My favorite comic book series of all time is Promethea (sorry, X-Men). I know that is quite a bold statement to make. However, this delightful story written by Alan Moore and drawn by JH Williams III is not only an engaging story about a college student who discovers she can transform into a goddess from her imagination, it is also a magickal treatise which can teach one about the Kabbalah
In his amazing book Mutants & Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal, Jeffrey J. Kripal summarizes Promethea thusly:
…the series advances through the adventures of college student Sophie Bangs, a young feminist who discovers through a college writing assignment that she has slipped through into the Immateria (a kind of astral plane of the Imagination that is self-existent and accesible to every individual) and become the subject of her term paper, the ancient warrior-wisdom goddess Promethea. The message is clear enough: be careful what you write about. Or as Barbara, the previous human vessel of Promethea, tells Sophie in the first issue: “Listen kid, you take my advice. You don’t wanna go looking for folklore. And you especially don’t want folklore to come looking for you.”
Kripal showcases Promethea in his book in order to show that “the root and effects of sci-fi and superhero fantasy are magical in structure and intent.” He asserts that when one writes about the paranormal, one is also being written. He believes that the act of writing itself is a magickal act:
The goddess Promethea, then, incarnates the most basic magical convictions that there is something fundamentally mystical about writing, and that words, stories, and symbols can become real. As a self-conscious occult comic, Promethea is also meant to portray magic as beautiful and bright instead of dark and dangerous. Moore explains the origins of the idea: “Utilizing my occult experiences, I could see a way that it would be possible to do a new kind of occult comic, that was more psychedelic, that was more sophisticated, more experimental, more ecstatic and exuberant.” So the figure of Promethea, who Moore observes, looks a bit like Wonder Woman, “is about as perfect an expression of the occult as I could imagine doing in a mainstream super-hero comic book.”
And by expression Moore means something very specific. In order to recreate the sefirot or spheres of consciousness in his art, he first attempted to actualize each sphere in himself through a magical practice, an actualization that he then recreated as the comic.
Alan Moore’s “occult” vision is simply the study of hidden knowledge. By bringing the information of the Kabbalah into the super-hero narrative, he is introducing spiritual tools into mainstream consciousness. Through the brilliant art of JH Williams III, Moore plants triggers for meditation and altered states. The comic itself becomes a tool for magical practice. Promethea is Alan Moore’s gift to humanity. What is this gift for? Kripal states:
As we have it in Promethea, Moore’s worldview is an occult evolutionary vision that is deeply informed by modern science, but that also goes well beyond science in its insistence that mind and matter are two manifestations of a deeper intelligence or cosmic being.
The lastest occult “leap” from our materialist assumptions into the mystical realms of the Immateria will signal a new evolutionary moment for humanity. Consider, Promethea asks, what would happen if enough people will follow her into the magical realms of the Imagination. “It would be like the one great Devonian leap, from sea to land. Humanity slithering up the beach, from one element into another. From matter….to mind.”
Promethea is a story imbued with the intention of transformation. We can be like Sophie Bangs and slip into our Imagination and be reborn. We can ascend to a new understanding of our selves, our world and our potential.
Promethea is a finite story comprised of five trade paperbacks. Seek them out at your local comic book store or bookstore!
To learn more about the Kabbalah and other metaphysical mystery traditions like the Tarot, contact me:
Storm Arcana (415)260-2903 firstname.lastname@example.org