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Before reaching the baneful waters of Charydbis and Scylla, the heroes passed by the Island of Flowers inhabited by the Sirens whose spellbinding songs made all those who moored in proximity to the island perish. But Orpheus brought out his lyre and played so that they would not hear their songs while the heroes sailed past the coast.
The Sirens had evolved since olden times: they had acquired wings and were now part bird and part young maiden.
At this point of the journey all the elements are in place for the occurrence of a dreadful psychic ordeal of a schizo-paranoid or manic-depressive type (Charybdis and Scylla) but the seeker is protected from it and perceives only a hint of the danger which can pass almost unnoticed in the course of life.
The seeker is first confronted with the “seductive” elements, the Sirens who attract him with a powerful force. They are daughters of the divine river Achelous, “the concentration of a strong desire or a powerful will” and the Muse Terpsichore. Muses are daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the highest consciousness that brings back to memory the harmonious past of the infancy of humanity. Terpsichore is “the fullness of dance”: “the dance of bliss” of Shiva-Nataraja, the dance of the Divine’s play in creation.
When Persephone, the daughter of Deo (Demeter, “the mother of oneness”) was still a virgin- when she had not yet married Hades at the time when the process of yoga did not need to be involved with unconscious – the Sirens played together with her. Therefore in ancient times they represented the goals of evolution pursued in harmony, a sunlit path of the infancy of humanity.
But they were transformed by mentalisation, becoming part bird part young maiden while continuing to celebrate the primitive harmony of evolution: they are represented as birds with the head of a woman.
They seduce with their songs and make “the sailors languid” with nostalgia for a harmonious period of past evolution. However this is no longer what is required from humanity that by the advent of the mind has to enter a period of individuation. The Sirens are thus an expression of a denial of incarnation, a refusal to consider Reality, and in this way they constitute a dangerous obstacle for the progress of yoga.
The sirens could symbolise an irresistible attraction for the experience of harmonised societies “idealised” by the seeker. They rely on the nostalgia for a harmonious state (which can be experienced either through trance or by rising to the heights of the Spirit) that might have been established in ancient times but is no longer relevant in the current period of evolution because now the work must be done and the battle fought in the field of manifestation and day to day life starting from a clear and perfect acceptance of “what is”. Today we can witness many movements which give way to these “sirens”, for instance the New Age movement and a certain overly idealised tendency for an ecological return to a state of nature. For the battle must be fought against untruth rather than for some idealised harmony that would have existed in the past.
We will come across the Sirens again at another level in the adventures of Ulysses.
Orpheus is the one who protects the heroes from the spell: the seeker defends himself from this “nostalgia” by establishing harmony through his submission to the right rhythm and by his knowledge of the laws of harmony and purification which helps place everything in its right place.
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