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The Labors of Hercules - Labor VI

It is said that, from some aspects, Virgo is the oldest of the zodiacal signs. Down through the ages, be it Lilith or Isis, Eve or the Virgin Mary, all portray the mother of the world, but it is Mary who at length bears the Child in her arms. And it is in this sign that the Christ consciousness is conceived and nurtured through the period of gestation until at last in Pisces, the opposite sign, the world savior is born.

As in Leo, this is a cave experience, "in the womb of time", and should be characterized by warmth, quietness, deep experiences and "slow, yet powerful crises". It is a synthetic sign. On this point the Tibetan says: "The symbology of Virgo concerns the whole goal of the evolutionary process, which is to shield, nurture and finally reveal the hidden spiritual reality. This, every form veils but the human form is equipped and fitted to manifest it in a manner different from any other expression of divinity and so make tangible and objective that for which the whole creative process was intended." (Esoteric Astrology, pp. 251-2)

This synthetic quality is further emphasized by the fact that eight other signs (all except Leo, Libra and Capricorn) through their planetary rulers pour their energies through Virgo, and the Tibetan calls attention to the fact that we are now entering the eighth sign from Virgo, in other words, the next sign before that in which the Child is brought to birth, the sign which will see many take initiation. It is to be remembered that all men and women pass through all signs, and for those born in Virgo, or having that sign on the ascendant (the eastern point of the chart, indicating the soul purpose of the disciple) these qualities or energies are displayed in many ways, for organizations, arts, sciences, all call for long periods of mental gestation and the struggle of bringing forth new ideas into manifestation.

Another unique feature of Virgo is that it has a triple symbol, which only one other sign, Scorpio, has. This is significant, implying that these two signs are "connected with the [116] growth of Christ consciousness. They mark critical points in the soul's experience, points of integration, wherein the soul is consciously at-one-ing itself with the form and at the same time with spirit. (Esoteric Astrology, p. 481).This statement underlies the spiritual theory of Triangles, which are many, and the Tibetan adds these august and arresting words: "Under the will of Deity and the unalterable energy at the heart of the manifested zodiac, they produce the changes in consciousness that make man divine at the close of the world cycle." And further: "It is through the fusing and blending of the three planetary energies, by the agency of human thought, reacting to zodiacal energies, that our earth will be transformed into a sacred planet." (Editor's italics.) Surely these words expand our vision, deepen our understanding, give us faith in the future of humanity, and strength to cooperate patiently with the present.

Interpretations of the Myth

The story of the myth related that the great Presiding One recognized that this labor was indeed with an enemy "of a different sort". It is interesting that the two labors which, "Hercules, though he won eventually, performed badly were with his polar opposites, females. In Aries the conquering of the man-eating mares so inflated his ego that he stalked on ahead in pride and left the mares to Abderis, his personality, with the result that they escaped and the labor had to be repeated. "But Abderis lay dead." And in the labor in Virgo,he slayed the queen of the Amazons, though she offered him, the girdle, and then he had to rescue another maiden, Hesione, from the belly of the whale, to compensate for the life he had unnecessarily taken.

So the war between the sexes is of ancient origin; indeed is inherent in the duality of humanity and the solar system. To this fact our divorce courts bear loud testimony; and competition arises in business as well as in the home. There are small [117] but important points in the story not to be overlooked. What did Hippolyte contribute to the error? Perhaps this: she proffered to Hercules the girdle of unity, given her by Venus, because she had been told that the Presiding One had so ordered, not because she felt unity. Did she do it under compulsion but with no love? And so she died. Even so we are told that evil must come, but woe betide those by whom it comes, and so Hercules failed to understand his spiritual mission, though he obtained its objective.

Again, one wonders why the Amazons made a yearly sortie into the world of men? Was it to make war on them, or was it to seek unity, in which there was no heart? Was it to seek new members for their man-less world? But God, we are told, looks at the heart. It will come as a shock to many of strict, legally moral views to reflect that an avowed prostitute may be superior to a woman who adds blasphemy to prostitution, when she takes vows in church without love and with no intent to serve, but only to obtain money, security or position. One seldom hears a sermon on the woman taken in adultery, of whom the Christ said, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go in peace and sin no more." All of this seems subtly involved in the myth of the labor in Virgo. Its practical application as well as its cosmic and spiritual significances are startling. We are told that the "war with purpose between the sexes is now at a climax."

This time the Teacher did not say merely that the work was badly done. He said without equivocation, "Why kill the mother of the sacred Child? Again we mark a failure. Again you have not understood. Redeem this moment e'er again you seek my face." These were stern words and we should listen to the keynote. "Again you have not understood". And silence fell, and Hercules, gathering the girdle to his breast, sought out the homeward way, leaving the women sorrowing and bereft of leadership and love.

The act of death; then a deed of love when, at the risk of his own life, Hercules rescued Hesione and earned from the [118] Teacher the words: "Ponder anew upon the ways of life, reflecting on the ways of death. Go rest, my son." We offer no apologies for repeating the words of the myth as told by the Tibetan; they are superlatively beautiful and their mantric power seems destroyed by paraphrasing them.

It is to be noted also that the labor was not described to Hercules as in other cases. The word went out only to the country where the queen of the Amazons ruled her woman's world, all men excluded. It was left for Hercules to understand the nature of the labor, and he did not. Also the Amazons worshipped the moon (the form), and Mars, the god of war; they too did not understand their true function, for Mary is pictured with the moon under her feet, and in her arms the one to be known as the Prince of Peace.

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