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  1. #1
    Whispering wind Guest

    In the Tracks of Hercules

    Hercules and his labours have
    been the subject of countless
    works of art from classical
    times to the present day. It
    may well be that through the
    arts in their various forms light
    can be thrown on these an-
    cient, but crucially, and poign-
    antly, modern themes. Is the
    artist no less potential hero-
    stuff than the obvious kind of
    hero?

    -----------------------------------------------

  2. #2
    Whispering wind Guest

    Re: In the Tracks of Hercules

    Some stories never die, and the tales of the
    labours of Hercules are an example. The
    popular view of Hercules is a dim-witted muscle
    man attacking everything in sight—
    someone who has to conquer his way up to th
    top.

    Soaring in that manner is not the way of
    the soul, it is argued, for we have left Patriarchy
    behind. The way to
    overcome darkness is
    not to wrestle with it bu
    to embrace it: to go
    along with it, to under-
    stand it. And yet it
    could be argued that
    this embracing or un-
    derstanding is precisely
    what Hercules does,
    over and over again, in
    the many labours. At
    the same time both
    soaring high and lying
    low may be part of the
    soul's journey.

    Hercu-les, after all, is said to have supported for a
    while the weight of the heavens on his shoul-
    ders. He also went down to Hades. The high
    mountains of the earth and the crevices of the
    sea all form part of the one land mass, just as
    light and dark are part of the one cosmos.


    Hercules was said to be quick-tempered and a
    lover of wine and women: in other words, he
    was a human being. However, he was later granted immortality. He thus belongs to both
    heaven and hell, to the heights and the depths,
    to both the Upper and Lower worlds.

    For he is as prone to joy as to the deepest despair, to
    achievement as well as to failure, to the most
    profound wisdom as well as to a destructive
    psychosis—

    he did murder his wife and
    sons. One's wife and
    sons are one's house-
    hold after all.

    They are oneself.


    That Hercules strayed
    from the path like this
    is not the only reason
    he was given the la-
    bours; he was given
    them not because he
    was weak but be-
    cause he was strong.

    The human being,
    Hercules, has already
    emerged from the animal self.

    This is graphically illustrated in
    the many images of Hercules wearing a lion
    skin, which is draped over his shoulders. His
    head seems to be crowned by the lion's mane
    and jaw.

    Hercules emerges, as it were, from
    that which he has conquered: his roaring, de-
    structive, lion-self
    Hercules, it was said, presided over all aspects
    of Hellenic education.

    To educate is to bring
    forth that which lies within.

    Hercules, who has
    himself emerged from the animal self, now
    brings forth the Hero, the Soul, the Great Man,
    from the human self, or ego, where it has al-
    ways been, but hidden.

    It could be said that
    the image of Hercules as the muscle man is
    indeed correct, although it is not just portray-
    ing physical strength but is symbolically re-
    flecting interior strength.

    If Hercules had not
    had the strength of a lion, outwardly and in-
    wardly, how could the labours have been
    achieved?

    According to some interpretations, each labour
    is a reflection of a spiritual path into the mean-
    ings, redemptions, and purposes of a particular
    sign of the zodiac. The early versions of the
    myth say nothing of the exact number of la-
    bours; apparently it was the epic poet Pisander
    of Rhodes who fixed the number of the labours
    at twelve, and related them to the zodiac. In
    our own times, Alice Bailey wrote

    The La-bours of Hercules: An Astrological Interpreta-
    tion, and here each labour is aligned with a
    sign of the zodiac.

    1
    This book provides an
    amazing insight into the Greek myth, its mani-
    fold meanings, and its relevance today.
    There is a growing recognition that humanity
    is moving into the “Age of Aquarius,” after
    that of Pisces, which Christ epitomised as the
    Fisher of Men.

    Alice Bailey aligns the labour
    of the cleansing of the Augean Stables with the
    sign of Aquarius the water carrier. One can
    make many connections between this myth and
    our situation today.

    The King’s stables had not
    been cleaned for a very long time and were
    unbelievably filthy. Though many had tried to
    clean them, all had failed. Hercules is asked to
    perform the task in two days. He observes two
    rivers flowing nearby, and after
    great labour he succeeds in diverting these streams from the
    courses they had followed for decades.

    They were made to flow through the filthy stables,
    and the rushing torrents swept away all the
    muck.
    .................................................. ......

  3. #3
    Whispering wind Guest

    Re: In the Tracks of Hercules

    .................................................. ...............
    Alice Bailey calls these two rivers the
    rivers of love and life. It is not difficult to re-
    late this labour to what is happening today.
    The stable of the world is, as it were, unbe-
    lievably filthy with the pollution of hatred and
    selfishness (manifesting as war, famine, envi-
    ronmental damage, and so on). A “group Her-
    cules” in the world is aware of this situation
    and the means of its alleviation.

    As the Bud-dhist Dhammapada says, “hatred does not
    cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by
    love, this is an old rule.”

    Hercules often had to throw away his weapons;
    he had to learn to rely on his own inner
    strengths and intuitions to solve problems. He
    sometimes had to kneel down and get into the
    mud to solve a particular problem—
    symbolically this might mean getting off his
    ego—he often failed and had to start again. He
    killed, by mistake, many of his friends: that is,
    parts of himself.

    These are not battles so much
    as tasks which drew out the god-like nature
    within him.

    The labours were assigned to Hercules by King
    Eurystheus, who disliked Hercules because of
    his courage. But the reason for these tasks was
    to appease Hercules’ guilt for killing his wife
    and children in a mad rage, said to be infused
    into his mind by his mother Hera.

    Possibly
    modern psychology could read a lot into this,
    and that does no damage to the myth. These
    archetypal themes of rage, terror, loss and re-
    demption have not gone away.

    Around 417 BC, Euripides wrote his tragedy
    Heracles in which he uses the original legend
    but adds innovations of his own which alter its
    meaning. In his introduction and notes to this play,

    2
    O. R. A. Byrde discusses the origins of
    Greek tragedy, its connections to the mysteries
    of nature and what he calls, after Frazer of The
    Golden Bough, the “vegetation spirit.” The
    ritual of such Vegetation Spirits proceeds some
    such way as this. :

    First, there is a contest between the Vegeta-
    tion Spirit and his enemy: this is the “Agon”: next the “Pathos”—the death or anguish which overtakes the spirit, fre-
    quently in the form of a “Sparagmos,” a
    scattering or tearing to pieces.

    Then follows the description of the death or agony
    by a messenger. Next comes the Lamenta-
    tion; then the “Anagnorisis”’ or discovery
    of the slain, which is followed by a change
    of feeling or Peripeteia. Lastly, there is the
    reappearance or “Epiphaneia” of the risen
    god in his glory.

    The above description of the cyles in Greek
    tragedy reach the heart of the mysteries, that of
    the dying and risen god, which in turn lie at the
    heart of the way of the “hero soul.” The jour-
    ney is one of ordeal, of many tests and failures,
    and eventually of immortality.

    “The king is dead; long live the king.” These themes are
    familiar ones in poetry, art, myth, dance, folk-
    lore, fairytale.

    It is a theme no less relevant
    for us today. This hero is not only Christ,
    King Arthur, Hercules, or any of the many
    other heroes who attest to living and dying
    gods, but our own Buddha selves.
    Joseph Campbell wrote:
    How to teach again ... what has been taught
    correctly and incorrectly a thousand times,
    throughout the millenniums of mankind’s
    prudent folly? That is the hero’s ultimate
    difficult task.

    How to render back into
    light-world language the speech-defying
    pronouncements of the dark? Many fail-
    ures attest to the difficulties of this life-affirmative threshold.
    3


    Hercules and his labours have been the subject
    of countless works of art from classical times
    to the present day. It may well be that through
    the arts in their various forms light can be
    thrown on these ancient, but crucially, and
    poignantly, modern themes. Is the artist no
    less potential hero-stuff than the obvious kind
    of hero? It may take courage to have “Some-
    thing to say.”

    The artist is obliged, if he is honest and sin-
    cere, to attempt to fill in the cracks in the
    soul ... ; he must dedicate himself ... to
    “higher purposes” which are “precise, great
    and sanctified”... He must “have Some-
    thing to say,” because his obligation is not
    the mastery of form, but rather the suiting
    of form ... to that content, which must arise
    freely out of the artist’s innermost soul ...
    4


    The Lucis Trust, an educational charity, has
    launched a creative arts project called In the
    Tracks of Hercules. The plan is for a weekend
    exhibition in London, in December 2005, of
    talks, poetry, painting, sculpture and move-
    ment, as well as the production of a digital
    book.

    Artists throughout the world, in many
    fields and disciplines, are invited to take part:
    to give a literal or abstract interpretation, in
    any of the creative arts, of one or more of the
    Herculean labours. This may extend to an ex-
    ploration of meaning and symbolism, or to a
    spiritual quality or virtue.

    ---------------------------------------

    About the Author
    Angela Lemaire, who lives in Roxburghshire, Scot-
    land, is best-known as an artist-printmaker and
    writer (see: www.oldstilepress.com). She has ex-
    hibited widely and her work is held in collections in
    the United Kingdom and abroad. She is also a
    long-time esoteric student.





    1
    Alice A Bailey. The Labours of Hercules.
    Lucis Publishing Company, 1974.
    2
    O. R.A. Byrde. Heracles, by Euripedes. Intro-
    duction. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1914.
    3
    Joseph Campbell. The Hero with a Thousand
    Faces. Princeton University Press, 1972.
    4
    Kandinsky in Munich. Solomon.R. Guggen-
    heim Foundation, New York, 1982.

    For further information visit the website:
    www.lucistrust.org/hercules. The Labours of
    Hercules, by Alice Bailey, creates a rich source
    of inspiration and is a wide-ranging interpreta-
    tion of ancient wisdom and myth. This book
    can be ordered via the website or from Lucis
    Press, Suite 54, 3 Whitehall Court, London,
    SW1A 2EF.

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