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This myth illustrates the encounter with the Master or one’s personal path.
The Argonauts disembarked on the port of the desert island Thynia. It was the moment just before dawn when a faint glimmer appears in the night: upon awakening men call it “the break of dawn”.
It was then that Apollo appeared before them with his silver bow in hand. He was on his way to the Hyperboreans. Under his feet the entire island trembled and the waves broke thunderously on the shore. At the sight of him an overwhelming awe seized the heroes; none of them dared to meet the beautiful eyes of the deity. When at last they raised their heads Apollo was already far away and they named the island “Apollo of the dawn” and took an oath to help each other for ever more.
Phineus had not only cautioned the heroes against the dangers of the Dark Rocks but had also given them precise indications about the route to follow all the way to Colchis where the Golden Fleece was to be found. The seeker then broadly senses what changes he must bring about in himself in order to refine his sensitivity and purify himself. Perhaps he is assisted in this way by the modern soothsayers, astrologers and mediums.
He comes to the point of the journey at which the very first brilliant glow of psychic light will reveal itself although he thinks that he has not made any significant progress in the growth of his inner being (the Argonauts are on the desert island of Thynia “evolution of the inner being”).
When this first glow appears, the quest of “his” path disappears: the seeker has finally arrived at the harbor…of the true beginning. He has found “his” path, usually in the form of an encounter with the “Master” or with the legacy of his work if the latter has already left his/her body.
The encounter takes place when the seeker does not expect it at all, for as the saying goes “when the disciple is ready, the Master appears”. It is accompanied by a feeling of certainty, completeness, quiet joy, wonder and above all, tranquil sense of evidence. The quality of this encounter is very different from the preceding ones that constituted “preparatory” experiences. There is not the slightest doubt: it is instantly clear that one has found one’s path and will stay true to it till the end of one’s life. In addition the “Master” is not above or beyond but is like a very close friend even if he/she left his/her body.
However the intensity of the experience is relatively ephemeral and that is why the Argonauts’ vision of the “Apollo of the dawn” is like a lightning flash. Nonetheless the certainty of having found their right path is indestructible and unforgettable from that moment onward.
This discovery will help the seeker finally gather and focus all his strength in a single direction. Till that moment various elements of his being had been continually pulling in their respective directions due to an invariably unsatisfied quest. It was never “that” which he had been waiting for.
Now although he knows that he is still at the beginning of the journey, if one or the other of his parts fail he knows that the others will overcome this deficiency. For example if the body is tired or falls sick, the mental and psychic will seize the reins to continue the yoga; if depression occurs, the body will resist it with all its might and the mind will endure it; and if the mind is in doubt or continues to experience a lack of understanding the vital being will maintain the drive and joy (they took an oath to help each other forever).
The encounter with the “Master” is adequately described in spiritual literature so we need not dwell at length on this episode. It marks the end of the first stage, the first major turning point: that is why soon after the heroes passed by the “Great Elbow”.
This turning point is marked by changes and realizations which Apollonius mentions without giving details:
- The heroes cast anchor at a point beyond the Cape Acheron near the entrance of the Cave of Hades from which an icy breeze was emanating and forming shining white ice crystals all around. There the lord of the land Lycus and his people built up a friendship with the Argonauts.
An experience “above” is always followed by an experience “below” because an advance in consciousness is immediately used to bring light to the inconscient, the world of Hades. This is why Lycus, a symbol of “the light before dawn”, is the king of this region and makes friends with the Argonauts.
But at this point of the journey there is no descent possible into Hades: this is just a preliminary experience for descending into the depths.
While supreme consciousness is associated with a fire endowed with of an intense power of movement the inconscient is the place of icy fixity (hence the ice crystals coming from within the cave).
- Jason spent a day of friendship with Lycus, “the wolf, or the light before dawn”: even though the encounter itself was like a lightning flash, the seeker stays in touch with his inner truth for some time, which eventually allows him to incorporate numerous aspects of his life.
- The soothsayer Idmon who knew his destiny from the signs of birds was killed by a boar in a marsh and was replaced by the soothsayer Mopsus: now that the seeker has found his path it is a higher kind of intuition that must guide him. According to Apollonius, Idmon and Mopsus are both sons of Apollo and are therefore related to psychic light. But in Idmon’s case it appears to be still strongly associated with the mind (he draws knowledge from the birds) whereas at this point an intuition coming from the inner being, from the core of the psychic soul, is to be developed in order to “receive from above in a state of receptivity and consecration” (Mopsus). In fact intuition related to the mind does not appear to be in a position to fight the energies of the lower vital being which disturb the yoga. This is the reason why Idmon’s death is caused by a boar.
- At this time Tiphys, the first helmsman of the expedition, also dies of an illness. Ancaeus, Erginus, Nauplius and Euphemus offer to replace him and the first of them is selected. The Argonauts arrived at the Great Elbow soon afterwards.
Ancaeus and Erginus both prided themselves in their skill as helmsmen as well as in their expertise in war and demonstrated the seeker’s commitment in the same manner in a combination of abilities to guide the process of yoga (they were skilled helmsmen).
It is no longer the knowledge of the emotional self and the ability to find one’s way in faint light (Tiphys) that needs to be at the helm, but “he who embraces, who holds in his arms” (Ancaeus). He will be the symbol of “Integral Yoga”, the one who works on all planes of the being as he incorporates the three yogas of Knowledge, Devotion, and divine Works.
Neither the skill of divination (Euphemus), the capacity for work (Erginus), nor the sole skill of leading the quest (Nauplius) are at this point able to lead.
Thus a reorientation of the process of Yoga takes place: the Great Elbow.
- Subsequently the heroes closely avoid a battle with the Amazons: at this stage the victory in such a battle, the adherence of the vital being to yoga which is a sign of a state of wisdom and sanctity, is not expected. Surrender of the lower vital being – anger, sexuality, etc. – is a result of a much more advanced stage of Yoga.