The blockbuster Netflix series Sense8 didn’t just break through barriers, it ignited them. Shattering stereotypes and touching on previously taboo subjects, such as LGBTQ themes. All this masterfully woven into a thrilling show which drives fascinating storylines, vivid and complex characters, while remaining visually and perceptually captivating. In the signature style of all Wachowski film magic, Sense8, holds within it, many layers of philosophical and psychological meaning.
What is Sense 8 about? Connection. Eight individuals discover that they are inextricably linked. They realize they are tapping into the real time experiences of seven others in their “cluster” across the globe. These individuals are connected through not just telepathy, but a visceral connection shared across the borders of the world. From Seoul to Nairobi, from Chicago to London, from India to Mexico City to Berlin, the characters find themselves linked. Each holding their own special skills and contributions, and together creating an unstoppable team.
There are some essential esoteric lessons held here for those who would perceive it. I would like to highlight some of the universal truths artfully painted in Sense8.
The connection the sensates share mirror a real life ability described by the oldest continual culture on earth: the Aborigines of Australia. The tribes of Aborigines have been capable of an extraordinary feat for over 50,000 years. When one member of the tribe experiences something, the other members can then access this memory through dreamtime. What this means is that if you were to invite a member of the tribe over to your home for tea, let him walk around, and sit on your sofa. Another member of the tribe could enter dream-time to three-dimensionally experience this same experience (just like in Sense8). This lost ancient practice of sharing through dream-time is synonymously represented in the Wachowski masterpiece. Limbic Resonance, an episode name in season 1, is a scientific theory that the ability to share emotional states comes from the limbic area of the brain. Can we really share emotions?
We Are Connected.
The storyline of Sense8 represents the conscious connection we share, not just with our close friends and family, but with those across the world. This connection transcends time and space, it spans the globe, connecting us from the every corner of earth. This alludes to empathy: the capacity we have to feel, not just for, but with another. And those who describe themselves as “empaths” (an individual who feels what another is feeling) can easily appreciate this kind of interconnection because that is our experience since we were very young. We do not just listen to a story, we experience it. This is a fundamental precept in many various spiritual practices dating back thousands of years. There is a web of life through which we are each connected, like in a great tapestry, every thread, every fiber, can affect the whole.
This is a theme the Wachowskis are avid believers in looking at other work, such as Cloud Atlas. “Our lives are not our own, from womb to tomb we are bound to others. With each crime, and every act of kindness we birth our future” –Cloud Atlas. What this means for us is that practicing compassion with self and others, along with doing deeper work to heal yourself and become whole can heal and reintegrate the whole we are connected to as well.
The 8 Archetypes
Within each of us, there are many layers of traits which lay dormant while only certain aspects of our whole self are expressed. This is called fragmentation: a process, which typically begins during childhood, in which we push away pieces of ourselves we deem as “bad” or “wrong” in order to be loved and accepted. For instance we might have been harshly scolded for showing the emotion of anger, so we silence and repress the archetype in us associated with anger. This might seem reasonable until it builds up into an emotional outburst.
Looking deeper at the eight very different personality types of the Sense8 characters, we can see how much each personality carries essential abilities and talents. Each one has strengths and weaknesses but without each of them, they would struggle to overcome the various challenges. This is a metaphor for how we struggle when we push away needed pieces of ourselves. While we may push away an aspect of our personality which we deem “negative” based on social programming, we also push away all the strengths that part of us brings. The archetypes represented in Sense8 touch on the archetypes within each of us. Each of these personalities represents both the light and shadow sides present within us. They were deliberately painted as such to capture the most universal potentials of the human condition.
Which Sense8 Character Are You? (And which are you repressing?)
Riley’s character represents the introvert who wants to hide from the world, the quiet healer who, herself, seeks deep solitude, the musician who was moved by music and moves others with her music. She is the eloquent and gentle personality that we each hold within ourselves. To connect with and validate the Riley within you, you might allow yourself to be gentle or even vulnerable, you might give yourself permission to be introverted in some quiet self-reflection, and you might find a quiet strength hidden under the soft façade.
Kala’s character represents contrasting themes of obedience and rebellion, she subtly represents the goddess, and the call to embrace our desires. Kala struggles with the longing to reject her obligations, though they offer stability, as she craves passion and danger while hesitating with the flammable qualities that situation may bring. She displays hesitation often and reminds us that we do not have to follow obligation, she reminds us of consequence, she reminds us that it is okay to follow our heart.
Wolfgang represents the thief, the fighter, the wounded child, the orphan, and the hunted. He is one of the darkest characters and represents our shadow qualities. He shows no fear yet you can see this is only a front to mask his deeper wounds from childhood. He shows us that within each of us there is a part which feels abandoned and lashes out, yet through that we still retain the ability to truly love another and that part would risk everything for that love. To recognize the Wolfgang shadow sides can allow us to look at how we have acted in unhealthy ways, hurting ourselves or others, and rejecting the aspects of ourselves that we deem “bad” or unworthy. By embracing the shadow side of us we can heal that part of us, this is both liberating and appeasing. We can also call on this aspect, the warrior within when needed.
Lito represents the romantic, the lover, the emotional masculine, the actor, who shows us that we may pretend to be tough on the outside, yet be deeply sensitive on the inside. We each play a role in our life in order to please others. That role may require us to pretend to strong even when we feel weak. By accepting that we can be our most genuine self, that we can express our truest most authentic emotions, and that we do not have to be unemotional to be strong, we can integrate more of our total self into being. We can become aware of our own insecurities, perceived faults and flaws, and go deeper to access all the wisdom we hold there.
Will represents the hero, the officer, and justice, he often acts as the one “taking one for the team”. He is also the intuitive and one of the first to make real contact with Jonas and Whispers. Jonas acts as a guide to the sensates with their newfound abilities. Whispers is the antagonist hunting the group for the purpose of replicating these abilities to create weaponized technology, along with hacking their minds (a nod to the premises of another Wachowski classic, the Matrix trilogy). Will represents the person we might like to be, the one who does the right thing, and who acts with judicial discernment. Though in later seasons his intuition leads him into a precarious state of existence in which he must block his connection with the others in order to protect them.
Nomi’s character is one of the most complex and fascinating of the series. Her story is rich with unique experience as the only trans character. She is the hacker, the mastermind, the rebel, and the ambassador of the oppressed. Her courage and identity represent the part within us that wants to be who we are, not who we were told to conform to. She shows us that love crosses all boundaries, and that the expression of the gender spectrum is fluid. She calls for us to embrace both the feminine and masculine within us. She calls for us to use our logic and our heart.
Sun is often alone and represents an independent force, will, true strength, and the martyr. The martyr is a long understood archetype of psychology. Though as we grow many of us refuse to continue to be a victim any longer. We become strong from our past heartaches, and we learn to draw from our own sense of independence. This may seem to contradict the theme of connectedness but it does not. Through recognizing yourself as a whole complete being, to love and accept every part of yourself, both shadow and light, we are then able to love and accept those attributes in others and connect on a much deeper level.
Capheus is one of the most encouraging and hopeful characters in the series, he represents optimism regardless of the circumstances, he represents the influence of gratitude and selflessness. Though he is not fighter, though he often risks his safety for the well-being of others. He chooses to see the world of light and not focus on the dark. Often his more insightful scenes in which he is imparting advice to another sensate are bathed in golden light, while the scenes in which he must face battles are often in the darkness of night. This represents the way we must fight our own demons; greed, apathy, and denial of our own humanity. He represents the choice, that we are always empowered to make to stand up for what is right. As you recognize these abilities within you, you are likewise empowered like Capheus.
Rejecting any aspect within us leaves us fragmented and incomplete. We then seek these pieces of our self through others. What the hidden wisdom of Sense8 imparts is to welcome the every part of our self as a part of our total self. As we embrace each of the archetypes within us, we become whole. That is the point, to direct us back to unity from within ourselves with the many pieces of our true self. These understandings highlight the importance of interconnection on all levels. To connect within ourselves as well as with the many aspects of our “self” outside of our self, as represented in the mirror of 7 billion other individuals in the world.
Becoming a “sensate” in real life is about tapping into empathy, extending compassion and peace, and striving to understand another’s journey, as well as your own. Our world is a shared world. Not yours or mine, it belongs to the collective whole. To be our whole self we must also recognize, I am not just a me, I am also a We. Every action or inaction, every kind word or damaging act, can either heal or harm the We that we belong to. Choose for the whole, choose connection and love.
-Lisa Falcon G
Author, researcher and spiritual revolutionary.
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