Some Cases of Burial Mounds (Part 3 of 3)

Troy, also called Ilion, is both an ancient historical city and a mythical city, precisely the theater of the Trojan War in the Iliad. However, the Troy of the renowned epic poem is a symbolical city and it represents the burial mound, i.e. the realm of death.

Since ancient times the name “Troy” has been associated with labyrinths, and the prehistoric European symbol of the labyrinth is a figure that symbolizes the grave of the honourable ancestor. For example, several turf mazes (structures shaped like a labyrinth) in England were named “Troy”, “Troy Town”, “The City of Troy” or “The Walls of Troy”. Caerdroia (“City of Troy”) is the Welsh name for Troy and in medieval times a Caerdroia was a turf maze. Several similar turf mazes in Scandinavia have names such as Trojaborg, Trojaburg, Trojborg, Tröborg and Trojienborg, which can all be translated as “City of Troy”.

It follows that the mythological Troy is closely connected to the prehistoric labyrinth/burial mound/realm of death.

Comparison between the representation of a Troy Town and a typical burial mound seen from above:
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Therefoe the Iliad describes the entry in the burial mound/realm of death (i.e. Troy), and the Achaeans fail to breach the walls of the city until they hide themselves inside the Trojan Horse. The horse is a chthonic animal and the dead were often buried with their best horse: a horse would surely gained access inside the grave (i.e. Troy). So the Achaens can pass through the gates of Troy only if “accompanied” by the Trojan Horse (equivalently to the Argonauts that could reach Colchis only by means of the ship Argo, that in terms of symbolic function is identical to the Trojan Horse), similarly to Odin that can enter in Hel only if “accompanied” by Sleipnir, his steed. The ritual explained through these myths is the one of the child that enters the prehistoric cave to accomplish the initiation ritual, and walks inside it “accompanied” – among other animals – by the horses portrayed in the cave paintings.

Prehistoric cave paintings portraying horses:
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In the Iliad, the city of Troy represents the burial mound/cave in which took place the initiatory ritual of rebirth. Helen, Andromache and Hecuba are three aspects of the sorceress/priestess who welcomed the initiate in the deeper area of the burial mound, they are the three Moirai who preside over destiny and should be seen – respectively as girl, wife and crone – as a tripartite manifestation of a unique figure, similarly to the waxing moon, full moon and waning moon: three aspects of the same entity. Together they symbolize the eternal cycles of death and rebirth that occur in all the powers of the Universe, as in heaven so on earth.

Helen of Troy:
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In the poem the weapons and armor are an essential part of the idenitity of a hero, and the fact that in the poem is recurrent the act of taking possession of the weapons and armor of the defeated enemy to gain honour – especially when they belong to a strong, glorious and honourable enemy – should be compared to the initiated child that inherits the weapons (along with other objects) of his honourable ancestor, at the conclusion of the initiation/rebirth ritual inside the burial mound.

Under this point of view, the Achaens are the descendants/new generations while the Trojans are their ancestors.

At a certain point of the poem, Achilles reveals the prophecy that hangs over him:

“My mother, Thetis with silver feet, speaks to me about two destinies which lead me to death: if I remain here to fight around the walls of Troy, I will no longer return but eternal will be my glory; if instead I return home, in the fatherland, for me there will be no glory, but I will have long life, it will not reach me soon the destiny of death”.

-Achilles to Odisseus in the Iliad

The meaning of this sort of omen is this: if Achilles (as previously understood, the heroes of the mythologies should be seen, in certain cases, as children/young boys) will not go inside the burial mound/reign of the dead to face the initiation ritual, his current self will remain as it is, incomplete, formless and without a definite identity, until his natural death, and he will live without honour and glory, excluded from the cycle of rebirths inside the ancestry. If instead Achilles will face the initiation ritual, then his current self will die soon after (when he enters the burial mound, since only the dead can access it), only to be reborn later as one of his ancestors (through the emergence of the memory of the blood, i.e. the memory of his previous lives), in this way obtaining the eternal honour and glory of the ancestry.

The Trojan War lasts nine years and ends during the tenth: nine months of pregnancy and finally the birth (i.e. rebirth/reincarnation at the end of the initiation ritual)…

The triumph of Achilles after defeating Hector:
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***

Perseus is one of the greatest Greek heroes, famous for having beheaded the Gorgon Medusa: to accomplish this feat he first sought out the three Graeae, old sisters who shared only one eye and one tooth among them, lived in a cave from which neither the Sun nor the Moon could be seen (i.e. the burial mound) and were described as “virgins similar to swans” (i.e. dressed in white).

The Graeae and the Moirai of the Greeks are equivalent figures, as well as the Parcae of the Romans and the Norns of the Nordics: they are the Sorceresses who welcomed, inside the burial mound, the candidate to the initiation, and are all groups of three woman who preside over destiny, in the sense that they decide what will be, on the metaphysical plane, the destiny of an individual.

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They are related with the color white and therefore with the swan: in addition to what we have already learned, in this context, about the Graeae, we know that the Moirai are described as “dressed in white”, while the Norns live near Urðarbrunnr (“Well [i.e. the burial mound] of Urðr”, i.e. “Well of Destiny”), where they establish the fate of men; near this well live two swans from which descended the race of birds who bear this name. Again in the Norse mythology we find the valkyries (“the ones who chose the fallen”) Svanhvit (“white as a swan”), who offers a sword to Ragnarr and urges him to accomplish great deeds, and Alvitr (“omniscient”), her sister, which spin the linen after having laid their “shape of swan”; another relevant valkyrie in this context is Alruna (from Proto Germanic *aliruna, composed by runa [“secret”] and the prefix -ali): omniscience and runes (i.e. secret metaphysical knowledge), spinning and the color white are always specific attributes of these figures that we find in the European mythologies. The color white was related with the dead, because they were buried with white clothes, their dead bodies became quickly very pale, and they were purified by death (white being also the color of purity and purification): to get access and remain inside the burial mound the Graeae/Moirai/Parcae/Norns had to be dressed in white, as well as the dead and to be symbolically dead. The swan was seen as a chtonic and psychopomp animal, because it is completely white and lives in the waters (purifying and regenerator element that symbolizes the amniotic fluid), at times indicated in the European mythologies as portals or passages to reach the realm of death, and it is also a migratory bird, the migration being a periodic and regular movement linked to the alternation of the seasons and associated with the cycles of death and rebirth.

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Now let’s go back to Perseus: he steals the eye of the Graeae and, in exchange for it, forces them to reveal the way to kill Medusa and thus the whereabouts of the objects needed for that purpose: the winged sandals (because Perseus is – exactly like Hermes – the divine child/bee who enters the burial mound/beehive), the helm of invisibility (another object that allows access to the burial mound, since invisibility is synonymous with death), the harpe sword, the mirrored shield and the knapsack to safely contain Medusa’s head (i.e. the valuables with which was buried the honourable ancestor).

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We find a similar situation in the Norse mythology, when Odinn is forced to leave one of his eyes as a pledge in Mímisbrunnr (“well [a symbol of the burial mound] of memory”), in exchange for the possibility to drink the sacred water in it contained. We can better understand these mythological episodes when we know that the candidates for the initiation could access to the relam of death (the burial mound) exclusively if they brought with them the body of a dead, because only the dead had the right to enter that sacred place; the children had to possess and show the mistletoe, the dead Sun (i.e. Apollo/Baldr) at the time of the cold season: the gates opened…

The eye of Odinn and the eye of the Graeae stolen by Perseus hide precisely this symbolism, because the Sun is the eye of the Sky (Homer describes the Sun as “the all-seeing eye of Zeus”, in the Egyptian mythology the Sun is the eye of Ra, in the Hindu mythology Surya [“the supreme light”] is the eye of Varuna, in the Persian mythology the Sun is the eye of Ahura Mazda, in the Japanese mythology Amaterasu – the goddess of the Sun – is born from the eye of Izanagi, the Sun is the eye of the Indo-Iranian god Mitra). Both Odinn and Perseus use the mistletoe bough to obtain a metaphysical wisdom through the remembrance of their previous lives: one by means of the vision of the valuables he possessed in a previous life, the other by means of the sacred liquid of memory.

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Finally, Perseus finds and beheads Medusa, avoiding her gaze that turned people to stone, by looking at her reflection on the mirrored shield. Medusa’s head, with snakes instead of hairs and whose eyes had the power to petrify every living creature (an equivalent figure is the Basilisk, a medieval legendary snake with the ability to petrify what meets its gaze), symbolizes the placenta, which calcify after a certain time, causing the death and calcification of the child, who literally becomes stone if he stays too long in the womb.

Medusa’s head and the placenta:
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The beheading of Medusa symbolizes the sharp and violent severing of the bond between the reborn divine child and the maternal phase of existence, i.e. the severing of the placenta. At that point the initiate must get out as soon as possible from the burial mound (the womb of the earth), without looking back, fatal action that would compromise the entire metaphysical and initiatory process!

“Perseus with the head of Medusa”, masterpiece of Benvenuto Cellini:
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Part 1: Some Cases of Burial Mounds (Part 1 of 3)
Part 2: Some Cases of Burial Mounds (Part 2 of 3)

Sumerian Mists (Part 1 of 3)

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the most ancient mythological poems we have the possibility to read. It is part of the Sumerian mythology and, as we know, the Sumerians were Europeans (intended here as a biological term). The poem is a collection of originally independent stories, putted together by Babylonians without changes of any sort: as expected, it contains various elements recurrent in the other European mythologies…

Gilgamesh is a prototype of ancient Sacred King/May King, and only by understanding this we will be able to get something from the figure of Enkidu, a character who becomes very soon the best friend of Gilgamesh and who will follow him during most of the events described in the poem. We’ll return later to the bond between these two characters.

To note that the poem refers to the multiple sexual relationships of Gilgamesh, possibly because it happened in the past that the men who demonstrated to be the best physically and mentally had the possibility to obtain more than one woman, so that they could have many more children and as a result a wide spread of their genes:

“For Gilgamesh,
The king of Uruk with crossroads,
Is open the tent
(that alienates) the others,
In favor
Of the groom (only):
The legitimate wife,
He lies with her,
Him first,
and the husband afterwards.
(Such is) the order
(Wanted) by the divine will,
And, since his birth,
(This privilege) is granted to him!”.

-The Epic of Gilgamesh

An interesting fact about Enkidu is that he is presented as a sort of savage and indomitable man who lives harmoniously with animals in the woods. What happens later in the poem can make us think that Enkidu represents man when he still lived in harmony with nature, not knowing yet civilization and the agricultural/sedentary way of life. The people of Uruk sends a whore to approach him, corrupt him and later take him in front of Gilgamesh. The whore (note that the figure of the whore/prostitute has never existed amongst hunter-gatherers, i.e. for the 99% of our time on this planet) instead represents the civilization (i.e. domestication) of man, a dramatic change for our existence in this planet. That’s why, after Enkidu has an intercourse with her, the inhabitants of the woods refuse to still live with him. Enkidu has been corrupted by civilization, there is no more place for him in the savage world of the woods. Passed to civilization, Enkidu feels more weak physically (because this way of life is the consequence of a degeneration and it leads to a further and progressive degeneration) and the poem states that the whore took him to shepherds who offered him bread and beer, two typical products of the agricultural/sedentary way of life:

“The bread (that) they offered (him)
He refused it;
The beer (that) they presented him,
He refused it:
Without eating this bread,
Enkidu examined it with suspect;
Without drinking that beer,
He examined it with suspect…”.

-The Epic of Gilgamesh

Now, returning to the relation between Gilgamesh and Enkidu, the poem suggests that the latter is, most probably in relation to sympathetic sorcery, another “Gilgamesh”:

“He looks like Gilgamesh,
In profile!
Smaller
In size,
(But equally) vigorously
Built!”.

-The Epic of Gilgamesh

“To Gilgamesh (, it was said),
(Although) similar to a god,
Has been (therefore) given
a double!”.

-The Epic of Gilgamesh

What I think is that Enkidu is the substitute of the Sacred King at the time when the periodic reign of this one comes to an end. You see, we have good reasons to think that at least some of our European ancestors, at least for some time, at least in certain areas of Europe (yes, we don’t know much about this topic…) had not the custom to kill the Sacred King at the end of his annual reign, nor organized competitions to confirm or replace him; instead, on the last day of reign, they pretended that the real King was dead – for example confining him in an isolated place that symbolized a grave – while a substitute obtained the title of King for the duration of that last day, with all the honours, privileges, functions and duties of the role (it is possible that this “reversal of roles” is at the origin of festivities such as the Saturnalia and Carnival, both characterized by a temporary abolition or overturning of the normal hierarchy of social roles). They achieved this through sympathetic sorcery (“the similar generates the similar”): giving him all the kingly attributes (the prehistoric forms of the crown, of the sword and of the scepter) he became the King. However, at the end of the day he was ceremonially/ritually murdered and then the real King returned from his isolation (i.e. from his symbolic death), reborn, the new Sun ready to regain his role and to reign for another year.

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Possibly they did that to avoid the killing of he who was their best man, or maybe because the King at a certain point refused to accept his destiny and imposed this variation of the ritual…we don’t know for sure. Regarding the substitute, for what we know he could have been a criminal, a degenerated man which destiny was in any case to be executed, or he could have been a healthy and honourable man ready to do an act worthy of being remembered, dying as a King: indeed, as we know, our ancestors had a vision of life and death that included rebirth for the honourable man…death was not a problem, even less if it was considered by all as an honourable death. I tend for the second interpretation but, again, we don’t know for sure.

A King’s death:
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Returning to the poem: during the lament for the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh points out how all the living creatures, animated or inanimate, mourn for him. This is very similar to what happens after the death of Baldr – another Solar God/King that dies in Winter to be reborn in Spring – in the Norse mythology, when all the living creatures mourn his death so that Hel will return him from the reign of the dead. The same for Enkidu, in that moment he was effectively the Sacred King, ritually killed and ceremonially cried.

We can see the same process applied in some episodes of the Greek mythology, for example when Phaeton takes the chariot and the distinctive attributes of Helios – in this way becoming a new Helios – but shortly after starting to perform the role of his father he dies. Another case is the one of Achilles and Patroclus, where Achilles (the Sacred King) pretends to be dead, remaining isolated in his ship until when his substitute, Patroclus, dies shortly after having become himself the King/Achilles, through the use of his armour and his weapons. Both the factions are sure to have Achilles in front of their eyes when Patroclus shows up, and Patroclus is convinced that by using the armour and weapons of Achilles will obtain the same strength and valour for which the son of Peleus is famous on the battlefield: sympathetic sorcery at its best! Patroclus then dies and, finally, Achilles ends his isolation: the (real) King has returned to life!

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Part 2: Sumerian Mists (Part 2 of 3)
Part 3: Sumerian Mists (Part 3 of 3)