To proceed with the interpretation of Greek myths – keys for decryption essentially include the symbol letters, the elementary symbols, the family trees and the chronology of the myths.
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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The progression of mythological tales follows that of human evolution. Just as the stages of learning in childhood – walking, talking, social interaction, etc. – are a summary of universal stages of growth, mythology too retraces human evolution from its origins and anticipates its future development from its present stage of intellectual domination. It is built on the results of experiences rather than around a system of beliefs. It teaches us the necessary preliminary steps for progressing towards each new stage of evolution. Although initiates were unanimous in their understanding of the initial stages of the path, this was not always the case for the more advanced stages. For instance, the Trojan War not only illustrates an inner struggle, but probably also a fierce controversy among the supporters of different paths of initiation.
Through a number of symbols, mythology is the expression of the synthesis of thousands of years of individual experiences, and the presentation of the knowledge gained in the form of epics.
Boustrophedon inscription – Code of Gortyn – © Agon S. Buchholz
The keys for decoding can be classified in several more or less complex categories.
*The first category utilises the symbolic content of the letters of the alphabet, which in turn form proper names, the meaning of which stems partly from the order of their constituent characters. Most often the names of gods, heroes, characters, places, etc. are constructed by an association of significant letters and words from common, everyday language to create a symbolic word puzzle.
There is every reason to believe that this method of encryption had already been used by the Egyptians. When referring to Egyptian signs, the Greeks called them “Ta hiera grammata”, the sacred letters, or “Ta hiera glyphica”, an expression meaning “the engraved sacred (letters)” or “hieroglyphs”. Why “sacred” if it was not that they manifested, in their lines, a symbolic content revealing sacred knowledge?
The Egyptians themselves referred to them as “the writing of divine words”.
*The second category is linked to the meaning conveyed by basic symbols (images, numbers, etc.), often with multiple meanings that try to follow as closely as possible the “dictionaries of symbols “. However, caution is advised when using information given in these works, as the Greeks sometimes took up ancient meanings entirely unknown to us. For instance they borrowed from the Vedas the image of the cow as a symbol of the “light of Truth” rather than meaning “Mother Earth” or “abundance”, as indicated in dictionaries. And so, the herds of the Sun, Helios, are “parts of Truth” perceived by the seeker through experiences such as illuminations, revelations or inspirations.
This category also includes numbers as basic symbols.
*The third category consists of a structure belonging to Greek mythology, at least in its wider sense, for its seed was already present in the mythology of Egypt and the Middle East: the genealogical trees. These provide symbols with multiple ramifications, allowing a play of a number of ideas such as spiritual progression, theory and practice, the succession of levels of consciousness, the history of spirituality, stages of the path and the necessary conditions to engage with them.
Knowledge of two or three hundred characters (among the two or three thousand listed) helps to easily find one’s bearings within the spiritual progression.
A detailed study of genealogical trees giving the fundamental structure of myths will begin in the next chapter. At this point, we will only discuss how they are to be used.
*The fourth category includes the chronology of the tales, in themselves a coherent assembly of the basic symbols containing teachings or allegorical descriptions of experiences.
Once the stage of interpreting simple symbols and the contents of a particular myth is over, the difficulty is to place the story within the frame of spiritual development. The answer is most often given in the myths themselves, by an indication of a certain number of generations or years “before” or “after” certain points of reference, such as the Trojan War or the Quest for the Golden Fleece. It can also be given by the age of the characters – Theseus, for instance, was said to be over fifty years of age at the time of the abduction of Helen, while she was still nubile – or by the journey of peoples or heroes through real or imaginary lands. Other more specific indications, such as distant kinship or “visits “, helps bring more precision to the chronology.
*The fifth and last category is related to a single symbol, graphically simple but very complex in its interpretation: the Caduceus of Hermes.
It includes very extensive esoteric knowledge about the planes of consciousness and their interactions, the circulation of energy, etc. It is better known under its dynamic form, in which it is represented as two snakes wrapped around a staff, and is transcribed in static form in the Hebrew tradition of Kabbalah by the symbol of the ” Tree of Life ” (see diagrams in the appendices). Explanations about this symbol appear at the end of the third volume. An in-depth study is only imperative for those wishing to decipher ancient texts, myths or genesis stories amongst others.
Besides these main categories, several specific keys are applicable only to a small number of myths, and are therefore not subject to a detailed analysis in this chapter. For instance, the way heroes belong to different planes of consciousness, or the functioning of the mind in accordance with cycles of alternating separative and fusional tendencies, which manifested through the intellect and intuition. We will study these in the relevant myths.
Greek mythology also refers to practices, such as the recitation of mantras, or to the performance of certain dances, of which the details are not known to us. They were most probably a necessary part of the oral teaching from master to disciple which could not be transcribed into writing.
Letters were not designed randomly or by chance; their graphic characteristics were meant to express a specific concept or idea. This way of using graphics as a representation of archetypes was not an invention of the Ancient Greeks; the Egyptians and then the Phoenicians had already made use of this. The Greeks improved and adapted the system in order to build up a set of pictorial symbols which, through various combinations, could be used to express their thoughts and experiences.
This way of designing the alphabet would bring about a series of consequences.
First, if by their symbolic content the letters were used to construct the names of characters and places, it must be deducted that the development of the alphabet preceded that of the myths, which was entirely constructed around the names of the gods, heroes and sometimes even places. The latter were then attributed to existing or imaginary sites. For example, the name of the goddess Athena is built around the two structuring characters Θ (theta) and Ν (nu), with the Θ symbolising “what is within” and the N symbolising “evolution “. Athena is therefore the power that ensures “the growth of the inner being” also known as “the inner Master “. The favoured symbolic site associated with this quest was named Athens. Thus, if this city existed before the elaboration of the myths, it would probably have had another name. Mythology indicates that it was “Cecropia “.
However, certain names of cities, gods and perhaps of some characters were inherited from earlier periods, as it was probably necessary to maintain some continuity with the secular world.
This way of seeing things then makes us question why writing came to be. Indeed, if letters hold symbolic content, then writing was probably not invented for the needs of everyday life, even if it was soon used for this purpose as well. Rather, it must have come about to preserve the traces of spiritual experiences and knowledge previously passed on orally for thousands of years from master to disciple. If the sages and wise men felt a pressing need to transcribe this knowledge (in Egypt this was carved in stone so as to last for endless centuries), it must have been because they became aware of a very particular phenomenon; the entry into a new era where the separative mind would prevail to allow the process of individuation. This period entailed a distancing from the Truth, illustrated in many traditions by the “Fall ” from Paradise, and was felt as the loss of a sense of oneness, a dimming and a degradation of consciousness. As a consequence of this phenomenon, it became impossible to continue with oral transmission, as the masters could no longer find disciples capable of following their teachings. Intuitive contact with the Truth was gradually lost. Mankind was to go through a dark time during which the perception of Reality would withdraw, as a response to cycles that will be explained in detail later on, so that man could gain his Individuality and emerge from animal existence.
The ancient Sages realised the need, probably expressed as an inner command, to preserve for a distant future traces of their highest spiritual conquests.
The Greek alphabet and all the alphabets that came before it would thus not be a brilliant invention responding to a new need for expression or communication, but would rather answer the compelling necessity of preserving a disappearing form of knowledge. There is always a tendency to think that men in ancient times had the same psychological modus operandi as our own. But it is much more likely that the capacity for intuitive communication that no longer exists today had rendered written records unnecessary for a long time.
Before discussing the symbolism of alphabetical letters in detail, let us remember certain elements about the historical context of Greece between the 11th and 8th centuries BC, which precede the appearance of the texts of Hesiod and Homer that we are investigating. We must in fact ask ourselves whether the Greeks were the inventors of an entirely new method of encryption, or if they had taken up the practices of those before them.
What then was the situation in that region of the world around the 10th century BC?
During that period in Egypt, at the end of the New Kingdom (from 1580 to 1085 BC), forms created during the Old Kingdom took on a new grace. It is known as the Late Period. It marks the beginning of the decline of this great civilization, for the rebirth during the Saite Dynasty occurred only in the middle of the 7th century BC. However, the cultural influence of Egypt remained strong in the Middle East after the 11th century, especially in regards to the Mystery Schools. Relations with Greece took place through the Phoenicians before a direct connection was established from the 8th century BC.
Egypt seems to have been only marginally affected by the destruction which devastated almost all of the other Middle Eastern civilizations around 1200 BC, including the Hittite Empire in Anatolia, the Minoan civilization in Crete and the Mycenaean civilization in Greece.
In Crete, this seems to have been a period of refinement during which women held an important place in both religion and politics.
In Greece, the Mycenaean civilization grew without a political centre and reached its peak between 1450 and 1200 BC. The Greek language w