esoteric symbolism sage archetype
Archetypes | Greek Mythology | Psychology | Self-Development

How To Use Esoteric Symbolism For Self-Development

What is your feeling towards ancient myth and esoteric symbolism? Are you curious about the deeper meaning of the symbolism or do you dismiss these ancient stories as fantasy?

The truth is that myths can be used to teach us valuable life lessons. When you learn to understand the rich layers of esoteric symbolism, myths reveal that ancient cultures understood the nature of the human psyche.

If you’re interested to learn the meaning of esoteric symbolism (as opposed to exoteric symbolism), you may be interested to read a three-part series I will publish shortly titled: Archetypes in Mythology: Cadmus and Harmonia.

In these articles, I show you how to decode esoteric symbolism in mythology from the perspective of psychological development. Moreover, the content gives you an insight into how you can use archetypes to understand your current stage of psychological development.

I chose the myth of Cadmus and Harmonia purely on the basis that my unconscious led me to Budva – and the legend of Budva states the city was founded by Cadmus and Harmonia.

When I examined the myth, I recognised the story had a meaning I could relate to the current stage of my personal development; how to overcome the illusion of fear and develop inner strength.

So yeah, another true story.

Cadmus and the Father Complex

A few weeks ago, I explained how I used a couple of the tools in the Master Mind Content Essential Self-Development Program to reach the conclusion I needed to nurture self-care.

To give you a quick recap:

  • I’d been having a persistent fantasy in which I had to defend myself in front of a judge. One of the arguments I have is why I rebelled against the patriarchy (this denotes a father complex)
  • When a judge appears in dreams or imagination, the unconscious energies of the Sage archetype are trying to awaken in the conscious mind. The Sage archetype helps you to push aside the inner critic and develop inner wisdom.
  • The Sage archetype is associated with Hades in Greek mythology.
  • Hades, the God of the Underworld, was reinvented as the Devil in Christian symbolism.
  • In Greek myth, Hades abducts Persephone, the awakening caregiver archetype which is required to nurture self-care and ultimately self-worth. Hades’s abduction of Persephone reflects the possession of the self-caring quality (caused by a father complex)
  • The remedy is to enjoy (feel joy) things that nourish your emotional well-being at any given moment. When you apply value to an experience, you strike a balance between the opposing sides of Sage energy; criticism and approving. Somewhere in the middle, you find wisdom.

* The Sage reveals other attributes also. The qualities to learn and integrate depend on the form the Sage appears; wise old man, oracle, scholar, philosopher etc…You will find the full list in the archetypes table that comes with the Essential Self-Development Program.

Hades esoteric symbolism

The first thing I did to nurture self-care was to take up guitar lessons. That was a good start but the following week my body told me I needed to do more things for myself rather than others.

So I decided I should go on holiday and forget all about client work for a week. I went to Montenegro.

My first stop was Budva – which, it turns out, is rooted in Greek mythology. According to local legend, Budva was founded by the Greek hero, Cadmus and his wife Harmonia – the divine daughter of Ares and Aphrodite (or Zeus and Electra).

The story basically describes the need to overcome a father complex. I explain how I first became to develop a father complex in this article. However, the issue evolved over time into a much bigger problem.

Although I have overcome my father complex with my father and teachers, the issue remains with regard to the highest authorities. One of the ways in which a father complex manifests is in a distrust of government and individuals or entities in a position of power.

Themis

Another habit of mine that I know I need to overcome is to stop ruminating about how corrupt governments, corporations, billionaires and the most elite families are.

As a matter of fact, having worked in the legal field for almost a decade, I developed a lack of trust in anybody that wears a suit. 

In his book, Inner Work, the psychologist Robert Johnson points out the tie is a symbolic representation for separating the head from the body; or mind from the heart. That made me chuckle.

Historically the patriarchal system has been intent on creating divisions; in religion, political parties, sports teams, psychology, science, medicine etc. You name it, and there is a division. 

Division creates differences of opinion which can spill over into conflict.

The same is true of archetypal energies. The separation of consciousness creates an inner conflict and can only be reconciled by giving energies in the unconscious the opportunity to express themselves in the physical world aka, conscious mind. 

“The right formula is found for the correlation of conscious and unconscious, and the personality is assigned its correct position between the two. Moreover, such a conflict cannot be solved by understanding, but only by experience. Every stage of the experience must be lived through. There is no feat of interpretation or any other trick by which to circumvent this difficulty, for the union of conscious and unconscious can only be achieved step by step.” ~ Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy

Whilst I am fully aware politicians, corporations and powerful families are corrupt and serve only their own interests and not those of ordinary people, it doesn’t serve my best interests to feel fear, anger or resentment towards them. 

Emotional responses are attachments. Moreover, negative feelings dispense toxic neurochemicals in the brain. This is a cause of self-harm; the opposite of self-care. 

Since the age of 16, my anti-establishment views have not gone down well with other people. The ignorant call me a conspiracy theorist. Ironically, my dad called me a conspiracy theorist last year and it triggered me.

When I was in my 20’s, airing my views was a source of great frustration. None of my friends would acknowledge that governments and corporations are manipulating the system and scavenging off ordinary people. 

The people in power do not create solutions without first creating a problem. 

I’ve always been a deep thinker and see patterns in the secular world. It is the ability to see patterns that I learned not to trust authority figures. Insightfulness, the ability to see what others don’t are positive qualities attributed to the  Sage. 

Having read Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book, Gods in Everyman, I also determined that the dominant archetype in childhood was Hades. 

“[The Hades child] prefers to hold back and take in experience rather than reach out for it. So he will appear shy as a little child, and serious and withdrawn as he gets older. The reticence is judged negatively, especially in a boy. From the beginning, the Hades child usually is not bathed in approval, as some extraverted, social children are. His development of self-esteem is difficult, hampered at best; he often develops a negative sense of himself….So the Hades boy may thus feel unwelcome in the world as he is and find that his interior world is, in contrast, a refuge. The Hades boy enjoys his own company, anyway, and wants to spend time by himself.”

When I was debating about the corruption of power, I didn’t have the tools to dig out relevant evidence to back up my claims. This was the days before the internet so I only had mainstream newspapers to work from. 

As a result, I was outnumbered and defeated. Because I was unable to express my views in a way that reached a satisfactory conclusion, they were suppressed. The suppressed energy is now latching on to my current situation in the form of the judge. 

One of the negative attributes of the Sage is your inner critic. He gives you a low opinion of yourself and can make you antisocial. Unable to release Sage energy during the lockdown, it stored up and rose to the surface of my conscious mind via imagination. I noticed the rumination with the judge became more frequent during this time.

Like many others, I also fell into a routine of work, work, work. Hades had abducted Persephone.

Archetypes in mythology
Abduction of Persephone

That said, check this out.

Oh No, Not the God Damn Devil!

In the title of this article, I mentioned this content details the real-life example of esoteric symbolism. I have explained how you can identify unconscious content through your imagination. 

I can also show you how your unconscious manifests in the outer world as symbolism. You notice it every time you recognise a synchronicity of events.

The bus from Belgrade to Budva left from platform 15. The number of the bus was 8502. Add 8+5+0+2 and you get 15.

I had been assigned seat 13, but the young man in 12 had placed his bag on my seat. When I told him this was my seat, he said, “Oh it doesn’t matter, you can sit anywhere.”

The seats opposite were free so I sat there – in seat 15.

A series of “coincidences” like this are what Jungians call synchronicity. Carl G. Jung theorised that a repetitive sequence of events or symbols is “meaningful coincidences.” He explains:

“Synchronicity, therefore, consists of two factors: a) An unconscious image comes into consciousness either directly (i.e., literally) or indirectly (symbolized or suggested) in the form of a dream, idea, or premonition, b) An objective situation coincides with this content.” ~ Carl Jung, Synchronicity

It should be noted that synchronicity only works if you are consciously aware of repetitive patterns. And even if you notice meaningful coincidences, you have to know what the symbolism is telling you.

Welcome to my world.

Numbers are symbols. And I know from personal experience that synchronicity is indeed a way for the unconscious to reveal itself to the conscious mind.

So firstly, the Sage archetype – the Devil – appears in my conscious imagination. Factor A) according to Jung. Then the number 15 appears in the physical world; factor B in Jung’s explanation.

Just so you know, the symbolic meaning of the number 15 has ties with the devil (and thus Hades/Sage archetype).

In tarot, 15 is assigned to the Devil card. In the Rider-Waite deck, two characters are bound in chains which the Devil holds. Note how the chains are loosely hanging around their necks.

15 symbolism tarot devil card

Although controlled by the Devil (illusion), the man and woman (intellect and emotion) could easily lift the chains over their heads and free themselves (from the burden of illusion).

In other words, you can liberate your mind from perceptions that keep you chained to subconscious programs; temptation, limiting beliefs, weaknesses, fear-based emotions etc.

“The mind is a dungeon, a prison where we are all prisoners. We need to break out from that prison if it is that we really want to know what is this thing of freedom, that freedom which is not of time, that freedom which is not of mind…. Whilst we are in the prison of the intellect, we will not be able to experience the true freedom.” ~ Samuel Aun Weor

All these mind prisons boil down to one thing; attachments. The historical Buddha taught us that attachments are the cause of all suffering.

In Greek mythology, Hades kidnaps Persephone and holds her captive in the Underworld. When we first encounter Persephone after her abduction, she is in a state of depression.

Persephone’s mental state is due to her loss of freedom. Unconscious energies that are not given “life” will also rebel, protest and subject you to mood swings. 

To liberate the mind from subconscious programs, it is necessary to identify the archetypes that are vying for attention – the aspects of your nature that want to be given life.

There are several ways to do that. I find the most effective methods are to venture into the unconscious and retrieve the fragments of personality that has become separated from the conscious mind. This requires an understanding of archetypal energies.

Another method is to reconstruct the synchronicities you experience in life until you reach a conclusion that resonates with you. Of course, the best method is to do both.

So what is the message my unconscious is trying to tell me in this moment?

I would discover that through the myth of Cadmus and Harmonia. If you want to go deep into the meaning of esoteric symbolism, look out for part 1 of Psychology in Mythology: Cadmus and Harmonia on the Master Mind Content blog. 

Esoteric symbolism can be used as a powerful tool to help guide you through life and make important decisions with confidence. Our self-development courses use esoteric symbolism to demonstrate how you can expand conscious awareness and improve the quality of your human experience just by observing your unconscious mind and understanding your true nature.

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