NEW Season of the Serpent: A Study Guide

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THE PROLOGUE

This introduction to the story is primarily autobiographical, and it summarizes the awakening process of the author, utilizing the “Dark Side of the Rainbow” as a dramatic turning point. The Prologue also sets the tone of the story to follow, and hints at the unique experience the reader will have as he or she travels from the Ordinary World (Kansas) to the Special World (OZ) by taking an unusual detour down this Yellow Brick Road (The Hero’s Journey).

There are many clues buried within my description of the “Dark Side of the Rainbow” that deal with the problem of duality, that is the central theme of these books. There’s even a reference to Transhumanism when describing Dorothy meeting the Tin Man for the first time. What other references can you find buried in this narrative? Does the Prologue foreshadow where this journey will be resolved?

ACT 1. INNOCENCE

THJ: THE ORDINARY WORLD

The story begins in a seemingly ordinary world with a seemingly ordinary hero. Paul Venturi is introduced, a seventeen year old freshman going away to college in southwestern Virginia. His first name is a nod to Paul Atreides from the Dune novels. His last name hints that he will have a great adventure.

His university campus represents the ordinary world of the sleepers, and Paul is presently asleep. His freshman status indicates that he is somewhat innocent and naive, representing Adam. His campus represents the Garden of Eden – a kind of magical place between childhood and adulthood where new freedom is experienced, blissfully free of worldly responsibilities. However, there are consequences for temptation.

THJ: THE CALL TO ADVENTURE

What we discover pretty quickly as the story unfolds is that the larger world our hero is being sheltered from is not as simple as it might appear. There are all sorts of intrigues and conspiracies going on in the historical background that our hero is largely unconscious of. Of course, he has chosen to remain unconscious in order to fit in with his society. His extraterrestrial heritage represents his true divine self which he denies himself.

There is a great duality war taking place in this universe, represented by the Cold War, however the complexity of this duality war goes far deeper than anyone can imagine. Presented with several signs to awaken, Paul is being called to the adventure of his life… by temptation.

TAROT: THE FOOL & THE MAGICIAN

The first two Tarot cards represent the principal characters, the protagonist and the antagonist. The sleeping hero plays the Fool, or Adam, who will embark on an adventure of self-discovery, and the Serpent plays the Magician (or the Mentor) who will awaken him.

At the beginning of Book One, the Serpent is represented by a freshman drug-dealer who tempts Paul into his illegal activity. However, we soon discover that there is a non-coporeal entity overshadowing Eric the drug-dealer, using him as a vehicle to influence and eventually communicate with Paul directly.

TAROT: THE EMPEROR AND EMPRESS

I have purposefully left these two cards out of my sequence. In essence, they represent the duality that overshadows the entire journey. They represent competing parental figures: first Paul’s human parents in the Ordinary World, then later the multi-dimensional parents Paul will interact with in the Special World. Midway through the journey Paul will interact with the proxies (or cutouts) of duality: Minister Ori’Yahn and Director Dar’Winn. By the end of the journey Paul will deal with the divine embodiment of duality: the Lord of Order and the Lord of Chaos.

ACT II. ENTRAPMENT

THJ: REFUSAL OF THE CALL

Paul refuses to fully wake up. He refuses to accept the supernatural things that are happening around him. He refuses to believe that he might have a special role to play in the unfolding drama. Yet the call to awaken becomes more and more persistent. This is represented through the ritual use of a psychedelic/marijuana. Paul is tempted by the Serpent to eat the forbidden fruit of knowledge, and he eventually succumbs… he is entrapped in the journey of self-discovery. Finally, Paul becomes self-aware of his own role in this ritual (playing the Fool/Adam) and of the spiritual process of the Hero’s Journey. This represents the process of overcoming our own denial.

THJ: MEETING WITH THE MENTOR

Once Paul awakens and accepts the call he is finally able to communicate with the Serpent directly. In essence, Eric the drug-dealer is being possessed by a walk-in spirit who uses his body to communicate with Paul. This represents spiritual knowledge from the Special World being channeled into the Ordinary World.

I do not portray the Serpent, named A’Meric, as entirely good or evil. His character has aspects of both. In the course of the journey he literally and figuratively operates beyond duality. So I leave it to the reader to decide if his influence is ultimately positive, negative, or neutral. The mentor or guide is not always a nice person, especially if the student is reluctant to learn. (Even Obi-Wan Kenobi lied to Luke Skywalker.) The mentor is not always a person; it might be a situation. Once the student, or fool, becomes fully awake, he no longer needs the mentor’s influence. Both the Light and the Dark side use this process.

TAROT: THE HIGH PRIESTESS & THE HIEROPHANT

The High Priestess represents intuition, higher powers, the subconscious mind, and the need to listen to the inner voice. These are the new senses and abilities that Paul is discovering as he begins to awaken and see the world in a brand new light. In order to begin this inward journey, Paul has to withdraw from the external world, from the ordinary everyday reality of his family and friends. The dark side of this premature inward journey is represented by a growing addiction to drugs. Paul is still playing the Fool, and thus he is still easily deceived.

Upright, the Hierophant represents religion, conformity, and traditional beliefs. Upside-down, this card represents restriction and challenging the status quo. Upon awakening, Paul finds that his new awareness is also upside-down, at odds with the society around him. The more aware he becomes, the more resistance he experiences from a world that wants to keep him asleep and imprisoned. While another might buckle under the pressure, it serves to propel Paul to the next threshold. What other aspects of social conformity does Paul challenge?

ACT III. THRESHOLD

THJ: CROSSING THE THRESHOLD

A third of the way into the journey, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region with unfamiliar rules and values – the Special World. This is the period when Dorothy leaves Kansas for Oz, when Luke Skywalker leaves Tatooine for the Death Star. Likewise, Paul leaves campus at the end of his freshman year and returns home for a supernatural summer. Enticed by the Serpent, Paul passes through a series of challenges and thresholds that propel him to the Astral Plane and the Realm of Yin’Dru. If this were a comic book, Paul would simply step through a magical portal and transport instantaneously to the Special World. However, this act details the spiritual initiation and psychological preparation required to enter the Special World. Can you describe the three psychological thresholds Paul must cross?

TAROT: THE LOVERS & THE CHARIOT (Venus & Mars)

At this point in the typical Hollywood formula, a relationship with a love interest might develop. However, there is no romantic love interest in Season of the Serpent. Similarly, there is none in Star Wars or The Wizard of Oz. These stories are about their hero’s internal journey. The main relationship is the complex bond between travel companions, Paul and the Serpent.

Nevertheless, Paul experiences a powerful epiphany of cosmic connection and divine love at this point in his journey, represented by the Lovers. This transformational experience allows him to cross the first threshold. The Call to Action and the Mentor may awaken us, but it is often our bliss (or lack thereof) that motivates us to act, and the Lovers card is about making an intuitive choice.

The Chariot represents the Hero’s internal fire or drive, igniting him to leave the complacency of his Ordinary World. Paul must discover and exercises his self-confidence and will-power in order to move forward.

A sexual awakening is often the underlying theme of the threshold, crossing the gap between childhood and adulthood. In a sense, what is needed to cross a metaphysical threshold and embark on a spiritual quest are the same characteristics of romantic courtship – arousal, passion, drive, choice, and determination. Does Paul experience a kind of sexual awakening?

ACT IV. TEMPTATION

THJ: TESTS, ALLIES, & ENEMIES

As soon as Paul arrives in the Special World of Yin’Dru he is tested. He doesn’t know the rules of the Astral Realm. He has to sort out his allegiances. He has to discover who his enemies are. The Serpent takes him to meet Director Dar’Winn, the current Regent of this Realm. Dar’Winn represents a meeting with the Goddess. She is a temptress who seduces him with the promise of fame, fortune, adoration, and an externalized role in a heroic quest. However, this is a distraction from Paul’s inner spiritual quest to find his true self. Dar’Winn seeks to use Paul for her own agenda. Meanwhile, a new enemy, the warlord Dar’Amon Goth, will test his abilities and challenge his resolve. What other temptations is Paul presented with in the Realm of Yin’Dru?

TAROT: STRENGTH

Like an exam, temptation tests our resolve to complete our inner journey. The Strength card represents obstacles to overcome, a mental or physical challenge. Paul’s soul is tested as he meets the colorful and intoxicating temptations in this corner of the Astral Plane. Reversed, this card represents the hedonistic self-indulgence of Yin’Dru, the pleasurable plateau Paul encounters on the other side of the threshold which he must rise above to gain the spiritual self-discipline he will need to complete the journey.

ACT V. KNOWLEDGE

THJ: THE APPROACH & THE ORDEAL

Paul and his newfound allies prepare for a major challenge within the Special World. While this is not the final challenge, it will completely transform the Hero’s understanding of himself and his world, destroying any illusions he might have of an easy victory. After a series of political manipulations, Paul must accept a great test by his enemy, the warlord Dar’Amon Goth. He must face the truth. On the other side of the Approach is the Dark Night of the Soul, or the Ordeal.

Thus it is the drug addict of illusion, refusing the test of rising above temptation, that ultimately faces an Ordeal of hitting rock bottom. When the Hero faces the challenge willingly, his soul overcomes and grows. On the other side is wisdom and self-knowledge.

SPOILER: Eating the Forbidden Fruit, Paul eye’s are opened, and he learns the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the truth about duality. He learns that the Astral realm he believed to be divine is in fact demonic. He learns that Yin’Dru is the Realm of freedom and Chaos. He learns of their angelic enemy, Yang’Ash, the Realm of repression and Order. And he learns that all of human history has been written by the hidden conflict of their eternal cold war.

TAROT: THE HERMIT & THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE

The Hermit is the card of soul-searching and introspection. Paul must face this challenge alone. The Mentor/Paul’s Serpent can not accompany him on this personal test. Paul begins to have many suspicions about the motives of his so-called allies. Yet he has only one path in front of him. He must summon all the skills that he has learned so far. The Hermit is also a card of metaphysical study. Paul is initiated in the secret knowledge of the Special World.

The Wheel of Fortune represents karma. It brings a karmic challenge, where a turning point has been reached. Thus the Ordeal we face is specific to our own soul and the lessons that we need to learn to continue our personal journey of self-discovery and growth. Paul’s Ordeal is synchronized with the fate of the human world and the outcome of the Cold War. If Paul can survive self-destruction, so can the world.

Book One ends appropriately enough with the mid-Hero’s Journey cliff-hanger of the Ordeal, as Paul’s fate hangs in the balance. Why is the psychology of the cliff-hanger so compelling to us? Why do we as human beings put off our own awakening and personal growth until we reach a breaking point?


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