THE BLOG

Sense8, Animism, and Modern Clan Awareness

06/15/2015 04:11 pm ET | Updated Jun 14, 2016

If you haven't seen it yet, last week Netflix debuted its new series Sense8. Created by the Wachowski duo (from whom we have The Matrix and Cloud Atlas) and writer and producer, J. Michael Straczynski, it's an understatement that the show takes viewers new places.

Or old ones, as the case may be.

The ensemble cast boasts eight core characters, each with diverse lives separated from each other by the entire planet. Yet through some collusion of the unknown, they suddenly become connected, or interconnected, as the case may be. They feel each other's emotions, know each other's thoughts, take on each other's skills and knowledge. They are called sensates, the eight who can sense each other.

I've not finished watching the first season, yet, so I can't comment entirely on its brilliance. To me the show is captivating because it brings the potential of human interweaving to a new and mainstream audience. The idea that All Things are connected is a core function of animism. This means that every thing has a soul, is connected, and can interact with All Things through that connection. The idea driving Sense8 is that perhaps at some point in human evolution, this ability was more readily evident than it is now, that it was routine.

This concept prods New Age, ancient, and scientific tenets. Years ago, in my studies of Edgar Cayce, I read a quote by him that asserted that when humans began to speak is the point we began to lie. The idea was that prior to articulated speech, we were all telepathically connected. Speech wasn't needed.  Everyone knew what everyone else thought and felt at any given point. It wasn't possible to lie. However, when we began speaking, the power of the individual overwhelmed the interconnection of All. Being able to break away from the clan gave us the ability to create our own reality. It imparted to us the ability to warp reality.

In the episode "What Is Human?" seeming sensate sensei Jonas says to one of the newly inducted, "Watch a flock of birds or a shoal of fish move as one, and you glimpse where we came from. Ask how Aspen trees feel trauma hundreds of miles apart, or how a mushroom can understand the needs of a forest. You begin to grasp what we are." He goes on to postulate that our isolation from each other is most likely an aberration of an original fully integrated consciousness. In the world of Sense8, what remains, instead, is an integrated few.

It stands out to me, too, that the show debuted under the runic stave of Othala, which is widely accepted as meaning inheritance, ancestry. It emphasizes that our ability to stay connected to what came before has everything to do with our understanding of where we are, and where we're going. It creates a timeless synergy of clan, in which we stay tapped in to our ancestry. Through that connection those who went before us stay alive, and through rooting more deeply into our past, the unity of clan lives forever.

Regardless of whether it's a lost ability or a new potential, Sense8 nothing if not inspires curiosity about connecting in such an intimate and profound way with other humans, Nature, all of life around us. While the show tugs on some established strings in the world of woo, it constructs a very realistic example of what life in that particular labyrinth might look like -- assets and liabilities. Nonetheless, it asks the question of what humans are, what our capabilities might be.

Or urges us to remember that we already know.

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