Zeus is the youngest of the children of the Titan Cronos. He is the highest power of the overmind that embodies the aspiration to grow, the expansion of consciousness, the crossing of boundaries
See Family tree 17
Zeus. Cabinet des Médailles. Detail.
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Zeus’ grandfather is Ouranos, the infinite sky, Space and symbol of the Spirit, and his grandmother is Gaia, Earth, representing Matter and Nature. They loved one another with an infinite love and enjoyed each other eternally; Eros, Ecstasy, was their indissociable companion at play. They had numerous children, amongst them the six couples of Titans and Titanides, the forces of creation.
But Ouranos “used to hide them all away in a secret place of Earth as soon as each was born” (Hesiod, Theogony); the powers of creation could not be active as long as infinite Space remained unlimited, as long as Spirit did not accept any boundaries. Through its structuring characters, the name Cronos (Κρονος) evokes the concept of “a projection of consciousness (Κ) in agreement with the right movement (Ρ) in an evolutionary process in accordance with Nature (Ν)”. His union with his sister Rhea (ΡΗ) introduces the inversion of this movement, and with this return towards the origin appears a cyclical movement, itself the source of rhythm, which will become the origin of time (Χρονος). This explains why there is at times some confusion between the Titan Cronos (Κρονος) and the word associated with time, Chronos (Χρονος).
It is paradoxical to evoke a succession of events when they occur prior to the appearance of time, but this seems to be the only way for our minds to approach such concepts. For the time of Χρονος lies outside of time, is of an extreme rapidity within perfect immobility in accordance with the rhythm of the Absolute.
Weary of holding all of her children within herself, Gaia asked them to come to her aid to put an end to her torment. Pondering on a way of avenging herself she created a sickle, and revealed her intention to her children. Her youngest son Cronos, who amongst his sibling was the one who hated his father the most, put himself forward to carry out the sinister deed. Taking the sickle given by his mother, he seized the virile member of his father, and severing it flung it far out at sea.
In the following chapter about the Genesis of the world we will see in the succession of generations that Gaia (Existence) will first give birth to Ouranos (Consciousness), Pontos (Life), and the mountains (the link between Existence and Consciousness or Matter/Nature and Spirit). Then, she will unite with Ouranos to engender the twelve Titans and Titanides (forces of creation, themselves at the origin of the genealogical branches of gods and heroes), the Cyclopes (Divine omniscience), and the Hundred-Handed Giants (Divine omnipotence and omnipresence). Here let us simply note that a principle of limitation, Cronos, intervenes to limit the free play of the infinite power of the Spirit, Ouranos, imposing limits so as to make creation possible. This seems to echo the present theory about a boundless universe curved by the force of time. (Refer for instance to A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking).
A soon as he became lord of the sky Cronos wed his sister Rhea. On the earth this time was the Golden Age of mankind, the childhood of humanity taking place several hundreds of thousands of years ago when the forming powers of the mind were still too weak to impose their laws. That is why Cronos, warned by an oracle that one of his children would depose him, would devour his just-born children one after the other. It then seemed to man that the period of gestation of the mind was infinite, reflecting a similar feeling of eternity which we experience during childhood.
At this age, instincts, impulses and emotions dominate; the Titans, archetypes of the forces of creation, exist also in relation with the powerful energies of life which slumber in our depths and sometimes emerge under the forms of predation or destruction. Plutarch recalls that in ancient times the word Titans was used to designate the irrational, violent and demonic aspects of us.
Then with the development of the mind came the learning of life in society. There subsequently came the time when man had to put an end to his childish and unconscious games to enter definitively into the world of the discerning mind. It is at this moment that the gods began to truly intervene.
But Cronos would swallow his children as soon as they were born. Exasperated by their fates, Rhea secretly gave birth to her third son and sixth child, Zeus, under the cover of night on Mount Ida. In his stead she presented her husband with a stone swathed in cloth which he immediately devoured.
Mount Ida predicts the role of Zeus, and thus also that of the mind, of leading humankind towards ‘union’ (Δ) to allow a realisation of unity with the Absolute, the Nature and other human beings.
Modern science has revealed the simultaneously oppositional and complementary functions of the two sides of the brain, non-linear and linear. Through fusion, one of them expresses itself in the mental plane through what we know as intuition. The other is derived from fission and brings about the intellect or the reasoning mind. Together the two form the basis of the faculty of discernment.
In its present state humankind is not generally capable of going beyond the dual process of fusion and fission. It mostly oscillates between opposing poles such as attraction and repulsion, desire and disgust, fusion and independence.
In a life that is not perverted by the mind – in the vegetal and animal kingdoms -, the two poles seem to function harmoniously. But in the mental plane they seem to be irreconcilable, and are submitted to a process of alternation which presides over the formation and functioning of the ego.
Mount Ida invites us to imagine that there exists a position of consciousness above the level of the mind and above the mental and vital ego in which the two movements are no longer antagonistic. The two forces of fusion and fission would co-exist here and operate in synchrony. In this state the logical mind, silent aside from its moments of activity, carries out what is perceived by intuition which can be in contact with the world of Truth to the extent to which the channel of reception is purified.
But as long as humanity works on the construction of the personality and then of individuality through a path of progressive liberation, the influence of the dual movements of fusion and separation must necessarily alternate over time, for man neither can nor knows how to use them correctly. There are therefore cycles which regulate their relationships, insisting at times on fusion and at others on separation. We will return to this in the study of the myth of Prometheus, for these rhythms deeply mark the course of human history and its major civilisations.
Zeus was fed with the milk of a goat belonging to the nymph Amalthea, or in some accounts by the goat itself, also named Amalthea. The goat, the symbolic equivalent of the chamois in Greece, is the animal which climbs the highest in the mountains, which is to say the personality which lifts itself the most towards Spirit. The feeding by the goat indicates that the highest human consciousness, Zeus, develops from an aspiration for growth and from a devotion to Truth.
According to Hesiod, the mountains were borne by Gaia just after Ouranos: they are the place of the attraction of Matter for Spirit. The goat is also known as Аιξ, the ξ illustrating the progressive descent of the Spirit through the lower planes of consciousness.
The word Amalthea is probably formed with the M and the word stem αλθ, which means nourishing, growing, or healing. This name would symbolise “the growth of the devotion to Truth”. It is structurally similar to the word αληθεια, truth.
It is from this consecration that originated the story of the Horn of Plenty.
Having broken one of the horns of the goat during his play, Zeus gifted it to the nymph Amalthea, promising her that it would fill with all the fruits which she could wish for.
As a child, Zeus represents the imperative need and violent aspiration of the seeker for truth and harmony. This aspiration is nourished by the milk of the goat Amalthea, which is to say by a “growth of the devotion to Truth” progressively infused.
As an excrescence of the skull the horn is both a sensor of the energies of the sky and a pedestal as solid as bone. The seeker who is ‘connected’ with the sky and is unshakably consecrated to it will receive its boons abundantly.
One of the attributes of Zeus is his aegis, a little-defined garment which may be a goat’s skin, a piece of armour protecting him, or perhaps a banner with which to frighten his enemies. In the Iliad, Hephaestus gifted it to Zeus so that he would inspire fear. It is also an attribute of the inner master Athena, who hung on her shield or on her aegis the symbol of the ‘need for growth’, the head of the Gorgon severed by Perseus, a symbol of vanquished fear. In fact the victory over fear constitutes an absolute protection for the warrior who sets out on the conquest of his inner being.
The name aegis is from the Greek ‘αιγιδος, shield made of goat skin’, symbolising aspiration, protection and the need for growth (the goat).
This word can also mean tempest or storm; for he who is afraid of God or of the gods, the symbol of their infinite power is like a tempest. By brandishing his aegis, Zeus thus frightens all that in man is still marred by fear in his relationship to what is Real. These seem necessary in the evolutionary process as long as man has not found his inner divinity, or as long as he still needs external laws to direct his life.
In one tradition the goat (Аιξ) was an alarming creature which descended from the sun, Helios. The Titans feared even its appearance to such an extent that Gaia was obliged to hide it in a cave of the mountains of Crete. Later on, when Zeus fought against the Titans, he took its skin as a piece of his armor. He then became known as the bearer of the aegis.
The powers of creation – which impose a just order and allow for a free expression of the vitality of man for as long as his mental consciousness does not dominate – fear the need for growth symbolised by the mountain goat, for they know that they will be deposed. In fact, when basic needs are satisfied, the fundamental aspiration for growth is the first need of the human being; it is a manifestation of the plane of Truth, and this is why some say that the goat is a descendant of Helios, the Light of the supramental Truth.
So that the power which must watch over the growth of human consciousness in the mind (Zeus) could be within the order of things and so as to allow it to develop harmoniously, Gaia arranged for the goat’s best product, its milk, to nourish this power, sheltered from disorder and within the space of aspiration (in the mountains).
Later on, when this power will have been fortified and then identified with intelligence (when Zeus will have swallowed Metis, the mother of Athena), it will be able to dominate man and relegate the Titans into Tartarus.
When Zeus used the goat’s skin as a piece of his armour, the developing consciousness takes on as a protection its power of aspiration, its faith which both protects and keeps at bay that which hinders evolution within ourselves. This interpretation might give the sense of the word Egypt (αιγυ-πτιας, country of the aspiration for the god Ptah), Ptah being the supreme demiurge during the 3rd millennium BC in Egypt.
As Zeus became older he sought absolute power. In fact, evolution spurred on human consciousness towards its full blossoming so that the clan behaviour tied to the animal world and supporting itself on an almost exclusively vital base could be surpassed. Zeus had to therefore overthrow his father, which promised to be an arduous task. Leading an attack on Cronos meant combating the full force of the Titans, for the forces of creation operate on the basis of Unity.
With the aid of Metis, supreme wisdom and intelligence, he began his attack by making his father vomit all his brothers and sisters, bringing to human consciousness the forces which would assist in the crossing and maturation of the mind.
He then battled with the Titans for ten long years, supported by the Cyclopes and th