Yet in addition to this basic issue, there are also grave concerns to consider about the nature of the show’s content, and in particular, its apparent use of New Age spirituality.
When LifeSiteNews raised these concerns in previous articles, many were critical, and one writer at the National Catholic Reporter even took it as an occasion to charge us with being “only marginally less deranged” than Planned Parenthood murderer Robert Dear.
Many Catholic observers have argued – speciously, we think – that the show used Christian symbolism. Some have called the show “awesome” and others believe it employed “sound theology.”
Yet those same symbols that could be taken as Christian also have New Age and even demonic significance. Given that the show’s creators have explicitly highlighted the New Age influence, we believe that interpretation for these symbols is vastly more plausible.
‘We have Gaia, and Aya, and Mother Earth appears’When LifeSiteNews first reported about the Vatican show containing elements of “New Age symbolism associated with ancient pagan deities,” we did not pull this information out of a black hat, but sourced it from the creators of the show – the U.S.-based company Obscura Digital.
Obscura Digital first unveiled the show’s prototype in New York on August 1 when it was projected onto the iconic Empire State Building. The message in both the New York and Vatican shows was the same: man-made climate change is destroying the planet, and along with it numerous animal species. The show’s creators called the New York venue a “warm-up act” for the Vatican.
When Obscura Digital ran this “warm-up act” in New York, they included images of pagan goddesses alongside those focusing on the beauty of creation or the plight of endangered animals.
“We have Gaia, and Aya, and Mother Earth appears,” said Travis Threlkel, founder and creative director of Obscura, in an August interview about the New York version of the show. The greek pagan goddess Gaia is a Greek Mother Earth who has been appropriated by worshipers of nature. Aya is a Babylonian mother goddess associated with the rising sun and with sexual love.
The artist who created these goddess images, “Android” Andrew Jones, said at that time that he wanted to depict Mother Earth in her “fiercest form” to draw attention to what might happen if people ignored the implications of climate change. Jones explained in an interview last month that he uses “psychedelic substances” (mind altering drugs) to help him portray the occult deities accurately. He said the deities are “actively involved, enrolled, and contributing” in guiding his hand as he makes the work.
Among Jones’ creations for the New York show was an image of Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and destruction. Kali, who was depicted with a long blood red tongue and whose name means “the black one,” promises wealth to those who worship her by satiating her lust for blood by human sacrifice. Daily human sacrifices of young children were offered on her altars in India until 200 years ago. She has since been culturally appropriated by New Age spirituality as a kind of Mother Earth goddess.
‘A spirituality that supposedly will save the planet’Obscura did not include any explicit images of pagan deities in the Vatican show, but observers with knowledge of New Age spirituality nevertheless detected its influence in the show’s images and sequences.
Canadian Catholic artist and novelist Michael O’Brien, for example, criticized the show for offering a spiritual vision devoid of Christianity.
“The underlying ethos was incomplete to say the least,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“The tableau was implicitly religious, offering a spirituality that supposedly will save the planet, as if to say that here is the ‘woman’ (mother earth, the goddess Gaia) to whom we owe reverence, if not worship. It is therefore particularly disturbing that the event was planned for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Church's foremost feast of the true Woman, the Mother of all Peoples.”
O’Brien said that the show appears to indicate the “Church's solidarity with concerns over the environment and the condition of select portions of mankind, but criticized a form of “inculturation” where the evangelist “loses the vision of his identity and missionary purpose as a bearer of the one true Light that will save the world.”
“Wherever prudence and clarity are lacking, inculturation easily mutates into assimilation by paganism,” he said.
Prolific Catholic writer Fr. George Rutler has also expressed concern about such an event about science that may have “become a religion” being projected onto St. Peters on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Rutler writes in Crisis Magazine,
So it was perplexing, that on the recent Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the feast itself was upstaged by an unprecedented light show cast on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica, sponsored by the World Bank Group, an environmental foundation called Okeanos, and Vulcan, Inc., a Seattle-based private company dedicated to exposing “sins against the climate.” Sins? These interests may have good intentions, but the parameters of banking and business and academe do not include imputing sin. There may be offenses and even crimes against the balance of the ecosystem, but not sins, unless science really has become a religion. The irony is that many who impute sins to those who disrupt the balance of nature, also defend and promote unnatural acts among humans. Although the Immaculate Conception was neglected in the New Age light show with its flying birds and leaping porpoises, it is consoling to remember that the Virgin Mary was completely free of sins against the climate and left this world without leaving any carbon footprint.
‘New Age and occult’?Cornelia Ferreira, who holds a Master of Science degree and is an internationally-known writer, lecturer, and author of books and articles exposing the New Age Movement, took her analysis one step further than O’Brien, saying that in her opinion, the show is “definitely New Age and occult.”
“It's what is often used in mind-control theatre, opening people to occult influences,” she told LifeSiteNews.
Ferreira said the show contains many “levels of meaning.”
“Most people don’t go beyond the superficial level and are oblivious to the deeper meanings. But this does not mean that the deeper meanings do not influence them. Unfortunately, because of their open minds, they can be influenced all the more,” she said.
Some commentators such as Elizabeth Scalia, editor-in-chief of Aleteia’s English edition, have suggested that elements in the show lend themselves to a Christian interpretation. For example, she wrote, “The projection began with images of white doves, a traditional symbol for the Holy Spirit. The first image was a peacock, a Christ-symbol.”
“Right near the beginning of the show we see a huge sun rising over the entire front of St. Peter’s. This tells us who is in charge of the production, like credits rolling at the beginning of a film. In occult symbolism, the rising sun represents the ‘new day’ that is dawning upon the masses, a change of direction.”
After the rising sun, the opening sequence, she noted, portrayed a rising moon that was eclipsed, followed by clouds and sky, then by water covering the basilica, and ending with burning candles.
“They are showing the four elements that are worshipped by indigenous peoples [WARNING: occult material], namely earth — in this case the moon, another common element of pagan worship — air, as represented by the sky and clouds, then water, and finally fire.”
“It is a spirituality that has been taken over by the environmental movement, but which has its roots in indigenous and occult spirituality. These symbols are just another sign of who is running the show and what they truly worship,” she said.
Ferreira said that given the deeper significances of the show she was not surprised to see animals projected that are not endangered species.
“Some of the animals that were projected, such as the lion [WARNING: occult material] and the dolphin [WARNING: occult material] also have an occult significance in that they are commonly used as ‘spirit guides’ [WARNING: occult material] by occult practitioners. Bees [WARNING: occult material] are known to be very significant in occult thinking. Also butterflies [WARNING: occult material], which signify change, a powerful transformation. A swarm of bees was shown covering St. Peter’s, as well as hordes of butterflies covering the entire facade, at various points in the show.”
Ferreira also took notice of the soundtrack that accompanied the images.
“The sound effects were typically New Age, with metallic harsh sounds, the tinkling of crystals, heavy breathing, and the eerie chanting of a female singer. The ambiance was heavy and dark. There were nightmare sounds. There was almost nothing here what you would call harmonic or tonal.”
Ferreira said the artistic medium of light and sound is the perfect catalyst for manipulating people.
“The beautiful spectacle of lights and sound leads the viewers on a spiritual path that bypasses rational thinking and normal human judgment. Of course it’s all dressed up as ‘climate change,’ and ‘save the oceans,’ and ‘save the planet,’ and ‘save the animals,’ and that’s what’s so dangerous about it: People buy into it without realizing what they’re doing.”
‘Occult overtones’Michael Hichborn of The Lepanto Institute, who has studied the occult for nearly 20 years, told LifeSiteNews that the show contained scenes and images that lend themselves to a occult interpretation, especially given the absence of the Christian cross — a key to Christian interpretation — in any part of the show.
“Here's the problem: occult symbolism is designed to be just that... occult (hidden/secret). Those who have eyes to see will understand what is dancing around in plain view, but those who don't believe that there is an occult will scoff,” he said.
“Most people won't pick up on any occult symbolism regarding the presence of a butterfly. However, practitioners of occult mysticism know the meaning and place it among their artifacts with direct intent,” he said.
Hichborn said he noticed a few scenes in the Vatican light show that lend themselves to an occult interpretation, the most obvious being the scene where halves of people’s faces were shown, with a focus on one human eye.
“The Eye of Horus (All-Seeing Eye, Eye of Providence, etc) is the most prominent symbol of Freemasonry, the Illuminati, and black magic. It all goes back to ancient Egyptian mythology regarding the Egyptian god Horus. Horus, according to myth, was the son of Osiris. Osiris was killed by Horus' brother Set, causing a long-standing war between the two. At one point, Set blinded Horus in one eye, but the eye was healed by Thoth. That eye then became a powerful magic symbol.”
In another scene involving large white doves, Hichborn noted how the birds weren’t flying forwards, but backwards.
“Now, normally, the Holy Spirit is represented by a dove. However, in this show, we hear a crackle of electricity just before we see a dove in flight, flying backwards. Furthermore, the light goes up from below, not coming down from above, to reveal the dove flying backwards.”
Faces, skeletons, strange symbolsThere are instances where human-like forms, totem-pole-like faces, and glowing eyes appear at various points within the light show. A few of these instances among many are showcased in the “highlights” video. Their significance may never be known, but the question remains why they were put into a show allegedly about depicting the beauty of the earth.
Ferreira said there is so much happening in the show that it would take months to try to decode it all, and parts of it would still remain a mystery. Despite this, she said that God-fearing Christians do not need to know what all the signs and symbols mean to understand the larger picture of what is happening.
Some critics of the show have speculated that the Vatican organized it without the pope’s knowledge, but that was contested by one of the creators. Louie Psihoyos, who curated the projection alongside Threlkel, said the show was personally “green lit” by Pope Francis and that the pope watched it from his balcony overlooking the square. Additionally, Threlkel said that the Vatican had “surprisingly minimal” input into its creation and that he “[could not] believe how supportive they’ve been.”