The Labours of Hercules
January -The Girdle of the Amazon
Eurystheus bids Hercules obtain the famous Girdle of Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons, which had been a gift of Ares, but which Eurystheus reuqired for the use of his daughter, Admeta, who was a priestess of Hera.
Hippolyte was willing to give the Girdle to Hercules, but through the intervention of Hera, the Amazons, who imagined their queen to be in danger, attacked Hercules. After a fierce battle Hercules vanquished the Amazons, and Theseus, who accompanied the hero, took the queen captive, while Hercules returned to Eurystheus with the Girdle.
The Amazons are masculine women who typify a perversion of that Aquarian peculiarity which, by universalization, tends gradually to remove the distinctions of the dual sexes. But, by their eccentric and belligerent attitude, the Amazons accentuate the differences of the sexes instead of removing them: hence Hera excites Hercules to vanquish them.
Hippolyte means "horse-looser": therefore, since the horse is representative of the mind, she is symbolical of the freedom or liberty of the lower mind, which, when united with the higher mind, is an appropriate ruler of all the pseudo-reformatory activities of which the amazons are symbols.
The Girdle, which Ares presents to Hippolyte, is thus symbolical of the prepotency of the Will, which encircles and binds, as it were, the energies of the objective mind, which otherwise would be unrestrained.
Ares, or Mars, is the Divine Warrior, whose mighty impulses perpetually stimulate all things to progressive development, conferring upon them also the power of resistance.
Admeta means "untamed". She is like the unmanifested or subjective aspect of that which Hippolyte is the manifested or objective expression. Thus she is in need of the girdle because it is representative of the fruits of all the experiences of the lower mind in the spheres of space and the circle of time.
Aquarius, "The Water Bearer", the Zodiacal Sign of Completion and Transmutation, is associated with this labour. Some inverted Aquarian influences are indecision, confusion, inquisitiveness, agnosticism, eccentricity, anxiety, and sentimentality. But the good aspects of Aquarius are tendencies which are purposive, synthetic, scientific, investigating, humane, serene, forgiving, altruistic, universal, and disinterested.
This Labour continues the process of liberating the Soul from the bondage of the mundane world, for it is symbolical of the task of releasing all that binds the Soul in the realms of Duality. It is the transmutation and universalization which follows from the right adaptation of means to right ends resulting from the previous labour.
The lower mind, swayed by passion, desire, antipathy, and other influences, is the chief cause of all the fetters which bind the Soul to the purely corporeal mode of existence. But in the vision and knowledge of Truth the Soul becomes free. When Truth is presented to the consciousness in such wise that it is readily perceptible, the mind willingly accepts it. Thus, Hippolyte – the lower mind – is willing to relinquish the symbol of her sovereignity and binding power – the girdle – to Hercules, who, as the glory of the Soul, is a manifestation of the Divine Truth in the Image of which the Soul is said to be made.
But the binding effects of the imprudence of the lower mind must also be removed. These are denoted by the Amazons and their warlike characteristics. When the lower mind is dominated by impulses, desires, or antipathies, it becomes strongly attached to the objects of its consideration and can no longer energize impartially.
For instance, an intense dislike for anything, which is allowed free rein (Hippolyte as unyoker of mind), causes the mind constantly to dwell upon this object and produces active movements for the purpose of opposing this object of antipathy (Amazons). But as a natural result the mind becomes so firmly attached to this object that almost all its thoughts are influenced in such a manner that calm reason and judgement are impossible. And thus every subsequent mental act increases this attachment with its consequent bondage and limitation of the whole consciousness.
Therefore the hero-soul and the liberated personal will (Theseus) require to be divinely inspired – by the intervention of Hera, the Queen of the Soul – in order to overcome these binding tendencies and to cause their energies to be transmuted to the Ideal Purposes for which they were originally intended.
from Sacred Mythoi of Demigods and Heroes © The Shrine of Wisdom 1999