Friday, March 21, 2014

Self Consuming Lower Nature

In today's post, I wish to bring to the reader's attention the Greek mythological event involving the Goddess Artemis and the hunter Actaeon.

Artemis is associated with the bow and consequently with the hunt. She is the dealer of swift and sweet death. This is reflected in the Islamic saying about the Angel of Death, "....in his approach the Angel of Death seems terrible, yet when he has arrived he is sweet."

Originally Artemis herself was herself a deer and she is the Goddess who kills deer, the dual aspects of the same being. This signifies that each life is its own death, and he who kills you is somehow a messenger of the destiny that was yours from the beginning. This is also reflected in the mythological event of Adonis being killed by the Boar.

Actaeon was a great hunter who was out hunting with his friends. Having killed enough for the day and being tired wanted to cool off and sought the source of a river. It was at this very source, in a cool pool, shielded by a stone arch and leafy shade, that Artemis was bathing with her nymphs.
Actaeon arrives at the pool accompanied by his hunting dogs and chances upon the ravishing beauty of the naked Artemis bathing. Noticing the lustful look of Actaeon, Artemis sprays droplets of water on him and turns him into a stag. His own hunting hounds tear him to pieces and devour him.

This mythological story has many near parallels.

In the Old Testament, it is the story of Lot's wife turning back and looking at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and being turned into a pillar of salt.

In the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Orpheus, deeply in love with Eurydice, looses her through a bite of a deadly viper. She descends to Hades. Armed with his weapons, the lyre and voice, Orpheus approached Hades and demanded entry into the underworld. None challenged him. Standing in front of the rulers of the dead, Orpheus said why he was there, in a voice both mellifluous and disquieting. He played his lyre and sang out to King Hades and Queen Persephone that Eurydice was returned to him.  He should wait for Eurydice to get into the light before he looked at her. But he could not control his desire to look at his wife. Walking ahead, he was in the light and turned to look at Eurydice who was following him but still had not exited the door of Hades. His gaze backward sends Eurydice into the underworld forever.

Many such themes only point to two important metaphors to awaken the spiritual consciousness.

The first metaphor is the "consuming" action of the self through one's animal nature.
The beauty of creation is a Divine attribute as exhibited in the nakedness of the Goddess and any grasping or desiring through sensory perception leads to our animal nature predominating our action. This is amply evident in the desire of Actaeon and his lusting leading him to be turned into a stag and the dogs eat him up. This killing by his own hunting dogs signifies the self destructive and spiritual death dealing animal nature.

The second metaphor that is the "seeing" which is grasping through our senses and its lower spiritual nature. This is evident in all the examples cited here.
In the ascending phase of one's spiritual journey; signified here by the vision of the beauty of the Goddess, the journeying away from the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah or the ascending from Hades, the world of spiritual darkness, one has to abstain from the death dealing of our desires promoted by our emotions through a sensory mind to step backwards into our lower nature.

This is the great significance and the power of the mythological  medium which communicates the truth to our consciousness.

Love to you all

1 comment :

  1. The necessity to control the emotions to reach a higher level(of spirituality) is brought out nicely with the two examples

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