Category: Volume 2

The death of the children of Medea and the end of Jason’s life

 

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Their vengeance carried out Jason and Medea left Iolkos, giving the throne to Acastus and settled in Corinth. Some say Medea became its queen.

In some versions a few years later Jason agreed to marry Glauce, the daughter of Creon for the social and political benefits that he could thus obtain.

Many versions exist about the death of the children of Jason and Medea. In one they were killed by the Corinthians. In another Medea was indirectly responsible for their deaths but did not commit the act herself. Only Euripides writes that Medea herself killed her two children as an ultimate act of vengeance against Jason.

In some versions the two children survived: Medeios (sometimes also cited as a son of Aegean) and Polyxena who Medea took with her flewing away on a chariot drawn by winged dragons provided by her grandfather Helios.

Arriving in Athens she healed the Aegean king of his infertility and he proposed to marry her.

As for Jason the end of his life is generally not spoken about (except in second-hand accounts and in the version by Euripides which we have discarded as an unreliable source).

 

As is very often the case accounts of spiritual experiences do not bother about the end of the hero’s life. Therefore in the narrative by Apollonius there do not appear the elements that mythical history has retained: the separation of Jason and Medea, the death of their children and the departure of Medea to Athens before she finally returns to Colchis, elements which indicate that the realisation is only temporary and that the seeker is not yet able to hold on to the fruits of his experiences.

In fact even if he is no longer in search of a path the experience of psychic contact does not last and the seeker reinstates his unpurified mental personality at the same place from which he had started: Corinth, the symbolic province of Sisyphus. Some say Medea became its queen thereby expressing that for some time the intellect remains focused on the essential purpose and the quest henceforth continues through purification (Acastus, “purity”, is given the throne of Iolcus “the opening of consciousness for liberation”).

The effects of this first psychic experience also cannot be sustained for very long and this is the reason for the death of Jason and Medea’s children.

In spite of his experience in the higher planes of the mind the seeker is still attracted by the “shine” of “incarnation” (Jason weds Glauce, the “shining” daughter of Creon “the flesh, or the incarnation”. This Creon should not be confused with his namesake Thebes.) He is in fact far from being free of desire for a particular result, far from “detachment from the act and its fruits” (Jason considers the social and political benefits of the union with Glauce).

The manner in which Medea’s children died is therefore only of secondary importance, except of course for the dramatic nature of the tragedies.

The version which seems most consistent is one in which they were killed by the Corinthians, representatives of the “logical working of the mind”.

In the version in which two of them survived the first child Medeios is the expression of the “goal of life” and the second, Polyxena, indicates the pursuit of “a greater receptivity (from above)” which will help in reaching the goal here dominated by the mind (they are carried away by winged dragons).

To forge the link with the myths about the kings of Athens “who guide inner growth by rendering the mind spiritual” Medea returned to Athens where she married Aegean.

END OF THE CHAPTER

Summary and Introduction : Jason and the quest of the Golden Fleece >>

The death of Pelias and the games given in his honour

 

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Pelias, who had stopped believing in the return of the Argonauts, had wanted to put to death Jason’s father Aeson but the latter had asked for the right to bring about his own death. Jason’s mother Polymede then hanged herself, leaving behind her young son Promachos who Pelias killed.

 

We have said that the Aeson-Polymede couple represents the seeker whose powerful individualised mind directs the quest according to his own thought and will, and with some dispersion. Even before the advent of enlightenment he goes through a phase in which “ignorance about his own path” – that leads to the desire to do good, which is as well a resistance to the right evolution (Pelias) – compels him to remove the direction of the quest from his mind (illustrated by the suicide of both partners). It is this letting go including the abandonment of the last “bastions” developed by brilliant mental work (the murder of Promachos “the last line of defense”) which actually allows the experience of enlightenment to take place.

 

It was to take revenge for the wrongs suffered during the quest and the death of his parents and his young brother Promachos that Jason with the help of Medea plotted for the death of Pelias.

Medea convinced the daughters of Pelias that they could rejuvenate their father (or perhaps only three daughters, Pisidice, Pelopia and Hippothoe, since some authors claim that Alcestis refused to lay a hand on him). For this purpose she cut up an old ram, boiled pieces of its flesh with herbs and potions and then brought it back to life as a young lamb. Very impressed the three princesses dismembered their father and put the pieces in a cauldron, but Medea voluntarily omitted to add the necessary herbs.

After this murder Jason gave the kingdom to Acastus (son of Pelias) who had exiled his own sisters after the death of their father.

 

For Pherecydes the quest of the Golden Fleece was undertaken at the instigation of Hera who knew that the hero being accompanied by Medea on his return, would inevitably result in the death of Pelias. The intervention of the supraconscious (Hera like Zeus belongs to the overmind and thus to the supraconscious) is in fact structured so that the first major spiritual experience automatically ends the ignorant wandering of the seeker (who has not yet found his path or his mission) and those commitments guided only by an “ignorant goodwill” which actually prevent the right movement of evolution (the death of Pelias).

The daughters of Pelias, Pisidice “she who tries to persuade or convince about the right way of doing things”, Pelopia “she with a partial vision” and Hippothoe “she who has an active vital” are resistances derived from this ignorance and seek to keep it active. The seeker is in fact still attached to his old patterns and actions despite the strong inner experience which has just taken place.

Only Alcestis “a strong rectitude (sincerity)” urges that this ignorance must disappear.

When Jason is united to Medea, “the intention of the soul”, ignorance about the life goal disappears and the seeker can look back and see that nothing in his quest was useless. He takes note of the journey travelled and the help given by the subconscious (Pelias is son of Poseidon).

That is why the Games in honour of Pelias were organised by his son Acastus “he who is very sincere”. But the old patterns of behaviour must first leave the centre of the stage, which is why he begins by exiling his sisters.

Only Hyginus preserved a list of the winners who with only a few exceptions are the companions of Jason mentioned at the beginning of this chapter: Calais and Zetes, the Dioscuri Castor and Pollux, etc.

Among the participants it is important to mention a namesake of Glaucus: defeated by Iolaus he was eaten at the end of the games by his team of horses: since he had habituated them to eating human flesh in order to make them more aggressive in battle, when this food was no longer available during the games they devoured him.

The name Glaucus refers to “brightness”. And since this character is usually identified with the son of Sisyphus it makes him the symbol of a “bright intellect” sure of himself up to the point of presumption which supports and enhances the expression of the vital (before the death of Pelias, Glaucus feeds his horses with human flesh to make them more aggressive). But after the first experience of inner contact, this “presumption” must give way to the “voice of consciousness”, Iolaus.

The Elders did not include these celebrations among the great Panhellenic Games probably to prevent the seekers from having the temptation of giving too much importance to the first experience of contact.

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The Argonauts in the terrific night then the illumination

 

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Subsequently the heroes were “terrified by a night that can be qualified as sepulchral: this sinister night was pierced neither by stars nor moonlight. It was only a black gaping void emanating from the sky or from I know not which darkness risen from the deepest abyss.” (Argonautica, Canto IV verse 1695).

Jason invoked Apollo and tears flowed in his anguish. The god heard him and drew his bow which lit everything around with a dazzling brightness. A small steep island appeared which they called Anaphe, the Island of the Apparition.

 

This experience of “sepulchral night” and “dazzling brightness” are the most significant experiences that a seeker can live through during this first major experience of the opening of consciousness or enlightenment.

Apollonius does not give any more details. Bypassing the rule that I had set for myself of not voicing my own experience I will base myself on it in this case as this testimony could perhaps give a better sense of it. It must however be noted that there can be a wide variety of experiences depending on the centers which are touched and open at that time. Sri Aurobindo specifies that this first experience can be an opening of the spirit or of the heart or both.

This “sepulchral night” was for me only one of the first manifestations of a powerful experience which lasted a week and then gradually subsided during the span of about two to three weeks.

This “night” is so particular that it is very difficult to portray. It did not last long, about two hours, and is completely independent of external activities: I was working in my office when it engulfed me, but I had the luck of having an isolated desk and no one disturbed me that morning. It was neither a state of trance nor any state obtained by concentration or meditation.

I was suddenly plunged into a parallel reality superimposed on the ordinary reality and equally informed by sensation and sight. There was no pain, no suffering, no fear, no anxiety, yet I gazed upon an absolute nothingness where there was not a breath of life, not even the slightest hope that this “void” would become animate. There could be no trace of despair, since there were no emotional feelings. I no longer had sensations and therefore had no impression, neither of heat, cold, life, death, shadow or light. In this space there was no thought, no life, no time. Paradoxical as it may seem I was both fully present in my office environment and in the presence of this “void”, dark but not black, which evoked the distinction made by Hesiod between Erebus (Erebos) and Night (Nyx) at the beginning of the event. It was like a bottomless abyss that filled one with a feeling that was unlike anything known. I had the feeling of balancing miraculously on a very narrow ridge which looked over the abyss, and it was imperative that I went forward along this ridge because the stakes were considerable.

This state could be defined as immersion in absolute negation, but a negation of what? It is not yet known, but the dazzling experience that follows gives an immediate insight into its opposite.

Satprem on his side narrates this experience in the following way: “suddenly I found myself in a tremendous darkness – we call it “night”, but our night is bright when compared to this blackness! Absolute blackness like the essence of black, which did not resonate with any vibration which would allow one to say “it is dark”: it was not black, it was THE blackness, like death, without any vibration, without a spark of black. A density of suffocating blackness. It was suffocating, one was there like one is in death – and in fact, it was death. And then, I felt (I say felt but it was not vague at all, it was very real, just that I could not see: I thought, I touched), I felt that I was suspended in an abyss, both feet on a tiny ledge a few centimetres wide, against a wall – a great wall, vertical, black like flowing basalt – which plunged into an abyss. (…) I had to cross to the other side. (…) Falling there was worse than death, it was death within death.

(…) And then … silence, crushing, massive, like a world of absolute negation, implacable, where one must not be, one cannot be.” (By the body of the earth or The Sannyasin. Satprem. Robert Laffont).

This sepulchral night is probably the one that Sri Aurobindo calls in Savitri (Book II, Canto VII), “the night of the grey Python”, the reverse symbol of the light of Apollo.

“He was alone with the Night of the grey python.

A nameless Nothing, dense, conscious, dumb,

Who seemed alive, but without a body and without mind,

Thirsty to annihilate all life

To be forever alone and naked.”

 

In my case the hours and days that followed were marked by different experiences in a very particular atmosphere.

To begin with the sensations:

  • that of a great clarity in the mind that gave me a sense of light, hence the name given to the experience: It was accompanied by intuitive perceptions associated with a feeling of absolute certainty.
  • that of being like a veritable bulldozer, being filled with forces in harmony with external reality and which gave me the feeling that nothing was impossible.
  • for the first time in my life the feeling of being very temporarily free from ego which was replaced by an another I, grander, more joyful, fearless, with a strong sense of “presence” in the world.
  • that the source of my actions was within rather than outside myself.

Then the events seemed to occur with miraculous synchronicity in expression of a general harmony. For instance if I needed to meet someone I would soon come across him on the street.

These forces from the higher planes naturally also enter the vital which caused with the greatest of intensity tears of gratitude and joy and other excesses of vital energy that I mastered with difficulty. When we see how a few drops of this force in 1968 in Paris brought down barricades we can guess what a small stream of it can cause in an individual. For the experience for me was more or less of the same type but in different degrees of intensity.

During some of the most intense days I was given the opportunity to live some other experiences, especially “revelations” in the form of powerful dreams, auditory and visual messages which gave me some broad guidelines about the “task” to be fulfilled in this life without defining the specific points exactly. This will be the reason for the death of Pelias on Jason’s return to Iolkos, the end of one “who progresses in the shadows.” For example I was told “that there are two children yet to be born” and each was the subject of an enigmatic sentence which became clear to me only over the years: I think that with this decoding of Greek mythology the first child is born. I also received some information about the structure of the Caduceus and the future transformation of energies in the Tree of Life which was necessary for this decoding task.

I know of very few accounts of this experience which allow for a broader understanding. It must however be noted that this is a brief “encouraging” response and not an end in itself.

It must also be noted that most narratives of spiritual experiences were narrated by men in an era in which mental vibrations favoured them. This influence which focused on the separating aspect and thereby on the logical mind was required for individuation. But in men it also favoured experiences of opening of the consciousness grouped under the term “enlightenment”. On the other hand women do not seem to usually go through these great experiences of the enlightenment of the spirit first. If the ways which provide access to the Consciousness specific to men are indeed those of  the mind and the vital those specific to women are firstly those of the body and the psychic (the non-emotional heart, the soul) which open to Joy.

If as many foresee humanity is going through a turning point in which the forces of union and therefore the intuitive mind will regain predominance then the path of women will in turn be privileged. But we must take into account that this change occurs over several hundreds of years.

It will therefore be necessary for women’s particular paths to be clarified and included in mythology as well.

The contact that was established is etched forever in the internal memory. There will remain a point of certainty, the memory of a state which had already been glimpsed a long time ago by Phrixus, and the seeker will not rest until he can live permanently this state in which “That exists”.

The name given by the Argonauts to the island rising steeply from the sea, “Anaphe”, comes according to the text itself from the verb meaning “to shine, to appear”, and therefore means “what shines in the heights”. It is also translated as “Apparition”. Another translation more in line with its deeper meaning would be “that which appears in the light”, “which reveals or unmasks”.

Through its character structure this name expresses the evolution of a penetration of higher consciousness into the being making it radiate.

The last part of the story narrated by Apollonius is about the yoga which develops after this first major experience, but the author does not give any details.

When the Argonauts had undone the moorings to set sail again Euphemos remembered his dream. While asleep he held in his hands the lump of earth offered by Triton: it was watered with drops of milk and then transformed into a girl. Under the effect of an irrepressible desire he united in love with her but repented at once, imagining that he had been having intercourse with his daughter. But she reassured him saying: “My friend, I am of Triton’s blood and the Nurse of your children: not your daughter, but a daughter of Triton and Libya. But entrust me to the daughters of Nereus so I may live in the sea near the island of the Apparition, and I will later on rise towards the rays of the sun to welcome your nephews.”

On Jason’s recommendation Euphemos threw the lump of earth into the sea. At once arose an island, Calliste, “the very beautiful”, sacred nurse of Euphemos’ sons. They would first live in Lemnos of the Sintians and then Sparta before rejoining Calliste.

The spiritual power represented by Triton left a symbol of incarnation in the consciousness of the seeker (the gift of the lump of earth retrieved by Euphemos).

Euphemos, son of Poseidon, is “one who pronounces auspicious words”. He shows a “positive” vision of long-term evolution. As a premonition of times to come his dream first relates the need for a period of purification in physical incarnation (when matter, the body, has been fed by drops of milk). Then will come a new human consciousness which will not be the result of the seeker’s own asceticism (he will not feed the young girl with his own milk) but which he will consider as the goal. He will unite with her and this will lead him to limited expressions of the supramental light (the rays of the sun).

Meanwhile this “new consciousness” will have to be entrusted to forces that are at the root of conscious life (daughters of Nereus) and the feeling or memory of this first great experience will have to be maintained.

In other words it is not only personal asceticism which can generate the transition towards “Supermanhood” because to access this new state the seeker must have given up his entire yoga to the hands of the Absolute.

The meaning of the term “Superman” as used here is the one given by Satprem in his book On the way to Supermanhood. This author names thus one who is imbued with the “new consciousness” described in detail by the Mother in the Agenda of the year 1969. It refers neither to the seeker who has reached the level of the overmind nor to the Superman of Nietzsche who wants to be an improvement of the existing man. This new awareness will prepare humanity for the supramental transformation.

The seeker at once casts this “renewed matter” in the flow of life, which allows an initial materialization of the “task” to be accomplished, of his “life goal”. The “very beautiful” island is thus very real and is the anchor on which the seeker will be able to rely for the continuation of his progress in yoga.

The sons of Euphemos (they who go in the right evolutionary direction) must first live on Lemnos. We must remember that it is there that the Argonauts were united to the women who had killed their husbands. It is therefore an in-depth purification of false spiritual forms and the archaic “capturing” movement at the root of the ego (the Sintiens are the “preying birds”). This is basically a reunification of polarities and the realisation of human unity.

Then they will have to experience a revival (Sparta, “sowing”) before rejoining the “very beautiful” island which was renamed Thera “the exact movement of inner evolution”.

But Apollonius tells us that these events came “long after Euphemos“, that is to say long after the seeker received the premonition.

The heroes had to undergo no other trials before their arrival in Greece.

And to conclude his narrative, Apollonius adds:

May these songs from year to year always be sweeter for men to sing“.

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The Argonauts and the death of the giant Talos

 

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Having followed his directions the heroes skirted Crete where the giant Talos attacked them with stones. Zeus had offered him to Europa after being united with her. He went around Crete three times a day to prevent foreigners from entering and as his body was made of bronze some add that he made himself white-hot and then took foreigners into his arms to make them perish. A single vein containing Ichor travelled across his body from his neck to his ankles.

While the heroes were about to turn back, the giant became the victim of Medea’s sorcery, ruptured the vein at his ankle against a rock and died. In another version, Medea removed the bronze nail blocking the end of the vein.

 

The Argonauts are then confronted with Talos “he who supports, who endures.” According to some he was a survivor of the brazen race born from ashes, i.e. an afterglow of the first period of the quest in which the seeker pursued the Absolute at the peak of the emotional vital.

He was a bronze giant (a powerful protection, unalterable but not indestructible), one of the gifts given by Zeus to Europa after the birth of their two sons Minos and Rhadamanthys. It is a gift from the higher planes (Zeus), given to the beginner initiating the process of the opening of consciousness and of mastery (Europa) manifested as an ability to isolate oneself by protecting oneself from the outside in a somewhat “rigid” manner. This protection is however led by a right movement: Talos in fact has a single vein in which runs Ichor, the blood of the gods, a symbol of the “right movement originating from a gathered consciousness ΙΧ+P or a higher Will.

This gift therefore gives the seeker a certain ability of rigid isolation enabling him to exclude external interferences (foreigners) by burning them in the fire of his inflamed will. (Other authors speak of Talos not as a bronze giant but as a bull, the “power of realisation of the luminous mind” of the early stages which was in itself protective.)

If the novice seeker did not have this protection he would be very soon destroyed by the powers that oppose changes in the invisible planes.

When the seeker engages himself in his task (in the union of Jason and Medea) this primarily physical protection is withdrawn from him. Medea, the “intention” of the soul, then removes the nail from the ankle of Talos thus taking away the “rigid” power which supports this protection (the ichor which then escapes from the dying structure).

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The Argonauts in the Hesperides garden

 

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Having arrived at the shores of Lake Triton the heroes laid down their vessel. Parched with thirst they sought a spring and reached the place where on the previous day a dragon had been guarding the golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides. But it had been slain by Heracles and lay lifeless against the trunk of the apple tree. The Hesperides told them where to find the spring which Heracles, also thirsty, had made to flow from the earth. Several heroes, amongst whom Calais and Zetes, Euphemos and Lynkeus, thought that they would be able to join Heracles and had gone looking for him in vain.

The heroes then sought a way to leave Lake Triton. As they wandered the powerful Triton appeared and offered them a lump of earth while showing them the route to follow. It was a passage between the reefs that they would find by heading toward the place “where the motionless wave of the deep is blackest.” He also recommended that they always “follow the earth closely.”

 

This “night” finally opens up to a period of light marked by several important events.

Here Apollonius outlines some notable elements of the progression.

First of all there is the acquisition of true knowledge (golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides). To clearly show that this is only a first approach the heroes noticed that Heracles had preceded them and had taken the apples! Thus the realisation on a given plan can never be taken as the goal or the ultimate accomplishment. Regardless of the efforts made the seeker cannot “know” beyond the transformation that has taken place at this stage: the heroes setting out in search of Heracles cannot catch up with him. Neither aspiration nor need nor search (Calais and Zetes) nor encouraging signs (Euphemos “one who pronounces auspicious words”) nor discernment (Lynceus) can change anything whatsoever. The seeker is still very far from having accomplished his “labours”.

This stage is marked by another death, that of the soothsayer Mopsus, “a broadened mental intuition guided by the psychic being”. It must be recalled that he had replaced the seer Idmon “one who is educated, skillful” who “knew his destiny by the birds” and thus a symbol of a purely mental intuition.

Just as the death of Idmon and Mopsus succeeding him represented an evolution of intuitive abilities – the transition from an intellectual intuition to a pure intuition from the psychic being (the father of Mopsus is Apollo) – the death of Mopsus marks the powerful mitigation of any intuitive faculty so that the seeker may face other trials for the ultimate goal of his liberation. The death of Mopsus is caused by residues of the fight against fear and vital greed (drops of blood from the severed head of Medusa, fallen on the Libyan soil and transformed into snakes).

Firmly established faculties can thus very mysteriously and suddenly disappear when other levels of realisation must be reached.

The seeker then receives support from Triton “the sea monster” who invites him to explore the most “dark and unknown” depths of his being, “a narrow path between the breakers that he will find by going towards the place where the stationary wave of the deep is the blackest.”

The name Triton is linked to the number three and probably refers to the outline of the caduceus at the level of the Sephira Yesod, the energy of life. Here Apollonius associates it to Phorcys and/or Nereus, that is to say to the appearance of the mind in life. Nereus is the “old man of the sea” and Phorcys the very first power of fusion in the vital – probably instinct – before the power of separation of the nascent mind as represented by Ceto begins to act.

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The Argonauts and the desert test

 

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Although they had reached the outskirts of their homeland the heroes still had to undergo other trials on the borders of Libya.

While the land of Pelops was in sight they were roughly treated by a storm raised by Boreas which lasted nine days and as many nights. They were carried by the winds and the tides to the Gulf of Syrtis where the mud and the algae hold the ships back and were run aground.

There were neither animals nor birds and the sand stretched as far as the sky. The heroes were losing hope, becoming pale and their hearts growing cold and even the helmsman Ancaeus cried. They bid each other farewell and every one of them was ready to die in this distant place. Only moans and lamentations could be heard.

It was then that the guardian goddesses of Libya, “the glorious goddesses of solitudes” who asserted that they knew everything about the trials of the Argonauts appeared before Jason. They bid him to stop lamenting over his misfortune and revealed to him a sign that would indicate the right time for their return: “when they would see Amphitrite loosening the chariot of Poseidon it would be the moment to set out again”. But Jason was unable to understand this vision.

Sometime later a gigantic horse with a golden mane emerged from the sea and immediately disappeared from sight with a gallop as swift as the wind.

The heroes then had to carry the ship on their backs through the dunes of the Libyan Desert for twelve days and twelve nights, thus performing “a prodigious feat under the compulsion of necessity”. They then put down the ship in the waters of Lake Triton.

 

When the seeker has taken the irrevocable decision to accomplish the goal set by his soul he enters into an area of inner turbulence brought about by his asceticism (a storm of Boreas). Away from worldly interests, free from many of his beliefs and supports but without any clarity of vision in regards to his path he finds himself during this time in an uncomfortable and miserable position as if abandoned both by the Divine and by his fellow men. He feels that he has both lost his life and strayed away in his quest. He has given up, or so he believes, his old dreams and is supported only by his inner flame.

This however is a time for purification since the ship of the Argonauts has run aground in the Gulf of Sirte, “that which cleanses”. The mystics describe these trials that one comes across several times along the way as “spiritual nights”, periods of drought for the senses and for the soul (deserted expanses of sand) often coupled with a strong vital discomfort (the marshes) and without any of the previously familiar “divine consolations”.

However after a time the seeker glimpses the way out and is warned of a signal to come by powers which manifest themselves in solitude, protect the processes of freedom and know about all the past trials of the seeker (the patron goddesses of Libya, “the glorious goddesses of solitude”). Great strength will come to him endowed with an ability to correctly perceive the truths of the spirit “the horse with the golden mane.”  But the seeker does not understand anything of what is said to him.

Then begins a rather delicate period of maturation which can seem never ending, a symbolic twelve days and twelve nights during which the “vehicle” (body, vital, mind) undergoes a period of weakness and must be supported by internal forces engaged in the quest (the heroes must carry the ship). The personality that normally “supports” the quest has given in and is no longer operative at that time.

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The union of Jason and Medea

 

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Then the heroes arrived to a vast and fertile island inhabited by the Phaeacians and ruled by King Alcinous where they were very warmly welcomed. Drepane (“the Sickle”) was the name of the sacred nurse of these people.

At the same time as the Argonaut’s arrival on the island the army of the Colchians arrived threatening war, having continued the chase to bring Medea back to her father.

Medea pleaded with Queen Arete, wife of King Alcinous. Not denying her mistake she justified her fleeing as having been caused by fear rather than desire for Jason, swearing that she was still a virgin. The Argonauts whom she had helped and brought back to their land safe and sound appeared indifferent to her fate and she urged them to keep their promise.

After having heard the plea of his wife in favour of Medea the king delivered the following judgment: if Medea was a virgin she would be sent back to her father, otherwise she would stay with Jason.

The Argonauts were secretly forewarned of this decision by the queen and they hurried to prepare the bridal couch that they covered with the Golden Fleece, and Jason and Medea then tasted the joys of love.

The Colchians respected Alcinous’ decision and thus Medea stayed with Jason.

But they feared the wrath of their king Aeetes and asked for permission to settle in the land of the Phaeacians, which was granted to them. They stayed there for several years till the Bacchiadae took their place. But that, Apollonius tells us, happened only much later over the course of centuries.

 

The mysterious Phaeacia that we will come across again in the voyage of Ulysses is a symbol of a “mysterious” transition in consciousness that helps transition to a higher state but in a super-conscious manner unknown to the seeker.

Apollonius gives us a clue that does not explain much when he names what “feeds” this transition Drepane, “the Sickle”, which is to say a reversal of consciousness.

This process is active all the way down to the yoga of the body. In the Agenda the

Mother mentions “reversals” on several occasions.

For Satprem the passage to the Supramental is a process as radical as the transition of a fish from a marine environment to dry land. But there are in all cases intermediary stages, amphibians in the case of the fish and the Superman to come in the case of man.

According to Apollonius the Phaeacians were born from the froth that formed around the genitals of Uranus flung by Cronus into the sea when he castrated him. Coming from the same origin as Aphrodite they would in this way be a manifestation of the fertilisation of life by the creative power of the Spirit. By its character structure, Phaeax refers to “a luminous consciousness both above and below” (or maybe “the radiating of the gradual descent of the Spirit through the planes of consciousness”).

Alcinous the king of Phaeacia is a symbol of a work of “soul fortitude” and a “mighty spirit” applied to “that through which one excels” according to the name of his wife Arete, striving within the framework of an identity of Spirit and Matter (Φ+Ι+Ξ).

It is here – in this work – that aspects belonging to the domain of the soul and resulting from the development of sensitivity will settle for a long period of time (the Colchians are the subjects of Aeetes) as long as the seeker is not overwhelmed by the “joys of ecstasy of the sunlit path” (till the arrival of the Bacchiadae assimilated into the lineage of the Bacchantes or Bacchae) which, as Apollonius tells us must take place much later on the path.

Upon their arrival on the island of the Phaeacians the union of Medea and Jason was consummated so that the fruits of the development of sensitivity/consciousness could be preserved, otherwise the aid for the realisation of the task would have been postponed (Medea would have had to return to her father’s land): the seeker thus takes an irrevocable internal decision to fulfill the goal of his life. It is therefore for him the beginning of his dedication to his task, the true goal of his life.

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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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The Argonauts escape the seduction of the Sirens

 

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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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The Argonauts at Circe

 

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Setting sail again the heroes finally reached the harbour of Aeaea where they found Circe, the daughter of Helios and sister of Aeetes. She was cleansing her head vigorously for she had been frightened by her dreams of the past night. And now she could see beings that were neither men nor beasts but having the limbs of both advancing in droves behind her. In the past when the earth had not yet become compact it had brought forth such hybrid creatures which time had then divided into species by merging them.

Without knowing anything about the history of the heroes Circe understood from their behaviour that they had come to be purified and she proceeded with the necessary rites.

 She then recognised Medea as being from her own race and the latter narrated the tale of the expedition to her in detail “in the Colchian language”. Unable to forgive their intentions and her niece’s flight she refused them hospitality.

At this point Hera who was still watching over the heroes closely sent Iris to summon Thetis. When the latter arrived from the depths of the sea Hera asked her to go to Aeolus (here a son of Hippotes) so that he would hold the winds except the favourable Zephyrus and then to Hephaestus so that he would restrict the blazing heat of his forge. She wanted to ensure that the Argonauts could cross over the sea without any danger and reach Alcinous king of the Phaeacians safe and sound and thereby avoid the monsters Charybdis and Scylla who were on their route.

Circe, daughter of Helios, is the “power of vision of truth in all the details”. She therefore sees with precision what is hidden in the depths of the being. We will come across her again in the voyage of Ulysses. This ability of a “detailed true vision” will be fully active in man only in the distant future for the name of Circe’s son is Telegonus, “one who is procreated – or who procreates – afar”.

The beings that are “hybrid, neither men nor beasts”, and are crowding around Circe illustrate a gradual and apparently disorderly transition through which nature carries out the transformation from animal to man.

The fact that Circe agrees to purify the heroes without even knowing their crime indicates that the journey taken was inevitable. But her refusal of hospitality is a warning that this higher part of the being disapproves of the orientation of the seeker who has given priority to what he thought was the goal of his life to the detriment of his purification (because of the murder of Apsyrtus). And we will see later on what drastic mistakes he will make due to this lack of purification.

In addition Circe and Medea use a language unknown to Jason, the Colchian language: the seeker is thus unable to correctly interpret the exchange that takes place at the highest level of his being although he has a vague perception of some movement in its inner being.

A period of calm ensues during which he is protected by the movement that watches over his evolution (as per Hera’s instructions) because a period of assimilation is necessary. Thus the forces that create new forms (Hephaestus) or even those which facilitate evolution and can sometimes be violent (the winds governed by Aeolus) must maintain a period of calm. On the other hand forces that govern the depths of the vital being (Thetis) must do everything to keep him from the catastrophe that he is unknowingly moving toward (Charybdis and Scylla).

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