Myth, Catharsis, and The Riddle of The Sphinx

A macroscopic view of myth (Gr: Μύθος) as logos (usually translated as “word”) reveals important associations, insights, and interpretations, all which deserve our attention and can assist us in our exploration of the human soul and its journey towards freedom. During the 9th – 8th century BC, Homer (in his poems the Iliad and the Odyssey) equates myth with speech and conversation, but also with advice, opinion, and promise. During classical times (5th and 4th century BC), myth continues to be treated as a story, as evident by the dramatic works of Sophocles and Euripides.

In the context of philosophy, myth becomes a powerful pedagogical and initiatory device, especially as it appears in the dialogues of Plato. In works such as Phaedo and Phaedrus, the philosopher employs myths to structure his arguments in order to equate knowledge with memory – not simply as remembrance, but also as a recollection from a previous incarnation. Continue reading “Myth, Catharsis, and The Riddle of The Sphinx”

The Spiritual Meaning of Music, From Ancient Greece to Today

In Ancient Greece, music was the gift of the Muses to man. The Muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, and all knowledge and art were under their dominion. They were the sponsors and protectors of mousikai, an integral part of the fabric of everyday life, which was comprised of singing and lyrics, and the Όρχισης (Orchisis)—an organized group of dancers. The term mousikai is used in order to distinguish from what today we call “music” – the science and art of organized sound.

Besides a cultural practice, mousikai was also a means to higher levels of consciousness through the art of sacred geometry, placing it in the sphere of the divine. In Greek antiquity, the Olympian god Apollo is directly connected with the Muses and with mousikai as a divine art. He is represented as their leader in dance and song, and given the epithet mousagetes (leader of the muses), as the historian Pausanias informs us in his “Description of Greece.” Continue reading “The Spiritual Meaning of Music, From Ancient Greece to Today”

Gnosis, Glory, and The Greater Man and Woman

When we speak of the warrior of ancient culture, we are speaking, paradoxically, of the artist and the thinker. Egill Skallagrímsson, a Viking Age warrior known for his brutality, was also a poet — and the first to compose in Old Norse using end rhyme (rather than rhyming at the beginning of sentences). Likewise, as I’ve mentioned before, celebrated samurai Miyamoto Musashi was also a painter and a calligrapher.

Classical civilizations have found great depths in man — in spirituality, ritual, theology, in brotherhoods, in training for battle, in family, the arts, ethics, and so on — and outside of man — sacred sites where a god or saint had lived; in the classical and ancient belief that the world was Created by God; or created from the slaughtered body of a giant; in the Tao; in natural law as proof of God’s existence, and so on. Continue reading “Gnosis, Glory, and The Greater Man and Woman”