Thirst for Immortality

Previously we have clarified that the concept of the Tree of Life is a metaphoric image that refers to the placenta. Starting from this premise it is easy to understand how the “drink of immortality” that, in various mythologies, is obtained from the aforementioned tree is nothing but the liquid nourishment (a real “liquid of life”) that from the placenta reaches the fetus by means of the umbilical cord: let’s see some examples.

albero-dorme-2placenta-cake-3

***

In the Vedas and in the Upanishads the Soma/Amrita is a juice that drips from the Tree of Life (remaining in the Indian context I can add that the Buddha achieved the metaphysical awakening [of the memories of the previous lives] under the Tree of Life), capable of conferring immortality to those who drink it: the etymology of the name is similar to that of the Ambrosia and means “immortality”. In the ancient Persian mythology we find the Haoma, another drink that bestows immortality, provided in this case too by a Tree of Life.

Note: when we talk about immortality, we are not referring to the indefinite extension in time of an individual biological existence, without the occurence of changes in the state of the being. We refer instead to the possibility that, through a strong emotional shock in the context of an initiatory ritual of rebirth and through an induced awakening of the memory of the blood, the achievement of a transcendental state could bring out into the consciousness of a young man the memory and awareness of his previous existences.

In the Greek mythology the Ambrosia and the Nectar are both sometimes the food or the drink that enable the gods to be immortals and perennially young: many have suggested that these mythical foods may be identified with honey or mead (i.e. fermented honey), due to the fact that ancient sources define honey as the first and primordial nourishment of the gods, while mead was known in antiquity as the beverage of the gods. In my opinion this connection makes sense, even more so when we know that the child who went inside the burial mound (thus becoming a fetus inside the womb of the earth) to accomplish the rebirth ritual carried with him some honey to appease the sorceress/priestess (primordially the she-bear) inside the grave, and he himself had to eat some of that honey: the (symbolical) nourishment of the fetus inside the womb…

forebears17

To reinforce what we have just stated we can refer to the Norse mythology, where the dew that covers the leaves of the yew Yggdrasill (yes, some ancient sources use the term barr [“needle-shaped leaf”] in relation to its leaves, furthermore the yew is the tree that more than any other can symbolize the placenta, because in it grow red berries that recall the placenta’s red bubbles full of nutritious blood), in poetic language called “mead tree”, has the taste of honey and is compared to mead. Bees are nourished by Yggdrasill’s leaves and, as suggested in a previous article, the child who faced the initiatory ritual was symbolically seen as a bee.

The leaves and berries of the yew:
taxus-baccata_ng7

In the Völsunga Saga is told that in the hall of Völsung’s house there was a big apple tree (the apples hide the same symbolism described above in relation to the red berries of the yew, they are the source of the “drink of immortality”), whose branches protruded from the roof: this tree was called Barnstokkr (“children’s trunk”, i.e. the placenta).

Barnstokkr and an apple tree:
the_branstock_by_hoffmanapple-tree

Now, why not throw into the fray a brief insight into the symbolism of the horn, which in certain cases represents the umbilical cord? First, the Cornucopia (“horn of plenty”), that has a very explicit symbolism in relation to the nourishment (of the fetus in the womb).

The cornucopia:
9c9b6502e399b7c7b7feeaec806d4c43

Then the Sigrdrífumál, where Sigrdrífa after being awakened offers to Sigurðr the minnisveig, the “drink of memory” (i.e. the memory of previous lives), a horn (i.e. the umbilical cord) full of mead (whose symbolism, in this context, we have already examined earlier). Lastly, the figure of Mímir (“memory” [of the previous lives]), the possessor of Mímisbrunnr (“well [a symbol of the womb] of memory”, located beneath one of the three roots of Yggdrasill): every morning, using the horn Gjallarhorn, he drinks the precious and sacred liquid (mead, according to the Völuspá) contained in the well of wisdom (i.e. of memory). Even Odin managed to get the chance to drink a sip of that liquid:

zpage082

I conclude my dissertation with the Grail (or Holy Grail if you prefer), traditionally known as a cup/chalice whose content has vivifying and healing virtues: are you thinking what I am thinking? The cup/chalice and the tree have a very similar shape and, taking into consideration the virtues of the Grail, we can assume that this important subject of the Arthurian literature symbolizes the placenta and its life-giving liquid nourishment.

8595

It should also be noted that in certain late medieval sources the Grail is called Sangréal: in Old French, san graal or san gréal means “holy grail” and sang réal means “royal blood”; surely the blood full of nutrients contained in the placenta (on which it feeds the fetus) is “royal” and “divine”, not an ordinary one. In this context will be good to remember that for our ancestors wine was a symbol of blood, specifically in reference to what we have just explained about the function of the blood contained in the placenta: that’s the reason why Odin, the symbolical fetus, only needs wine to feed himself.

Now you will be able to see with different eyes the Christian rite of the Eucharist, during which a mass of crazy fanatics drinks Christ’s blood from a chalice full of wine…

What the f**k I’m doing?!”:
gpii-eucaristia

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:
25-crete_2_fs

Tile from Ancient Greece:
11-il-ragazzo-sul-delfino

***

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:
delphi

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:
trojeborg_nordisk_familjebok

The Oracle of Delphi was originally a cave (the cave of the she-bear, later replaced by the burial mound), 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), who later creates in place of the cave the Oracle of Delphi, presided by the Pythia (the Priestess called “Delphic Bee”).

***

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):
1010170066simbolo_caduceo
placenta-cake-3785393372d4f249a14850c2639e9bb9a

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, and the one about Adam and Eve in Paradise.

Heracles fights against Ladon, the serpent/dragon that protects the Golden Apples of the Hesperides:
herakles_ladon_staatliche_antikensammlungen_sl89

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 his immortality as a result of his naivety and of the astuteness of a serpent.

The snake steals the plant of immortality from the hand of Gilgamesh:
f8983aa22b42dc48070db6b383a8efae

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:
1d7e526628689252e669ad39bad8c050

***

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”).

feto-it1