The 1999 movie, The Matrix, directed by the Wachowski siblings, is one of the most influential movies of the past 20 years. It popularized the effect known as ‘Bullet Time’, which is now a mainstay in almost every Hollywood blockbuster. It is also one of the deepest when it comes to esoteric symbols, philosophical ideas, and religious constructs. There is also a Masonic Allegory at play. If you have never seen The Matrix, this is your warning that there are Spoilers Ahead.
The film centers on the character of Thomas Anderson, aka as Neo, his hacker name. Neo is a shortened version of the word: Neophyte. A neophyte is a new member of a fraternity, a new convert to a religion, or a novice in a religious order. The film begins with the characters of Trinity and Cypher discussing watching him [Neo], and paranoid about the line being tapped. The screen morphs into the binary code of ones and zeros. We next see Trinity in a room at a run-down hotel, named “Heart O’ the City”, in room “303”. Of course, one could draw the conclusion that this is an allusion to the 33 degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry. The number 33 has special meaning, as Manly P. Hall states in 'The Secret Teachings of All Ages', “Alchemy is a threefold art, its mystery well symbolized by a triangle. Its symbol is 3 times 3--three elements or processes in three worlds or spheres. The 3 times 3 is part of the mystery of the 33rd degree of Freemasonry, for 33 is 3 times 3, which is 9, the number of esoteric man and the number of emanations from the root of the Divine Tree.” Trinity, whose name literally evokes the number 3, could be thought of being a senior member of the order to which Neo is on the threshold of joining, which Masonically would represent as a Master Mason in the Blue Lodge.
Trinity is able to escape from the room 303 after being chased across rooftops by the sinister Agents, led by Agent Smith. The next scene reveals to the viewer, Neo. Neo has a belief that something is wrong with the world, and is led to believe that there is something called ‘The Matrix’ from his online encounters. He is told via computer to follow the white rabbit, which appears in tattoo form on the body of one of his hacker clients’ girlfriends. He is lead to a club by the girlfriend, who introduces him to Trinity. Trinity explains that a man named Morpheus can explain everything to him.
Morpheus makes contact with Neo at his office as the agents close in on him, but Neo is unable to make the Kierkegaardian leap of faith to reach him. He’s subsequently detained by the agents, who implant a tracking device in him. Morpheus contacts Neo again, and instructs him to meet him. Neo is picked up in an automobile by Morpheus associates, and the tracking device is removed by his associates. He is brought to Morpheus who is located in a building with the checkered black and white flooring of the Masonic Lodge. Morpheus sits in a stiff armchair, and Neo is seated across from him. Morpheus tells Neo that explaining the Matrix is impossible, and that Neo will need to see it for himself. He is given a choice of taking a red pill and learning about the Matrix, or taking a blue pill which will lead him back to his normal life. Neo takes the red pill, and his journey to the unknown begins.
Neo in this scene is allegorically undergoing a masonic degree of sorts. He is in darkness (ignorance) of the nature of the Matrix. He seeks knowledge (light) of what it is. Morpheus, who is named after the Greek God of Dreams, offers Neo this knowledge but only of his own free will and accord by taking the red pill. If Neo refuses, he would be given the blue pill, which serves as the cable tow by which Neo would be pulled from the Lodge (represented by the checkerboard floor of the building) over which Morpheus presides as Worshipful Master in his chair.
To be continued...
Next week we'll dive into just what happens when Neo takes the pill and what it all means symbolically! Come back next week!
WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.