Kanye West’s “Power” is a short, almost stationary video that manages to tell a profound story in symbolic language. By decoding the occult meaning of the symbols present in this moving tableau, the viewer discovers who really holds the “power” in the world and understands the story of Kanye West’s initiation. We will look at the meaning of those symbols as they appear in the video.
Rapper and producer Kanye West has always found a way to stand out from the crowd. His video Power is no exception. It differs from the MTV norm in many regards, whether you look at the content or the form. The duration of the video, the filming style and the subject matter are quite distinct from today’s typical rap videos as it is short (1:43), filmed in a single shot (compared to the one-shot-per-second standard of music videos) and is very rich in archetypal symbolism.
Director Marco Brambilla sought to depict the concept of power in the form of a “video tableau”, a moving painting that slowly reveals itself to the viewer with a continuous camera movement. The director seems to have perfected this technique in his previous creation, Civilization, a video mural created for the new Standard Hotel in New-York city. The symbolism present there is simply overwhelming.
For Power, Brambilla went for a neo-classic aesthetic, but still created a piece full of symbolic and cultural references. As it was the case for paintings of the neo-classic era, each object, each symbol and each detail in the video conveys an important meaning, a meaning that is needed to understand the entire story. As we will see later, many symbols in the video have a deep occult meaning and many of them point to Freemasonry and Mystery schools. By doing so, the director clearly states what type of power is being presented in the video. We will, therefore, look at the meaning of the symbols displayed in the video as they appear in the shot.
Symbols of the Video
The video starts off with a close-up of Kanye West with glow-in-the-dark eyes as if he was “illuminated” from within. He stands between an infinite row of Ionic columns, which represent “wisdom” in Masonic symbolism.
As regular readers of this site already know, the occult meaning of the twin pillars is ancient, profound and present in the symbolism of almost all mystery schools of History. There are many layers of interpretation attributed to the two columns, but one constant is always present: The pillars represent the entrance – the gateway – to the world of the initiate. Behind the columns can be found the key to the Mysteries and, consequently, the source of true power. This concept has been used for in many cultures and schools of thought.
“The city of the philosophic elect rises from the highest mountain peak of the earth, and here the gods of the wise dwell together in everlasting felicity. In the foreground are the symbolic pillars of Hercules which appear on the title page of Bacon’s Novum Organum, and between them runs the path which leads upward from the uncertainties of earth to that perfect order which is established in the sphere of the enlightened. “
– Manly P. Hall
In Power, Kanye is standing at the mouth of the gateway to the “sphere of the enlightened,” right at the border of the corrupt and decadent material world. So, right from the start of the video, the director reveals the true nature of power in this world: It is not your democratically elected officials, but those who consider themselves to be behind those pillars. One of the most significant lines of the song is
“In this white man’s world, we the ones chosen”
Does Kanye’s “white man’s world” refer to the hidden rulers, the Illuminati, who are hidden behind those pillars? Did they choose Kanye West and give him Power by permitting him to become an influential figure in the entertainment industry? Was he chosen to become one of them? The next symbol might shed some light into this.
The next thing that catches the viewer’s eye is most probably that gigantic chain with Horus’ head as a pendant. Horus is an ancient Egyptian deity that has an extreme importance in occult mysteries. Considered to be the Sky god, he is more often represented by the symbol of a single eye. The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and royal power from deities, in this case from Horus or Ra.
“Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, was called “Horus who rules with two eyes.” His right eye was white representing the sun while his left eye was black representing the moon. According to Egyptian legend Horus lost his left eye during a fight with his murderous uncle, Seth, to revenged his father’s death. Seth tore out his nephew’s eye but lost the fight because the assembly of the gods declared Horus the victor. The eye was reassembled by the magic of Thoth. Then Horus gave the eye to Osiris who experienced rebirth in the underworld.”
– Jordan Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods
The importance of the “one-eye” in occult symbolism has been highlighted in many articles on The Vigilant Citizen. The All-Seeing Eye found on the Great Seal of the United States and many other occult symbols originate from the Eye of Horus.
The symbolism of Horus is especially of great importance in Freemasonry, as the path of an initiate through the Masonic degrees is described as the process by which the Eye of Horus is opened.
So Kanye stands at the gateway between the corrupt world of the profane and the exclusive world of the illuminated, wearing a Horus pendant, an unmistakable symbol of the Mysteries. One might say: “Well maybe Kanye just likes Egyptian things.” Maybe so, but in the context of this video, where all details are important and extremely meaningful, Horus becomes another piece of this symbolic puzzle.
The entrance of the gateway of pillars is guarded by two horned albino girls holding a staff. Their features are very reminiscent of depictions of Isis and Hathor, goddesses of ancient Egypt. Another allusion to Egyptian magic.
Isis was the mother of Horus (discussed above) and was the goddess of motherhood, nature, and magic. Hathor was also considered as a maternal deity while also being the goddess of music, dance, and fertility. Both Isis and Hathor were known to welcome and protect the dead during their journey to the afterlife, a concept that is particularly interesting in the context of the video.
“The goddess (Hathor) […] manifests two aspects of her divine power: first of all, she participates in the afterlife rite of passage, by means of which the deceased attains eternal life, and, second, she demonstrates her special connection to the Egyptian king. Hathor is rightly called a royal goddess, and in this role she is linked in various ways to the life of the pharaoh. Often the pharaoh would call himself the oldest son of Hathor.”
– Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism
Kanye, perhaps symbolizing the Pharaoh, is standing at the gateway to eternal wisdom, about to be executed/assassinated/sacrificed under the watchful eyes of Hathor, the “royal goddess.” Are the goddesses welcoming Kanye “behind the veil,” protecting him in this rite of passage to immortality? In occult circles, new candidates must symbolically die and be reborn to complete their initiation process. Is Kanye being killed an allegory for his initiation?
Sword of Damocles
While doing some preliminary research on this video, I came across an article on MTV.com titled Kanye West’s ‘Power’ Video: A Cultural Cheat Sheet. Here’s what it says about the sword hanging above his head:
“Dragonlance: An image of a sword descending into a crown hovers over Kanye’s head, bringing to mind Volume Two of Douglas Niles’ series “The Crown and the Sword: The Rise of Solamnia,” in which Sir Jaymes Markham commands the orders of the Rose, Sword and Crown.”
– Kanye West’s ‘Power’ Video: A Cultural Cheat Sheet, MTV.com
Really? The director of this neo-classical themed video, was inspired by an obscure fantasy novel released in, like, 2006? Seriously? Good job, MTV, in keeping our youth clueless. The descending sword is more probably a reference to the Sword of Damocles, a pretty widely known legend.
“The Damocles of the anecdote was an obsequious courtier in the court of Dionysius II of Syracuse, a fourth century BC tyrant of Syracuse. Damocles exclaimed that, as a great man of power and authority, Dionysius was truly fortunate. Dionysius offered to switch places with him for a day, so he could taste first hand that fortune. In the evening a banquet was held where Damocles very much enjoyed being waited upon like a king. Only at the end of the meal did he look up and notice a sharpened sword hanging directly above his head by a single horse-hair. Immediately, he lost all taste for the fine foods and beautiful girls and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate.
Dionysius had successfully conveyed a sense of the constant fear in which the great man lives. Cicero uses this story as the last in a series of contrasting examples for reaching the conclusion he had been moving towards in this fifth Disputation, in which the theme is that virtue is sufficient for living a happy life. Cicero asks “Does not Dionysius seem to have made it sufficiently clear that there can be nothing happy for the person over whom some fear always looms?”
The tale of the Sword epitomizes the constant danger faced by those in positions of power. Kanye stands there, in a state of impending doom, knowing he can be executed at any time. Right after we see the sword of Damocles, a figure appears holding a dagger and attempting to stab him. The assassination will not happen by a dagger, however, as two other figures leap out of nowhere holding swords to accomplish the “Killing of the King.”
Killing of the King – The Initiation
At the ending of the video, the decadent women and the dagger-holding assassins all disappear as two swords are about to hit him. Are we sacrificing the King?
The concept of regicide is reflected in the single’s cover art. It depicts Kanye’s severed, crowned head with a sword firmly jammed into it. Apparently, Kanye was king and he got killed. Is this a symbol of a Masonic ritual? Note the stone on which Kanye’s head is placed. Is it the “perfect ashlar” of the Masons that represents the state of a perfected initiate?
Some occult researchers have stated that the “Killing of the King” is the name of a Masonic rite of passage to obtain the 33rd degree (see “King Kill 33” by James Shelby Downard & Michael A. Hoffman II). Semi-interesting sidenote: King Kill 33 is also the name of a Marilyn Mason song, with rather interesting lyrics. Another sidenote: Researchers have reported that Killing of the King rites often happens in public, as more witnesses give more power to the ritual, hence … JFK. A completely crazy theory?… DYR (Do your research).
Back to Kanye and his standing … the two swords flying towards him never actually touch him but instead form a triangular shape above his head, possibly hinting to a “symbolic” killing and not an actual one. Notice the position of the crown above Kanye’s head. The combination of those elements forms an interesting image.
To sum up the video, Kanye stands at the border between Masonic knowledge and the decadence of the mundane life, represented by lustful and gluttonous women, lounging around eating grapes. Kanye says “goodbye cruel world / I see you in the morning“, as he has been “chosen” to take part in an initiation process that is often metaphorically described as a “long night,” followed by a glorious awakening as a new being. In order to accomplish this, Kanye needs to kill his old self and be ritualistically reborn. Once this is done, true power is within his grasp.
This “moving painting” is definitely a multi-layered artwork, with many levels of interpretation: the first level is a commentary on power by using timeless symbols taken from ancient art; the second level describes a Masonic initiation with a ritual murder and an imminent rebirth.
This video lasts a mere minute and forty-three seconds but it manages to give the viewers plenty to ponder on and many symbols to decode. Looking at its meaning from a pop culture point of view, it is interesting to note that this short-film, intended to be viewed by the general public (especially young people), describes the concept of power with overt Masonic symbolism and occult references. This causes the uninformed viewers to unconsciously associate those symbols with the concept of Power, while “those in the know” get the “insider’s wink” sent by this video. Power ultimately becomes another piece in the on-going process called the “Revelation of the Method,” where the true source of power gradually and subliminally reveals itself to the world and occult rituals take place right in front of the public’s eyes.
How long before the complete revelation?
“The clock’s tickin’ / I just count the hours”