The title of this article ties in well with the myth of Orpheus, a child of Apollo and the Muse Calliope. If you don’t know who Orpheus was, don’t worry, I’ll give you the rundown on the story of this guy and the myths surrounding him, which have deeper spiritual and psychological truths that were interwoven into his tales. Hmm, that sounds like many other religious texts that I have read.
This same moral of this story can also be found in the Bible in the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot leaves with his wife, who was instructed to not look back, which she did and was turned into a pillar of salt. What kind of god would put that kind of burden on someone trying to flee violence? No loving god would. The story is an allegory that never happened just like this one, but it’s interesting that this same motif exists throughout ancient world myths. It always means the same thing.
According to the myth, Orpheus was a poet and prophet, but he was mostly known for his ability as a musician of the lyre, which, when played, was able to charm all living things.
One part of his myth that we are covering today is his relationship with his eventual wife, Eurydice. Wikipedia covers this in detail so I’ll just copy and paste the summary of their relationship, how it happened and how it ended. Then we’ll get to the deeper breakdown.
Parenthesis pertaining to “Hymen” are mine.
Apollo gives his son Orpheus a lyre and teaches him how to play. It is said that “nothing could resist Orpheus’s beautiful melodies, neither enemies nor beasts.” Thus, he falls in love with Eurydice, a woman of beauty and grace, whom he marries and lives happily with for a short time. However, when Hymen (yep, that is the same hymen in a woman’s body) is called to bless the marriage, he predicts that their perfection is not meant to last.
A short time after this prophecy, Eurydice is wandering in the forest with the Nymphs. In some versions of the story, Aristaeus, a shepherd, then sees her, is beguiled by her beauty, makes advances towards her, and begins to chase her. Other versions of the story relate that Eurydice is merely dancing with the Nymphs. In any case, while fleeing or dancing, she is bitten by a snake and dies instantly. Therefore, Orpheus sings his grief with his lyre and manages to move everything, living or not, in the world; both humans and gods learn about his sorrow and grief.
At some point, Orpheus decides to descend to Hades to see his wife. Ovid’s version of the myth does not explain this decision, while other versions relate that the gods and nymphs or Apollo himself, Orpheus’ father, suggest that he make this journey. Any other mortal would have died, but Orpheus, protected by the gods, goes to Hades and arrives at the Stygian realm, passing by ghosts and souls of people unknown. He also manages to attract Cerberus, the three-headed dog, with a liking for his music. He later presents himself in front of the god of the Greek underworld, Hades (Pluto in Roman mythology), and his wife, Persephone.
Orpheus plays his lyre, attracting Hades. The latter tells the former that he can take Eurydice with him but under one condition: she would have to follow him while walking out to the light from the caves of the underworld, but he should not look at her before coming out to the light or else he would lose her forever. If Orpheus is patient, he will have Eurydice as a normal woman again by his side.
Thinking it a simple task for a patient man like himself, Orpheus is delighted; he thanks the gods and leaves to ascend back into the world. Unable to hear Eurydice’s footsteps, however, he begins fearing the gods had fooled him. Eurydice is in fact behind him, but as a shade, having to come back into the light to become a full woman again. Only a few feet away from the exit, Orpheus loses his faith and turns to see Eurydice behind him, but her shade is whisked back among the dead, now trapped in Hades forever.
Orpheus tries to return to the underworld, but it is assumed that a person cannot enter the realm of Hades twice while alive. According to various versions of the myth, he starts playing a mourning song with his lyre, calling for death so that he can be united with Eurydice forever. He is ultimately killed either by beasts tearing him apart, or by the Maenads, in a frenzied mood. According to another version, Zeus decides to strike him with lightning knowing Orpheus would reveal the secrets of the underworld to humans.
In any case, Orpheus dies, but the Muses decide to save his head and keep it among the living people to sing forever, enchanting everyone with his melodies and tones.
Okay, let’s break it down.
We all want to dwell in our Higher Nature, but the emotions get in the way of that. Orpheus’ journey to Hades is symbolic of our strong desire to reunite with Spirit, the higher aspect of the feminine, wife, no matter the trial or effort involved. We want it so badly that we will literally go to hell and back to achieve it.
Orpheus made the journey, retrieved his wife, spirit, higher nature and began his trek out of the lower emotions, Hades. The problem is that along the journey away from the emotions sometimes they have the power to pull us back down if we allow them to. Orpheus looked back, meaning that the lower aspect of the feminine, emotions, are powerful, and we can’t break away from them because we haven’t been taught how by religion, tradition and culture. These lower emotions are the same as the carnal mind that, per the Bible, is enmity or mutual hatred against God.
The moral of the story is that when you start to move away from dwelling in the lower emotions, don’t look back because they will once again ensnare you and steal that which you covet the most, the indwelling spirit.
So, what kind of training can you undergo to keep the emotions from ruling your life? A regular meditational practice is a must. The brain literally rewires itself to be able to handle the insanity of life here on planet earth. You start to change the way you act. You start to change the way you think. You start to see that religion is false and is actually a means of control for the unknowing masses. You start to become empathetic toward other people instead of judging them at first glance. You begin to tread the path of godhood. Yes, it’s a thing.
World Mythology, the Bible, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and the like are all filled with this kind of mysticism and allegory that pertains to consciousness and how to elevate yourself to its higher realms.
These texts always talk of a mountain or cave but they are not literal, they are within you. Go to the mountain within you. Go to the cave within you. Sit in silence and focus on your breath. That’s where the Christ, Buddha and Krishna truly dwell. Awaken so you can awaken others.