This was not planned as a “Part II,” but a few things happened this week that seemed to build on last week’s post, so I’m going to roll with it.
First of all, and on a somewhat silly note, Robin and I went to the movies for the first time in ages. We wanted to see the new action-adventure film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. We loved it! It was 2-1/4 hours of nonstop action fun. There were only 8 of us inhabiting the theatre on a Friday afternoon, but I sure wish we could have seen it at our favorite movie house, the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. I miss their movie popcorn too!
Without giving away any spoilers, some strange CGI animals were involved in the story. Now remember how, in my last issue, I described monsters, grotesques, and assorted hybrid animals as emanations of something sacred and divine? Well guess what—here they were! (As if I had invited them!) Two of them even face off with one another, animating the eternal interplay of “good and evil” in a contemporary (and might I say secular?) action-packed Marvel movie.
I’ve been trying to recall something Greg Salyer (the President of PRS) talked about during one of his lectures a couple of years ago. (I’ve been thumbing through my old notebooks trying to find the statistics he provided.) In lieu of finding the facts he shared, I’m going to make them up. (I’m happy to be corrected, by the way.)
Greg stated that the majority of ancient apocalyptic literature either dealt with God or an army of gods that was destroying the world. Over time, what came to be featured more often were natural disasters as the world-destroying culprits, such as volcanic eruptions, floods, or fires destroying the planet in some fashion. At some point this shifted into threats from manmade disasters, such as atomic bombs detonating and ending the world, or oversized monsters arising from laboratory errors. Later, such as during the fifties, the world was typically destroyed by space aliens appearing and ending all of civilization.
And now, between the Marvel franchise and the DC Comics franchise, we’re back to battles by or between creatures of supernatural power—gods—once more. What was old is new again! I find that amazing to contemplate.
I wondered whether the CGI designers on the film were inspired by any of the medieval work found in ancient hand-drawn bestiaries, such as the Physiologus or Aberdeen Bestiary (held by the university there).
These colorful and remarkable catalogues of beasts—both real and imaginary—were the second-most popular books in their day, next in line after the Bible. These inventive creatures appear to have inspired many of the carvings found on the misericords and rood screens in ancient churches.
The mythical serpent shown above is a “scitalis.” Distinguished by their shimmering scales, scitalis appear to have been mentioned as early as the first century A.D./C.E. Their scales were said to be so colorful and captivating that anything that looked at them would be temporarily stunned. (They sound vaguely reminiscent of Medusa in this respect.) The Spanish scholar Isidore even claimed that this was how scitalis caught their dinner: “Because it is rather slow at crawling, it captures those it is too slow to catch when they are mesmerized and wondering at it.”
Several of these remarkable antique bestiaries can be paged through online, such as the Aberdeen bestiary:
Do mythical beasts such as scitalis foreshadow and enhance the appearance of greater divine beings in the Marvel movie? Perhaps so… If you see the film, let me know what you think!
Connecting the topic back to type, I wondered how these imaginary mythical beasts relate to introverted intuition. Now why would I credit introverted intuition? Is it because it’s my favorite function and I’m partial? No, it’s because John Beebe thought “imagining” was another word for the act of introverted intuiting. So it’s not just me drawing the correlation here (although my intuition may be drawing me in this direction).
Heaven knows these images certainly tease my imagination! Lately I’ve been wanting to make a COVID face mask with this alchemical image on it (colored by Adam McLean):
Does anybody know how to get a custom face mask printed, and can they recommend a source? I’ve found several online by now, but I’d love to get a recommendation from somebody who has real-life experience and lived to tell the tale.
Now if you too want a face mask with this image, let me know and maybe we can order them in bulk (if there’s enough interest). Maybe we can mesmerize people with our face masks like the scitalis and its scales!
Hey, if you know parents with kids thinking about college and trying to figure out their future, will you send them my way? I’ve taken a few through my type discovery process now, and it’s completely changed their approach to how they make college choices. They feel confident and ready to pick what’s best for them instead of fumbling in the dark, and I’d love to do more work with this population—they are usually most grateful for such insightful help! As always, my packages can be found at my website, DrVickyJo.com
-Dr. Vicky Jo