Hello and welcome to Episode 6 of Think Spiritual.
I’m Mark, I’m your host once again and today I am diving straight into Examining the Spiritual Elements of another movie.
When I began developing Think Spiritual podcasts I had been looking forward to creating a talk based around the numerous superhero movies available these days. Most of these movies have something of spiritual value to offer—a scene here, a poignant moment there—so my plan had been to pick some of the best of these scenes and moments and amalgamate them into one talk.
And then I saw Thor: Ragnarok.
This movie is, by far, the most significant superhero film to date. Dr. Strange is an important one as well, and Wonder Woman was oh-so-close-but-not-quite-there, but Thor: Ragnarok knocks the ball out of the country, let alone the park.
Actually, this movie may be one of the most powerful spiritual films I have ever seen.
This is a movie you need to understand.
There is a lot of spiritual significance in this movie. I mean…there is a LOT. There is so much significance that I have had some real difficulty deciding how to proceed to put this talk into some cohesive format.
I had thought at first that I could use Ragnarok as the introduction to my Hero’s Journey series, but the more I read and the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wouldn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, this Thor movie certainly is a Hero’s Journey film, but it portrays only the final three stages of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth. By the time this movie starts, Thor has already gone through many shifts in his thinking and understanding of the universe. However, Thor does have one final epic adventure to face: the mastery of self.
Once again I am going to ask you to take my hand as I lead you down the garden path and explain all the things that you will see along the way. However this time…this time…I am going to ask you to change your perspective a little. I want you to consider something very, very important: the hero is you. Whether you are male or female, you are Thor, Son of Odin, God of Thunder.
Movies are modern mythology. The purpose of understanding mythology is to see yourself within each tale. In Thor: Ragnarok you are Thor and Asgard is your kingdom. Asgard is also you. Asgard is the kingdom of your soul.
As Thor, you arrive home in Asgard. You carry the head of Surtur with you. You slew him in hopes of preventing Ragnarok: the destruction of Asgard. You believed that by doing so that you could prevent the unpreventable.
Before your return you had been searching the universe for treasure, for something with meaning. And what did you really find? A universe in chaos that held no answers for you. So, you turned your eyes inwards. Towards the depths of your soul. Towards Asgard.
What you find in Asgard is a usurper on the throne. Odin, or God, or a guru or whatever you deem as most important to you is your highest ideal, the person and demeanor you wish to emulate, but you know you cannot. This person on the throne looks like God and sounds like God, but this is not God, the all-father. No, this is your dark-mirror image, your brother. This is your Ego sitting on the throne of your kingdom.
Your Ego has taken the form of God, but you have come to know this trickster quite well and you expose him for what he is and you demand to know what he has done with God so-to-speak.
Your Ego takes you to the place where it last saw God, but God is not there anymore. In fact, that place within you has been torn down and is nothing but rubble and God is free and on the loose. He is not cooped up there anymore.
When you and your Ego eventually find God again, he is not exactly as you last saw him. He seems old and tired. He is more interested in where he is than in you. His power is greatly diminished. He says he is tired and that it is time for him to die.
“Oh, and by the way,” says God, “your sister will be released from her prison when I am gone.”
“Wait. Sister?” you ask, “What sister?”
“Your sister, Hela,” says God, “the Goddess of Death.”
And Hela is exactly that in this film. She is death. You cannot hurt her, you cannot wound her, you cannot kill her, you cannot defeat her. Hela is Death and she will come for you. Someday she will knock on the door to your soul and take you away. Death is unbeatable.
The primary warning, however, is to not allow Hela to sit on the throne and rule Asgard. That is the real danger. Understand this well: if Death rules over the Kingdom of your soul then her power is limitless.
Odin dies and Hela is released from her prison. She is menacing, but quite lovely (I wish the movie had made her two faces far more intense and juxtaposed). She recognizes you and and your Ego as her brothers, but she is hardly warm and caring. She wants only one thing; she demands that you kneel before her and when you question why you should she says you don’t look much like God. When your Ego attempts to negotiate with her she says your Ego definitely sounds like God.
And then she puts on her terrifying mask and becomes outright threatening.
So you throw Mjolnir at death.
Now, Mjolnir is Thor’s hammer and one of the mightiest weapons ever conceived of, but what Mjolnir really represents here is your identity. Thor identifies himself with Mjolnir. Mjolnir is the symbol of who he is. This weapon, this item, this thing is what you think you are. What you identify most with, that is your Mjolnir.
And that is what you throw at death.
“Do you see me, death? Do you see who I am? Do you see how strong I have become?”
And Death laughs at you and shatters the unshatterable Mjolnir.
Death destroys what you identify with. Death destroys the illusional image of who or what you think you are.
Thor, the Hero, attempts to dash forward to take Death on hand to hand, but Loki, the Ego, says “forget that idea” and calls for the Bifrost to take them back to Asgard.
See what happened here? The Ego is ultimately a protection device. It’s desire to keep itself from harm prevents the Hero from an ill-fated grapple with Death.
The Ego has good intentions here, but even it should know that Death will follow you wherever you go. Death catches your Ego and casts it out of the Bifrost and then Death catches you and casts you out of the Bifrost.
And Death is at the gates of Asgard where she quickly dispatches your defenses and she comes face to face with your Nihilism. Your Nihilism just wants to matter. He wants something to matter. Death can use Nihilism to her advantage, so she makes him her servant.
Meanwhile, you, the Hero, have crash-landed on a garbage planet.
Yes, another garbage planet in another movie. I really have to create a talk based solely around this concept.
On this garbage planet you are suddenly accosted by the locals and they ask you if you are a warrior or if you are food. If you fight, you are a warrior. If you decide that it is all too difficult, then you will be food. However, you are the Hero and you have no squabble with these strangers, so you say you are just passing through.
The strangers decide that you are food. Fortunately, you are rescued before you are eaten.
The woman who rescues you is a scavenger. She slaps an obedience disc on you that shocks you into unconsciousness whenever you misbehave. And then she takes you to the ruler of the garbage planet: the Grandmaster. The Masochist.
The Masochist is really impressed with you. You are strong and belligerent and you almost break out of your bonds, but when you attempt to call down lightning you only get a sparkling of energy cascading around your hands. You are tired and confused and hurt and you don’t understand what is going on. Your identity has been shattered. You are drained and powerless.
The Masochist thinks you are charming and funny and he decides to pit you against his Champion in his gladiator coliseum.
And then you see the Ego sitting amongst the Masochist’s friends. He is drinking champagne and having a grand time. In his usual self-protective manner, he has ingratiated himself with the Masochist and he doesn’t want you to mess up the good thing he’s got going, so he pretends he doesn’t know you.
Meanwhile, Death is at least in temporary control of Asgard. She decimates its armies, kills its champions. And all the while, your Nihilism looks on with a mix of disquiet and interest. Death finishes the battle without a scratch and decides to go and see the palace and when she arrives she is appalled by the so-called history she sees painted upon the ceiling of the throne room.
And here is where Death actually does some good. She makes everyone face the truth, the reality of how your life has really been, how you really got to be where you are. She breaks the facade. Death brings down the ceiling painting and reveals the true history underneath.
We often our proud of the life we have and we often are ashamed of how we got to the point we have, so we cover it up, we gloss it over, we put on a facade of everything being rosy and cheerful.
But Death will bring the truth to the surface. She uncovers all in her attempts to own your soul. Her ultimate goal is to rule Asgard and from there to spread death and destruction to the Nine Realms and the universe.
And what are the Nine Realms? They are your life. Your family, your friends, your relations, your work, your community. If Death rules the kingdom of your soul, then all things in your life will be ruled and destroyed by her as well.
But don’t fear! All is not lost. Your All-Seeing Wisdom has stolen the sword that will open the Bifrost so Death currently has no access to the outside realms.
And you, Thor, Son of Odin, the Hero are still alive.
You are thrown into a prison cell while you await your death-match with the Masochist’s champion and here it is that you meet the Pragmatist. He’s very matter-of-fact and humorous and just takes everything in stride. He asks if you are interested in joining his revolution, but you say that you are going to fight the Grandmaster’s Champion and get back to Asgard.
The Pragmatist says that everyone who has faced the Champion has perished, but he cheerily wishes you luck.
As you prepare for your battle with the Champion, you see the scavenger woman who captured you. When she first caught you she was drunk and now you see her drinking heavily and carousing with the people who run the gladiator arena.
And then you see a tattoo on her arm and realize she is an Asgardian. She is a Valkyrie. She is your feminine aspect. When you beg for her help she sluffs you off. She has no interest in helping you.
Why? Because like most feminine aspects, she has been abused and ignored and cast out into the planet of garbage. She drinks to forget and is surly and uncaring about anyone or anything except for herself. If you don’t care about your feminine side, she doesn’t care about it either.
Men, you have a Valkyrie inside of you and most of you ignore her and shove her down so that the outside image is as masculine as possible.
Women, you have also been ignoring your inner Valkyries in order to live in a masculine world.
But we need both. We need both the Viking and Valkyrie. You will never be whole and complete without the balance of the masculine and feminine natures.
Thor’s acknowledgement of the Valkyrie isn’t enough at this point. She has been too long ignored and too long uncared for. She has no interest in helping him escape.
So, you are dragged off to the barber. Your hair is cut, your beard is trimmed, your face is painted. At first you are not happy about these changes, but you eventually come to realize that they suit you. Your adventures and knowledge have changed you and they slowly make their way from the inside to the outside appearance.
However, this is not the time to concentrate on these things for you are about to face the Masochist’s Champion and you must prepare yourself for battle.
Then the moment comes. You are in the arena and the Champion is being announced and then he is there: huge and brutish, green giant bellowing to the sky.
Your Ego, watching from the best seats, suddenly feels the urge to be far away from here. He has faced this Beast in the past and has no desire to face it again.
This is a combination aspect of yourself: this is your Vulnerability and your Intellect wearing its cloak of Rage.
You, however, laugh and yell for joy! You know this guy! He’s your old friend that you have been in good-natured competition with for years. You call him by name and wave for his attention.
Unfortunately, Rage doesn’t care about who you are right. Rage likes being in control. He likes that he’s not on a leash anymore. He likes being the Masochist’s Champion (this is what the Masochist does, by the way, is pits aspects of yourself against each other in order to keep you marooned on the Planet of Garbage). Rage says that Vulnerability is no longer present and he smacks you with a huge hammer.
You are no slouch though. You have learned a lot over the years and you’re not afraid of your Beast. You give him your best and beat him down. What you don’t yet realize is that your Rage cannot be beaten into submission and for a while he gains the upper hand again.
As Rage beats you, as he pummels you, something swells up within you. Some new power and resolve that you have not had before and with this you strike the Beast.
The Masochist will have none of it, however, and he activates the Obedience disk and paralyzes you into submission.
You awake in Rage’s apartment and he will not let you leave. The two of you must exist together for a time and learn to get along, but you are still determined to leave this Planet of Garbage.
The Feminine and Rage have developed a friendship and bond during their stay on the Planet of Garbage and you ask Rage to let you talk to her. You eventually convince her to listen to you, but she still refuses to help, but during your talk with her, you skillfully picked her pocket to attain the remote for the obedience disk, which you promptly remove. You crash through a window and make a leap for the ground, running towards a nearby ship: the ship that brought Rage to the Planet of Garbage.
But Rage follows you. He will not let you leave. He smashes the ship and makes it unusable, but inside the ship is something he fears. Inside the ship Rage faces Pain and when Rage faces Pain an internal battle ensues and a Transformation takes place. Rage is Transformed and Vulnerability and Intellect and a host of other Attributes that were masked by Rage stands in his place.
You, the Hero, are ecstatic. Now you have a real chance of escaping this place!
Meanwhile, your Feminine and your Ego have got into a little spat and the Ego has managed to make the Feminine face her pain and doing so makes her realize that she has unfinished business with Death and that she is better off helping you defend Asgard than waiting around drunk on a garbage planet for Death to eventually come and get her anyway.
You, the Feminine, the Intellect, and the Ego make a plan of escape. The Feminine releases all of the Masochist’s prisoners so the Pragmatist can begin his revolution.
You and your Ego work together to steal a ship, but the Ego, of course, is always looking out for number one and he attempts to betray you yet again.
But you are Thor. You are the Hero and over your many years and many adventures you have finally stopped trying to change your Ego. You have grown and you have changed. You have finally stopped hoping that he will change and become who you want him to be. You have finally accepted the Ego for who and what he is.
So, you beat him at his own game and incapacitate him with an Obedience disk. You don’t destroy him, you don’t beat him down, you don’t get rid of him. You simply accept him and let him know that you will always believe that he could be more than what he is.
It should also be noted here that this act has also peaked Ego’s interest. He now sees you in a new light and has greater respect for you. It makes him more willing to cooperate with you in the future because he knows that you also have his best interests at heart.
You steal a ship and the Masochist throws everything and everyone he has at you. He absolute does not want you to get away. So, the Feminine shows you that she knows how to fight for what is hers and you prove to her that you are a Hero worth fighting with and together, with Intellect, you all escape the Planet of Garbage.
The Pragmatist with his rag-tag army has persuaded your Ego to join them and they also take a ship and blast away from the garbage planet.
You arrive in Asgard and find it under siege. Your Wisdom is doing all he can to protect your people, all aspects of yourself, from Death and Fear (Death’s wolf companion), but it is a losing battle.
Wisdom and the People of Asgard run for the Bifrost.
The Feminine dons the armour of the Valkyrie.
In the palace you discover that Death has laid your soul bare and you face the truth of your past, but this doesn’t phase you. You ultimately knew it was there all along. So you call to Her. You call to Death. You are ready to face her.
And She answers.
You argue a few philosophical points together and you acknowledge that she ultimately is the rightful heir to throne – that we all must eventually die – but that you can’t allow her to rule now. She is just…the worst. And with that, you come to blows with the Goddess of Death.
The war for your soul is on.
The People of Asgard are caught between the Armies of Death, led by Nihilism, and Fear.
Wisdom and Feminine battle Fear directly and cannot hold it back, but Intellect and Vulnerability understand that now is the time for Rage and they once again allow the Beast to envelope them. Rage takes Fear on directly in a dire battle that only one will survive.
Your battle with Death is not going well. At first you seem to be holding your own, but then She says She expected more from you and begins to tear you down bit by bit. She slashes out one of your eyes and comments that now you look like God.
She drags you out on the terrace to overlook the battle and gloats that she is going to win.
But then the Pragmatist and your Ego arrive with transport to rescue the People of Asgard and Death’s smile disappears. She mocks you, begins to choke the life out of you, and as she does you have a vision.
You see God in your vision and he tells you that Asgard is not a Place. He tells you that Asgard is WHO YOU ARE.
You say you cannot beat Death because you lost Mjolnir. You lost your hammer. You lost your identity.
And God asks you: Are you the God of Hammers?
Please reflect on that question for a minute:
Are you the God of Hammers?
You say you are not as strong as He is.
And God says: No. You’re stronger.
With that your power wells up from within and you strike Death with the biggest bolt of lightning that the God of Thunder can summon.
When Death is struck by who you really are and not by what you think you are, then you take her down a peg.
And you come fully into your Power, fully into acceptance of Who and What you really are and you tear through Death’s army to reach your people.
Death’s armies are defeated. Fear has plunged into the abyss, but Death Herself still comes. So you face her once again. No, you still cannot defeat her, but defeating her is not the point here. Keeping her distracted while you save your kingdom is the point.
And how do you save your kingdom?
By destroying all that you thought it to be. By unleashing the fire-demon and bringing about Ragnarok and burning the image of Asgard. Death is powerless when there is nothing left to rule over. All is impermanent and when you fully understand this what power, then, has Death over you?
Even Nihilism is no longer Death’s servant. Once he sees and understands what truly matters, he has no problem turning against his master and sacrificing himself for the greater good. He mattered most when he needed to.
You have overcome your Fear of Death. You have proven yourself to be a worthy heir and leader. You have reached understanding and enlightenment. You are free to live life as you see fit. All aspects of yourself surround and uphold you. The People of Asgard stand behind you.
At your left and right hands:
Heimdall: Your conscience, your wisdom, your insight and intuition.
Valkyrie: Your feminine.
Hulk: Your rage, your beast, the protective cloak of your intellect and vulnerability
Korg: Your pragmatist, your humour, your stoicism.
And, of course, Loki: your dark mirror-image, your trickster, your ego.
And, on the Throne of Asgard, You.
The God of Thunder.
Your Self. Whole and complete.
And there we have it. My interpretation of the deeply spiritual elements that I see within Thor: Ragnarok.
Let me know what you think of my conclusions and thank you so much for listening. I hope you got something out of it.
This has been Episode 6 of Think Spiritual. I have been your host, Mark. And please always, always remember that if you change your Self and sit on the throne of the kingdom of your soul that you will change your world.
I’ll see you on the next episode.
Change your Self; change your World.