SPIRITUAL SOAP: Weird & Güd - The Otherside
An ancient balancing act
Before we were The Black Sheep, we were a newsletter named Spiritual Soap. Please enjoy this article from our history!
I enjoy research too much and I’m a shameless critic. Weird & Güd is the conjoining of those misanthropic qualities into something useful: recommendations and fascinations neatly packaged together for you every week, no hermeticism required.
The Inherent Creepiness of Twins — Whether in horror movies or ancient history, humans have been suspicious of twins since the beginning of time. We might not think about twins in the same metaphysical way that people historically did (boo science), but twins remain embedded in our collective unconscious as the Jungian archetypes would have.
Twins have always been cast as the symbols of duality — night and day, life and death, good and evil. You could spend an entire graduate school career studying twin myths and never run short of material.
The ancient Maya had their own twin myth—Hunahpu and Xbalanque. These twins represent (as most twin myths do) an origin story; to avenge their father’s murder, Hunahpu and Xbalanque trick the evil gods at every chance during a series of seemingly innocent games actually designed to kill them (aka every introvert’s feelings about a party). They win, but the citizens of this corrupt city want blood and kill them anyway. Though the twins revive themselves and kill the last of the evil gods, One Death and Seven Death, they recover their father’s remains and continue climbing up into the heavens where one becomes the moon and the other the sun. Origin.
What is it that makes us so iffy about twins? In West Africa, twin sentiments range from the curse-control rituals of Igbo societies that viewed twins as a bad omen to the worship of twins by Yoruba societies that viewed them as an avenue to prosperity. Yet the Yorbua still feared twins, believing that a twin who falls ill or dies signals suffering to come for an entire community.
Twin Mask (Nda) 19th–20th century — Baule peoples
The symbology of twins has served as a reminder that all things have the capacity to be other than what we think; the day can be the night, the living can be the dead. Twins represent the duality of all things, our individual selves included. We think of ourselves as one being, yet we are really two — we are both the us we know and the us we present to others, we are masculine and feminine, we are conscious and unconscious, good and evil. Twins are an unnerving reminder that nothing, including ourselves, is ever one-sided.
(This section will have vague spoilers but spoilers nonetheless).
Midsommar is güd. It’s really güd.
This movie is about the cost of modern life. It shows us the price we pay for an individualistic society. No one truly listens because all our inner narratives are at odds with each other; we suffer alone because even in the presence of loved ones we are so removed from each other that we can offer little more than a presence; we cannot tell when we are wanted and cling to the decaying bonds we’ve managed to forge in an alienated society.
Dani is particularly welcomed into Pelle’s Swedish “family,” he takes an uncomfortable liking to her and seems to show up every time her boyfriend fails to. Dani moves farther from her friends and boyfriend as the family integrates her into their rituals; she leaves behind her own identity, dressing like the family and taking part in their communal activities.
The ultimate communion occurs towards the end when she sees something that nearly breaks her. Her first instinct is to run off by herself to shriek and mourn, but the women of the family follow her, mimicking her movements. She screams, they scream back. She sobs, they sob in return. The group of women cry and yell together like a herd of gazelle that collectively shifts to absorb every obstacle. We see deep suffering yet now see power and light where we once saw impotence and darkness.
There is beauty in every communal, chaotic act performed; even the most gruesome scenes are colorful and theatrical. We follow Dani as she moves away from her isolated individualism, we find ourselves sympathetic if not rooting for her as she makes the ultimate sacrifice in exchange for what she’s never had.
Midsommar shows us the dangers of a society of people so isolated, so alienated from each other, that we are willing to accept destruction in exchange for family.
I hope this makes your week a little weirder and a little güder. Now go forth, be weird, and above all, be güd.
I sit alone at a desk biting my nails to bring you every edition of Spiritual Soap. Is it worth it? Don’t tell me, show me.