Black Fire

“Sometimes people see wildfires in Witch Mountains but the trees are not consumed. The fires are known as ghost fires or black fires” (The Forest Dark Movie Project).

What is Black Fire or a Cold Fire? It is mentioned in fiction, religious text and in sightings. It exists. Black Fire is a supernatural thing, a metaphorical thing and a physical reality. Indeed there is also a literally black fire which can be demonstrated in chemistry experiments: If a fire gets illuminated with a monochromatic light source (sodium vapour) and you put sodium ions in the fire the flames appear black.

A black flame is mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone.

Furthermore, black fire is for example mentioned by Deputy Hawk in Twin Peaks III when he explains the map to Sheriff Truman. He said that “there are two kinds of fire, similar to modern day electricity, but depending on your intention. Black fire symbolizes death and destruction, and probably the Black Lodge”


However Black Fire is not an invention by Lynch and Frost. It is an ancient idea which already occurs in connection with the Bible/Torah. In Jewish thought “Black Fire” is important.

The supernatural experience of Moses in Exodus 3:2 leads to the mention of black fire:

“There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. (Bible, New International Version)”.

The Midrash ( the biblical exegesis – interpretation – by ancient Judaic authorities) on Exodus 3:2 explains:

“From this they derived that the heavenly fire shoots out branches upwards, burns but does not consume, and is black in color; whereas fire used here below does not branch upwards and is red, and consumes but does not burn.”

Scholar and Rabbi Fern Feldman gives an excellent and very interesting insight on her website and opens up a new way of thinking about “black fire” and “darkness”:

Rabbi Fern Feldman: “It may be hard to imagine a black fire—perhaps it is counter-intuitive, or paradoxical. So what can we learn from this black fire?

The fire metaphor itself is multifold. It implies something awesome, powerful, something with the potential to give life or death”.

We learn that black fire is an ancient symbol for the sacred, the divine, the otherworld and there is ambiguity.

The Black Fire mentioned in Twin Peaks is also not always necessarily evil. As Hawk puts it it depends. The experience of black fire is more that we are able of overcome our boundaries and feel connected. “We become aware of a larger whole that includes all of it”, as Rabbi Feldman says.

 

Black Fire has an even longer tradition in Jewish History. It is said that the Torah is “black fire on white fire”.

“R. Simeon ben Lakish said: The Torah given to Moses was written with black fire upon white fire, sealed with fire, and swathed with bands of fire” and Yerushalmi Shelamim 6:1, 49d): THE FIRST THINGS CREATED – In the beginning, two thousand years before the heaven and the earth, seven things were created: the Torah written with black fire on white fire, and lying in the lap of God” etc. Source: Sefaria.org

Thus black fire is often a metaphor for something real, an expression of the divine. The gods can’t be seen in itself. One way they show their presence is through images which might occur paradoxical.

Black Fire is often seen as the fire of creation. That is why people are interested in it. Black fire is at the bottom of things. It is a hidden driving force. Black Fire might be also the Philosopher’s Secret Fire (Patrick Harpur wrote a book by the same title and describes it as something accompanying human history but which can’t be defined in a single way).

It is possible that black fire as a manifestation of something we can’t understand appears also in our days hiding behind other phenomenas like mysterious lights and many other.

In my story this is why people are drawn towards the forest dark. This is where black fire is more closely.

 

The Fields Have Eyes, The Forest Has Ears

“The Fields Have Eyes, The Forest Has Ears” is revering mostly to a drawing by Hieronymus Busch who labeled it after a proverb. That proverb “The Fields Have Eyes, The Forest Has Ears” from around 1500 AD is mostly interpreted in the same way as “the walls have ears”. It means to be careful because there is surveillance.

But there is another connection here. It could be also seen in a more literal sense. The forest exerts influence upon us. And the forest knows your deepest secrets.

Alexander Porteous mentions the proverb in his famous book “The Forest In Folklore And Mythology”: “It has been said that the forest knows all and is able to teach all, and there is a French proverb to the effect that the forest, which always listens, has the secret of every mystery, while a Latin proverb of the Middle Ages says: Aures sunt nemoris, oculi compestribus oris, and similarly the German: Das Feld hat Augen, der Wald hat Ohren”.

Therefore there is probably here a different background leading to the deeper mythological dimension of the forest.

Some forests are like a big organism. There are many folk traditions where the forest is like a deity. It is something which has to be respected. The forest can be a friend but it can be also a fierce enemy. It is more like a zone with intelligence. Sometimes there is a deity known as the “king of the forest” residing in a certain tree.

The forest’s deities were also often worshipped in a grove. Furthermore,the witches met and performed rituals in these holy groves. Oracles were spoken in the glades of the primeval woods.

Sir James George Frazer’s “The Golden Bough”, a study in magic and religion, describes an ancient sacred ritual happening deep in the forest. It lies at the core of future pagan religions and others. A priest is sacrificed by his successor. Obviously, the sacrifice is made to a deity in the forest. This exchange between supernatural powers and men is the very model for human belief systems for a long time.


There are a lot of forest customs in later centuries where we see the “quid pro quo” principle: A favour or advantage is granted in return for something. If you want something from the forest(‘s deities) you have to offer something in return.

The forest has many things in store for us: food, knowledge, even protection (you can hide in the forest from your enemies). But something has to be offered in return. If the balance is disturbed the forest can take something (for example from the village in the midst of the forest). Somebody might disappear.

The forest deities exert immense power and influence. Today, we have forgotten about the older knowledge, but these forces haven’t vanished. The forest still has ears. He knows secrets and in certain moments knowledge can be gained. It doesn’t take much time and the wanderer will feel the elder gods in the solitude of a walk in the middle of a mountain forest.

In some places,strange stories happen a lot. Villagers far away from the big cities keep the old ceremonies alive. In the so-called Bennington Triangle region, Vermont, north-eastern USA, there is a ceremony that for over 50 years nobody has mysteriously vanished. There were a number of disturbing cases of vanishings which could never be solved. The area had already a certain reputation which goes back a long way. The American natives only used it as a burial ground and believed in evil spirits. An enchanted stone was suspected to swallow everything that passed by. People not only disappeared when walking in the woods but from their homes and even from a bus.

We do not know if they do something to please the spirits of the wilderness in that ceremony.

But ceremonies always need one crucial element: The belief that somebody or something is watching you and that this entity might react.

It seems that there are still places where something in the woods is watching you – “The forest has ears”.

Tour Guide To The Otherworld

In stories with a metaphysical setting as in my The Forest Dark Movie Project, a kind of a professional guide is often introduced. The most prominent example, however, is “The Stalker” in Andrey Tarkovsky’s movie based on the Brothers Strugatzki’s novel.

In “Stalker”, there is a quarantined zone. Inside there is the danger. What happens in the zone is a secret. The government is sealing off the zone.  Entry is forbidden. No one gets in, no one gets out. The idea of such a zone appears also in other stories. A similar concept appears in “Annihilation” but without the guide. These type of stories and ideas go back a long way and most of all these zones do exist. Most people know about the “Bermuda Triangle” or “Area51” but there are zones which are much closer to civilisation and the everyday world:

In an outstanding documentary, “L’Autre Monde” (Otherworld) legendary filmmaker Richard Stanley portrays the magic region in South-West-France around Montsegur. This zone, where the supernatural is pretty alive, “a place where magic still has “currency”, is well known as the setting of the Dan Brown novels and is rich in history. It is indeed labelled as “The Zone”. Stanley and his companion Scarlett Amaris investigated over years and unearthed convincing evidence and disturbing secrets.

Montsegur is not the only place haunted: There are several zones on this planet, some places are forests, like the already mentioned Freetown-Fall River State Forest with the “Bridgewater Triangle”. They are often seen as a portal to other dimensions.

In psychogeography, there are also more subtle zones, not always known as haunted but are loaded with some sort of otherworld energy.

 

Usually, a lot of people who tried to conquer forbidden zones or haunted forests are never come back. But these guides survive somehow. They must have extraordinary abilities or somehow they are connected to the “Zone”. In Tarkovsky’s movie, the Zone is described as sentient. It has itself an understanding of any kind of intruder and it responds. The guide, on the other hand, is also a highly sensible man. It doesn’t mean that he actively communicates with the Zone, but he knows things. In Twin Peaks, it is Deputy Hawk who acts sometimes as a guide person in the mysterious forest. He is a very positive person. Also “The Stalker” has positive intentions, but is a much more desperate person.




Of course, there are many real guides taking people to mysterious places or zones of the supernatural. Both the real persons as the fictional guides cannot be trusted all the times. They are intermediaries between two worlds. In a positive sense, they gain knowledge and teach others what they learned on the other side. Furthermore, they can help to survive in a dangerous metaphysical setting. On the other side, they can not always be trusted. If it is a dark place they might have become corrupted. Or they follow their own agenda.

The “Stalker” movie was a movie with interesting ideas about hidden desires. The “Zone” does know a lot of things about the visitors. If we imagine a haunted forest knowing perhaps the deepest secrets entering such a place can be a dangerous game. You can’t know what kind of “deal” you guide made with the forbidden zone, the dark forest. Perhaps he is trading you for something. Perhaps he is not always under control or can’t control himself. Things could happen.

These human guides are the opposite of the spiritual guides of the “otherworldly journey”.

What if a person wants to be a guide, a shaman, an intermediator between the worlds, but doesn’t have the gift?

You need to have some sort of sixth sense,  open-mindedness and not being a selfish guru-type person to become a positive guide person. Otherwise, such a guide can be a puppet in the hands of the dark forces lurking deep inside a zone of the paranormal.

It is a theme in my story but also, in reality, we know we have to be careful with certain guru-types who returned from who-knows-what kind of place.

Manifestation: TheForestDark Tableau Video Installment No2

Lights, apparitions and other strange phenomena. The otherworld has many faces. It is said that the darker forces seem often to manifest itself in something akin to fire and electricity. This is a force the magicians believe they can use.

Electricity is a common medium. Perhaps there is more than meets the eye. It could be a medium for many things.

Fire is the symbol of transformation. It is important to survive. It can destroy. If it appears in the sky it heralds the coming of supernatural beings. The chariot of fire in the Old Testament is both threatening and awesome.

Fire and electricity play an important part in The Forest Dark. There is fire in the air. Unsettling paintings and reports as those from the time between the Dark Ages and Modern times remind us of the presence of another world.

Fire and something akin to electromagnetic forces appear often before the window to another reality get opened.

Sometimes it is a certain place at a certain time when such windows open. And sometimes there are people looking for these moments and these places.  Some people sense danger when the air is electrified, some not. In my story, I make use of some old legends, that there is a dark force inhabiting places which came to earth a long time ago. In some ways, it is the force which is like Fire and Electricity, but it expresses itself also in images.

The images we see in moments when we are close to the otherworld are often something more like a riddle. It is not like in the folklore stories. In visionary encounters, we see things which could have many meanings. Sometimes they are like symbols changing the course of people’s lives, sometimes they are like the dangerous lights seen in some forests.

It is maybe not what it seems but this force which is like fire and electricity can inhabit an evil spirit as John Milton said:

“Hope elevates, and joy
Bright’ns his Crest, as when a wandring Fire
Compact of unctuous vapour, which the Night
Condenses, and the cold invirons round,
Kindl’d through agitation to a Flame,
Which oft, they say, some evil Spirit attends”

(Paradise Lost)