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Life Arts    H4'ed 3/14/12

Emerging Archetypal Themes: The Last Wave by Peter Weir

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            I am beginning a new blog, The Bard's Grove, which examines emerging archetypal themes in collective consciousness.   The old stories wear out over time and eventually become stereotypes.   But the archetypal energy at the core of the story is still viable, and needs new forms to clothe it's meaning in.   Also, new times call for new stories.   And we are definitely entering a whole new world.  

Weaving my knowledge of stories, movies, dreams and astrology, I hope to start a dialogue about the role the imagination and symbolic language have in helping us create a new vision of life.   My astrology newsletters are often frustrating for my more rational readers because they don't understand that The Cosmic Story can only be explained as metaphor and mystery.   The old patriarchal paradigm is unbalanced, one-sidedly left-brained and rational.   The feminine unconscious, which can be accessed through dreams, visions, feelings and intuition, needs to be valued for the insights it brings to life.   We can only achieve a more balanced view of life when we use both the left and right brains, masculine and feminine consciousness.

            The first movie I discuss, keeping with the theme of Pisces, dreams, tidal waves and the changing of the ages is director Peter Weir's 1977 movie, The Last Wave.   It is available on Netflix or the whole movie can be found on YouTube at:

The first part of this blog, Our Need For New Archetypal Stories, as well as the third part on Tidal Wave Dreams & Neptune in Pisces can be found at:

The Last Wave: An Archetypal Movie about a Change in Consciousness

Peter Weir's 1977 movie The Last Wave is a moody, mysterious story about personal and cultural change.  Two men from different worlds are confronted by a mystery;  they both respond to it with honesty and integrity.  This mystery seemingly centers around a mysterious death involving Australian Aborigines.  But the real mystery forces one of these men to confront a rejected part of his inner psyche, an aspect of human life which western man has worked hard to make irrelevant.  

It is the mystery of the psychic dimensions of life, our sixth sense that opens us to unseen realities, which are considered "primitive' by rational standards.  It comes to us via our imagination.   Our left-brain culture often chooses to ignore and vilify the reality of this right-brain imagination.  The truth is without both views of life we die.

The movie opens with the arrival of a wild thunderstorm - both in the Australian desert and in the city.  Children are playing outside a one-room schoolhouse in the desert when it suddenly starts to pour -- and then to hail.  The baseball-sized hail draws blood from one of the children.  Then we see people in the city, dealing with the downpour in a more frenetic way, going about business as usual.  Only the Aborigines take notice that something out of the ordinary is happening.  From these beginnings, the rains continue to fall throughout the story, soaking the atmosphere of the movie as much as the landscape.   The land is being inundated.  The waters of life are calling out.  Who will listen?  Who will answer their call?

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Water is an ancient symbol of the Great Mother, the feminine womb, the fertility and fountain of life.  Life first arose in the oceans of the Earth.  And without water, we die.  Water is also symbolic of our feeling function, those gut feelings about what is right or what is wrong. The waters in this movie symbolize the unseen psychic realms that surround us, both the unconscious and the realm of dreams.   From its beginning scenes, the movie painfully depicts how the dried-out landscape of Western culture is being inundated by the unseen watery realms.   Since it takes place in Australia, Mr. Weir brings us the message through the Dreamtime of the ancient Aborigines.  

Dreams, intuitions, feelings - these are aspects of our western psyche which have been repressed since the Age of Enlightenment.  Women, more often than men, are connected with our feelings and intuitions, even though we have been trained to ignore them through ridicule and disbelief.  In the 70s, women were re-discovering the ancient Goddess, as well as reclaiming her ancient powers of emotional intelligence and visionary intuition.  It is the realm of Feminine Consciousness which is operating when we talk about dreams and visions.  Another example of how most feminine gifts and talents have been vilified and rejected by our patriarchal society!  The exciting aspect of this is that these feminine functions of the human psyche will be growing stronger within all of us during the next 14 years, as the planet Neptune moves through the sign of Pisces (see the end of this article).  If we work with these energies, we can create a new world.  If we continue to fear them, we will be overwhelmed by them. 

Back in 1977, writer and director Peter Weir explored these concepts in The Last Wave through his male characters.

Peter Weir, in an interview with Judith M. Kass in New York City in 1979 said:

"I suppose I've been shaving some mornings and I've watched water coming out of the tap and I've thought, "It seems to be under control'. What if I couldn't turn it off and no plumber could? We think we have nature under control. Disasters always happen in Third World countries; in my part of the world we're OK because we've organized things. We wouldn't permit a cyclone to hit the city. It seems to me we've lost touch with the fear of nature.  More than the respect for it, because there are too many poems written about the respect for nature. To be absolutely dead scared.  Tonight, we could leave this building and there'd be a special kind of wind blowing. If that wind is howling with a voice like the voice of a person, a four-year-old child might say to us, "The wind's talking to us," and we'll say, "No it isn't, don't be silly. It's just howling around those wires." Organize his imagination, everything's under control. It's just part of something we've lost touch with, another way of seeing the world. It was part of a balance of things, a balance within us, and we've eliminated it since the Industrial Revolution and it's forcing its way back. People make movies about it, write books about it. Often they're junk. Children are born with it, with this balance. We teach it out, but it'll find its way back with some of us."

            Our imaginations have been colonized by our western culture's insistence on rationalism as the sole source of wisdom and knowledge.  It will become our undoing unless we free up our imaginations and listen to our dreams once again.  This is the journey of our movie's hero, David Burton, a white lawyer who finds himself caught up in a murder mystery involving a group of Aboriginal men.  The death and even David's involvement in the case is mysterious, since he is a corporate taxation lawyer, not a defense attorney.  He nevertheless takes on the case, and immediately both his professional life and his personal life begin to unravel. 

            Plagued by visions of water and recurring dreams about a mysterious Aboriginal man who shows him a rock with ancient inscriptions on it, David's rational world further crumbles when he meets Chris, the man in his dreams, one of the men accused of murder.  Chris becomes his gateway into the world of the Dreamtime, when he brings an old shaman, Charlie, to David's house.  When David asks Charlie about tribal matters (a taboo which is the reason the original man was killed) Charlie tells him, "Law is more important than man."  

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Cathy Pagano is a spiritual advisor and Jungian psychotherapist, storyteller, author and teacher. She is the author of a book on the return of the Goddess, "Wisdom's Daughters: How Women Can Change the World". Cathy trained at the C. (more...)

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