The reign of Zeus marks in humanity the beginning of the preponderance of the mind over the forces of life. Simultaneously, humanity entered in long cycles of the mind during half of which the connection to the Real is lost: it is the symbol of the punishment of Prometheus and the quest for apparences by his brother Epimetheus.
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Atlas and Prometheus – Vatican Museums
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The reign of Zeus
Then,”when the blessed gods had finished their toil, and settled by force their struggle for honours with the Titans, they pressed far-seeing Olympian Zeus to reign and to rule over them, by Earth’s prompting. So he divided their dignities amongst them.” (Hesiod. Theogony, trans. H.G Evelyn-White, Verse 881)
After having asserted their intention of mastering and moving away the primitive forces which had allowed the vital growth of humankind, the forces of the overmind submitted to the leadership of the highest amongst them “to reign and to rule over them”. Zeus was “far-seeing”, possessing the most extended consciousness: none can surpass him on this plane.
Hesiod then defines the frame of “human evolution” – that of “spiritual progression” for it does not seem that the ancient masters of wisdom differentiated between the two – by giving successively seven wives to Zeus which we have analysed in the preceding chapter. Here we will bring up only Metis and Hera.
Having achieved dominance over the forces in charge of vital development and then over Typhon, the force of ignorance (disorder, incoherence, and the whirlwinds of the emerging mind), Zeus, the consciousness of the overmind, was ready to join with Metis (the goddess of wisdom, daughter of Oceanos, a current of energy-consciousness). This marked the entry into the process of the acquisition of exact Knowledge or Discernment. Then, when Zeus swallowed the goddess, which is to say when the overmind devoted itself completely to the fulfillment of the cosmic intelligence by identification, the time was ripe for the birth of Athena. For from within Zeus, Metis “might devise for him both good and evil.” (Theogony), and their combined action led to “self knowledge”. Henceforth Metis would be present within the consciousness during all of Zeus’ other unions with mortals and goddesses alike: discernment or intelligence is therefore the keystone of the whole. Only Hera united with Zeus well before Metis, even without the knowledge of their parents (Iliad, XIV,295), for her limiting action in the mind intervenes well before the entry into the process of discernment.
The duration of this integration concerns the totality of Greek mythology which developed under the aegis of Athena, “equal to her father in strength and in wise understanding”, for the second child of Zeus and Metis never appears in mythology, “a son of overbearing spirit, king of gods and men” (Theogony verse 886). The latter would seize his father’s throne, ending definitively the reign of mental consciousness.
The other threat menacing the kingship of Zeus over the supremacy of mental consciousness was avoided by the forced marriage of the goddess Thetis with the mortal Peleus, for a prophesy had predicted that her son would be more powerful than his father. Therefore Zeus had to avoid entering into this union at all costs. Thetis and Peleus had a son of wide renown, Achilles, who led the Greeks to victory during the Trojan War.
Finally came the time for Zeus’ definitive marriage with Hera, “the right movement” of limitation. Their children would facilitate the evolution of human consciousness in incarnation through the movement of the renewal of forms (Ares and Hephaestus). Hera was always considered to be the great goddess of Argos, that of the labourers of “brilliance”, “swiftness”, and “non-action”.
Prometheus and Epimetheus
Simultaneously to the establishment of the reign of the mind, a phenomena occurred in human consciousness which was symbolically translated in all mythological traditions by the image of the Fall.
As long as man remains predominantly under the control of his vital (impulses, emotions, feelings), the two fundamental forces of the universe, fusion and separation, are at play with each other in a non-dissociated way as they do in the animal kingdom. There is no moral judgement, error or shame. But there is also no possibility for individuation: according to occult traditions, the animal kingdom is principally constituted of “group souls” governing evolution.
When man enters into the reflective mind plane, the aim of which is to achieve individuation, there begins a process of discernment which implies both a distancing from the object and a knowledge through identity. The movement of separation is carried out by the logical mind or the reasoning mind and that of identification through intuition.
At the end of the process, the truth of action must be perceived by intuition and realised by reason, which leads to the right action. But as we have seen this evolution has been rendered false since the first manifestations of the mental nervous force by an opposing power perverting the natural foundations of life. The initiates of ancient times named this Echidna, “the viper” who introduces the sense of separate existence. For everything in this created world seems to be subjected to opposed forces for the realisation of a higher perfection.
In pursuit of the necessary construction of an individualised centre of consciousness, nature has used the force of separation with all its deviations, mixtures and impurities for the elaboration of an “ego” or a personality which serves as a mask. Under the double influence of fundamental ignorance, Typhon, and of this perversion, Echidna, reason had the pretension of alone accessing Truth rather than serving intuition, which lost itself in the various processes of active divination and lost all contact with Reality. For the fall is actually nothing other than the loss of the inner contact which every child replays at some point before reaching the age of reason (Except for the beings born free and without ego).
However, this process had to be modulated by a fundamental vibratory or undulatory principle of the universe, source of the cycles governing both life and mind. The eagle sent by Zeus, who during the day devours the liver of Prometheus regenerating itself at night, represents the action of this principle in the mind: the alternating influence of the forces of fusion and separation, of intellect and intuition essential for the acquisition of “discernment”.
Although the symbolism of the two can sometimes seem unrelated, the parallel study of the myths of Prometheus and Genesis seems to be an imperative.
The war between the gods and the Titans closed an idyllic period (the “Golden Age” under the rule of the Titan Cronos, or in the Bible the time in which man lived his days in happiness in the Garden of Eden under the benevolent care of Yahweh) and assures a transition under the predominance of the mind.
The story of the ascension of the planes of consciousness in the mind is carried out entirely in the lineage of Iapetus. The name of this Titan, constructed around the characters Ι+Π+Τ, expresses the concept of a link (Π) in consciousness (Ι) with the highest levels of the Spirit (Τ). The name of his wife Clymene, “the Famous or Celebrated”, implies that this is a question of the “victories” of man in this ascension. The initiates of ancient times named this lineage the “Deucalionides” after their grandson Deucalion.
The Iapetus-Clymene couple had four children; Atlas, Menoetius, Prometheus and Epimetheus.
With the children of Atlas, the masters of wisdom have listed the stages to be crossed in the mental plane to regain the lost state of unity, man gaining his “individuality” or “freedom” during this progression.
Atlas “through hard constraint upholds the wide heaven with unwearying head and arms “(Theogony verse 507). Although he thus separates earth and sky he is also the path of their reuniting: when all the stages represented by his children the Pleiades will have been surpassed, the lost unity will be regained. For this to occur his son Prometheus will have to be “released” from the pillar to which Zeus had bound him. (The corresponding account attributed to Aeschylus, Prometheus unbound, has been lost, but it seems evident that Prometheus cannot be set free by Zeus, but rather by the second child that Metis will bear with Zeus.)
Menoetius does not appear in any myth. Hesiod tells us that “Menoetius was outrageous, and far-seeing Zeus struck him with a lurid thunderbolt and sent him down to Erebus because of his mad presumption and exceeding pride“. His name probably means “an insolent mind”.
The long evolutionary period corresponding to this character covers the first two stages of mental growth, that of the physical mind and the vital mind where both arrogance and a semblance of courage dominate, close to the inconscient and born of impulses for flight or aggression. As long as this mental arrogance dominates, the quest cannot really begin.
Through the union of their respective children Deukalion and Pyrrha, the two brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus open the two lineages to seekers who follow an ascension of the planes of consciousness in the mind through Hellen and Protogenia.
The lineage of Hellen, and therefore of the Hellenes, the Greeks, “they who seek a liberation in the spirit”. (Not included here are those who are not yet truly engaged on the spiritual path, generally known as the Pelasgians, they who are “near the beginning” and who are the most ancient people of the Peloponnese pushed out of Thessaly by the Lapiths. Some claim that the impiety and arrogance of the Pelasgians brought about the deluge of Deucalion.)
The lineage of Protogenia, the “avant-garde” of the adventurers of consciousness.
The names Prometheus and Epimetheus are usually translated as “he who thinks first” and “he who thinks after action”, based on the interpretation of the parallel between μηθευς and “μανθανω, to understand”. Thus Prometheus would be able to predict the consequences of actions while his brother who only understand the surface reality would be unable to go against the natural evolutionary current.
This is why the warning given by Prometheus did not prevent his brother from accepti