Faith vs. Works: Alchemy in The Walking Dead

“Faith without works is dead,” it says on the wall of the church in this past Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead  (Season 6, Episode 9).

Together then, they are alive indeed.

To have faith is to look upward and trust in a power greater than oneself.  To take action is to look within, trust in yourself, and manifest your decision.  And so, to say that “Faith without works is dead” is to say that both are reliant upon one another.

Seal of Solomon

Action = Fire, it is the chemical symbol Delta (Δ) that means “change.”  Faith = Water, the cup, the exact reverse symbol (∇).  Together, transposed, you have the magic hexagram (image right).  The reconciliation of opposites is a powerful mystical doctrine.

The character of Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead isn’t as much trying to find his way between the extremes as he is trying to reconcile them, to bring them together.  I would argue that he is the epitome of the wise hermeticist — Solomon trying to build his Temple.

In order to do this he must look up and gather the blessings of the Above, then bring them down  and share them with the Below.   As it says in the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, a mainstay of modern Hermetic thought, “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing… It is the origin of All, the consecration of the Universe…It rises from Earth to Heaven and descends again to Earth, thereby combining within Itself the powers of both the Above and the Below.  Thus will you obtain the Glory of the Whole Universe.  All Obscurity will be clear to you.”

Rick Grimes, Alchemist. Sword, machete, ax — what’s the difference?

Father Gabriel Stokes is finally starting to learn this lesson, a lesson Rick has learned and is always re-learning, perfecting, and sublimating in true alchemical fashion.  This is why, despite all the failings and the frictions between Rick and Gabriel, Rick entrusts Judith to his care.  Rick can feel the change.

Once again Rick is right, because “All Obscurity will be clear to you.”  Gabriel picks up a machete and gets to work, with success.

And when Carl lies bleeding on the table, inches from death, what happens?  Rick looks at the place where his son’s right eye used to be and he “sees” what must be done. Again, as it says in the Emerald Tablet, “All Obscurity will be clear to you.”  The hawkish Carl has no such vision yet, but he yet may.

Rick has faith, and he knows that if he puts that faith into action he can motivate the people of Alexandria to overcome any foe.  He’s right.  They follow him and win.  With the fighting concluded, he sits with Carl and there he professes his faith in the vision of a world rebuilt.  Carl’s hand squeezing his is the promise of hope.

Is Seth Hoffman, writer of this episode, an alchemist or hermeticist?  I seriously doubt it.  But that doesn’t mean he didn’t produce something that is Hermetic Horror for sure.

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