Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tarot Of Terror- Laurie Strode/Angel Myers

For this installment, I'll be looking at the remake of Halloween, directed by Rob Zombie and released back in 2007. Comparisons between this and John Carpenter's original 1978 release are inevitable, but I thought the remake was not without its own merits. In this, we see a different portrayal of Laurie Strode, and although a director's cut of the sequel to this film gives us a different fate (Laurie doesn't make it) her psychological state and the series of events she goes through make for an interesting story.
A background on Laurie is needed to really understand the whats and whys of what happened to her, and perhaps to provide us with some hope for her future. Laurie Strode was born Angel Myers on or around 1990 to Deborah Myers and an unknown father. She was the youngest of three children, suggesting that her father had been around during the lives of her two older siblings. Judith is her older sister, and is in her teens. She seems to be the only Myers sibling with a clear memory and attachment to the unknown father. Michael is Judith's younger brother, whom she regards as something of an annoyance, but generally has little to do with. Angel is the youngest of the three, and is less than a year old when Michael is taken into psychiatric custody. Michael displays hostility towards Deborah's live-in boyfriend Ronnie White, who is unemployed and has at best a tense relationship with the three Myers children, as well as Deborah herself. Deborah is the only person with a job in the Myers house, working at a local strip club despite the reputation this earns her around the town. Money is a little tight at chez Myers, and this adds to the ever-present tension in the home. Though Michael's teacher suspects something is very much amiss with Michael, Deborah is both unwilling to acknowledge Michael's disturbing behavior both in and out of the house, and too harried to really be able to do much about it. Nonetheless, Michael seems close to his mother, and she does her best to provide for the family.
Michael and "Boo"

 That Halloween, things come to a head. Michael murders Judith, Ronnie and Judith's boyfriend. Deborah is out for the evening, and Michael deliberately spares his sister Angel. Deborah comes home to find Michael calmly waiting on the porch of their home, holding Angel, whom he refers to as "Boo", an affectionate nickname. Michael is taken into psychiatric custody, and continues to deteriorate.
It's interesting to examine Michael's pathology, as it provides a great deal of insight into Laurie's own life. Michael displays symptoms consistent with Type 2 schizophrenia, and the fact that Laurie later develops similar symptoms, albeit later in life, also suggests this. (Schizophrenia is thought to be at least partially genetic). While in the psychiatric hospital, Michael occupies his time making masks, which, as he puts it, hide his "ugliness". He later finally lapses into catatonia, though occasional violent fugue states are present as well.
Deborah later shoots herself, unable to cope with the stigma of being Michael's mother, and the trouble of now having to raise Angel herself. Responding to the emergency call, local law enforcement officer Sheriff Brackett finds Angel alone in the house with Deborah's body, and the baby Angel is later put up for adoption. She is adopted by the Strodes, coincidentally friends of Brackett. Angel's records are sealed by Brackett, and now-Laurie Strode grows up without any knowledge of her biological family.

Michael remains in custody, and finally, when Laurie is in high school, comes back to the town where Laurie now lives and attends school. Laurie does not recognize him, and has no memory of ever being Angel Myers. She is attacked by Michael, who attempts to communicate their relationship to her, but she ultimately escapes.
At this point, Laurie takes a turn for the worse. The Strodes unfortunately did not survive Michael's return to town, and Laurie now begins to develop signs of PTSD stemming from her encounter with Michael, and she becomes increasingly moody and withdrawn. She has moved in with Brackett, and sees a psychiatrist regularly, as well as taking medication. However, lacking any knowledge of her past, what is highly likely a developing schizophrenic state goes largely unnoticed, as Laurie's therapy focuses much more on dealing with her trauma than any underlying psychological condition. A year later, Michael comes back, at which point Laurie's PTSD and nightmares are getting extremely troubling, and she begins to dream of Deborah, indicating some residual memories of her former life. Laurie ends up stabbing and killing Michael, though at a tremendous cost. Prior to killing him, Laurie acknowledges Michael as her brother and tells him she loves him. Laurie ultimately survives, but enters a catatonic state not unlike her older brother, and continues to hallucinate young Michael and Deborah. Whether or not this is actually Deborah, or if a psychic connection exists between Michael and Laurie, remains speculative.
Still adorable, even after a psychotic episode

The reason I chose Laurie for a reading is that it's not impossible she can recover sufficiently to live a more or less normal life. There are a number of factors against her here- inherited mental illness as well as circumstance-generated mental illness. But Laurie does not have the early onset that Michael does, indicating that the malady the Myers kids share is partially triggered by stress. Schizophrenia also manifests most commonly in adolescence, though it seems Laurie is highly responsive to a supportive and nurturing home life. The Strodes appear to be great parents, though they are unaware of Laurie's past, as she herself is until much later in life.
So on to Laurie's reading. At the time of the reading, she's sequestered away in a psychiatric facility, and prognosis is unknown. Has she been traumatized beyond hope of recovery? That, dear readers, was the question I sought to answer. I saw two halves to Laurie- the well-adjusted, intelligent and generally optimistic student and the scarred but still tough person she became after her first encounter with Michael.
Circumstances very much factor into her life- first, she has clear-cut PTSD, and finding out she was in fact Michael's sister takes a tremendous toll on her psyche, and we are left hoping that her natural resilience can make a difference. The reading seemed pretty consistent with this- Laurie is not beyond hope, and though there's a lot of work for her to do, I wouldn't call recovery impossible.
So to start off, I decided on a 14-card Celtic Cross spread. The first card that came up for her was the reversed 6 of Wands- the interesting thing about reversals here is that in some cases reversals indicate the energy of this card may be present, but is blocked or muted by something else. This seems to be the case here, as the 6 indicates victory and strength of will, but Laurie simply can't do it on her own.
See what I mean? 
Covering this card and indicating main influences at present was the Ace of Pentacles- Laurie is not without resources, and here this card brought to mind its aspects of Earth, and with Earth, a support network. Laurie is considerably less socially and mentally isolated than Michael was, and in his case, lacking any other relatives to consult, it's entirely possible his underlying issues went unnoticed. Laurie, however, has strong connections to her friends and loved ones, and though she often feels isolated, seems aware of the support she has, and perhaps more than this, remembers a normal life.
The Past position for Laurie held the 9 of Wands, and it seems again much like the image above- Laurie feels overwhelmed by the task she's met with, and unable to cope with all that's required of her on the road out of the hospital and back to some semblance of normality. Nonetheless, Laurie seems aware of having come a very long way under very adverse circumstances, and though she really lacks the means to communicate her feelings and ideas to others, she may not be an entirely lost cause.
The Foundation position here held the Strength card, which, along with the Aspirations card, is an interesting take on her psychological and emotional state. The Aspirations card, which addresses the best outcome of the situation, was the 10 of Cups- a strong indication of family. Ah, but which family, and how does that family affect her? Is it coming to terms with her past, and the fact that Michael is her brother? It seems she has already come to a fatalistic acceptance of that, though whether or not she realizes that her past is just that, past, is not entirely clear. The Foundation card here, where she is coming from, so to speak, is the Strength card. Again, what aspect of Laurie are we looking at here? Is it her ties to the Myers family, which she seems to regard much as her mother did, a stigma to be concealed and avoided, or is it a chance to move beyond that, and prove to herself and others that she's not just a serial murderer's baby sister?
Moving on to the 7th position, and Laurie's future, it's a mixed bag as well. Here the cards were the reversed 9 of Swords and the 4 of Swords. Laurie, it seems, is no slouch mentally, but has a lot to deal with here. I wouldn't expect a quick recovery at all- she has a great deal of underlying issues, but the 4 of Swords tells me that given time, she can gradually come to terms with them. The question is whether she can address and move past her hurt and trauma and come through this storm in one piece, or sink into despair.
The 8th position deals with Laurie's own state of mind, and here was the Page of Cups and the Wheel of Fortune. Again, there's some hope there for the future. The Page of Cups, appearing here with the 4 of Swords previously, gave me a strong sense of her trying to come to terms with having her world turned upside down. I tend to think the hospital environment may be beneficial to her, as much of the stress has been removed from her life, and she can focus on her own thoughts and coming to terms with them. However, there's a danger here also that these thoughts will just tend towards rumination and drive her further down the spiral she seems to be trying to shake free of. The Wheel tells me that it's not impossible that Laurie ultimately will indeed move beyond these things, though the scars, both physical and mental, will always be with her as a reminder of what happened. And therein lies Laurie's challenge- to accept these things and move beyond them.
The 9th position deals with influences, and here was the reversed Hierophant and the 6 of Pentacles- Laurie seems to be a study in contradictions. The reversed Hierophant can be interpreted as her traumatized, scarred state, or her dismissal of the therapy she received- at several points prior to her hospitalization Laurie questions the value of her therapy, expressing frustration at a perceived lack of progress. This frustration no doubt has increased, and Laurie may well be at the point of giving up- it's just too much of a burden for her to try to hang on to the life she once knew. But on the other hand, the 6 of Pentacles points again to the fact that Laurie is well aware she doesn't live in a vacuum. She knows there are people who care about her, and she cares about them too. Although these connections to others are not in and of themselves sufficient to motivate Laurie to shake off her issues and move on, (again, this will be a lengthy and difficult process for her) they are definitely in her mind and definitely leave an impact on her.
Finally, the 10th position provides an outcome. And ultimately, it seems things have a very real possibility of turning around for her. Here was the Lovers and the 10 of Pentacles. Throughout this reading, Pentacles have referred to Laurie's support network- friends, family and perhaps even the psychiatric care she receives. The Laurie we will see on the other side of all this is not the same Laurie that went in, as the Lovers indicate- here, it's a joining together of Laurie's past and present- she can learn, it would seem, to accept the fact that she was once Angel Myers, but is her own person. Her past does not define her, though it does continue to make itself felt, and a big part of Laurie's recovery will be admitting to herself that she needs help with this- she can't just sweep her mental issues under the rug. On the other hand, she doesn't have to go it alone, and seems aware that there are other people who care about her and are willing to help. Looking at the 10 of Pentacles, I see that this goes two ways with her- she wants to be well for them as well as for herself, and the pain she causes them, albeit unintentionally, leaves a mark on her as well. She doesn't want to go back to that state, and though the task is a daunting one, a part of her wants to keep pressing on.
So in the end, Laurie is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, she feels completely overwhelmed by everything that's happened to her, and despairs of ever getting over what has happened. She feels like she will never get past the part of her that she knows to be Angel Myers- blood relative to a psychotic murderer, and fears the same fate for herself. However, another part of her remembers happier times, and this has left her with a degree of natural optimism and hope. The final scene in the sequel, where Laurie is sitting in her hospital room, shows Michael and Deborah appearing to a smiling Laurie. What does this mean to her? Has she given up and decided to follow in her older brother's bloody footsteps, or does this mean something else entirely? It would seem from the cards that Laurie needs to address these specters and find meaning in them- they represent something to her, and that something may well be where she does not want to go again. So given time and sufficient interaction with others, I think Laurie might well one day put the past behind her and move on with life, perhaps even being the stronger for it.

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