Penelope and Odysseus (Ulysses) reunited (Book XXIII)

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Euryclia announced to Penelope the return of Odysseus (Ulysses), who went from joy to doubt and then to the will to check his presence herself. She went down into the room, and despite Telemachus’ remonstrations, could not fully persuade herself that this beggar was indeed her glorious husband.

Odysseus (Ulysses) understood her trouble, explaining to Telemachus that his mother had some reason not to be able to recognize so soon the murderer of so many suitors. He asked everyone to prepare for mock wedding so that the news of the death of the suitors would not reach the city. Then Eurynomos clothed him, and Athena made him shine, making him the same as the immortals.

He then returned to Penelope and asked for a bed to rest alone. Still doubting, she set a trap to test him: she asked Euryclia to move the marital bed out of the room and to prepare it for their host. But Odysseus (Ulysses) knew that no one could have changed the place of the bed without cutting the trunk of the olive tree to which he himself had pegged it, and he described its construction with numerous details. Then Penelope threw herself into his arms because the secret of the bed was known only to them and to her faithful chambermaid Actoris.

For a long time the two spouses cried in each other’s arms. To prolong the joy of their reunion, Athena extended the night that covered the world, holding Eos at the edge of the ocean.

Then Odysseus (Ulysses) told Penelope that the tests were not over yet, for he had to complete an immense, difficult and arduous work. It was the soothsayer Tiresias who said so when he visited the kingdom of Hades.

At the insistence of his wife, he repeated what had been announced to him by the soothsayer (see Nekuia, Book XI). After punishing the excesses of the suitors, he would have to leave again with the oar on his shoulder, and walk so much that in the end he would meet people who didn’t know the sea, nor boats and oars, and ate without salt. Then he would find a traveller on his way who would ask him why he was carrying a grain shovel on his shoulder. He should plant the oar in the ground, and sacrifice to Poseidon a bull, a ram and a boar old enough to service the sows. Then he should go back to his home and offer to all the immortal gods the holy hecatombs. He would then live a happy old age, surrounded by wealthy people, until a sweet death would take him.

Then the couple went to bed, led to their room by Eurynome. Before falling asleep, each told the other the hardship endured.

When they were well rested, Athena let Eos, the goddess of Dawn, go to do her duty.

Odysseus (Ulysses) asked Penelope to return to her apartments and not receive anyone while he went to see his father Laertes accompanied by Telemachus, Eumaeus and the cattleman, all equipped with their weapons.

Athena covered them with a cloud to allow them to leave the city discreetly, for Odysseus (Ulysses) did not yet want the death of the suitors to be known.  

The sudden disappearance of the suitors reflects a common process in yoga where more often than not a long preparation is required before a sudden change occurs. Thus, the seeker, in his “vision of a more total freedom”, has difficulty accepting that the work has been done (Penelope doubts that Odysseus (Ulysses) is back and could have killed the suitors). Then the whole being must be gradually brought to understand it (the news of the death of the suitors must not be known in the city).

First, the seeker needs a clear sign to understand that the goal is reached (Penelope tests Odysseus (Ulysses)). He must recall to memory what was immutably established from the outset to determine the purpose of the quest: the bed firmly tied to an olive tree indicates that purification was the basis of the work of transparency for greater freedom.

Then the seeker has the experience of a very powerful inner union “out of time” (Athena extended the night that covered the world in order to prolong the joy of reunion).

However, the work for achieving transparency, to ensure the transition to the new yoga that will be led by Telemachus, is not completely finished.

Indeed, the seeker remembers and integrates the extreme difficulty of an upcoming yoga of which he had the premonition during his first experience of descent into the bodily unconscious (Odysseus (Ulysses) told Penelope what Tiresias told him during his descent to the kingdom of Hades: he still had to carry out an immense, difficult and arduous work).

After giving up the old realisations, the seeker had to first complete transparency by starting to work with the old means while being aware that they were no longer really effective (after punishing the excesses of the suitors, he would have to leave with “the oar on his shoulder”).

He had to proceed to the point where the path of evolution is not marked out (Odysseus (Ulysses) must walk continuously until he meets people who ignore the sea), work in the banality of everyday life (who eat without salt), where there can no longer be any structures or fixed yoga practices to move forward (and do not know vessels and oars).

Then he can consider that the phase of transparency is over and give thanks for the help given to him by the highest subconscious (Odysseus (Ulysses) must plant the oar in the ground and sacrifice to Poseidon; he would live in his home a happy old age surrounded by wealthy peoples until the sweetness of death.

Then can begin the yoga for humanity that is to be taken up by Telemachus.

This progression once clearly established in consciousness, the seeker makes a complete inner assessment of his past yoga by comparing the difficulties to maintain the vision of greater freedom with those encountered in the work for transparency (Odysseus (Ulysses) and Penelope tell each other their adventures).

Then, before the whole being agrees to adopt the new yoga, he must extend this assessment to what started it and work for humility (Odysseus (Ulysses) wishes to see again his father Laertes, united with Anticlia, and no one on the island should be aware of the suitors’ death). Indeed one can assume that Laertes represents the beginning of the work of humility in the mind, a work which was taken up and then expanded by his son Odysseus (Ulysses).

This assessment must be made both in terms of “transparency” – which is the fulfilment of humility or perfect consecration in the mind and vital – as well as “engagement in the new yoga”, “management and mastery of the basic vital” and “love for Consciousness” (To meet Laertes, Odysseus (Ulysses) takes with him his son Telemachus, the swineherd Eumaeus and the cattleman Philoetius).

Once again, the seeker receives help from the master of yoga to allow this assessment to be carried out without interference (Athena covered them with a cloud so that they could leave the city discreetly).

Next : The Suitors in Asphodel Meadows and Odysseus with Laertes (Book XXIV) >>

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