SCIENCE FICTION AND DRUIDRY
By Sarah Rooke, Archdruidess
‘We have our universe before us, the Temple of the Stars....’ Olivia Robertson, ‘The Call of Isis’.
There are a number of people who ask me what science fiction has got to do with Druidry and vice versa. Science fiction has many parallels with Druidry that I shall attempt to share with you. Though please note that these constitute my views and not the whole of Druidry. First, writers such as H G Wells and Mary Shelley wrote the first science fiction in the 1800’s, that soon gave way to George Orwell and eventually Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. But science fiction has always been around in one form or another and a lot of it is metaphysical and spiritual. Look at all the fantasy created by Medieval writers regarding the Arthurian myths, and then we always have the Greek, Egyptian and Celtic legends to add fuel to the fire…. One might argue otherwise, but let us regard the ethos of ‘Urban Myths’. Star Trek, The X Files and Babylon 5 have passed into modern iconography. Phrases such as ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ and ‘It's life Jim, but not as we know it’, are as familiar to us today, as are warp engines, transporters, phasers and dilithium crystals. There is a view that Trekkies are anoraks and rather sad individuals, erm, lets just say that some maybe, but not every Trekkie is! There are books on the market like ‘The Nit Pickers Guide to Star Trek’, and ‘All I Learned About Life, I Learned from Star Trek’, for those so inclined. But hey, we’re Druids, aren’t we!
Take modern day science for example. In the 1950’s, computers were as big as your house things, and now look; we have laptops and pads seen similar to those on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Hypo sprays are also getting nearer to be reality. We have nano-technology, the internet and virtual reality. In the space of about 50 years, we have achieved so much, but we must be aware of not letting our technology get out of control. There is a danger in letting technology run our lives and taking over, and thereby possibly destroying the planet, seen like in The Terminator. Here are Druids we can keep our feet firmly on the ground and whilst looking towards what the future resembles, be in touch with our planet, so protecting and nurturing her.
Humanity has sent rockets into space and onto the moon with the Apollo space missions; we have sent probes like Mariner, Viking, Pioneer, and Voyager to look at other worlds. We nearly had SDI, the ‘Star Wars’ technology. Now we have Mir, Cassini, Galileo, and Hubble to name a few. Many NASA probes have a plaque on them, ‘just in case’ an alien finds it. An international space station is under construction in space. A planned mission to Mars is also in the pipeline, and perhaps more, like a Luna base, to go ‘beyond the final frontier’. But there is concern over ‘space junk’ floating in Earth’s orbit and the effect of satellites and sun storms on the planet. Star Wars may be set in ’another galaxy, far, far away’, but the story tells of the eternal battle of the powers of light against darkness, the young Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker and lord of the sith, Darth Vader. The Enterprise's original ‘five year mission’ may still be repeated on our TV screens, but the storylines still focus on issues that affect us as much as they did in the 1960’s. Its modern day cousins, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise offer us hope about life 400 years from now in the 24th century. We are Voyagers through Space and Time ourselves in our journey in the Now. The X-Files present us with that old age question, ‘are we alone in the universe?’.
Babylon 5 gives us a multi alien space station and the efforts of those living there to work together. Stargate SG-1 faces us with the possibility of who the Gods might have been, and that other humans live on other planets. Earth: Final Conflict, Alien Nation, Dark Skies and V let us see what might happen if aliens landed on our planet – would our visitors be friendly or hostile? And Battlestar Galactica showed us the possibility of human cousins in danger ‘out there’ and seeking Earth. Of course, some science fiction draws on our own mythology and fantasy, as like Xena: Warrior Princess, and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Modern Science fiction is not only limited to our imaginations, it crosses the borders of humanity, we can all share in the future that might be and looking towards it, work at achieving it, and this goes for all races and creeds. It asks us;’who are you’ and ‘what do you want?’ Fans of science fiction come from all walks of life, and often meet up at their conventions to share ideas, watch sci fi, dress up, have fun and socialise (and also theorise, but that’s another story!).
Who cannot look up at the stars on a clear night and wonder ‘if the truth is out there?’ We are of the Earth; in essence we are all made of ‘star stuff’, the same atoms and molecules that make up the web of the universe and cosmos that resulted from the Big Bang. This is the question of writers for centuries. And science fiction is their answer to all those various theories and ‘what if’ scenarios. It helps us to study and examine the human psyche in more depth, and we learn to understand more about humanity and where it’s at, and where it indeed it could end up or not as the case may be. Organisations such as SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) scan the skies for that ‘message’ or ‘signal’, thereby making science fiction, science fact.
The first Science fiction film was Rocket to the Moon at the turn of the century. Then came that classic Metropolis in 1926 and sci-fi took off. In the 1930’s, we had Flash Gordon. During the 1950’s, classics such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, The War of the Worlds and Forbidden Planet came onto the Silver Screen. The 1960’s saw such films as The Time Machine, Fantastic Voyage, Barbarella, Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the 1970’s, came films as Logan’s Run, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Mad Max and Alien. During the 1980’s, we see films such as Escape from New York, Bladerunner, E.T, Tron, Dune, Back to the Future, Cocoon, and Robocop. In the 1990’s, we have films like Jurassic Park, Stargate, Species, Waterworld, Men in Black, Independence Day, Gattaca and Deep Impact.
Television wise, there is even more variety. In the 1950’s, when TV sets were just becoming obtainable, we have the Quatermass, 1984 and the Twilight Zone. By the 1960’s, there are shows like Doctor Who, The Outer Limits, Stingray, Lost In Space, Thunderbirds, Star Trek, Time Tunnel, The Champions, The Prisoner, Joe 90 and the Land of the Giants. In the 1970’s, we have programmes like UFO, The Tomorrow People, The Six Million Dollar Man, Space: 1999, The Bionic Woman, Battlestar Galactica, Blake’s Seven, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Sapphire and Steel. During the 1980’s, we see the Day of the Triffids, Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Day After, The Tripods, V, Star Trek; The Next Generation, Red Dwarf, and Quantum Leap. In the 1990’s, we have The Girl From Tomorrow, Babylon 5, Seaquest DSV, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The X Files, Space Precinct, Sliders, Voyager and Stargate SG-1.
I shall leave you with a quote that sums up the essence of science fiction and Druidry as I see it. Live Long and Prosper. ‘The Glory of Creation is in its infinite diversity and the way our differences combine to create meaning and beauty.’ Gene Roddenberry. Source: The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction edited David Pringle.