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Having entered the Eridanus the heroes sailed close to the place where the body of Phaethon was decaying. The latter had once asked to ride the chariot of his father Helios but was unable to control it and since the world faced the threat of being set ablaze Zeus was compelled to strike him down. He fell into the marsh that continued to emanate heavy steam rising from his wounds. No bird could fly over these waters without being plunged into the inferno.
During the day the Argonauts were exhausted, weakened and overwhelmed by the fetid and unbearable odour of the burning body of Phaethon. During the night they could hear the endless lament of the Heliades, daughters of Helios crying for their brother. After this the Argonauts entered the stream of the Rhodanus, a confluence of the Eridanus which came “from the ends of the earth where are the portals and mansions of Night”. It flowed into the Ocean through different estuaries, pouring into the Ionian and Sardinian Seas. Advancing further into Celtic territory they would have faced a miserable destiny if Hera had not watched over them.
Forced to turn backward, they “understood” the route of the return journey.
Having sailed through “the middle opening” they reached the Stoechades islands safe and sound thanks to the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux, the “sons” of Zeus who would also protect “the ships of future sailors”).
The seeker here is warned in two ways.
First of all there is a warning against the spiritual presumption of anybody who wants to conquer the sky when he is not ready. This leads to an experience which leaves indelible marks on the vital being, a terrifying fire that exhausts through the negative energies that it emits. The fetid odour that was emanating from the corpse contrasts with the scent of saintliness. Here in fact the seeker himself is not confronted with this spiritual fall but is only a witness of it (the Argonauts are weakened, exhausted and overwhelmed by the fetid odour). He can witness and endure some consequences of a psychosis resulting from a former attempt to conquer the sky (the Divine) and the all-powerful feeling that goes with it.
Against this tragedy of fire burning endlessly in a vital inner “marsh” thoughts are powerless: against psychosis speech and thought are ineffective (No bird crossed these waters without being plunged into the inferno). The grief of not being able to provide others with the high spiritual light that is kept hidden in the seeker is correlated with this (the Heliades were mourning their brother).
The second warning appears to signify that the seeker should not try to awaken the “serpent” of the Kundalini, the energy coiled at the bottom of the vertebral column, “at the ends of the earth, where are the portals and mansions of Night”. This energy feeds the subtle body as well as the evolution of consciousness and the seven chakras, (flowing into the ocean from all its coasts, pouring into the Ionian Sea and the Sardinian sea through the river’s seven mouths).
If he continued on this path the seeker would put himself in danger if he tried to proceed further. The divine grace that watches over and sets limits ensured that this does not happen and the seeker finds the correct route, helping himself with firmness and gentleness simultaneously (the Dioscuri).
The seeker should thus remain balanced on the middle path (the middle opening). These two experiences can undoubtedly lead to insanity and maybe even death if one does not guard oneself against them.
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