After this I’ll need to take a break from writing.
Religion in Lost: Jacob, Nemi, Aaron and the Garden of Eden
First off, let’s take a look at Milton’s “Paradise Lost” (recall Penny’s last name in the episode with Desmond was Milton).
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse. A second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve books (in the manner of the division of Virgil’s Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification; the majority of the poem was written while Milton was blind, and was transcribed for him.
The poem concerns the Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton’s purpose, stated in Book I, is to “justify the ways of God to men” and elucidate the conflict between God’s eternal foresight and free will.
Milton incorporates Paganism, classical Greek references, and Christianity within the poem. It deals with diverse topics from marriage, politics (Milton was politically active during the time of the English Civil War), and monarchy, and grapples with many difficult theological issues, including fate, predestination, the Trinity, and the introduction of sin and death into the world, as well as angels, fallen angels, Satan, and the war in heaven. Milton draws on his knowledge of languages, and diverse sources – primarily Genesis, much of the New Testament, the deuterocanonical Book of Enoch, and other parts of the Old Testament. This epic is generally considered one of the greatest works in the English language.
So — this sounds like it fits pretty well with the religious themes in Lost. Even before I related Milton’s poem to Lost, I had an inkling that what is going on in Lost is a mirror-image or second pass at what occurred in the Garden of Eden. Now, with this additional clue, I am leaning even more in that direction.
Briefly, here are some of my thoughts:
The island, or “this God Forsaken rock” as Nemi/Locke stated in a recent episode, is the actual Garden of Eden. After the Fall of Man (which is when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God), the Garden was deserted. The Bible does not state what happened to the Garden except that an angel was left to guard it. I’m theorizing that the Garden became the island, and remained a connection to the spiritual world.
The word ‘Eden’ means: spot, moment, presence, open door.
So, the Garden of Eden was the spot for the moment where the presence of God provided an open door to heaven. It’s where heaven met earth.
As we know, there is a spiritual world connected to the island. Jacob is named for Jacob’s ladder, which is another clue to this connection. Jacob’s ladder was another connection between heaven and earth.
So, a few questions to ask first:
Who/what is Jacob?
Who/what is Nemi?
The island and Garden of Eden
The candidates’ role
I believe Jacob is a couple of things wrapped into one. For starters, I believe Jacob was once a man. In fact, I believe there is a possibility that he was “Abel”, the shepherd who was killed by his brother in the first murder of mankind.
As a spirit, I believe Abel/Jacob became the guardian of the underworld/heaven, i.e. he became Anubis.
Anubis: He watches over the mummification process to ensure that all is done properly. He conducts the souls through the underworld, testing their knowledge of the gods and their faith. He places their heart on the Scales of Justice during the Judging of the Heart, and he feeds the souls of wicked people to Ammit.
In the case of Lost, I believe Jacob/Anubis acts as a judge that does not allow the spirits of those who have chosen evil to move on into the afterlife. This is evident by Michael’s spirit, who is basically trapped on the island due to his actions, along with the other “trapped” spirits that are heard on the island as whispers.
Nemi falls into this category as well.
I believe Nemi may once have been “Cain”, and committed the first murder. He was once a man, as he stated to Sawyer.
By choosing evil, Cain brought evil into his soul. It is almost as if he became “infected” himself, and in way became a vessel of Satan.
I also believe that Nemi represents Satan, though not sure how this fits in with him once being Cain as well.
Nemi gives the Losties leads the Losties towards a “better reality” — the same way Satan did so with Adam and Even and the apple — he promises them the one thing they want most, and in return, they “take a bite of the apple”.
So what this means to me is that the island represents the Garden of Eden, and the “candidates” are representative of Adam and Eve, who were the “candidates” of humanity.
Nemi also has the form of the smoke monster, which is very similar to a serpent, which was the form that Satan took in the Garden of Eden.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made” (Genesis 3:1).
“The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray…”
This verse lends support to the view that of the serpent being Satan himself, which helps to explain, as well, why Eve was not surprised to be spoken to by the serpent–it was not a talking snake, but a beautiful and intelligent (yet evil) angelic being.
The island and Garden of Eden
There have been some interesting clues to the Garden of Eden in Lost :
– After discovering their disobedience, God banished the couple from the garden in order to deny them access to the Tree of Life which would give them immortality.
There have been a couple times in the series that a very large tree (Tree of Life?) has been shown. I definitely recalled it in Richard’s episode (Ab Aeterno). It is where Richard buries his wife’s cross, and then picks digs it back up. The tree seems very symbolic in that scene. In addition, the Tree of Life is linked to immortality, so the fact that Richard (who does not age) buries his cross at this tree is also symbolic.
– From Milton’s Paradise (I stole this from Lostpedia):
An angel approaches Adam after his fall from grace and describes the future of mankind. In his description of the great floods (from the Noah and the Ark tale) he describes what will happen to the garden of eden and says:
then shall this Mount Of Paradise by might of Waves be moovd Out of his place, pushd by the horned floud, With all his verdure spoil’d, and Trees adrift Down the great River to the op’ning Gulf, And there take root an Island salt and bare, The haunt of Seales and Orcs, and Sea-mews clang, To teach thee that God attributes to place No sanctitie, if none be thither brought By Men who there frequent, or therein dwell.” John Milton Paradise Lost (bk. XI, 1. 829-838).
Basically, in Milton’s Paradise, an angel tells Adam that the Garden of Eden will become an island.
There are other clues, like the skeletons that are called “Adam and Eve” (though I believe that will turn out to be Bernard and Rose, calling them “Adam and Eve” is another hint).
And there are probably other hints out there that I have missed.
The candidates’ role
The candidates role may be more scientific than religious — not sure at this point. Nemi wants the candidates to go with him, and this could be for one of two reasons that I can think of:
1. He takes them with him off the island to ensure that they cannot fulfill the role of taking Jacob’s place.
2. He takes them with him because they act as a time constant so that he can actually leave the island when he flies off — the same idea as when they needed to have everyone on the Ajira Flight — perhaps because without them as “time constants”, they would not have flashed to the 1970’s/Dharma Initiative like they did.
In general from a religious perspective though, I believe the role of the candidates is similar to the role that existed for Adam and Eve. They are left with choices that may impact the fate of humanity.
Each of them has special abilities and places a special role, but in the end, their choices (good or evil) and actions will lead to a result that will either be the same as Adam and Eve’s (humanity fails), or the opposite (humanity succeeds).
(you can skip this section if you read my recent post on Aaron replacing Jacob)
I believe Aaron is the sixth candidate. He is the one that will replace Jacob. He is still innocent, so perhaps it makes sense that he would replace Jacob.
Along these lines, I think Aaron is the boy that has been pestering Nemi lately. So what is special about Aaron and leads me to these thoughts?
– He was meant to be on the original flight
– He was born on the island
– In the episode ‘Abandoned’, when Locke was handling Aaron for Claire, Charlie got dreams about the need to baptize Aaron. Was this some kind of foresight sent to Charlie by the island? Charlie goes to great lengths to baptize Aaron, even starting a fire to distract everyone. Why baptize Aaron?
Wikipedia: The purpose of baptism is as a means of repelling evil.
Even though Charlie fails, Aaron and Claire eventually get baptized by Eko (recall Jacob’s relationship to water; and recall Richard’s ‘baptism’ by Jacob).
– Claire abandons Aaron when Christian Shepherd comes up to her after the house explosion. Is this the “spirit” Christian, or MIB/Nemesis guised as Christian? I believe it was the “spirit” Christian, protecting Aaron from Claire, who had “died” in the explosion but come back to life and was now potentially “infected”. If Claire is not infected, why else would Nemesis keep her around?
– When Kate is off the island, Claire comes to her in visions, saying not to bring Aaron back to the island. Why? My guess is because it is not the right time or the right way, and protects him from Nemesis. It’s possible Aaron will find his own way to the island, just as he seems to be doing now with these ‘visits’ that anger Nemesis.
Somehow, I believe Aaron will be looped back in the final episodes, and will be Jacob’s replacement. One additional thought is — if Aaron takes this role as a young boy (until he matures), perhaps Kate will become his guardian. Her role has been minimized to date, but I foresee that she will still have an important role in the end.
At this point, Widmore’s role is cloudy. He seems to understand the scientific aspect of things, and is partnered (so it seems) with Ms Hawking, who may know even more than he does. But what is his role?
My only thought on this in relation to the religious aspect of things is that he somehow knows that this is the Garden of Eden, and that what they are up against is possibly Satan himself.
He realizes that he needs to use Desmond’s abilities to ultimately stop Nemi, and this has something to do with the alternate reality.
But there may be something deeper here as well. The Valenzetti equation foretells the end of mankind. Before Adam and Eve bit the apple, mankind was immortal (per The Tree of Life). After they bit the apple, immortality was taken away from them, and (I’m theorizing) the countdown on mankind’s existence began. This countdown is characterized by the Valenzetti equation. Due to the fact that Widmore seems to have ties to Dharma and other behind-the-scenes organizations, he may be also trying to “reverse” what Adam and Eve did — i.e., fins a way to change the Valenzetti equation, find a way to extend humanity’s life.
A final thought about the spirits based on the revelation from Michael. There seem to be four “types” of spirits:
1. Visiting spirits. These can appear as spirits or as animals. Examples are:
– the butterfly in Ab Aeterno, which was probably Richard’s wife.
– Richard’s wife when Hurley tells Richard she is there (at the Tree of Life)
– the boar that attacks Sawyer, who is the spirit of the man he killed that he thought was the real ‘Sawyer’
– the horse that Kate encounters on the island that seems to be the spirit of her father
2. Trapped spirits: These appear when the whispers ensure, like Michael did to Hurley. These are spirits of individuals that made more ‘evil’ choices than good, i.e. when Annubis/Jacob weighed their ‘heart’ on a scale, it had more evil than good. They are likely trapped here by Jacob, a sort of purgatory existence.
3. Nemesis transforming: spirits that are really Nemesis taking their form. I believe he did this with Richard’s wife in the Black Rock. He has also done with Christian Shepherd on numerous occasions (though Christian has also appeared as a ‘Visiting Spirit’) and others.
4. Visionary spirits: This would include Walt and Aaron (if I am right that the boy is Aaron). These are visions of people that have special powers in relation to the island, and their form can appear on the island even when they alive and off island, like Walt appeared to Locke after Locke had been shot.
So — this is a long theory, and not so much a theory as a look at religion how may play into the Lost world.
In conjunction with a recent post of mine (Hawking’s Imaginary Journey) I’ve tried to capture both some of the scientific and religious elements of the show. But even with this (some of which may be right, some wrong), I still have no idea how it will all play out…!!
Thanks for reading.