No, it’s not a click-bait title. Today I’m here to prove to you that most of us have probably had an incorrect interpretation of The Matrix films, myself included, up to this point.
Ever since the first film came out in 1999 – wow, I can’t believe that’s been 21 years already – anyway, ever since The Matrix was released, the most prevalent belief is that the Matrix is essentially a dream world that we all must awaken from. Zion is real. The Matrix is fake.
So, here are the questions I’m posing to you today: if the Matrix is fake, why wasn’t it destroyed? Why was it preserved? Why did Zion and the Matrix have to be at peace and in balance? Why were people to be given a choice of where they wished to live?
Today I have answers to these and other questions about the Matrix films and I’m also going to prove to you that Neo isn’t a Hero. He’s a Heroine.
Hello, Spiritual Seekers, and welcome to another episode of Think Spiritual. I’m your host, Mark, and once again I’m about to present to you an alternate interpretation of a popular movie.
Well, okay, I have a bad habit of not choosing very popular movies to review – Soldier and The Shallows and Io: Last on Earth for a few examples. Or I choose popular movies that people aren’t looking for a deeper meaning out of – Terminator 2 and Kung Fu Panda for instance. Or I choose movies that are way past their popularity phase by the time I get to them – e.g. Gravity.
So far, my most popular pick has been Sucker Punch and I honestly didn’t expect it to garner the views it has. It rather surprised me.
Look, it’s really not my fault. I can’t help when I choose to watch a movie and when it hits me on a deep emotional level. I can’t help when I have the energy and compulsion to write an analysis. If I could, there would be a lot more popular movies in my list of episodes and this channel would probably be a lot bigger by now.
So, my bad habit of not picking popular movies is going to continue at all points in the future: look for my breakdown of the Netflix sci-fi film I Am Mother within the next couple of months.
However, today is a different matter. Today I’m finally tackling one of the biggest film trilogies of the past two decades. Today I’m finally getting to present my analysis of The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, and The Matrix Revolutions.
Had I presented this analysis of The Matrix trilogy even a few months ago – as had been planned – it would have been a very different analysis than what I will be presenting to you today, because I was still looking at the movies and at Neo’s journey as a Hero’s Journey.
But it’s not a Hero’s Journey. It turns out that Neo’s adventure is a Heroine’s Journey and that Neo is a Feminine-driven character. I find it rather interesting that I felt somewhat compelled to wait to write a Matrix analysis until I had developed my Heroine’s Journey model and it conveniently turns out that my model fits The Matrix trilogy far better than the Hero’s Journey fit it.
I’m not saying The Matrix doesn’t have elements of the Hero’s Journey in it. My models of the Hero’s and Heroine’s Journeys are binary – they do overlap and intersect and interweave – but Neo’s personal growth path doesn’t work if you label him as the Hero.
Don’t believe me? Well, I can prove that The Matrix is a Heroine’s Journey with one character who is not Neo. I can prove the point with Morpheus.
If The Matrix were a Hero’s Journey tale, Morpheus would be considered as Neo’s Supernatural Aid or as The Mentor or even as a Father of sorts. The Mentor’s path almost always leads to the Mentor’s death and this was the first thread that I pulled on as I began to analyze this set of movies: Why doesn’t Morpheus die?
Asking this question and pulling on that thread eventually led me to this line of thought and these questions: If Neo is the Hero, then the “real world” or Zion would be considered as the “Special World”. But if Zion is the “Special World”, why is the “Ordinary World” – the Matrix – the place everyone has superpowers? Why is Neo able to continually cross the threshold between the “Special World” and the “Ordinary World”? Heroes don’t have that ability.
And the answer is: because the Matrix is the “Special World”. The Matrix is the depths of the Feminine, but – and here is the big BUT that is going to change my perspective on a lot of movies and I’m going to be looking for this theme from now on – but, the Feminine energy of the Matrix is repressed and oppressed by Deus Ex Machina – the weird, baby-faced spiky machine seen at the end of The Matrix Revolutions.
The Matrix trilogy is ultimately a tale of the duality of our personal existence and a reflection of how our human societies tend to operate.
Zion represents the ever stalwart, strong and resistant Masculine portion of our psyche.
The Matrix represents our Feminine, emotional centre where every dream is possible if only we believe it could be true.
And Deus Ex Machina represents our Ego – the part of us that processes all of the information that happens within us and without us and decides how we will present ourselves to the physical world. Our Ego is merely programming that is designed to protect our body.
Our ultimate purpose on this planet is to bring those three parts – the Masculine, the Feminine, and the Ego – together. We are to be “at one”, to be whole and to be at peace with our Self. That, my Dear Listeners, is the goal and the greatest gift we can offer to ourselves.
But it can only be achieved if we acknowledge and raise up our inner Heroine. Only the Hero and Heroine working together can attain the ultimate prize.
At this point I’m really hoping that the light has dawned in your mind and you’re already seeing where I’m taking this Matrix analysis. I’ve essentially already told you exactly what it all means, but I don’t think I’ve done my job properly unless I lay it all out for you, so without further exposition, here is Neo’s Heroine’s Journey throughout The Matrix Trilogy:
Step 1 of Neo’s Journey is The “Perfect” World, which is, of course, the unchanging Matrix that is patrolled by Agents. Notice that it’s all a sickly cast of green and white and black. It lacks colour and depth.
The Matrix is essentially no different from a cult or dogmatic religious system – it’s regulated spirituality. Here are all of these people living in the depths of the Soul and only a fraction of a percent understand that everyone within the Matrix is capable of performing miracles. Not just The One…Everyone.
Neo already feels that something is not right about the Matrix. He has been searching for Morpheus for a long time. However, Neo’s Death of Innocence step of his Heroine’s Journey doesn’t come until Morpheus contacts him and then, due to lack of understanding, Neo is arrested by Agents and has a bug planted in him.
This Death of Innocence moment is truly a spiritual awakening, but it’s so shocking and unexplainable that the rational mind denies that Neo’s rose-coloured glasses – or chartreuse-coloured glasses in this case – have been broken. Thus why I’ve called this third stage of the Heroine’s Journey Denial of the Broken Glasses.
Deep down, Neo knows the bug is real. He knows he experienced something unexplainable, but he won’t admit it to himself. When Trinity tells him that he’s “been down that road before”, I think she’s speaking about the road of denial that he’s walking. I think Neo has seen other unexplainable things throughout his life and he has always rationalized them away, but the disquiet remains.
Neo is, afterall, a Doubting Thomas Anderson.
When he finally allows “the truth” to be yanked out of him he knows that his life has been permanently altered.
And this brings us to Neo’s fourth step of the Heroine’s Journey: The Faery Godmother, who is none other than Morpheus. Morpheus is more than Supernatural Aid or Mentor. For one thing, he doesn’t die. The Faery Godmother can become trapped or cursed or can change forms, but she generally doesn’t die – or if she does die she can be recovered or brought back from the Land of the Dead.
Like every Faery Godmother – whether good or evil – Morpheus shares his “magic” with Neo and tells Neo that he can do even greater things if he only believes.
Through his “magic”, Morpheus is able to pinpoint Neo’s location in the “real world” and bring Neo out of the repressed Feminine and into the drab and grey world of the Masculine. The fact is, both the Feminine and the Masculine worlds are repressed and oppressed by the machines just as we repress and oppress our divinity within our body and psyche – whether consciously or unconsciously.
This step of Neo’s Journey is called Leaving the Waters because the Feminine and Neo are always in water. Everyone in the Matrix lies in a tub of amniotic fluid and is sustained by the system. When Neo “awakens” he is literally flushed by the system – he’s now dangerous and a threat to it – and he’s pulled out of the waters by the Nebuchadnezzar.
It’s pretty interesting how one Dreamer pulls another out of the Dream.
At this point, Neo enters The Dark Forest – a place with no direction and full of things he doesn’t understand. Neo’s body must be “trained” to live in the “real world” – the world of the Masculine, the world with gravity and air, the world of logic and machinery, the world with the most basic and boring of nutrition.
Neo also must be “deprogrammed”. Everything he’s known to be “normal” is all within his mind. He must learn to fight and to know that he is far more capable and powerful than he was ever led to believe.
Eventually, Neo is taken to see The Oracle so he can be told his purpose and whether he will be The Fair Maiden of this tale or The Chosen One or “The One”.
The Oracle, of course, tells Neo only what he needs to hear at the time. Neo doesn’t believe he is The One, so she tells him he isn’t The One. Until Neo believes he’s The One, he won’t become The One. Until you believe you are The One to save your Self, you won’t be The One.
And this is okay, because you definitely don’t want to be wrapped up in a single identity. You don’t want to be possessed by your Purpose. Neo excels at moving beyond this seeking purpose and identity step of his Journey because he isn’t seeking approval from anyone except for himself. He is ultimately seeking a greater understanding of what it means to be alive.
And Neo is not the only one who is seeking a greater understanding of existence.
In many of my previous episodes, I’ve brought up the theme of the Hero and the Villain rising or being unleashed at the same time. From now on, I’ll be adding the Heroine to that list as well. These three archetypes are projectors and reflectors of each other and all carry aspects of truth that must be integrated into the wholeness of your being.
It is at this step in his Journey that Neo Meets the Beast of his Masculine nature. However, this Beast has two faces: one is Smith. The other is Trinity – remember that I’m speaking of a metaphorical beast.
Both Smith and Trinity are also seeking greater understanding of existence and each takes a very different path towards their inevitable end.
Notice that Neo is briefly grabbed by Smith – a monster coming through the walls to steal him away – and while Neo and Trinity have already met, they have yet to rely on each other and trust each other completely.
That trust and time to work together comes quickly when Neo begins to understand what the Oracle told him about holding Morpheus’s life and his own life in either hand. This is Neo’s “Standing on the Shoreline” moment. He hasn’t fully embraced that he is The One, but he does accept that he has a greater calling at this moment and that this calling is more important than his own life.
And while he doesn’t know it yet, Neo holds all of the world’s life in his hands. Morpheus’s, his own, all the life in Zion, all the life in The Matrix – human and program alike – and even the lives of the Machines.
So, it’s now time for Neo to realize his full potential.
While I did not make “Apotheosis” a step of my Heroine’s Journey model, in spirit it’s always there just as it happens all throughout the Hero’s Journey. Apotheosis is, technically, one and the same with Overcoming the Stepmother.
Every Princess must be poisoned or put to sleep or, in this case, shot to death. And every Prince must give the Princess the Kiss of Life and raise her back up. It’s then up to every Heroine to recognize the Goddess within her Self, set her boundaries, stand up to her Wicked Stepmother and say “No!”.
And with the destruction of the Stepmother comes the Transformation of the Beast.
Trinity is transformed from coworker and companion to the Lover or to what we could term as appropriately awakened Masculinity.
Smith, however, is transformed from Agent to Nemesis. He is Neo’s awakened Shadow Self who can see no purpose to existence. Smith tumbles down the dark pits of Existential Nihilism and almost brings all of life to a bitter end.
With the Transformation of the Beast comes sex and the time of Pregnancy. Neo is pregnant with purpose. He can feel this growing within him, but he’s not sure what steps to take next. So, he must wait until his next time of action arrives.
This time of “pregnancy” is almost the entire The Matrix Reloaded film. The movie is “pregnant” with ideas. It portrays the results of all that happened in the first movie and sets up all that will happen in the third.
While Neo waits to understand his purpose, he does get some reprieve and time of rest. For most Heroines this is what I would call the “Housewife” step of the Journey. However, as a “messiah” figure and destined to be sacrificed, Neo isn’t really allowed this Housewife step of existence unless he chooses the path that The Architect lays out for him.
You see, The Architect is a very orderly, one-track-mind individual. For him, it makes perfect sense to simply keep bulldozing Zion, rebooting The Matrix and begin the cycle all over again. It’s a very neat and tidy solution to the pesky Remainder Anomaly of The One. It’s a solution that works every time.
Except that it doesn’t work. When we keep bulldozing our problems and rebooting our lives, we don’t grow. We become stuck in ever devolving loops and patterns of behaviour.
This is why we have to trust The Oracle, our Divine Feminine, and understand that the only way to get to the Future is together. The only way out of our problems is to walk through them.
Not that we can’t trust The Architect, our Divine Masculine, at the appropriate times. He is, after all, a master Problem-Solver. He just tends to not see the larger picture.
Getting back to Neo, he has trusted his intuition and made choices all along the way that have led him to the solutions he needs. He keeps receiving messages of “togetherness” and that the Machines and the Humans need each other to survive.
So, Neo makes the choice to do what seems impossible – rescue Trinity – thus, rescuing the Lover of his Self – and attempt to make peace with the Machines instead of continuing the war to destroy them.
This is what I have termed as The Call from Home step of the Heroine’s Journey. Neo knows what he must do. He knows that he has to go to the Machine City. He has to go “Home” to the Source of all programming and bargain for peace with the Ego – Deus Ex Machina.
By doing so, Neo places himself directly in the path of Smith who has become the embodiment of Existential Nihilism and has determined that the only purpose for life is for it to end. Smith is determined to bring an end to The Matrix and to Zion because he believes that it is his Purpose.
That, by the way, is one of the dangers of believing you have a God-Given purpose. You end up turning everyone and everything into copies and clones of yourself and then you destroy them.
Which brings me to the Sacrifice step of the Heroine’s Journey and in this particular case, Neo IS the sacrifice. He had to sacrifice Trinity and his own life to become the bridge between the Masculine and the Feminine, between Zion and The Matrix.
The Ego must be convinced that you have the best interests of all the parts of yourself at heart so it will give you control. The remainder, the anomaly, must be sacrificed for there to be balance and harmony between the two worlds of your body and soul.
Which leads me to the final steps of the Heroine’s Journey. While Neo does not live to experience the fruits of his sacrifice for himself, all the rest of Zion and The Matrix and the Machine World will reap the benefits for years to come.
This is what I call The Empath / The Businesswoman.
The Divine Feminine (The Oracle) and the Divine Masculine (The Architect) are in agreement for the first time since the Matrix’s inception all due to Neo’s sacrifice. Art and colour and life have also entered the Matrix. No longer shall it be a dull green world.
Because of this The Balanced World exists for those who now have the choice to live in Zion or in The Matrix or in both for that matter.
And the most difficult thing for the Feminine to do is to allow her Self to be happy even when there is so much suffering around her. Neo has given this Permission of Happiness to all who are still alive.
All of these gifts are due to the choice of Neo’s personal sacrifice. Cause and effect as the Merovingian would say.
Ah, yes, the Merovingian – the Matrix’s version of Hades with his wife, Persephone. A very potent representation of our own masochistic tendencies.
I also haven’t had a chance to delve into the significance that the number three plays in these three films. Trinity’s name, the trinity of Neo, Trinity and Smith. The trinity of Morpheus, Niobe and Commander Lock. The three ships, the three conduits leading to the machine city.
All of these threes signify the three parts of the Yin and Yang – and, yes, I said three parts of the Yin and Yang. There is the Yin, there is the Yang, and there is always the path between the two. All of these threes also signify the three parts of you: there is the Masculine, there is the Feminine and there is You – the bridge and sacrifice between the two. You are The One.
However, these points are too big to ponder today. The primary purpose of this episode was to present you with the Heroine’s Journey of Neo. Any further examination of the vast symbolism of The Matrix films will have to be held back for possible future episodes of Think Spiritual.
Thank you very much for watching or listening today. Please like, share, comment, criticize, subscribe and support the channel and this ongoing project at your leisure.
If you’d like a shirt similar to the one I’m wearing or to check out some alternate designs, please click the link in the description below.
I have been your host, Mark, this has been an examination of the Heroine’s Journey story contained in the deeper meaning of The Matrix films – or at least the ones currently available – and I know that if you raise up the Heroine and Hero within you and convince your Deus Ex Machina that you have your own best interests at heart, that you absolutely will bring peaceful change to your Self and change to the world around you.
You have all the weapons and knowledge you need within you, everything is working out in your favour and I will see you on all past, present and future episodes of Think Spiritual.
Blessings of Adun upon you.