Monday, September 23, 2013

Hercules' Fourth Labor: The Erymanthian Boar

Labors of Hercules, Part 4

The Erymanthian Boar

Hercules had been given the (originally) ten labors as a penance for letting Hera drive him to wrath, in which he slew his six sons. So don’t let anyone tell you that penance is a “Catholic” thing. All of the labors center around a primordial world of monsters that will be rededicated to the sun-God Apollo, or to Zeus, from whom the power to cleanse & purify this region of the world comes.

Hercules originally received the wrath of Hera because he was the illegitimate son of Zeus and Alcmene. He is half-born, a godling, immortal by birth right, but not in actuality. Hera is one of the daughters of Chronos, but also a wife to Zeus. Hera represents an older form of matriarchal worship connected with earth rites and the underworld (like Demeter) that is incorporated into the male & solar spirit of the “new gods” of Greece. Her typical function is rage against Zeus’ consorts and love affairs.  We can view Hera as a suppressed kind of female power that tends to take vengeance on the half-god offspring of Zeus’ spirit mingling (like the wind) with mere mortals. Not only is he creating a race that is superior to those who worship Hera, the warrior and martial ethos threatens the earlier balance. As such, Hera is ambiguous. She is both a reminder that the Greeks “breathed their truth through lies” in the new myths (a fact Clement of Alexandria alludes to), and also a principle of retardation: there is no “going back” to the earlier stage.

We have to view this evolution from a solar perspective. On the one hand, the revolt of the warriors against the priests heralded a new Dark Age. On the other, man never rises except by suffering. As the ancients would say “he suffers into Truth”. Hera is fighting a lost cause. The forces of chaos have penetrated the ancient ordering of the castes, turning each against the others. Corruption begins with the priests, who compromise (out of fear) with the warrior caste, which is ascendent. The priests should suffer like Prometheus to bring them into a proper order. They lash out with curses and penances, after the betrayal of their compromise, which they should never have agreed to (we see the underground Occult engaged in such a struggle today). An analogous event occured in the West, in which the Frankish nobility went over to the Revolution through decadence and compromise, with the priests like Abbe Sieyes courting natural nobles such as Mirabeau, who of course caters to the third estate, who will later flirt with the masses. Garibaldi and his ilk (natural aristoi) become leaders of “Revolution”. As Cologero has written, we can see in these modern events Time greatly sped up, during the Kali Yuga, for our own edification, if we could but read aright. It is no accident that the natural dramatic flair of the French was interested in Classical themes!

Some men, like Hercules, will rise to the challenge, and prove themselves, redeeming the turbulence of the purely horizontal swirl of the world-snake Ourobous into a vertical ascent. Evolution always operates: the snake writhes and awaits the champion to bend it to a will. Even today, our genetic structures are engaged in such programming; they await men capable of rising, like eagles on a vertical lift of heated wind, up into the heavens. This ascension has to involve Christian “ideas” (not necessarily formally) as it is only through sacrifice of some sort that the necessary purity is invoked. Even in Hercules’ time, penance is necessary. That is why Hera is still important – the solar spirit embraces Fate, suffers into Truth, and guides it upward. The true man sees in the Modern World an immense potential opportunity, and begins the ascent, without for all that, endorsing the degeneracy he finds around him. Hera represents the Karma of past sins, in this case, “sins of the Father”.

Hera is “the adversary”: not an enemy per se, but someone (who for the strong man) is fulfilling a purpose & role. Without the consent of Hera, Hercules cannot be deified (as we shall she). It is her job to test the hero, and although she is insufficient to initiate solar truth, she has the power to test it.
The great boar is tracked through the snow, driven over the mountain ranges by Hercules, who descends upon it relentlessly, driving it before him. Chiron the centaur had advised him to track it in the snow. Hercules is now succeeding more easily in his labors, and the boar proves “easy” to track down. The hero is gaining more power.

What is interesting is the tale of the centaurs. While visiting Pholus during the hunt, Hercules desires wine, and convinces Pholus to open the one vessel he has, a gift from Dionysius. The centaurs do not know how to drink moderately, and end up becoming drunk and attacking Hercules, who drives them off with arrows. Chiron is hit, and the pain it causes this immortal makes him volunteer to replace Prometheus on the mountain, being tortured by the eagle. Hercules shoots the eagle, to deliver Chiron. This teaches us that Hercules is receiving the immortality which Chiron was unable to utilize properly. The drunken man-beast who tragically frees Prometheus is imbuing the rising hero with his powers.
Hercules has already conquered the passions, so he is worthy to drink of Dionysius’ wine, and can easily disperse the dangers arising thereby. His arrows, dipped in the Hydra’s blood, are more than equal to chastening the centaurs, who are wise up to a point, but unruly.

There is only so much immortality floating around at one point of time. Those who misuse this gift (their talents) will have it given to someone else more worthy. This should be an encouragement to everyone who is a spiritual seeker. When you see the powerful and ignorant, or the mighty and the evil, squandering their gifts, you should know that these will become available to you, if they continue to defy the deathless and immortal source of these divine blessings. “The meek inherit the earth”. This is taught explicitly in the Psalms, and endorsed in the Beatitudes and apostolic teaching. “Run the race, as if to win”. When someone releases their anger unjustly upon you, a right response will not only help them, it will put their lost energy at your disposal. Behind the “meekness” of the Christian tradition is hidden an ancient teaching concerning the accumulation of power. When Saint Peter crosses himself in the presence of the emperor Nero, causing Simon Magus to fall from the sky (Magus was demonstrating the power of his magic), the lost energy will go to Saint Peter. This happens with Cyprian the Mage & Justiana, as well (cited by Tomberg in Meditations).

Since we are discussing magic at Gornahoor, it would be helpful to meditate on how to make it as powerful as possible: counter-intuitively, it would seem that purity is that which renders it deeper and whiter magic. This purity takes different guises, but purity it is, nonetheless, & necessary to avoid the trap indicated by Dante, who places Simon Magus in hell. “To whom much is given, much is required.”
The tale ends humorously: the Greeks loved to depict the scene in which Hercules presents the boar to the tyrant, only to have him hide inside of a large vase. These endings are further vindication of Hercules’ divine authority and power, and an important “unmasking” of the powers-that-be: they are unequal to even receive the gift of Hercules, which they asked for.

The legend of Hercules remains a beautiful re-telling of what was good in the pre-Olympian world, a transmuting of it through the might of Hercules into something even higher and even better. Something similar occurred in the West, and one can discern the operations of Christianity on the classical ideals in much the same manner. In each case, the essence or import is preserved, but the eagle makes another turn in the gyre of the circle, and achieves greater altitude. Like the hero, it rises, on steady wings and a strong upward draft. For an instance of this, see Matthew Arnold’s essay on Maurice du Guerin’s tale of the centaurs.

Hercules represents the new warrior, the best of that breed, who dare to will a union of warrior-priest, in order to achieve immortality. One might say that a warrior is potentially an aspirant priest: if he succeeds, if he navigates the divine-demonic world successfully, he discharges his penance (against which and with which he fights), achieving the essence of immortality. Later on, in the West, this baptized chivalric ideal would be made more explicit in the body of the king. The loss of the primordial world, its descent into chaos, has to be redeemed, through the storming of heaven. If Christianity had not existed, it would have had to be invented. For those willing to undertake a similar labor, modern Christianity has its primordial monsters and jealous and offended goddesses which are willing to oblige you, in standing the test.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hercules, Part 3

The Labors of Hercules, Part 3

The Third Test, The Ceryneian Hind

For the third labor, Hercules was given a retrieval task instead of a slaying to accomplish. Since Hercules could not be overcome with guile & brute force, it was hoped that he could be made to trespass against a god, & have divine fury invoked upon him. Specifically, Eurystheus hoped that this labor would infuriate Artemis, who would presumably give him the terrible fate that Pentheus met with on the Holy Mountain.The hind, additionally, traveled faster than an arrow. How was it to be supposed that Hercules could conquer both the speed of flight & the jealousy of the female Huntress?
Since deer did not inhabit Greece, this myth carries an echo of Northern Lands. The white or golden stag is not merely a supernatural symbol, but a regal one. Hercules sees the deers antlers’ glinting very far off, & begins the chase, which lasts (some say) an entire year, possibly in the Hyperborean north. At last, either by a ruse or skill of the arrow (possibly shooting one between its legs to trip it, or by using a net) or by direct permission of Artemis herself (who sides with the rugged and manly hero), Hercules comes into possession of the golden deer, on the promise that he will return it to Artemis when he is done.
When he brings it to Eurystheus, who intends to keep the deer, Hercules wisely lets the deer go seconds before delivering it up – the deer slips away, & the mighty Herc shrugs it off: “You aren’t fast enough.” Hercules proves himself a man of honor in this task, as he does not slay or injure the deer, but returns it as promised to its rightful owner. Here we should note that, in esoteric action, as in any other portion of Life, there are laws that obtain. Although those who travel in the astral realm encounter far fewer laws than we do, there are strictures that (for all that) may be even more indurate than gravity. One of these, according to Gnosis (Mouravieff) is that a man cannot advance in practice unless he trains or leaves behind a replacement. Karma is another law that obtains; repentance can mitigate or erase it, but still, there is something that holds true & fast – in this case, another bears your sins. Or who did you think paid your trespass?
I say this to encourage readers to not set up a dichotomy in their mind between royal liberation and the lesser mysteries. Not until one is set free from Time & Space itself does one become “free of all Law”, not even if one is “awakened” fully into the etheric, astral, and spiritual realms. Besides, the dichotomy itself is deadening. If one is truly free, is one not silent? Hercules is careful to observe piety and honor; it is not forced, out of fear: he speaks and converses with Artemis almost as an equal, as a better, but someone he may speak before, and she grants him favor in her eyes. There is one equal to, and worthy of, capturing the devoted and precious hind. It is the pious warrior, who nevertheless speaks with “Frankness” before the very gods. St. Paul spoke of this when he said, “all things are lawful, not all things are useful”.
Hercules is wise enough to insult and belittle his enemy; after all, if one doesn’t add a little salt to the wound, who is going to arrange the rest of the tests? Such a jibe befits the warrior. It is the jibe of the Russian general Kutuzov to the French prisoners of Napoleon’s army, after he has magnanimously spoken of forgiveness. Rallying his own troops, he says to them: “But after all, who asked them to come here, anyway?”. It is Frederick the Great shouting out to his fleeing men, “Ihr wolt, ewige leben?!” It is Brennus before the conquered Romans, speaking very simply back to them something that would become their own watchword- Vae Victis. Forgiveness and detachment are the rocks on which the raging sea breaks, and falls, dashing those who ride it. There should be a kind of sacrosanct danger about sinning against a truly pious man; when defers his own judgement and wrath, the wicked should tremble. Archangel Michael, no doubt in a very great wroth and sorely tempted to pass his bounds, declared to Satan’s impudence, “May the Lord judge between us!”. The wrath of the righteous, the fury of the hero, the anger of the good man pushed too far, should resolve into that ritual and controlled resistance, a detached willingness to see it through bitterly, without bitterness, which heaps coals of fire upon the head of those who take the part of Satan. This is how the enigma of forgiveness & resistance is resolved – in the action of the hero, who must understand both. Could he not forgive, he could not formalize his actions and discipline them to undergo a trial, but would simply “rage out” and go for the throat of his persecutor. Could he not resist, he would forever remain under their feet. This tension drives the warrior, like a bow drives the arrow. To those who cannot see the union of this, they are either not warriors, or do not see that “the insanity of God is greater than the wisdom of man” (Plato).
Guided by the wisdom of a Solomon, forgiveness and power are inseparable. Are not detachment and passion reconciled by the warrior? When someone loses their temper and lashes out in anger and injustice against you, the ability to bear the stroke without retributive ire in the same manner is actually an esoteric technique for transferring the energy they are losing to yourself. This is the secret meaning of “heaping coals of fire” upon their head – a person who gives in to the “wrath of man” loses enormous reserves of spiritual energy : especially if some physical scapegoating occurs, those energies often go to the victim, rightfully. Received in the right frame of mind, they become available as a “lost talent”. This is why God invites the “poor” of the world to his banquet : the rich folk turned him down. Their loss, our gain. If Christianity is the religion of the Kali Yuga, do not therefore conceive that it is bound to share its inadequacies: it is made to triumph over the greatest enemy, the last enemy, to devour it inside out.
If it wasn’t the Kali Yuga, we wouldn’t be here, reading and talking to each other to determine the fate of the new world. Other, better men would be leading. “The better man” in the end is just the one who does more things that are difficult for him – if that is the test, it is a blessed time to be alive. He who plants a garden in the Kali Yuga, against all odds, stands above he who conquers worlds, with some odds in his favor.
“The last shall be first – greater are those who have not seen, yet believed.”
Hercules triumphs by his ruse, his skill, his polity, his innate dignity as a true man, before man, beast, or gods. He is not to be deterred or thwarted. Nor will he stoop, except to make a well-earned jibe to further incite his opponent to useful wrath.
He doesn’t show up off the street and demand to be Hercules. He IS Hercules, by virtue and dint of a long process, created in heaven, ratified in the mud of earth. He has conquered mental fog and the physical passions. He has risen above those things which men almost never even begin to subdue. He is already heads and shoulders above all men, and even though, as a god, he could use his liberty and peerage, he does not. “Not counting himself to be equal to God, he humbled himself…” Hercules prefigures the gracious and valiant and terrible true knight Jesus, who is far from the lamentable and tragic figure some neo-pagans think him to be. Hercules is the new Sun.

So, in this third test which seems not so deadly because it was so successful, Hercules wins the affection and protection of Artemis; he is effectively adopted. The gods themselves are beginning to take sides. Heaven is being moved by earth. Hercules has swayed an eternal-feminine power to his side, and a mighty one at that, Artemis-Diana of the Hunt. It is a wild and primeval power that is now declared for the hero, who has presumed nothing, but has simply stood as a man ought to stand.
As Hercules’ divinity grows more obvious, the divinities who favor him, and yet remain worshiped and honored by him, begin to light up. It is as if they are lights which come alive and shine upon the hero, cutting his contours out of the dark, healing and supporting him. He grows greater, as he makes the gods greater than he. Further, he grows greater than the gods.

In the eternal moment at the end of time, when Christ delivers the kingdom of God back to the hands of the Father, the eternal warrior announces the end of all things and annihilates the worlds with the breath of the Father. This is how the warrior becomes God: with the gesture of the true man, who yields fealty, forever indominant, to the rightful and original Lord. This makes Him the destroyer of worlds, for it is this act which is the deeper magic. Our world does not understand or accept this: that is why “the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God”.

If Evil cannot stand in the days of mercy, how shall it stand in the hour of judgement, which comes? What will Eurystheus do? He is running out of labors. Hercules is proving a difficult adversary. Satan himself may have to enter the lists, as there is a “man worth killing“.

[Berlin, Neues Museum Herkules besiegt die goldbekrönte Hirschkuh (Herkules fängt die Hirschkuh von Ceryneia) Maler: Adolf Schmidt]