The Labors of Hercules LABOR VI
Seizing the Girdle of Hippolyte
(Virgo, August 22nd - September 21st)The Myth
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 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 the 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. Hercules 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, before 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: "The Sixth Labor is over. You slaughtered that which cherished you and 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."
The Labors of Hercules - Labor VI Introduction
It is said that, from some aspects, Virgo is the oldest of the zodiacal signs, portraying the mother of the world. It is
Mary who bears the Child in her arms, and it is in this sign that the Christ consciousness is conceived and nurtured through
the period of gestation until at last in Pisces, the opposite sign, the world savior is born.
As in Leo, this is a cave experience, "in the womb of time", and should be characterized by warmth, quietness, deep experiences
and "slow, yet powerful crises". The symbology of Virgo concerns the whole goal of the evolutionary process, which is to shield,
nurture and finally reveal the hidden spiritual reality. Every form veils this reality, but the human form is equipped and
fitted to manifest it in a manner different from any other expression of divinity and so to make tangible and objective.Interpretations
of the Myth
The great Presiding One recognized that this labor was indeed with an enemy "of a different sort". It is interesting that
the two labors which, "Hercules, though he won eventually, performed badly were with his polar opposites, females. In Aries
the conquering of the man-eating mares so inflated his ego that he stalked on ahead in pride and left the mares to Abderis,
his personality, with the result that they escaped and the labor had to be repeated. "But Abderis lay dead." And in the labor
in Virgo,he slayed the queen of the Amazons, though she offered him, the girdle, and then he had to rescue another maiden,
Hesione, from the belly of the whale, to compensate for the life he had unnecessarily taken.
So the war between the sexes is of ancient origin; indeed is inherent in the duality of humanity and the solar system.
To this fact our divorce courts bear loud testimony; and competition arises in business as well as in the home. There are
small but important points in the story not to be overlooked. What did Hippolyte contribute to the error? Perhaps she offered
to Hercules the girdle of unity because she had been told that the Presiding One had so ordered, not because she felt unity.
Did she do it under compulsion but with no love? Hercules failed to understand his spiritual mission, though he obtained its
Again, one wonders why the Amazons made a yearly sortie into the world of men? Was it to make war on them, or was it to
seek a unity in which there was no heart? Was it to seek new members for their man-less world? But God, we are told, looks
at the heart. It will come as a shock to many of strict, legally moral views to reflect that an avowed prostitute may be superior
to a woman who adds blasphemy to prostitution, when she takes vows in church without love and with no intent to serve, but
only to obtain money, security or position. One seldom hears a sermon on the woman taken in adultery, of whom the Christ said,
"Neither do I condemn thee. Go in peace and sin no more." All of this seems subtly involved in the myth of the labor in Virgo.
Its practical application as well as its cosmic and spiritual significances are startling. We are told that the "war with
purpose between the sexes is now at a climax."
This time the Teacher did not say merely that the work was badly done. He said without equivocation, "Why did you kill
the mother of the sacred Child? Again we mark a failure. Again you have not understood. Redeem this moment before again you
seek my face." These were stern words and we should listen to the keynote. "Again you have not understood". And silence fell,
and Hercules, gathering the girdle to his breast, sought out the homeward way, leaving the women sorrowing and bereft of leadership
Then at the risk of his own life, Hercules rescued Hesione and earned from the Teacher the words: "Ponder anew upon the
ways of life, reflecting on the ways of death. Go rest, my son."
The Labors of Hercules - Labor VI
The Two Ways
Virgo is called the goddess of virtue or of vice. But what is the root meaning of "vice"? "To render ineffective." The
root of "virtue" means "strength", "man", "virility". The deep meaning of vice is an ineffectiveness of the spiritual life.
A villain is merely a narrow-minded, rather uncouth fellow, a dweller in a small village, who knows nothing beyond his own
How obvious, and what breeders of true tolerance, are these root meanings. Too long have we belabored the body, the physical,
as the root of all evil, when it is really our narrow minds, our hard, small hearts, that cause wrong attitudes and habits;
the body being but an automatic response apparatus, subject to the control of the inner man. Sin means literally anything
that is done amiss. Just not hitting the "bull's eye", the "eye of illumination" spoken of in Taurus, is a sin for the son
of man who is also a son of God. Virgo is also called the "goddess of the two ways", because as the Holy Mother principle
she symbolizes matter and also is the custodian of the Christ life.
In Virgo, the first of the steps towards spirituality is taken, the soul is called the son of mind, and Virgo is ruled
by Mercury, carrying the energy of the mind.The Mutable Cross
Virgo is one of the arms of the mutable cross, with its opposite sign of Pisces, and the airy Gemini and fiery Sagittarius
completing the four arms. It is the common cross of those who have probationary status. Its description is as follows: "The
mutable cross is the cross of the Holy Spirit, of the third person of the Christian trinity, as it organizes substance and
evokes sensitive response from substance itself." On this cross the man reaches the stage of acquiescence and aspiration,
and so prepares himself for the fixed cross of discipleship. It is notable that "the mutable cross of the personality
dedicates the man who is crucified thereon to material ends in order that he may learn eventually their divine use." "The
sin against the Holy Ghost" has been the subject of much morbid wondering. The misuse of substance and the prostitution of
matter to evil ends is a sin against the Holy Ghost. It was this sin, the greatest of his whole pilgrimage, that Hercules
committed in Virgo, when he did not understand that the queen of the Amazons was to be redeemed by unity, not killed. We still
make the mistake of Hercules, when we forget that the triangle of the Trinity is an equilateral triangle, all angles of equal
importance, to the working out of the Plan. It is in Virgo, after complete individualization in Leo, that the first step toward
the union of spirit and matter is made, "the subordination of the form life to the will of the indwelling Christ".
The Labors of Hercules - Labor VI Significance
of the Sign and its Polar Opposite
In the Mermaid, the fish goddess, we have the symbol of the at-one-ment of Virgo with its opposite sign Pisces. Always
there is the duality, inherent in us and in the solar system; the second ray of the sun itself being a duality, Love-Wisdom.
The lesson for the Virgo native, as stated by Dane Rudhyar in Gifts of the Spirit, is to have "a clear realization that no
truth is complete or even real which does not include its opposite, and all that occurs in between
The three virtues demanded are tolerance, compassion and charity; one grows by becoming ever more inclusive. One of the
most serviceable interpretations given is this comment on tolerance, the true nature of tolerance, which mostly as practised
has a tinge of superiority and condescension. Rudhyar says: "Real tolerance goes far deeper than such an attitude of 'live
and let live', which is often not without a taint of smugness and self-centered indifference to everything but one's own truth...
It means etymologically 'to bear'. To bear what? The burden of the necessity for change and growth ...
The Virgo's typical preoccupation with details of work, with technique, with health and hygiene, with analytical vivisection
of himself and others, is actually a focalization on the negative values of crisis." If the crisis in Virgo is positively
met then, "the substance of consciousness itself is renewed and with this renewal, undertoning it, goes necessarily a restatement
For Pisces, the opposite pole, the keynote given is courage, and the Piscean temperament is called a battlefield, for its
message is "liberation," and liberty must be fought for and earned, it cannot be a gift. The climax reads: "All conflicts
are absolved, all transitions are resolved into Christ births," which is the climax of the birth of the latent Christ-consciousness
The time has now come when you can, if you so choose, proclaim your identity with both divine aspects, matter and spirit,
the mother and the child." The first synthesizing keynote is: "Christ in you, the hope of glory."