The Key and the Eye: Hidden Meanings in the Faction Symbols

[This is a slightly off-topic post on Ingress game design and lore, rather than Ingress gear.]

The more I research Ingress, the more impressed I’ve become about the research and thought that has gone into the game design. Many of the nuances of the game are completely missed by the vast majority of players, but are brilliantly and creatively conceived by the game’s developers, Niantic Labs at Google.

An example of this is the faction symbols. In Ingress “lore”, the Resistance are fighting for humanity against the “ingression” of the aliens known as “Shapers”, whose technology is able to control or influence human minds. The Resistance are represented by the colour blue, and the symbol of a key. The other faction, the Enlightened, support the Shapers, apparently under the belief that their influence will advance mankind. They are represented by an eye symbol, and the colour green.

Artworks by Scott Manley

Most players don’t pay a moment’s notice to all of the symbolism going on here. The Enlightened “eye” is a stylised version of the Eye of Horus, a recurring symbol since ancient Egypt.  In Egyptian mythology, the god Osiris was murdered and his body torn to pieces.  Horus retrieved the pieces of Osiris to heal and restore Osiris, and thus the Eye of Horus has been associated with healing, restoration, and protection for thousands of years.

This storyline is reflected almost perfectly in the recent “#13Magnus” event in Ingress.  In this so-called “anomaly” in the game, Roland Jarvis, leader of the Enlightened faction, was exposed to high levels of XM radiation, and subsequently killed by NIA operatives.  However, he survived as an XM entity visible in the portal at Cupid’s Span, and the shards of his being, or “Jarvis Shards” were later reassembled from all over the world, bringing him back to life on “Reckoning Day,” the 14th of December, 2014.

The Eye of Horus was also known in ancient times as “Wadjet”. According to Wikipedia:

The name Wadjet is derived from “wadj” meaning “green”, hence “the green one”, and was known to the Greeks and Romans as “uraeus” from the Egyptian “iaret” meaning “risen one”

The green colour representing the Enlightened is thus reflected in the ancient etymology of the name of their symbol, and is also, coincidentally, perhaps the most appropriate colour for representing the “aliens,” who are sometimes referred to as “little green men” in more contemporary culture.

The Eye of Horus is sometimes also referred to as the “Eye of Providence” or the “All-Seeing Eye”, and contemporary conspiracy theorists link this symbol with organisations such as a New World Order and the Freemasons, and the founders of the United States of America (the All-Seeing Eye appears, otherwise rather inexplicably, on the US $1 bill).  Given that the Enlightened represent the rise of a new alien power, the symbolic connection here is rather strong.

What about the Resistance, represented by a blue key?  Amongst the concepts symbolised by the key is a metaphor for “Man’s Greatness”.  However, the matching ancient symbolism for the key is the Egyptian Ankh, representing “Eternal Life” – which is reflected in the Christian symbolism of St Peter’s keys representing the “keys to eternal life”.

Will we see this connection with the symbolism of the Resistance emblem emerging more strongly in the future?  Does ADA, the Turing-test-capable artificial intelligence, represent an immortal being, allied with the Resistance?

The lore of the game is still unfolding, and perhaps some of these connections with the ancient symbolism of both factions will continue to also unravel…

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