About Zeus and Typhon

Varg Vikernes has made a video where he talks about the femur (for our ancestors a symbol of movement and thus of the life force) in relation to the prehistoric burial mounds and the initiatory ritual of rebirth that took place inside them. In this article I will try to unveil the symbolic relation between these archaeological finds and the myth of the battle between Zeus and Typhon.

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Typhon was a monstrous creature described in different ways by the various ancient sources, but generally speaking he was a gigantic winged monster with an at least partially serpentine shape.

Typhon:
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Without venturing into what would be a complicated analysis, I can simplify by saying that for me Typhon is a symbolic incarnation of Death. In the mythical tale Zeus figths with Typhon and tries to kill him, but the monster manages to sever the tendons of Zeus’s hands and feet, therefore immobilizing the god. The key in this context is to understand that the tendons fulfill the same symbolic function of the femur in relation to the ability to move and to the life force of an individual: the tendons perform in the myth the same role that the femur performs in the ritual. Zeus is immobilized, alive but at the same time symbolically dead, awaiting his rebirth (i.e. awaiting to regain the ability to move), exactly like the divine ancestor inside the burial mound.

It will not surprise the fact that at that point Typhon will bring Zeus inside a cave (i.e. the burial mound), where he will hide the tendons of the god inside a bear’s skin (an extremely archaic symbolism that comes directly from the primordial Bear Cult practiced by the Neanderthals long before the end of the last Ice Age). The cave (i.e. the womb of the earth) is the Korykion Antron (from korykos, “knapsack”) and is protected by the dragoness Delphyne (from delphys, “womb”)

The Korykion Antron:
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The korykos (“knapsack”):
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But finally Hermes (the Greek word hermaion defined both a fortunate man and a pile of stones [perhaps originally in reference to the dolmens, i.e. the burial mounds?]) manages to break into che cave (he is a psychopomp god with the privilege of being able to access and return freely from the realm of death) and to recover the precious tendons: in this way Zeus regains the ability to move (i.e. he returns to life after an apparent and symbolic death) and defeats Typhon (i.e. Death) once and for all; the divine child (i.e. Hermes/Odin) has found the femur of his ancestor inside the mound, and by means of an initiatory ritual has reached a superior and transcendent spiritual stage: he remembers and is aware of his previous existences and consciences, which now are, at the same time, distinct and unified realities in the shape of this reborn divine being.

Related post: He who makes the Sky tremble

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)

The Spear of Life

In its most archaic sacred symbolism, in the context of an inititory ritual of rebirth, the spear is a representation of the umbilical cord: in this journey into the past I will try to unveil this image, through a brief examination of three episodes from the Arthurian cycle, the Irish mythology and the Norse mythology.

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In the Arthurian literature the Bleeding Lance is a sacred object, often bloodied but it can also give rise to a bloody stream: it is the nourishment in the form of blood that from the placenta arrives to the fetus, passing through the umbilical cord. The King feeds on the blood of the Bleeding Lance, in order to heal from his mysterious infirmity (i.e. to be reborn).

The Bleeding Lance:
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The Gáe Bulg (often known as Gáe Bulga) is the spear of Cúchulainn, a hero of the Irish mythology. The name of this particular weapon may mean “belly spear” (the umbilical cord is a “spear” inside the belly/womb) or “notched spear” (the umbilical cord is the intermediary thanks to which the nourishment of the placenta reaches the fetus, allowing him to grow, so in a sense it is the “mouth” and the “teeth” of the fetus). The word “bulga” seems to derive from the Proto-Celtic compound *balu-gaisos meaning “spear of mortal pain/death spear”, maybe in reference to the potential death of the mother after the childbirth. Note that the use of the Gáe Bulg requires a preparation that can be made exclusively along a water current, holding it between the toes: the water current is the amniotic fluid while the strange position is a reference to the position of the child in the womb before birth, upside down with the feet near the umbilical cord.

optimal-foetal-position

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In the Hávamál there is a section where Odin describes his initiatory sacrifice:

“I trow I hung
on that windy tree
nine whole days and nights,
stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,
myself given to myself,
high on that tree of which none hath heard
from what roots it rises to heaven”.

-Hávamál

In this case I will try to unveil also the other symbols: Odin (one of his epithets is “lord of the spear”) is symbolically a fetus and is hanged on Yggdrasill (the tree of life [i.e. the placenta] whose branches are said to be wet by the Norns with water [i.e. the amniotic fluid]), and at the same time is stabbed by Gungnir, his own spear (the umbilical cord). The nine days and nights are the nine months of the pregnancy, and the same is the case for the “nine worlds” sustained by Yggdrasill (the function of the placenta sustains the development of the child during the nine months inside the womb), every “month” being a “world”, in the sense of a definite and complete cycle. Moreover, as you may know, our ancestors used to let grow a tree (i.e. the placenta) above the burial mounds (i.e. the womb of the earth). The time will come when Yggdrasill will fall, in other words the time of the birth, the event that decrees the end of the life-giving function of the placenta, its “death” and “fall”. Odin sacrifices himself to himself, because his symbolical death is a prelude to his own rebirth, after which, will emerge in his consciousness the memories of his previous lives.

Odin and Yggdrasill:
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Words of Wisdom #57

“Who (then), my friend,
Can climb up to the sky?
Only the gods live there,
In company of Shamash, forever!
Men, for their part,
(Have) their days numbered:
Everything they do
Is (nothing more than) wind!”.

-Gilgamesh to Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh

Everything we do is nothing more than wind, but when a strong wind hits us it remains imprinted in our minds and we remember it, because it has challenged and fascinated us at the same time. Then someone among us will try to improve himself, with the aim to be able to oppose to that wind, and ultimately to prevail on it. When this happens, an even stronger wind is born!

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Related posts: Sumerian Mists (Part 1 of 3)Sumerian Mists (Part 2 of 3)Sumerian Mists (Part 3 of 3)

Words of Wisdom #44, #45 & #46

“The good fortune, is Zeus who distributes it to men, to the good and the evil, as he wants, to each one. To you he gave this fate, thou must endure it”.

-Nausicaa to Odysseus in the Odissey

“It is easy for the gods, that the vast sky possess, to do splendid or miserable a mortal man”.

-Odysseus to Telemachus in the Odissey

“Not even you despise them, the gifts of the glorious gods, those that they offer us: we can’t choose them by ourselves”.

-Paris to Hector in the Iliad

In this consists Stoicism: in understanding what is beyond our control, accepting it as well as it’s destined to us, in any way it will affect our lives, and then act accordingly!

Bhagavadgita (Part 1 of 2)

The Bhagavadgītā is a Hindu sacred text, part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. It consists of a dialogue between the Pandava prince Arjuna, a hero son of the god Indra, and his charioteer and guide Krishna, an incarnation of the divine principle.

War between Pandavas and Kauravas is imminent and the dialogue takes place in the centre of the battlefield, right before the beginning of the Kuruksetra’s battle: Arjuna is confused and torn by moral dilemmas after noticing that among the enemy’s army there are his relatives, teachers and friends. Arjuna seeks advice from Krishna, which reminds him his duties as a kshatriya (i.e. a warrior) through the exposition of philosophical and religious concepts.

Krishna assists Arjuna:
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In this first part I quote verses that expose mainly the doctrine concerning the immortality of the spirit, but also concepts in relation with Stoicism and the thught of Parmenides.

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 First Chant:

12.”In truth, there has never been a time when I was not, nor you, nor these leaders of peoples; and, in the future, it will not come that in which we will not be”.

13.”The soul incarnated in the body experiments childhood, youth and the old age; then it takes another body. The man that knows this doesn’t suffer [any] bewilderment”.

Verses 12./13. begin to expose the doctrine concerning the immortality of the individual spirit and its eternal rebirth through the piṭryāna (“way of the fathers”).

14.”Son of Kunti, the impressions of the senses [born] from contact with material things produces hot and cold, pain and pleasure, they come and go and are impermanent. Endure them, Bhārata”.

Krishna calls Arjuna with many epithets in the Bhagavadgītā: Bhārata, Mahabahu, Pārtha, Kaunteya and Paramtāpa in the verses that I quoted here.

15.”Best of men, one who from them [impressions] is not disturbed, [that remains] equanimous and firm in pleasure and pain is worthy of immortality”.

Verses 14./15. express a concept that we find in Stoicism: men must understand that the things that doesn’t depend on us (like the sensations of hot and cold, pain and pleasure) must be endured firmly/indifferently, without being disturbed or fascinated by them.

16.”What doesn’t exist can’t come into being, from the being there is no cessation of existence. This ultimate truth has been unveiled by those who have seen the essence of things”.

This verse expresses a knowledge identical to that of Parmenides: nothing is created from nothing and nothing can be destroyed into nothing.

18.”These bodies of the eternal ātman, indestructible, immeasurable, are called perishable. Fight, then, Bhārata”.

The ātman is the intimate essence of every being, the principle of life (i.e. the individual spirit).

19.”The one who believes to be killed and the one who thinks of killing are both in error. That one [the ātman] can’t kill nor be killed”.

20.”It is never born and never dies. Having always been, it can’t cease to be. Unborn, permanent, imperishable, ancient, it is not even killed when the body is killed”.

22.”Like a man deposing the old clothes takes new ones, so the embodied soul (dehi) deposes the worn-out bodies and enters in other new”.

23.”The weapons doesn’t pierce [the ātman], nor fire burns it, nor is bathed by waters, nor wind withers it”.

26.”If you believe that it is born and dies continuously, likewise, Mahabahu, you must not grieve,”

27.”because, in truth, sure is death for he that is born and certain is rebirth for he that is dead. Therefore, for an inescapable fact, you should not feel pity”.

Verses 19./20./22./23./26./27. continue to expose the doctrine concerning the immortality of the individual spirit and its eternal rebirth, in very explicit terms.

38.”Equally fair-minded in pleasure and pain, in gain and loss, in victory and defeat, therefore get ready to fight; in this way you will not be able to commit error”.

55.”When, Pārtha, a man eradicates from his mind all desires and finds his satisfaction in the ātman and for the ātman, he is said to have a stable intelligence”.

57.”The one who has given up all attachment, that is not flattered by praise nor offended by reprimand: that person owns a stable intelligence”.

Verses 38./55./57. continue to praise the man who treats the things that doesn’t depend on him as they must be treated: in a detached way and without subjective reactions.

Second chant:

34.”Attraction and repulsion for the objects are inherent to the corresponding sense: nobody should submit to these two for they represent the two enemies”.

39.”Knowledge is [so] wrapped by this constant enemy, Kaunteya, insatiable fire that takes the form of desire”.

Verses 34./39. express an explicit critique of materialism, seen as opposed to the pursuit of knowledge.

Fourth chant:

5.”Numerous are my past lives and yours too, Arjuna. Just that I know them all, while you don’t know them, Paramtāpa”.

Also this verse refer to the eternal rebirth of the individual spirit.

Sixth chant:

40.”Pārtha, nor in this nor in the other world such a man is lost, because there is no author of beautiful and good deeds that incurs in a bad destiny”.

The content of this verse can be compared to that expressed by this maxim: “there is no death for the honourable, only an eternal rebirth”.

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Part 2: Bhagavadgita (Part 2 of 2)

Some Cases of Burial Mounds (Part 1 of 3)

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.

London, British Museum

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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.

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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.

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Part 2: Some Cases of Burial Mounds (Part 2 of 3)
Part 3: Some Cases of Burial Mounds (Part 3 of 3)

The Roman Genius

The Genius of the Roman Religion is a numen/guardian spirit that guides, plasm and govern the life of an individual from his birth until death. The etimology of the Latin word “genius” means “divinity or guardian/tutelary spirit that watches a person from his birth; spirit, incarnation, generative power, inborn nature”. It shares with the word “nature” and the Latin word “gens” (“tribe, people”) the PIE root *gene- (“to generate, give life”), encouraging “inborn nature” as the original meaning of the word.

Ancient depiction of a Genius:
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Analyzing these elements in the light of the European initiation ritual of reincarnation/rebirth in the long dead ancestors, or generally speaking in the European belief on the reincarnation/rebirth of the individual spirit in the ancestry, we can see that the figure of the Genius takes shape directly from that ritual and from that belief, because it symbolizes the dead ancestor. The festivity dedicated to the Genius coincides with the birthday of the person under its tutelage, the latter being no more than its reincarnation. In Rome the thalamus, the marital bed, was called “lectus genialis” (“bed of the genius”) because it’s thanks to the act of love that the Genius (the dead ancestor) is reborn, through the conception of a new member of the ancestry. The part of the body related with the Genius is the forehead, meaning the head/skull, since prehistory the part of the body symbolizing the mind/spirit of the individual. The Genius is consecrated to the forehead to symbolize how the descendant has inherited the mind/spirit of his ancestor, which is reborn in him. The Genius was abitually depicted in the form of a snake, as the various snakes/dragons that the heroes of the myths must fight during their initiation rituals: the snake/dragon represents the umbilical cord/placenta.

The Genius depicted as a snake:
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The Genius is equivalent to the Demon/Daimon of the Greeks (the one that Socrates says to have) and the Guardian Angel of the Christians (…). The Latin word “daemon” means “spirit” while the Greek word “daimon” means “divinity, divine power, guiding spirit, tutelary divinity, spirit of the dead, fortune”, and their common PIE root means “divider, supplier” (of fortune/destiny). Other equivalent figures are the Fylgja (literally “someone that accompanies”, sometimes designated as “aettarfylgja”, “fylgja of the ancestry”) and the Hamingja of the Nordics, both being a supernatural form of life connected with the fortune/destiny of a person. The word “fylgja” has the same root of the English word “follow” (from Ancient English “fylgian, fylgan”, with the meaning of “accompany” [referred to a disciple], “moving in the same direction”). The word “hamingja” is composed by “hamr” (“shape”) and the verb “gangr” (“go/walk”) in the sense of “he who walks in the shape/form” (the physical shape/form, i.e. the body), in reference to the memory of what there was of good, noble and honourable in our long gone ancestors, the noble and honourable part that lives on in the ancestry, handed down from body to body, through memory. In addition to the examples described above there are the Fravashi of the Persians and the Ka of the Egyptians. The Fravashi consists in the double of an individual and in his transcendental guardian (identified with the spirit of a dead ancestor). The word “fravashi” is commonly reconstructed as *fravarti, from the root -var (“to choose”), with the meaning of “one who has been selected”: only the child who has been chosen/selected to be reborn will obtain the Fravashi of one of his honourable ancestors. The Ka is also the double of an individual (it was often represented in Egyptian iconography as a second image of the king), it is transmitted from father to son and indicates the life force/spirit of an individual.

Another element to consider is the one related to the concepts of “fate” (in the sense of “predetermined course of life/the individual existence”) and “fame”, words that have the same PIE root *bha- (“to speak, talk, tell”) in reference to the good fame and reputation attributed to someone, fame/reputation that spreads by means of tales, stories and speeches. The concepts of “fate” and “fame” are strongly connected to the mental and spiritual heritage obtained by a descendant after his rebirth in one of his ancestors (in this context, the personal objects with which the deceased was buried are of fundamental importance, because their primary function is to awaken, in the descendant, the memories of his previous lives; the Norse mythology provides us with some excellent examples in this regard: the sword Aettartangi [“hilt of the lineage” or “sword of generations”], endowed with “heill” [the “luck of the lineage”], the armor Finnzleiff and the sword Dáinsleif [“inheritance of Dáinn”, a dwarf whose name means “dead”], whose suffix “-leif” means “inheritance”), the dead person chosen after hearing the honourable tales concerning him, tales handed down from his family and from the members of his tribe. The word “fairy” also have the same PIE root *bha-, and the Italian name of the fairies (“fata/fate”) makes clear the connection that these entities/figures have with destiny. The Parcae (the Roman equivalent of the Moirai of the Greeks, of the Norns of the Nordics and of the Egyptian goddess Neith) were also called Fatae by the Romans, from Latin “fatum” (“destiny”), since the Parcae/Fatae are the entities who preside to destiny: in Rome they were represented inside the Forum by three statues commonly called “Tria Fata” (“The three Fates/Destinies”).

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Even the concept of “fortune” falls in the same category of entities, having originally the same meaning of “destiny” as “project, purpose that predetermines the essential course of the individual existence” (and in this context we can remember the Roman goddess Fortuna and the Greek goddesses Ananke [“necessity”] and Tyche [“fortune/luck”], personifications of the concepts of destiny, fate and fortune/lack). Fortunate is the one who owns a destiny, in the sense of he who owns a Spirit, Genius, Daimon, Fylgja, Hamingja, Fravashi or Ka. Unfortunate is the one who doesn’t possess a destiny and is excluded from the eternal cycle of death and rebirth inside the ancestry. Indeed the PIE root of the word “fortune” is *bher- (“to carry”), in the sense of “what is carried/brought on”: what we carry inside us, the honour of the long dead ancestor that we are and that we have inside, that guides us, the ancestor that we have brought back to life in ourselves. Fortune, Destiny, Genius, Daimon, Fylgja, Hamingja, Fravashi, Ka and many other similar entities are all equivalent, their meaning and origin lies in the vision of life of our forebears!

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We Set Sail!

An interesting and quite always ignored episode of the Greek mythology is the one where the ship Argo, built to carry the Argonauts to the conquest of the Golden Fleece, passes through the Symplegades, the clashing rocks. The characteristic of these rocks was to clash each other when someone or something tried to pass between them, killing or destroying everything in their grip.

They freed a dove to let her pass through the rocks and, while these retreated after having clashed among themselves to kill the bird, the Argonauts made readily and quickly pass their ship through them. They came out unscathed, except for the aplustre – an ornamental appendage made of wood, placed at the stern of a Greek or Roman ship, where was believed to reside its spirit/life essence – destroyed by the following clash of the rocks.

An aplustre:
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Mostly in fairy tales, but also in the myths, the difficulty in passing through a door or other type of passages (as well as being swallowed by a monster) are images for the entry in the realm of the dead (the grave/burial mound). The same is the case with the Symplegades, which symbolize the border with Hades (i.e. the burial mound). They are simply another version of the various animal jaws that hinder the passage, of the doors with sharp teeth, of the slamming doors, of the doors that bite and of the propelled mountains that threaten and impede the entry to a certain place: all are typical motifs found in traditional fairy tales around the world. The opening and the closing, the crushing and the bite all fall in the same custody function.

In any case, remember that only the dead could have free access to the realm of the dead: you had to be one of them to gain access to that place. This is the reason why the ship Argo loses the aplustre, the part corresponding to the spirit/life essence: in this way the ship “died” and gained the right to enter the grave/realm of death.

The realm of the dead:
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Finally the Argonauts arrived in Colchis (the grave/burial mound), where Jason has to accomplish the initiation ritual: there are the challenges to overcome, the sorceress/priestess that helps him (Medea), the snake/dragon and the Golden Fleece hanging from an oak.

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Gold is often present in fairy tales and in myths, always connected with events that take place in the realm of the dead/burial mound. Examples are the Golden Bough of Aeneas, the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, the Golden Horns of the Hind (in the European mythologies and in foklore the deer [deer’s antlers were used in the Stone Age to dig the entrance of the graves/burial mounds], the reindeer [like the reindeer that pull the sleigh of Father Christmas], the horse, the swan and the goose [both are migratory birds associated with waters, i.e. the amniotic fluid: the migration is a periodic and regular movement linked to the alternation of the seasons and associated with the cycles of death and rebirth] are psychopomps animals in the context of initiation rituals: they reveal the path to the realm of death) during the labors of Heracles and obviously the Golden Fleece.

In all these cases it is not the object itself that matters but the golden element, connected to the dead and to the grave because it is an element that never oxidizes (or with the passage of long periods of time), therefore being a symbol of immortality/eternal life, a solar and regal symbol, in the context of the rebirth of the memory and knowledge of the ancestor in the grave, reincarnated into one of his descendants. The hero must obtain the golden object in order to conclude his task and return from the place where he found it, just like the child who had to face the initiation was tasked to obtain (in more recent times, compared to the primordial structure of this ritual) the treasures made of gold inside the grave of the ancestor, to accomplish his rebirth and successfully return from the burial mound!

The Syllable “Delph”

The syllable delph/delphy/delphys means “womb”. That’s why the dolphin (Greek “delphi”), sea creature (the waters were associated with the amniotic fluid) provided with a womb, was seen by the Greeks as a symbol of the female principle and of the womb from which life is generated. Poseidon, if seen as the god of the “watery abyss of the sky” (the Universe), has the dolphin as one of his symbols, because the Universe is the eternal and infinite womb that contains all the forms of life that have been, that are and that will be, the womb from which new life is unceasingly and eternally generated.

Art from the Minoan civilization:
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Tile from Ancient Greece:
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Delphi (originally “Delphoi”), the Greek city in antiquity known as “navel of the world”, was mostly famous for the presence of the oracle of the god Apollo (that, by the way, had among his epithets the one of “Delphinius”, since in certain occasions he took the form of a dolphin, animal that was sacred to him), the Oracle of Delphi (the most important of the archaic Greek religion).

Ruins of the Oracle of Delphi:
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Under the flooring of the oracular temple was located the Omphalos (“navel”), the sacred stone that indicates the center of  the world.

The Omphalos resembles a beehive with a web of bee symbols (the child who went inside the burial mound/beehive – bringing honey to face the initiation – and the sorceress/priestess who was inside it, were seen as bees):

 

We find here the same symbolism: delphi, the name of the city, means “womb”, and the city was defined “navel of the world” because the navel was archaically symbol of the labyrinth, i.e. the burial mound that represented also the “womb of the earth”. There is then a symbolical connection between the name of the city and its epithet.

Representation of an archaic labyrinth:
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The Oracle of Delphi was originally a cave (the cave of the she-bear, later replaced by the burial mound), a stomios (term that indicated both the mouth and the female sexual organ, i.e. an opening [in the ground]), guarded by the serpent/dragon Python, or by the dragoness Delphyne (again a name connected with the ancient syllable meaning “womb”), as it seems from the most archaic version of the myth. The serpent/dragon symbolizes the umbilical cord, therefore, in the case of Delphyne, we would have a symbolism that includes both the womb and the umbilical cord. Python/Delphyne gets killed by Apollo (the divine child that accomplishes the rebirth ritual: in the mythologies the killing of the serpent/dragon symbolizes the resolute and violent conclusion of the maternal phase of existence, by means of the “killing” [i.e. severing] of the umbilical cord that unites the mother to the child), who later creates in place of the cave the Oracle of Delphi, presided by the Pythia (the Priestess called “Delphic Bee”).

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The serpent/dragon is the obstacle that the heroes of the mythologies encounter during their search of the source of immortality (i.e. rebirth/reincarnation), and is often the guardian of the Tree of Life (i.e. the placenta).

The Cup of Hygieia and the Caduceus of Hermes/Mercury: both represent the Tree of Life, entwined with one or more serpents (that is, a placenta with the umbilical cord):
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Immortality (i.e. rebirth/reincarnation) is hard to obtain, and a necessary condition is always the reaching of an almost inaccessible place (that always symbolizes the realm of death, i.e. the grave/burial mound), where a serpent/dragon guards a tree whose fruits, or an object hanging to it, will grant immortality if obtained. The heroes of the mythologies must fight with the serpent/dragon, and prevail, to get access to the tree. This fight must be seen as a test, as an initiation ritual. We can find a scheme of this type in numerous myths, like the one of Jason and the Golden Fleece, the one of Heracles and the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, the one of Sigurd and Fafnir (in this case the dragon guards a treasure – i.e. the goods of the divine ancestor in the grave – and the hero becomes invulnerable and omniscient [thanks to the awakening of the memories of his previous lives] after the fight with it) and the one about Adam and Eve in Paradise.

Heracles fights against Ladon, the serpent/dragon that protects the Golden Apples of the Hesperides:
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The fight of the hero with the serpent/dragon isn’t always of the physical type, and sometimes the hero is defeated: the myth of Adam and Eve and the myth of Gilgamesh prove it.

Gilgamesh, after the death of Enkidu, decided he wanted to obtain immortality: he headed toward the dwelling of Utnapishtim, a man to which the gods conferred the gift of immortality. Gilgamesh overcomes every obstacle and meets the wise old man, but fails the tests that the latter imposes on him. Gilgamesh definitely wasn’t worthy of the immortality of the gods. At that point appeared the wife of Utnapishtim, who convinced her husband to reveal the existence, in the bottom of the ocean (the amniotic fluid, the waters of death), of a plant full of thorns, difficult to access. That plant would have extended indefinitely the youth and the life of those who would have eaten it. Gilgamesh manages to obtain it, but during the return to his own land he stops near a water source and meanwhile a serpent approaches and grabs the plant, renewing its skin after eating it. Gilgamesh, as Adam and Eve, has lost immortality because of his naivety and of the astuteness of a serpent.

The snake steals the plant of immortality from the hand of Gilgamesh:
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Note: we should not forget the other symbolism related to the serpent/dragon, that is the figure of a serpent/dragon that eats its own tail, also known as Ouroboros. This figure expresses the concept of cyclical eternity, infinite time, circularity without beginning or end and eternal rebirth.

Egyptian art depicting an ouroboros, maybe to symbolize a womb:
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The Omphalos (“navel”) could therefore be a womb during pregnancy: it has a central opening which widens towards the base (vagina-womb during pregnancy) and has engraved on the surface a knotted net, the net that “imprisons” the child to the mother until birth, or better the umbilical cord that “binds” the placenta to the fetus, through the navel (“omphalos”).

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