Ixion and the War of the Lapiths against the Centaurs symbolize on the one hand spiritual pride, on the other hand a deep purification of the vital.
The War of the Lapiths against the Centaurs – Louvre Museum
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To begin with, it must be said that sincerity is progressive. To be perfectly sincere it is indispensable not to have any preference, any desire, any attraction, any dislike, any sympathy or antipathy, any attachment, any repulsion. One must have a total, integral vision of things, in which everything is in its place and one has the same attitude towards all things: the attitude of true vision.
One must have a total, integral vision of things, in which everything is in its place and one has the same attitude towards all things: the attitude of true vision.
The Mother, Questions and Answers 1956
The Lapiths dwelt in northern Thessaly, the region of the most advanced ‘ordinary’ seekers, as demonstrated by the study of the heroes Ixion and Pirithoos, the latter described by Homer as a friend of Theseus and a Lapith.
Some say that this group displaced that of the Pelasgians, the first inhabitants of the Peloponnese, pointing to an emergence from common ignorance and an entry into the path. Contingents of Lapiths still appear in the Trojan War. Their presence is therefore lastingly maintained in myths and probably explains why the initiates of ancient times did not clearly establish their genealogy, which includes more than seventy characters of often imprecise ancestry.
See Family tree 20
We have already encountered in Volume 2, Chapter 2, one of the Lapithian families in the study of Coronis, the mother of Asclepius. It is the genealogical branch of Antion and of his son Ixion which is of interest to this analysis.
The historian Diodorus of Sicily links these characters to the Titan Oceanus through one of his sons, the river god Peneus, representative of the current of evolution of consciousness that leads to mastery. In this he is in agreement with the poet Pindar, who mentions Hypseus, ‘he who is elevated or above’, as a son of Peneus and a Lapithian king (Pythian Odes 9.12). This is the genealogical relationship which we have indicated on the diagrams and that we will detail below.
The error displayed by Ixion – spiritual pride and ingratitude towards the Divine – apply to seekers who have had advanced experiences and realisations, for he is one of the few heroes who is permitted to dine with the gods, to nourish himself with the nectar of immortality and even to be transported by Zeus to the heights of Spirit (Ouranos). Whichever may be the origin of this error, it is to be imperatively redressed on the path of purification and liberation (Oceanos), as it constitutes a major deviation of yoga.
According to the genealogy given by Diodorus, Ixion appears on the genealogical branch of the river Peneus, son of Oceanos. According to Homer, this is a river with “silver swirls”, symbols of relatively pure movements of consciousness. Through its structuring characters, the name Peneus signifies ‘the evolution of the right balance and equality (Π+Ν)’. Peneus united with Creusa, whose name signifies ‘flesh’, indicating a path of incarnation turned towards what is Real.
The progression of the work of consciousness in incarnation brings about a psychic opening; his two daughters, Daphne and Stilbe, both became lovers of Apollo, as did his granddaughter Cyrene, the daughter of Hypseus.
We have already mentioned in Volume 2, Chapter 5, Hypseus, ‘he who is elevated or above’ as well as Cyrene, ‘sovereign authority’, in the study on Autonoe, which refers to the deviances of the too-perfect seeker. In fact, Cyrene bore Apollo a son named Aristaeus, ‘he who holds the first place’, who was himself joined in marriage to Autonoe.
Daphne, the laurel, is only considered to be a descendant of Peneus by Ovid. She initially belonged to the royal lineage of Sparta in the descendance of Taygete, the sixth Pleiad, who also corresponds to the stage of the intuitive mind preceding the overmind. She is therefore placed in the path of the ascension of the planes of consciousness.
Daphne was one of Artemis’ followers. Leucippus, ‘a purified vital energy’, pursued her with assiduous attention, disguising himself as a girl to be able to approach her. But Apollo, who was in love with her as well, incited in her a desire to go for a bath. To avoid being discovered, Leucippus refused to follow her to her bath, and was consequently found out and torn to pieces by the followers of the goddess.
In the hymn to Apollo, it is said that the god fought with Leucippus for the love of his future wife, who we assume to be Daphne. A historian of the second century BCE specified that she begged Zeus to turn her into a laurel so as to escape the advances of Apollo. Zeus carried out her wish, and from then on Apollo would not be parted from the laurel tree. It is this version which was recounted by Ovid.
In the original genealogy, Daphne represents the purity to which the seeker aspires on the path of ascension. It is prey to an internal struggle between the vital purification striven for by the mind (Leucippus), and that which is to bring psychic light (Apollo). But there is not yet a readiness to recognise the need for an integral submission to the psychic.
Through its structuring characters, the name Daphne signifies ‘the evolution of the penetration of higher consciousness in the being, aimed at realising union’. The laurel crown given to the winners of the Pythian games is a sign of a victory on the path of rendering the being psychic. These games were celebrated to commemorate the victory of Apollo over Python, symbolising a victory of the psychic light over the process of decomposition. From that point onwards, it becomes possible for the seeker to contact his psychic being and to progressively allow it to lead the rest of the being.
The second daughter of Peneus is Stilbe, ‘she who is resplendent’. She united with Apollo and bore two of his children, Centaurus and Lapithus, the Lapith people being named after the latter.
The name Lapith signifies one who is boastful. It carries the seed of spiritual pride, which is also indicated by the name of his brother, Centaurus.
Lapithus fathered several children, who are all at the origin of important spiritual deviations. They include:
Periphas, whose son Antion fathered Ixion. (Another account of Ixion’s genealogy describes him as the grandson of Triopas, son of Canace and Periphas, ‘he who shines all around’.)
Phorbas, who according to some accounts was the forefather of the Molionids, who include the giants Eurytus and Cteatus that Heracles will face at the end of his labours.
Triopas, who, through his daughter Iphimedeia who united with Aloeus, became the grandfather of the Aloades, Otos and Ephialtes, symbolising the seekers who set out on the path of the ascension of the spirit through personal force and the “piling up” of realisations.
Ixion was born of the union between Antion and Perimele, daughter of Amythaon. As he hoped to wed Dia, the daughter of King Eioneus (who was himself the son of Magnes and the grandson of Aeolus), Ixion had promised to present a large number of gifts to his future father-in-law. When the wedding was completed, Eioneus went to Ixion to collect the gifts that had been promised to him. But Ixion set a trap for him, and Eioneus was burned alive in a hidden pit filled with burning coals.
Thus, Ixion became guilty not only of perjury, but also of a horrendous act against a member of his family. Some sources state that none before him had ever dared to commit such a deed, and no god or man was willing to cleanse him of his crime.
Finally, Zeus took pity on Ixion and cleansed him. Pindar even adds that ‘he received a sweet life among the gracious children of Cronus’. But Ixion ‘did not abide his prosperity for long, when in his madness of spirit he desired Hera, who was allotted to the joyful bed of Zeus’. (Ref. Pindar, Pythian 2.25)
Hera complained about this to her husband, who created a thick cloud in Hera’s image with which Ixion united. (According to some sources, Zeus also sought to verify by this if Ixion would truly fulfill his pretentious desire.)
From this union was born a son, Centaurus. It is he who united with the wild mares of Magnesia and thus became the father of the Centaurs.
To punish Ixion’s treachery, Zeus tied him to a winged wheel, which he flung into the skies, his limbs forever held within inescapable bonds. According to later scholars, it was a burning wheel and was flung into Tartarus. As Ixion had partaken of the nectar of immortality, he found himself eternally whirling through the sky on his winged wheel, incessantly admonishing mortals to treat benefactors with gratitude and to never desire what lay beyond their feeble nature.
Through his parents, Ixion represents both ‘that which wishes to equal’ (here, the highest of the spirit, the gods) as well as a quest for knowledge originating from the realisation of a certain mental silence, for he is a son of Antion and Perimele, the daughter of Amythaon the Aeolian. Even if we put aside the genealogy given by Diodorus, he still marks a very advanced stage of the quest on the path of ascension, for he received a sweet life among the gracious children of Cronus. He therefore represents a seeker who has realised a certain kind of non-duality in the spirit through closeness with the overmind.
While he strives for a complete union in consciousness (for he wishes to marry Dia), his first error is that of refusing to appropriately honour the evolution of consciousness of which this union is the right consequence, as he believes himself to have already reached the summit of evolution (he refuses to give Eioneus, ‘the evolution of consciousness towards future Man’ and the father of Dia, the gifts promised to him). He goes so far as to willfully end this evolution through an inner insincerity (he slays Eioneus through trickery).
This refusal of evolution had never before taken place on the path, for none before Ixion had ever dared to commit such a crime. In other words, the seeker reaches a state of union which removes all incentive to involve himself in the process of incarnation.
This is a state which can characterise seekers who have reached the Self, the union of spirit, but who have not completely purified their external nature or do not strive to do so (see the section on the experiences on the path of Self in the introduction of the second volume of this work).
Except for the highest level of consciousness, no power of the overmind or any plane of the mind is able to excuse or caution such an attitude; no god or man could absolve Ixion of his crime except for Zeus, who represents the supraconscient. But divine grace always gives occasions for redressing oneself, for it is through trial and error that humankind progresses. It even allows access to the higher levels, for Zeus invites him to take part in the life of the Olympian gods. According to some sources, Zeus even allowed him to ascend till Ouranos, the sky. Divine Grace not only cleanses from errors, but also allows the seeker to attain planes much higher than those of the gods, till that of the supreme Absolute, Sat-Chit-Ananda.
By sharing the life of the gods, Ixion becomes one of the ‘immortals’, which indicates that he is a seeker who has attained the stage of non-duality in the spirit and can consequently absorb the corresponding nourishments, nectar and ambrosia.
Through the structuring characters (Ι Ξ), his name indicates a seeker who has become conscious of the identity of spirit-matter in accordance with the statement of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, which states that “That which is below is like that which is above and that which is above is like that which is below
to do the miracles of one only thing”.
At this stage, a grave deviation can occur; the seeker believes that he has reached a level from which he can identify himself in a permanent way with the divine movement of the overmind plane, with the Truth originating from the supramental incarnated in the gods, and consequently falls into spiritual ego (Ixion aspires to unite with Hera; his bliss became greater than he could bear, and with mad heart he lusted after Hera).
The supraconscient does not openly put into question his pretension however, and even presents him with an opportunity to temporarily imagine that he has reached the level at which he claims to be (Zeus creates an image of Hera with which Ixion unites without at all suspecting the trap). The union which Ixion achieves is therefore only an illusory one but will have real repercussions on the progression of yoga, as illustrated by the Centaurs. In fact, from the union of Ixion and the image of Hera was born Centaurus, the father of the Centaurs, who according to Pindar (Pythian 2.43) was ‘a monstrous offspring; his mate, without favour of the Graces, bare unto him a monstrous son, and like no other thing anywhere, even as its mother was, a thing with no place or honour, neither among men, neither in the society of gods ‘.
Centaurus could mean ‘a passion of realisation and creation which captivates’. The seeker then directs this energy of realisation towards an aspiration of a purely vital and unmastered origin (Centaurus mates with the wild mares of Magnesia, this province being a symbol of aspiration). This union, which is against nature in the yogic sense, bears hybrid monsters, the Centaurs, symbols of an aspect of humanity which is only human in its mind, for their vital nature remains unmastered and sometimes even free of all constraints.
Let us remember that in primitive religion the Centaurs are in fact represented by a man with the abdomen and back limbs of a horse; they are therefore symbolic of seekers who are propelled by a very powerful vital energy. Pindar describes them as alike to their mothers in the lower portion of their bodies, and alike to their father in the upper half’, a description which doubtlessly leads to their most common depiction with the forelimbs of horses.
Thus, even extremely advanced realisations in the ascension of the planes of consciousness cannot avoid the risk of severe spiritual falls when the lower nature has not been sufficiently purified and consecrated, or if the seeker has not recognised the need to give thanks (the gifts that he refuses to give). According to The Mother, gratitude is, amongst all virtues, the one most often absent in spiritual seekers.
The supraconscient which watches over the evolution of the soul punishes this spiritual pride by leaving this false ‘realisation’ to its awful fate, spinning eternally upon itself in the skies (Zeus casts Ixion into the skies, to be eternally whirled and fettered to a winged wheel). At the heights of the spirit we also find the same processes of fundamental inward coiling which are at the base of all living matter, and it is therefore very difficult for the seeker to disengage from such an error.
While the Centaurs represent spiritual realisations of advanced seekers who have not completely purified their outer nature, or do not even attempt to do so, the Lapiths seem to be committed to this purification even while their name suggests a tendency of putting themselves forward. The Lapiths did in fact confront the Centaurs in what became a famous battle.
An elimination of this deviation becomes one of the most challenging struggles that the seeker will have to undergo. One of Homer’s heroes states that he had never beheld such courageous warriors as the Lapiths facing the wild beasts of the heights. (Homer never describes them as equine.)
Some of the Lapiths therefore represent seekers who are highly evolved in the ascension of the planes of consciousness and are conscious of the power of their realisation, but come up against basic oppositions within themselves, originating from the roots of the vital due to a lack of purification. And in fact, some of the Greek authors ascribed Lapith forefathers to the Molionids (Eurytus and Cteatus, the sons of Actor who Heracles faced at the end of his labours), and to the Aloades (Otos and Ephialtes, who attempted to take the heavens by force). In both cases, these characters had Poseidon, the subconscient, as their divine father, which would suggest that the corresponding fall is no longer absolutely inevitable as the seeker is capable of recognising the parts of himself which are not purified.
Numerous elements of mythology demonstrate that the corresponding inner battles are lengthy and arduous processes.
Pirithoos and the battle between the Lapiths and the Centaurs.
According to Homer, Pirithoos was born of a union between Zeus and the spouse of Ixion, whose name he does not specify, but who other authors refer to as Dia. This hero is therefore the symbol of an impulse of the supraconscient for initiating a work in view of a total union in consciousness (Dia). Homer states that he was comparable to the gods in counsel.
Pirithoos is ‘he who strives with intensity’, or possibly also ‘he who experiments swiftly’. He appears in Theseus’ life only after the latter vanquishes the Minotaur, for as long as the errors which mark out the beginnings of the path have not been surpassed the seeker cannot claim to be able to sustain a continuous effort or a swift progression.
Only Plutarch describes the origin of the friendship between Pirithoos and Theseus. He writes that having heard of the exploits of the latter, Pirithoos wished to test him, but instead their meeting became the beginning of an indelible friendship. The intervention of Pirithoos in Theseus’ life indicates that a trial is carried out in the life of the seeker following his emergence from an intermediary zone (their meeting occurs once Theseus has vanquished the Minotaur), with the aim of testing his capacity for resistance to new pressures.
These early sources do not seem to specify that the origin of the war was the marriage of Pirithoos with Hippodamia, ‘the mastery of the vital’.
In the Odyssey, only the Centaur Eurytion becomes intoxicated in the dwelling of Pirithoos. He then commits crimes which cause the Lapiths to be angered and cut off his ears and nose, which leads to a battle between the two groups.
According to Ovid, who gives a long description of this battle, the Centaurs had become intoxicated and molested the female guests, even attempting to abduct them. Their outrageous conduct provoked a brawl in which Pirithoos, his Lapith friends and Theseus killed a great number of the Centaurs. The surviving Centaurs then gathered together their remaining forces and entered into a full-scale battle, but were chased out of Thessaly by the Lapiths and took refuge in Arcadia, where Heracles later fought the last of them.
The seeker who advances through effort and swift experimentation believes himself able to undergo asceticism to obtain a perfect vital mastery (Pirithoos weds Hippodamia, ‘she who tames the vital’).
But his vital being does not have the same understanding. It reveals its true colours, denaturing and diverting the aims of yoga for its own interests (the Centaurs molest and attempt to abduct the women).
In the context of the life of the seeker, this episode refers to a ‘slackening’ which ruptures the barrier of appearances and brings to light a true level of realisation in the domain of the external nature (an unmastered vital nature is revealed when the Centaurs become intoxicated).
The specific centaur mentioned by Homer is named Eurytion, whose name could mean ‘a vast higher consciousness of the mind’, which is to say the expression of a spiritual realisation without any purification from the lower nature.
We find more expanded listings of the Centaurs in the works of later authors such as Ovid, Diodorus and Hyginus, but these do not give any more specific details. These include Agrios ‘the violent’, Hylaeus ‘the wild’, Rhoecus ‘the curbed or false’, Melanchaetes ‘of the black hair’ and Tereus ‘the wild beast’.
The seeker is then confronted with his incomplete realisation, and must enter into a full-scale battle.
In the Iliad (1.260), Nestor, who symbolises ‘rectitude’ or ‘sincerity’, affirms that the Lapiths who fight the wild beasts of the mountain were the most powerful warriors he had ever encountered, comparable to the immortal gods. Aside from Pirithoos and Theseus, we find amongst them heroes such as Exadius, ‘energy turned towards union’ or ‘that which comes from the divine’, the seer Mopsus, a ‘receptive state’, Polyphemus, ‘rival of the gods who renders many things perceptible’, or Caeneus, ‘he who turns towards what is new’.
This full-scale battle therefore occurs before the great reversal of yoga, as Nestor mentions at the beginning of the Trojan War, and concerns the purification of the deep vital.
To suggest a link with the work of purification and liberation and to indicate that a total purification will only be effective much later on, the initiates of ancient times specified that the Centaurs were routed from Thessaly and sought refuge in Arcadia. They first disturb the seeker at the beginnings of his path, and then when the seeker is at the stage of ‘endurance’. It was in Arcadia that Heracles faced them during his third labour. But they were not completely decimated and the hero fought against the centaur Nessus following his labours – it was the blood of the latter mixed with the venom of the Hydra which eventually caused his death.
Certain authors add that in his last campaigns Heracles had to confront the Lapiths in battle as requested by Aegimius, the son of Doros. And in fact, once the “psychisation” in achieved, the “spiritualization” and “supramental transformation” must follow.
After the wedding, Theseus and Pirithoos participated in a great Panhellenic adventure, the Calydonian boar hunt. Some authors state that they also participated in the quest for the Golden Fleece.
Before considering this hunt however, we must study the youngest children of Aeolus as well as the descendance of Aethlius, for many members of those lineages participated in the hunt.
The sixth son of Aeolus, Perieres ‘the right movement’
See Family tree 13
In the preceding volume we discussed the five first children of Aeolus, and will now discuss his sixth son, Perieres. Let us remember that they illustrate realisations in the movement of ascension of the planes of mental consciousness.
As for Magnes and Aethlius, there is no clear information about the genealogy of Tyndareus (the human father of Castor, Pollux, Helen and Clytemnestra), Icarius, Aphareus (the father of Idas and Lynkeus) and Leucippus. According to Greek authors they are the children of Oebalus and Perieres, or of one of the two. In a passage from the Bibliotheca by Apollodorus, Perieres is a son of Cynortes of the Spartan lineage, and the father of four sons: Tyndareus, Icarius, Aphareus and Leucippus. According to the historian Pausanias, Tyndareus was the son of Oebalus, the second husband of Gorgophone, who was himself also of the Spartan lineage.
But the different versions only serve to establish a link between Oebalus and Perieres, which is to say between realisation and theory, as Oebalus was a descendant of the sixth Pleiad Taygete, who incarnates the plane of ‘intuitive discernment’ that precedes the overmind.
All of these heroes therefore illustrate very advanced states, and it actually matters little whether they belong to one genealogical branch or another.
According to Apollodorus, Perieres, whose name signifies ‘around the right movement’, was a son of Aeolus and sired two children borne by his wife Gorgophone, ‘she who has slain the Gorgon (fear)’. These children were Aphareus, ‘he who is without a mask’, and Leucippus, ‘purified vital’. He represents seekers who through their victories over fear achieve a state of purity and a perfect vital transparency.
The children of Aphareus: Idas and Lynkeus
Aphareus, ‘he who is without mask’, is not the main hero in any myth. He inherited the kingdom of Messenia from his father. By his wife Arene, ‘the evolution of the true movement’, he fathered two sons: Idas, ‘a vision of the whole’ (or ‘he who strives to achieve union in the spirit’ if we relate his name to Ida, the Trojan mountain), who was according to Homer ‘the strongest of men on the earth at that time (Homer, Iliad 15.557), and Lynkeus, ‘a higher intuitive discernment’ or ‘a detailed vision’. They represent the highest of mental capacities, both in the quality of widening and in the precision of discernment. This results from a perception of truth through identity and from a discernment operating through intuition rather than through reason.
They appear in the great epics as well as in a conflict with their cousins Castor and Pollux in which they will meet their deaths, symbolising either that the corresponding work has been completed, or that in the most advanced phases of yoga the perceptions of this order will no longer be only mental, but also physical.
Idas and Marpessa
The Iliad recounts a rivalry between Idas and Apollo in the wooing of Marpessa.
Apollo had abducted trim-ankled Marpessa, the daughter of Evenus of the lineage of Aethlius, who Idas also desired to make his own. After having challenged Apollo with his bow the latter claimed Marpessa, who bore him a daughter, Cleopatra, the future wife of Meleagros.
But according to Apollodorus, the story developed in a different way.
Apollo sought to win the heart of Marpessa but Idas abducted her, driving a winged chariot which Poseidon had gifted him with. Unable to catch up with them, Marpessa’s father Evenus slit his horses’ throats and flung himself into a river. Idas went to Messina where Apollo attempted to seize Marpessa, but Zeus intervened and allowed the young woman to choose for herself. She chose Idas, as she feared that Apollo would cast her aside once she became old.
She went on to bear a daughter of Idas named Cleopatra, who herself would become the wife of Meleagros.
On the path of the ascension of the planes of consciousness, Marpessa belongs to the lineage of Aethlius, ‘inner freedom’, whose son is Endymion, ‘sacred consciousness’. This was the hero who chose eternal sleep (mental silence) to escape both death and old age. This lineage therefore refers to those seekers who progress from ‘doing’ to ‘acting’ and strive for a suppression of the ego. It is through the intervention of Athena, the ‘inner master’, that is facilitated the growth of Apollo, ‘the vision of what is right’, and of Artemis, ‘the right action’, as well as of Hermes, ‘knowledge’. Through this process, the ‘doing’ which depends on the ego progressively becomes an ‘acting’ which results from a submission of the being to the psychic.
The name Marpessa is obscure in its origins, but it could mean ‘she who seizes or takes over’.
The light of the psychic being, Apollo, aims to pull the seeker towards the psychic, but the seeker shies away, preferring the security of a global mental vision personified by Idas than the psychic light which he considers to be an uncertain perception due to the disturbances of the lower nature not yet rendered pure and transparent. We can see that the subconscious aligns itself with this security, for Poseidon supports the interests of Idas over those of Apollo.
But in the end it is the supraconscient which decides (Zeus allows Marpessa to choose for herself), for the psychic being never imposes itself.
That which till this point had been ‘a beautiful evolution’ comes to a halt after having sabotaged the energies which brought it dynamism (Evenus kills his horses and ends his own life).
The children of Leucippus: Hilaira, Phoebe and Arsinoe
Leucippus, ‘he who completely purifies the vital’, fathered three daughters by an unnamed woman. These daughters were Hilaira ‘the beneficent’, Phoebe ‘the pure and radiant’ and Arsinoe ‘the elevation of the spirit’.
In the Catalogue of Women, Arsinoe is the mother of Asclepius by Apollo, instead of Coronis as in other accounts. This work places the practice of right healing at a very advanced stage of the path, well beyond the summits of intellectuality (insofar as Coronis is placed in the genealogical branch of Almus, son of Sisyphus).
The other two daughters are generally at the origin of the conflict which pits the Dioscuri against their cousins Idas and Lynkeus.
The daughters of Aeolus
See Family tree 10
The five daughters of Aeolus, ‘he who is always in movement’, represent the goals to be attained on the path of ascension. Let us remember that their mother is Enarete, ‘that through which we excel’. They are therefore symbols of realisations to be attained on the path of the liberation of the spirit, obtained by supporting oneself on that through which one excels, the gifts particular to each individual.
In the parchment of the Catalogue of Women only three of their names are still legible: Pisidice, Alcyone and Perimede.
Apollodorus completed this list with two additional names, Calyce and Canace. The placing of Calyce within the lineage of Aeolus is sound as she is described as the wife of Aethlius. But associating Canace with this lineage seems questionable as she is the only one of Aeolus’ daughters whose descendants display signs of major spiritual errors. But as these errors do not spring from the initial movement but appear with the advent of the subconscious’ action, her place within this lineage can also be justified.
Canace, her sons Aloeus and Triopas and her grandchildren Otos and Ephialtes
See Family tree 20
Canace, whose name may indicate an opening of consciousness, coupled with Poseidon and bore by the god two famous children: Aloeus, the father of the Aloads, and Triopas. In Volume I we have already differentiated Aloeus from the homonymous described by Pausanias as a son of Helios. This lineage is therefore founded by a subconscious impulse.
Through the structuring characters (ΛΩ), Aloeus represents a principle of freedom in matter. He coupled with Iphimedeia, ‘a powerful will for domination’, the daughter of his brother the Lapith Triopas. In the Odyssey, Aloeus is described as the human father of the Aloads, Otos and Ephialtes, while Poseidon is their divine father.
Otos, who considered himself to be the equal of the gods, symbolises through the structuring characters of his name ‘the highest mental consciousness turned towards matter’.
Ephialtes, ‘he who oppresses’, is ‘illustrious in the distance’ in the sense that he seeks glory and something beyond humanity.
Both brothers grew in disproportionate ways; over the course of nine years, they were said to have grown to nine cubits of breadth and nine fathoms of height (four meters wide and seventeen meters high). According to Homer, the wheat-giving earth had never before nourished men of such size, and only Orion was endowed with a nobler beauty than theirs. But they were seized by the ambition of stacking Mount Ossa on Olympus and Mount Pelion on Mount Ossa, and from there to invade the heavens. They would have perhaps achieved this had they attained the age of man, but Apollo destroyed them.
This legend describes a movement that is still nascent, for Homer alludes to the Aloads’ great beauty (the name Canace is obscure, and seems to indicate an opening of consciousness). But Poseidon, expressing the growing intervention of the subconscient, will lead to a major deviation which has the particularity of developing at a prodigious speed.
The quest is for a freedom in incarnation represented by Aeolus, and therefore has a sound base. But an insufficiently purified seeker takes as his aim a ‘powerful will for domination’ (Iphimedeia), perhaps resulting from an accomplishment of the three aspects of the lower nature, the mind, the vital and the body (Triopas).
There then occurs an inversion of values, the image of which is the determination of the Aloads to lay siege on the skies by stacking the sacred mountains in inverse evolutionary order; the natural order indicates that the seeker must begin with the ascension of Mount Pelion, followed by Mount Ossa and ending with Olympus.
The ascension of Mount Pelion implies that consciousness emerges from the ordinary consciousness of the vital world, which is murky and agitated. Numerous adventures describing the beginning of the quest are carried out in the vicinity of this mountain.
Then the seeker must venture to ascend Mount Ossa, which is also situated in Thessaly, so as to hear ‘the voice of the gods’. Through the structuring characters of its name, this mountain represents human accomplishment through an ascension of the planes of the mind.
As a final stage, Olympus is the dwelling of the gods; the plane of the overmind and the place of the liberation of the spirit and non-duality.
The Aloads therefore aspired to conquer the Absolute by hoisting the highest mental consciousness over spiritual consciousness, and then crowning it with an even narrower consciousness.
This deviation can occur at different stages of the path. But if we consider the fact that Triopas is a Lapith, the brother of Periphas and the grandfather of Ixion, and that Iphimedeia, the mother of the Aloads, is linked to the Lapith lineage through Triopas, then this situation also refers to very advanced seekers who refuse all idealism and negate all transcendence, considering themselves to be the equals of the gods.
There then occurs a very rapid inflation of the ego. The seeker develops a forceful will (Ephialtes, ‘the power that oppresses’), which is that of a mentally powerful man who asserts his dominance through the use of the vital. This is the risk of the resurgence of the ‘Asura’, the manifestation of a mental force opposed to Truth.
This myth draws our attention to the fact that in man or in humankind in general, such a movement can develop with surprising swiftness. (While being aware that the Nazi movement appropriated Nietzsche’s philosophy, if we carry on a comparison with the work of this philosopher, Iphimedeia can be identified as the ‘will of power’, and we might notice that Nietzsche’s superman also seems to be by his nature equal to the Divine.)
If Ixion represents the error of an escape into spirit which generates spiritual ego, then the Aloades, the grandsons of Canace, represent the materialist denial which rejects all form of transcendence and threatens to give the seeker the false sense of being all-powerful in matter. Only an emanation of Apollo, the light of Truth, could interrupt this movement.
In the version of this myth recounted by Apollodorus, Otos and Ephialtes both courted the goddesses Hera and Artemis, and Artemis caused them to slay each other with their spears. This is to say that the seeker thus ‘dominated’ by the forces of darkness pretend to have reached purity and the exactness of his action. The psychic force of integrity ensures that this movement of pride annihilates itself.
In another passage by Homer, the Aloads bind Ares, and enclose him in a brass jar for thirteen months. Hermes is informed of this by the beautiful Eriboea, the stepmother of the Aloads, and comes to the rescue of the exhausted Ares; when a perverted force comes into action, it blocks all exact and transformative action during long periods of time. Ares is in fact the god who severs according to what is just, and his action would have brought about the end of the Aloads.
Only an action of the overmind knowledge could then re-establish order, ‘informed’ by a powerful light acting in matter (informed by the beautiful Eriboea, Hermes liberates Ares).
Canace bore a second son, Triopas, who would become the father of Erysichthon, who was himself afflicted by Demeter with an insatiable and unstoppable hunger. The cause of this was his plan to cut down the trees of a sacred copse consecrated to the goddess despite her warnings. After having devoured all that was contained in his father’s house, he was reduced to a state of beggary.
We have already discussed the corresponding myth in the study of Demeter in Chapter 2 of the first volume of this work. It chastises the ego’s tendency of using sacred vital forces meant for union (consecrated to Demeter) for the aim of its own glorification. The seeker receives an inner warning that these forces can only be used by one who has acquired a mastery over the vital. But he remains in error, so that nothing can fill his terrible sense of lack.
We have already come across Alcyone, ‘a powerful evolution’, (Chapter 4, Volume I) who coupled with Ceyx, ‘a consciousness which opens to that which descends’, himself the son of Eosphorus ‘the bearer of nascent light’.
Ceyx had become the spouse of Alcyone, one of the daughters of Aeolus. They had taken the habit of calling each other by the names Zeus and Hera, but this angered the king of the gods and he transformed them into birds.
Due to a lack of detailed information it is quite difficult to determine to which stage of the quest this myth belongs. As the daughters of Aeolus stand for the aims of the path of ascension however, it is likely that they are active in a more advanced stage. This is confirmed by the fact that Ceyx is the son of Eosphorus, ‘the bearer of nascent light’.
Moved by the nascent light, the seeker sets as his aim a powerful process of evolution represented by Alcyone, which causes him to overestimate his level of progress and believe that he has attained the level of the overmind. The seeker is then redirected by the supraconscient towards a work on the mental vital so as to purify all vital intrusions (Alcyone and Ceyx are transformed into a halcyon and a coot respectively, both of which are birds nesting on seashore at the limit of the waves.
We also only have few details about this heroine.
Pisidice, “the rule of which one is persuaded”, couples with Myrmidon, who symbolises an ant-like work. Pisidice would then represents the aim of one who concentrates on deep purification through the most minute movements of consciousness and the smallest details of existence which ordinarily pass unnoticed (this work on the minute and on what seems unimportant is developed at length in Mother’s Agenda).
Pisidice bore two sons, Antiphos, ‘humility’, and Actor, ‘the movement which directs the being’. In some accounts, she also bore a daughter named Eupolemeia, ‘she who fights well’. By her union with Hermes she bore Aethalides, ‘fiery sparks’. The latter received from his father a boon which allowed his psyche to spend part of its time on earth and another part in Hades, which suggests that the overmind favours the temporary presence of the psychic in the corporeal inconscient.
Perimede and Calyce, the two youngest daughters of Aeolus, appear in the lineage of Aethlius, the ancestor of Leda and Oeneus, which we will be discussing later on.
Perimede, ‘all that concerns mastery’, unites with the river Achelous, ‘that which accomplishes liberation’. This current of consciousness is linked to the work of the mastery of the vital, for this union bore Hippodamas, ‘he who works for the mastery of the vital’. In its turn, this mastery opens the door to Ananda, or divine joy (Hippodamas was the grandfather of Oeneus, ‘the winemaker’ who works for divine intoxication).
The Achelous is considered to be the most ancient river of Greece, which is to say that it represents the first necessary movement on the path, and allows for a conquest of detachment. In was in fact he who Heracles had to challenge to obtain Deianira’s hand in marriage, Deianira being ‘she who slays attachment’. It was also Achelous who offered Theseus hospitality when the latter was returning from the Calydonian boar hunt, a period which corresponds to a cleansing and mastery of fundamental vital energies.
Achelous and Perimede bore another son, a homonymous Orestes whose name signifies ‘rectitude in the process of ascension (on the mountain)’. He is not to be confused with the son of Agamemnon.
Calyce, whose name signifies ‘flower bud’, is the image of a blooming process in close proximity to the psychic being. She wed Aethlius, and the study of this union follows below.