Archive for March, 2010

Resourceful, Clever Odysseus

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Mars Retrograde: December 20, 2009 through March 10, 2010

Mars is still retrograde, i.e. moving backward in the sky.  Because this is a time when the hero is called forth in all of us, I’m telling stories of heroes from Greek and Roman mythology as examples of heroic virtues.  Today’s virtue is resourcefulness, the ability to face obstacles cleverly and to sometimes overcome them by evading them.  The most resourceful and smart hero of Greek and Roman mythology is undoubtedly Odysseus (also called Ulysses).

Legends of Odysseus:  The Odyssey
Odysseus had finished up with some wars that were happening far from home and the Odyssey tells the story of the many adventures he encountered on his return to his loving and devoted wife, Penelope.  On the journey, he faced many obstacles, some of which required strength in battle, but many of which required cleverness, resourcefulness, wisdom and a pure heart.

Here’s one example:  Odysseus and some of his sailors entered a cave that contained some goat-pens.  It turned out the goatherd was the Cyclops, a terrifying giant with one eye in the center of his head.  It also turned out that the sailors found themselves trapped inside the cave, blocked by a boulder only the Cyclops could move.  It was no use killing the Cyclops, because only he could move the boulder.  So instead, Odysseus sharpened a pole and poked the giant’s eye out with it.  As the Cyclops fumbled around for his enemies, and moved the boulder to find out if they’d escaped, Odysseus and his men escaped by clinging to the undersides of some of the goats.

In another example, Odysseus managed to sail past the Sirens.  The Sirens were beautiful nymphs whose singing was so beguiling that they could tempt sailors to crash on the rocks for love of them.  Odysseus stopped up the ears of his crew with wax so they could not hear the Sirens’ song.  For himself, he wanted to hear it, but didn’t want to be a danger to himself or his crew, so he had them tie him to the mast and instructed them not to release him, no matter how he begged or threatened them (which of course he did).  In this way he was able to hear the Sirens while his men sailed safely past them.

Penelope herself was a fit match for her clever husband.  During the many years it took him to return home, many suiters came to press her to remarry, because surely Odysseus was dead.  Her response was: “Sure, as soon as I finish this burial shroud.”  Every day she worked on the shroud and every night, when no one was looking, she unraveled all she had woven.  In this way she fended off the pressure to remarry and was waiting faithfully for Odysseus when he came home.  Odysseus deserved such a wife because at the beginning of his journey a goddess had told him it would be very hard and offered him herself instead of Penelope.  But Odysseus knew that the love of a true, mortal wife is worth more than the whim of a goddess and he chose the journey with all its hardship.

Heroic Virtue #3:  Resourcefulness
Sometimes a battle is best won not by brute strength or by any kind of force at all.  Sometimes it’s about taking the right approach.  An obstacle is an obstacle and you always have the choice about whether to push through it or to find a way around it.  A clever hero looks for many ways to solve a problem and selects the one that leaves him fit to fight another day.

What Mars is Asking of You
During this Mars retrograde period, Mars wants to know:
Have you been fighting too hard?
Have you tried force when cleverness might win you the battle?
Is there a resource you’ve forgotten about?

Next: There’s Still Time To Be A Hero

Other articles in this thread:
Mars Retrograde:  The Hero’s Journey
Hercules, Hero of Strength
Achilles, Hero of Courage
Resourceful, Clever Odysseus
There’s Still Time To Be A Hero
Castor & Pollux:  Brotherhood in the Trenches
Alexander the Great & the Gordian Knot
Orpheus:  Going The Distance For Love

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Achilles, Hero of Courage

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Mars Retrograde: December 20, 2009 through March 10, 2010

Mars is still retrograde, i.e. moving backward in the sky.  Because this is a time when the hero is called forth in all of us, I’m telling stories of heroes from Greek and Roman mythology as examples of heroic virtues.  Today’s virtue is courage, the ability to face the enemy with a strong mind as well as a strong body.  The best example of that is valiant Achilles, hero of the Trojan war.

Legends of Achilles
Achilles, central character in the Iliad, was one of the best-known heroes in Greco-Roman mythology.  He was considered to be the paragon of manly valor and gorgeousness.  For Achilles, courage was based in fearlessness, because his whole body was literally invulnerable, except for one small part—his heel.  Yet he is known to us mainly by that vulnerability.  In modern-day, we speak of an ‘Achilles heel’ as a person’s chief, or only, weakness.

And how exactly did he come to have an ‘Achilles heel?’  According to the mythology, Achilles was the child of a mortal man and an immortal sea-nymph.  When he was an infant, his mother foresaw his death and gave him invulnerability by dipping him in the river Styx.  The Styx was the river that the dead must cross to get to the underworld.  In bathing the child in the river of the dead, she was giving him an early experience of death and rendering him, if not immortal, at least invulnerable.  But she held him by one heel and so that was the only part of him that never touched the underworld’s waters.  It thus became his only weakness.

Heroic Virtue #2:  Courage
Not much of a weakness for battle purposes, you might think, as perhaps his mother did.  Who would think to shoot Achilles in the heel?  Yet someone did, with a poisoned arrow, and that’s how he finally perished.  But on the way to that death he performed incredible feats of courage, which were bolstered by the kind of fearlessness that comes from repeated experiences of surviving when others around you are falling.  So Achilles stands for courage, because he fought bravely, without giving in to fear.

What Mars is Asking of You
During this Mars retrograde period, Mars wants to know:
Where have you forgotten to have courage?  Have you been listening to your fearful inner voices instead of your encouraging ones?
Are you focusing on your weakness (the heel) instead of your strength?
Have you been whining and complaining, when you could put your complaints aside and meet the obstacle more bravely?

Next:  Resourceful Odysseus

Articles in this thread:
Mars Retrograde: The Hero’s Journey
Hercules, Hero of Strength
Achilles, Hero of Courage
Resourceful, Clever Odysseus
There’s Still Time To Be A Hero
Castor & Pollux:  Brotherhood in the Trenches
Alexander the Great & the Gordian Knot
Orpheus:  Going The Distance For Love

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Hercules, Hero of Strength

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Mars Retrograde: December 20, 2009 through March 10, 2010

Right now, Mars is retrograde, which means it is moving backward in the sky.  Because this is a time when the hero is called forth in all of us, I’m telling stories of heroes from Greek and Roman mythology as examples of heroic virtues.  Today’s virtue is the most basic one Mars has to offer: physical force and pure strength.  And nobody is a better example of it than Hercules.

Legends of Hercules
Hercules was known as the greatest of legendary heroes due to his enormous strength.  He was your typical “big and stupid” kind of guy: he carried a club and once he even held the whole sky on his shoulders.

The best-loved tales of Hercules involve his Twelve Labors.  These started out as Ten Labors, but inflation set in because the king he was laboring for got nervous of the Herculean prowess and claimed that two of the labors “didn’t count.”  So Herc had to do two additional in order to stave off the anger of Juno, the goddess who was the original source of the demand.  Juno disliked Hercules because he was the illegitimate offspring of her hubby, Jupiter (who really got around).  Yeah, apparently old Mount Olympus was a real soap opera.

Hercules’ exploits included:
•    Slaying the Nemean Lion, a fierce creature that was terrorizing the countryside.  Herc slew it and wore its pelt as a snazzy outfit.  Otherwise he was not known for his fashion sense.
•    Cleaning the Augean stables, which were occupied by a herd of 3,000 oxen.  This had to be one of nastiest cleaning jobs ever required in mythology, because the stables had not been cleaned for 30 years.  Hercules diverted a river through the stables, wiping them sparkly in one swoop.
•    Slaying the giant Antaeus, who was a mighty wrestler.  Because he was the son of Terra, the Earth, each time he fell he rose up stronger than before.  Hercules defeated Antaeus by holding him up in the air and strangling him.

Upon Hercules’ death, Jupiter made him immortal, declaring that only the vestiges of his mortal heritage were burned away on his funeral pyre, leaving his immortal being to take his place among the gods on Olympus.  Juno decided Herc was here to stay and forgave him his illegitimacy.

Heroic Virtue #1:  Strength

Hercules was obviously a force to be reckoned with.  The tales of his many doings focus not on wit, intelligence or strategy, but on pure physical strength, brute force and the ability to assert himself and overcome.

What Mars is Asking of You

Strength and force are the most basic abilities Mars has to offer.  A Mars retrograde period is a time to look at your life and ask “Where do I need to use more force?  Where have I gotten weak?  Am I a pansy?  A 98-pound weaking?  Where could I use a burst of testosterone or a shot of adrenaline?  Where have I forgotten to assert myself—or maybe never learned to assert myself in the first place?”

A Mars retrograde period is a time of feeling pressure to draw that line in the sand.  It is marked by anger, irritation, annoyance and bursts of ancient, stuck ferocity trying to get out.

Modern people are uncomfortable with this rough-and-ready god.  Mars was not polite, nor was he cautious.  He was a man’s man and sometimes we need a dose of that.  It’s good to know he’s in your corner.  So if, during this Mars retrograde period you find places in which you have not been defending or asserting yourself sufficiently, call on Mars.  He is always there inside your fierce heart when you need him.

Next:  Achilles, Courageous Hero

Articles in this thread:
Mars Retrograde: The Hero’s Journey
Hercules, Hero of Strength
Achilles, Hero of Courage
Resourceful, Clever Odysseus
There’s Still Time To Be A Hero
Castor & Pollux:  Brotherhood in the Trenches
Alexander the Great & the Gordian Knot
Orpheus:  Going The Distance For Love

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