All Shapes and Sizes
Comparative mythology is one of my favorite subjects of study and inquiry. Speculative comparative mythology, really. I mean, what about comparative mythology can be anything other than speculative. Mythology is weird. There are coincidental descriptive characteristics between all sorts of different mythological paradigms. Vampires and werewolves seem a lot like the manitou or chupacabra (we’ll get to that one later. Probably. Shh. Nevermind.) and they all act like different races of jinn. That’s my current favorite: that everything from vampires to fairies to trolls to imps to sprites to nymphs to demons to ghosts to poltergeists are all jinn. Describe something weird to me and I will probably tell you it is a jinn, sometimes facetiously (never facetiously). Summary: jinn come in all shapes and sizes. Just because one can fly and another can change its size doesn’t mean they aren’t the same. It is sort of like how some humans are good at math and others excel at swimming. We are not all the same and neither are they.
So, in case you hadn’t caught on, we are talking about “Shapes,” 19th episode of our favorite documentary series. This episode is about a manitou (a kind of a jinn, but for aboriginal Americans) which embodies and represents the ongoing struggle between native/aboriginal peoples and their white oppressors. The manitou takes possession of a human and transfigures its body to attack other humans, or maybe just to do manitou stuff, but pesky humans always get in the way. Either way, the tribe on the nearby reservation knows all about this. They totally get it. Mulder thinks it is a werewolf. He is an idiot. It is clearly a jinn. Duh. Jinn are known shape-shifters. Silly Mulder. Manitou and jinn are the SAME THING obviously. Jinn have their cosmological origins in the terrestrial fire. When they burned the body of Joseph Goodensnake, it clearly released the jinn that had possessed him. Clearly. This is obviously the case because it then went on to possess someone else, ironically the son of the man who shot its previous host. Q.E.D.
I won’t summarize further, that is what Wikipedia is for. The plot is not important here, only the lessons. Back to jinn: most of what you think about mythological creatures is colored by the bowdlerized retelling of Grimm’s fairy tales. Those are garbage. The originals are way scarier, but not anywhere near scary enough. Even the original Grimm’s tales seem like children’s stories compared to the real stuff. The real stuff will curl your hair. It will leave you laying awake at night staring at the amulets you have nailed to the walls all over your house, watching the shadows for little movements that might be the end of you, or at least your sanity.
I don’t know anyone who does that stuff in the last paragraph. But I have friends who do. Yeah. Friends. But I digress.
What I really came here to do was write about the lessons that we should take away from “Shapes.” Here they are in order of increasing profundity.
- Native peoples all over the world have been seriously effed over. We should really think about that. A lot.
- Talk to old people. They are wise. Listen to what they have to say without thinking that they are just crazy.
- The world is weirder than you can imagine. So take whatever you imagine the world is like and remember that it is the cube root of the actual weirdness of the world.
- All of those things that you previously thought were weird supernatural things are just jinn, so don’t worry about them. Or worry and fret. As you like.
Thankfully, after another week of weird skips and jumps we will be back on a weekly schedule for a five-episode streak to the end of the first season. We have some of the best “monster-of-the-week” episodes in the series coming up followed by a doozy of a season closer. So hold onto your hats, folks. Nail your amulets to the walls, recite your protective supplications and stay tuned for “Darkness Falls” on April 15.