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Let’s start with answering the big bad boy questions first.
What is the light at the heart of this mysterious island?
According to what we got from Mother in Across the Sea the light is a place of “life, death and rebirth.”
But what in the hell does that friggin’ mean?!
Good question. Here’s an attempt at an answer...
The light beneath the island is the most powerful electromagnetic energy on the face of the Earth. It is so powerful that some could say it is the source of ALL life and living matter. From the leaves on the trees to the sand that paves the ocean floor beds right through to our human genetic make-up; all of it came from the light. And this light has pockets that exist in different parts of the world as if an underground network of tunnels connected them all together.
This actually has a “scientific” name that many Lost fans have researched in pursuit of answering this show’s mysteries and it is known as Vile Vortices - twelve geographic areas that are alleged to have been the sites of mysterious disappearances. One such geographic area we all know as the Bermuda Triangle. It could be argued that the island (when it moves) will always “flash” to these specific locations and latitudes. It never diverts course off these geographic areas due to the same flux and draw of common electromagnetic properties.
This electromagnetic source (at the heart of the island) is where everything about our existence and the existence of the universe converges. Birth and death; time and space; light and dark; good and evil. It is where everything in us and around us has come from and we as human beings carry a part of this light within us from the day we are born to the day we die.
Spiritual people would refer to this light as a soul. Religion and science explaining the same concepts - religion would call the light God or heaven - scientists would call it electromagnetic energy and exotic matter.
When our time comes to an end and we die, this light within us returns to the source. It becomes a part of it once again.
At the end of Season Six of Lost when we see our favourite Losties in the church waiting to “move on” we see them consumed by a BRIGHT WHITE LIGHT. This is the SAME light as the light beneath the island. They have lived, they have died and now they are about to be reborn.
The light is clearly, to me at least, the answer to the biggest mystery of all – what happens after we die? In the case of Lost’s universe – we return to where we came from – the light.
Now there is no point in explaining where this light came from originally or what it is exactly, as that would be practically impossible. It just exists. It’s just there. And always has been.
How did the island come to be?
I have always liked the theory that the island was originally a part of the land mass in Tunisia. Or at least was once a part of the original global continent known as Pangaea.
For those unfamiliar with Pangaea, it is theorised to have existed over 250 million years ago as one giant land mass before the continents separated and drifted from one another to form the configuration that we know them as today.
This is where this theory really starts in terms of history; 250 million years ago when the Earth was that much younger and before human beings were even a glint in the eye of the universe.
Pangaea broke apart due to the overwhelming seismic activity beneath the surface. The cause of the seismic activity originated from the light – growing, spreading, desperate to create new life and evolve.
Yes, I believe the light is a conscious entity to some extent. At least, it is aware of all living matter at all times in the past, present and future. In fact, the very essence of time means nothing in this light because there is no such concept once you are inside it (a la the flashsideways).
Anyway, Pangaea was broken apart because of the growing light.
From this global break-up of land mass, the island was formed so
that the main source of the light could exist isolated from all other life.
Fast forward through millions of years to the birth of man through evolutionary leaps - truly the light’s most glorious, complex creation. I’m not even talking about people per say, but the creation of free will; beings that could consciously make their own decisions without being prompted or directed, and in turn affect change in all manners of ways.
The land mass that became the island sat in wait for several thousand years. Alone, untouched and unprotected. It had no reason to be anything else. It just was.
But wouldn’t you know it? Those pesky free will human beings were darn curious creatures and they wanted to explore this world of theirs. And at this point the island had no reason to stop them or see humans as a danger or believe anything otherwise.
So the arrival of the first people to the shores of the island came to pass...
What’s with all the ancient structures and hieroglyphics on the island?
By this point, we all know that pretty much everything from the Statue to the Temple to Lighthouse to the Cork in the pool of light were built by inhabitants that could have ranged from the Mayans to the Egyptians to the Romans and so on and so on. It doesn’t really matter which particular civilisation ruled there first or who built what and when.
What matters is why.
Many have concluded that the Egyptian statue was supposed to be the statue of Taweret – goddess of childbirth. I can run with that.
Why did the Egyptians feel the need to build it? Well, if you were on an island that had strange healing properties, back then in a time of great imagination but primitive understanding, you would see it as a paradise. Perhaps even a paradise that God himself had made just for you and your people. The Goddess of childbirth is merely a symbol for life and creation. That is essentially a perfect mascot to represent the island, no?
I believe it really is that simple.
The Temple and the Cork
Slightly more complicated.
The Temple was built, I believe, by the same people who shoved that big ass cork in the heart of the island’s power supply.
Whoever these people were they understood one fundamental thing about the island’s power – it was dangerous if not supervised and controlled. The light is neither good nor evil; it simply has no concept of life, death and time. It just is, and always will be.
It’s where we come from and because we contain a piece of it inside of us we are ALWAYS drawn back to it. Even if it kills us.
That’s a cruel irony for you.
Maybe they went digging too far beneath the surface (when they were building all those underground tunnels and caverns) and accidentally discovered the light. Maybe they even experienced their very own ancient incident. Who knows?
They understood this light was the source of the healing they experienced. A little bit of it would do good; too much of it would destroy them. So they channelled its properties through water – water that was funnelled from deep beneath in the cave to the Temple’s healing pool.
However, as with any discovery – some people always want to know more. And through the curiosity of some, they wanted to get to the light directly. The series of events that led to this 1st Island civilisation wanting “more” of the light, as Mother so eloquently stated, doesn’t really matter.
All that matters is that when they did get greedy for more of the light (perhaps expecting to grasp the very secrets of immortality in their hands) they blew it. Big time.
We’re talking leakage. And lots of dead people.
They eventually figured out the only way to contain this leak was to “put a cork in it” so to speak. In a way, the whole DHARMA Initiative history and story is an identical mirror to what happened centuries before in the case of the Egyptians. Curiosity led to discovery and discovery led to greed, until greed led to self-destruction.
So someone needed to plug the leak. And some poor chump had to be the one to give their life to block this light from spreading too far and ultimately killing them all.
Enter Mother (or CJ Cregg as she is known to West Wing fans).
Which leads me to...
What is the Smoke Monster?
If one “answer” failed to impress Lost fans it was the reveal of how old smokey was born. In fact, it was so underwhelming many people were more angry about that moment that anything else ever shown before or after it on this show.
It was pretty lame when you think about it. Angry Jacob throws simpering MIB down a hole. Seconds later black smoke explodes out of the ground without so much of a “What the F--?” from Jacob. It was disappointing to say the least.
What we saw there, was NOT the birth of the smoke monster, but merely the smoke monster coming out to play after some time in hiding.
So let’s rewind back to the start...
In the beginning there was light. The source of everything.
But as with all things in the universe there must always be a balance. Enter the Smoke Monster.
Some people may agree here, some people may not, but I am of the belief that the Smoke Monster has ALWAYS existed. It is the dark to the light – the balance to the equation. It is a part of the light just like everything else. If you see the light as God in a sense, then the smoke monster could be seen as the devil. It’s not as powerful or as omniscient as the light, but it exists because everything has an opposite.
It’s comprised of the same electromagnetic energy as the light.
It wasn’t necessarily evil in the beginning in the same way the light wasn’t necessarily good. They both just were. Two unexplainable forces – one that eventually became about creating and the other that eventually became about destroying.
But back in the beginning the Smoke Monster doesn’t know any better. Like a dog in its infancy stages it is as naive as a puppy and understands very little about existence off the island.
It’s only goal is to protect the light. That is its sole purpose at this point in time.
But with the arrival of people the smoke monster found something out about itself... it could “scan” and “absorb” people’s memories, histories, feelings, sensations and dreams. Through doing this it gained a self-awareness about itself.
Did this 1st Island Civilisation meet the smoke monster?
I think so. I think they met it, saw it as a God-like deity or spirit and worshipped it as such (hence the hieroglyphics beneath the temple in the cavern that Ben goes into).
And I think at this point, all the smoke monster understood was that the light was important and needed to be protected so when these people began wanting more of it, the smoke monster (with its new found understanding of the world and people and itself) took matters into its own smokey hands.
While the 1st islanders worked on getting that cork stuck in to plug this leak, the monster went about planning their extinction. Rousseau wasn’t too far off when she called the monster a security system – in a sense that is originally what it was.
Smokey eventually returned back into the cave to stay near the light and keep away any undesirables. Kind of like a bouncer on the doors of a club but with less cocaine in its system.
Anyway, there was a survivor up above. Mother aka
CJ Cregg. It’s possible Smokey let her live for a number of reasons or that she was the one to put the cork in (was she special too?). Regardless, she taught herself to respect the light and stay away from it at the risk of death by old smokey or even the light itself. She learned from the mistakes of her people. And she decided that she needed to protect the island.
She drank the water from the temple pool or perhaps from the cave stream and made her bones right there and then. This assumption comes only from the fact that if the water could heal then perhaps of it was drank and absorbed it would do more than just heal... it would "activate" the light within a person making them a torchbearer in a sense.
Just like Locke knew certain things about the island and that certain things would happen if he did them, so too did Mother.
The water she drank from the pool/stream had been refracted and imbued by the light. She became the first protector of the island. Even giving herself the power to communicate with smokey.
Then after many years, decades, even possibly centuries, along
comes a shipwreck and a pregnant woman. And a very tired, very lonely Mother’s way out. She was thinking “replacement.”
The birth of Jacob gave her the hope that she could groom and raise a true replacement. Someone of purely good heart. But then came the second baby. This she was not prepared for.
But she had to raise them both as she was not a complete monster (contrary to popular belief I think she was just a woman who had become a protector as Jacob would go on to become and not a smoke monster).
Anyway, the reason Mother was so different in the way she treated the two boys was simple. She never intended Jacob to become her replacement once MIB was born. Jacob WAS the favourite contrary to what Jacob believed. He was the first born.
Mother was grooming MIB to be her replacement as she knew it was really a curse to give to anyone and she certainly didn't want to bestow it on her favourite son.
However, MIB had a desire from a VERY early age to escape and to get off the island. In fact, it burned through his very soul. It’s all he wanted to do by the time he was old enough to think for himself about what was beyond and across the sea.
After he left Mother and Jacob, MIB joined with the other survivors of the shipwreck and became one of them. He started to hunt for the light that he believed would be the answer to all his problems.
They dug the well and prepped the wheel; gearing up to channel water into the light to cause a reaction that may just open a gateway home.
But how did MIB know this?
The “ghost” of his Mother told him.
What are the ghosts on the island?
They are the echoes of those who have died there. At least an echo of the light that existed within them. The island can call upon any of them to appear, and for some of them they have not come to terms with moving on just yet and are (a la Michael) stuck between life and their return to the light. They can however still influence events in both realities... by their whispering and their manifestation to those with the special power to look beyond the confines of conventional time and space. Crazy people or people with unusual perspectives are often able to see and communicate with them as Hurley could.
Walt could use his electromagnetic properties to project himself in a similar way, also drawing things to him.
But get back to MIB and the whole smoke monster thing!
Okay, so where was I?
So the ghost of MIB’s mother told him how to get home, because she knew he didn’t really belong there and wanted to help him escape. Why wouldn’t she? She wouldn’t want him stuck under the care of the crazy woman who murdered her right?
Anyway, MIB set to work on building his funky wheel.
Meanwhile, Mother’s hand was forced, and so she CALLED UPON the services of the smoke monster (a la Ben Linus) in order to take care of this new problem of pesky people. She also knew that she could not bring herself to kill MIB and that he would find her and inevitably take his revenge. It was a way out but one that led her to make a decision... Jacob MUST become her replacement even though his naivety and innocence could easily be a danger, she had no choice.
Through a transfer by TOUCH (not the wine) she imbued him with her powers, rendering her mortal and very much normal again. The ceremony was nothing more the traditions, superstitions and gestures. It is ALL in the TOUCH where the protector who HARNESSES the light within them passes it on to the next person.
It’s why Jacob TOUCHED all of his candidates so that when the time came for one of them to step-up, it wouldn’t matter if he was dead, because they would already be viable to take the position. All they needed to do was accept.
But, a few things went wrong back in the day...
MIB killed Mother, yes. But who knew Jacob was going to kill MIB?
By throwing him down into the cave it stirred the smoke monster awake once again only this time there was a body that PASSED through the light. At this point the MIB was dead. In fact the MIB character we knew from Across the Sea was no more as of that moment.
It was what happened next that changed the game...
The Smoke Monster “absorbed” the MIB’s memories, dreams, fears and ambitions. It didn’t have many dead to choose from over the centuries that would have quite as big an impact on the only remaining survivor – Jacob. Over time it assimilated the MIB so completely, it had become conditioned by MIB’s strongest traits and desires – most of all the desire to leave.
Jacob always knew the man he was speaking to was NOT his brother anymore but merely a monster with his brother’s face and memories. But it was the closest he had to a friend.
The monster tried for a long time to manipulate Jacob unsuccessfully. Taking human form and assimilating human memories and emotions in essence corrupted the smoke monster. It made it into something else – a cross between man and monster. Neither alive nor dead.
As Jacob grew in intelligence, power and wisdom, the smoke monster grew in bitterness, confusion, anger and resentment. It came to believe it really was MIB instead of what it always was.
A servant of the light.
And now the Smoke Monster needed to hatch a plan to escape while Jacob needed to find someone to eventually take over from him that could destroy the smoke monster once it had killed him (something he was prepared for over many years)...
The monster cannot kill people that Jacob has TOUCHED because the light within them has been “activated” so to speak. Just as he cannot kill Jacob for the same reason because ultimately, whether the monster remembers or accepts it or not, it is STILL a guardian of the light and cannot destroy it without destroying itself.
This set in motion a very complex, detailed game of chess between Jacob and the monster and is what led to the basis of a majority of what we saw on Lost.
I might have to write a Part 2 to go through the time travel, DHARMA, Locke & Ben, Eko's death, Candidates, the numbers, The Incident etc. But right now, I'll just see how this is digested and if it carries any weight with people.
Hope it is a satisfying explanation of some major parts of the mythology.
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