o Doom Patrol #54

Related Characters

o Jack Frost

Related Analysis

Grant on the word "BARBELiTH"

Grant writes:

"The word 'BARBELiTH' is derived from a dream I had when I was about 20 or 21 and coincided with my first structured 'magical' experiences and a minor nervous breakdown (in the dream, BARBELiTH was the name of some higher dimension or alternate reality). Like a lot of stuff in INVISIBLES I used the name unconsciously when I needed something to call the red circle that represents our Universe's placental twin. I'd taken the etymology as far as 'bearded stone', which seems much less interesting and less weirdly appropriate than 'alien stone'. My real life is getting more like the comic every day (in ways I should have suspected but didn't really expect on this scale). There's more on the red circle and its many meanings in DOOM PATROL #54, I just realised. That issue was written in near-trance so fuck only knows what's been trying to get through all these years." [July 7, 1998]

Another meaning? From: Paulo []: I followed the 'Barbelith' debate with some attention, at your page and through Usenet. After Grant's remark I thought it was over, more or less.

But then, last week I started reading a book by Raoul Vaneigem (one of the major theorists behind Situationist International, along with Debord). Vaneigem wrote books about a lot of different things, but if you look carefully you'll see it all goes back to the same themes, the themes which were the base of Situationists. This particular book I'm reading is called 'The Heresies', and it's about all the sects and different religious movements throughout the history of Christianity. Those who read 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' and 'The Messianic Legacy' would undoubtedly recognize some of the facts mentioned. In a chapter called 'the fusion cults' he mentions a particular cult called the Barbelists. Now, I don't know if this is the exact translation, since the book was written in French, translated to Portuguese, and now I re-translated into English. But anyway, I thought the similarity was close enough.

The Barbelists appear on records around 335 AD It's what they call a messianic sect. Their 'christ' is Barbela, a female reminiscence of the Mother-Goddess. She emanates from God-all father and begets an evil son called Ialdabode or IHVH. She sets about taking back her power which was stolen by her son, IHVH. She does this by seducing his priests and recovering their 'seed'. The sperm is the symbol of the male God and once she is in its possession she can harness back the power that way saving Humanity from the tiranny. This is the legend. The worshippers try to imitate the Goddess through an excitement of the senses (banquets, orgies) recovering all the sperm and offering it to the Goddess (great self-control, hey). The records of this sect were made by one Epiphanium. One of the things he also says (but this is not reliable) is that since the Goddess was betrayed by her son, she forbade her worshippers of having children. In case a woman got pregnant, the infant would be removed from her womb. [this note added July 19, 1998]

Another thought... from Eli Bishop []: Morrison's original attempt at an etymology for Barbelith -- "bearded stone" -- could also describe the Christ-figure who appears to Dane/Jack [vol. 1 issue 16 or 21?]. The comments of the "aliens" suggest that this isn't really Jesus but some kind of translation of Barbelith filtered through Dane's religious background. Whatever he is, he has a beard, and says he is "the rock on which all hearts are broken" [this quote may be wrong].

The Christ-figure also says "I am not the god of your fathers" -- which also fits with the various Gnostic ideas being tossed around here, since Gnostic Christians saw the God of Israel/JHVH/Ialdaboth as an evil usurper. [this note added August 1, 1998]