Sailing to Phaeacia (Book V)

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Odysseus (Ulysses) sailed on his raft for seventeen days without ever sleeping, and arrived on the eighteenth in view of the coast of Phaeacia. Poseidon, who had just returned from Ethiopia, saw him and unleashed a great storm, blowing at the same time the four great winds (Eurus, Notos, Zephyr and Boreas). The hero was thrown out of the raft, which overturned. The mast broke and the sails swept away by the sea in fury. Bruised, Odysseus (Ulysses) managed nevertheless to climb onto his raft, and the winds beat him in turn.

Cadmus’ daughter, Ino, who became Leucothea “the white goddess” and resided at the bottom of the sea, saw him. Changing into a seagull, she advised him to drop the clothes Calypso gave him and to swim to the shore of Phaeacia. She offered him a veil that protected him from pain and death. He had to put it on his chest without fear and then throw it back into the sea when he would reach the shore, not looking at it. Then the goddess plunged into the foaming wave.

As Odysseus (Ulysses) was reluctant to follow this advice, which he thought was a new trap of the gods, Poseidon raised a gigantic wave against him that smashed the raft and scattered the beams. The hero, without further hesitation, climbed on one of them in order to undress and put Leucothea’ veil on his chest, and then plunged into the sea.

While Poseidon meditated on future misfortunes for the hero, Athena calmed the winds, with only a lively Boreas blowing.

Odysseus (Ulysses) drifted for two days and two nights, often brushing death. At the dawn of the third day, while he was delighted to finally see firm ground, he saw only a rugged coast approaching, where the waves were crashing on the rocks. He was thrown onto one of them, and although he had clung to it with all his might, the surf pulled him far out into sea. Athena then prompted him to swim along the coast. He reached the mouth of a river, whose god he begged to let him cross the surf and his prayer was heard. Exhausted, bruised, he collapsed on the shore and then threw the veil off according to Ino’s recommendations, who immediately retrieved it.

Apprehensive of the cold and the wild, he took refuge under the bushy double shrubs of two olive trees born of the same trunk, one wild, the other grafted, where no wind, no sunrays, nor rain could penetrate.

He covered himself with leaves and Athena poured sleep over his eyes to drive away exhaustion.

In this passage there are astrological considerations that deserve to be deciphered with the keys mostly not available to us. For example, Odysseus (Ulysses), following Calypso’s advice, had to leave the Bear or Chariot to his left, “the only star that never dives into the baths of the ocean”: the enduring force (the Bear) is the only power supporting evolution that is present at any period of the cycles, unlike many other forces.

The beginning of this phase takes place in a state of full “awakening” until the seeker comes near the place where “light fully penetrates” (Odysseus (Ulysses) sailed seventeen days without ever sleeping and arrived in sight of the coasts of Phaeacia). But he then suffers the worst attack ever experienced on the path: the subconscious causes the simultaneous unleashing of all divine aids for a final stripping (Poseidon blew at the same time the four great winds, Eurus, Notos, Zephyr and Boreas).

Ino, daughter of Cadmus, King of Thebes, represents the purification-liberation process, which, first orchestrated by the seeker’s personal will, is gradually left in the hands of the Absolute. In the depths of the vital, she then becomes a purifying divine action: Leucothea “the white goddess”. She is manifested to the seeker by a mental perception on the surface of the vital that gives him all the necessary indications (Leucothea turned into a seagull, the bird that flies at the water’s border, to give her advices to Odysseus (Ulysses)). He had to strip himself of his last supports, leave aside his identification with non-duality in spirit and accept the temporary protection from death and suffering offered by perfect vital transparency, perfect equanimity (let go of the raft, leave Calypso’s clothes and put for a short time on his chest the veil of Ino-Leucothea which was to protect him from pain and death). 

However, he struggles to trust the messages he receives from his deeper vital and, above all, to abandon his last supports. These are then destroyed by the force which governs the subconscious and raises a terrible ordeal (Poseidon raised a gigantic wave against him that smashed the raft, scattering the beams). The hero clang to a final support only to better follow Leucothea’s instructions.

After a period of intense yoga but devoid of serious upheavals, and although apprehensive of the failure of yoga in many moments, he is approaching this “total transparency” that allows the action of the transformative light but sees no way how to approach it (Odysseus (Ulysses), seeing death several times, sees the coast of the Phaeacians but finds no way to get on shore).

The master of yoga assists him in the last and terrible trials, urging him to mobilize his last forces, for it is surrender to the Divine that is needed but not passivity (Athena warned him to cling to the rock on which a wave had thrown him).

This attitude allows him to reach the goal. He becomes aware of the grace that protected him and agrees to let her go (Odysseus (Ulysses) threw the veil into the sea and Ino immediately retrieved it).

A time of rest in a deep peace is then offered to him, sheltered by the powerful protection provided by the purification done by his yoga and the one performed by the subconscious. Nothing coming from the mind, the vital or the supramental rays of knowledge can disturb him then, (Odysseus (Ulysses) took refuge and then fell asleep under the double shrub of two olive trees born of the same trunk, one wild, the other grafted, which did not let through the wind or the rays of the sun or the rain).

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