Why Ethnoscope?

“Ethnos” means tribe, nation, or culture in Greek, and “skopein” (as in “telescope”) means to see or look. Looking at cultures is what these films are all about.

My first film, The Tree of Life, taught me a very big lesson: the verbal, academic language i learned in school and university is not the only way to understand and express profound ideas. There is a “ritual language” of myth, poetry, dance, & music which affects us far more than the verbal language we “think” is important. Like this language of ritual, films can help us experience things we may not grasp in words.

“No es lo mismo hablar de toros que estar en el redondel”
(It’s not the same to talk about bulls as to be in the bull ring)

– Spanish proverb

What are those funny symbols?

olin-vectorThe glyph on either side of “Ethnoscope” on the homepage is “Olin”, the Mesoamerican symbol for “movement”, transformation, and dynamic change, similar to the concept of Yin and Yang in Chinese thought.

Our universe is one of constant change, beginning with the Big Bang, which set the system in motion. We humans do not have dominion over nature, nor are we separate from or superior to the world around us.

For the Indians of Mesoamerica, humans play an essential role in the natural order. Our job is to keep this world in balance: to enhance and perfect, not reshape and destroy, the environment we share with all other living things on earth.

The glyph Olin symbolizes this ideal. In the center is the eye of Quetzalcoatl, the morning star (Venus), the god of mystical union and balance. Through this center goes the thorn of sacrifice: for it is with our sacrifice that we keep the world in balance. The “X” represents the Four Directions. They are the constant which defines our universe as it changes through time and space.

“Those who talk don’t know; those who know don’t talk.”

– Tao Te Ching

YacatecuhtliWho’s the Little Guy with the Nose?

He’s Yacatecuhtli, the god of the Pochtecas, the Mesoamerican merchants who traveled on foot from Panama to Colorado, carrying their merchandise on their backs and those of their porters. Like merchants today (including me!), they spread not just goods, but ideas. He is posed against the “X” symbol of the four directions, and you can see his footprints on each branch of the X. A god of wealth, he is a manifestation of Quetzalcoatl.


“When you realize who you are, you will become the Koran;
You will become the Word of God;
And the people will come to read of you.”

– Sufi proverb


Bruce “Pacho” Lane