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The Labors of Hercules - Labor VII

"The Mythus is the undisclosed thought of the soul." (Isis Unveiled)
Libra presents us with many paradoxes, and marked extremes, depending on whether one is on the clockwise turn of' the zodiac, or on the reversed path, the disciple who has turned, consciously, to the evolutionary path, the way homeward. It is said to be one of the most difficult signs to understand. It is the first sign that has neither a human nor an animal symbol, except that holding the balance stands the figure of justice - a blinded woman, blinded perhaps to the outward objective sight, that the inner intuitive sight may divine where justice lies. [128]

It is an interlude, we are told, comparable to the quiet listening in meditation; a time of assessment of the past. Again, strangely, the average man approaches Libra through the drastic test of Scorpio, while the more evolved man enters into the Libra test from the sign of Virgo, with the Christ consciousness stirring in his heart and mind. Think how different will be the experiences of these two men in Libra. In one case the balance will swing wildly up and down; in the other balance will be approached, or achieved, between matter and spirit, and all lesser pairs of opposites.

At this point we begin to see why, in this quiet sign, we meet with the problems of sex and money, both good servants and bad masters, according to the use made of them. Sex is a sacrament, at-one-ment of male and female, for the production of forms, for the carrying on of evolving life. Money is a means of exchange, of sharing at a distance, if not loved and held for itself alone, the gold of the miser, or the gold of the loving, giving heart.

The balance of the pairs of opposites (Esoteric Astrology, p.250) is sharply defined. The balance may swing from bias and prejudice to justice or judgment; from dull stupidity to enthusiastic wisdom. How unusual and delightful a combination of words is that. In common parlance we symbolize wisdom by the rather stupid, blinking owl, and those who think themselves wise are too often full of solemnity and a bit stodgy, but wisdom should be "enthusiastic". Something to ponder, that. And there may be intrigue, the winding ways of man-made laws invite it; or there is straightforward conduct, and the Libran may be characterized by materialistic or by spiritual attitudes. Over and over again on this journey round, the constellations are all harmonious, good and for a purpose; it is our receptivity and use of them that determines what we manifest. It correlates with painful exactness the impressions gained by the casual tourist, and the man who goes and lives for a while in a country, and really knows its people. Sometimes one [129] thinks that an intelligence test should be given before a visa is issued. Such wild ideas, for instance, are brought back by people who have spent a few days in Paris and think they then know France.

And in this stately sign of balance and justice and the law we find that the test ends in a burst of laughter, the only labor that does. Down from the mountain came Hercules, trundling the boar like a wheelbarrow, singing and laughing, and all onlookers laughed with him. How delightful; and this despite the fact that again Hercules made a dire mistake. The Teacher had told him to "take time to eat", but Hercules took time for a drunken orgy with two wise old centaur friends. And take note that they broached the cask of wine which was to be opened only by and for the group. A whole sermon could be preached on that point and also on the fact that, while Hercules took every precaution not to kill the boar, he ended by killing two friends. Thus does temptation come up behind us when we think we have cleared the path before us of pitfalls. But then the wise Teacher, when assessing the labor, passed lightly over the brawl, to which all had contributed, merely saying, "Ponder upon the lessons of the past" (Libra's assessment). "Twice have you slain that which you should love. Learn why." That is all; and we are reminded that the personality remains outside the ashram (our teachers see only whatever light we bear). There is no special praise, Hercules just passed, not cum laude; but the seventh labor was declared complete and the seventh Gate passed. Justice with mercy. "If Thou O God wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord who may abide it?"

Reflections of a Libran

Before Hercules captured the Erymanthian boar, he sat at the table of Pholos and drank heady wine. At this time he was [130] the soul of conviviality, seeking and finding pleasure. For Hercules, as for all who assume the labor that must be performed in Libra, the fumes of pleasure must be dissipated before the greater task of self-mastery, i.e., the capturing of the boar, can be undertaken.

It is to be noted that the quaffing of the wine by Hercules leads to a tragedy, the death of Pholos. This sudden interjection of catastrophe into the pleasure-seeking existence of the Libran, harsh though the experience may be, is a necessity for the growth of the soul. Without such tragedies, the potentialities of Libra remain dormant. The Libran sets out upon his journey in winter, a time of bleakness when the personality life has lost its allure.

Hercules does not use brute force in taking the boar captive. He sets a trap, waits and allows the beast to trap itself. When the boar flounders in the snowdrifts, Hercules seizes his opportunity. It is curiously Libran to avoid a direct encounter, and not to expend more force than is necessary. He seeks to achieve his ends gently, not coercively.

We are told that Hercules seizes the hind legs of the boar, and compels the beast to walk down the mountainside on its front legs, and that this spectacle excites the laughter of all who witness it. In this incident we observe the Libran's ability to find unusual solutions, and to perceive the value of the incongruous.

Matters of great consequence in the history of mankind are determined by unusual approaches to common problems. For example, a Tartar chieftain started a great fire behind his own troops, thus forcing them to press forward with such desperate vigor that no enemy could withstand them. Again, when Hannibal sent his elephants against Scipio, the latter ordered soldiers to blow trumpets into the cars of the animals; confused and frightened by the noise, the elephants stampeded, and killed many of Hannibal's men.

The perception of incongruities is one of the greatest weapons given to mankind in its perpetual fight against glamor. It is [131] the source of the laughter that explodes pretence and destroys outmoded institutions.

This is the only labor that ends in a burst of laughter. Not only does Hercules perform the task assigned; he makes the ferocious boar an object of ridicule. By a slightly altered perspective, many of the terrifying experiences of life may be transformed by a beneficent sense of humor. Much of what people regard with grave and serious earnestness has decidedly ridiculous overtones.

The graphic description of Hercules driving the boar by its hind legs is a symbolic representation of the soul directing the ungainly body. This relationship in which each aspect achieves due importance is characteristic of the more highly organized Libran. Thus is the principle of balance observed.

The Libran goes about weighing and balancing all things. This attitude frequently makes him appear hesitant and indecisive. Knowing that there are innumerable gradations between black and white, he is seldom inclined to be an extremist. He knows that those who are regarded as pillars of society may be Pharisees, and the unostentatious and humble, the salt of the earth; that those who protest their excellence most vehemently may be the least meritorious; that the worldly wise may act like fools, and fools may stumble upon treasures; that the judgments of the world may be reversed by a higher court; that truth may walk the earth in many an unlikely guise.

The quest for truth, then, becomes changed into the development of discrimination. In a sense, truth does not exist for human beings, for all truths are but fractional parts of greater wholes. The search for these more inclusive concepts is of more importance than the insistence upon an isolated fragment of a narrow, separative segment.

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