I was blessed to be asked to contribute an article for the Southern California Research Lodge’s Fraternal Review. Their December 2017 issue was titled “The Force and the Light” and was dedicated to Star Wars articles.
The Primeval Conflict
“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order”. -Carl Jung
The battle between Chaos and Cosmos is the primeval conflict.
The Scottish Rite 33rd Degree motto, “Ordo ab Chaos”, Order out of Chaos, is a literal illustration of this ancient struggle.
Similarly in Star Wars, the battle between the Jedi and the Sith, between the dark side and the light side of the Force, alludes to this principal battle of opposites.
This is just one of many of the universal concepts alluded to in both Freemasonry and Star Wars. Both are narrative works of art which try to use symbol and allusion to impart these ineffable truths.
Another example is the Monad. Known to Freemasons as the Point within a Circle, it is the symbol of the creative principle. It is a humble representation of the unlimited potential of God. The youngest of Masons are esoterically taught that they, as Masons, individually represent this sacred potential.
In Star Wars this simple symbol dramatically adorns the Death Star as its primary weapon of destruction. Symbols inspire. In this case, that inspiration is fear.
The Temple is one of the enduring archetypes of our shared consciousness. By both its design and construction it symbolizes the awesome power of God. It fills the heart of any man that views it with humility. It inspires obedience to God’s will.
The main purpose of the Temple of Solomon was to house the Ark of the Covenant. In such service the temple is a sacred container of the creative principle or Spirit of God which is often represented by the monad.
In a perverse but similar manner the Death Star is a container for the destructive principle. In this way it can be thought of as a temple of sorts.
While at first glance it may seem ironic that we would find a symbolical representation of the generative force of God within a structure that is designed to be used as an implement of destruction, upon further examination it makes complete sense.
One of the primary uses of the temple is as a place for the penitent to offer sacrifice to God. It is said that, at its dedication, King Solomon sacrificed 144,000 animals. He sacrificed so many animals that they had to use the courtyard to contain them all. This sacrifice is in large part meant to appease a God who has often destroyed his creation to punish those who have dishonored him.
Ironically, the ultimate purpose of the Death Star isn’t to destroy; it’s to create. What does it create? “Order from Chaos” (Ordo ab Chaos). Order is inspired by fear. The destruction of Alderaan is simply a means to this end. It is a sacrifice similar to that of Solomon. It would be counter productive to destroy planets. These planets provide valuable resources to fuel the machine that is the Empire. A weapon such as this is best used as a deterrent.
The similarity of these grand edifices don’t end there. Both the Temple and the Death Star were monumental construction projects that took years to complete. We learn that 153,303 men were employed in the construction of the Temple. Depending on the sources used, somewhere along the lines of 500,000 workers were used to build the Death Star.
A still further shared concept is that of the dyad. The dyad is the symbol of creation or Cosmos. The concept expresses duality or otherness.
We find this symbol expressed in Freemasonry as the twin pillars on the porch of King Solomon’s Temple. Freemasonry, as well as the Bible, tells us of these pillars. Of particular interest to our discussion is the one on the left. According to the bible the pillar on the North or left side of the entrance was called Boaz and represented strength. Not as well known is the fact that this pillar is thought to have been Ionic in style.
The Ionic order in Architecture was developed in Ionia in the 6th century BC. Legend has it that the Ionians were a Greek tribe founded by Ion, the illegitimate son of the Sun God Apollo. He is also believed to be known in the Bible as Javan.
One of the most famous examples of the Ionic style was the Temple of Artemis which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Artemis was Apollo’s twin sister and was Goddess of the Moon, wilderness and the hunt. Interstingly, this temple was built and destroyed three times; once by flood, once by fire, and once by the ravages of war.
In the The Ten Orders of Architecture, Vitruvius wrote that the slender nature of the Ionic column was inspired by the female body. Perhaps not surprisingly. he was not the only one to attribute feminine characteristics to columns.
The Kabbalah also uses columns and the feminine form to symbolize deeper teachings. We learn from the Jewish Virtual Library that, “The Left side of the Sefirot structure is the side of power and strict justice, the values embodied in the Sefirah of Din. It is the female side, representing the fearsome awe of God, and the principles of separation and distinction. The unrestrained dominion of the Left side gives rise to Evil.” 2
In Star Wars the central structure of the second Death Star consisted of two pillars or columns, one North and one South, that distributed power from a hypermatter reactor core.
The South Pole of one of these columns served as a place for rest and refreshment for the outer shell construction crews. The North Pole served as Emporer Palpaitine’s personal throne room and was modeled after hiss headquarters in the former Jedi Temple on Coruscant. As such it was sparse, cold, and empty.
Interestingly, the Death Star also has additional allusions to the Ionic. It was powered by Ion engines. While the etymology of the word Ion is not clear, one theory is that it derives “From ancient Egyptian ‘iwn “pillar, tree trunk” extended into iwnt “bow” (of wood?) and ‘Iwntyw “bowmen, archers.”” 3
The wood used in the construction of the Temple of Solomon came from the Forests of Lebanon. These forests have been associated with the Gods for most of recorded history. The cedars that populated these forests were prized by almost every major civilization in the area. Legends say that the Sumerians battled demigods to gain access to the prized wood. The Phoenicians built their mighty fleet. The Egyptians used the wood for mummification and to make Papyrus. Solomon built his temple as well as the
Ark of the Covenent from these sacred timbers. Furthermore, Smith’s Bible Dictionary says that, “The cedar is a type of the Christian, being evergreen, beautiful, aromatic, wide spreading, slow growing, long lived, and having many uses.“ 4
The Death Star was built next to the Forest Moon of Endor. In the First Book of Samuel, Saul consults a woman known as The Witch of Endor to summon the deceased prophet Samuel in order that he may learn the outcome of an impending battle. Samuel informs him that he will lose the battle as well as his life and that God has chosen his Son-in- Law, David, to become King in his place. David’s Son and successor Solomon goes on to build the Temple which bears his name.
In First Kings we read of a certain flight of winding stairs within this Temple. The fact that they are winding is no idle detail. ‘This alludes to the archetype of the labyrinth. Collins English Dictionary defines a labyrinth as “1. a maze like network of tunnels, chambers, or paths…”
The most famous labyrinth is that “…built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos.” 5 Fourteen Athenian youths were chosen to be sacrificed every nine years to the Minotaur which resided within the labyrinth. This practice ended when Theseus slayed this mythical beast. On returning to Athens by ship he forgot to raise the white sail as a signal of his success. His father, Aegeus, threw himself into the sea in despair thereby making Theseus the King of Athens.
The interior of the Death Star was no doubt a maze of chambers and paths. Twice we find allusion to the labyrinth and the slaying of a beast. While rescuing Leia from the Death Star in A New Hope, Luke, Chewbacca, Leia, and Han are trapped in a trash compactor with a Dianoga which was a squid-like creature.
In Return of the Jedi Luke, much like Theseus, voluntarily enters the maze to battle a monster. The motif of the labyrinth is displayed behind the throne by the structure of the window. Ultimately, his Father, Darth Vader, sacrifices himself by throwing the Emperor down the reactor shaft or Ionic pillar. This selfless act theoretically fulfills Luke’s destiny and allows him to become what his Father failed to be, a Jedi.
Story is the tool that man uses to make order of the formless chaos that is the universe. The narratives of countless generations are the threads which are weaved into the shared tapestry of the story of Man. The rituals of Freemasonry and the narratives of Star Wars are just two of those threads. Hopefully, just as the thread of Ariadne assisted Theseus to escape the labyrinth these stories lead us to the understanding of the meaning of life.
1. https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/in-all-chaos-there-is-a- cosmos-carl-jung/