The Odyssey

   After Odysseus has had ten years of this war, he starts for home with his fleet of twelve ships – and as soon as you hear the number twelve you know that it is a mythological situation.  The twelve ships represent aspects of Odysseus’s own essence.  He and his men go ashore on the way home, and there they rape the women and ravage the town just for fun.  But when they return to their ships the gods say, “This is no way for a man to return to his wife!”  He needs to be reintroduced, or as they would say today, debriefed.  

   So for ten days the gods blow the ships about until they come ashore at the Land of the Lotus Eaters.  From then on they are in the realm of dreams and visions, the world of myth.  Odysseus will encounter three nymphs, and not one of them can be pushed around, because he must meet the female principle on her own terms.  Of course, he gets help from Hermes, and it is interesting to note that in The Odyssey the warrior hero’s guiding god is not Ares, the god of war, not Apollo, nor Zeus, but Hermes: the messenger-god who guides souls to rebirth in eternal life.  And through the initiation by the three goddesses who were slighted in the beginning by the Judgment of Paris, he is made ready to return home to his wife, Penelope, and rescue her from the suitors. 

   With Penelope there appears another interesting motif: that of weaving.  During Odysseus’s absence, she has been weaving daily a tapestry and at night unraveling it.  This is a ruse to keep her suitors at bay for she has promised she will choose one when she finishes her weaving.  Now, all the female figures to whom Odysseus is introduced pick up this theme: Circe of the braided locks, weaving a tapestry; Calpyso also of braided locks weaving a tapestry; and little Nausicaa, doing the laundry.  This is a female as Maya, weaver of the world of illusion, creator of the tapestry of the world.   G 146