Original film poster.
There’s nothing more 80s than Steven Spielberg, and there’s nothing better 80s than Raiders of the Lost Ark. Based on the oft-referenced classic film serials, Indiana Jones is a household name. What is far from common knowledge are the profound religious and esoteric themes in the Indiana Jones films, particularly in Raiders. Written by George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan, and directed by Spielberg, Raiders demonstrates a carefully ordered, intriguing religious progression, evident to those well-read in esoterism and in this case, so-called “traditionalism” or the “perennial philosophy.” In short, it’s much more layered than the basic-level adventure story presented, and I will demonstrate that below.
The film begins with the mountain image, prominent in Spielberg films, particularly Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There, “Devil’s Tower” in Wyoming becomes the meeting point of the aliens/gods and mankind. Biblically, the Law and prophets frequently mention the “high places” where the pagans and apostate Israelites would offer sacrifices to the “gods” or “demons.” Textual examples. This trend is consistent in many alien motifs, where the aliens are simply no different from the traditional religious ideas of the “gods.” Spielberg especially has utilized this trend, as well as Lucas. Indeed, Mt. Sinai itself is the meeting place of man and the God of the Bible, which will be of particular relevance for Raiders. As a side note, Wired magazine reports that “Devil’s Mountain” also has relevance to the NSA as an old Cold War listening and surveillance post in Germany.
The Hovito Temple where Indy and Belloq haggle over the golden idol situates the viewer in the primitive superstitious world of polytheistic paganism. The Hotivos are savages, and are used by Belloq to obtain the idol from Indy, who risked his life in the well-known trap sequence. At view in the background is a golden sun with a skull. From South America we fly to Indy’s classroom at the fictional Marshall College. Army Intelligence arrives because Dr. Jones is an “occult expert,” and wants information on Hitler’s own fascination with the occult, and his search for the Ark of the Covenant. Indy, we note, is a rationalist and pragmatist, and doesn’t believe in “hocus pocus” and mumbo jumbo, much like Han Solo dismissed the Force. The Ark demonstrates the power of God, and Hitler believes that by controlling it, his army will be invincible. There is some truth to this in terms of Hitler’s circles being into bizarre forms of occultism, as shown in the video.
From the university we fly to Nepal. Nepal is relevant because of the Nazi quest for the Great White Brotherhood of Madame Blavatsky and Himmler. Indy is after Marion From Nepal, Indy and Marion fly to Cairo, where we will begin to be initiated into the mysteries of Egypt. The progression has been from primitive animism to the ascended masters to Egypt, where the “Well of Souls” supposedly houses the Ark in Tanis. The scenes in Cairo are of particular importance, particularly for the scene with the Sufi. Sufism is Islamic mysticism, and so we have the mysteries of each religion leading Indy to the culmination of the perennial tradition in Judaism as its source. This is a unique twist, since generally, traditionalist writers ascribe to Judaism a place of derivation—that Judaism’s mystical side is purely based on Platonism or Egyptian hermeticism or some other supposedly older tradition. Here, Judaism is the true source.
The All-Seeing Eye emerges in the midst of the Star of David.
Indy meets with Belloq in Cairo, and Belloq tells Indy he is his “shadow” – the Jungian archetype of the inner dark side of the psyche that must be faced. Indy could very easily be made to turn to the dark side, Belloq says. However, Belloq, like Hitler, believes that the Ark is a magical device—that one can “talk to God” with it. Indy sees it in a more rational, yet humble perspective, and seeks out the actual meaning of the Ark. Sallah, Indy’s Muslim friend, takes him to visit the Sufi where we see a Star of David with an All-Seeing Indy Eye, and then a square and compass on the lamp. When the Name of God is mentioned, a wind blows, like when Moses approaches Sinai. Is Indy a kind of Moses/deliverer? In the next film he does deliver slave children from the Thuggee cult. Read more of this post