The Mysticism of Frozen II: Part 4, Into the Unknown

One of the major themes in Disney’s Frozen II is the journey into the unknown, which is a common element of the mystical journey into communion with the Divine.

(This is the continuation of a series of articles on the mysticism of the film Frozen II. Also see part 1, part 2, and part 3.)

In an evening game of Charades, Queen Elsa begins to hear the strange and mysterious voice calling her again, the Dies Irae. She doesn’t know what it is, but she can feel it, sense it, drawing her. What is it? Who is it? What does it want? It disturbs her. What is calling? And why?

She tells Anna that she doesn’t want to “mess things up.” She begins to interpret the calling as an insufficiency in herself, that something is wrong with her, that maybe that if she follows the call that things will change from their current ideal circumstances, and she doesn’t want change. She wants stability, security, comfort, predictability, but not change, nothing to pull her from the status quo. But Anna can see the beauty in Elsa that she can’t see, saying “when are you going to see yourself the way I see you?” This self-doubt and its resolution, self-realization or awakening, plays strongly in the mysticism of the unfolding story.

But Elsa wakes in the middle of the night, still hearing the call. Again, this is symbolic of the call to the Hero’s Journey, to the quest, to adventure, to discovery, to the unknown. Her awakening has begun. Is it a dream? Is it just a voice in her head that she can safely ignore? No. She can’t ignore it. It will only continue to pester. This has deeper meaning. She must do something. She must follow the voice, follow the call, wherever it may lead her, even if it is into the uncomfortable unknown.

She goes out into the dark night (a metaphor for a phase in the mystical journey), and begins to sing…

I can hear you, but I won’t
Some look for trouble, while others don’t
There’s a thousand reasons I should go about my day
And ignore your whispers which I wish would go away, oh

She still doesn’t want it. She wants to ignore the call, perhaps like Jonah ignoring his call. If only things wouldn’t change. Change only seems to bring trouble, difficulty, struggle, hardship, even death…

You’re not a voice, you’re just a ringing in my ear
And if I heard you, which I don’t, I’m spoken for I fear
Everyone I’ve ever loved is here within these walls
I’m sorry, secret siren, but I’m blocking out your calls
I’ve had my adventure, I don’t need something new
I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you

She wants to deny it, brushing it off as merely a ringing in her ear. It’s not real. It has no meaning. I’m just hearing things. It’s nothing, just my mind playing tricks on me. They’ll think I’m crazy! Maybe I am crazy! Why won’t this call just go away? She begins to talk to the invisible unknown voice.

The “siren” calls have reference to the Greek mythology:

dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and singing voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.

She saw the calling only as a sign of danger, something that would only end up hurting her or her loved ones, and who wants that? She wants to block it out, ignore it, run from it, deny it. She doesn’t want this call to adventure. She thinks she’s already been there done that. It’s too risky to follow this call into the dark woods…

Into the unknown
Into the unknown
Into the unknown

The Cloud of Unknowing is one of the most famous mystical texts in Christianity. Written by an unknown author in the 14th century, it articulates the mystical journey as a movement into an unknown space:

The underlying message of this work suggests that the way to know God is to abandon consideration of God’s particular activities and attributes, and be courageous enough to surrender one’s mind and ego to the realm of “unknowing”, at which point one may begin to glimpse the nature of God.

This is the kind of journey Elsa is being called on, into the unknown, into this “cloud,” into a place she is unaware of, by someone she doesn’t know, for what she also doesn’t know. But she feels it, deeply. The “cloud” symbolism will also become explicit very soon in the film. She will literally enter a “cloud of unknowing.”

It’s interesting that this cloud symbolism shows up many times in the Old Testament, in theophanies of God. It shows up early with Moses, entering the dark cloud on Sinai to meet God, and later on with the Tabernacle, where God is symbolized as a pillar of fire by day, and a cloud by night. The “dark cloud” wherein God dwells will show up again and again, with Solomon, and Job, and David. The cloud returns in the New Testament in the Mount of Transfiguration:

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

-Mark 9:7

It is promised that the Son of Man would come “in a cloud” (Luke 21:27). Later, after the resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples to give instruction, after which he is taken away and a “cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). This cloud seems to represent a kind of veil which seems to divide the space of humanity from the domain of God, and one must pass through that cloud to get to the place where God is.

That passing through the cloud is an entryway into an unknown divine space, perhaps an intellectual unknowing, a place where we cannot know God in the rational mind. Elsa’s call into the unknown seems to be this kind of drawing into transcendence, into divinity, into awakening and overcoming her self-doubt, but it will require a surrender to that unknowing first.

Elsa is being called away from the comfort of home, into the unknown, to discover her Self, her true Self…

What do you want? ‘Cause you’ve been keeping me awake
Are you here to distract me so I make a big mistake?
Or are you someone out there who’s a little bit like me?
Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?
Every day’s a little harder as I feel your power grow
Don’t you know there’s part of me that longs to go…

Into the unknown?
Into the unknown
Into the unknown

The calling won’t go away. Just like Jonah, she can’t run from it. She can’t hide from it. It just keeps pestering her, distracting her, calling to her, awakening her in the dark night. But she is worried if she follows it she’ll mess up, she’ll make an error, she’ll do something wrong, she’ll be imperfect and let her vulnerability show. She doesn’t want to feel so “naked.”

But maybe, it is someone who can help her discover her self, maybe someone like her, maybe someone who can help her solve the mystery of herself, who can help her understand who she is, and where she came from. She’s clearly unsettled, not knowing her self, and deep down she wants to know, she wants to venture out into the unknown and find out. She comes to realize that the only way to know is to paradoxically go into the unknown, to go beyond the limits of her knowledge. That unknowing place will be her savior, her redemption, her discovery of her true Self.

It may be risky, it may be dangerous, it may reveal her vulnerabilities, she could even die, and she’s afraid and trembling. But she also knows that in that dark place she fears to enter she may find the answers she seeks.

Are you out there?
Do you know me?
Can you feel me?
Can you show me?

Where are you going? Don’t leave me alone
How do I follow you
Into the unknown?

Her own magical powers begin to show her the Way. She begins to follow them. She begins to yearn for them to show her, to tell her, to give her light and understanding. But how? She doesn’t even know how to start, but only that she must begin and go. Her journey has begun.

(To be continued…)

I live in a gift economy, so I give all of my writing freely to you. I depend on your good will and generosity so that my family and I may live, and so that I may continue to write, share insights, and build community. If you were inspired by this, I invite you to also give, to participate in "the Gift". It only takes a moment. I express my deepest gratitude to you for your Gift! (Transactions are securely processed through Stripe.)
You may also participate in this community and give in other ways: comment on posts, subscribe to email updates, like the Facebook page, follow my personal Facebook profile, ask to join the community's Facebook group, ask me a question, submit a scripture for me to translate, submit a "First Vision" experience, or contact me to talk about something else, or to offer your gifts in another way. I look forward to getting to know you!

Add your thoughts, comments, & questions below