Helen Palmer

From Ancient Times to Modern Times

I was listening to Helen Palmer give the keynote talk at the 2013 International Enneagram Conference in Denver again this morning.  She was one of the earliest people to start teaching the Enneagram in the U.S. in the 1980's, I believe.  The second person, in fact.  She's a professor of Psychology at the J.F.K School of Consciousness. 

The Battle of the Titans, Part III

The reason I'm writing about the Battle of the Titans is because I'm reading a journal article by Helen Palmer and Virginia Wiltse on the connection between ancient astronomy and the Enneagram.  Palmer was supposed to come out with a book about the connection between ancient astronomy and the Enneagram a few years ago, and I inquired about it again a couple months ago, and it hasn't been published yet.  There definitely is a lot to take in in the groundbreaking 2011 article. 

It appears that ancient Hermetic-- and eventually Christian and Sufi-- philosophers saw a connection between human spiritual development and the mythical stories behind the "heavenly bodies", the planets.  The Christian mystic, Evagrius Ponticus (b. 345 AD)- who was also a neo-Pythagorean (Greek with Egyptian scholarship)- saw the planets as having certain qualities, whose transits and mythology were ordained by God to teach us about our own personal development.  They definitely believed back then that the outer cosmos was a macrocosm for our inner cosmos. 

So in these three blog posts, I'm exploring the relationships that Palmer sees between certain planetary gods in the Golden Age and the Enneagram symbol. 

 The modern Enneagram symbol.  9 is at the top (ie. at the top of the equilateral triangle), 1 is to the right of it, then 2, 3, 4, and etc. until you get to 8.  Same as the numbering on the symbol to the right.

The modern Enneagram symbol.  9 is at the top (ie. at the top of the equilateral triangle), 1 is to the right of it, then 2, 3, 4, and etc. until you get to 8.  Same as the numbering on the symbol to the right.

 The three triangles here represent major interactions between the gods of the golden age, before the War of the Titans, an epic take-down of the Titans by their children, the Olympians.

The three triangles here represent major interactions between the gods of the golden age, before the War of the Titans, an epic take-down of the Titans by their children, the Olympians.

So is it possible that Western civilization has lost its understanding of Greek mythology and how it relates to our own personal alchemy as human beings- how we grow and change?  How we convert our own personal "base metals" into "noble metals"?  Well yes, obviously.  There are maybe a hand-full of people on earth who are conversant in this material.

So here's what's going on with those three triangles on the right.  You'll see there's a triangle connecting Venus, Saturn, and the Sun.  Of course, the Greeks associated the visible planets with their gods.  So Venus, in its lust is connected with Type 8 and the goddess of the same name.  Saturn, usually depicted with his sickle is connected with avarice, therefore Type 5, and the god of time, Kronus.  The Sun, with its warmth (and, according to Evagrius, pride) is connected with Type 2, and the Goddess Helius. 

Palmer and Wiltse's reasoning that these three are connected in the first triangle is because Saturn was the god who was primarily responsible for ushing in the golden age.  Remember, he was the one who castrated his dad, Uranus, when four of his brothers held him down.  When that junk came off Uranus, it landed in the sea and out of the sea emerged Venus.  And one of those brothers who held down Uranus for the castration was Hyperion, the father of the sun. 

OMG, this shit gets complicated, especially because this is only the golden age Enneagram- after the golden age, we have to bring in the redemptive vice-to-virtue process, which involves the moving of those lines (I think which explains why the symbol on the right doesn't look exactly like the modern symbol on the left).  I can see how Helen Palmer's book isn't out yet. 

I'll discuss the other two triangles in upcoming blog posts.

The Battle of the Titans, Part II

Kronus didn't actually castrate his dad alone.  Four of his Titan brothers helped by hiding at the four corners of the world, and waiting for their dad, the Sky, to come in and make out with their mom.  When he came, they held him down by the four corners and Kronus castrates him with his sickle.  With Uranus deposed, the Titan brothers then release their giant-brothers from the belly of their mom, Gaia (who get sent right back to the hell-pit they came from not too long after.)

(Hyperion, one of the brothers, is the god of the dawn, so he is considered to be at the East corner.  He gets together later with his Titan-goddess sister, Theia, and fathers the Sun: Helios.  The sun represents Enneagram Type 2, according to Helen Palmer, btw.)

So Kronus, the god of Time, becomes king, and his wife, Rhea takes up the role as Time's first lady- the goddess of fertility and motherhood.  (Being married to Time meant she would come to represent the flow of time from generation to generation). 

But at some point in his taking over the throne, Kronus' parents- Uranus and Gaia- propesy that one of Kronus' own kids is going to overthrow the his new government.  Kronus is understandably nervous because that's exactly what he did to his own dad, so he swallows all of his children as they're born, just to make sure they don't try anything.  But his wife, Rhea, doesn't like this, and so when she gets pregnant with Zeus, she goes to her in-laws, Uranus and Gaia, for advice on how to save this one child.  They advise her to hide away when it's time to give birth, and set up a situation where he lives in a cave in Krete, nursed by a goddess and protected by some gods.  Then when she's supposed to hand over her baby to Kronus, it's actually a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Very clever, mom and dad.

It works, and it's a good thing that out of all the swallowed children, she saves Zeus, because he grows up and becomes the king of the gods, the ruler of the sky, and the highest ruler of human kind.  Zeus is a big deal.  (In astrology, he rules Jupiter, the planet that represents luck and power.)  So you can imagine, when Zeus grows up, and he's got some avenging of his own to do, and he's going to be really good at it. 

He gets his dad to vomit up all of his siblings and forms an army with them- they call themselves the Olympians- and they decide to go to war against their dad and his old boys' club, the Titans.  So basically there's an epic war between the younger Olympians and the older Titans for ten years.  This is called the Battle of the Titans.

To be continued...

The Battle of the Titans

Back in the day (a long time ago, before there were humans on the earth, and before any of the sexy gods like Zeus or Venus were born), there was a first generation class of deities called the primordial deities, who weren't really deities in the sense that they were people, but places, elements, and times, like Earth, Air, and Time.  They had their own shit figured out- they were self-formed.  They just emerged, apparently.

Gaia was one of the first gods to emerge- she was the earth, which basically meant she was the mother of everything that followed.  To set the stage, she "did it" with some of the major gods.  She got together with Ouranus (Uranus), the god of the sky, which resulted in other sky gods.  Mating with Pontus, the god of the sea, gave us more sea gods; and getting together with Tartarus, a hell-pit below the earth, resulted in a race of giants, the Gigantes.  Then she also gave birth to us humans through her flesh, but that was later. 

As we know about Greek mythology, it's filled with all kinds of drama.  First of all, Gaia's main husband, Ouranos (Uranus) was the ruler and king of everything because, hello, he was the sky itself.  Together, they had 12 sons and 6 daughters, although this is where the complications start.  I guess Uranus didn't like her first two sets of kids, so he locked them away in her stomach, which caused her an enormous amount of pain, pain for which she was ready to avenge as soon as she could come up with a good plan.  Her next six kids with Uranus were called the Titans, and as soon as they were old enough, she got them together and asked them if anyone was willing to castrate her husband, Uranus.  Kronus (Saturn/Time/EnneagramType 5) was the only one who volunteered, so one day when Uranus is going in to make out with his wife, Kronus comes in and does the ugly deed.  He throws his dad's junk into the sea (which eventually gives birth to a lovely maiden, Venus, but not yet.)

So Cronus was the king now, the King of the Titans. 

To be continued...

The Greek's Golden Age

I'm reading through Helen Palmer's 2011 Enneagram Journal article on the connection between the Enneagram and astronomy.  I'm going to take his opportunity to get better acquainted with a few principles that underlie her thesis.  The first one (that I randomly picked) is that the Enneagram symbol could be modelled after three mythological relationships, each involving three Greek gods each, that ruled the world during the Golden Age.

The Golden Age by Pietro da Cartona, from Wikipedia

It's the time when there was complete peace and harmony on earth between humankind and the gods.  According to wikipedia, "[Men] lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all devils."  This was the first "age of man".  After that, we had the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, the Heroic Age (according to the Greek poet Hesiod), and the Iron Age (the one we're in now).  (Apparently the Roman poet removed the Heroic Age).  Each age is supposedly worse than the one preceeding it. 

The early writing propose a pastoral Greek town called Arcadia as the place where this idyllic life all started, but that's disputed.  Basically, this is the time when man-goats ran around playing the panflute with their god-friends under shady trees. laughing and having a good time.  The god who ended the Golden Age, Prometheus, was chained to a rock by Zeus where an eagle eternally ate his liver.