG-13 film of 1987) grossing $13,500,000 for its domestic release, all of which means that a good number of people saw the film and of those watching it many (some?) had to of noticed the imagery. Noticed in the same way that Coke o’ Cola would keep their can out of the hands of a cinematic serial killer as he did his dirty work.  Placement matters.

Sacrifyx – the album

Why this is so important is that in the 1980’s Satanic Ritual Abuse was considered an epidemic. From

Many in the social worker, therapist, conservative Christian and police communities experienced a “Satanic Panic,” starting about 1980. They, and much of the rest of the public, believed that a widespread, underground, secret network of Satanic cults were kidnapping, sexually and physically abusing infants and children, murdering them, and sometimes even eating them. In the United States and Canada, the scare reached a peak in the early 1990’s. It spread from the U.S. to other English speaking countries, particularly Canada, Britain, and Australia. The panic gradually declined because of the lack of hard evidence.

Religious Tolerance talks about the industry that spawned out of the SRA experience to promote the “Satanic Panic”.

What’s the point of all of this? Not that Masonry wasn’t already falling out of contemporary thought at the time The Gate came out (1987) but that films like this helped perpetuate an image problem plaguing the fraternity and likely helped plant it into the collective memory that many ardent anti-masons (and lay observers) have today. It may not be possible to trace the bad PR directly back to this film, but content that this film helped shape opinions in waves for generations to come of age.

Don’t just take my words for it, in the article “Do movies shape your opinions?” from Purdue University English professor William J. Palmer, in the March 1995 Society for the Advancement of Education/USA Today, he says:

“People in mass society get their sense of history from the way it’s portrayed in movies.”

“How do Americans interpret history? Do they get it from historians? Some do. Do they get if f rom the news? Some do. Do they get if from movies? Certainly they do. I think one of the main sources of history is movies. I’m not certain it’s the best source, but certainly it is a main source.”

And, from David Sterritt, film critic from the Christian Science Monitor from the September of 2001 article “Do violent films shape or reflect?”

“..troubling is the thought that public views of retaliation, revenge, and warfare may come more from decades of popular entertainment than from sustained reflections on history and morality.”

His comments were in reflection to the post 9/11 sentiment of revenge and violence, but builds on the idea of perpetuating ideas in films that seep into our collective unconscious.

So, could the film The Gate built upon the growing Satanic Panic of the 80’s and of been responsible for the misaligned idea that the fraternity is a satanic cult bent on summoning demons to take over the world? According to the 1987 Lionsgate film it is.

One last point I wanted make was the power of product placement (or misplacement) and the importance of keeping your brand in the right context.

Cracked Magazine has a great article about product placement in films The 10 Most Shameless Product Placements in Movie History which strikes at the heart of the matter. Its obvious that product placement works at some level, the hero drinking a soft drink, the robot car being an American iconic muscle car (which happened to just be redesigned) or the cut and adorable space alien’s love for chocolate peanut butter candies.

So what does that mean to Freemasonry when films like The Gate or much later From Hell and the Da Vinci Code build on this same idea, not with demons and satanism but with equally as disturbing messages of some nefarious activity. BrandChannel’s article Brandcameo’s 2004 Award [now archived] spells it out speaking to the power of branding in films:

“…One wine brand, Blackstone Pinot Noir, has seen sales increase by almost 150 percent since the film (Sideways) opened. Additionally, [the film]has increased tourism to California’s wine region and driven business up 30 percent at The Hitching Post, a restaurant featured in the film.”

This is a perfect example to measure the ROI of effective placement.

From a lay member perspective, there isn’t much to do other than to speak up when someone tries to draw the connection between Freemasonry and Satanism. Speaking up is probably the best thing for us to do. From an institutional perspective, some form of advocacy to the movie industry would be a good thing, but unlikely without any national organization (maybe the MSANA, but there is little funding to wage that kind of outreach). Until the fraternity manages to re-organize itself, it will continually be portrayed in ways that will inadvertently shape its future one movie-goer at a time, one film at a time.