During his first labor Heracles descended in the cave where resided the Nemean Lion. After killing it Heracles fell into a sleep from which he awoke at the thirtieth day from the beginning of the labor and then he crowned himself with celery. Ancient artists positioned lions on graves, and celery was used to adorn them. Heracles is the child that goes inside the cave/burial mound to face the initiation ritual, his awakening is to mean his rebirth and he adorned himself with celery because he “overcame” death.
Tír na nÓg (“land of the eternal young”) is the realm of death in the Irish mythology: a place at the edge of the world, an island located west, where the Sun sets (i.e. dies). It’s hard to reach it if not invited by one of the elves that resides there (that is to say, if not invited to be reborn by the spirit of one of your ancestors). Oisín remains there one year but on the way back finds out that in reality a hundred years are passed in Ireland. It’s a reference to the fact that the mind/spirit of the ancestor is reborn in his descendant: much time has passed from when the ancestor died but little time from when Oisín entered the burial mound to accomplish the initiation ritual.
Romulus and Remus, mythical founders of Rome, were the sons of Mars – the god of war – and of the vestal virgin Rea Silvia. After birth they were placed in a basket and entrusted to the waters of the Tiber river. The basket ran aground in a puddle at the foothills of a fig tree, the “Ficus Ruminalis” (from Latin “ruma”, “breast”), near a cave, the Lupercal. According to the different versions of the tale a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus in both these places. The she-wolf was originally a she-bear and the cave her lair, symbolically the womb of the earth (i.e. the realm of the dead), while the waters to which the twins are entrusted represent the amniotic fluid. Romulus and Remus must be seen as the embryos of the she-bear, that she feeds to develop them. The fig tree is the placenta, “ruminalis” (“breast”) because the placenta is in fact the “breast” of the fetus as it contains the nourishment useful to the development of the child.