From an essay on pop culture and the Gods in Walking the Worlds.
When I first constructed an altar for the Acheulian Goddess, She gave me specific requests of what She wanted for her sacred space.One of her desires was an action figure of The Green Hornet of the 1966 TV show. This confused me since this character was originally an invention of three men for a 1930s radio show.
An ancient Goddess from Paleolithic times, the Acheulian Goddess was first worshipped by Homo erectus (the predecessor to modern humans and Neanderthals). Because many generations of the human species have known Her, I wondered why such an ancient Goddess would want a fictional character of the 20th century in her shrine.
To know this Goddess, I have to side-step a popular notion amongst Pagans that human society was a matriarchy until it was overthrown by warriors on horseback. Also, I have to ignore the persuasive idea that the Acheulian Goddess is only one aspect of the Great Goddess. Today, lost in Goddess worship, She becomes yet another symbol of the fabled past.
To know Her means stripping away modernistic thinking. To see the Acheulian Goddess as Homo erectus does requires letting go of the present. As L.P. Hartley noted in his novel, “The Go-Between,” “The Past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.” To me, She is the Goddess of the Beginnings, the Goddess who appeared in the dreams of Homo erectus. To them, She was the Keeper of Mysteries of Life and Death.
Meanwhile, The Green Hornet was created in 1936 by Fran Striker and James Jewell to complement WXYZ’s (Detroit) radio program, “The Lone Ranger.” Station manager George Trendle requested that The Green Hornet be a continuation of The Lone Ranger. He wanted to carry this character’s mission in the Old West into modern times. Therefore, Striker created Britt Reid (The Green Hornet) to be a grandnephew of John Reid (The Lone Ranger). Paralleling The Lone Ranger, this new character had Kato, an Asian sidekick, and Black Beauty, a super-powered car. Britt Reid, who is a newspaper publisher, would pretend to be a mobster to fight crime. Unlike John Reid, Britt would have a public life as himself.
What made The Green Hornet an enduring part of pop culture is his unique character. As a tripartite being, Britt Reid is a crusading publisher, criminal master mind, and a secret warrior for justice. In his triple role, The Green Hornet is devoted to repairing relations amongst people, communities, and authorities. This aspect of The Green Hornet made me think that he is more than simply a fictional character. Divinities as triads often show up in various religions. Christianity has the Triune God – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. Wiccans celebrate the Maiden, Mother, and Crone aspects of the Goddess. Meanwhile, the Celtic Goddess, The Morrigan is referred to as “The Triple Goddess.”
Writing for NOW Comics (1989-1990), Ron Fortier devised a family tree for the character starting with The Lone Ranger continuing through various generations until the 1990s. (Note 1) Fortier cemented the canon that The Green Hornet was not a single man, but instead a family obligation for the male relatives of the Reid family. Fortier set up that The Green Hornet of the 1930s was the original grandnephew, and that the TV version (1966-67) was that Britt Reid’s nephew. NOW Comics continued with the generations into the 21st Century. (Note 2)
This reminds me of Roman customs of piety. In Roman polytheism, families devoted themselves to inter-generational rites of piety to specific Gods. For Romans, sacra gentilicia (rites of a clan for their family Gods) were necessary and imperishable. Sometimes a family had a duty to perform public rites (sacra publica) on behalf of the Roman people (sacra pro popula). When Fortier constructed his family tree, he instituted a web of family obligations for the entire Reid family that went beyond sacra gentilicia, and became sacra publica. Devoted to the cause of justice in their community, the Reid family became the intermediaries between the people and the authorities.
Through Fortier’s actions, The Green Hornet became “sacer,” a thing given to the Gods. He went beyond the nascent obligation set up by the original creators of granduncle and grandnephew. This made the duty of The Green Hornet “res divina,” a divine thing. (Note 3) What occurred was the character became the personification of pietas, the maintaining of right relations between people, the Gods, and authorities.
Using divination, I asked the Roman Gods what was The Green Hornet. They said that he was an example of pietas, both as an individual and as a family. The Gods gave this thoughtform agency to become a sacredos, a priest.
The request by the Acheulian Goddess for The Green Hornet for her altar meant to me that She claimed him as her own. To Her, he ably demonstrated sacra publica. I concluded is that The Green Hornet is probably the rex sacrorum (King of Sacred Things) to Her. (Note 4) I believe that the Acheulian Goddess relates to modern humans through what is familiar to Her. Therefore, The Green Hornet acts as the rex sacrorum, an intermediary for Her. Since Romans often have altars to Non-Roman Gods, it made sense to me to have a Roman practice for the Acheulian Goddess.
The Green Hornet proves that not every longstanding character of pop culture becomes a God. His creators set up the means for this character to become more than simply fictional. Fortier’s canon allowed The Green Hornet to be the representation of pietas. Afterwards, the Acheulian Goddess chose him to be a part of her veneration.
1. Fortier wanted to connect the various versions of The Green Hornet into a holistic narrative. Desiring to update the character, he worked on retaining the essence of The Green Hornet.
2. After the demise of NOW Comics, Dynamite Entertainment obtained the rights to the character. In 2010, for the debut of the character at Dynamite Entertainment, Kevin. Smith, noted film-maker and writer, started with the TV version, updated him to the 1980s, and then had his son Britt Reid, Jr. be The Green Hornet for the 21st Century.
3. Ancient Romans divided the world into two spheres – res publica (affairs of the public) and res divinae (affairs of the Gods.) In his many writings, Varro theorized that the mythic writings (theology) of poets were “res divinae.”
4. The office of rex sacrorum was established by the Roman Republic to carry out the former Roman king’s religious duties.