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

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He who makes the Sky tremble

Let’s examine a bit Typhon and the Hekatonkheires, characters of the Greek mythology.

The Hekatonkheires may represent the lightning; they are Briareos (“strong”), Kottos (“he who strikes”) and Gyges (“that has many limbs”): lightnings are strong, they strike (the ground and trees) and have many limbs/branches/discharges. The Hekatonkheires are described as having hundred arms and fifty heads that spit fire. I think that the numerous arms and heads can be a reference to the countless branches/discharges of which is composed a lightning. They spit fire because indeed a lightning “spits” fire the moment when it strikes a tree.

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Typhon, according to Hesiod, fathered the stormy winds and ancient sources associate his name to the Greek term “tuphon/tuphos”, that translates as “whirlwind”. So Typhon symbolizes the whirlwind (and the strong storms) and this would give sense to the fact that “with his hands he was able to catch the stars and with his legs was able to cross the Aegean Sea with four steps”.

However the description of Typhon also suggests a similarity with the lightning: “he had immeasurable limbs…with his hands he was able to catch the stars…in his shoulders he had hundred snakes that instead of hiss sometimes barked as dogs, sometimes roared as lions…each of the legs was formed by two twisted dragons…from his eyes protruded tongues of fire”. It seems plausible that the “snakes” may be the discharges of the lightning while the barks and roars can refer to the thunder, the sound of lightning. It would make sense, because storms (or better, thunderstorms…) often bring with them lightnings and thunders.

In the context of lightning, Typhon can be compared to Loki (which name means “lightning”): they both have a monstrous and particular offspring. Typhon has generated the Chimera, the Hydra, the Sphynx, Cerberus and others while Loki has generated Fenrir, Hel, Sleipnir and the Miðgarðsormr. Loki is often followed by Thor and Typhon is defeated by Zeus.

In any case the battle between Typhon and Zeus (the Sky God) can at least be seen as a symbolical contrapposition between the Whirlwind (or strong storm) and the Sky, after which, thanks to the victory of Zeus, peace and serenity returns in the firmament!

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