The Sirens (Book XII)

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Odysseus (Ulysses)’ ship was again driven to the island of Circe, where without delay the hero fulfilled the promise made to Elpenor to bury him with dignity.

While his men slept, Odysseus (Ulysses) gave Circe a complete account of his journey in the kingdom of Hades, which the goddess endorsed as the end of a phase.

Then she described in detail to the hero the trials to which he would be subjected and the way to avoid the worst: first the seduction of the Sirens, then the dangerous route passing either by the Planktai or between the lair of Charybdis and Scylla, and finally the Trident Island where the cows of the sun were grazing and about which she gave the same instructions as Tiresias.

When Dawn came, Circe left, and Odysseus (Ulysses) reported to his companions the words of the goddess concerning the Sirens who charmed all who approached them: the man who succumbed to their seduction never returns home, dying on this enchanted shoreline covered with bones and decomposing human debris.

When the ship approached the land where they dwelt, the wind fell suddenly and the waves froze under the action of a god.

Odysseus (Ulysses) followed the instructions of the goddess. He clogged with wax the ears of his companions who took the oars. He had himself tightly attached to the mast, but chose not to put wax in his ears.

When the ship passed within earshot, the Sirens made their voices heard, assuring them that they knew everything about the past and the present. As Odysseus (Ulysses) demanded to be freed from his bonds, Eurylochos and Perimedes came to tighten them even more, as he had ordered them earlier.

As the sailors were paddling hard the ship moved away and Siren Island disappeared in the distance.

The stay at Circe’s home, the meeting of Tiresias and the evocation of the dead mark a decisive step in yoga, both a review of what has been accomplished as well as an intuitive understanding of the future work in the body and the precautions to take. The seeker will find in this yoga a number of elements already conquered on other planes. (Circe listens to the story of Odysseus (Ulysses)’ adventures and then details the coming events and how to avoid the worst).

It is important to note that the descriptions of the trials and warnings come from intuition related to the purification-release process in the body and also from the vision of the supramental truth in matter (Odysseus (Ulysses) is warned by Tiresias and Circe).

According to Apollodorus, Tiresias “who receives signs from his human nature” is the son of Eueres “a just evolution according to the Absolute” and Chariclo “joy”: indications from a just work for joy allow a precise work of purification.

The first test is a powerful “temptation” to which any part of the being engaged in yoga can succumb. If the central part gives way to seduction, the seeker will have no hope of continuing his quest (Odysseus (Ulysses) informed his companions of the upcoming event, stating that the one who succumbed could not return to his home).

Moreover, the seeker has no way of avoiding the trial because the powers of the spirit cease all action (the wind fell completely and the waves fell asleep under the influence of a god).

We have already met the Sirens during the study of the Quest of the Golden Fleece. Represented as female-headed birds, they are expressions of a receptive-intuitive mind. They have nothing to do with the sirens of the Nordic tradition who are half woman half fish. If in the Golden Fleece they symbolized some luminous experiences of the higher mind, perhaps even the illumined mind, these are the experiences of the highest planes of the mental – intuitive mind and overmind – that give access to memories of the past and to the knowledge of what is, at whatever point the consciousness is focusing (they know everything about the past and the present in all places).

This warning or test is to be distinguished from the two previous ones we met, that of the Lotophages and that of the Laestrigones (Laestrigonians).

The test of the Lotophages concerned essentially the experiences of the senses related to the ingestion of “foods”, meaning spiritual practices: spiritual suavity, ecstasies, etc.

The Laestrigones (Laestrigonians)’ test was about Nirvana, the white paradises of the impersonal stillness.

The test of the Sirens is connected here to the seductions of the mental paradises such as illuminations and other joys of the heights of the mind. If the former depended on the sense of taste, this one is related to hearing, which means the highest perception capacity of the essence.

But when it comes to the yoga of the body, it’s something else. In Mother’s Agenda dated August 28, 1962, Mother explains:

“On the surface, it’s a very humble work, nothing sensational. There are no illuminations filling you with joy and…. All that is fine for people seeking spiritual joys – it belongs to the past.

It’s a very modest work, very modest, even from a purely intellectual vantage point. It’s different from the sensation of knowing things because you ARE them, which gives you joy, a sense of progress. It’s not even like that! It is VERY humble, a very humble and  unglamorous work, but which keeps on very regularly, with extreme regularity and STUBBORNNESS.

It will surely stretch over a long period of time.

And at each step, it’s as though you had to take great care that nothing gets thrown off balance. The new combinations of vibrations, especially, are difficult for the body – it must be very, very quiet, well under control, very peaceful, or else it panics. Because it’s used to vibrations whose effects follow a regular pattern, so if the pattern changes there’s a kind of frightened jolt. That must be avoided, the body has to be very gently kept under control.

What the mind thinks, what it expects to see, looks so childish in comparison, like… yes, like theatrics, really. It’s the difference between some grand extravaganza and the very modest life of each minute. Exactly that.

All the powers, all the siddhis, all the realizations, all these things are… the grand extravaganza – the great spiritual spectacle. But this isn’t like that. It’s very modest, very modest, very unobtrusive, very humble, nothing showy about it”.

The seeker must not stop here because this experience, however high it may be, stops evolution (the meadows of the Sirens are littered with decomposing corpses).

According to some writers, the Sirens are daughters of the river Achelous “the stream of consciousness that achieves liberation” and a muse, either Terpsichore “fullness” or Melpomene “the song of the soul”. The muses being daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, this parentage would link this experience to the total memory of being, and therefore to the memories of past lives.

For others, they symbolize union-oriented experiences that were initially outside the mental field but have descended over time into the mind (daughters of the Terpsichore muse, the Sirens would once have been in the service of the powerful daughter of Deo but evolved, becoming half-birds and half young girls).

To avoid falling into this trap, the seeker must be ready to confront them in order to keep track of the experience, while taking major precautions.

He must make sure that no part likely to succumb is made available, but what in him works for the union spirit-matter must have the experience, while not allowing any gap, whatever the temptation (Odysseus (Ulysses) had himself firmly attached to the mast, but chose not to put wax in his ears).

He must rely on the help of his prudence and his thought, which help he has asked beforehand in preparation for the confrontation (Eurylochos and Perimedes come to tighten his bonds as he had ordered them).

Next : Odysseus and Scylla (Book XII) >>

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