Sacred Ambulation

What represent the innumerable mythological figures marked by monosandalism, lameness and other types of afflictions and vulnerabilities to the lower limbs? Several clues indicate an indeterminate state of existence, in the balance between life and death, in the context of an initiatory ritual of rebirth.

Some examples taken from the Greek myths:

Jason (monosandalism).
Perseus (monosandalism according to a version of the myth in which Hermes gives him only one sandal).
Theseus (he retrieves the sandals and the sword of his father Aegeus by lifting the boulder [i.e. the cave or burial mound] under which they had been hidden [i.e. buried]).
Hephaestus (lameness: soon after being born his mother Hera throws him into the sea from the top of Olympus, and he remains for nine years [time frame that indicates the symbolic gestation that will be followed by the initiatory rebirth] inside a cave [i.e. the burial mound] surrounded by water [i.e. the amniotic fluid]); other lame smiths are Trébuchet (“the limping”) of the Arthurian cycle and Völundr (to which are severed the tendons of the legs) of the Norse myths.
Zeus (in a myth his tendons of the feet are severed by Typhon).
Achilles (vulnerable only to the heel).
Dionysus (he experiences a double birth, the physical one from the body of Semele, his mother, and the initiatic one from the thigh of Zeus, his father).

Theseus lifts the boulder:

Achilles hit at the heel by the deadly arrow:

They are all figures symbolically devoid of the femur (strictly associated with movement and thus with life) of the divine ancestor that will reincarnate in them, the bone that every child, during an ancestral initiatory ritual, had to retrieve from the deepest chamber of the cave or burial mound, the throne hall where was located the skeleton of the predecessor.

The Trinacria, symbol equivalent to the swastica, portrays Medusa’s head and three bent legs to suggest the concept of movement, synonymous with life:
Risultati immagini per trinacria vespri

To note the fact that in Crete and Delos was celebrated a dance called “crane” (in reference to the habit of cranes to stand upright on one leg) to which participated young boys and girls: the movements of the dance had to evoke the path of the labyrinth from which Theseus came out after killing the Minotaur, labyrinth from which the hero himself went out dancing its figure.


Why not remember also the famous lameness of the Devil, the result of the intentional distortion applied by the Christians to the divine figures of the legitimate descendant and the reborn ancestor?

Lastly it is necessary to mention some children’s games: the Game of the Goose consists in a labyrinthine and initiatic path, in which is destiny, in the form of dice, that moves the pieces on the squares, which are composed by figures symbol of initiation such as the death, the skeleton, the labyrinth, the well, the prison and the bridge; the Hopscotch consists instead in a numbered path that must be completed hopping on one foot, in which the first square is called earth and the last sky (respectively the entry threshold of the womb of rebirth [i.e. the female principle] and the reaching of the burial chamber of the ancestor [i.e. the male principle], a path of there and back from the earth to the sky.

Comparison between the court of the Hopscotch and a typical burial mound seen from above:

“Children continue to play the game of hopscotch without knowing of giving back life to an initiatory game, whose purpose is to penetrate and manage to come back from a labyrinth; by playing the hopscotch the children descend symbolically in the underworld and return on the earth”.

-Mircea Eliade

Risultati immagini per mircea eliade


Symbols of Fire

Hephaestus is the Greek god related to fire and all the uses we can do of it, and he is described as an excellent blacksmith, who realized even the armour, weapons and shield of Achilles: he is clearly related with terrestrial fire, rather than with heavenly fire, i.e. the Sun. The episode when Hephaestus is thrown from the top of Olympus by Zeus symbolizes the potential inherent in lightning to bring in itself fire, since it is from the Sky that the lightning – an attribute of Zeus – comes, causing, through its contact with trees, the birth of fire.

The Greeks represented him with a blue headgear to symbolize the Sky, the place from where he comes via the lightning and where resides the Sun, the most pure and primordial form of fire.

Ptah and Hephaestus:

Anyway the terrestrial fire is less intense than that of the Sun and needs to be rekindled and sustained, or it will fade; that’s why one of the epithets of Hephaestus is “the lame” (after the fall mentioned above he broke a leg), since he can’t stand on his legs and needs a wooden support, just like the terrestrial fire that can’t continue to live without the sustain of the wood that feeds it.



On the other hand Prometheus stole some fire from Olympus to give it to men, in the sense that he teached them how to light a fire so that they didn’t depend anymore on Zeus, via the lightning, to obtain it and benefit from it .

I want instead to focus on the enchainment and torture of Prometheus: in this case he represents the Sun itself and the myth reveals the process of self-combustion through which the Sun, in a sort of unceasing death and rebirth, feeds of itself to keep burining and shine eternally; our ancestors maybe didn’t knew this process of self-combustion of the Sun but they noticed that the terrestrial fire needed to be rekindled and sustained whereas the one in the Sky not, it was self-sufficient and perennial.

Note: a symbol related to the same process can be found in the figure of the Phoenix, known as Bennu among the Egyptians, the eternal bird able to be reborn from its own ashes.

Prometheus is tortured by an eagle, a solar symbol as well as a heavenly symbol, so we have more solutions to interpret the torture: if we look at the eagle as a solar symbol we have the Sun that devours and sacrifices itself unceasingly, coming back to life every day and therefore continuing to shine; if we look at the eagle as a heavenly symbol then we have the Sky nourished by the liver of Prometheus, because the Sky to keep on shining must feed on the vigor (that was believed to reside, as well as the fundamental Vitamin D that the Sun gives us, in the liver, the part of the body devoured everyday by the eagle) of the Sun, i.e. on the energy of its rays.

Prometheus’ torture:

Only at night Prometheus is exempt from his torture, as indeed the Sun from its eternal self-sacrifice; at sunset it sinks in the west, in the depths of the underground, the realm of death, to then reappear again in the east the next morning, resurrected: thanks to its guide the same journey was accomplished by the spirits of the dead, so as to be able to come back to life again.