“Exploring the hero’s journey as a metaphor for spiritual evolution, this book combines literary, psychological, and spiritual insights to examine three ancient epics: The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer’s Iliad, and Virgil’s Aeneid. Van Nortwick focuses on the relationship of the hero to one or more ‘second selves,’ or alter egos. Through these second selves the poems address central and enduring truths about human life: that heroism in pursuit of glory can lead to alienation from one’s self; and that spiritual wholeness can only be achieved through what appears, at first, to be the negation of the self. The discussion also serves as an introduction to the central themes and historical evolution of ancient epic.” — back cover
“The earliest known reference to Thrones as an angelic order is found in the text of The Testament of Levi, in the pseudopigraphic collection referred to as The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs.
And in the highest of all dwelleth the Great Glory, far above all holiness. In the heaven next to it are the archangels, who minister and make propitiation to the Lord for all the sins of ignorance of the righteous; Offering to the Lord a sweet smelling savor, a reasonable and a bloodless offering. And in the heaven below this are the angels who bear answers to the angels of the presence of the Lord. And in the heaven next to this are thrones and dominions, in which always they offer praise to God. When, therefore, the Lord looketh upon us, all of us are shaken; yea, the heavens and the earth, and the abysses are shaken at the presence of His majesty. But the sons of men, having no perception of these things, sin and provoke the Most High.
Testament of Levi I: 21–27 (trans. R.H. Charles)” [via]
“What is meant is that complete self-sacrifice and self-crucifixion which, as all religions teach, are essential before the soul can be raised in glory ‘from a figurative death to a reunion with the companions of its former toils’ both here and in the unseen world.” [via]
“Many, so many, were ye to make one Womanhood—
A thing of fire and flesh, of wine and glory and blood,
In whose rose-orient texture a golden light is spun,
A gossamer scheme of love, as water in the sun
Flecked by wonderful bars, most delicately crossed,
Worked into wedded beauties, flickering, never lost—
That is the spirit of love, incarnate in your flesh!
Your bodies had wearied me, but your passion was ever fresh:
You were many indeed, but your love for me was one.” [via]
“And the full moon shone,
A glory for God’s eyes to dwell upon,
A path of silver furrowed in the air,
A gateway where an angel might have gone.
And forward gleamed a narrow way of earth
Crusted with salt: I watch the fairy birth
Of countless flashes on the crystal flakes,
Forgetting it is only death that makes
Its home the centre of that starry girth.
Yet, what is life?” [via]
“So in our lusts, the monstrous burden borne
Heavy within the womb, we wait the morn
Of its fulfillment. Thus eternity
Wheels vain wings round us, who may never die,
But cling as hard as serpent’s wedlock is,
One writhing glory, an immortal kiss.” [via]
“The Path! One of the final secrets—listen!—is this: not even the inexpressible glory and rapture of the goal, but the Path itself, with all its dangers, hardships, and distress, is the reward worth while.” [via, also]
“How can there be any higher measure of success than to understand and realize ones own divine essence, and to manifest its glory? To accomplish the Great Work? To do your True Will as a god upon Earth? The wealth, status and fame so coveted by some are mere vain baubles in comparison: drugs to soothe a blind ego that cannot perceive, or will not recognize, its own essential divinity.
You partake of the same divine nature as the world’s wealthiest plutocrats, the world’s most powerful dictators, the world’s most beloved celebrities, and the world’s most impoverished beggars.