Picnic at Hanging Rock



There is a time and a place for whatever has a beginning and an end…


Miranda, in Picnic ad Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay


In 1967 the Australian writer Joan Lindsay gave birth to a novel destined to become a  fundamental milestone in contemporary fiction: Picnic at Hanging Rock. Few know, however, that for her own terms, the last chapter, the eighteenth, would be published only after her death.

The eighteenth missing chapter contains the key to the fate of the leading girls and not coincidentally, has the number eighteen.

The Druids used the alphabet of the trees, called Ogham, for divination rites. This alphabet was composed of eighteen letters (5 vowels and 13 consonants); each of these letters was named after the tree of which has the initial. Further, the number eighteen, which is mainly female, in the esoteric symbolism represents the receptive character, the creative and  the intuitive of the individual. Its reduction is the number nine (18 = 1 + 8 = 9), with which it shares a similar energy, being a female number it represents the woman, in the sense of a  mother that generates new life.

That there could have been a deep esoteric solution, at times  lacerating, astute readers have intuited by reading  Chapter 3 – we will not dwell on the esoteric meaning of the number 3, because it is the best known number– because of  thin narrative inconsistencies that appear clues,  like small bread crumbs.

But what happened that day at Hanging Rock ?

After lunch, in the muggy afternoon  buzzing of insects, while all fall asleep, something out of the ordinary happens: the clocks stop right at midday, as per  a result of a magnetic phenomenon. Four girls decide then to climb to the peak; they are Miranda, whom is  the closest  to nature; Marion whom being very rational hi her opposite; Irma, whom is vain and superficial, and Edith, whom is  full of fears.

Step by step the communion with the rock becomes more and more intense: as the key to the whole novel is in this ascent that Peter Weir, in his film, follows and captures with  a very evocative music that  recalls tribal, native music, played with Pan’s flute. Even here, an is no coincidence, since Pan is a god of Roman- Greek mythology – derived from ancient cults, that symbolizes the communion with nature.

Now the girls are no longer caged in the schemes that have ruled their lives up to that day: their only priority is to arrive to the end of the journey they have undertaken and whom is calling them to the level of intimate communion with the surrounding nature.

Edith, at some point of the ascent to the summit of the Rock, realizes that something out of the ordinary  is happening  and she falls into a real panic attack, that makes her escape rushing downhill, yelling up to her companions for raise the alarm. Here too the reference to Pan is clear: not only because panic derives from Pan, but also because the timor panico was the fear that people felt when they crossed the woods in his presence giving him the feeling of not having any longer control of what surrounds them.

At this point in the story the search of girls begins: the peak is searched but the girls seem to have vanished into thin air. The eighth day Irma is found unconscious at the foot of a rock, without the corset, with broken nails and with the feet mysteriously clean, and apparently with amnesia. But on the mystery that has engulfed Marion and Miranda will no longer be made light nor words will be spoken.

What happened in the end of the novel that Lindsay wanted to keep hidden until her death?

Reached the top of Hanging Rock, Miranda, Marion and Irma are located in front of a huge oval monolith, that emanates  a buzz that they perceive as a recall; the monolith, the symbol of an ancestral and immobile nature, sucks out the youngers outside of space-time. And here we stop …

Hanging Rock, a place very dear to us, is the esoteric symbol per excellence also for the culture of the native Australians. The  Aborigines venerate it as a god because it’s like a sort of ancestral antenna that allows you to get into an intense spiritual communion with the mind of men and with the very essence of nature. It ‘a kind of a gateway door to  new dimensions and parallel realities. A place that must be handled with extreme care and ability even by the Initiates.

If you are wondering how it may have been possible that Hanging Rock has called to it these girls, the answer can be hazard by the writer Milan Kundera in his book The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

the  absolute absence of a burden causes man to become lighter than air , flying upwards, moving away from the earth, from the earthly being, becoming only half real and his movements beeing as free as meaningless.

We, as always, hang up the phone .