In Ancient Myths, the Greek version of how all the attributes of civilization came about was conveyed in the traditional form of wondrous tales, as easily told orally as in writing. In the midst of it all, there was the saga of Zeus and a whole host of characters running about doing their thing. So distinct were their characters, so intriguing their personalities that they became Archetypes (or mentors) of life in the fast lane.
A Once and Future Myth picks up from the Greek tales, and extends the concept into the future. It relies on part on other, less well-known Greek myths, and in part on a fictional supposition, based on the nature of individual Gods and Goddesses and the inevitability of change. Provided below is a “trailer”, a brief hint of what might be about to unfold. For the larger version, one can read Heir Apparent, a story with a cast of some two hundred beings -- each and every one having been modeled after a mythological character or beast.
But for the moment, a quick enticement will be offered. It is a story of Zeus and the gang brought up to date and with a quick leap into the future.
Recall -- in the last episode -- Zeus had swallowed his consort, Metis, in order to prevent her from giving birth -- according to a Promethean prophecy -- of a son who would be destined to overthrow him. Recall also how that self same prophecy had included the birth of a daughter who would follow in Zeus’ footsteps. And in fact that eventually transpired when she had come to term, and Athena had sprung from her father’s head!
Go with us now to yesteryear, and re-encounter these wondrous personalities and the events which transpired and which may continue to their inexorable conclusion in the future. We begin with the the ancient tale that, unbeknownst to either Athena or her father, Athena carried mommy dearest with her. Her mother, Metis, who had the ability to shape-shift, had transformed herself into a bee, which had soon been emblazoned upon the golden shield that Athena carried. No one had thought to question the whereabouts of Metis, for Zeus has supposedly swallowed her whole. Thus, for a time, Metis stayed close to Athena’s heart, even while Zeus continued to claim that Metis, still sitting in his stomach, was giving him the benefit of her wisdom. [Men are so easy!]
Athena never knew her mother, at least, not consciously. Metis was not yet strong enough to challenge Zeus, and she could only aid her daughter surreptitiously. Not even Athena could be told of Metis’ influence, however, for Athena was above all her “father’s daughter”. She took her every overt action as if she were his clone. Nevertheless, Metis persevered and covertly nurtured Athena.
When Athena and Poseidon competed in giving gifts to the City of Athens, it was Metis, for example, who whispered in Athena’s ear that she should give the city an olive tree. When the Athenians compared her gift to Poseidon’s brackish spring, the city chose Athena as their patron. Too bad for Poseidon, but Athena’s star was on the ascendency.
For Metis, it was a time when her initial life impulse felt its mission being completed and when she dimly intuited future beginnings manifesting themselves. It was also a time when she was sorely troubled. When Athena sided with Orestes at his trial (for having killed his mother, Clytemnestra, to avenge the murder of his father, Agamemnon), Metis felt the pain of loss all the more. The final blow came when Perseus, aided by Athena, beheaded the Medusa (Athena’s own dark aspect), and Athena added the Medusa’s head to her shield. It was then that Metis took the form of a raven and flew away, abandoning her daughter -- letting go of that which she loved the most.
For a time, Metis wandered far to the East, to the lands of her youth. In her wandering, she once again turned her ear to the Great Below, to the call of wisdom. Heeding its call, she abandoned her status as goddess, her cities and temples, and all of heaven and earth. She prepared herself with the protective garments of her ladyship. Then she took one further action.
In the twinkling of a moment, Metis transformed herself into a maiden of unsurpassed beauty, one sufficient to attract any god, and in particular, Zeus, the god who had seen it all. Walking in a green meadow which overlooked the sea, Metis was spotted by her former lover. Zeus felt immediate passion for the beautiful maiden and did not hesitate to pursue her. But neither did he recognize his former consort. He simply pursued her. When Metis transformed herself into a swan to escape him, Zeus transformed himself as well. When she became a serpent, he did likewise; when she became a rainbow, he became the rain. As if admitting defeat, she became the beautiful maiden once again and yielded to him.
But no sooner had Zeus impregnated Metis, than she transformed her appearance into that of an Anzu bird, a creature with the great wings of an eagle and the face of lion. Zeus, knowing that the Anzu bird was a sexual, lawless creature, craving power and knowledge, did not pursue her; in fact, wanted nothing to do with her. Zeus did not know with whom he had coupled, and so he denied her existence and his acts, even as the Anzu bird flew off to the desolate wilderness of Lilith.
It was in the wilderness, in the company of Selene and Hecate, primeval goddesses of the Moon and the feminine mysteries, that Metis gave birth to a “son of all-conquering heart”, whom she named Nugal. Knowing that Nugal could not be safe from Zeus if the Patriarch became aware of Metis having given birth -- and possibly fulfilling Prometheus’ prophecy -- Metis called to her the daughter of Chiron, Thea, whose name means “one of the shining moon”. Thea, having ascended to the stars and become the constellation, Pegasus, came to Metis at once. With Selene and Hecate, Thea then took on the task of nurturing the young god, Nugal. Metis gave them her last instructions and left them.
Having provided for the safety and upbringing of her son, she transformed herself into a scorpion and descended into the underworld, slipping through the cracks of the seven bolted gates. No living being knew of her identity, her whereabouts, or the fact of her having given birth to a son of Zeus. The King of the Gods still thought she resided in his stomach, providing him with her wisdom.
As the Age of Pisces came to a close, and the long, dark nights of the age-long lunar cycle approached the New Phase, Thea, through her Astrology, sensed it was time for Nugal to have a mentor, one to prepare him for his destiny. Thea recalled Metis’ instructions, knowing that the chosen mentor was to be her father, Chiron.
In the Ancient Myths, Chiron, the half-brother to Zeus, had been the mentor to all of the great heroes. From Jason to Hercules, Achilles to Orpheus, Chiron had trained them and had led them to their destiny. But in handling one of the poisoned darts he had prepared for Hercules, he had accidentally dropped one on his foot. Immortal, the poison had not killed Chiron, but rather, had left him in immense and unremitting pain. Understanding his fate, he had then agreed to take the place of Prometheus, whom Zeus had banished to Hades for giving fire to mankind. Chiron had descended into Hades, freeing Prometheus in the process. And there he had resided for millennia.
As Nugal prepared his Descent into the Underworld in order to rescue Chiron, Thea sent for the beautiful Iris, messenger of the gods. Together, Nugal and Iris began their descent, Iris empowering Nugal and Nugal providing Iris with his strength. Iris, as the guide of souls, gave Nugal wise counsel, and he placed his trust in her. They passed through each of the seven gates of the Underworld, releasing the old and outworn powers on which they had relied while still on earth. Naked and humbled, they entered the throne room of the Queen of the Underworld, accepting of whatever fate she decreed for them.
But in the millennia that had passed following Metis’ descent into the Underworld in order to begin the process of healing and renewal, things had changed in the Underworld. The Goddess of Wisdom and Goddess of the Waters, had brought together the Queen of Heaven and Earth, Inanna, and the Queen of the Underworld, Ereshkigal -- the three great goddesses melding together, healing one another, and becoming once again the Triple Goddess. Inanna/Metis/Ereshkigal, the Great Triple Goddess had become one, bearing within herself all of the polarities, all of the paradoxical conflicts. Ime, as she now called herself, was both gentle and caring and at the same time harsh and ruthless. She was full of light and fair visions, but simultaneously capable of leading one into darkness and terror. Her impulse was often chaotic, shifting her shape with each turn of her cycle. A mystical marriage had occurred in the conjunction of her opposites, an inner meeting and integration capable of generating creative energies beyond any experience of gods, goddesses, or humankind.
Ime called Chiron to her throne room in the Underworld, as well. She instructed Nugal, Chiron, and Iris in the art of ascending from the Underworld and those actions they must take once they had been restored to heaven and earth. She told them of the suffering of the earth and humankind, and what must be done to alleviate that suffering. But she also told them that all of heaven and earth was moving in accordance with the Great Cycle.
Thus armed, Nugal, Chiron, and Iris began their ascent. Iris guided the way, while Nugal fought the battles of coming into his own. Chiron watched and observed, allowed Nugal to fight his battles, and never interfering. Once they had returned to the light and the living, Chiron began instructing Nugal, teaching him the skills of dance and war, the arts of healing and prophecy, the wisdom of astrology and synchronicity, the understanding of both the light and dark sides, the joys of music and creativity.
Then at an appointed time, Iris bore a message to Zeus, that his half-brother, Chiron, had ascended from the Underworld with the help of a prophetic god-like being. No mention was made of Nugal’s parentage, nor would there be. Zeus was simply intrigued that some being had found a way around the rules of the Underworld, and summoned Chiron and his benefactor to attend him.
When Chiron arrived with his protege, he told Zeus that the young god-like being had great and unusual powers, among which included an extraordinary capability of foreseeing the future. Zeus was not convincd, being no longer bound, he believed, by prophecies and forecasts -- assured instead of his own power to change and influence events to his own liking, of being able to count on the arrow of time and the law of cause and effect.
Nugal then told Zeus of the existence of a beautiful goddess, young and fair, with great sexuality and feminine charm, who could not be persuaded by Zeus to spend even one night with him. The Big Guy was more than skeptical, and laughed in the faces of Nugal and Chiron. Unperturbed, Chiron suggested a wager, based on the correctness of Nugal’s prophecy. Nugal would wager his knowledge of how to ascend by himself or with others from the Underworld, against Zeus’ right to claim sexual favors from any female he desired. Zeus was at first hesitant, but as he recalled his record of successes with women in his past, he agreed to the wager.
Lilith then appeared before them, radiantly beautiful, renewed as a young and fair maiden, with her great sexuality and feminine charm. At first, Zeus was delighted at her appearance, and confident in his own ability. But then he saw through the guise of Lilith, the image of a young Metis. Knowing of Prometheus’ prophecy that he would be overthrown by a son born of Metis, Zeus determined that he could not risk spending even one night with the beautiful goddess standing before him. Without another word, he acknowledged the loss of his wager, and released his claim of sexual favors of any female he desired.
In that fateful moment, Ime passed upward through the lowest and seventh gate of the Underworld, taking her stand to reclaim her sexuality in all of its power and magnificence, and reclaiming the earth as a sexual globe, where the rites of sexuality were primarily directed by the feminine.
Zeus was not pleased with the results of the wager. As Nugal and Chiron started to leave, as if their business was finished, the King of the Gods demanded the chance to recover what he had lost. At Zeus’ demands, Nugal and Chiron then agreed to a second wager: one where they would risk their winnings against Zeus’ measuring rod and line, the symbol of his power to impose his will upon the whole earth. Nugal then prophesied that the plants and animals of earth would no longer be made to answer to Zeus’ will. Zeus laughed at the suggestion and agreed to the wager. But when the King of the Gods turned to impose his will, he saw the plants and animals dying, whole species fading from existence, all entering the Underworld where Zeus had no power, no ability to impose his will. Stunned, Zeus reluctantly acknowledged his lost wager.
And Ime passed though the sixth gate of the Underworld, reasserting the law that neither the Gods and Goddesses nor humankind would have dominion over the plants and animals, the environment, or the earth itself. That the earth would heal itself, in whatever manner it chose, without regard to gods and men.
Again, Zeus could not admit defeat and allow Chiron and Nugal to leave with their winnings, and demanded yet another wager. When Nugal prophesied a third time, telling Zeus that when six of the Great Orbs congregated first in Capricorn and then quickly in Aquarius, the power of authority, of governing one over the other would fail, unable to heal itself. Zeus smiled, thinking he had now won. Quickly he agreed to wager his great ringed belt, the symbol of his ego and hia status as King of the Gods.
When the Great Orbs did congregate in Capricorn and then in Aquarius, governments indeed fell and human beings no longer turned to authority to solve their problems. There was the realization within the community of mortals that political solutions were no longer viable, that the problems were instead philosophical. As they turned away from the seductions of activism, to beginning their individual, personal ordeals of rearranging their perceptions and seeking transformation, Zeus knew that he had lost again.
As Ime passed through the fifth gate of the Underworld, humanity’s mission became not about struggles between peoples, nations, classes, and sexes; but instead a collection of personal quests to enlarge the collective soul.
It was on the fourth wager, that Zeus risked his very heart, the symbol of his religious dominance. And Nugal’s fourth prophecy came forth, as six of the Great Orbs congregated first in Aquarius, and then quickly in Pisces and then Aries. Humanity began to realize that religion was an improper response to the Divine, that while the Divine was expansive, religion had become reductive, attempting to pin down and limit Divineity. Not only had humanity turned away from worshiping Zeus, allowing his temples and shrines to be destroyed or simply wither away in decay, but other religions, younger or older than his own, had also ceased to hold sway. Zeus realized that he had lost the fourth wager, and had, in fact, truly lost heart.
Ime passed through the fourth gate of the Underworld, and the limiting forces of spirituality began to fall away, the religions of “should” and “shouldn’t” withered and faded. The unlimited possibilities of the Divine began to manifest, expanding into the limitless beyond.
There seemed no way to turn back for Zeus. He had lost too much. But when Nugal made his fifth prophecy, Zeus determined that even Nugal must have limits, that his powers of prophecy must wane. And in a moment of insight, Zeus risked the double strand chain about his neck, his power to receive the rapture of illumination. Which he quickly lost, as the fifth prophecy came to past.
Passing through the third gate of the Underworld, Ime felt the illumination of creative thinking and sensory perception returning to the world, the realization that there was “always enough to go around.”
Almost desperate, Zeus risked his power of Magic and ability to manifest against the accuracy of Nugal sixth prophecy. When it came to past, Ime passed through the second gate of the Underworld. Zeus made no acknowledgment of his loss, even as Ime provided the understanding that security was a form of paralysis, and satisfaction, a form of death.
For a time, Zeus pondered. He had risked and lost everything, save his crown, his symbol of ultimate authority and sovereignty over the gods and mankind. But then Nugal made his seventh prophecy, that before seven Great Orbs congregated in the sign of Pisces, that The Great Goddess would return and become sovereign over all the earth. Zeus risked his crown as well, against all that Nugal and Chiron had thus won.
There are some who have said that Zeus, God of the Sky, the Rain-god and Cloud-gatherer, who wielded the awful thunderbolt, the most powerful of all the Olympian gods, might well have been able to prevent the fulfillment of the seventh prophecy. But when the time for its fulfillment arrived, he took no action, allowing what was to be. It may be that he had understood, even before the seventh wager, what was happening to his reign. It may be that he acquiesced to his own cutting down, to the fulfillment of Prometheus’ prophecy. Perhaps he welcomed the return of Inanna-Metis-Ereshkigal.
We may never know Zeus’ mind, but on the day of fulfillment, Ime did indeed pass through the outer gate of the Underworld, remaking her connection to heaven, even as she maintained her connection to the earth and waters and to the Underworld. And thereby she taught us that each of us must figure it out for ourselves. There could be no authorities, no scapegoating, no gurus, shamans, priests or rabbis. Only our own empowerment and responsibility.
As Ime entered again onto the face of the earth, Nugal, Chiron, Iris, and all the other gods and goddesses met her, throwing themselves into the dust at her feet. Nugal offered all that he had won from Zeus, and Ime accepted it. Healed, renewed, and reborn, Ime took Nugal as her consort, and they thereby began again the Great Cycle.
All glory and all praise go to the Great Triple Goddess, Inanna-Metis-Ereshkigal.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]