The Altar of Hellier

I recommend watching the documentary series Hellier before reading this article.

Earlier this week I noticed a number of people online talking about Hellier Season 3, asking if or when it was arriving. It is indeed currently being worked on, and is likely a few years away. However, my response to this was to make a sarcastic tweet from my main twitter account:

I was intending to be mildly silly, poking a little bit of fun at the community of fans of the show, which I am a part of, who wait for the next season by continually rewatching the first two. However, this idea of Season 3 kept rolling around in my head, demanding to be taken seriously. I already wrote an article about some things you may have missed while watching the show, but it is time for another.

An altar is a special table reserved as a location for offerings, sacrifices, and worship of a deity. What might be the meaning behind people continually worshiping at the Altar of Hellier? Lets turn to Season 2, Episode 6: The Altar to find out.

The episode starts three days before Hellier premieres. The crew is walking through wilderness, making their way to the strange tunnel where they ended Season 1. When they arrive they seem to be looking for something. A few minutes of searching has them pulling a tin can from behind a pillar. The title sequence plays.

We now see Karl talking about watching early cuts of the first season. In doing so, he realizes it was strange that when they left the tunnel originally they did not take the tin can with them. Dana, and then Greg, confirm how weird it is that they left it behind. With two days left to go before the release of Season 1 they hop in a car and return to Hellier.

“I think back a lot to that moment, and it felt like we were ghosts there. Like we were still sort of there in some way but we were ghosts that kind of just exist in that space now. I really felt that as we were walking in our own footsteps.” Dana reflects as we’re shown footage of their return to the small Kentucky town. It is Tyler Strand’s first time.

They are going to try to find David’s house again, which they were unable to locate the last time they were in Hellier. By watching footage from Season 1 they are able to recover the address and make their way to it, only to find that the reason they were unable to previously was that it had burned down.

In an interview to camera, Greg says to us “We’re literally sending the biggest signal, we’re releasing the project. Obviously, I hope someone out there knows who David is, I hope somebody out there knows who Terry is. I hope Terry and David see Hellier and its enough to make them reach out to us. I hope people who’ve had similar experiences to David reach out to us. I hope people who maybe have an expertise we don’t have reach out to us. I hope the public helps. I hope they assist. All we can do is hope.”

Friday, January 18th 2019. “Moment of truth. Hellier is live.” Karl texts to Greg. “No turning back now.” is Greg’s response. Hellier Season 1 premiers. We’re shown a montage of people writing articles, tweeting, and discussing the show on podcasts. The show has gone viral. People are binge watching it over and over. A youtube video tell us “this film series is essential viewing, it is essential to our understanding everything weird”.

Email after email pours into Greg’s mailbox. People reaching out saying they’ve experienced paranormal activity in and around Hellier. People start talking about synchronicities they experience while watching the show. Others start their own work on the cypher, diving deep into Terry Wriste’s emails and the peculiars of his spellings of certain words. This provokes synchronicities that Greg, Dana, Karl, Connor, and Tyler realize are happening, but the people experiencing them do not, because they pertain to Season 2.

A full storm of synchronicities has overtaken the group. Greg mentions that while many people have become deeply invested in Hellier, what was unexpected was the reaction from the occult community. People say that Terry and David are sigils for a magick ritual that someone is performing. That Hellier as a whole is a hypersigil. Karl introduces the ideas of liminality, marginality, and antistructure as key to The Phenomenon. The Mothman, teenagers provoking poltergeist activity, hotels, bridges, and borders are discussed as examples. Even the emails from Amy are part of the magick here.

We come to the winter months, Greg and Dana’s off season from investigations where they spend more time doing livestreams for their patrons. We return to the beginning of the episode, where the team has hiked out to the tunnel which ended Season 1. They start a livestreamed Estes Session while Dana cosplays as a goblin. The main feature of this session is receiving “star sounds”, a set of three tones that the mysterious entity communicating through the radio instructs them to play “all at once” and “constantly” as “one part of a telephone” underground to open “a door, a way through”. Greg and Tyler repeatedly parrot the “bing bing bing” sounds back to Dana, who responds with praises from the radio. The soundtrack swells with a mysterious chord and sits with it until the scene ends.

Dana realizes that going back to Hellier was more important than they thought it was going to be. After this, the remaining part of the episode is discussion about, and an interview with, a man who claims he has watched the show and had personally known Terry Wriste. The man seems frightened of Terry. Greg tells the audience that they don’t want to “dox” Terry, they just want to find him to answer some questions. The episode ends with the crew realizing they need to speak with Alan Greenfield.

So here is the The Altar, stuck right into the middle of the second season of the show. Curious that this episode is titled The Altar, when the actual altar to Pan is not created and displayed in the show until the 10th episode of the this season: The Night of Pan. That is because while the altar in the cave is one that was used for a specific ritual with the tones, and was subsequently destroyed by locals, that is not the altar used to continue the magick of this mystery.

The Altar of Hellier is the show itself.

As you watch Hellier, over and over while waiting for a new season, you are personally worshipping at this altar. You are charging this sigil, one that Greg, Dana, Karl, Conner, and Tyler have created, as part of an even greater magickal working to induce interaction with The Phenomenon.

Some viewers watched live as the “Star Sounds” were given, but you are listening to the tones which open the doorway over and over. In some places throughout the show they are subtly placed into the soundtrack, and in others they are prominently voiced. Take another listen if you weren’t paying close attention. You binge through the show, casting the bing bing bing repeatedly into the universe.

The entire episode is about returning to Hellier, physically at first, and then about the audience participation in that return as the first season is released. Dana says that she feels like they are ghosts, retracing their own footsteps, still there in some way. That way is the footage which you are watching at home, forcing them back to Hellier again and again.

Greg practically begs the community for assistance. “All we can do is hope” he says, releasing the signal of Hellier into the ether of the internet for fans to consume and then participate within. And the community responds, each member repeating their personal initiations as they ride the train of synchronicities the show provides to bridge the gap between themselves at home and the crew in the field. Sitting in the liminal space of anticipation between seasons. A few of these viewers even end up crossing that bridge and are within the second season.

Every viewing of Hellier is explicit participation in its magick. Each episode watched is a sacrifice of your time and attention laid upon this altar. The community as a whole gathers at this place to worship, playing their music far and wide. This ripple in the pond stretches out for years from the initial toss of the stone.

This is the vehicle of Season 3 of Hellier. It is you, at home, watching the show over and over, becoming a part of the spell. You are keeping alive the liminality of the time between seasons as we collectively wait for what may happen next. And, as we watch, Greg, Dana, Karl, Conner, and Tyler are out there with a camera somewhere. So grab a snack, get comfortable on the couch, and lend them a bit more of your magick.

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