The Occult Origins of Lost

The Occult Origins of Lost
by Klint Finley on 2008-03-10 08:07:27
tags: 23, alan moore, lost, robert anton wilson, television, watchmen

ABC's Lost isn't the first pop culture phenomena to crib from occultism - movies, television shows, and video games have integrated occult themes and rituals for years. But one thing that sets Lost apart from the crowd is the apparent sincere interest on the part of executive producer and co-creator Damon Lindelof. While most pop cultural attempts at integrating magic and the occult are done merely to add atmosphere to the story, Lindelof has a deeper interest in the material. And rather than beating the viewer over the head with “authentic” occult rituals, Lindelof is more content to pepper the series with references and concepts, leaving the the viewer to decipher their significance.

Co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof has acknowledged Robert Anton Wilson as a specific influence on Lost. The number 23 crops up frequently on the show, to the point of becoming an explicit plot point. Lindelof told Stephen King:

My father was into the Illuminati and the number 23, so he was a big reader of Robert Anton Wilson. So there was some intentionality behind it, but we had no idea, no grand design behind the Numbers. But suddenly, the No. 1 question stopped being “What is the Monster?” and went to being “What do the Numbers mean?” This isn't to say that the Numbers don't mean anything. We just had no idea it had this potential to get totally out of control.

And the Chicago Tribune reported:

But for Damon Lindelof, co-creator and executive producer of the ABC drama Lost, “It is a good lucky number. The first thing I do when I get to Las Vegas, every time I go, is I drop $50 on the number 23. It hasn't hit yet, but one of these days!”

Lindelof has been fascinated by the 23 enigma since his childhood and has made the number part of the mysteries on Lost.Jack Shepard's seat on doomed Oceanic Flight 815 was in Row 23. Twenty-three passengers from the tail section of the plane survived the crash. And the number is among Hurley's winning lottery numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 that end up bringing him and the other survivors bad luck.

Though Lindelof said the number 23 is often purposely used on Lost, he sometimes is just as surprised as some fans when it pops up. Conspiracy or coincidence? It's a perfect illustration of the 23 enigma.

Also, Lindelof has acknowledged mage/comic book writer Alan Moore as an influence:

“Watchmen,” declares Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof, “is the greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced.”


Watchmen's nonlinear, character-driven, Easter egg-packed construction was a major influence on Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. FYI: Watchmen also features a mysterious island teeming with awful secrets.

But Lindelof's exact angle remains to be seen. At times Lost comes across as either Catholic or Buddhist propaganda. All I've been able to find about Lindelof's personal beliefs is this bit of information on the Buddhist Channel web site:

An ABC publicist said that neither of the show's main day-to-day executive producers, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, is a Buddhist. Still, Sluyter notes in his piece that, aside from tossing about words such as dharma, the show does address core issues that sound familiar to anyone on the Buddhist path.

As more and more themes, such as Buddhist and Hindu thought, retroactive magic, clairvoyance, astrology, necromancy, weird initiatory rituals, and maybe even a Thelema reference are introduced, it's harder and harder to think there's not some serious mindfucking going on behind the scenes at Lost HQ.

More info:

Official ABC Lost web site.
Lostpedia, a Lost wiki.
Dark UFO, a Lost blog.
Hatch 23, a blog I edit dedicated to uncovering occult references on the show.

Klint Finley is a freelance writer and ex-occultist living in Portland, OR. He's the editor of the blog Technoccult and the executive director of Esozone.


Lost rules but Millennium was the greatest occult television show ever.

by szul on 2008-03-10 12:13:57