Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood Magick’

Julian Assange Letter to Actor Who Plays Him In a Movie

“Those who lack the wisdom to unite in the face of a common enemy always end up being conquered.”
~ Proterrian

However you feel about Julian Assange, this is a powerful letter that asks questions of each of us — how do and how will our actions affect others, including the greater population of the world? How might the ways we portray others undermine the potential freedoms of an awakening population? Assange is respectful, but firm in his assessment of how each person’s choices and responsibilities have ripple effects beyond those they may initially consider. In this case, he explains: “Feature films are the most powerful and insidious shapers of public perception, because they fly under the radar of conscious exclusion. … This film is going to bury good people doing good work, at exactly the time that the state is coming down on their heads.”

A well-crafted letter with layers of questions we might each do well to ask ourselves, this is an excellent example of what I call “speaking the truth in love.” As Jessamyn West put it: “A religious [or spiritual] awakening which does not awaken the sleeper to love has roused him in vain.” I am heartened whenever I see compassion, respect and acknowledgment of the gray areas and onion layers of consciousness, because it’s not all black and white. Thank you, Julian, for modeling boundaries, respect and love for all of humanity.

Julian-Assange-and-Benedict-Cumberbatch1

Above: Julian Assange and Benedict Cumberbatch

Julian Assange’s letter to Benedict Cumberbatch

On October 9th WikiLeaks published the first letter from Julian Assange to Benedict Cumberbatch regarding “The Fifth Estate”, a Dreamworks movie about WikiLeaks set to open in the UK on Friday 11 Oct, and in the US on Friday 18 Oct. The press release about this letter is here. The letter was sent to Benedict Cumberbatch after he made overtures to contact Julian Assange in January this year, immediately before principal photography commenced.

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2013
From: Julian Assange
To: Benedict Cumberbatch
Subject: Message from Assange

Dear Benedict,

Thank you for trying to contact me. It is the first approach by anyone from the Dreamworks production to me or WikiLeaks.

My assistants communicated your request to me, and I have given it a lot of thought and examined your previous work, which I am fond of.

I think I would enjoy meeting you.

The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant.

If the film reaches distribution we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined. Each of us will be granted standing to comment on the other for many years to come and others will compare our characters and trajectories.

But I must speak directly.

I hope that you will take such directness as a mark of respect, and not as an unkindness.

I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film.

I do not believe it is going to be positive for me or the people I care about.

I believe that it is going to be overwhelmingly negative for me and the people I care about.

It is based on a deceitful book by someone who has a vendetta against me and my organisation.

In other circumstances this vendetta may have gone away, but our conflict with the United States government and the establishment press has created a patronage and commissioning market – powerful, if unpopular – for works and comments that are harmful to us.

There are dozens of positive books about WikiLeaks, but Dreamworks decided to base its script only on the most toxic. So toxic is the first book selected by Dreamworks that it is distributed to US military bases as a mechanism to discourage military personnel from communicating with us. Its author is publicly known to be involved in the Dreamworks production in an ongoing capacity.

Dreamworks’ second rights purchase is the next most toxic, biased book. Published and written by people we have had a bitter contractual dispute with for years, whose hostility is well known. Neither of these two books were the first to be published and there are many independent authors who have written positive or neutral books, all of whom Dreamworks ignored.

Dreamworks has based its entire production on the two most discredited books on the market.

I know the film intends to depict me and my work in a negative light.

I believe it will distort events and subtract from public understanding.

It does not seek to simplify, clarify or distil the truth, but rather it seeks to bury it.

It will resurrect and amplify defamatory stories which were long ago shown
to be false.

My organisation and I are the targets of political adversary from the United States government and its closest allies.

The United States government has engaged almost every instrument of its justice and intelligence system to pursue—in its own words—a ‘whole of government’ investigation of ‘unprecedented scale and nature’ into WikiLeaks under draconian espionage laws. Our alleged sources are facing their entire lives in the US prison system. Two are already in it. Another one is detained in Sweden.

Feature films are the most powerful and insidious shapers of public perception, because they fly under the radar of conscious exclusion.

This film is going to bury good people doing good work, at exactly the time that the state is coming down on their heads.

It is going to smother the truthful version of events, at a time when the truth is most in demand.

As justification it will claim to be fiction, but it is not fiction. It is distorted truth about living people doing battle with titanic opponents. It is a work of political opportunism, influence, revenge and, above all, cowardice.

It seeks to ride on the back of our work, our reputation and our struggles.

It seeks to cut our strength with weakness. To cut affection with exploitation. To cut diligence with paranoia. To cut loyalty with naivety. To cut principle with hypocrisy. And above all, to cut the truth with lies.

The film’s many distortions buttress what the prosecution will argue. Has argued. Is arguing. In my case, and in that of others. These cases will continue for years.

The studio that is producing the film is not a vulnerable or weak party.

Dreamworks’ free speech rights are not in jeopardy – ours are.

Dreamworks is an extremely wealthy organisation, with ties to powerful interests in the US government.

I must therefore question the choices and motives behind it: the opportunism, fears and mundanity; the unwritten rules of film financing and distribution in the United States; the cringe against doing something useful and brave.

I believe that you are a decent person, who would not naturally wish to harm good people in dire situations.

You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it. To present me as someone morally compromised and to place me in a falsified history. To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth.

Not because you want to, of course you don’t, but because, in the end, you are a jobbing actor who gets paid to follow the script, no matter how debauched.

Your skills play into the hands of people who are out to remove me and WikiLeaks from the world.

I believe that you should reconsider your involvement in this enterprise.

Consider the consequences of your cooperation with a project that vilifies and marginalises a living political refugee to the benefit of an entrenched, corrupt and dangerous state.

Consider the consequences to people who may fall into harm because of this film.

Many will fight against history being blackwashed in this way. It is a collective history now, involving millions of people, because millions have opened their eyes as a result of our work and the attempts to destroy us.

I believe you are well intentioned but surely you can see why it is a bad idea for me to meet with you.

By meeting with you, I would validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give.

I cannot permit this film any claim to authenticity or truthfulness. In its current form it has neither, and doing so would only further aid the campaign against me.

It is contrary to my interests, and to those of my organisation, and I thank you for your offer, and what I am sure is your genuine intent, but I must, with inexpressible regret, turn it down.

Julian Assange

Read the press release about this letter HERE

Read the Wikileaks Memo Highlighting Inaccuracies in the film HERE.

View an advance version of the Fifth Estate Script HERE

Link to video: The Fifth Estate trailer: watch Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in the Wikileaks thriller

Happy Imbolc, Candlemas and Groundhog Day

Don’t you just love how all the holidays overlap? Hmmmm, whatever can it mean? That we are all, somehow much more in tune with each other than most people realize? Despite all the different religions and philosophies, as Joni Mitchell says, “We are stardust, we are golden …” and, as Robert Blum reminds us in “The Healing Runes,” “…what is eternal cannot be separated from its Source.” Blum’s are not the most accurate books I’ve found on Runes, but he sure got that right! I love linking these two ideas together, as in this 2010 painting I did in Hyde Park:

We are stardust

The time period between February 1-3 marks various religious and secular holidays, including the pagan Imbolc, Christian Candlemas, and, perhaps the most famous in the US anyway: Groundhog’s Day. This year’s Imbolc actually falls on February 3, but most people started celebrating on the first. Imbolc is a cross-quarter day between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, celebrating the Ascent of Spring from the days of darkness. As such, Imbolc asks us to consider leaving behind what no longer serves us. Sacred to the goddess Brigid/Brigit/Bridhe (pronounced Breed), this holiday can also emphasize her three attributes: healing, craft and inspiration. (Druid Magic, p. 99) It’s a wonderful time to bless your home, ponder core issues, and ask for the Divine Feminine energies to aid your quest.

Synchronously, when I drew four Wildwood Tarot cards yesterday, I found that two out of the four directly mentioned Imbolc: The Pole Star and The King of Arrows (Kingfisher).

The Pole Star (#17 from the Wildwood Tarot)

The Pole Star (#17 from the Wildwood Tarot)

Wildwood’s Pole Star description, meaning and reading points share some lovely little tidbits about this time period:

“The Pole Star is placed at Imbolc, on 1 February. It is associated with the new moon and universal lore and stands between the elements of Earth and Air.” The Wildwood Tarot, p. 70

“The blessing of the Pole Star radiates to the Earth across the abyss and reminds us that the same stuff of creation that duels and binds these mighty sentinels of the night sky burns within us. Latest research shows that stars are initially formed as a sphere within a ring or circle of matter, echoing the cup and ring symbols found carved on the stones of prehistory that may represent the seed of manifestation and the source of creation itself. The blessing of the stellar world bathes the Earth and the human spirit with healing and regenerative energy.” The Wildwood Tarot, p. 70

“The Pole Star symbolizes universal law, higher spiritual knowledge and power. … Mythical stories of great hunters and slain warriors honoured by the gods and placed forever in the night sky were handed down through time and developed into ancient religious practices.” The Wildwood Tarot, p. 70-71

“The power of universal lore is at work here, either within the individual or permeating a web of circumstance that will bring profound change and new spiritual hope. … Whenever you are feeling lost in the dark labyrinth of life, remember that the same laws and primal matter that bind the Pole Star and fuel its giant heart also formed you.” The Wildwood Tarot, p. 71

I’ve been in Wildwood, Tolkien, portal painting, elf and faery mode lately, so I loved all the integrated references to stars and humans. One of my favorite “faery messages” from my Faery Wicca tarot deck is “We come from the stars, we come from the stars, shining down on the Earth.” I think it’s from the Three of Domhain (pronounced Dow-en), which corresponds to the traditional Three of Pentacles card. The Wildwood’s Pole Star is the traditional Star card, and the King of Arrows/Kingfisher=The King of Swords. This card, too, mentions Imbolc, as its position on the Wheel is “Departing Imbolc towards Spring Equinox.” “Reading points: You may need to exercise judgement, power, force of will. The king is impartial and helps you to see clearly what you no longer need to hold onto. Use your strength to cut yourself free of what weighs you down.” (The Wildwood Tarot, p. 81)

So here we have Imbolc, emphasizing inner knowing of what to claim and what to leave behind. How do these ideas relate to Candlemas and Groundhog’s Day? I awoke this morning with one of those aha moments about a Hollywood film. Another favorite line that jumped out at me from a random YouTube video, btw, is: “Hollywood is a wand. They cast spells with it.” Why, yes, they do, sometimes to viewers’ detriment and sometimes in ways that heal. When I awoke this morning, it occurred to me that the movie “Groundhog Day,” in which the jerky newscaster gets caught in a time loop on February 2 in Punxatawney, PA until he becomes a nice guy, could actually be better understood as an Imbolc spell. As Wikipedia puts it, “[Bill] Murray plays Phil Connors, an arrogant and egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during a hated assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxutawney, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again. After indulging in hedonism and numerous suicide attempts, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities.” Interestingly, Wikipedia also notes, “In 2006, the film was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.'” On the magickal level, the circle casts itself around Phil Connors, and the circle (of time) won’t break until the letting go, healing and renewal are complete.

In American tradition, if the groundhog, Punxatawney Phil sees his shadow on February 2, then we can expect six more weeks of winter. I find even that tradition ripe with symbolism! What happens when we catch a glimpse of our own Shadow? For most people, seeing our Dark Side, also known as those parts of ourselves we have not yet integrated, initially sends us away from the Light. We don’t want everyone staring at us when we feel vulnerable, but it takes a certain amount of Light even to reveal a Shadow. Just as a sunny day on February 2 can mean “six more weeks of winter,” so viewing the increasing Light in our world and in ourselves can reveal some scary truths. We can run back into our holes, but eventually Spring will come. Warmth, growth and comfort will return, and just like Punxatawney Phil, we can grow brave enough to participate.

Candlemas also reflects upon darkness and Light, using candles during mass to symbolize the returning of the Light. Traditionally, Candlemas honors three occasions: “the presentation of the child Jesus; Jesus’ first entry into the temple; and it celebrates the Virgin Mary’s purification (mainly in Catholic churches).” The emphasis on purification, dedication and Light connects Candlemas to the pagan and secular celebrations at this time of year. According to Maya Sutton and Nicholas Mann in their book, Druid Magic, there’s a connection between Mother Mary and the goddess Brigit: “Our sources mention Brigit in the same breath as Danu, first Mother of All, and so she takes on the attribute of Mother. This thread linking thousands of years serves to exalt Brigit to the greatest position of any Celtic goddess. So great was her influence and revered status that the Christians could not displace her with Christ or Mary. Consequently, the Irish Catholics again gave her the position of Mother,t his time as foster Mother to Jesus and relative-friend to Mary. According to legend, St. Brigit was born of a Druid father in 453.” (Druid Magic, p. 97)

We also see Brigit/Bridhe/Brigid connected to the later Christian tradition via the cross. Pictured below is one of the handcrafted crosses by Colette of the mystical permaculture holding, Bealtaine Cottage Blog:

Brigid's Cross from permaculturecottage.wordpress.com

Brigid’s Cross from permaculturecottage.wordpress.com

Colette shares a lovely tribute to Brigid and her relationship to the rising Collective Consciousness of Hope. Filled with gorgeous photos and quiet strength, her post is definitely worth a click and read. However you choose to honor this weekend, I wish you:

Healing, protection, love and the warmth of a heart(h) fire.
May you leave behind you that which no longer serves.
May you face your Shadow and shine like the star you are!
And may you, too, find heartfelt blessings everywhere you turn.

Happy Imbolc and Blessed Be!