The Black Lodge and White Lodge are extra-dimensional, connected places, the Black Lodge being a place of darkness and evil, while the White Lodge is a place of goodness. The lodges seem to be connected by the "Red Room" as seen by Agent Cooper in a dream, where he sees himself 25 years older sitting in a chair. The Native American policeman Deputy Hawk says that the Lodges are from the mythology of his people.
One entrance to the Black Lodge seems to be located in Ghostwood National Forest surrounding the town of Twin Peaks, at a pool of a substance that smells like scorched engine oil. The Log Lady, in a rare coherent non-metaphoric statement made at the sheriff's station in the final episode, presented Dale with a jar of the same substance, claiming that her late husband (a logger who died in a fire) brought it with him one day from work and said it was used to create a portal between two worlds. This implied that it was a means of access to the Black Lodge; however, there was no apparent use or need for the substance, since Dale found the portal and entered it, following Annie Blackburn, who had been abducted by Windom Earle.
The ring is surrounded by twelve young sycamore trees. This area is known as Glastonbury Grove. The distance a person is from the circle physically will determine its effect on that person: the effect usually corrupts the person's soul, making those easily corruptible become malicious and twisted. It appears that those who are submitting to the corrupting influence of the Black Lodge can at times briefly, and involuntarily, exhibit this influence to others through a bizarre appearance of a a corpse-grey skin tone combined with rotted teeth. Leo Johnson witnesses this appearance when he sees Windom Earle arrive with a bag filled with spiders that he intends to torture Leo with, in which Windom's face has this appearance. In the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Harold Smith witnesses this appearance with Laura Palmer when she begins to behave aggressively towards him, saying the words "fire walk with me".
It is also, evidently, the source of every oddity and unnatural feature of some people in Twin Peaks (prophets, having super strength, etc.) and modifies social behavior, causing negative emotions and discord. Most people are unaware of this effect.
The secret society of the Bookhouse Boys could only define this effect as the "evil that lurks in those woods" and pledge to aid each other against the undefined evil, until the murder of Teresa Banks and the investigation of the Laura Palmer murder led by Cooper and its many consequences and implications.It is said that the key to gain entrance to the Black Lodge is fear (usually an act of brutal murder). This is in contrast to the key to the White Lodge, which is love. Another requirement to enter the Black Lodge through the entrance in Glastonbury Grove is that it may only be entered "when Jupiter and Saturn meet." When the above requirements are met and one approaches the pool in Glastonbury Grove, red curtains seem to materialize out of nowhere which lead into the Lodge.
It is probable, that there are portals in other locations around the world. This scene precedes Phillip Jeffries' surprise appearance in the Philadelphia FBI offices: the scene is in the lobby of a hotel in Buenos Aires where Jeffries is staying. He boards the elevator and instead of getting off on the floor where his room is, he ends up in Philadelphia. Jeffries has been missing, according to FBI records, for two years. The experiences he relates to Albert Rosenfield, Cooper, and Gordon Cole can be said to have taken place in Buenos Aires, because the hotel was the last place he was seen. Major Briggs and the Log Lady's experiences also show that one can be "abducted" without being at the Lodge entrance. Major Briggs claims he was at the White Lodge, and there is no clear evidence of him affected by the Black Lodge, aside from just being near it. The Log Lady was in the woods when she disappeared and the Major and Cooper were camping in the woods at the time of his disappearance. These events tie all three disappearances to the Lodge.
It remains unclear whether the White and Black Lodges are disparate realms. One could interpret the White Lodge and Black Lodge as one and the same place — a possibility hinted at by the mirrored black and white tiling throughout the lodge. The notion that the two Lodges are "one and the same" is consistent with the themes of duality which characterize the Lodge, reflecting the concept of Yin and Yang.
A common conception of the Black Lodge is that it is a realm of complete evil which has usurped, absorbed, or occupied its White counterpart with the possibility that the White Lodge has become the red waiting room of the Black Lodge (still enabling benevolent spirits and angels to manifest themselves there), or that the waiting room is a neutral location, and the action of the inhabitants therein determine procession to either the Black or White Lodge. During the second season, Windom Earle relates a past-tense story about the White Lodge which is replete with Edenic imagery, suggesting that the White Lodge belonged to a time now lost or forgotten.
- "Once upon a time, there was a place of great goodness, called the White Lodge. Gentle fawns gamboled there amidst happy, laughing spirits. The sounds of innocence and joy filled the air. And when it rained, it rained sweet nectar that infused one's heart with a desire to live life in truth and beauty. Generally speaking, a ghastly place, reeking of virtue's sour smell. Engorged with the whispered prayers of kneeling mothers, mewling newborns, and fools, young and old, compelled to do good without reason ... But, I am happy to point out that our story does not end in this wretched place of saccharine excess. For there's another place, its opposite:"
Earle then describes the Black Lodge in the present tense, perhaps indicating that it has replaced the White Lodge:
- "A place of almost unimaginable power, chock full of dark forces and vicious secrets. No prayers dare enter this frightful maw. The spirits there care not for good deeds or priestly invocations; they're as like to rip the flesh from your bone as greet you with a happy "good day." And if harnessed, these spirits in this hidden land of unmuffled screams and broken hearts would offer up a power so vast that its bearer might reorder the Earth itself to his liking."
Deputy Hawk describes the Black Lodge as:
- "The shadow-self of the White Lodge. The legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it 'The Dweller on the Threshold' ... But it is said, if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul."
The Lodge's dynamics are difficult to describe. Time seems to have no meaning in this dimension (runs normal, slower or stands still as a coffee cup held by Agent Cooper demonstrates), and space is fractured between similar rooms linked by similar narrow corridors of red drapes.
Inhabitants of the Lodge speak in a warped dialect of English and often speak in riddles and non-sequiturs. This may be seen as parallel to some versions of shamanism, where the inhabitants of the otherworld may sometimes speak backwards. It may also be seen as an attempt to represent a lack of language, as would be the case of a purely spiritual universal exchange — which is ultimately decoded by the receiver in a mostly familiar manner (in this case the english of the show's intended audience). This is supported by having the hard subtitles, which make a point that the language being heard is not english per se, thus justifying translation.
The presence of doppelgängers, or "evil" aspects of a person's personality, is possibly the most unsettling feature of the lodge. Doppelgängers are identical to their real world counterparts, with the exception of glassy-colored eyes. The full function and position of the doppelgängers in the Black Lodge is unknown, though there is a hierarchy implied for inhabitants of the Black Lodge: "inhabiting spirits," the strongest being BOB, and doppelgängers who are represented by The Man from Another Place.
In the movie, the Man from Another Place and BOB haggle for Garmonbozia. MIKE also claims his Garmonbozia through the Man from Another Place in the final scene of the movie, and is granted by BOB. Garmonbozia is a form of currency in the Black Lodge (Pain and Sorrow) and is manifested usually as creamed corn.
- There are stories and clues that suggest the White Lodge exists or at least existed and one Major Briggs who claims to have been there, but doesn't remember more of it than seeing "a huge owl". There is no evidence, however, of that place. This implies that in the Lynch-world there is a great myth of heaven, but heaven is either an old belief or a place of once great goodness swallowed by hell, and the only place that really exists and has influence over people is hell.
- All "suspected" inhabitants of the White Lodge appear eventually in the Black Lodge. Even The Giant appears beside the Man from Another Place inside the Black Lodge. All of the clues and so called "help" offered by the Giant, Mrs. Tremond/Chalfont and Pierre Tremond/Chalfont, etc. which help solve the murders only bring the main characters closer to discovering, and finally entering, the Black Lodge.
- An oft-recited poem from the series reads:
- Through the darkness of future past
- The magician longs to see.
- One chants out between two worlds
- Fire walk with me.
- In the final episode of Twin Peaks, Cooper meets the Man from Another Place, who refers to the Red Room as the "waiting room", possibly a link between the two Lodges. Only when the Man says "Fire walk with me" does the realm erupt into flames, and then descend into flickering blackness. This is arguably the moment at which Cooper has finally entered the Black Lodge.
- The red curtains, zig zag floors and bright spot lights of the White and Black Lodges have also appeared in several of David Lynch's other films, suggesting that Lynch may view their influences as ongoing in his narrative worlds.
Twin Peaks's score conductor Angelo Badalamenti later helped write a song of the same name on the 1993 Sound of White Noise album by Anthrax.