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"The chief subject of myth is gods". - James Frazer

Male Gods
By David Talbott & Rens van der Sluijs

Ev Cochrane recently forwarded to me a note from Rens van der Sluijs, dealing with "the problem of identification of the male gods within the Saturnist framework."

Rens van der Sluijs wrote: "My conclusion is that the godly assembly is variously referred to as either One God, having an acting Inner Soul, or Father and Hero-Son. The suffering Mystery God, in so many disguises, being torn apart is the One God, but on a deeper level it is his own acting Inner Soul that kills him. He can thus appear as Warrior and Victim in two separate beings. Mythologically speaking, this implies that the same story can be rendered in various ways.

Thus we reach the startling conclusion that Zeus killing Kronos is identical with the various Mars-gods killing the rightful King, whereas the story of the infant Zeus is directly identical with the numerous accounts of young Herakles, et cetera. Jupiter at face value is, therefore, not always simply to be equated with the archetypal Jupiter God that David Talbott had thus far established. When Zeus kills Kronos we envision the Mars God as Inner Soul overcoming the Golden Age God. The soul, i. e. Venus with Mars, subsequently reenters another body, notably the planet Jupiter, and in this way the same Zeus is said to have achieved kingship. As Inner Soul he is then identical with the body of Jupiter as a planet, i. e. the King acquired a new heart, or rather, the heart acquired a new body (sic!). This sounds like ancient mystery language and in fact it is. Nevertheless, it seems to be the only adequate solution and enlightens the ancient lore not a bit.

This view predicts that the same divinity can alternately be described from the viewpoint of the acting Inner Soul or from that of the entire god. Methodically, this means that it gets harder to make a divine biography. A divine biography can only be set up once we split the united story in several versions with different role assignments and viewpoints. This is a challenge that I am greedy to face.

All of this I hope to address sooner or later in an article, also paying attention to related issues:

[1] The story of Kronos castrating and ousting Ouranos is different. This is not the common parricide myth, but describes an earlier transformation in the life of the Golden King, giving birth to Venus, as can be deduced from the themes and attributes involved in the myths. It is not as widespread.

David Talbott Responds: 1. Re: Kronos and Ouranos. Rens is correct here. This is not the parricide myth. It is the story of Saturn's emergence as a separate power, in events synonymous with the birth of the goddess and hero. The subject is the "first activity" of the planetary configuration. Unified heaven (proto-Saturn) gives way to differentiation. In the Egyptian myth the birth of Shu and Tefnut from the originally inert and unified form of Atum gives rise to THREE–Re, Shu and Tefnut–Saturn, Mars and Venus in the Saturn reconstruction. The Hindu system also presents the story of a primeval sacrifice of Unity (first form of Brahma-Prajapati) in connection with the birth of male and female principles. Originally, the male and female powers stood in conjunction. In other words, the variants all answer directly to the Great Conjunction of Saturn's epoch, when Saturn's giant sphere, extremely close to the earth, stood behind the juxtaposed, much smaller spheres of Venus (goddess) and Mars(warrior-hero), these two orbs appearing as the luminous eye, heart or soul of Saturn.

The comparative approach will confirm that the severed "testicles" of Ouranos correspond to the "seed" of the Egyptian Atum, holding the goddess and hero in conjunction. This male-female "seed"– the_BEN_ stone–typically appears as a single eye (the goddess) together with its "pupil" (hero), though the emerging male and female forms may also be called the "two eyes" in later elaborations of the myth. "Castration" and "blindness" thus go together in archaic symbolism (as Jungian symbolists have already noticed). In the Hindu system as well, the primeval conjunction of Rudra/Shiva and Sati defines the original Unity of heaven. The original male-female seed–the BINDU–is depicted as a small circle in the center of a much larger circle. That is the primeval condition of undifferentiated Unity: unborn goddess and hero in conjunction in the center of the vast sphere called "heaven" the gas giant proto-Saturn). The sign for this condition is among the two or three most common symbols in the world. (It is the sign of Re, for example.)

Of course none of this will make sense unless you have the visual imagery very clear in your mind. The human memories trace to concrete forms in the sky, behaving in a highly specific way that can be tested from one culture to another. The fate of the primeval Unity, however, is the most archaic story element, and as such it reveals much less detail than you will find in the more richly elaborated accounts of the goddess and hero. It is a less defined background memory, and rapidly fades over time. That is why one will do best to concentrate on the oldest available sources. The symbolism of the Egyptian Atum and the Sumerian An/Akkadian Anu will give the most reliable data.

2. Re: Difficulties in establishing a divine biography. Correcto mundo on this point also. The universal sovereign (Saturn- Jupiter) tends to be a passive figure, while the goddess and hero are highly active. In later literature the Martian figure, the warrior-hero, will appear as the servant, messenger, or assistant in the service of a great king. BECAUSE the story was consistently localized, it was impossible for the original relationships to be maintained. Archaically, the hero figure does not just act on behalf of the universal sovereign–he is the masculine, innermost soul of the god, the active voice going forth as a visible "command," the externalized "will" or "desire" of the sovereign. In the margins between the most authentic (earliest) sources, and the highly fragmented (later) sources you will find both versions of the hero–i.e., both the original servant of the universal sovereign and the later "prideful," "foolish," rampaging hero acting AGAINST the sovereign, even "murdering" him. They are same figures.

Thus, comparative analysis will reveal that the Greek Eros and Ares, who appear so unlike each other, reflect the SAME archetype. The evolution of the archetype through interpretation and storytelling, however, has taken the two figures in entirely different directions. Eros, the visible, external will or desire of Zeus is thus seen as a little male figure on the shoulders of Zeus–exactly where we should expect him. The poetic treatment of the Mars god Ares, however, will typically emphasize the rogue aspect–the warrior, the fool, the murderer. The ambiguous middle zone will be occupied by Heracles, whose name was also a name for the planet Mars in Greek astronomy. Here the poets have retained many separate traditions relating to the hero's labors on behalf of "great kings," while including as well the accounts of his murderous rampage, all the while attempting to rationalize the behavior.

In truth, this ambiguity shows up in virtually all of the well- documented warrior gods around the world, though the chroniclers endlessly strove to separate the heroic and chaos-monster aspects by treating them as independent mythical figures. That way, one figure could represent the enemy (prototype of the devil in all his mythical forms) and the other a standard to be celebrated without ambivalence. (I will return to this tendency as soon possible, in discussing another point raised by Rens.)

3. Zeus and Kronos. Bingo on this one too. The overthrow of Kronos by Zeus refers to the same events which–through nothing more than a subtle twist of interpretation–were seen as the warrior Mars murdering or displacing the elder form of the universal sovereign Saturn.

To this observation I would add a further principle, relating to the archetypal "birth of the hero." (I am speaking here not of the first appearance of the hero with the differentiation of the unified sovereign, but the RE-BIRTH of that figure in the great crisis at the conclusion of Saturn's epoch.) Hesiod's story of the birth of Zeus (Jupiter) within a cave is really the story of the HERO "born" in the cave. It was not Jupiter that was carried off by the goddess. It was the unborn hero, as in the universal legend. It is the story of what happens to the masculine, innermost heart of the sovereign, as it passes from the FIRST form of the sovereign (elder god Saturn) to the SECOND (younger god Jupiter). At this juncture, neither form of the sovereign is necessarily visible, while the externalized Martian "soul," "heart," or "will" of the sovereign–the hero–is very visible and highly active. In these events, the focus is on the activity, the transmigrating "soul," not its more passive owner.

Remember that in the discussion of the labyrinth motif, I noted that the entry of the hero into the cavernous labyrinth is the story of the hero's re-birth. Typically, a goddess such as Isis, pregnant with the hero, finds a secret hiding place. These myths, I said, relate directly to the transition between Saturnian and Jovian epochs, the dissolution of a world age followed by renewal. Theseus enters the labyrinth where he slays the hidden or imprisoned Minotaur, transcript of the archetypal Bull of Heaven, the primeval form of Saturn. Though a lot of ground would have to be covered to make the equation clear and convincing, there is no doubt in my mind that the archetypal "birth [i.e., rebirth] of the hero" IS the story of the passage from Saturnian to Jovian sovereignty.

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