An article on some of the spiritual symbolism used in the names throughout the Matrix film.
What's In A Name?
Matrix Names, Numbers, & Religious Ties
Property of Dew's Matrix Fan Page (http://thematrix.acmecity.com/neo/228)
Webmasters: If you wish to repost or use a portion of this article, you MUST have prior permission of the author who wrote it. In addition, the repost MUST have a link to Dew's Matrix Fan Page and the author's credit information/copyright MUST stay intact.
In Greek mythology, Morpheus is the God of dreams. In the movie, he is the leader of the rebel forces who fight to awaken humans from a dreamlike reality called The Matrix.
Morpheus's hovercraft is called the Nebuchadnezzar. (Nebo was the Babylonian God of Wisdom.) In the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar was a Babylonian king who searched for the meaning of his dreams while Morpheus seeks out an Oracle to interpret reality--which is really a dream.
In the movie, Morpheus has the codes to Zion's mainframe computer. (Zion being the last human city that exists after the destruction of the earth.) In the Bible's book of Revelation, Zion is the kingdom of God where the righteous will be saved after the destruction of the earth.
Interesting enough, the word "morphing" refers to the "smooth transformation of one image into another by computer as in a motion picture."
Another word that starts with "morph" is "morphine." It is a drug that is used chiefly in medicine as a pain reliever and as a sedative (to induce sleep.)
Trinity stands for the number three. Pythoagoras referred to 3 as the perfect number. The number three is found on many pillars throughout the subway scence.
The word "trinity" is used to represent the union of three people; the connection of the body, mind and spirit; birth, life and death; or past, present and future.
In Christian theology, "trinity" refers to the trifold personality of one Divine Being, the union of the Father, the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit.
The movie there is Morpheus--"the Father," Neo--"the Son," and Trinity--"the Holy Spirit." As Carrie-Ann Moss explained in Xpose Magazine, "Even her name is intriguing--Trinity. I always thought it represented the combination of me and Laurence and Keanu."
Tank (to Morpheus): "You're more than a leader to us. You're a father."
Neo [to Triniy]: "That was you on my computer." (Even though Neo was sound asleep he immediately woke up as Trinity began to type a message for him on his computer.)
Trinity [to the dead body of Neo, who has died in the Matrix]: "You hear me? I love you... Now get up." Later on, while Neo is in the Matrix he hears Trinity (who is in the real world next to his physical body) scream his name as well.
In the beginning of the movie, Trinity is in hotel room number 303 and the song titled "Main Title/Trinity Infinity" is playing in the background. (At the end of the movie, Neo ends up in that same room. Also, Neo travels through apartment 30 while trying to outrun the agents.) Interesting, the number zero "0" or a circle represents infinity. Therefore, the number 303 could logically stand for "Trinity Infinity." Trinity can also, according to the book, "The Secret Language of Dreams," "signify the female principle, entry into the mysteries, or a sense of completion."
Since Neo means "One", Trinity means "Three", one could say that the character Morpheus must stand for "two." In the book mentioned above, it says that the number two "is the number of duality, divine symmetry, and balance. It represents the coming together of the male and female..." This is very accurate statement of Morpheus, since it is he who brings Neo (the man) and Trinity (the woman) together. He is also the character that bridges the gap between two other opposites--the real world and the matrix.
An anagram of Neo is One.
According to the Wachowski brothers, "Neo is Thomas Anderson's potential self."
The name Thomas is Hebrew and means "twin." As Agent Smith tells Neo, "You have been living two lives." As Thomas, he unknowingly lives inside the matrix and works for a software compnay. As Neo, he is a computer hacker who wakes up in the real world.
Neo is referred to as "the One". In "The Secret Language of Dreams," it states that the number 1 represents "the prime mover from which all manifest creation flows, the single principle from which diversity is born. In dreams it may represent the source of all life, the ground of being..."
In Christian theology, Jesus Christ is the Messiah (Son of God, Son of Man, "Light of The World") who saves mankind from its sins. In the Bible, Jesus dies on the cross, but later is resurrected and ascends up to heaven. Christ translates from Hebrew into "Anointed One."
The movie, Neo dies [is shot to death] but later comes back to life. At the end of the movie, a ressurected Neo flies up into the sky.
Neo's full name in the matrix is Thomas A. Anderson. The last name means "Son of Man" or "Man's Son. (both refer also to the Biblical Messiah.)
One of Jesus's Disciples, Thomas, (nicknamed "Doubting Thomas") did not believe the Jesus had died and been resurrected until he saw the holes His hands. In "The Matrix," Thomas/Neo was shot by the agent, yet he didn't realize it until he looked down, touched the bullet hole in his chest and saw the blood. Afterwards, he was shot several more times and died, only to come back to life again--this time as "The One."
After being resurrected, Neo ("The One") jumps into the body of Agent Smith and explodes through it as a being of brillant white light. In the Bible, Jesus says, "I am the light of the world." (John 8:12)
In the Subway scene, we see a faded billboard advertisement for Sol beer. The word "sol" refers to the Roman God of the sun. (This is why we refer to the sun's energy as being "solar." In the movie, the sun has been blocked out so it is the humans who are the machine's form of solar power.) Also note that words "sun" and "son" sound the same, yet another reference to the Jesus's "the light of the world" personification.
The Nebuchadnezzar's plate which states when it was built also has the words "Mark III No. 11" inscribed on it. Mark 3:11 of The King James Bible reads: "And unclean spirits when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried saying, Thou art the Son of God."
Agent Smith reveals to Morpheus that there was another matrix that preceded the one currently in place. In the first matrix, human life was perfect but it was ultimately rejected by man, bringing to mind the biblical record of Genesis and the Garden of Eden.
In Buddhist theology, a man named Siddhartha attained enlightenment (freedom from suffering) and became known as the Buddha, which means "the Enlightened One."
In Hinduism, the word maya refers to the belief or philosophy that "the visible world is an illusion that clouds the reality of absolute oneness." This belief is a crucial step in attaining enlightenment.
In Hinduism and Buddhism, samara (reincarnation) refers to the continuous circle of life, death, and rebirth. The word rebirth can also simply refer to a "renewed existence, activity or growth." In the dictionary, "Neo" is listed a combining form meaning "new," "recent," "revived," and "modified." Of course, in the movie, Neo dies and comes back (is reborn) with the ability to change the Matrix.
The Oracle: "You got the gift, but it looks like you're waiting for something [...] your next life maybe, who knows? That's the way these things go."
The song "Dragula" by Rob Zombie is featured in the movie (it is during the club scene). The first line of the song is: "Dead, I am the one."
There are many references to Neo being the "One" in "The Matrix" They include:
As Morpheus explains, "When the matrix was first built, there was a man who was born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the matrix as he saw fit.... After he died, the oracle prophesized his return and that his coming would hail the destruction of the matrix and the war, bring freedom to our people....I did what I did because I believe that search is over [because he thinks Neo is that man--the One he has been searching for.]"
Choi [To Neo]: "Hallelujah. You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ."
Cypher: "Did he tell you why he did it, why you're here? Jesus. What a mind job. So you're here to save the world."
Cypher: "I mean if Neo's the One, then there'd have to be some kind of a miracle to stop me. Right? I mean, how can he be the one if he's dead?" (Of course, there turns out to be a miracle--Tank kills Cypher before he can unplug Neo and him. The irony of Cypher's second statement is that it is not until Neo "dies" from the agent's bullets and comes back to life afterwards that it is revealed that Neo is the "One.")
Tank [after seeing Neo save Morpheus's life as well as Trinity's]: "I knew it. He's the One."
Morpheus [when Neo comes back to life after being shot to death]: "He is the One."
Trinity [to a dead Neo]: "The Oracle told me that I would fall in love, and that man, the man who I loved would be the One. So you see, you can't be dead. You can't be because I love you."
In the movie, Neo's apartment number is "101." "101" is the universal language code for computers and also represents the fact that Neo is the One (1) for infinity (0).
The word "oracle" refers to an "agency by which the inquiry is answered, as a priest or priestess" and "a person who delivers authoritative and usually influential pronouncements." These pronouncements are often ambigiuous in nature and the person is regarded as unquestionably wise or infallible. An oracle can also be "a shire at which inquires are made of a particulary deity through a means of a divination."
Another Christian reference: the Delpic Oracle foretold the coming of the Messiah.
Trinity: "Everything the Oracle has told me has come true. Everything but this."
Morpheus: "After he died, The Oracle prophesied, his return..."
Morpheus: "She told me that I would find the One."
Morpheus: "She would say that she knows enough."
The Oracle: "One of you is going to die. Which one will be up to you."
At the ancient Greek site, the Oracle at Delphi, the latin phrase "Know Thyself" was inscribed in marble. They were the same words spoken by Philosopher Thales and repeated by Socrates.
In "The Matrix," the Oracle points to a wooden plaque in her kitchen. "You know what that means?" She asks Neo. "It's latin. Means "Know Thyself."
The Oracle: "I'll going to let you in on a little secret. Being the One is like being love. No one can tell you you're in love, you just know it. Through and through. Balls to bones."
The book "The Compact Guide to World Religions" states that "Mahayana Buddhists teach that the bodhisattvas [buddhists who have obtained enlightenment but don't enter nivana so that they can come back and guide others] can help people along the PATH to enlightenment and can even transfer their own extra karmic merit to such seekers."
Morpheus: "She is a guide, Neo. She can help you to find the path."
Morpheus: "She told you exactly what you needed to hear, that's all. Neo, sooner or later you're goig to realize, just as I did, there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path."
Cypher is another form of the word, "Cipher." In the dictionary, "Cipher" has several meanings.
An arithmetical system meaning "0" or zero.
Having no quantity or magnitude.
Refers to something of no value or importance. (Cypher feels like he is a nobody and is tired of taking orders from Morpheus. As Joe Pantoliano said in the July 1999 issue of Starlog, "Part of [Cyppher's] problem in The Matrix is that I feel like a zero. I feel unimportant.")
A person of no influence.
A secret method of writing as a specially formed code of symbols. (This perfectly describes the code of the matrix.)
The character of Cypher is very similar to the Bible's Judas as well as the Devil. As Joe Pantoliano (in character) goes on to explain in Starlog, "My option is either to do everything Morpheus tells me to do and live in a subhuman environment--an existence eating the same goop every night--or making a deal with the Devil--and later not even having any recollection of my betrayal of my friends--and surviving. Because I think, deep down that Neo is not the One. That he's gonna get killed. And Morpheus is gonna get us all killed. I'm Judas. That's who I am. I'm going for that bag of silver."
Below are some more Judas/Devil parallels:
Judas was one of Jesus's displiples just like Cypher was one of Morpheus's followers. In the movie, Cypher agrees to betray his his leader, Morpheus, over a steak dinner, while Judas betrayed Jesus in exchange for 30 pieces of silver.
Both Judas and Cypher's fates as traitors are sealed over a meal (Judas--the Last Supper and Cypher--his meal with Agent Smith)
Judas shares a drink with Jesus at the Last Supper; Cypher and Neo share a drink at the computer monitor station.
Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and Cypher betrayed Morpheus with a sneeze.
In both cases, the betrayal involved revealing to the enemy the man's precise location so he could be captured.
Trinity (to Cypher): "You gave them Morpheus."
Cypher wears red clothing and has a goatee (both are symbolic of the devil).
Cypher tells Trinity not to hate him because he is "just a messenger." In the Bible, Satan refers to himself as "the messenger."
During Cypher's meal with Agent Smith we learn that is Reagan is his last name because Agent Smith constantly refers to him as "Mr. Reagan." In several ways, Cypher is symbolic of another Reagan--our former president, Ronald Reagan.
Cypher tells Agent Smith that once he is reinserted into the matrix "I don't wanna remember nothing." During the Iran-Contra scandal, Ronald Reagan was ridiculed for saying "I don't remember" or "I can't recall" to many questions. Years after his term ended, it was also revealed that Ronald Reagan suffers from Alzheimer's Disease, which causes memory loss.
In addtion to his memory loss, Cypher tells Agent Smith that "I wanna be rich, you know, someone important. Like an actor" after his reinsertion. Before he became our president, Ronald Reagan was a famous actor.
As noted above, Cypher has many symbolic traits associated to Satan. Ronald Wilson Reagan was also called Satan by some who disliked him because there are 6 letters in each of his 3 names which total 666 (666 is the number of the devil). Unfortunately, we don't know if Cypher has a middle name, however, his first and last names do have 6 letters each.
Cypher expressed a desire to live a life of great material wealth and social importance. The era that Ronald Reagan presided in (the 80's) is greatly remembered for greed, deceit, and excesses. In fact, many have referred to the Reagan Presidency years as a time in which "the rich got richer and the poorer got poorer."
According to my dictionary, here are some meanings:
To connect, disconnect (Switch dies when Cypher disconnects her mind from the Matrix)
A device for turning on and off or directing an electric current.
Turning, shifting, changing.
To turn, shift, direct.
To redirect; change direction or course. (This almost sounds like the Oracle's statement regarding the vase. Does she really predict the future, or rather, does her statements redirect/change the behavior of others so that the outcome is was she prophesized?)
At whatis.com, it mentions that in telecommumunications a "switch" refers to "a network device that selects a path or circuit for sending a unit of data to its next destination."
In the dictionary, it shows that "Apoc" is a combing form of the word "Apocalypse."
Apocalypse refers to any revelation or prophetic revelation in which the forces of good triumph over the forces of evil. In the movie, the Oracle prophesized the return of the One and the destruction of the Matrix.
The word "Apocalypse" also refers to any universal or widespread destruction or disaster (which is what happened during the war between the machines and the human race).
In the dictionary, there are many meanings for "Tank." Here are some of the more revelant ones:
A prison cell for more than one occupant, esp. for groups of new prisoners. (A perfect explanation for those trapped in the pods of the Matrix! See below.)
An armored combat vehicle. This leads to another Christian reference: Tank's brother is Dozer (both are followers of Morpheus). In the Bible, James and John (both brothers) were Apostles of Christ. They were referred to as "sons of thunder." A TANK and a BULLDOZER are powerful, mechanical machines that make a lot of noise.
In the dictionary, I looked up "doze" and "bulldozer." The word "doze" refers to a light sleep (once again, here's another reference to sleeping and dreams) and "bulldozer" is not only a poweful tractor but also refers to a person who intimidates.
In the dictionary, there were several meanings. Here are some of the more intersting ones:
A quiet timid person.
A device used with a computer that cntrols the pointer on the computer screen.
Mouselike-"To prowl around, as if in search of something." (Seems like everyone in this movie is in search of something!)
The word "agent" in this movie refers to the machine police of the matrix simulated world and are the human race's enemy.
Agents are, the words of Morpheus, "Sentient programs. They can move in and out of any software still hard wired to their system. That means that anyone we haven't unplugged is potentially an agent. Inside the matrix, they are everyone and no one."
The dictionary has several meaning for the word "agent." They include:
"A person or thing that acts or has the power to act."
"A drug or chemical capable of eliciting a biological response." By definition, the agents injected Morpheus with an agent in order to break Morpheus own so he would tell them the codes to Zion.
An organism that is a cause of vector of disease.
"A person who acts in an official capacity for a government agency."
In cyberspace, an agent is "a program that gathers information or performs some other services without your immediate presence." In addition, an agent program can search all or part of the internet and gather information for you based on parameters you set.
In the movie, the agents are always on the look out for the human rebel forces and they use their ear pieces to communicate with one another.
Agent Smith: "We'll need a seach running." Agent Jones: "It has already begun."
The word "matrix" refers to:
A neural-interactive computer simulation created by a race of machines. These machines spawned from a singular consciouness (artifical intelligence).
The actual place where the enslaved humans live, each in their own pod or "womb."
The computer code that creates the matrix environment.
So why did the Wachowski brothers decide to use the word "matrix?" Well, it was due to the fact that the word "matrix" has so many appropriate meanings and definitions. Here are some of them:
"Something that constitutes the place or point from which something else originates."
"A rectangular array of numbers, algebraic symbols, or mathematical functions, especially when such arays are added and multiplied according to certain rules."
"A similar rectangular array consisting of rows and columns of numbers, symbols, etc., used in displaying statistical variable, linguistic features, or other data."
"Active matrix is a technology used in the flat and liquid crystal displays of notebooks and laptop computers."
In cyberspace, the internet and other networks that flow into it are sometimes called "the matrix."
In William Gibson's science-fiction novel, "Neuromancer," the "matrix" refers to a large world of computing resources that can be visualized holographically by the user. The hero in the book connects to the matrix through wiring that is intergrated with his brain.
The word "matrix" is from the latin word for womb. It, in turn, is from the word mater or mother. See my "Symbols and Objects" page for more definitions and the symbolism surrounding the matrix pods.