Friday, May 25, 2007

Seven Souls of The Sopranos

Way back when Season 6 of The Sopranos kicked off with Episode 66, "Members Only" (ooohhh...three sixes!), the creative minds presented an opening character montage set to Material's "Seven Souls", a groovy piece of tuneage narrated by William S. Burroughs. Hazy recollections? Surely you remember the sequence's most memorable moment: Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) dancing around in her underwear for then-beau Finn. (If, on the other hand, the image of Janice breastfeeding shines more vividly, your love for the Stones is out of control.)

An interpretation/theory of that sequence claims the characters which it showcased will all die by the end of the series. So far, three have moved on: Gene Pontecorvo, Vito Spatafore and either Carmine Lupertazzi or Ray Curto (too many actors on this show look alike -- which one was it?; either way, they're both dead now). If this theory's got any merit, it's worth considering that those three were the least "important" of the bunch.

Not counting Agents Harris and Goddard -- who appeared at the montage's start -- the remaining characters were Janice, Bobby, Meadow, A.J. and Carmela. Is it even remotely possible that this roll call could all end up six feet under within the last two hours? They've all got one very noticable factor in common...and the action cut to him when the song ended.

Material is one of many banner projects/bands spearheaded by prolific modern funk producer Bill Laswell. "Seven Souls" originated on the now out-of-print album of the same name. Another outstanding Material CD that is still in print is Hallucination Engine, which also features Burroughs rambling on the cynical track "Words of Advice". Speaking of, altered states of mind are highly advisable when partaking in a Material experience.

Here for your perusal is the complete text of Burroughs' "Seven Souls" meditation. The italicized lyrics were edited out of The Sopranos montage -- whether that was for time, pacing, content or dramatic effect I do not know.

The ancient Egyptians postulated Seven Souls.

Top soul, and the first to leave at the moment of death, is Ren, the Secret Name. This corresponds to my Director. He directs the film of your life from conception to death. The Secret Name is the title of your film. When you die, that's where Ren came in.

Second soul, and second one off the sinking ship, is Sekem: Energy, Power, Light. The Director gives the orders, Sekem presses the right buttons.

Number three is Khu, the Guardian Angel. He, she, or it is third man out...depicted as flying away across a full moon, a bird with luminous wings and head of light. Sort of thing you might see on a screen in an Indian restaurant in Panama. The Khu is responsible for the subject and can be injured in his defense -- but not permanently, since the first three souls are eternal. They go back to Heaven for another vessel.

The four remaining souls must take their chances with the subject in the Land of the Dead.

Number four is Ba, the heart -- often treacherous. This is a hawk's body with your face on it, shrunk down to the size of a fist. Many a hero has been brought down, like Samson, by a perfidious Ba.

Number five is Ka, the Double, most closely associated with the subject. The Ka, which usually reaches adolescence at the time of bodily death, is the only reliable guide through the Land of the Dead to the Western Lands.

Number six is Khaibit, the Shadow, Memory, your whole past conditioning from this and other lives.

Number seven is Sekhu, the Remains.

My friend Chris, who's far more knowledgable about these matters (yet doesn't watch The Sopranos), threw the following info my way in reference to Number Four, Ba, the heart:

When a person dies they are led to the West by Anubis, to the halls of double Ma'at or truth. In the Halls of the double Ma'at are many gods and everything is overseen by Osiris, his wife Isis and his sister Nebet Het. Thoth the scribe, who writes down what is happening, is also present. The weighing of the heart begins.

Anubis takes the person's heart and weighs it against the feather of Ma'at (order, truth, justice) which is an ostrich feather. If the heart is lighter than or as light as the feather the person's soul can go to the West. If the person's heart is heavier than the feather the person's soul is eaten by a demon called Ammit.

To not exist was the worst punishment for the Ancient Egyptians and Ammit eating your soul was just that: Non-existence.

What does it all mean in relation to the series? Fuck if I know...but since first hearing the theory about the sequence, I've been unable to shake it.