Sunday, May 26th, 2019

Radiohead, 9-11 and the Esoteric “Burn the Witch”

Published on May 9, 2016 by   ·   No Comments

JENNIFER SODINI AND JAY DYER

After a period of silence, Radiohead has reappeared with a new single after a curious marketing pitch, removing their social media profiles from public view.   The new single, “Burn the Witch” is garnering much media attention, particularly in regard to the enigmatic lyrics and symbolism presented in the video.  Pitchfork elaborated on the coded lyrics in a political commentary, writing:

“…the “Burn the Witch” video, which ends up resembling a bit of vintage UK cinema far more familiar to non-British viewers: ’70s horror film The Wicker Man. Teased since the mid-’00s, the song finds Thom Yorke intoning ominous commands like “Stay in the shadows/Cheer at the gallows” and “Abandon all reason/Avoid all eye contact.” Arriving at the current chaotic moment in global politics, though, and set in the quaint visual context of “Trumpton,” the “Burn the Witch” video plays as a pointed critique of nativism-embracing leaders across the UK and Europe, perhaps even the show’s near-namesake stateside (Donald Trump, anyone?).

In that sense, “Trumpton” reflects the mythical small-town “family values” often championed by the sort of right-wing politicians who, let it be said, have never exactly been Radiohead’s cup of tea. The connection between “Trumpton” and far-right politics became explicit in 2014, when a Twitter user with the handle @Trumpton_UKIP began poking fun at the right-wing, populist UK Independence Party—and a UKIP politician called for a ban on the spoof account. Sad!

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You can read the Pitchfork article in its entirety by clicking here, but we thought it would be interesting to analyze the mystical/esoteric significance of the video – since that’s our area of expertise and interest.

The video begins and ends with a blue jay singing, and if you’re piqued by the political element of the video – perhaps this could be alluding to the fact that social media has played such a huge presence in this particular political climate since this bird resembles the Twitter logo, or this may be a reference to @Trumpton_UKIP.  The bird also bears an eerie similarity to the opening montage of  David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (as well as the close of Lynch’s Blue Velvet).  Both Lynch works present idealized America as a dreamland with a dark, occult underbelly masked by conventionalism and hypocrisy.   Radiohead’s video also presents Puritan America (and thus idealized America with its Puritan work ethic and values) as a hypocritical monstrosity, yet foisted upon the global stage as the “model village.”

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However, from a metaphysical point of view – the blue jay’s spirit is an interesting element to begin and end with regardless. Blue jay’s have the ability to mimic hawk calls as a ploy to lure these birds of prey away from jay’s nests – a blue jay’s totem spirit is known for loquaciousness, and the gift of gab. Common vocations of  the blue jay totem are sales people, lawyers, politicians, public speakers, and teachers. Even from a mystical point of view, there seems to be an air of political undertone.

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From here, we are taken into a small town – where it seems the mayor of the town is dressed in a rather Masonic garb (see picture above) and is having a discussion with his “village,” giving them a pep talk to be on their best behavior as a rather dapper man is chauffeured into their town.  The pilgrim’s colony is an extension of the British Empire, illustrated by the man in the bowler hat, as time shifts from post-industrial revolution Britain to colonial U.S. , where the puritan work ethic has given rise to a massive labor force concerned with its jobs (“jobes”), thus the Trumpton (Trumpt0wn) reference.

Women are then shown dressing a Maypole (interestingly, the video was released a few days after Beltane), which has a Pagan history, and in The Wicker Man film, the sexuality behind this symbol/tradition is the basis for a large part of the storyline. According to PaganWiccan.com:

“It is believed that the earliest Maypoles were actually living trees, rather than just being a cut pole, as we know them today. Oxford professor and anthropologist E.O. James discusses the Maypole and its connection to Roman traditions in his 1962 article, The Influence of Folklore On the History of Religion. James suggests that trees were stripped of their leaves and limbs, and then decorated with garlands of ivy, vines and flowers as part of the Roman spring celebration. This may have been part of the festival of Floralia, which began on April 28th. Other theories include that the trees, or poles, were wrapped in violets as homage to Attis and Cybele.”

There’s not much documentation about the early years of this celebration, but by the middle ages, most villages in Britain had an annual Maypole celebration going on. In rural areas, the Maypole was typically erected on the village green, but a few places, including some urban neighborhoods in London, had a permanent Maypole that stayed up all year round.

Read More HERE

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