Sucker Punch: Blocked Passage

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My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me

Thanks to the deleted scene excised from the theatrical release of this film, we’re able to see the dilemma around which Sweet Pea’s story revolves: an emotion frozen in the depths of hell, a passage that’s been blocked. She’s none other than Shakti who’s been prevented from reaching Her goal. That’s the reason for Her torment, the yearning for what’s been kept beyond Her reach.

According to those who’ve been trained in Her nature, there are many ways She can be released from Her earthly home; there are also several passages through which She can travel, although not all of them lead to Her goal. Quite cruelly, some are only cul-de-sacs that tease Her with a taste of what She’s been missing, even while barring access from the place She’s meant to Be.

From the resting place in which She laid dormant, She may have been aroused or disturbed, even prematurely, perhaps. Should this happen in the absence of an experienced teacher committed to Her success, She’s left disoriented since She’s not been guided to the passage leading to where She needs to go. When abandoned in this way, She’ll probably be faced with a dead-end street, one that feels worse than the fires of Hell.

Deflected Rising

In the language of an ancient tradition, this is the experience of non-culmination, a "deflected rising," since Her ascent has by-passed the usual routes that lead to Her success. Among the "side" passageways that produces this kind of torment is the Sarasvati Nadi which leads directly to the crown of the head. According to those trained in these matters, Shakti may develop remarkable talents when She enters this route, due to the premature stimulation of the brain, but because She’s unable to unite with Her Being, She’s also doomed to an endless repeating, bouncing back and forth like a yo-yo between Her base below and the far reaches of Heaven.

It’s said that a similar deflection occurs when Shakti’s released into the Vajra Nadi, something that may result from an accident rather than meditation or practice. Unlike Her movement through Sarasvati, however, this passage stops at the brow. Certain talents may also develop, but as with any blocked movement, the ultimate goal remains beyond Her reach.

There’s also the Lakshmi Nadi, said to be associated with transitions of birth and death. Shakti may find Herself here due to massive trauma; according to some, this nadi may even explain the mystery of bodies combusting spontaneously, leaving nothing but a pile of ash. In general, those deflected into this passage are caught in the grip of a grief that refuses to end.

(It’s almost as if these routes recount the ways Shakti is dislodged from Her resting place by trauma and assaults on Her home, as if escape to another world – to the head – provided the only means for Her survival.)

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Martyr (torment)

Each of the four sisters – the two blondes and the two "honorary" ones – bears a uniform and a pose, different faces of this predicament. For Sweet Pea, it’s a form of torture that’s the very definition of Her martyrdom.

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Nurse (under the influence)As if in compensation, her sister Rocket finds solace as a nurse. As the needles in the hands of her retinue suggest, she also finds comfort in the drug that’s able to dull the pain that defines Her condition.

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Maid (unseen labor)Of the two honorary blondes, the elder comes dressed as a maid, her work only visible through a hole in the door, as if it was her station in life to take care of the needs of others, perhaps even to the exclusion of her own.

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Show Girl (dancing for her supper)Her younger sister belongs to a more public profession, one designed for the consumption of others, seemingly unaware of different uses to which her sword might be put: the real purpose for which it was actually made.

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Two sets of sisters with their own personas and postures, some public while others remain hidden from view. Each set has its highs and its lows, almost as if one were tied to the other: the martyr and the nurse, the maid and the dancer with the sword. And Baby Doll is a witness to it all. By the end of the story, however, out of all the sisters, only Sweet Pea will remain, finally freed from her prison. All others – not only Baby Doll and Rocket, but also the honorary blondes, even the boy caught in the midst of war – will have disappeared, as if they were personas ensuring Shakti’s survival until She became more able to continue Her ascent.

Clearing the Path

The violence with which they fight, even their eventual disappearance, is a sign of the arduous task of re-diverting what was originally deflected: there may be others invested in maintaining Her tormented state, those who benefit from the personas that She’s become; there may be rewards She’s gotten used to, offerings that once helped Her endure the torture of hell. Each must be confronted, each obstacle removed, otherwise She’ll remain forever stuck.

Often, it’s an enlightening experience that makes that kind of reversal possible, realizing that things could be different, that there might be a another passageway toward Her goal. A vision perhaps. Or maybe the experience of seeing and being seen. It might come unexpectedly, as in Baby Doll’s dancing, when she finds other worlds to which she can travel, including the ancient wisdom she recognized in one of them and how it laid the ground for defending herself against the demons intent on her killing.

The process can be heartbreaking, partly because this re-routing means a return to the beginning, retracing the steps that brought Her to a dead-end street. Once She’s returned to Her base, it also means choosing a different passage for her re-ascent, a painstaking journey precisely because of the stops She’s required to make along the way.

The ancient texts describe it as a thread strung with beautiful flowers, wondrous like a chain of lightning.

Facing the Dragon

Which is probably why Her fighting takes Her back in time, like Baby Doll and her sisters traveling to the Dark Ages to do battle with zombies and dragons. It’s almost as if they were confronting a past refusing to stay in its place, polluting the future and all the possibilities it might hold. As if the past itself required a killing to open the way for an ascension that had previously been blocked.

Once there, She’ll face a baby dragon, sleeping peacefully on a bed of bones, a soft yawn signaling its contentment with the food that it’s been fed. She’ll be instructed to slit its throat, to kill the infant that sleeps protected in a fortified castle, as if this dragon sustained that ancient landscape, the child that kept the world of Creation afloat.

According to the ancient tradition, the dragon – Makara – is to be found along the passage punctuated by flowers, more specifically, in the region of the Waters. It also appears at the Makara Point at the top of the head: the gateway to Shakti’s final goal. Battling the dragon, in other words, must be done not just once but twice, the second time finally providing entry to the place She’s been struggling to reach.

Demon Slayer

Perhaps this is the secret behind the ten Goddesses of Wisdom, the different forms She takes in the fight to reach Her goal: from Lakshmi (at the beginning) to Kali (the end), her crowning achievement as the Queen of Time. Each a different manifestation of the Goddess herself, different forms that battle the blockages and obstacles that She meets along the Way.

In some versions, She’s entrancingly beautiful, but in most She’s quite frightful. Many are covered in blood. In traditional depictions, Her tongue is shown lolling in Her mouth, drunk from the blood of Her victims. Sometimes She’s seated on a throne, at other times She’s standing or sitting upon a corpse.

While there’s always the danger of getting sucked into the heat of battle, missing the forest for the trees, Her hands are poised to convey a message to the devoted: yes, She holds the skulls of the demons She’s defeated, as well as weapons of war; but one of Her hands typically says "Have no fear" while another offers the granting of boons. It’s almost as if Her ferocity were necessary for achieving everlasting peace; quite the opposite of what a woman’s usually taken to be, particularly if she were interested in attracting a lover.

The View from Above

There are three subtle "knots" that need to be broken during Her ascent, forms of bondage that keep her tied to the world below. They’ll be easy to identify once She’s begun Her passage since they’ll be the things nearly impossible to live without. They may include the warmth of a lover, the security of a job, a familiar set of emotions, a worldview, perhaps even a promise made to oneself or another. In different ways, each knot tied Her to prior forms of existence, an anchor ensuring a semblance of order and the promise of safety for what were probably the most treacherous times of Her life.

But once She has punctured the last of these knots, She will have gained a vantage point never available to Her before. No longer will the battles feel immediate and urgent, as if Her very survival depended on winning. No longer will She be swallowed by Her emotions or driven by fear. Instead, by virtue of the distance She’s been able to create between Herself and what came before, She’ll now see them differently, almost as if they hadn’t even been Her own.

This is the reason behind the kind of asceticism associated with different spiritual traditions, less a condemnation of the world than a recognition of the ties that bind Her to it. Those who embark on such journeys may not be any more "enlightened" than anyone else, except for the recognition that their current life no longer works, that their efforts so far have come to naught.

And while these scenes are filled with violence, the process is better described as a dissolution: dissolving the ties that bind. The blast of fire and the fierceness of the battle merely convey the difficulty of the task and the determination with which it must be met. For beyond it lies an everlasting peace.

Descending Again

But even after She has finally reached Her goal, it doesn’t mean Her job is done. In fact, very rarely is that the case. It may be necessary, for example, for Her to return to the places from which she came to complete the process of deprograming that Her ascent began. She may have broken through the knots of Her previous existence, but it’s likely there are remnants that need to be taken care of before She can rest.

The residue may consist of old patterns and blueprints that had organized Her existence, certain inclinations that had come to define Her taste. They could refer to the kinds of energy that had once sustained Her, the objects and people to which She had been drawn. Maybe a sense of guilt or regret about decisions that were made, or the aftereffects of an ancient tragedy, wounds not completely healed. Or perhaps certain relationships in which She’s still entangled, no longer serving Her but pulling Her down, instead.

The differences between these "descents" and what came before is Her newfound home atop the string of lightning, a control center from which these new forays can be managed. Not all of them will meet with immediate success, for it’s a process that requires patience and time. And yet, She’ll have access to something that hadn’t existed before: a stilled sense of Being no longer tainted by desperation, no longer feeling that the Promised Land lay beyond Her grasp.

From Darkness to Light

It’s often said that the Goddesses of Wisdom first appeared when Shiva and Parvati were living in Her father’s house: Shiva had tired of their domestic arrangement and had threatened to leave. The Mahavidyas then appeared and blocked his exit, forcing him to admit Her superiority over him. However, according to another tale, the Goddesses emerged when Shiva refused to provide his wife, who was famished, with anything to eat. It’s said that the Mahavidyas grew from Her angry outburst, furious over her husband’s denial. Elsewhere, it’s said the Goddesses appeared when Sati threw Herself upon a fire, protesting Her father’s refusal to bless Her marriage. (Sounds confusing. But perhaps all three capture an aspect of the truth?)

It’s also said that Shiva once teased Parvati about her complexion, calling Her Kali ("darkie"). Taking this as an insult, She went to the mountains to transform herself and protect against such insinuations about Her appearance. (Perhaps this was also when She covered his eyes and the world turned to black.) Many years later, She returned and saw her husband deep in meditation. When She looked into his heart, She saw a beautiful woman She couldn’t recognize. But just as She was about to get angry again, Shiva laughed, telling Her to look more closely: the woman residing in his heart was none other than Herself.

While She performed austerities in the mountains, She had shed her skin, producing a sheath that magically transformed into a slayer of demons. Some say this fighter was none other than Kali Herself, defender against those that would block Her way.

With this removal (and harnessing) of "darkness," Parvati would come to be known as Gauri: the Golden One.

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~ by mistified on October 19, 2011.

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