We have finally arrived at the last leg of the journey in the Dodekathalon. Hercules is given a final test, as he “cheated” on two of the earlier ones, and this one is meant, not to test his mettle, but to ruin and destroy him. There is a chance, if he truly goes to Hades, that he may not return, as even the godling Herakles is one of the “living” who may not be allowed to enter, and then just waltz out of hell. Hell is meant to keep the dead and the living separate; you don’t keep an outhouse inside the bedroom, and you don’t allow the living and the dead worlds to become indiscriminately intermingled.
In the ancient world, such sages as Pythagoras or Socrates were said to have been accompanied and guided by their daemon, who instructed them in their journey toward the truth. Of a truth, we could say that Hercules has been guided by a kind of warrior-appropriate daemon, in that he wars through his passions (as Giorgio has written) “on his own”, without the conscious guide of a familiar spirit or guardian angel. The warrior has to perform the self-guiding function on his own by conquering passions and his body. We note, however, that even the warrior has occasional need of the mysteries: Hercules goes for instruction to Eleusis.
It is said by Iamblichus (in his biography of Pythagoras) that he imposed the most careful methods of scrutiny and tests on those of his auditors who were judged progressively worthy to receive his teachings. He received his teachings from Egypt, a land which was under the dominion of Mercury, but he passed into Italy, as this was a land renowned for its upright morality (Pythagoras was “drawn” by affinity towards the simple, basic, and rare quality of morality). There is a link, here, too, to Hercules, because he came to Crotona and taught them, a city founded by Hercules during his travels. No one was treated “equally” by Pythagoras – although most had to endure apprenticeships and tests, Abaris the Hyperborean who came to the city was judged by him immediately worthy of his highest discourses, and they exchanged knowledge and gifts, Abaris giving him a dart with which Pythagoras threw out the diseases from Laecadomonia, and Pythagoras showing him his golden thigh, proof that he was attended by Apollo and was a hero or demi-god.
From such caste of brahmin, at Eleusis (or those trained or descended spiritually from them), Hercules can hope to learn much. Indeed, he finds an entrance into the underworld, as well as advice about how to safely return. But here, in the Underworld, Hercules is first and foremost a suppliant. He must take and receive permission from Hades to attempt to wrestle Cerebus back to the surface. The warrior, even the demi-god, doesn’t exalt himself in the presence of the ruler of the Dead, whose task is inexorable, but rather consults with him and presents a petition or craves a boon. Hades grants the wish, on condition that no weapon is used.
Incidentally, Hercules rescues one hero from hell, & fails to rescue the other, whose desire to have a god’s wife for his own was so insulting that nothing could transport the man out of hell. The gravity of karma in the afterlife has certain laws that even a demigod can’t bend. This is why Scripture tells us not to fear those who rend the body, but the One Who can chain you in Hell. Don’t be so heavy in the afterlife that even a god can’t haul you out of prison. All of this indicates that the laws of Heaven and Hell (and, in between, Middle Earth) are more important and complex than even some of the tales of the demigods. Hercules’ story itself is a foreshadowing of greater deeds to come, when Hell will be broken open and harrowed in truth. This does not detract from Hercules, but rather adds luster and glory to the daring deed, which might otherwise be without absolute significance.
Naturally, Hercules brings down the big dog Cerebus, and wrests him from his hellish lair up to the sweet light of the sun. Just as inevitably, Eurystheus flees back into this pithos at the sight of this still unexpected victory. Can we begin to suspect, although the legends do not say so, that Hercules (like Socrates) possessed a daemon that guided him in his wrestling and fighting, instructing him minutely and instantly upon what to do? In any case, he answers to a “higher power” either within or partially without him.
Alice Bailey has some reasonable thoughts on Capricorn and the twelfth labor, specifically the idea that the initiate has to go through a personal hell before he can instruct others (which involves traversing objective Hell). If you can’t be pure in your own circle, you cannot purify the world either. This is a strong argument for the emphasis on Law which Gornahoor has made. That is (for example) why would America “save” the world when her own streets are in chaos and disorder? We have seen that Boris Mouravieff in Gnosis implicitly endorses Order over Chaos as a necessary prerequisite to any gnosis itself, when he stated that in some conditions politically the chaos becomes too great for any “work”. St. Paul endorses Law in Romans 13 and other passages – pray for a peaceable life of quiet godliness. Pythagoras endorsed the Romanity of the Latins by emigrating to Crotona from turbulent Samos, when the revolution arrived, and he taught his initiates to favor those of Law and to be unfriendly to those who advocated Revolution. Or, as the German folk used to say, work first, then play or relaxation. A lot of the New Age followers, or modern people interested in initiation are short circuiting the process and cheating themselves (not to mention defiling the memory of their ancestors) by holding to political doctrines that are simply incompatible with “decency and good order”. Far better to be apolitical in the fashion of Ernst Junger, in order to achieve interiority, or better still, give your reason to the meditation of Order. Even Hercules did this, in coming hat in hand to Hades, in consulting the Eleusian brahmins/priests. Christ Himself, God Himself, did not consider Equality a thing to be grasped! But rather humbled himself as a servant, and said that not one jot or tittle of the General Law would be cheated, but rather that He intended to sacrifice His flesh and soul and humble His divine origin in order to carve a way out through His own flesh and interiority. It is said that Satan does not hate man, but simply has no faith in human nature, and that this is why he “opposes” arrogant man, tempting him. “Every man is tempted out of his own flesh”. The deities and powers that exist take note of those, especially in a dark time, who observe the remnants of the Law and do not bow the knee to man-made Baal. The Creator, the Archetype, is not mocked, especially by those who think that they can take a short cut away from Law in favor of Chaos, which is Non-Being. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. Or, like Gandalf, place your faith in the little things and aid those who bear the ring faithfully. The Pythagoreans believed that Number was the motion of the Gods, or perhaps the essence of the Gods themselves (Number as the Intelligible: number as sensible would be the tracing of their steps), so their philosophy excluded Chaos and Revolution as non-Being, since Being was orderly, numerate. Here we see that all initiates of Truth agree in rejecting anti-Order; indeed, a great Reformation thinker like van Prinsterer demonstrated that the Revolution was anything but natural, inevitable, or (therefore) “orderly” – rather, it was an attempt to (as Pythagoras would have said) ignore the Creator and pay attention to sublunary magistrates in the place of the Creator. This is unseemly, with predictable eventual results.
If Christ opened the path to the heavens, recollecting the content of this gift, in meditating the ancient mysteries and the old paths that are to be walked in, is the surest way available to understand a gift which otherwise is easily misinterpreted as just another gigantic Revolution or shortcut to cheat the Lord of Lords. Christ did not come to create a new world, but to re-create the Old.
I don’t endorse everything Civilizing the Beast writes, but he is right to seek a way out of the Left’s empty insistence that “man as he is” (or is understood right now) can be enshrined in a Constitution as a secular demi-god, or the new Right’s unintentional reversion to exoteric forms of the Past which no longer have spirit or life left within them. If Christ is holding exoteric/esoteric worlds together with the cross, this means that the Dreamtime will become the wide awake truth of the Future, which always was to begin with, through the Man. It means that man will become God, as the Fathers taught. It means that history is becoming more intricately complex and subtle every day, as the Spirit weaves where it wills. Instituting the ruins of man and his revolution as “Law” is the besetting hubris of classical liberalism, since man is not merely his discursive Reason.
If you want to get to heaven, you’ve got to raise a little hell. Start, and end, with yourself. Run the race, as if to win. But do not neglect the “little things”, as each adventure of the twelve labors encapsulates the whole, and even the mighty Hercules began with a “little labor”.