Icarus falling

Icarus and Daedalus: A Tale of Spiritual Failure

“The legend of Icarus is a legend of Initiation. Icarus has attempted to reach the Sun-sphere prematurely, without adequate preparation, and is cast down.” ~Rudolf Steiner

From the Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology


Icarus  (IK-uh-rus)


Son of Daedalus who dared to fly too near the sun on wings of feathers and wax. Daedalus had been imprisoned by King Minos of Crete within the walls of his own invention, the Labyrinth. But the great craftsman’s genius would not suffer captivity. He made two pairs of wings by adhering feathers to a wooden frame with wax. Giving one pair to his son, he cautioned him that flying too near the sun would cause the wax to melt. But Icarus became ecstatic with the ability to fly and forgot his father’s warning. The feathers came loose and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea.


Icarus and Daedalus

Until I read the quote by Steiner, I had not really thought about the tale of Icarus as an allegory for a failed initiate in a spiritual school. Once I did read it, the truth became obvious. While his tale is often interpreted as one of being overly ambitious, there is another way to look at it. Not much is said about Icarus himself in the legend, accept that he is the son of Daedalus.

Daedalus was considered a very talented craftsman and inventor.  He is credited with building the labyrinth for King Minos. Some Greek tales also credit him with inventing sails for ships and with carving statues that looked alive. Continue reading “Icarus and Daedalus: A Tale of Spiritual Failure”


The Tale of Bacchus

“The Bacchic Rite centers around the allegory of the youthful Bacchus (Dionysos or Zagreus) being torn to pieces by the Titans. … After dismembering him, the Titans boiled the pieces in water and afterwards roasted them. Pallus rescued the heart of the murdered god, and by the precaution Bacchus was enabled to spring forth again in all his former glory. Jupiter, the Demiurgus, beholding the crime of the Titans, hurled his thunderbolds and slew them. … Out of the ashes of the Titans … the human race was created.
“Bacchus represents the rational soul of the inferior world. He is the chief of the Titans—the artificers of the mundane spheres. … The Bacchic state signifies the unity of the rational soul in a state of self-knowledge, and the Titanic state, the diversity of the rational soul being scattered throughout creation, loses the consciousness of its own essential oneness.” ~Manly P. Hall



An overly simplistic view of ancient religions and myths has caused Bacchus to come down to us as the god of wine, drinking, partying, and general debauchery. As Hall reveals, this is not true. In truth, most of the tales of Greek gods were intended as allegory and tools for teaching—or at least hinting at—the hidden truths found in the great mystery schools.

We are told that the Titans murdered Bacchus, then boiled the pieces in water, then roasted them over fire. This allegory of water and fire can be found in many religions and rituals of the mystery schools. When John the Baptist baptized, he reportedly told some that another would come who would baptize them with spirit and fire. A common interpretation of baptism by fire is that it means one must face trials and hardships before becoming enlightened. Another interpretation may come from the fact that since the ancients used fire (torches, candles) as a source of light, fire often means light. And the sun is also considered a great fire, although it differs greatly from a campfire, so baptism of fire can also be a reference to the Light of the spiritual sun that awakens the soul. Continue reading “The Tale of Bacchus”


Hermes and the Tormentors of Matter

“Hermes:’Yet is it so as I say, O Son, He that looketh only upon that which is carried upward as Fire, that which is carried downward as Earth, that which is moist as Water, and that which bloweth, or is subject to blast, as Air: how can he sensibly understand that which is neither hard nor moist, nor tangible, nor perspicuous, seeing it is only understood in power and operation?’

Tat:’Then am I, O Father, utterly unable to do it?’

Hermes:’God forbid, Son, rather draw or pull Him unto thee (or study to know Him)and He will come, be but willing and it shall be done; quite (or make idle) the senses of the Body, purging thyself from the unreasonable brutish torments of matter.’

Tat:’Have I any (revengers or) tormentors in myself, Father?’

Hermes:’ Yea, and those not a few, but many, and fearful ones. [He then goes on to explain that the ‘tormentors of matter’ are Ignorance, Sorrow, Intemperance, Concupiscence, Injustice, Covetousness, Deceit, Envy, Guile, Wrath, Rashness and Maliciousness]” ~Hermes Trismegistus

Hermes2JHermes is telling his “son” (it is not clear if this is really his son, or just his student) that one who sees everything as matter, and nothing more, will not see God since God, His angels, and all the beings of Light are spirits, not matter. The son than asks, since he has never seen anything spiritual (as far as he knows), will he ever be able to communicate with God and become enlightened as Hermes has.

Hermes tells him that he can learn to see God, to be spiritual, through study (by which he probably means practicing spiritual disciplines more that simply reading books, remember, in the mystery schools most of the teachings were never put into writing least they fall into the hands of the profane) and that it will aid his spiritual growth if he can rid himself of his materialistic “tormentors” or negative influences. He then give a list of what he considers the major tormentors. Continue reading “Hermes and the Tormentors of Matter”