Fourth labor - Erymantian boar submitted by Arch
- By Saturn Celeste
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Fourth labor - Erymantian boar:
The fourth labor of Hercules is again a fight with a creature.
This is one of Artemis creatures the Erymantian boar,
which symbolizes Artemis wrath, and is probably what Hercules would have faced,
had not Artemis forgiven him for taking the Hind in the previous labor.
The Boar is a particularly powerful beast, and has often been sent to kill off men who displeased Zeus.
One Adonis was the lover of Aphrodite, which was a character that served two lovers,
namely Aphrodite up above and Persephone down below in the underworld.
A quite clear reference to someone not taking clear sides in the Emperor/Empress conflict.
Leading him to suffer death by the Boar.
Another victim was Attis the lover of Cybele, a mother goddess, quite akin to Gaia.
She was a direct threat to the rule of Zeus, and so her lover was killed.
He has a living-dying-resurrection theme going on, that connects him also to the underworld.
Also some stories has him castrating himself, in other words giving up his masculinity.
In both cases we have characters who intrude into the forbidden realm of the feminine,
and it is the Boar who deals out punishment.
Now which card is it that undergoes a glorious rebirth and death over and over?
It is of course the nineteenth card, the Sun in Tarot, which is preceded by the card eighteen, the moon of the underworld.
Which is then followed by the Judgement card to symbolize the transformation present, when male meets female.
I've tried to find cards that illustrate the masculine and feminine dynamic,
first death, then the underworld with the moon, then the sun and at last the transformation, which again lead to a new death.
The sun comes up from the underworld in the morning and dies again at night to go down into the underworld again.
This is a spiritual death that is supposed to make us consider both sides of the divide.
Yet often we try to keep the light on at all times, delaying the inevitable sunset by all means possible.
Which then only prolongs and darkens the night even more.
Hercules due to his crimes must face the boar also, even though Artemis forgave him,
that is not a strong enough gesture to clear away Hercules sins.
He must face the boar itself.
On the way there he visits an old friend the Centaur King Folos.
Folos serves Hercules meat and when Hercules asks for wine, he gets told that the only wine they have,
is a special wine from Dionysus who was only to be used if shared by all Centaurs for a great occasion.
Hercules doesn't care and breaks open the wine anyway, claiming that this is such a great occasion.
It is curious that Dionysus is another character that also went to the underworld for the feminine principle.
In Dionysys case his mother, hence the wine is alluding to this forbidden thing that Hercules is nearing.
The other Centaurs smell the wine and descends upon them wildly throwing stones and small trees.
After all Centaurs are known for being generally uncultured, and hence can't really stand wholeness,
unless it is given as a mass ecstasy, what Jung would refer to as participation mystique.
Hence the rule that they could only drink the wine together.
...that primitive collective mentality which Levy-Bruhl has aptly termed "participation mystique". This state of suppression of the individuality is no new acquisition, but a residue of that archaic time when there was no individuality whatsoever.
Carl Jung - Psychological Types
Hercules defends himself with his poisonous arrows, killing many Centaurs and making the rest flee.
He chases after them far far away to the castle of Chiron in Cape Malea, the only cultured Centaur that was immortal.
Hercules ended up wounding Chiron with his arrows, but because he couldn't die,
the poison instead inflicted such a terrible agony on him that he chose to give up his immortality to have it end.
He had Hercules make a bargain with Zeus for the immortality of Chiron to take the place of the agony of Prometheus fate.
Short story told, someone who transgressed against the gods in giving fire to mankind.
He gave mankind the ability to think, and hence was doomed forever.
As he was more or less the one that set of the whole war in motion by upsetting the balance of things.
Giving us consciousness and hence creating a split and divide between good and evil,
in essence another version of eating the fruit of knowledge in the garden of eden.
Consider how the snake in eden links to the poison of the Hydra,
and all the pain and suffering it symbolizes for mankind.
The pain of consciousness, the pain of knowing.
Now we have covered a lot of mythological territory here,
there is a lot of threads being pulled together.
And Hercules hasn't even captured the Boar.
The reason there is so much back and forth, is that what Hercules is trying to do is go way beyond anything normal.
He is challenging the order of things itself, if we look at it from a garden of eden perspective,
basically trading away the fall from grace.
In the Bible, there is in Revelation 13:18 the following:
"Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast,
for it is the number of a man: His number is 666."
Now what does this have to do with anything here you might ask? Well basically everything!
In Tarot after the doomed five comes the six, basically a victorious card by comparison.
Each suit has its own victory so to say.
Yet when we consider Hercules 3 victories already, and realize that the fourth victory challenges the order of heaven,
then we kinda see the issue, because man is doomed to only 3 victories, no more, or so the story goes.
Because to have all four victories, would elevate man into the divine.
Hence the story so far, seems to be that man is doomed to his number 666.
It is the number that makes him a beast and not a God.
Anyway once Hercules returns to Folos, he find that Folos has accidentally stabbed himself on one of the arrows of Hercules.
Folos was fascinated by their effectiveness, and they hence became his bane.
We see how the evil of the poison of the Hydra not only kills Hercules target,
yet seems to want to twist into something other than the purpose Hercules uses it for.
Cause this fourth element is evil, the missing 6,
so it is not hard to understand why 666 has become a symbol of evil.
It points to the part of us that has been neglected for so long,
that it no longer really wants anything good, but is only looking for ways to destroy.
And the Boar is just another symbol of this destructive tendency,
attacking and killing anyone who tries to bridge the gap between heaven and hell.
At last Hercules finds the Boar and manages after a difficult fight,
to maneuver it into deep snow, so that it looses it momentum and advantage.
He then binds it with chains and carries it back to Eurystheus, who now is rightly terrified.
As Hercules has pretty much done the impossible.
He is ordered to get rid of it, and he therefore throws it into the sea.
So what is it Hercules has done?
He has fully mastered the element of air of the wands, and is now flirting with the element of water of the cups.
To deal with it, he makes it lose momentum by adding snow.
Snow is actually a trait of fire, being the complete opposite in terms of warmth, and made into an element.
Snow is also water, but water that can no longer flow.
It is the fire, that has pulled all the warmth out of the water, making it solid.
In my mind this illustrates the mastery of fire and thought of Hercules,
making him in many ways the King of Swords.
Yet even though he has mastery over the six sixes (666), he still has only flirted with water.
And in the end he was forced to throw it back into the sea, because of the fragile ego.
It cannot handle wholeness at all, and hence it goes back to the unconscious place in the sea where it was all along.
I could live in the world just like a stranger
I could tell you the truth or a lie
I could tell you that people are good in the end
But why, why would I?
Angels will cry when it's raining
Tears that are no longer clean
What do you mean?
What do you mean, it's all gone?
I've waited here so long
Grimes - Life in the Vivid Dream
Edited by Saturn Celeste