The reign of the Titans corresponds to the childhood of humanity, to its golden age before the mind takes over when Zeus rose to power. During the growth of life, the twelve Titans and Titanides ruled over the vital evolution of mankind and the gestation of mind: it was a period governed by the Titan Cronos. The initiated of ancient times have described this time as the “golden age” based on their observation of the early period of childhood: “And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart (…) When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep” (Works and Days, verse 109). It was the garden of Eden, paradise, the childhood of humanity in the period of life’s growth before it reached the age of reason when control was taken over by the mind.
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Symbolism of the Titans
Le symbolism of the Titans and Titanides is not explicitly explained in mythology, and we can only propose certain hypotheses concerning their organisation based on their genealogy.
They represent the great forces or principles which preside over creation and stem from the union of Matter (Gaia, the densified principle of Existence) and Spirit (Ouranos, the starry sky). They unfolded freely before mental consciousness became a dominant force in man, at the time when the Olympians took power. In Greek mythology, the Titans do not seem to have the role of Asuric powers which Sri Aurobindo attributes to some of them.
While the forces associated with the gods can be brought closer and understood by means of the mental faculties as a “psychological” manifestation of the Absolute, it is not the case for the world of the Titans; in the latter, forces and their interrelations are strangers to common mental consciousness and can only be connected with by way of inner experiences, intuitions, illuminations and revelations issued from the superior planes of the spirit.
The ancient Greeks left few clues concerning this world of the Titans, and the contradictions between different sources are difficult to comprehend. The abstemiousness of details about this is probably because knowledge about this plane is not indispensable for progression on the spiritual path. The fact that the Titans do not appear in the hero myths confirms this. And for a good reason! At the end of the war between gods and Titans, they were banished to Tartarus by the gods.
There is a reason for this eviction from the world of gods and men: the forces which they represent were not to evolve freely in man as long as the process of mental maturation was underway. What could be expressed freely in the infancy of humanity, when it was under the domination of the vital, and still leaves traces in present-day childhood, was submitted to many constraints from the moment in which intervened intuition and reason, the two mental movements of identification and separation. Coming to the forefront at different times, these two movements shape the development of the mind.
Understanding the world was therefore only useful for the initiated, who designed or made use of the myths in their teachings or encountered these forces in their exploration of consciousness. And in fact, they did not ascribe personal histories to the Titans before their exile into Tartarus. Consequently they can only be addressed by a discussion of their descendants.
Two Titan couples held a privileged role, for almost all the great myths and epics unfolds within their lineage.
The lineage of Iapetus and Clymene outlines all the stages to be crossed in the mental plane to breach the gulf between Matter and Spirit (a separation maintained by the Titan Atlas) so as to experience Reality by an evolution in consciousness. It depicts in detail the experiences of those who cross the seven planes of the mind embodied by the seven Pleiades, both the ordinary seekers, the Hellenes, descendants of the hero by the same name, and the adventurers of consciousness following Protogenia. This is the process of “ascent “.
The lineage of Oceanos and Tethys describes, in the line of descent of the river-gods (the currents of energy-consciousness), the progress towards Reality supporting itself on past human evolution and the ways of Nature. Two orientations hold a privileged place: concentration, Inachos, and equality, Peneus. It is the process of “integration” or the path of purification, liberation and the fulfillment of equality.
With a third lineage, that of the river Asopos, a new prospect of evolution opens up for mankind. It is in this lineage that appears Achilles, the supreme hero without whose participation the Trojan War could have never been won by the Greeks,
While the lineages originating with Iapetus answer the call of what beckons from above, those originating with Oceanos follow the movement of Nature with an insistence on a purification of our nature from the impurities and slag of evolution, liberating it from ancient evolutionary forces which are no longer necessary.
Combining these two processes of ascent and integration in accordance with the path that is fitting for each constitutes the “spiritual path” for those who wish to accelerate the movement of evolution.
The other Titans and Titanides are representative of other planes and forces at play in Reality.
Hyperion and Theia: the highest level of the world of creation which we call “supramental”, in the sense that it includes everything beyond the mental plane, or “world of Truth”. This couple had three children:
– Helius, ” the force of illumination in Truth”.
– Selene, the recipient, “the Moon” or “an evolving glow”, evocative of the true personality which remains after the disappearance of the ego. (Refer to Mother’s Agenda 1/10/1958 about “the divine Person beyond the Impersonal”.)
– And the principle of their relation, Eos, the eternal Newness.
Crius and Eurybia: the movements through which the Absolute acts in manifestation, and amongst them the four great winds or divine aids, Eurus, Notus, Zephyrus and Boreas.
Coeos (Coios) and Phoebe: souls, psychic beings and their manifestations in human mental consciousness (Apollo and Artemis).
Themis: the divine laws.
Mnemosyne: complete or eternal memory.
Cronus and Rhea: the highest forces in the world of forms. This couple brought to life the gods principally in charge of the growth of human consciousness. As formative forces, they belong to the overmind.
Some theories regarding the organisation of the Titans and the formation of the Titan couples.
Taking into consideration the close relationship between the structure of mythology and the caduceus of Hermes – and the Tree of Life which is associated with the latter – a parallel can be drawn between the Titans and the seven planes of manifestation. The number of elements given below are a result of the intuition and reflection of the author; whether they are confirmed or not later on should not put in question the validity of the rest of the interpretation.
Hesiod named six Titans and six Titanides, to which Apollodorus added Dione who he described as Aphrodite’s mother. Homer also mentions this ancestry, without however specifying whether Dione is a Titanide.
Here we will keep Hesiod’s classification, that of the initiated whose efforts for coherence in the discussion of the structure of mythology left the strongest mark on later literature.
In the Tree of Life (the tree of the Sephiroth), three is the number associated with the divine world, or the world of emanations. The number of the world of creation is seven, that of the world of forms is five and that which governs the terrestrial world or the world of matter is ten( or zero as symbol of all numbers). (These interpretations are conclusions of the author.)
The Titans and Titanides, who can be identified as the forces of the world of creation as they intervene directly following the castration of Ouranos and precede the plane of the gods, should consequently be presented as seven pairs of forces, polarised but not dual. On their plane, opposites are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary, for they still belong to the world of unity. Contradictions or what we perceive as contradictions only appear at a much later and denser stage on the ladder of consciousness. The two states of consciousness which correspond to the two individuals in these couples are expressions of each other, manifesting a single force in two different ways, “concentrated rest” and “action”.
Yet Hesiod names only twelve Titans and Titanides. In music, the note Do creates the six other notes by the successive division of the length of a vibrating string while being itself included in the seven-note scale. If this principle of generation is applied to the Titans, the parental couple Ouranos and Gaia make up the seventh couple and can be seen as the generating base, the plinth on which rest the six other couples. It is also possible that the initiates of ancient times linked the number six to the world of the Titans (or twelve if the two complimentary aspects are included) in reference to a “new creation” to which the Mother attributes this number (cf. Mother’s Agenda, Volume 8).
Another astonishing fact is that amongst the Titans and Titanides, only eight would come together as couples. Two of the Titans, Iapetus and Crius, united with goddesses outside their own kind. The two Titanides Themis and Mnemosyne remain solitary, if we do not take into account their brief affairs with Zeus.
There are therefore misalliances which suggest a partial action of the forces they embody.
The first Titan of this kind is Crius, united with Eurybia, “a great strength”, the last daughter of Pontos, the highest plane of life. She belongs to the second divine generation, therefore of same rank as the Titans. Crius and Eurybia therefore act as non-dual forces: the highest forces of life working on the process of individuation.
Logically the fitting partner to Crius would be Themis, the goddess of divine laws. His temporary union with Eurybia is thus explained by what we call, in accordance with Sri Aurobindo’s words, the “Fall of Life” which takes place at the time of the appearance of the mind and was the cause of great “perversion”: Orthros, Cerberus, Chimera and the Lernaean Hydra.
Another ill-matched couple is Iapetus and Clymene, which is explained by the fact that “Man”, who is to take his place in the world of Truth, does not yet exist. Modern man, whose existence is dominated by ego, still belongs to the animal world governed by the gods, children of Cronos.
Iapetus is the father of Atlas, who establishes the connection between earth and sky, between Spirit and Matter (he carries the sky on his shoulders). He is the ancestor of many great heroes including Heracles and Ulysses. He is the symbol of humanity in progress. He will completely fulfill his role when man finds and integrates his original memory, Mnemosyne, “she who remembers everything at the same time”, a complete memory outside time which will restore man’s rightful place and function in the eternal present within creation. In the meantime he is united with Clymene, daughter of Oceanos. The lineage of this couple reveals the hierarchy of the planes of consciousness which must be ascended to fill the gap as well as the corresponding realisations, on one hand for the seekers of truth (the Hellenes) and on the other for the adventurers of consciousness (Protogenia).
In this theory of the organisation of the seven levels, each Titan couple can be associated with one of the seven planes of the Tree of Life (the tree of Sephiroth or the Caduceus). According to Kabbalah, this tree is constituted of four worlds and seven planes. The four worlds are: the divine world or the world of emanations, the world of creation, the world of formation and the world of action or terrestrial existence. The seven planes are distributed in these four worlds and express a progressive densification of consciousness.
Towards the bottom are the three created planes (mineral/inorganic, plant and animal) which modern man has not yet pushed himself past, and towards the top are the three creator planes. In between, there is a vacant plane, that of future or Supramental Man. The concepts of high and low and top and bottom are only used here to allow us to situate these planes in an intelligible way.
This way of delineating the seven planes is not only specific to Kabbalah. We also find it in the Vedas, which describe the three superior planes Sat-Chit-Ananda, a median world, “Svar”, the plane of solar illumination (supramental), and then “Dyaus”, the sky or the mental world, Antariksha, the world of vital consciousness and Prithivi, the world of physical consciousness. (Sri Aurobindo. The Secret of the Veda)
Although in theory they belong to the second world of creation, each Titan couple resonates specifically with one of the seven planes.
As in this world nothing is separate, the seven forces are One and yet many as the colours of the rainbow, each vibrating in harmony with a specific plane and at the same time united to others to form the white light which illuminates the whole.
As in the image of the seven-branched candelabra, the couples correspond to each other in pairs, one of the individuals of the couple belonging to the created planes and the other to the creator planes. (cf. Diagram 3). The couple in the middle forms the link between the six others.
The three inferior planes correspond to the progressive combinations of elements appearing successively in creation: matter, life and mind. The vegetal plane has as a support matter and life. The animal plane adds mind to this, with the nervous system as a physical support. At the summit of the animal world, modern mental man is set apart from it by a superior capacity for consciousness, for the treatment of information and conscious action resulting from a distancing process (the reflective mind). He experiences the first faltering steps of a still largely unconscious force of creation dominated by an unpolished and arrogant ego.
The Ouranos-Gaia couple at the base of the world of the Titans is thus situated at the level of matter.
The couple which echoes them in the creator worlds is that of Hyperion and Theia, for Hyperion ” Υπερ + Ι “, symbolises consciousness at its highest level. Theia, “the Divine”, is the principle of inviolate consciousness (Θ+Ι).The couple’s children are Helius the sun, Selene the moon and Eos the dawn, respectively symbolising the illuminating principle of the supramental, the receptive principle of execution (the true personality or “the divine Person beyond the Impersonal”) and the element linking the two: the “divine game” renewing itself constantly by an “eternal newness”. The “soul” or “divine spark”, also known as the psychic principle or the psychic entity, progressively elaborates through successive lives the “psychic personality” or the “psychic being” represented by Leto in the lineage of the Titan Coeus.
The couple situated between the creator planes and the created planes is easy to determine by their descendants. It is that of Iapetus and Clymene, whose lineage represents (Cf. Diagram 7).
in the children of Atlas, all the levels to be crossed to breach the gap between Matter and Spirit, levels which we refer to as “planes of consciousness”.
through the grandchildren of Helen (the children of Aeolus), the experiences which we encounter during the ascension of these planes till union is realised.
and by the lineage of Protogenia, the most advanced realisation on the path, those of the adventurers of consciousness.
It is the plane of the future Man, when he will have established himself in the Supramental in a definite way. It is a plane which establishes the link and belongs both to the creator worlds and to the created worlds; this signifies that man is a potential creator with unsuspected possibilities.
For the time being this plane lies vacant, for man has not yet regained his “memory” of belonging to Unity despite the efforts of the Muses, daughters of Mnemosyne.
The masters of wisdom used this plane to describe the stages of ascension in consciousness and “spiritual realisation”. Here are depicted the great heroes which symbolise the efforts of humanity to raise itself towards the supramental plane: Jason, Oeneus, Meleagros, Deianira, Ulysses, etc.
Following the same reasoning, the four other couples, Coeus (Κοιος)-Phoebe, Crius (Κριος)-Eurybia, Cronos (Κρονος)-Rhea and Oceanos (Οκεανος)-Thetis must be ordered around the Iapetus-Clymene couple.
In examining the character structures of the male names in the couples, ΚΡΙ, Κ+Ι, ΚΡ+Ν, Κ+Ν, we see that the first two, Crius and Coeus, resonate with the creator worlds and the last two, Cronos and Oceanos, with the world created in evolution according to Nature or Becoming.
Amongst their descendants we find:
In Crius lineage, the principles and the forces which support evolution, particularly the four great “winds”.
In Coeus lineage, the progressive make-up of the psychic being, symbolised by Leto and her children Apollo and Artemis.
In Cronos lineage, the highest forces in the world of forms, the twelve great gods who share amongst themselves the domain of human consciousness.
In Oceanos lineage, the currents of forces and the evolutionary principles which rule over creation. By analogy, his children are the rivers. (The name Oceanos must not lead to confusion, for in primitive mythology it was never connected with the “ocean”). He symbolises the totality of the currents of energy-consciousness supporting evolution according to the ways of Nature. The initiates of ancient times have gathered in this grouping stories of heroes which illustrate the processes of purification, liberation and transformation such as Perseus, Heracles and Oedipus.
From this we will must essentially keep in mind that the heroes in Oceanos’ line of descent – Perseus, Heracles, Dionysus, Oedipus, Achilles, Orpheus, Europe, Minos – belong to the “process of integration” which implies “purification” and “liberation” (liberation from the processes of the past which contribute to evolution: ego, desire, attachments, etc.), while the descendants of Iapetus – Jason, Bellerophon, Ulysses, etc. – represent experiences in the ascension of planes of consciousness. Let us note however that the parentage of Ulysses, the most advanced of all the seekers, has never been clearly established aside from his maternal ancestry which links him to the overmind.
Zeus’ birth and rise to power: the gestation and growth of human mental consciousness till the level of the overmind. The fight against Typhon.
Cronos, having become “master of the universe”, married his sister Rhea who bore his six children: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus.
Forewarned by his own parents Gaia and Ouranos that one of his own children would dethrone him, he swallowed his children one after the other the moment they were born, causing unending torment to his wife Rhea. When she was close to giving birth to another child, Zeus, her parents advised her to go to Lyctos in Crete and bear her child there secretly. Gaia reclaimed the newborn child to raise him, and Cronos swallowed a stone swaddled in a piece of cloth in place of the baby.
Zeus grew rapidly, and following a plan suggested by Gaia he made his father vomit so that his siblings were liberated, in the inverse order in which they had been swallowed.
Then, predicting the confrontation with the Titans, Zeus liberated the Cyclopes from the underground in which Ouranos had confined them. As a sign of gratitude they forged for him thunder and the burning lightning.
As the war between the gods and the Titans lasted for ten long years of the gods, Zeus decided to follow the advice of Gaia and also liberate the Hundred-Handed Giants or Hecatoncheires, Briareus, Cottus and Gyges, who had also been confined into the depths of the earth by Cronus.
The battle between the two sides raged on. The entire universe resonated with the fury of combat. But the Titans could not resist the combined forces of the gods and the Hundred-Handed Giants. Zeus in particular could not curb his ardour, handling the thunder and burning lightning flashes. The Hundred-Handed giants would hurl three hundred rocks at a time and their shadow finally engulfed the Titans.
Vanquished, the latter were relegated to Tartarus and enchained in painful bonds behind the bronze doors put in place by Poseidon. This is also where dwell the Hundred-Handed giants, Zeus’ trusty guardians.
For the interpretation of this myth we can find it useful to draw a parallel between the development of prehistoric humanity and that of a child.
The first period in which man is completely subjected to primal impulses and emotions forms the link with the last phase of vital growth (represented by the children of Pontos). Reflective human consciousness develops: it is Zeus’ phase of “gestation”.
According to Hesiod, Zeus was the youngest of his siblings. The movements which his brothers and sisters represent are therefore at work in the shadows of humanity: well before the domination by the conscious reflective mind began, under the influence of the overmind, the movement towards union (Demeter), the aspiration towards what is higher which at first brought with it the vertical standing position of man (Hestia), and the right evolutionary movement (Hera). These events were imprinted as memories within the inconscient and subconscient, whose activity, although important, remained unknown to consciousness.
During the second stage, Zeus was the only one amongst the children of Cronus to grow outside the paternal body in which his siblings continued to develop, or at any rate endured a period of latency. In other words, the supraconscient overmind began its growth before the other movements became objectively perceptible, as they were still immersed in supraconscience.
In most traditions, the birth of Zeus occurred on Mount Ida, “the aspiration towards unity” or “consciousness that is one” (ΙΔ).
According to Hesiod, Rhea gave birth in Lyktos in Crete (Lukos +Τ, the glow which precedes dawn towards the plane of the spirit) and then entrusted Zeus to his grandmother Gaia. The latter hid him in a gigantic cavern in Mount Aegaeon (“goat”), a place which is expressive of the power of aspiration issuing from the highest vital plane, symbol of the plane from which human mental evolution started.
The childhood of Zeus was not marked by any particular event. She seems to correspond roughly to the period between birth and the ninth month, in which the child is so intimately tied to his mother that momentary separations do not in principle create any difficulty. He does not suffer from physical estrangement in the same way that man, in the corresponding evolutionary period, is not yet separated from his divine source. It is the time of Cronos, the time in the Garden of Eden before the fall.
Upon reaching adulthood, Zeus liberated his brothers and sisters from inside the body of Cronos, which for man represents the gaining of awareness of the different forces acting within him. He then freed the Cyclopes imprisoned in Tartarus, and in return they gifted him with the lightning bolt: this was the time in the growth of mankind in which the conscious mind had become capable of receiving “dazzling” flashes from the spiritual plane which he also perceived as “all powerful” expressions. As gifts of the Cyclopes, thunder and lightning come from the supramental plane (actually the gift was a bundle of flaming darts which symbolise the power of lightning, its dazzling light and instantaneous rapidity).
The duration of the war “ten long years in the time of the gods “, indicates a complete period of maturation which can be likened to the period in which the child integrates the reality of physical separation. After this he engages for over a year in “titanic” battles to acquire the ultimate stage, cleanliness and speech. He fully utilizes his capacity for knowledge but the sense of “I” is not yet present. For this to occur, Zeus must symbolically liberate the Hundred-Handed Giants, which is to say that the integration of the individual elements surrounding a reflective center of consciousness is to be put into operation.
While the personality is born, the seed of the ego is forming and the mind is becoming apt at controlling the natural impulses of life, then Typhon, “the force of ignorance”, rises up against and opposes “knowledge”. This is surprisingly reminiscent of the phase of “opposition” in the child.
Then, once acquired the victory of the conscious mind, the Titans were imprisoned within Tartarus under the guard of the Hundred-Handed giants: the natural and spontaneous forces of life are at this point relegated into the deep inconscient and their actions become inaccessible to consciousness. Only their effects, often diminished by the dominance of the mind, will be perceptible to their descendants. The banishment of the Titans into Tartarus most probably also illustrates the disappearance of many “instinctive” faculties and “powers” which man had to abandon during the course of his evolution.
Their guardians the Hundred-Handed giants, symbols of an ability for action in all directions simultaneously and at the time, also lie beyond human consciousness although they are free. They are great powers capable of restraining the forces of life and thus allowing mental consciousness to emerge victorious. Henceforth they restrain these forces of nature and keep them within the darkness of the kingdom of Nescience till the time when the mind will in turn surrender its place.
In fact, if man is permitted to draw near to supreme Knowledge (by way of the Cyclopes), Omnipotence cannot be granted to him as long as the traversing of the mental plane is underway.
Let us note that the Titans fought from Mount Othrys in Southern Thessaly, and the gods from Mount Olympus on the northern frontier of this province, which is to say at the two extremities of “the quest led by the mind” (the highest peaks in the periods of evolution of the mind and the vital).
Mount Orthrys could also be an indication of an inversion of the movement of internalization (ΘΡ): the Titans would hinder the evolutionary movement born within. (In fact, we have already come across a word constructed in a similar way; Orthros, the monstruous son of Typhon and Echidna, by inversion of the word Orthos, rightness, straightness).
Zeus fighting Typhon -Staatliche Antikensammlungen
The moment Zeus took control of the universe, “huge Earth bare her youngest child Typhon of the love of Tartarus, by the aid of golden Aphrodite” (Theogony, verse 820).
Typhon is a powerful god whose limbs are tireless. He had a hundred dragon heads with tongues of darkness and a hundred glittering eyes of fire. His many heads emitted a variety of sounds, some of which resembled the cries of animals (of bulls, lions, or even of a whelp), some of which were like hissings and others which seemed to address the gods. He united with Echidna, and she bare him four terrible monsters; the dog Orthros, Cerberus, the Lernaean Hydra and Chimera.
If Zeus had not caught sight of him in time, Typhon would have become lord and master of the mortals and immortals alike. The battle between them was terrible. The earth, the ocean, the tides, the sky and Tartarus resounded with an appalling din. Typhon would spit out flaming blasts while Zeus filled the sky with lightning, and the ground boiled from the heat. The earth trembled and groaned, and enormous waves heaved in the oceans. Then an uncontrollable tremor began.
Even Hades and the Titans chained under Tartarus trembled before the fierceness of this battle.
Finally Typhon collapsed, while the great Earth moaned. But before being banished into Tartarus he succeeded in setting the earth to fire, and she began melting.
It is from Typhon that came forth the evil winds (which must not be confused with the children of Astraeos, the divine winds Boreas, Eurus, Zephyrus and Notos).
From the moment that is manifested the influence of the supraconscious overmind for the establishment of a reflective human consciousness capable of mastering the instinctive forces, there will simultaneously appear an equally powerful force of “ignorance” to oppose it.
Actually, the principle of the simultaneous appearance of an element and of its opposite was already at work at the time when Tartarus came to be: Tartarus represents Nescience, the principle opposing Existence-Consciousness.
Here, this dual principle in the acquisition of Knowledge seems to be a sine qua non condition of the evolution of Love, for the event occurred “by the grace of golden Aphrodite”.
To introduce the fact that everything within manifestation, from the heights of Spirit to the depths of Matter, is dual and rediscovers its unity only at its limits (the highest point of Spirit is identical to the deepest point of Matter), Hesiod gives a long description symmetrical in every point of the negative worlds and the superior worlds of the Tree of life. (The latter is a static depiction of the energy centers in man and the universe, while the Caduceus of Hermes represents them dynamically).
At the superior center enveloped by the triple veil of “negative Existence”, he draws on the parallel with Tartarus, as far from Earth as Earth is from the Heavens, “For a brazen anvil falling down from heaven nine nights and days would reach the earth upon the tenth: and again, a brazen anvil falling from earth nine nights and days would reach Tartarus upon the tenth. “(Theogony, verse 713). These periods correspond to the centers of consciousness to be gone through (the Sephiroth). Tartarus is surrounded by a wall of bronze. Night spreads in triple line all about it like a neck-circlet, just as in Kabbalah “nothingness, that without limits and the light without limits” (Ain, Ain Soph, Ain Soph Aur) envelop the most elevated divine center. The ability to access the realms of Tartarus stems from an extremely advanced yoga of the body, for “It is a great gulf, and if once a man were within the gates, he would not reach the floor until a whole year had reached its end, but cruel blast upon blast would carry him this way and that”.
This description by Hesiod shows that the path which leads to these “frontiers” or outer limits is terrifying. But at the deepest level, the One manifests itself in a place in which the extreme limits of matter (gloomy earth), life (unfruitful sea), spirit (starry heaven) and Nescience (Tartarus) join, for “there, all in their order, are the sources and ends of gloomy earth and misty Tartarus and the unfruitful sea and starry heaven ” (Theogony, verse 736). In fact, none can descend into the greatest depths if he has not yet conquered the corresponding summits of spiritual light.
And the way of reaching these is to climb the rungs of consciousness symbolised by the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, for “In front of it the son of Iapetus stands immovably upholding the wide heaven upon his head and unwearying hands “. But for man, this journey is subjected to alternating periods of separation and fusion in the mind, for where “Night and Day draw near and greet one another as they pass the great threshold of bronze: and while the one is about to go down into the house, the other comes out at the door.” (Theogony, verse 744). Hesiod confirms this alternation in the second part of his account in Works and Days with the myth of Prometheus.
For Hesiod, Typhon is a consequence of the involution of the Absolute in matter (a result of the union of Tartarus, Nescience, with Gaia, Becoming), which appears from the moment in which human mental consciousness start to take control of evolution: it is therefore a force of opposition necessary for this evolutionary process. In one of the Homeric hymns he is the son of Hera, the principle which “limits” or “checks” the expansion of consciousness (Zeus) so that everything may progress forward at the same pace and nothing be left behind in the evolutionary process. Humanity must either progress as a whole, or it must perish.
His name (Τυφων Τ+Φ), with the characters that construct it, could indicate either penetration of Spirit into Matter, or a break in this movement. His name means “whirling winds”. Also associated with him are characteristics such as “smokiness, blindness, stupor and sleep inducing”, while Hesiod also associates him with “trepidation”. Actually it is these microscopic movements of consciousness constituted of trepidations and inward coiling which provoke in the whole being a state of oblivion bordering on stupor, which is the “fundamental ignorance”.
According to Hesiod’s text, this force came forth from Tartarus, fundamental Nescience, and therefore it exists independently from man. On the other hand Homer suggests that this force intervenes in the realm of manifestation to check the progress of evolution only once reflective human consciousness has emerged. It is in fact the “falling back into sleep” which seekers striving to conquer the inertia of nature and to accelerate the evolutionary process are warned against by the great initiates calling for an “awakening”.
Following the parentage described by Hesiod in the exploration of the deep layers of consciousness, mechanisms of the same order (such as mantras) could overcome this trepidating ignorance in matter which repeats itself tirelessly. The Mother also mentions the “taste for drama” of this deep cellular consciousness.
Typhon, with his hundred dragon heads “with dark, flickering tongues”, could express himself in multiple ways, from the most fascinating and terrifying to the most deceiving, simulating even the language of the gods: ignorance can conceal itself anywhere, even in what seems the most trustworthy and reliable. Thus spiritual teachings recommend that seekers must not to rely on anything but the Divine.
Typhon disrupts all the planes: the body, the vital being and the mind (earth, ocean and sky). Hesiod writes that Typhon set fire to the earth before being banished into Tartarus. He may be alluding to the childhood illnesses which cause strong fevers, and which some esoteric teachings explain as reminiscences of ancient evolutionary phases of humanity. In fact, the word Typhus is used to describe different types of fevers causing extreme stupor.
Zeus cannot destroy the influence of Typhon beyond the reaches of his domain of the overmind for the latter belongs to the race of immortals, but he can throw him out of the kingdoms of consciousness and into the Nescience of Tartarus. It is from here that Typhon then exerts his power, in the same way as the Titans and without the awareness of consciousness, and lifts the evil winds with their humid breath (not included in this category of course are the four winds of divine lineage, the children of Astraeus- Eurus, Notus, Boreas and Zephyrus- who are objectively helpful aides on the path even though they powerfully shake the ego).
These evil winds swell into storms, “varying with the season they blow, scattering ships and destroying sailors. Others again over the boundless, flowering earth spoil the fair fields of men who dwell below, filling them with dust and cruel uproar. ”
(…) And men who meet these upon the sea have no help against the mischief.” (Hesiod, Theogony, trans. H.G Evelyn-White verse 869): these are forces which disturb the seeker endlessly and against which he is powerless when they manifest themselves in the vital and in the body. They arise from this ignorant and inconscient “stupor”, do not seem to be in any way useful to the path, destroying what progress has been achieved. Certain Greek writers after Hesiod give a much more detailed account of the conclusion of the conflict between Zeus and Typhon. This is especially done to draw a parallel between the Greek and the Egyptian gods. In fact it is said that being seized by fear as they beheld the fierce battle, all the gods fled from Greece and hid themselves in Egypt under the guise of different animals.
In Hesiod’s version, Typhon (Ignorance, stupor, non-awakening), thus emerges when appear the first rudiments of reflective consciousness, the formation of the human sense of self, as a necessary force for the development of the latter introduced by the grace of Love (“by the grace of golden Aphrodite”).
In the history of humankind summarised in the stages of childhood, consciousness had to labour for millennia before becoming imperative in the face of ignorance.
Another version recounted by Apollodorus places this conflict closer to the end of the path since it follows the war against the giants. He considered the participation of Heracles necessary for victory well after the completion of his twelve labours.
The first version sets out the incompatibility of the overmind and ignorance, while Apollodorus’ account focuses on the moment in which the seeker comes to the end of this struggle.
The battle is then fought in the deep layers of consciousness and the seeker must at this point mobilise more extended resources which do not only belong to mental consciousness. The struggle undergoes a phase in which the supraconscient is immobilised, incapable of fighting back or even feeling (Zeus has his nerves or his tendons severed). It is the highest occult knowledge and surrender (Hermes) and the aspiration towards the highest aspect of the vital (Aegipan, or Pan as he is more commonly known) that help the seeker out of this difficult situation.
Actually the two versions complement each other and show us that the struggle against “ignorance, inertia and lack of consciousness” is a constant on the path, becoming more and more relentless and intervening at all the levels of the mental plane, the vital and then the body.