The familiar shore
Where nothing can save me
Fruit of a thousand bitter defeats
Where I bend the bow
Fit the arrow
Finally the fruit of a man’s (or woman’s) journey is tested. The test comes both from within & without. The poem is based on the final scene in Homer’s Odyssey, where Odysseus, the archetypal masculine hero, finally returns, after many bitter lessons, to his homeland of Ithaca. When Odysseus lands he discovers his home has been taken over by a group of suitors who are vying to win the hand of his wife Penelope. The suitors believe Odysseus to be dead & are seeking to gain his home & inheritance by marrying Penelope. After many twists & turns Odysseus finally revels himself in a ruthless showdown. A test is organised in which Odysseus’s original bow must be strung & an arrow fired to hit an almost impossible target. The winner gets Penelope. None of the suitors can bend the bow. Odysseus then steps forward bends the bow & drills the target. In doing so he reveals his true identity. He then proceeds to kill all the suitors. He also hangs 12 of his wife’s handmaidens who had either betrayed Penelope or who had slept with the suitors. In symbolic terms he reclaims his soul (Penelope) by killing off all competition. He is utterly ruthless & uncompromising. He purifies both his masculine side (the suitors) and his feminine side (the handmaidens). He also kills off his old flawed compromising ego thus enabling a renewed ego to emerge. Thus he completes his final test & reclaims his inheritance: his core masculine self. Psychologically; he individuates. In the book ‘The Alchemist’ Paul Coelho writes: “What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realising our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up.” Source of quote unknown. – ‘Where nothing can save me/But/The/Ruthless/Love…’ In Alchemy the Philosophers Stone consists of a union of Power & Love. Power/Love includes empathy; but is much, much, more. It has a powerful fiery face. It can be; ruthless, uncompromising, active & vocal. No way is it conventional. It is a creative, purposeful, cleansing force. In the alchemical union of Love/Power: Love insures that Power is used appropriately & for the right reasons. If you are interested in exploring the transformational myth within the Odyssey I would recommend Jean Houston’s book ‘The Goddess & the Hero: The Odyssey as Path to Personal Transformation’.