In this page is proposed an interpretation of several major myths : Europa, Theseus and the Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus. More specifically is studied a great spiritual error symbolized by the Minotaur and the labyrinth built by Daedalus to shelter it.
To fully understand this web page, it is recommended to follow the progression given in the tab Greek myths interpretation. This progression follows the spiritual journey.
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Europa riding Zeus turned into a bull
Europa is the symbol of an opening of consciousness and his son Minos of a receptivity which unites with a higher light (Pasiphaé). But due to a lack of purification, the seeker will put this light at the service of a power of realization, which will generate the great spiritual aberration of the Minotaur. The seeker will also build around this aberration a mental fortress, the labyrinth.
If one is not sincere, if one is more interested in satisfying the ego, to be a great yogi, to become a superman, rather than meeting the Divine or acquiring the divine consciousness in order to live in the Divine or with Him, then a flood of pseudo-experiences or false experiences enter; one is led into the maze of the intermediary zone where one goes around in the circles of one’s own formations.
Sri Aurobindo (Letters on Yoga)
Europa, Minos, Pasiphae and the Minotaur
See Family tree 23
In this and the following two chapters, we go back to the descendants of Oceanos and thus to the path of purification-liberation extending the effort of self-gathering (or gathering of consciousness) initiated with his son Inachos who gave his name to the lineage (the Inachides).
It should be noted that this lineage relates to the “psychisation” of the being (the coming to the forefront of the psychic being) through nature by refining, purifying and liberating its processes.
Before dealing in detail with the myth of Europa, it may be useful to briefly recall the genealogical succession we have examined in the chapter devoted to the ancestors of Heracles.
Inachos “the evolution of the gathering of consciousness” was followed by Phoroneus “who supports the evolution”, then Niobe “the Mother of the living”, symbol of one who takes the path to awakening/enlightenment after having a first contact with “That which really exists”. Then come the two sons of Niobe, Argos “the luminous” and Pelasgus “the dark”, representing two opposite sides of the seeker’s nature engaged together in the quest.
The lineage continues with the first opening of consciousness, Io, and her son Epaphus “the touch of the divine”, symbol of an extremely fleeting first contact with the Real. This first contact is probably an experience common to all, even if it is most often confused with vital joy and leaves a very fleeting trace in the consciousness.
This opening doesn’t last long because the movement which leads to the path – the lack or need – is not yet powerful enough to propel the being into a conscious quest. There follows a long period of maturing during which the future seeker undergoes the test of “freedom”: it is the evolution of the individuation in the incarnation represented by Libya, symbol of an evolution triggered by the higher plane of the subconscious because this heroine had a close relation with the god Poseidon.
From this union was born the twins Belos and Agenor.
The descendants of Belos “the incarnation of the liberation” which describes the requirements of this path have already been studied extensively with the myth of Perseus and the first six Labours of Heracles.
In this chapter we will follow one of the two branches of Agenor’s lineage “the brave and noble” or “who is leading the evolution in the incarnation”, a character whose lineage is more about the experiences and hurdles encountered on this path (see Diagram 23).
Agenor settled in Phoenicia. According to the authors, his wife’s name is Argiope “clear vision” or Telephassa “distant purity (the dove)”, names that both evoke the purification process. The dove is a symbol of peace, but above all, of purity (always in the sense of “each thing in its right place”).
The name “Phoenicia” (Lebanon and present Syria) where Agenor settled down, is to be associated with the father of Europa according to Homer, Phoenix, which has the same root Φοινιξ meaning scarlet red or purple. This color has been associated with a principle such as “immortality (non-duality)” obtained by the process of purification-liberation followed till its end, the liberation of Nature, which corresponds to the path of Oceanos.
The fabulous bird (about which Hesiod mentions only its extraordinary longevity), the Phoenix reborn from its ashes, seems to have been identified in the sacred bird Benhu, of ancient Egypt. The symbolism is that of a ‘renewal’ and a path towards non-duality.
We have considered here the filiations given by Apollodorus, but it should be noted that there are numerous genealogical uncertainties regarding Belos and Agenor who were studied by Timothy Gantz (chapter VI). We will remember that for some authors, a first wife of Agenor named Damno “mastery” had three children, two daughters and a son, Phoenix. The two girls married their two cousins, Danaos and Egyptos, ancestors of Heracles whom we already met. The name Damno describes a mastery brought about by the power of personal will, the ability to be “a master in one’s own home”. It was probably one of the first achievements required by the initiates at the beginning of the path.
Then Agenor had a second wife, Telephassa, who bore him a daughter and a son, Europa and Cadmus. It is on the story of Europa and her progeny that we will focus here, the one of Cadmus being the subject of the next chapter.
As the seeker progresses in his purification efforts described by the myth of Perseus and the first six Labours of Heracles, he opens his consciousness and acquires a wider and truer vision symbolized by Europa.
For Homer, Europa is the daughter of Phoenix, son of Agenor. With the symbol letters, the name Phoenix Φ+ΙΝ+Ξ can be understood as “the conscious evolution of the descent of a luminosity in the being”.
While there is no precise correlation between the progression in the planes of consciousness and the experiences lived in this path of purification-liberation, it is noteworthy that Agamemnon and Menelaus are descendants of Sterope by their paternal grandmother, and of Europa by their mother Aerope. This would imply a certain plane equivalence between the access to the higher mind (Sterope is the fourth Pleiade) and the experience represented by Europa.
But the caution that led the Ancients to carefully separate the description of the Labours of Heracles from the experiences encountered on the path (even if later authors dared to propose equivalents) is also prevalent here.
According to experts, the etymology of the word Europa is obscure. Two ways of interpretation can be followed here. Either one considers the word constructed with ευρυ and οψ, which means a “broad vision”, or with the Greek letter Pi (ευρυ + Π), “a broad balance” or “a broad mastery”.
Given its place in the genealogical trees, the second hypothesis seems more likely, especially since the seers are not listed in his progeny, but in the ascension of the planes of consciousness or in the lineage of Apollo.
If we adopt the “broad vision”, we should not consider it only as a consequence of intellectual development, but rather as an opening of consciousness resulting from the purification allowing us to come closer to the Truth, an irruption in the Higher mind plane.
Many spiritual teachings also use the term “to see”, because what is experienced by the seeker is more often a “vision” than a “feeling” which is rather related to the beginning of the path.
Europa and her children
Europa was so beautiful that Zeus fell in love.
While she was picking flowers in a meadow of Phoenicia with her attendants, Zeus came to lie down at her feet in the form of a dazzling white bull. According to some, he had a breath of rose, and according to others, he seduced Europa by exhaling a crocus. Unsuspecting, she stroked the animal and sat on his back. Immediately, the bull jumped into the sea and swam to Crete. There, Zeus united with her after having regained his divine form; and of their union were born two children, Minos and Rhadamanthus (to which some add Sarpedon).
Europa, “a broad balance (or right vision)” is beautiful: she therefore represents a first “true” movement of purification of the external being which allows this expanded awareness to be contacted and impregnated by the highest level of the mind, the supraconscious overmind (Zeus). Indeed, there is always an answer from the supraconscient planes when nature has reached a sufficient level of evolution, because of the mutual attraction of the Spirit and Nature emerging from unconsciousness (here, the crocus seems indeed to be the symbol of a mutation because it is a flower that grows during the change of season). Zeus’s “breath of rose” means also a “new breath”, the rose being the symbol of the spiritual rebirth and the great sensitivity of the eternal New (the one of Eos, the goddess “with the rose fingers”).
The highest force of the overmind (Zeus as supraconscious) “supports” this expansion of consciousness and mastery and then leads it to a new stage of evolution. The arrival in Crete marks the entry into a “protected” phase of the path, because no stranger can enter nor come out of it, at least not until the bronze giant Talos is killed by Medea.
Furthermore, we can consider that the choice of Crete has a triple meaning:
Geographic, because it was most probably the migration place of the dominant spirituality between Phoenicia and Greece (Agenor, coming from Egypt, founded his kingdom in Phoenicia).
Symbolic, because the letters of this name Crete (ΚΡ + Τ), may represent an “opening of consciousness according to the right movement on the level of the spirit”. One can also see in the bull – symbol of “the power of realization of the luminous mind”- the sign of the belonging of Minoan and archaic Greece to the era of the bull, a period of transition from the ancient Egyptian world marked by the sign of Aries to the Christian world that developed under the sign of the Pisces (cf. The symbolic zodiacal eras of 2,160 years). Note that the “Minoan” name given to the Cretan civilization is very recent (Sir Arthur Evans in the 19th Century).
Historical, by the succession of dominant civilizations, Minoan and Mycenaean.
With the intervention of Zeus, the spiritual energy – issued from the supraconscious – that supports the seeker in the form of a “realization power of the luminous mind” (the bull), carries him away, but he ignores his destination. He then finds himself in a state of “opening”, of “mastery” as well as in a certain isolation, which allows a first impregnation by the Spirit. It generates an impulse for a new endeavor of “rightness” in the symbolic sense of the two children Zeus gave to Europa, Minos and Rhadamanthus. They confirm a gradual “psychisation” of the being which, according to Sri Aurobindo, brings about true discernment, the right vision in the mind, the true feeling in the vital and accuracy in the actions.
The later tradition made Sarpedon a third son of Zeus and Europa, but we shall limit ourselves here to the Homeric version in which Sarpedon is the grandson of Bellerophon, who defeated the illusion, and son of Laodamia who defeated the “separation” (a daughter that Bellerophon had with a Lycian Princess in the land of the “emerging light”). It is then a more advanced stage of spiritual progression than the one represented by Minos and Rhadamanthus.
Minos and Rhadamanthus were known for their wisdom and fairness.
Minos was the first educator of the Cretans and gave them remarkable laws directly inspired by Zeus. He was also famous for the extent of his maritime empire and was even the first to obtain it, according to Apollodorus.
The name of Minos, by its Greek letters, shows an evolution of the “receptivity” combined with the balance of the movement of separation (witness consciousness) and identification (which leads to true compassion). It is therefore “the purification of intelligence” (the highest intelligence, the buddhi) in order to achieve a right balance and perfect discernment. It is the symbol of the evolution of the “just” acquired by the com