The Leftovers is a show seeped in both religious symbolism and weirdness. What fresh philosophical quandaries can we expect this time around? Let's start with the title of The Leftovers Season 2 premiere, "Axis Mundi." What does that mean? You may have heard this term before, and it could have multiple meanings in the context of the show.
Not to sound like a dull valedictorian speech, but the dictionary definition of axis mundi is a "turning point of the world." You know, like any other axis of rotation. It's simple Geometry. I understand the importance of prepositions as much as anyone, but the Sudden Departure was definitely a turning point in the world.
However, in religious philosophy, this term has a greater significance. It is used to describe a symbolic center of the world in which there is a connection between Heaven and Earth. An axis mundi is not necessarily a place, but in the case of The Leftoversit may be. Different religions visual this idea in a variety of ways. It is a concept often expressed by plants, because they unite the elements from roots to ground and then the sky. That's why there are so many iterations of the Tree of Life in history. This concept is also found in architecture that points upwards. An axis mundi could be a mountain, a temple, a totem pole, a ladder, or even a Christmas tree. It is also strongly connected to spiritual healing.
This concept occurs in literature as well, the Garden of Eden being one of the first. Another example is how The Emerald City was Oz's center of four directional lands in Frank L. Baum's fictional universe. Even Jack's beanstalk is an example of an axis mundi! In many legends and fairy tales, people travel to such axes to bring back knowledge of the other world.
Presumably, on the HBO series The Leftovers, this is referring to the dream of Jarden, Texas, in which there were zero departures. Jarden, or "Miracle" as it has been renamed after the Sudden Departure, is the axis mundi of this series. Is this place going to give our heroes the answers they require? Not only is the promise of this town that it is a "miracle" and possibly heaven on Earth, but people are flocking to it from all of the world as if they were gravitating to a central point.
That said, the promotional imagery seen above suggests that the title of the episode may be another red herring. The Garvey family will travel there in Season 2, and they are looking for both peace and healing. However, Miracle may not be the axis mundi of The Leftovers after all.
Image: Ryan Green