May the Fourth be with You! Now is the time to discuss and celebrate all things Star Wars.
So it begins…
… the drunken, though somewhat coherent and now revised, scribbles of someone who read too much mythology and watched too much science fiction.
Trying to uncover the mythologies that could lead to the histories of Snoke, Rey and Finn is an arduous dig. To be honest, the myths that influence Star Wars are far ranging from Hinduism to Celtic mythic story cycles and there is a much dispensationalism. A little from here. A little from there and that’s what you got. There are also glancing references to certain religions and philosophies that are never really expanded upon and there are overlapping narratives that are shared by most base myths/stories.
The base of the base is as most know is the Hero’sJourney found from Perseus to King Arthur. That, however, doesn’t help reveal the past of the characters but does inform their roles. So, let us break down some overt influences besides other science fiction like Frank Herbert’s Dune, which pops on salvation through divine actors and sandy, sandy worlds. We will get to speculation on who or what Rey, Snoke and Finn are but first the groundwork and a random Jawa.
One should remember that very specific stories can be parsed into discrete elements and these elements then can be used to generate whole concepts that do not perfectly reflect the original. And, you can take specific characters, or very formalized ideas, and expand them to make new narrative devices.
Hinduism is the starting point for me on this though because of the numerous name references dropped throughout the movies. Trimurti is a cosmological concept in Hinduism with Brahma being the creator, Vishnu the maintainer/preserver/protector and Shiva the destroyer/transformer. Of course this is an oversimplification, but in terms of narrative development, the frame work holds to Brahma being The Force, The Dark Side being Shiva and Vishnu being The Light Side. Why?
First, let’s think of Anakin Skywalker and him being an avatar/incarnation of The Light Side and therefore Vishnu. His mother is named Shmi. Lakshmi is a Hindu goddess of prosperity and the Shakti (energy) of Vishnu. Yes, she is also Vishnu’s consort which makes it creepy but many myths are creepy. Just think of Oedipus. Then, Padme is Anakin’s wife. Padma is the lotus flower. It is held by Vishnu in one of his hands in many representations and symbolizes purity and beauty. Padmavarti is also one of Vishnu’s wives in one his avatars. [Note: avatars are incarnations of beings/gods in the cycle of life to fulfil certain goals. Also notice that Shakti is an actual Jedi Master’s name and a fun character in the Expanded Universe].
I did want to think that Arjuna and Anakin where related but no. Krishna is the avatar of Vishnu in that epic Hindu tale called the Mahabharata. BTW, another reference to Hinduism is the Rishi Maze. A rishi is a seer or sage/poet. Also, Siddha (could be the precursor for Sith) is a Sanskrit term used for a “perfected one”. This person has achieved an almost inhuman level of physical and spiritual perfection as well as powers. But then again, the Sith could be derived from the Sidhe (sounds the same) from Celtic lore. You know, fairies/fey and such. The Fey do play a role in another mythology to be expounded upon momentarily. But not yet.
Or Anakin could simply refer to Animism an ancient idea where all things have a life force and he could simply be the personification. I digress. Sorry.
Next, Darth Sidious or Sheev Palpatine. Notice Sheev is awfully close to being Shiva. What does ol’Sheev do? He transforms and destroys.
Bring balance to the Force.
Now, one must understand that good and evil are not attributed to these forces. Vishnu and Shiva act to move time forward and reflect the cycles of nature.
Balance in the Force is not the absence of evil but the equal ebb and flow of both. Without one, the other cannot exist and therefore the whole cannot endure. So if we establish that avatars/agents or incarnations (in-carnate= to put into flesh) of the Light and Dark are vital to the narrative, then if we look at the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the great epics that depict Vishnu and Shiva’s exploits, we might be able to discern elements of the latest avatars/agents are: Rey and Snoke. But, I could not. The only character that jumped out at me was Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, who was a devotee of Shiva in the Ramayana and considered a great scholar. His quest was to control the devas, the male gods. But, his tale revolves around revenge by kidnapping the wife of Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu. Then a battle of superweapons and magical beings begins and Ravana is defeated. [The whole “save the wife” and superweapon thing did feel a little Revenge of the Sith-y and then extended to the Death Stars, but the chronology seemed off for inspiration purposes.]
This did get me thinking though. The subtle or not so subtle changes to names can reveal much. Take Snoke. The first thing that comes to mind is snake. How do snakes relate to these myths? There are Nagas.
Nagas are snakes that may take human form and are nature spirits that relate to water: lakes, wells, rivers. They also can carry the elixir of life and immortality, something Sith seem to be obsessed with in the Expanded Universe, which still influences the cannon stories in Star Wars. In the Mahabharta epic, nagas are not featured in a positive light, meaning they are malevolent. So, did this lead me to a particular story involving a naga that might shed light on who Snoke is? Nope. I know, not helpful but I never said this was going to explain everything. Insights did come though as the twisting mind followed the road signs.
The more I searched eastern mythology, the more I was convinced that George Lucas just used the Trimurti as a foundation for the divine aspects and underlying “forces” that moved the Star Wars universe but the Indian epics really did not direct his character and narrative directions/developments. But hey, maybe the Bendu and Brahma have somethings in common.
As such, we move onto the other set of myths that hail from the islands miles away once held by the Celts. We move to Britain and Ireland next. This is where the character traits and arcs seem to have been extracted. In the next musing, we will explore who Rey, Finn and Snoke might be or at least their derivations.
To be continued...
In EPISODE II, we will discuss and muse upon who Snoke, Rey, and Finn are and how we've seen the stories before.