Wondering into the Mystery of Life

An Online Learning Journey

The Power of Epic Poems

There is always a beautiful love story running through our odyssey with wholeness. Part of our transformational work (becoming fully human) is to tease out the threads of love and reclaim what we know to be True Love. In so doing, we allow ourselves to die to personality so that we may be reborn unto our sovereign selfhood, our True Selves in Love and in Wholeness.

Homer’s epic poem Odyssey recounts Odysseus’ journey back home after the Trojan war, across the ‘wine-dark sea’ to Ithaca where his wife Penelope awaits him. His yearning is twofold: to return to his place of origin and to be reunited with his beloved. The Odyssey is a sequel to Homer’s first epic poem the Iliad which tells of the rapt of Helen leading to the siege and fall of Troy.

Both poems are templates for understanding our human experience and the transformational work which awaits us. The Iliad describes our journey through the first half of life, in Jungian terms. It covers the stages of our education, the time of the student, and our settling down into our community and providing for our own, the time of the custodian or caretaker. This is when we try to figure out who we are as an individual person. What is our identity? Where are we are going? How are we to contribute to our environment? It corresponds to the earlier stages of development, based on comparison and exclusion, when we grow into our ambitions. The Odyssey is a template for the second half of life, a journey of integration when we are summoned to wholeness and eldership. It reveals a map towards nondual consciousness and oneness, and invites us to embrace the maturity and inclusiveness of the later stages of development, first by becoming a hermit, and then picking up our staff to become a pilgrim. The journey beckons us to grow out of our ambitions, and to become of service to a greater purpose and a larger arc of life.

The four archetypal stages of life – the student, the custodian, the hermit and the pilgrim – are clearly depicted in Homer’s epic poems. In the Iliad we are told of Odysseus’ education and how he built a home for Penelope before he went off to war to save Helen who was held captive in Troy. The Odyssey recounts the journey back home, in origin, a very long journey because it takes Odysseus thirty years to reach Ithaca. Why such a lengthy journey? Because on the way home he is often stopped and called to a time of inner reflection (the contemplative hermit) before he sets off again to sail the unknown seas (the wandering pilgrim).

 

Cherchez la femme!

The figures of two women are threaded in the Iliad: Penelope, the beloved one, and Helen, the one who needs saving from the wrongdoers driven by covetousness. Otherwise, the epic poem mainly depicts Odysseus’ warriorship with all the malevolent masculine figures he encounters during the Trojan war. It is a tale of rapt and greed, revenge and retaliation, cruelty and wrathfulness, deceitfulness and betrayal, shrewdness and astuteness (the Trojan horse) which will eventually release Helen. There is a definite shift in the narrative flowing through the Odyssey in particular regarding women. On his way home Odysseus will need to overcome many distractions and temptations which are likely to lead him astray and keep him from honouring his deepest longing: returning home and being reunited with his beloved. Moreover, the enticements are represented in feminine figures! There is for instance the enchantress Circe who spellbinds his men into a trance-like state rendering them impotent. Fortunately, Odysseus is able to resist her hypnotic power. There is also Calypso who finds him nearly dead on a beach and retains him for seven years until he can feel his longing for Ithaca swelling in his heart, and ‘has a desire to die’.

There is one test of valour that I find of particular interest, the one I keep coming back to: resisting the bewitching singing of the dreaded mermaids. Here are the details. Leaving the land of Circe, Odysseus and his men set sail to cross the unknown seas aware – information offered by Circe herself – that he will need to resist the temptation of the sweet singing of the Sirens, the beautiful mermaids dwelling on an island. Their song is deadly to men because, if they listen and land on the island, they will die as the music carries away their soul. Odysseus places beeswax in the ears of his men and asks them to bind him tightly to the mast with ropes. Deaf to the music, he tells them to row past the island and he forbids them to unbind him however much he might implore them. They set off and the sweet singing of the Sirens skims across the waters. In their song, they seduce Odysseus with his deepest craving: to know and to understand. Only what he loves the most in the world, might entice him in to their deadly grip. Of course, his desire is aroused, but his faithful companions hold him down firmly with stronger bonds. He is set free once the singing has faded.

 

Penelope’s Story

Other than this specific episode I have always had a great interest in Penelope’s part in the Odyssey and I think her crucial role is often overlooked because she is the silent one, patiently waiting for her beloved to return. She gets forgotten possibly because we are mesmerised by the tantalising and bewitching voices of the other women, or the insistent men demanding action and decisiveness.  Penelope’s waiting is long: she is patient and trustful. She keeps her numerous suitors, insisting that she should remarry, at a distance. She tells them that she will chose one when she has finished the tapestry she is working on. At night-time she unravels her labours of the day so that the work is never finished and she does not have to choose.

Penelope and Odysseus’ love story tells of the qualities of endurance and patience, steadfastness and forbearance that dwell in absolute love. In the poem Odysseus is clearly responding to the call to return home to his place of origin and to his beloved. But we sometimes miss that if he is being called back, then someone or something is calling him. Is it Penelope patiently waiting in trust, hope and love? We have yet to unravel the indispensable conversation between she or he who is calling and he or she who responds to the call. Who is calling us? To what purpose? Who is responding? With what intent?

For the time being we can appreciate that an intimate relationship is needed if we are to make the journey back home, and seek to unravel our odyssey with wholeness, the spiritual journey of the second half of our life. Furthermore, we need to know that we are loved in order to become love, the ultimate destination of the odyssey, and to resist all the temptations and distractions strewn along our trajectories.

Through the trials and tribulations of life many of us have lost contact with this essential truth each time we have allowed our yearning for unconditional love to swell in our hearts, only to find ourselves tussling with our experiences of unrequited love. It would seem that the trajectories of our earthly sojourn, in the density and jaggedness of the physical world, are precisely where we are able to hone the most exquisite qualities of love. Our odyssey with wholeness invites us to a significant shift from needing to be loved – and called back home – to being love and becoming a beacon of love.

 

Programme 2023

In 2023 I am hosting an online learning journey in two parts where I unpack the transformational aspects of love woven into our odyssey with wholeness. The course beckons us to receive the following words repeatedly whispered into our hearts.

Receive yourself, tenderly, in the fullness of your experience. Remember, you are loved, and you are love.

In the first course – Part One. You Are Loved – we learn to inhale, receive and absorb the words, “I love you”. In the second course – Part Two. You Are Love – we learn to generously exhale and dispense the words, “I love you”.

Each part is an autonomous course and there will be two editions of each in 2023 which can be followed sequentially or independently. Each learning journey comprises seven two-hour online sessions followed by a completion session for further integration. During our time together we will be working with the materials in Wholeness of Selfhood. The Odyssey of Becoming Fully Human and dive into the stories offered in Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey to unearth the love story that ushers us back to our sovereign selfhood.

 

Dates and Times

Part One. You Are Loved11 January 2023 to 3 May 2023

Seven sessions every two weeks, on a Wednesday from 18.00 to 20.00 CET, with the completion session four weeks after Session 7

Part Two. You Are Love17 May to 12 July 2023

Seven sessions every week, on a Wednesday from 18.00 to 20.00 CET, with the completion session two weeks after Session 7

 

Registration and Payment

The cost of an online course is 4’000,00 DKK. Should you be financially stretched, please contact me to inquire about reductions or scholarships available.

Your registration is confirmed when you have signed up and paid for the course. After payment you will receive an email with more information on the course and how to prepare for your personal odyssey.

 

Online Courses 2023