Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tarot Of Terror: Kirsty Cotton

The idea for this came from first, the fact that I have too much time on my hands, and second, I'm sure I'm not the only one who wonders "What happens next?" when horror movies end. Do the bad guys survive to terrorize another day? Well, I decided to find out. This worked well not as a practical reading but rather as an exercise in the mechanics of Tarot reading. I'm hoping to find other horror movie scream queens, villains and others to examine.
  Our first stop on this odyssey of oddity comes to us from the Hellraiser movies, and focuses on the main character throughout several of the films in the series, one Kirsty Cotton. She later appears in the Hellraiser comics, where her story continues. So to begin, let's provide a brief synopsis of Kirsty's life and times as it relates to the movies. When we first meet Kirsty, she is in the process of moving out of her father's house and striking out on her own. Her mother is, at this point, deceased, and Kirsty has previously lived with her father Larry and stepmother Julia. Kirsty seems to be on the manipulative side, and there is obvious tension between her and Julia- long story short, Kirsty doesn't like Julia, and Julia seems at best uncertain how to deal with Kirsty. Kirsty likewise has a tendency to play her rather clueless dad like a harp at times, yet her leaving the house seems to be considerably less about manipulating anyone as it does about seeking a degree of independence from an overprotective father.
Kirsty as she appears in the movies, holding the Lament Configuration.

 Enter into the mix Frank Cotton, Larry's brother and Julia's onetime lover, who has previously opened a puzzle box, summoning the Cenobites, who work for and in Hell, dragging people bodily off through the rift between our world and Hell that is created when the box is opened. It's referred to variously as Lemarchand's Box, after its creator, or the Lament Configuration. Larry and Julia move into the house Frank previously owned, and where he opens the box, and is subsequently dragged to Hell. Larry manages to cut himself, and having a severe blood phobia, manages to bleed on the very same floor of the room where Frank exited our world. As a result, Frank is able to return (well, most of him, anyway) to our world, where his presence in the house remains a secret. Julia discovers him, and agrees to supply him with fresh blood to revive him fully, and the two of them begin to plan an escape- Julia from her dorky husband, Frank from the Cenobites, who continue to chill in Hell, unaware of Frank's escape. Kirsty then discovers Frank, and begins to grasp what's going on. This obviously comes as a bit of a shock, however she manages to escape the house before collapsing from shock in the street. She then is taken to a hospital and placed under observation, where she is once again given the box. Being the curious soul she is, she solves the box and is greeted by the Cenobites, ready to add to their collection of Cottons in hell. Here Kirsty really shows her mental prowess by bargaining with the Cenobites, thinking on her feet and wondering why, if Frank has been captured by them, he is hanging out with her family. The Cenobites agree to let Kirsty lead them back to Frank in exchange for her freedom. Off she goes, and delivers Frank to them. However, the Cenobites have other plans, and Kirsty is able to close the box and dispatch the Cenobites back to Hell before they take her with them.

The original group of Cenobites who greet Kirsty
After escaping from the house, Kirsty then is committed to the Channard psychiatric institute, where she tries to convince the staff that she's telling the truth. As it turns out, Dr. Channard, the head of the institute, has long been studying the Cenobites, and revives Julia in the same way that Frank was returned to this world. Another patient, a puzzle savant, solves the box and once again summons the Cenobites, who do not meet Channard- Julia, however, guides him into Hell, where he later joins the ranks of the Cenobites. Kirsty, convinced that her father is in Hell, sets out through Hell along with Tiffany, the young girl who solves the box, to retrieve her father. Once again, Kirsty meets up with the Cenobites, and attempts to bargain for her father's life, and hers. Nothing doing, say the Cenobites, but feel free to check the place out, now that you're here you're certainly not going anywhere. Kirsty once again meets up with both Frank and Julia, and Kirsty manages to trick Frank until Julia shows up, less than pleased about Frank betraying her and leaving her to the Cenobites. Kirsty manages to escape Hell with Tiffany in tow, and settles down to a more or less normal life, later getting married to a man named Trevor Gooden.
Trevor is less than faithful to Kirsty, and at one point, seeking to get rid of her so he can get on with his womanizing, presents her with, yep, you guessed it, the Lament Configuration. Kirsty, it turns out, has honed her manipulative abilities, and once again bargains with the Cenobites- she turns over Trevor and his mistresses to the Cenobites, again in exchange for her own life.
As time goes on, Kirsty's tale is picked up in the comics, approximately 20 years later. She has formed a group of people called the Harrowers, kind of a support group for people who have had run ins with the Cenobites and had their lives destroyed by them. Kirsty then meets up with the head Cenobite, known as Pinhead (for obvious reasons, in the photo above he's the tall fellow with pins in his head). Once again Kirsty strikes a bargain with Pinhead, who wants his human life back. The only way to do this is to find a replacement- someone willing to take his place. Kirsty realizes that this is an opportunity to be reunited with her family, and basically to govern Hell in any way she sees fit. Pinhead is kind of Hell's go-to guy, right hand man to Leviathan, a huge entity who governs over Hell's Labyrinth, where Kirsty and friends wind up when they travel to Hell through Dr. Channard's passageway. Kirsty accepts, and assumes Pinhead's position.

From Boom! Studios, Kirsty taking over Hell one cool outfit at a time. 
Now, on to the reading. For this task I chose a Celtic Cross spread, and picked up where Kirsty left off, in charge of Hell. The first card, the Present situation, was the 2 of Cups. In this we see that Hell has not so much gained a new recruit as Kirsty has gained Hell. Leviathan seems to adopt a very laissez-faire attitude towards Hell, and overthrowing the man in charge is certainly not unheard of. Kirsty now is able to use her powers to govern however she wants, and being in this position, there's not really anyone who can stop her- the 2 of Cups tells me that from this union, something more will come. Kirsty is indeed reunited with her loved ones, and I'd expect to see a "New, Improved Hell!" in the works here.
Covering this and indicating main influences at this hypothetical present is the Hierophant, indicating not so much that Kirsty will keep with the traditions of Hell, but rather that her experiences will result in a greater sense of justice and letting the crime fit the punishment in Hell. Whereas previously the innocent are not exempt from the VIP treatment, so to speak, Kirsty retains throughout her mortal life a strong sense of justice and mercy, although she can also be extremely vengeful, as shown by her treatment of Trevor; we get the impression that she was all too happy to be given such an opportunity to deliver Trevor to the Cenobites. Kirsty very much develops throughout her life, becoming more intelligent and cunning, and learning to turn that intelligence into a lethal weapon against her enemies.
Interestingly, the Past position held the High Priestess, indicating hidden answers. The fact that Kirsty becomes the "High Priestess" of Hell is significant, as well. But here, the card tells us that Kirsty has the power and ability to get through just about anything, and her considerable mental agility is the answer to her problems. We could say she was destined for the throne, and that her life has led up to assuming leadership of Hell.
This is likewise indicated by the next card, the Foundation card. Here was the 9 of Cups, indicating that the events in Kirsty's life have led her to Hell, reunited with her family, and in a position to dispense torment and justice as she sees fit. The 9 indicates things being set up, events merely waiting for her to come into her position. Though we learn that changes in leadership are not uncommon in Hell, Kirsty certainly has the cunning and foresight to retain power there for a long, long time.
On to the Near Future position, and here we see another Major Arcana card, the Judgment card. This is an indication that in fact all that Kirsty has been through has prepared her for this- every experience and every hardship, every terror she has faced and thought her way out of, will now serve as valuable experience.
The last card in this first "cross" section is the Aspirations card- what the best we can hope for is, and here was the King of Swords. The suit of Swords is tied to intelligence and analytical thought, and this is what Kirsty excels at. Her sharp wit and cunning will serve her well as she rules Hell, and will ultimately lead her to develop more and more fitting torments for the deserving souls downstairs.
Now, the 7th position, which also deals with the future- here the card is the 6 of Pentacles. Pentacles here indicates resources, and being in Hell, there is by and large a different definition of material resources. She certainly isn't in Hell by herself, and we learn that those Leviathan (or presumably his ministers, in this case Kirsty herself) deem worthy are offered a position in the ranks. Hence, also, the power grabs and infighting that Hell experiences. However, the 6 of Pentacles has two aspects- one is philanthropy, giving to advantage of all, and second, using resources to benefit everyone, including oneself. Kirsty, remember, is in a position of power. Will she exploit everyone around her, or will she, tempered by her experience, realize that she can do better with others on her side? The card here indicates that her best bet is to make friends, not inspire fear. In Hell, these may well be one and the same, but Kirsty will need to rely on that intelligence that is so much a hallmark of her time on Earth and in her dealings with the Cenobites. A master of the art of the deal, Kirsty can certainly reinforce her standing in Hell with this skill.
Next is the 8th position, holding hopes and fears. Here the card was the Lovers- Kirsty may not have a boyfriend in Hell, (we can see how well her last marriage went) but can be reunited with her family, and a part of the Lovers is indeed a joining of forces. Here, this provides powerful and lasting motivation for Cenobite Kirsty- she is motivated to retain her power because it allows her to take care, so to speak, of her family and friends in Hell.
Next, the 9th position deals with hidden influences. Looking back to the High Priestess, it seems there are things that even Kirsty doesn't foresee, and here the card is the 8 of Pentacles. The Pentacles that appear in this reading are telling in that they point to Kirsty being able to strike a balance between self interest and working for the benefit of others, and throughout her time on Earth this is a lesson she comes to learn- her time with Trevor certainly teaches her vengeance, but she also develops a sense of fairness, if not compassion, in Hell. Kirsty is able to change things in Hell, and, as the comic emphasizes, rule it however she chooses, and the 8 is a card of new endeavors and new uses for existing resources- Kirsty can and more than likely will shake things up a bit in Hell. At one point during the movies the previous Pinhead meets a demonic female named Angelique, and we learn that this has happened before, as he explains to her that "Hell is more ordered since your time, princess... and much less amusing." Kirsty, it seems, will bring her own brand of Hell to bear on the souls therein.
Finally, the Outcome. What can we expect for Kirsty? The card here is the 7 of Pentacles- another Pentacles card! It looks like Kirsty has a long time to re-order Hell according to her own designs, as the 7 is a card of patience, waiting for the seeds planted to come to fruition. Yet Kirsty is not going to be idle, it seems, and with her strong motivation and sense of family, will no doubt be able to make this happen.
To sum it all up for this first installment, Kirsty is a born leader, and Hell is where she's meant to be- things are not always cut and dried in Hell- sometimes people slip through the cracks, sometimes things go awry, even with powerful entities like Leviathan running the show. But Kirsty aims to change that, and is not out to win any popularity contests. Being of a single mind and purpose will help her stay focused and determined, and finally to bring about the changes she wants to see in Hell. We can expect great things from her- perhaps not necessarily good ones, but definitely far-reaching changes.