‘Archive 81’ on Netflix takes audiences on a dark and surreal journey. The story opens with archivist Dan Turner restoring a collection of tapes from a burnt-down building and eventually expands to encompass ancient cults, blood magic, and a shadowy half-god called Kaelego. From much before the protagonists, Dan Turner and Melody Pendras (who shot the tapes in question), get embroiled in the supernatural mire, an ancient struggle between the Baldung and followers of Kaelego endures.
The narrative weaves in a significant amount of ancient lore and mythology into the plot, so we got curious to see just how much of it is inspired by real-world groups and deities. Are you curious to know whether the Baldung from ‘Archive 81’ are real? Or if Kaelego is an actual deity with real-life followers? We dug around, and here’s what we found. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Are the Baldung Real?
The Baldung are first introduced on the show through an ancient text that Melody finds in the late Father Russo’s office. It reveals that the Baldung are an ancient coven of witches. The breathless filmmaker also learns that her mother’s ring carries a Baldung sigil, giving rise to speculation as to whether Melody herself is a Baldung witch.
The Baldung’s long-running rivalry with Kaelego’s followers is briefly explored on the show. It is revealed that members of the secret Baldung coven gave up their powers to ensure that Kaelego never crosses over from his world to ours. However, every seventy years, the followers of Kaelego try and open the door to their “god’s” world so that he may enter ours and form a new reality.
The Baldung are, as it turns out, fictional. The secret coven of witches, as shown in ‘Archive 81,’ likely takes inspiration from actual groups that existed in the past but is in itself not a real coven. The group’s name could be derived from German Renaissance artist Hans Baldung Grien, who was one of the first artists to heavily incorporate witches and witchcraft into his art.
Is Kaelego an Actual Deity?
Kaelego is described as an entity that rules over an alternate dimension where the laws of time and reality are different from ours. His followers, generally organized as a cult (or a secret collective like the Vos Society), attempt to use blood magic in order to open the doorway to Kaelego’s world. However, attempts have so far remained unsuccessful and ended in tragedy, like the burning down of the Vos mansion and Visser building.
Kaelego is also seen in the ancient texts that Melody finds in Father Russo’s study. However, as is the case with the Baldung, Kaelego is also made up for the purpose of entertainment. There are no records of a real deity named Kaelego, and it is unlikely that followers or cults of the supernatural entity seen in ‘Archive 81’ exist.