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.

 

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)

The Origin Of Evil

Stories about the other world often explore the origin of evil. My work is no exception. The question about the origin of evil lies at the bottom both of philosophical work as work of art. In philosophy and theology, the question is often discussed as “theodicy”, which also implies the question why is there evil in the world?

Season Three Of Twin Peaks, already mentioned in the latest post “Ontological Shock“, is not only an example of a visionary experience but also a breathtaking meditation about the origin of evil by David Lynch in episode 8 of the outstanding series.

 

Episode 8 led to many discussions and became a milestone in modern TV, its central sequence of a nuclear blast turning into a surreal trip compared to Kubrick’s Odyssey 2001.

Along the convincing creative work of David Lynch there are a couple of remarkable things: on one side there is a near-literal visualization of gnostic ideas and also neo-platonic philosophy where things getting transformed from the world of ideas into the material world. The gnostic dualism has never been so obvious as in episode 8. On the other side, it evokes a feeling of a cosmic evil without explaining too much. On some level, there is no explanation necessary.

I wouldn’t even say this is an explanation of evil or the creation of evil (the appearance of Bob – the later killer-demon triggered that interpretation).

There could not be an explanation where there is no real explanation. There might be belief-systems or philosophical systems but episode 8 let us feel a darkness which can’t be understood in an intellectual way. There is no explanation. The atomic blast might not have created evil but perhaps it was something like a door-opener. If we imagine a universe full of life, full of conscience there are always elemental cosmic powers waiting in their otherworldly realm for an invitation.

Todd VanDerWerff is right when he writes in his article on Vox.com, “you can try to evoke evil in the audience”. What we can do in a movie or a series is that kind of meditation which let people remember something which they do know but what has been forgotten.





Furthermore, words fail to explain what evil is. What David Lynch does brilliantly in his work, is to make the invisible a visible and palpable thing through an atmosphere, through stories told in pictures and the interplay of actors who can express something which works like a virus and can possess you completely.


We get it that the ancient gnostic idea is true that the material world itself carries the energy of evil, that is is always around us and looking for expressing itself in horrible manifestations. You can show how it is always at work and be shaping our lives if we don’t care.

It always finds a way into our world, and there are endless forms or masks or ways of deception. It needs chaos to prevail and tempts us in ways we don’t imagine.

In the Forest Dark Movie Project, I will present my own vision about the origin of evil. I believe there is something we all know about this, but the definition is also a thing of individual belief and experience in life. A problem I see at the core of this question is that words fail to describe precisely what it is. As we have seen in “The Demonic Principle” even Goethe struggled with appropriate definitions.

Maybe there is even a relationship between creativity and the origin of evil. Longtime creative work is often also an attempt to express what is unspeakable, and it can be a gift or a curse to deal with certain things – it can mean for the artist to undergo his own dark journeys or he risks to become the sorcerer’s apprentice and gets abused in the cosmic battle between light and dark. Even more, the artist might be chosen a long time before by higher forces without knowing himself and given the task to communicate and to give us insight into the real order of the world.

The Local Gods

Walter Evan-Wentz, a student of folklore, developed some very interesting ideas about the ancient gods, religion and paranormal phenomena. Among the famous “Tibetan Book Of The Dead”, he is also well-known for his book “The Masked Gods” in his time. It’s common knowledge now that the ancient gods are continued to live under different names.

However, Jaques Valleé speaks in his book “Dimension” about an even more interesting discovery by Evan-Wentz: “Could it be, he asked, that every land has its own psychic and telluric forces, contributing to the appearance of certain spirit entities, regarded by human beings as gods and goddesses? (Jacques Vallee, “Dimensions”)”

unknowngods12-Kopie

As I said in The Summoning I think that rituals and secret practices are often the expressions of the hidden forces at a certain place. It is an interesting thought that these gods are an expression of a psychic and telluric force rather than universal beings, which are usually imagined as celestial beings. However, if we look at ancient and even Christian tradition it makes sense. There are many saints which are special and have some sort of “local identity”.

The most interesting thought by Evan-Wentz is that not only the locals but the visitors, the new settlers, the intruder comes under influence of these gods.

Evan-Wentz writes in Masked Gods: “They had confronted here that great psychic entity which was the spirit-of-place, the heart of a new continent. It shattered them completely. But each succumbed in a different way”.

I believe that is what often also folk horror stories are about. It’s not only a potential confrontation with the locals but the visitor comes under influence of the landscape and its psychic forces. These forces find expression in paranormal phenomena but not necessarily.

Evan-Wentz reported that he heard about “shining beings”, which appeared to the Indians in California on sacred mountains which were very similar like the encounter the founder of the “Church Of Latter-Day”, Joseph Smith, had. It seems that in the new world resides a powerful psychic force, which triggers people to change in a certain way. It tends to create its own kind of belief-system. The otherworldliness of the new world is a different one as in Europe or Asia.

Sometimes it is all about atmosphere and a sort of hidden influence felt by visitors or by inhabitants. Often we can’t lay our finger on it. It’s difficult to describe what it exactly is, but we know it is there. Imagining these psychic forces as gods is a logical way to give these forces some face. In stories, it’s a challenge because if you want to stick true to otherworldy realities you might not have a Bigfoot-like monster or an ax-swinging madman as an antagonist. Therefore it’s sometimes difficult to explain the story.

Often we deal with’s what left of paranormal events a long time ago. Some supernatural-god-like force left its footprint on the landscape and the local population. Wonders and unexplainable mind-shattering events lead to weird belief-systems. Maybe the spiritual entity is already gone for a long time. But what happened is alive in a tribal memory.



If we look deeper into this, we are confronted with more mind-boggling questions: How could it be the place, the landscape? Why does it happen? My opinion is it even we not necessarily find a paranormal element either in a true story or legend or a fictional story it always tells us that there must be some sort of otherworld. It means there is an otherworld even more powerful than we think: our literal world, the landscapes, the forests, the mountains are more or less the surface on a windows-screen. The real world lies beneath. The otherworld carries our world.

And why? Maybe there is a spiritual control system. One favorite theory of Valleé and other ufologists is that men are the object of a control system engaged by invisible gods.

In the same chapter in “Dimensions” Jacques Valleé mentions a former Jesuit priest who implied in conversations with Vallee that “the “phenomenon originates with entities that manipulate our reality and our destiny for their own purposes”(Dimensions).

But what do we know? We can only develop our models or speculate what’s going on but the enormous impact both of real stories and fiction dealing with “the local gods” make us sure of the underlying truth.