Comic books, or rather the characters within those treasured pages of pulp and four-color processing sustained me as an adolescent and excited and thrilled my imagination as a young man. Today, as an older man, I look back upon my comic book filled youth with a sense of nostalgia and wonder. Nostalgia for the wondrous memories I accumulated during the hundreds of hours I spent among the frames of those treasured stories, and wonder that I never truly understood what I was reading. You see, as I gaze back upon my decades of interaction with the world’s pantheon of superheroes, I have realized one important thing: very few actually know the TRUE secret identity of our spandex wearing hero-elite; until now!
As a youth, I tended to stay on the Marvel side of the fence, but as I grew older, I began to understand that the DC universe held a more easily accessible esoteric interpretation of the roles and identities of their heroes as opposed to the more secular approach within the Marvel universe. It is for this reason I have come to prefer the DC universe, if only for the fact that there is a kind of purity in their storytelling which is not present to the same degree within Marvel.
So what is this purity of which I speak? To what is the DC universe remaining faithful? Nothing less than a representation of the core pantheons of the Stone and Bronze age! Identifying who or what these heroes represent is merely a matter of examining what the hero does, where that hero does what they do, the characteristics of the hero, the source of that hero’s power, and then comparing this information to the ancient pantheons. It is also useful to examine the various relationships each hero has with the other heroes and villains present, which can further verify the identity of the hero/god in question.
Of course, like everything I do, there are some guidelines to follow to more readily enable understanding.
- Be mentally flexible. These are gods with which we are dealing, and they may move in and out of roles and personas as easily as a superhero changes clothes! But no matter how often they change, their essential characteristics remain the same.
- When gathered together as a Justice League, each hero/deity will fulfill their role as assigned, but then when placed within their own comic book, the pantheon will be reassigned among new characters, yet still maintaining the same characteristics as before. Different costume, same guy (or gal) underneath.
- Realize that the roles and interpretations of the gods, their characteristics and attributes change with the times. In this way a very maternal Isis can also be a fulfill the role of a warrior protector goddess.
- A basic understanding and appreciation of the Egyptian pantheon is necessary in order to continue, because everything that follows will have very little meaning if you can’t appreciate how these same entities have followed us throughout the course of human history, in one guise or another.
- Recognize that not all of their godly attributes or characteristics will be conveyed in each superhero persona. Instead, recognize that often only a few “Tells” will be provided to hint at the hero’s true origins, and that these tells are often subtly nuanced.
- Sometimes, in order to suss out the most ancient form of the hero, a more current incarnation of the god may be necessary. For instance, Thoth/Hermes. In this example we can see that Helenized Greece merely adopted an older Egyptian god, and to be sure that later generations would not become confused, the names of the two were often spoken together or interchangeable. The same can be said of the goddess Nephthys (a personal favorite whom I have tracked through the ages), who like her sister Isis, enjoyed several incarnations even within her own culture! Understanding the multiple masks that these gods have assumed throughout mythology will enable you to unmask them now in the present!
- Acknowledge that there are literally THOUSANDS of years of history for each of these mythological characters, and that their relationships to each other and the world have changed with human culture and understanding of the universe at large.
That understood, let’s begin!
Superman, the Man of Steel (aka Horus, the Sun-god; aka Krishna)
Not all our heroes so easily migrate across cultures, but Superman is definitely one of them. Here we have the Man of Steel, born from otherworldly parents and sent here to effectively guide us to our salvation; which was VERY clearly stated in Nolan’s new movie “Man of Steel.” However, among all the heroes, Superman is unique because he represents the quintessential example of what a fully actualized man can accomplish or become; his act of flying is an example of Superman’s capacity to break all restraints and act in full accordance with his Will. Of all the heroes presented, it is Superman who exemplifies Alchemical perfection attained! Furthermore, Superman represents the embodiment of Luciferian teachings, something Nolan also wisely acknowledged in the presentation of the meaning behind Superman’s “S,” which is not an “S.” The “S” may be seen as a symbol of hope (as Nolan suggested in his new movie), but only when one understands the import of the Serpent in mythology.
Anciently, the serpent was considered a creature with healing properties — hence their being two of them entwined on a caduceus. However these properties extend beyond mere healing to personal salvation and we can trace the serpent being used as a token of the salvation available through Messianic intercession all the way back to the Exodus where Moses held up a brazen serpent to which Israel merely had to look and they could be healed.
Further intimations as to the true identity of Superman can be seen in his costume which has him clad in solid blue from neck to foot (it’s blue under his boots) and to his wrists. I think this is the one tell that most miss entirely, unless you’re me. Ever wonder why Superman wears his underwear on the outside? The concept draws back upon the Victorian era “Strong-men” who would appear at circus’ and carnivals. These strong-men would wear only boots, shorts, and a belt; showing off their great bulging muscles. So what is implied if Superman wears skin-tight blue super-spandex, boots, shorts, and a belt? Could it be that it is more than skin-tight, could it be implying a direct reference to another super-powered being with blue skin? I absolutely believe it does!
But Krishna is not the only, or even primary secret identity of the Man of Steel. For that we must turn to the true source material: ancient Egypt. For clues we can look to Christopher Nolan’s recent movie; however keep in mind, many of these relationships are nuanced in such a way that one must recognize that a singular reference may be sufficient tie the character to it’s historic roots. Often it is how the hero relates to other heroes that reveals their identity.
In the case of Nolan’s “Man of Steel,” we see a perfect example of how these ancient personas move in and out of roles. Superman’s father, Jo-rel fulfills the role of Osiris, god of the Underworld and we see this handily portrayed during Jo-rel’s effort to secure the genetic legacy of his people. Many watching the movie had to wonder at the scene where Jo-rel leaps into this vast watery environment to secure an ancient skull that was being used as source material for all other Krytonian births, unless you realize that this was representative of Osiris’ transit through the Underworld. Stealing the skull, Jo-rel fulfills Osiris’ other role as a god of fertility and resurrection. Transmuting they skull into a rod (symbol of the active male principle) emblazoned with the regenerative serpent symbol — the Superman “S” — and then entrusting that to his infant son is nothing less than an expression of the divine love and trust placed into Horus as divine savior of two peoples. Jo-rel’s role as Osiris is further validated when he is slain by General Zod, who is fulfilling the role of Set, and then resurrected as an holographic image of himself later in the film. Superman’s epic battle with General Zod at the end of the movie is nothing short of the titanic battles described in ancient writ between Horus and Set.
Other comparisons may be made between Superman and Horus, which include Superman’s fiery red eyes when he uses his heat vision reminiscent of Horus’ own fiery red eyes; and of course, Superman flies, as does Horus.
The Batman (aka Osiris, Lord of the Underworld)
Moving from Superman to Batman is like moving from sun shine and daylight to the somber shadows and brooding darkness of night. It is a transit from the upper world to the underworld. This relationship alone is one of the most significant tells as to the nature of the Batman’s identity, but it is the city of Gotham and its many wild and peculiar denizens that reveal the Batman as the Lord and Master of the Underworld: Osiris. Without question, it is the Batman’s endless conflict with the Joker that is the ultimate tell. Batman cast as Osiris and the Joker as Set fulfill the enmity and conflict as seen in ancient Egyptian texts, as Osiris works to bring order to the chaos of the Underworld. Set, as an agent of Chaos is ever opposed to the rule of Osiris. This idea is made wonderfully clear in Christopher Nolan’s Batman: The Dark Knight, where the Joker reveals to Harvey Dent that he [the Joker] is nothing but “… An agent of Chaos.” Thank you Mr. Nolan!
However, it is Batman’s relationship to Robin that confirms his secret identity as being Osiris! To fully appreciate this, one need only examine the animal archetype chosen by either hero. The bat is the first creature to head into the night immediately following sunset, and the bat is the first to return to its roost just prior to sunrise. The robin, is generally considered “The Early Bird” as that it is up before the crack of dawn; perhaps one of the few avians that might have interaction with a bat, if only briefly.
Furthermore, in the Batman and Robin relationship we see the father Osiris teaching and preparing his son Horus, how to identify (remember Batman is a detective first) and combat chaos (which is often confused with evil). Chaos in Gotham takes many forms which often are aspects of the Batman’s own persona turn on its side. Two-face representing Batman’s dual identity, the Penguin representing Batman as a gadgeteer, or the Joker representing equal and opposing force against Batman’s influence. As a side note, it is fascinating to me that Batman did, in fact, create the Joker. His effort to exert order into chaos required the universe to generate equal and opposing force. This, too, is part and parcel to Egyptian cosmology, and further evidence to the genius of Batman’s creation by Bob Kane.
Wonder Woman (aka Isis, aka Hera)
By now, I imagine you are starting to see a theme among the justice league, and you wouldn’t be wrong. What is fun about Wonder Woman is that her character is someone of direct divine lineage to the gods, who wears armor crafted by the gods, who calls upon the gods; and who is in fact the very goddess on whom she is calling! However, in order to understand who Wonder Woman actually is, it is helpful to understand how certain deities migrate from culture to culture. By drawing lines of divine association — being able to identify where essentially the same deity is performing the same duties with the same powers, but with another name — you can back track through history and find the super secret origins of each hero. Wonder Woman is a prime example of how this is done. Furthermore, if one is willing to draw lines together between traits, attributes or characteristics that are consistent between incarnations of the same deity, certain interesting discoveries manifest (like the fact that Isis is most-likely a brunette, and Nephthys is a redhead!).
Through Wonder Woman, an affirmation of the strength of the Sacred Feminine is manifest, and each element of her armor is a testament to her identity. Her breast plate is that of a great predatory bird. Isis was associated with a Kite or Falcon, and her earlier incarnation as Nekhbet was that of a white vulture. Her tiara is emblazoned with a great red star, symbolic of the sacred feminine. The color red in this instance being associated with the alchemical properties of sulfur, which is associated with the Left Hand path and the sacred feminine. Furthermore It is no accident that her uniform incorporates the same essential Alchemical colors of Blue, Red, and Gold found in Superman’s attire. This is because Wonder Woman represents the quintessential embodiment of a perfected woman; which is also why she is able to fly as Superman.
Thus, with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman we see preserved the primary godhead of every western religion of any age. Again, it is no coincidence that these three represent the core of the Justice League. Investigation into the secret origins of other heroes within the Justice League becomes much easier once the identities of these core three heroes is taken into account.
The question that you should be asking yourself right now is this: why are these ancient myths, legends, and religions still being taught incognito today? Is the effort to conceal this knowledge designed to honor or obscure these ancient deities? Perhaps it is both, for when these stories, as they are told today, are viewed through the lens of ancient understanding, each bit of dialogue becomes that much more poignant and each conflict that much more jarring and moving!
This concludes Part One. Part Two will finish up with analysis on the Green Lantern (who could stand an entire blog entry on his own … he’s incredible!), The Flash, Hawk Girl, and Aquaman.
Blessings to you. Namaste.