SPOILER ALERT – I give things away in this article. If you haven’t watched Stranger Things, you should.
Stranger Things is a retro-futuristic Netflix series that combines elements of conspiracy culture, the esoteric and deep state PSYOP cases. The surface story is about a missing boy named Will Byers that disappears without a trace. With Will missing, the small Indiana town he lives in coalesces around a search party that includes his close friends Mike, Lucas and Dustin. During their search the trio comes across a mysterious girl named El that appears approximately where Will went missing. But El has a secret. Not only can she alter reality from her mind, she is also a victim of a black-ops program that’s reminiscent of MK ULTRA. The program also includes the use of portals into an alternative version of reality called the Upside-Down. The arrival of El and the disappearance of Will Byers uncover the secrets of the portal and disrupts the secret black-ops program. The black-ops agents start a bloody, relentless pursuit of El as Mike and his crew work to keep her out of their clutches. All the while a creature from the Upside-Down place named a Demogorgon jumps between the two realities attacking humans and animals.
Imagining Yourself into Existence
One of the central themes of Stranger Things is bending reality to the will of the observer. This blends elements of fiction, science and the esoteric. This trio is often seen as at odds with one another, but in fact are important branches of the same tree. Works of incredible science fiction have long been the beacon from which budding young scientists have activated their creative brain allowing them to imagine what they can manifest into reality. Bringing things from the imaginative or fictive dream into reality can be a blend of both the esoteric and science.
Mike, Will, Lucas and Dustin exercise this practice of creating or conjuring an entire world from nothing with a D&D game in the basement (underworld) of Mike’s house. The game is controlled by Mike, as Dungeon Master he has great leeway in which to guide their campaign. He is in essence a god and can throw any obstacle or blessing their way. However there are restrictions to Mike’s power. A symbolic dice roll represents chance and Will’s freewill is represented by having to choose between shooting a fireball at an advancing Demogorgon (demon) or casting a protection spell. He chooses the fire ball. They roll and the dice symbolically falls to the floor. The roll needed was a 13 or above in order to hit the Demogorgon. He rolls a 7.
This kind of metaphoric opening of the series immediately shades the aforementioned trio into the foreground and sets up what kind of trip you are on. After all, casting spells or conjuring fiction into reality isn’t just a flight of fancy for the imagination, it’s steeped in the esoteric tradition. Shaping reality can often happen by changing the perceptions of those affected by diverting or emphasizing attention to an observable point of reality. Science has known for some time that reality changes whether or not it’s observed. If that’s the case, imagine changing the perception of an individual before they can observe a new aspect of reality. You can influence how they can or cannot perceive it. This in turn can change the objective, observed reality. Example: smartphones were imagined into reality and now have permanently changed our objective reality. By diverting attention with fiction or in the case of the series Stranger Things, a spell, Mike can not only alter the perception of his friends, he alters reality that’s outside the observable senses of the campaign. Will, Lucas and Dustin all submit to Mike while he engages in the practice of creating fiction, dramatically changing their perception. Thus at that moment Mike entangles them with the Demogorgon and ultimately El.
Precognition is later at play with Will, the boy that will turn up missing. Before Will leaves he admits to Mike, “I rolled a 7. I missed the Demogorgon.” He was confessing his failure to his Dungeon Master. Will later repeats the reference at the end of the series.
Mike of the Bloodline
There are multiple instances where Mike and his sister Nancy are noted as having something different or special about them. Both siblings lose someone close to them to the Upside-Down. Mike Loses Will and Nancy Loses Barbara. Nancy alludes to her family as being “good” and coming from money. Her mother married young to her powerful father to build a nuclear family at the end of a cul-de-sac.
Blood plays another important theme in the series. Blood is the ingredient that entices the Demogorgon to leap between dimensions and pull someone into the Upside-Down. Often mentioned throughout history, including the bible, there are certain families and bloodlines that are, depending how you look at it, blessed or cursed. Evidence of Mike and Nancy being decedents of a bloodline that is in synch with higher, invisible powers are when Mike cuts his chin and the Demogorgon isn’t activated. Nancy’s friend Barbara spilled a drop and was taken to the Upside-Down. Another example of Nancy’s specialness is when a bloodied deer is violently pulled into the Upside-Down in front of her. The deer can be represented as a sacrifice to satisfy the Demogorgon before she can enter the Upside-Down. Once inside she successfully navigates it and returns unscathed without help from technology or any of the blackop agents. The only other person with this innate ability to navigate the Upside-Down unfettered is El. There is a scene where she spills blood and the Demogorgon appears, but that is only with the blood of Johnathan Wheeler, Will’s brother involved.
Another benefit of having a powerful bloodline is the ability to access information that no one else can. This can be esoteric or something more concrete. Mike and Nancy’s father says with authority the Dept. of Energy is the military, implying his deeper knowledge of the inner workings of what’s happening inside Hawkins National Laboratory. Later Mike’s father assures his wife, Mike’s mother that they have to trust the government, they are the good guys.
El as Alice
Like a dream, El arrives roughly around the time Will goes missing. In many ways El is a manifestation of Mike and they share a symbiotic relationship. She embodies all the things an imaginative boy like Mike hopes and dreams for. She has super powers, like bending and shaping reality to her will. One fine example is her ability freeze one of Mike’s bullies in place and forces him to urinate on himself in front of a packed gymnasium. If that isn’t every young person’s fantasy that’s been bullied then I don’t know what is. When the bullies show up again and force Mike to risk his life by jumping off a cliff in order to assure his friends safety El appears and suspends Mike in air, mid jump, likely saving his life. She then gently levitates him back to the cliffs edge. Throughout the series she demonstrates astral projection and telekinesis by communicating with Will in the Upside-Down, as well as being able to sense when her Monarch handler “Papa” is closing in on them. Another important trait is that with all her super powers she is emotionally vulnerable and unable to understand the outside world. This is gives Mike a way to be an important part of the adventure and rise to the occasion by being her interpreter and in many cases protector. Both El and Mike have weaknesses and strengths that complement one another. They are two faces of different worlds.
El constantly flashes back to the cold, tiled walls of the Hawkins National Laboratory. There is subjected to numerous experiments using her mind. These experiments escalate from simple crushing a Coke can to spying on Russians using astral projection. When she refuses or fails her task she is dragged, crying into a dark room. The dark room represents the blackouts one has during massive trauma. In conspiracy circles programs like MK-Ultra and especially Monarch programming involve the use of trauma as an effective tool to break the individual’s psyche in order to better control and exploit the mind of the victim. The story alludes naturally to MK-Ultra, but especially Monarch. Papa is her only emotional connection in the facility. He acts as father and punisher. One poignant scene is when El is brought to tears when she is presented with a cat in a cage. It’s implied she is to kill the cat. When she refuses the agents drag her back to the dark room, again an allusion to physical abuse, possibly sexual. She fights back and kills the agents with her minds. Her handler Dr. Martin Brenner, “Papa” sees the violence she is willing to partake in and is proud of her. He picks her limp body up from the dark room, the metaphor of the abuse, and carries her out. This is a nod to monarch programming.
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