Prometheus; or, The Post-Modern Frankenstein


Prometheus (2012), directed by Sir Ridley Scott, is a Christmas movie, and I think we can all agree on that, if the criteria is that the plot somehow incorporates the holiday season in some form to another. However, this takes it much further than any old Christmas movie, it basically is a retelling of the Nativity of Jesus. Well, this is the genesis of Space Jesus.

Cosmic Enchantment

Below I’ve collected some of my notes on the more occult themes in the movie, which is not necessarily presented in any strict chronological order, and they certainly don’t cover everything, so I might do a more comprehensive deep dive sometime in the future. Also, these notes contain massive spoilers, so stop reading now if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

Astro-Numerology & Allegory

There are many different ways in which you can count the cast and characters in this movie, and I won’t go into specifics here, but it’s a mix of all humans, robots (A.I) and all living aliens and/or xenomorphs, so there’s some leeway, and there’s more creative possibilities in there too, but I’ll leave that to someone else to figure out. In the main headcount the tally is 21, and that is significant because December 21 is the date they arrive at their destination. This corresponds to the Winter Solstice, at least in 2021. This is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Although it should be mentioned that in the year 2093 this would actually fall on December 20, but you get the point. Other ways in which to add up the characters is 22, which then means you can arrange them on the Major Arcana and the Tree of Life, and another total is 23, lining up with the 23 pairs of chromosomes in DNA, as well as being an important cult tilt mystical number. Also you could count everything as 24, which of course is advent, making yet another argument that this is literally a Christmas movie.

There’s more numerology throughout the film that I won’t go into, except that I think it’s worth mentioning that the so-called Pauling Med-pod is located on top of a zodiacal circle (12 sections), and to hammer in the point, Dr. Shaw even says: “They only made a dozen of these”. Moreover, if you pay even closer attention you’ll start to notice that circular shapes are featured heavily overall, reinforcing the cyclical nature of the themes. And yes, the Med-pod looks suspiciously like the phallic head of the classic Xenomorph, as well as mirroring the Space Jockey (pilot chair) set.

Cosmic Christ Black Mass Celebration

The crew, like the biblical Magi, are wise (wo)men following a star system. Well, actually, they are in fact not so wise, as apparently in a scene cut from the script, Ms. Vickers confesses that she deliberately hired dumb scientist as she wanted the mission to fail. Anyway, there is no canonical number of how many the Magi the were back in the day, so there’s a lot of freedom in how you’d want to assign these roles.

And you stare at me
In your Jesus Christ pose
Arms held out
Like you’ve been carrying a load
And you swear to me
You don’t wanna be my slave
But you’re staring at me

– Jesus Christ Pose by Soundgarden

Perhaps the most obvious Christ imagery on screen is dr. Shaw’s cross worn around her neck, but there’s several other more subtle allusions to this over the course of the movie. The first one is in the mural they find in the cathedral like chamber inside the structure they are investigating. There we see a Xenomorph in a Jesus Christ pose. The Second Christ pose is when Shaw’s husband Holloway dies his martyr death by flamethrower after he’s been infected. The third instance is when the Captain sacrifices himself by crashing the Promethus into the Alien vessel, complete with two other “thieves” by his side, echoing the crucifixion at Golgotha.

Plan Number 2 From Outer Space

Another hint of Christian esotericism is that they manage to date the dead Engineers as being 2000 years old. In interviews, Scott has explicitly stated that the idea was that the Engineers had sent one of their own down to earth in order to try to save the human species, because they had become too violent, but that the mission failed when the humans killed the Engineer/Alien Jesus. So basically plan number two was then to wipe out all life on earth, but before they could take off with their bioweapon cargo, they suffered an outbreak and died by their own hand.

Flying Circles & Sacrificial Life Cycles

So, as we can see, it gets even more complicated, cyclical and interesting as we peel back further layers. The movie starts with an alternative creation myth, with an Engineer sacrificing (this truly is a leitmotif) himself to create life on earth, turns into a destruction myth, and returns once more into a reimagining of yet another creation myth. 

The Alien Origin of Species & The Circle of Artificial Life and Death

On one level all this is a meditation on the questions “Who Am I? Who Made Me? Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?”, which is interesting in and of itself, however, my integration is more focused on the cycles. The repetition of cycles, the breaking of cycles and the creation of new cycles. The Wheel of Fortune, or the Major Arcana as a whole, if you want to take a Tarot perspective.

At the centre of everything is the “virgin birth”. It’s blatantly stated that Dr. Shaw is sterile and incapable of creating life, yet she becomes pregnant and gives a caesarian birth on or around Christmas Day (December 25), although it’s hard to exactly pinpoint the date (it’s possible it’s actually either on December 23 or 24, but that’ still close enough to Christmas). 

If we look at the bigger picture, and also consider the sequel Covenant, then what we have is a clearer picture of everything. The Engineers created humans, the humans created the androids, and the androids created the Xenomorphs. The latter of which has genetics of both human and Engineer. Although, this still leaves us with the question of who created the Engineers.

In Conclusion or inoculation:

Still searching, Dr. Shaw signs off by saying it’s New Year’s Day, the year of our Lord 2094. In the final scene, a Star Child is born, as we witness the birth of brand new life. The Alien. A combination of Human and Engineer. A post-modern Frankenstein creature. Space Jesus.

A new star-child is born.

Space Jesus

And BTW, this makes it even more evident that in Alien: Covenant David is Space Lucifer, or a new version of Victor Frankenstein.

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