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The first Canto reports an erring vagrancy of the seeker looking for exotic forms of spirituality and fascinated by spiritual powers
It must be recalled that according to the seekers a wide variety of experiences can occur; this myth should then above all not be considered as a set description of the journey. It also appears that women’s path might be quite different from men’s.
Further, like in all great epics of mythology, the adventures of the hero within each major period should be considered as a list of confrontations, trials, and necessary progressions the chronology of which depends on the individual seeker.
Need or aspiration
The first phase of the journey is devoted to the search for the master or for one’s own path. There will be several trials and errors and many impasses but when the disciple is ready the master will reveal himself. This is an occult law for which there are no exceptions. In the preparation of the quest appears of course the gathering of the Argonauts which we have just seen. And nothing can begin if “the need that pushes men to sail across the sea” is not present or if “aspiration” has not been born.
That is why the first port of call is on the land of Magnesia or “magnet”, a symbol of the aspiration that must go hand in hand with a certain amount of good will.
The “need” to grow and evolve is present in all men from the time of birth but it constantly comes against forces the task of which is to stabilise and maintain what exists, and they use fear, desire, and ignorance to achieve their purpose. Therefore man forgets himself in the midst of appearances and of satisfying the desires of the ego which are only derivatives of that need.
What is this “aspiration” and how is it manifested? It is a “need”, a lack, a dissatisfaction which is a need for something else, for another manner of human functioning. And the need will grow like a fire. At the beginning this lack often drives the seeker toward revolt or rejection of society or to various actions which never quench his thirst.
Here it is important to recall the myth of Prometheus, “one who gives priority to his aspiration for inner development”. Despite his warnings to his brother Epimetheus, “one who does not go beyond the surface of things”, he could not prevent him from falling for the charms of the beautiful Pandora who personified the obsession with “appearance”, an obsession present in the man who believes that he acts according to his own abilities, his own laws and not the laws of the Absolute. But this is how it had to be because Pandora was a gift of the gods: man must exhaust all illusions before being able to aspire for the Absolute. In other words nothing can be left behind in evolution. It is with this double nature that the seeker must go forward because the evolutionary lineage in the ascension of the planes of consciousness is a result of the marriage of Prometheus’ son Deucalion, “he who calls for union” and the daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, Pyrrha, “a red bird” or the mind-fire that burns for knowledge.
The one who sets out on this journey is therefore the one who clings to this “need” of knowledge and union.
At a later stage on the journey this need is also the engine that drives the Trojan War through the descendants of Tantalus who opened the way for the lineage of the Atrides.
Once his companions had assembled Jason gave orders for setting sail after offering a sacrifice to Apollo, “God of Embarkation”.
On that day all the gods looked down from the heights upon the ship and these demi-gods born of their race.
What the seeker aspires for is the light of Truth perceived by his deepest being, usually called soul, and which we address here as the “psychic being”. This is why Jason offered a sacrifice to Apollo, god of psychic light. All the other spiritual forces certainly gave their consent since the gods attended the departure.
Athena, the “inner master”, had already contributed greatly having given instructions for the construction of the ship and adding to it the “speaking beam”.
The ship, the solid and well-built vessel Argo, named after its constructor Argus, represents the personality of the seeker built on solid bases with all which is necessary to start the spiritual journey (the necessary equipment for a “complete and well organised vessel“). It reflects the required maturity of the personality and mental clarity.
Argo as we have seen is the symbol of the seeker who turns his attention to his inner world instead of constantly being in a state of reaction. It is also the symbol of energies coming together for action. The name Argo signifies “bright” and with the letter structure “an (inward) turning of the impulse”.
Concord prevailing Orpheus beat time, Ancaeus stood in the middle of the ship, Tiphys at the steering and Jason directed the navigation.
Achilles at that time was still a very young child.
While the fertile land of the Pelasgians faded into the distant mist, they sailed along the cliffs of the Pelion and cape Sepias faded into the horizon.
Then they arrived at the coast of the land of Magnesia and the tomb of Dolops. They came ashore against the wind and offered a sacrifice in honour of the deceased. This coast is still called “The Departure of the Argo”.
When the seeker sets out he leaves the world of those “who advance in obscurity of the vital consciousness”, who are controlled by their desires and the movements of a personality that is totally dependent on external influences, the Pelasgians.
The name Pelasgians means “human consciousness immersed in the vital” and in mythology they are the first people to settle in Greece. They came from the sea and are therefore symbolic of the beginning of the domination of the mind over the vital.
The seeker aspires for more freedom and greater knowledge without being clearly aware of what it really involves and aspires to meet those who could give it to him or lead him to it. He already has a confused perception of the “rhythm” which underlies everything, that is to say the feeling that what he does is or is not at the right time, in sync or out of sync with his inner being at least in regards to the broad aspects of his life.
For Orpheus is the one who creates harmony by following the right rhythm. Many more symbolic years must pass before this perception is refined to the extent of becoming a part of the movements of daily life.
At the centre of this initial momentum is the will to “embrace” things (Ancaeus, “he who embraces”, is in the middle of the ship) or in other words the will to escape a “lack of commitment”, the half-heartedly behavior which is a manifestation of the forces of inertia which more often dominate our lives.
The other movements were examined above with the heroes who accompanied Jason: a beginning of self-knowledge, a tendency to direct oneself toward what is true or luminous, deep sincerity, some intuitive capacities, an attentive awareness of signs, good endurance, and a consequent development of the mind.
Dominating the whole is both an intuitive ability for higher truths and the will to clarify the relation between what is ‘me’ and what is ‘not me’ (Jason leads/directs the navigating)
Even though the one who sets out has a good knowledge of his emotional reactions and the capacity to go toward the light rather than the darkness, the one who holds the helm indicates that the purification of Nature has not yet begun (Tiphys, “the marshy” is the helmsman).
When the initial aspiration which leads to the quest (Magnesia, “the magnet”) is manifested the future seeker thanks life for allowing him to understand that he had previously committed himself to a false vision of a saviour or of one who wants to do good to humanity before having transformed himself (Jason offers a sacrifice at the tomb of Dolops, “false, deceptive vision”).
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