The Argonauts avoid Charybdis and Scylla

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As Hera had foreseen the heroes then approached Charybdis and Scylla at the “crossroad of the sea routes”.

In fact Hera knew that without the intervention of Thetis their route would lead them toward the “channel of the sea” where on one side rose the rock of the terrible Scylla and on the other the swirling gulf of Charybdis opened. From her den in the hollow of the rock Scylla thrust her frightening jaws on all ships which approached and devoured its sailors.

Separated from the rock by a narrow channel was the abode of Charybdis who rested at the bottom of the sea. Sometimes a giant whirlpool formed in which ships were engulfed and sailors were devoured by the monster lurking at the bottom of the sea, and with furious roars she would vomit the debris of what she had just swallowed, the shredded elements bursting out in horrifying geysers into the raging sea.   

Therefore it was not without reason that Hera feared for the life of the heroes. But if Thetis (daughter of Nereus and mother of Achilles not to be confused with the Titanid Tethys, wife of Oceanus.) agreed to help them avoid the channel of Charydbis and Scylla, she could guide them through the path of the Planctae, “the Wandering rocks”, where the rocks furiously ascended and descended upon the sea. It is said that once upon a time a blazing flame spurted out from that place and the sky was dark with smoke.

Thetis and her sisters, the daughters of Nereus, came from all sides to assist the heroes. Avoiding the cursed places they guided the ship toward the Planctae and playing with the ship as with a ball that they would pass back and forth amongst themselves they led it across the dangerous passage without running any risks.

Then the heroes sailed by the fields of Thrinacia where grazed the cows of the sun with their immaculate white coats and golden horns.


At this point of the journey all the aspects are in place for the occurrence of a dreadful mental ordeal of the schizoid or manic-depressive type (Charybdis and Scylla), but the seeker is protected because the time has not yet come. However he has a premonition that he will later realise “liberation” in the yoga of the depths of his vital being and it will then be in accordance with the intention of his soul (Achilles will become the spouse of Medea after Jason’s death).

These two processes at the root of life – engulfment and destruction due to fragmentation resulting from the fundamental forces of fusion and separation – are expressed in the vital being by what we call love and hate. In fact as explained by the Mother both are at their roots distortions of the same vibration. This distortion creates internal violence due to not being able to fully absorb what one loves (the so-called love) and external violence that wants to destroy what one loves so as not to be tied to it any longer (hatred). (Ref Mother’s Agenda, Volume 6).

This is in fact only an initial glimpse of the future trials that will mark the voyage of Ulysses. The journey is indeed a progression of spiraling ascent and of the unveiling of the archaic layers of consciousness. Therefore the seeker undergoes the same types of experiences but at higher and higher levels of difficulty. Apollonius’s description of this picks up partly from Homer’s narrative in the Canto XII of the Odyssey.

On the other hand the seeker must deal with the Planctae whose name signifies ” wandering, unstable, and with a disoriented mind”. But there again the Nereids, daughters of the “Old Man of the Sea” and thus “instinctual vital forces” of the seeker, act so that the ship does not suffer any damage while crossing the Planctae. In fact the crew of the Argo had strictly nothing to do for crossing the Planctae because Thetis and the Nereids not only guided the ship but carried it literally across the obstacle.

For the seeker it is a confrontation with the mental knots (severe neurosis or psychosis) which present themselves as impenetrable walls (sometimes the rocks rose skyward like cliffs) and sometimes stay buried in the subconscious while disrupting the surface personality (sometimes they rested at the bottom of the sea covered with the mass of the wild flood tide).

It is from these solidified but not physically manifested pathological conditions (wandering rocks) that in the past of the seeker and of humanity a mind-fire was generated which he or she had taken for a spiritual fire. But confusions and illusions generated by the manifestation of this mind-vital-fire was actually hiding the light of truth. (Once upon a time a blazing flame spurted out from the summit of the reefs and the sky was dark with smoke so that the rays of the sun were hidden from view.)

That is the reason why Sri Aurobindo has always said that purifying the intelligence from separative ignorance and the confusion between planes of being was the first step in his yoga.

The seeker is protected by his instinctual powers that are not disrupted by the mind (Thetis and the Nereids), who not only guide the ship but literally carry it across the obstacle. Similarly only the swineherd Eumaeus stayed loyal to Ulysses in a more faraway stage of yoga.

The seeker then experiences (in a fairly superficial manner since the Argonauts only sail by the fields of Thrinacia, “the plain with the three-pronged fork”) a plane of consciousness that feeds the illuminating powers of the Supermind resulting  from a sensitivity or total consciousness and a perfect receptivity for the Divine. While not being certain, we can think that it involves a very brief and sudden burst of abilities of a higher order related to the four powers of intuition explained by Sri Aurobindo (Then the heroes sailed along the fields in which grazed the cows of the sun with their immaculate white coats and golden horns). “The plain of the three pronged fork” is difficult to identify but I think that it refers to Tiphereth in the tree of the Sephiroth, whose symbol is the sun and who also represents the illumined mind which nourishes the expressions of the plain of intuition: vision, inspiration, immediate perception of the truth and of the relationships between all of its manifestations.

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