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”

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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

Bacchus1

Bacchus

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”

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Mysteries and Meanings

“The Philosophical Stone, the Universal Medicine, the transmutation of metals, the quadrature of the circle and the secret of perpetual motion are neither mystifications of science nor dreams of delusion. They are terms which must be understood in their proper sense; they formulate the varied application of one and the same secret, the several aspects of a single operation, which is defined in a more comprehensive manner under the name of the Great Work. Furthermore, there exists in Nature a force which is immeasurably more powerful than steam, and a single man, who is able to adapt and direct it might change thereby the face of the whole world. This force was known to the ancients. … By the direction of this agent it is possible to modify the very order of the seasons, … to see, like Apollonius, what is taking place on the other side of the world. … The Gnostics represented it as the fiery body of the Holy Spirit.” ~Eliphas Levi

Our scientific and materialistic people of today generally laugh at the idea of the philosopher’s stone, or a universal medicine that cures all ills, etc. Such idea don’t fit in well with modern science. We could add to the list the alchemists turning lead into gold, the fountain of youth, the phoenix, and the hidden city of Shagri La where people lived for several hundred years. From a totally material viewpoint, these tales are complete fantasies, wishful thinking, fairy tales. But just as much of what we read in the Bible and other books of scripture from all faiths are allegory not meant to be interpreted in a literal or material way, so too are these many old legends and teachings. Continue reading “Mysteries and Meanings”

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