Spiritual Machinima as Digital Alchemy for Personal and Social Change

Willi Paul interviews Celestial Elf, an engaged and spiritually inspired maker of progressive Machinina:

(below is an example of his work)


Willi Paul: You seem to be a paradox! You talk about your “modern mythological Machinima mission” but stress your ancient Celtic and Nordic influences? Do I see this right?

Celestial Elf: I am glad to think that my approach to the world and my machinima within it may seem paradoxical as by its nature this means that they set people to consider how the issues I try to portray may be relevant to them and their modern life. Once people are drawn into thinking about something, anything, in a new way, then the battle is over and they will eventually think for themselves.

Questioning received wisdom where it fails the heart, rejecting proselytizing dictates where they are clearly against the freedom of thought and expression of the individual, the life of the society and its culture.

Drawing on and re-presenting the Ancient, Elven ways then is not a paradox for me, as I consider that ‘modern’ mankind has strayed a little from its self evident and inherent inter-relationship with Nature and Cosmos.

In my view, this modern life is actually a false personae that humanity has been hypnotized into adopting, championing spiritual negation in favor of self gratification under the materialist regime of a fear driven consumption to find meaning and identity through possessions and of perceived power over others. This is not to say that I oppose the technology of these modern times or the tools it provides us with, but rather suggest that we need to be conscious and aware of the consequences of our choices in using any tool in a given way, and the bottom line here might be to remember the causal links between us all and the wonderful example provided in the butterfly-chaos-theory example.

Yet despite the serious aliment currently afflicting our species, our spirits continue to commune with eternity and even though many apparently lack an awareness of this, I think that it may be our reason for being in this realm, to reconcile the two forces of spirit and matter, to borrow a phrase; As Above, So Below :D.

At the very least if we learn together to make cultural choices and take action based on the Ancient Life and Nature reverencing ways, then we shall not be metaphorically and literally sawing off the branch that we are sitting upon ha ha.

WP: And: don’t we need new myths and heroes bases on today’s realities / fears?

CE: As the mythic is a subliminal and Archetypal energy form who serves to convey guidance and insight from the Is of our ultimate selves to the ego of our matter-bound ‘conscious’ mind, so it is irrelevant what style or historical period we dress our messengers in. This is apparent in the fact that many ‘modern’ myths and heroes are in fact embodiments of the same archetypes of yesteryear, just renewed for a modern audience.

That different costumes, masks and cultural dialects are employed however can be a useful tool in reaching these new audiences who have yet to actualize an awareness and understanding of the magical and many layered influences informing even the ordinary moments of everyday.

Do we need new myths and heroes then, yes and no ha ha.

Are you a J. Campbell fan? How do we re-charge his ideas for the twitter + avatar age?

Yes I have read J. Campbell’s excellent book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, but if I consider myself fan of any ethnographer or spiritual author it would be of Allan Watts, all of whose books have a wonderful way of explaining cosmic complexities in a simple manner.

I would also recommend Chogyam Trunpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, and Ram Dass’s Be Here Now. In regard of how these ideas are reformatted for the electric age, in my case I make stories and poems into films through which I hope to seed theses principles and share them where ever there may be an interest….

“My intent is to furnish our modern imaginations with a lively alternative to the market driven forces of consumer led materialism.” What are your foundation values / principles?

Many of our Ancient traditions which have embodied valuable lessons and guidance of how to live in constructive communities based on cooperation with Nature have been abducted by modern and market forces seeking to trivialize them as childish diversions or fanatical perspectives only.

My contrast here would include most of the saccharin sweet creations of the Disney Empire and similar, against the insightful work by Bruno Bettleheim, in his remarkable book The Uses of Enchantment, which explores the psychological value of fairy-tales and myths, significantly including reconciliation of the darker elements of life, such as misfortune and death.

Without the ability to incorporate and embrace such situations, the individual would live in an infantilized condition and never necessarily reconcile their place in a larger and incredible Cosmos. Against this dilemma and as founding principles for a simple answer to a complicated question, I followed the western humanitarian traditions founded in the Enlightenment of Renaissance Europe to its roots in the Polytheism of Classical Antiquity, and from there into the wider Ancient Traditions of organizing a culture and society to cooperate with Nature, which makes sense perfectly, as modern science is now beginning to recognize.

Further to these sources, the ritualized practices of Tibetan Buddhism, the anti ritual of wisdom of Zen with its inscrutable embrace of the infinite moment, and of more modern New Age developments such as the re emergence of a nature based Druidic/Shamanic sub culture and the intuitively guided Light workers reaching around the world have all lit my path.

What modern rituals and traditions work for you?

In regard of modern ritual, I would suggest that these are unique to every individual and necessarily based on their own reconciliation of their cultural origins with their own aspirational ideals.

In my case, I simply endeavor through mindfulness to be ever present in the moment and simultaneously not restrained by any formulaic adherence to any dogma or prescriptive perspectives, although when the occasion presents itself I do delight in all sorts of traditions and cultural festivities.

But in a nutshell I would say that I have the courage to follow my heart, and that the key guiding principle here would always be Love.

Is Sci-Fi a viable basis to create new myths? When and when not?

I’m not sure that there are any new Archetype available in the mytho-spiritual subconsciousness, because after all in this human form we are limited by our physiology, psychology and spirit. Certain realms may remain out of reach then, at least until we move beyond this frame of reference.

And yet within this non diversity of underlying archetypes, one of the many miracles of existence is that when each person opens to these new/ancient ways, each and every experience encapsulates the wonder of Infinite Being and we may say that the sleeper has woken.

Therefore the myths and their heroes may remain essentially the same throughout history, just that the method and presentation may change to suit each varying micro culture. To this end, Science Fiction is as good a vehicle as any other.

Is your work digital alchemy? If so, please detail.

Yes, for me, my machinima is digital alchemy ha ha.

As a Light worker, painting with light frequencies, ideas and sound vibrations, seeding alternative responses, even just inviting people to step outside of their routine daily rhythms, I see this as contributing to a process of facilitating global change by a very small degree, by supporting a gradual consciousness raising campaign.

Drawing people into a wider world view, preferable to the smaller short term perspectives that many appear to have been taught to internalize and obey. That we may move onwards to develop along our own opened paths.

Machinima provides an “… infinite scope of modeling and inner world expression.” Please explain this.

That the medium of a Virtual World environment allows for relatively limitless creation of environments, Avatars and situations within the confines of the operating system, allows people to explore and share ideas that may be impossible in the ‘real’ world with its physical constraints.

Through such freedom of expression, a vast amount of possibility lays ahead, curtailed only by the imaginations and capability of those who are doing the modeling.”

2. Watch the Bee Myth, from Celestial Elf:

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