In Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, we are presented with a prescient, dystopian future based on Phillip K. Dick’s novella, “Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep?” We will see that this film is full of not only accurate predictions of the future’s general landscape, but is also suffused with occult imagery and deep symbolic themes, as well as raising crucial moral and social issues. As I will argue, the film operates on several levels: as the immediate story itself, the predictive future level with social critiques, the level of covert operations and mind control, and the deepest level, that of myths, archetypes, and alchemical occult initiatory transformation. All these levels must be integrated to grasp the full import of the film as Ridley Scott conveys it. The deepest level is what holds the other levels together in coherence and meaning.
As the film begins, the viewer is shown the 2020 landscape of Los Angeles, and then an eye viewing the landscape. The eye represents the viewer, and just as I explained in my analysis of Eyes Wide Shut, the viewing of the film itself will constitute an initiatory experience. The viewer is going to be shown the elite plan, yet the eyes of most will remain shut. For the masses, there is no ability to make deeper level connections and associations between ideas, symbols and archetypes. For the viewer who has eyes to see, they are seeing the future itself, as well as the worldview of the ruling class. In fact, Blade Runnerranks with Eyes Wide Shut as one of the most explicit revelations of the method of the ruling oligarchs. My interpretation of this is confirmed by the fact that the film doesn’t show us whose eye we see. In fact, the reflection in the eye shows the scene the viewer just saw of the L.A. cityscape.
It is significant that we are presented with two shots of the eye and then the cut to the Tyrell corporation’s ziggurat/pyramid shape. Immediately we are presented with Egyptian symbology, as well as the notions of the so-called “Illuminati.” The all-seeing eye is flashed in between images of the exalted pyramid in order to initiate the viewer into who is running things. This is the connection of imagery and meaning that most are not able to make.
We are given hints as well that perhaps this is an ancient technology of dominance – the “technology of the gods.” In reality, the technology of the gods meme refers to the elite perspective of themselves and their “magickal” worldview: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, as Arthur C. Clarke’s third law says. The “god” is the one who controls the genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. The cap of the pyramid is empty because the head of the system is secret. It’s a shadow corporate government, where the eye floats above the pyramid itself. The eye is thus above and transcends the externalization of the hierarchy on earth.
When the viewer approaches the pyramid in the open scene, it is engulfed in golden sunlight, conjuring up notions of Ra and Egypt. The mysteries of Egypt center around the godlike philosopher king (Pharoah), as the material manifestation of Atum Ra, mirroring the spiritual hierarchy on the spiritual plane. In this dystopian future, the Egyptian scheme is replaced by a corporate system. The light is enlightening the viewer, taking him along for the ride in the flying car to the top of the pyramid. In other words, for those that can see, you are about to see what they see.
We are then shown “Voight-Kampff” testing given to Leon, one of the Replicants, or advanced A.I. robots created by the Tyrell Corporation. The test is designed to see if the possible Replicant has emotions, will and desire. “Kampff” recalls Hitler’s Mein Kampf, his manifesto devoted to his struggle, characterized as one of will. Tyrell, we learn, has been in the business of developing assassination droids, sex droids, etc., yet some Replicants, however, do not know they are programmed with false memories and a false identity (which the BBC just reported in relation to DARPA).
In this perspective, the Replicants seem to partly resemble the infamous plans of various states over the last century to create “supersoldiers,” or mind controlled assassins in operations like MKULTRA, BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE. With examples like Sirhan Sirhan, it would appear there was success, and it was in fact Nazi scientists, hearkening back to the Mein Kampf reference, who worked on such mind control projects, as well as the Soviets and the U.S. “Roy Batty,” (played by Rutger Hauer) the “Nexus 6″ model and leader of the rebel Replicants is himself a supersoldier assassin, “more human than a human,” as Tyrell states. The retinal image returns and this time it’s Leon Kowalski. Leon is given the test and assassinates his tester at a certain point when the trigger words “tortoise” and “mother” are mentioned, signifying that in mind control, manipulation of symbols and Jungian archetypes is crucial. The tortoise is associated with Hermes/mercury, as I will show and which will be relevant later.
The Replicants are given a four-year lifespan which allows Tyrell to have total control, keeping them from ever rebelling or having a lengthy time to work towards revolution. Similarly, in real life the elite have always sought to control lifespans and populations through eugenics and full spectrum dominance. It could also possibly have reference to the self-destruct programming in the mind controlled assassins to kill themselves rather than be interrogated and spill the beans. In fact, in regard to Project ARTICHOKE, a memo is reported to read: “Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature, such as self-preservation?”
The viewer then hears advertisements from huge telescreens and billboards telling him that the system can take you “off world.” The system thus holds out a hope of fulfillment in a heaven-like “golden” “off world” colony, much like states in the past have controlled their subjects through a non-existent hope. The masses are thus weak, shifting sands, subject to the sway of childlike propaganda and psychological warfare. From Plato’s Republic to August Comte’s notion of a purely civic religion, the idea of a state-controlled and created fake religion for the purpose of mass manipulation is an ancient foundational elite control mechanism.
We also see Chinese businesses and foodstuffs everywhere, indicating that the U.S. has become a third world cesspool of globalism.The populace is thus managed by a top-down corporatocracy above, while below, a degenerate and poverty-stricken populace is blended together (Asians, Russians, etc.), and ruled by their corporate overlords. The future then, is a kind of intense corporate police state fascism, where everyone is tracked and traced, particularly by retina scans. Dragons are also seen everywhere in Chinatown, suggesting the control of the primeval serpent: a world run by the shadow corporatocracy is one where the iconography of the serpent dominates, conjuring up ancient archetypal imagery from Genesis where the serpent deceives man into thinking he can become god, which will be crucial to Blade Runner’s overall message.
Deckard stands under a Pentagram, with a snake-eyed Pentagram in the background.
Indeed, globalism itself is partly used by the elite to wipe out the middle class and polarize the masses into a large swath of poor with a tiny cadre of super rich at the top. Ironically, the corporate system itself mirrors the communist party system, where the CEO is the party leader, the shareholders party bosses, and the wage-slave populace working endlessly for nothing other than the furtherance of the system itself. It is significant as well that we almost never see daytime in the film, aside from one scene. Blade Runner takes place almost solely at night, possibly due to a wrecked corporate-controlled ecosystem that exists solely to serve the interests of the Tyrell Corporation. How prophetic, given the fact thatChina is busy buying up the U.S.?
Dick wisely places the corporation at the center of the future’s controlling power, giving it an “Illuminati” status, as opposed to some oppressive government or dictator. The future, for Dick, is controlled by a single global mega corporation, headed by a tech genius who happens to obtain a kind of godlike status by creating sentient beings in his own image (Replicants). This will be crucial for my analysis of the film’s underlying esoteric theme – thatBlade Runner is a gnostic myth or allegory. Recall as well that Ridley Scott used this same theme in Alien, where the future is controlled by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.
Deckard is “handled” by a mysterious figure named Gaff (played by Edward James Olmos), who recalls Deckard from retirement to hunt down the Replicants. We don’t learn much about Gaff, yet he does something very significant. Throughout the film, as he leads Deckard, he leaves origami figurines as symbolic indicators that reveal the method to Deckard himself. The first origami figure is the rooster: in Freemasonic initiations, the rooster is associated with Hermes/Mercurcy/Thoth, the guide to the Underworld and initiator of mysteries. We have again returned to the initiatory theme. Gaff is enlightening Deckard as well as the audience, as the eye, pyramid, snake, rooster are serving to tap into the archetypes in the psyche of the audience, enlightening the viewer to the mysteries of the elite. According to the British Grand Lodge, the rooster is associated with alchemy:
“Mercury appears as the rooster drawn on the wall of the Chamber of Reflection. This animal is connected to the deity Hermes, that is, Mercury. It is a feminine principle, referring to Vigilance and it also corresponds to Faith. As the rooster sings at dawn announcing the light of day, so it announces to our future initiate, the Light he may receive.”
Alchemical woodcut of Hermes/Thoth/Mercury
An article on Greek and Indian mythology elucidates this connection well:
“Hermes often helped travelers have a safe and easy journey. Many Greeks would sacrifice to Hermes before any trip. In the fully developed Olympian pantheon, Hermes was the son of Zeus and the Pleiade Maia, a daughter of the Titan Atlas. Hermes’ symbols were the rooster and the tortoise, and he can be recognized by his purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap and the herald’s staff, the kerykeion.”
Gaff (who carries a staff/cane) is leading Deckard all along, enlightening him to his true nature and, as will be seen, leading him to safe haven. It is interesting as well that Tyrell’s pyramid/ziggurat resembles Mt. Olympus, and is full of Imperial and occult symbolism. Gaff, as the travelling messenger (Hermes/Thoth) of Olympus/Egypt takes Deckard to Tyrell, who can apparently only be accessed at the top of the pyramid by flying car. The Owl, with prominent eye imagery, as well as a Masonic/Egyptian obelisk and a fascist Roman Eagle, all mark Tyrell’s golden kingdom. Deckard is informed he must hunt down the remaining Replicants, two of which are sex slaves and two assassins, two unknowns are Rachael (Sean Young) and Deckard himself.
Is that a synthetic obelisk, or are you happy to see me?
Deckard is instructed to test Rachael with the Voight-Kampff test to see if he can detect emotions. Rachael is identified as a Replicant after a hundred questions from the test, while Deckard realizes he has feelings for her. Deckard is amazed that Rachael is unaware, and Tyrell explains the company implants false memories. This becomes crucial in the analysis of the film, because the concept of forgetting one’s true origin is central to the gnostic cosmology. In the process of the fall (in the gnostic and Platonic schemes), the many has lost its origin in the one, the monad. The multiplicity of particulars are thus in a process of return to the monad from whence they have fallen into individuality.
In fact, in the next scene, Roy Batty is himself seeking out his creator by visiting the eye manufacturer. When Roy finds him, he cites the famous gnostic mythological poems of William Blake, America A Prophecy and A Vision of the Last Judgment. Blake’s poem is a mythological account of the American revolution against King George III, presented as an anti-christ figure and emissary of Urizen, Blake’s view of the biblical God, portrayed as an old, miserly, vengeful deity. Just as Orc rebelled against the King, and Lucifer against God, so Roy Batty will rebel against his creator, Tyrell, for allowing him to be created with a flaw. Wikipedia explains:
“The implications of the work are taken up in America, with the King of England trembling as he sees Orc, the embodiment of the American colonies. The Angel of Albion believes Orc is the anti-christ and Orc believes the King of England is the same. This is followed by Orc’s apocalyptic vision:
The morning comes, the night decays, the watchmen leave their stations
The grave is burst, the spices shed, the linen wrapped up
Orc provokes the Angel of Boston to rebellion:
What God is he, writes laws of peace, clothes him in a tempest
What pitying Angel lusts for tears, and fans himself with sighs
What crawling villain preaches abstinence; wraps himself In fat of lambs?
no more I follow, no more obedience pay
Together, the rebels are able to be freed of the psychological chains that bind them:
the five gates of their law-built heaven
And Roy Batty’s line:
“Fiery the angels rose, as they rose deep thunder roll’d
Around their shores: indignant burning with the fires of Orc.”
William Blake’s painting of the gnostic Great Architect deity.
The Orc recalls the rebellion of Satan and his angels against God for the purpose of erecting a model synthetic kingdom that mimics the kingdom of God. This is significant, as much of Blade Runner centers around genetic engineering and synthetic reality, as we constantly see mannequins and dolls, especially in J.F. Sebastian’s studio loft. For example, the background includes Atari signs: Atari is a video game company—video games are synthetic, virtual reality. Tyrell’s company is a genetic engineering company, specializing in replicating reality to the point that when Deckard finds the scale from Zhora’s snake, he has to take it to a specialist to see if it’s real or synthetic. Dick was amazingly prophetic in this regard, and not only was the foresight in regard to genetic manipulation prescient, the microscopic serial number on the snake scale even points to nanotechnology, far before it was well-known (in the Ted.com promo video of Scott’s at the bottom, Peter Weyland mentions nanotechnology). Zhora, too, is introduced as a stripper who “receives pleasure from the snake,” and Eden is specifically mentioned by the Fez-wearing Abdul. The Fez, originally a Muslim symbol, is the headgear of the Shriners, made up of upper level Freemasons.
The next origami figure Gaff leaves is a man with an erect penis. The little figure signifies Deckard is about to confront another stage in his transformational process, particularly in his confrontation with Zhora, the woman united with the snake. Zhora also performs her dance as Salome, the biblical character who seduces Herod and asks that he cut off the head of John the Baptist. In alchemy, the process of calcification involves union with the feminine principle to achieve synthesis and balance. What has been divided must be united to find harmony and elevation to the next level: that of the Philosopher’s Stone, following the period of nigredo (blackness) and albedo (whiteness) prior to becoming gold. Deckard is lacking his compliment, and must here confront the temptation of lust by the snake, if you will. The spiritual version of alchemy, modelled on the chemical, involves the mastery of the passions by the will—apt for the character of Deckard who, himself a Replicant, is discovering that he doesn’t live, but is a slave of the system. Deckard is an Agent for the system itself, all the while being the very thing he is hunting!
When Deckard meets with Rachael at his apartment, it begins to become clearer that Deckard is a Replicant: at an emotional moment both his and Rachael’s eyes alight red with the trademark Replicant glow, right after Rachael inquires whether Deckard himself had ever taken the Voight-Kampff test. The love scene follows, and Deckard unites with Rachael, completing the unification process in Deckard’s own psyche (though his own process is still unfinished). Earlier, there was a mysterious scene where Deckard had fallen asleep playing the piano and dreamt of a unicorn.
This is crucial, since the unicorn in alchemy signifies the Philosopher’s Stone itself. Deckard is dreaming of archetypal symbols related directly to alchemy, and this will become evident when Gaff leaves the final origami figurine: a unicorn. This means Gaff knew all along what Deckard’s implanted memories were, which surfaced in his dreams. Deckard this second time falls asleep, but awakens to the sound of Rachael playing his piano, and he begins to realize that they thus both have similar implanted memories. Carl Jung writes of the unicorn, also associated with Mercury as follows:
“The unicorn in alchemy: The example of the Unicorn is chosen to demonstrate how the symbolism of Mercury is intermingled in the traditions of pagan gnosticism and the Christian Church. As the unicorn is not a single, clearly identified entity, more specific concern is centered on the beast with a single horn (the alicorn). Examples are given from the literature, especially the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencrantz), in which the unicorn, the lion and the dove appear, all of these being symbols of Mercury. Reference is also made to medieval art in which images of the virgin and the unicorn appear. These images are said to represent the dual aspect of Mercury: the virgin as the passive, feminine aspect of the unicorn, and the unicorn or lion as the wild, rampant, masculine force….References from the Church fathers are variously given in which the unicorn is identified with the God of the Old Testament or Christ. It is pointed out that there are ecclesiastical quotations in which the unicorn is said to carry the element of evil. It is this inner contradiction that makes the unicorn an appropriate symbol to be used by alchemists’ monstrum hermaphroditum. [the hermaphrodite – a key stage of unification in the alchemical process]”
Remember that when Roy Batty saves Deckard from the precipice, his palm is nailed in a Christ-like fashion, while he sets free a dove—another Mercurial image. Lest anyone think this is a stretch, this is exactly the same idea in Ridley Scott’s Legend, where the unicorn plays a central role in precisely this alchemical and gnostic scheme. In fact, Legend is entirely focused on dualism, where good and evil cyclically and eternally battle for “balance,” in contrast to a linear biblical view of time. Consider also Ridley Scott’s new Prometheusand Alex Jones’ stellar analysis of its themes and meanings, which fit perfectly with Blade Runner’s transhumanism:
When Pris and Roy enquired of Sebastian how to get access to Tyrell, the Masonic double-headed eagle is visible. In this scene, Pris is debating her ontological status, and says, “I think, therefore I am,” Descartes’ famous cogito. The question of what it means to be a human—to be a puppet, a slave, a programmed drone thus runs throughout the film. On the level of social criticism and futurism, it is asking the viewer to question their own enslavement to the Tyrell Corporation, as well as transhumanism and biometrics’ desire to transcend the human and become like God. The double-headed eagle signifies elite management through mastery of dualities and dialectics.
In fact, the double-headed eagle is even visible with the triangle above it, distinguishing it from the older, Byzantine Imperial double-headed eagle without the triangle. Note as well that Batty is playing chess for Sebastian with Tyrell, and chess is a game of strategy based on a dualistic scheme: black versus white. Sebastian, we discover, has Methuselah syndrome, which makes him look old, while only being twenty-five. Order out of chaos.
In the gnostic cosmology, the creator demiurge (the evil tyrannical entity) co-creates with other archons, and in the Blade Runner mythos, J.F. Sebastian is the “dollmaker” for Tyrell, the distant, uninvolved, unknown deity—the Deus Absconditus. Sebastian has also created a Pinocchio-looking von Bismarck, which is fitting since Pinocchio wanted to be a “real boy.”
Sebastian is a bumbling fool who serves the uncaring tyrant Tyrell, and so is associated with a lesser archon. In Plato’s mythology (from which gnosticism in part derives), certain gods are involved in creating certain things, such as man’s body, the world, etc. Batty, on his tirade to live forever, kills both Sebastian and Tyrell, whom he calls “Father,” after confessing his “sins” and being called a “prodigal son.” The biblical imagery is prevalent, but more consistent in a gnostic reworking than in any kind of traditional biblical scheme, especially given all the Egyptian and Masonic symbolism.
Technology is the application of will and desire towards matter to bring about a desired effect: technology arises out of chemistry, which arises from alchemy. The process of history from this perspective is one of evolutionary process toward rapid mechanization and transcending of bodily limitations.
Roy “Bat/bird-shit Crazy” Batty
Keeping with the Masonic theme, the death of Roy Batty includes a shot with an interesting “X” pose. It is the pose of the dead Pharoah, the philosopher king. The famous Lodge of the new world, America, was St. Andrew’s, which issued ”Knight’s Templar” degrees in 1769. The 17th degree ritual utilizes the ”X” cross symbolism, which is also the cross of Scotland, home of the Scottish Rite, and which is symbolized by the double-headed eagle above.
Just as 2001: A Space Odyssey features man in an evolutionary battle with artificial intelligence for the next level of apotheosis, so Blade Runner presents Deckard and Rachael as a kind of new Adam and Eve who are freed from the prison of this system by Gaff and finally, Roy Batty, a sort of gnostic anti-savior who stirs up Deckard’s will to be freeand live. Roy has killed Tyrell and saves Deckard from death just before his own “retirement.” Deckard then escapes in the final scene with the help of Gaff, who leaves an origami unicorn showing both that Deckard had found freedom and that Gaff wouldn’t retire him as the sixth Replicant. The alchemical process is complete: Deckard has found his oppositional union in Rachael, and escapes. And to be clear, Ridley scott confirmed Deckard was a Replicant in a 2007 New York Times article: “Yes, he’s a replicant. He was always a replicant.”
The Germanic elements of the film are also worth considering, such as Roy Batty’s Aryan look, Voight-Kampff, the Illuminati arising out of Bavaria, and the Otto von Bismack look of the doll, as well as the double-headed eagle as used by the Austrian Empire (the supposed continuation of “the Holy Roman Empire”), and Leon Kowalski living at “Hunterwasser Hotel” (Hunterwasser was a German architecht who favored monarchy and Otto von Hapsburg). In fact, at the end, Batty mentions the “Tannhauser Gate” (presumably a Star gate?), and Tannhauser was written of course by Wagner, the Reich’s musician.
Prometheus steals fire from the gods.
Purveyors of the Western occult tradition will be familiar with the notion of the golem – the idea of creating a ‘robot man’ with the ability to perform certain activities. Such a feat has been the goal of many esoteric aspirants and in our day is beginning to become a reality. Dick foresaw this and thus the film is pregnant with this notion, as well as the deeper, esoteric notion of the creation rebelling against its apparently deistic, absent creator god (Tyrell). As with “David” in A.I. (the Spielberg/Kubrick film), or Data in Star Trek, the Nexus 6 Replicants are the first to develop actual emotions. The gnostic deity is removed from creation – he is an architect who works with already existing prima materia (and prima materia is essential to alchemy); not a Creator ex nihilo and that is precisely how that being is presented in Blake’s famous painting. Hollywood has pushed these notions for decades now because these are the real issues of our day.
Blade Runner is a story of what it means to be human, what it means to die, and whether death can eventually be cheated, as the elites believe, through alchemical technological transhumanism. The viewer has been taken on a ride–an initiatory journey like Deckard, and shown the methodology and worldview of the elite themselves, in what H.G. Wells termed the “open conspiracy,” providing one has eyes to see, of course (and they don’t remain wide shut). We are, then, ever in the garden as Adam and Eve were, and this is what Ridley Scott wants us to ponder. In this way, the highest levels of Illuminism are revealed (and yet concealed) in that the ancient mysteries signify alchemical and technological transformation into extended life and the search for the fire of the gods and immortality: the story of Prometheus.
And here is an hour-long interview with Mary Sean Young, female lead of Blade Runner (Rachael) on conspiracies: