Seizing the Girdle of Hippolyte
(Virgo, August 22nd - September 21st)
The great Presiding One called unto him the Teacher watching over Hercules. "The time is drawing near," he said, "how fares the son of man who is a son of God? Is he prepared again to venture forth and try his mettle with a foe of a different sort? Can he now pass the sixth great Gate?"
And the Teacher answered: "Yes." He was assured within himself... see more that when the word went forth the disciple would arise to labors new, and this he told the great Presiding One within the Council Chamber of the Lord.
And then the word went forth. "Arise, O Hercules, and pass the sixth great Gate." Another word likewise went forth, though not to Hercules, but unto those who dwelt upon the shores of the great sea. They listened and they heard.
Upon those shores dwelt the great queen, who reigned o'er all the women of the then known world. They were her vassals and her warriors bold. Within her realm, of men not one was found. Only women, gathered round their queen. Within the temple of the moon they daily worshipped and there they sacrificed to Mars, the god of war.
Back from their annual visit to the haunts of men they came. Within the temple precincts they awaited word from Hippolyte, their queen, who stood upon the steps of the high altar, wearing the girdle given her by Venus, queen of love. This girdle was a symbol, a symbol of unity achieved through struggle, conflict, strife, a symbol of motherhood and of the sacred Child to whom all human life is truly turned.
"Word has gone forth," said she, "that on his way there comes a warrior whose name is Hercules, a son of man and yet a son of God; to him I must give up this girdle which I wear. Shall we obey the word, O Amazons, or shall we fight the word of God?" And as they listened to her words and as they pondered o'er the problem, again a word went forth, saying that he was there, ahead of time, waiting without to seize the sacred girdle of the fighting queen.
Forth to the son of God who was likewise a son of man went Hippolyte, the warrior queen. He fought and struggled with her and listened not to the fair words she strove to speak. He wrenched the girdle from her, only to find her hands held out and offering him the gift, offering the symbol of unity and love, of sacrifice and faith. Yet, grasping it, he slaughtered her, killing the one who dowered him with that which he required. And as he stood beside the dying queen, aghast at that which he had done, he heard his Teacher speak:
"My son, why slay that which is needed, close and dear? Why kill the one you love, the giver of good gifts, custodian of the possible? Why kill the mother of the sacred Child? Again, we mark a failure. Again you have not understood. Redeem this moment, e'er again you seek my face."
Silence fell and Hercules, gathering the girdle to his breast, sought out the homeward way, leaving the women sorrowing, bereft of leadership and love.
Unto the shores of the great sea again came Hercules. Close to the rocky shore he saw a monster of the deep, holding between his jaws poor Hesione. Her shrieks and sighs rose to high heaven and smote the ears of Hercules, lost in regret and knowing not the path he trod. Unto her help he promptly rushed, but rushed too late. She disappeared within the cavernous throat of the sea serpent, that monster of ill fame. But losing sight of self, this son of man who was a son of God breasted the waves and reached the monster, who, turning towards the man with swift attack and roaring loud, opened his mouth. Down the red tunnel of his throat rushed Hercules, in search of Hesione; finding her deep within the belly of the monster. With his left arm he seized her, and held her close whilst with his trusty sword he hewed his way from out the belly of the serpent into the light of day. And so he rescued her, balancing thus his previous deed of death. For such is life: an act of death, a deed of life, and thus the sons of men, who are the sons of God, learn wisdom, balance and the way to walk with God.
From out the Council Chamber of the Lord, the great Presiding One looked on. And from his post beside, the Teacher too looked on. Through the sixth Gate again passed Hercules, and seeing this and seeing both the girdle and the maid, the Teacher spoke and said: "Labor the sixth is over. You slaughtered that which cherished you and all unknown and all unrecognised gave unto you the needed love and power. You rescued that which needed you, and thus again the two are one. Ponder anew upon the ways of life, reflecting on the ways of death. Go rest, my son."