I will begin by taking a look at the mythical story of the labour that Hercules had to perform in Pisces and then offer some thoughts about its symbolic meaning in terms of the evolution of our consciousness. Pisces was the last remaining Labour of Hercules before he could pass through the twelfth gate; upon reaching that gate he must fulfil a task that will make his reversed circle of the zodiac complete, then he will have completed all the tests of the human kingdom upon his journey of return; he will then be dead to the things of the lower nature yet vibrant with life. He was told to go to a dark place called Erytheia, a place of great illusion ruled by a monster called Geryon, who had three heads, three bodies and six hands. It is said that Geryon unlawfully held a herd of dark red cattle that Hercules must save and then drive them to the Sacred City. He was warned to beware of the shepherd, Eurytion and his two-headed dog, Orthrus. Hercules was told by his teacher to invoke the aid of Helius, the god of fire in the sun. This he did through an offering to the god followed by seven days of meditation, at the end of which a golden chalice fell at his feet and he knew that this vessel would enable him to cross the sea to Erytheia.
So off he sailed in the chalice and coming to the land found the pasture where the red cattle grazed. A shepherd guarded them along with the two-headed dog. The dog sprang to attack Hercules but with one blow from his club he knocked the monster down. The shepherd begged to be spared and was set free. Hercules set off to drive the cattle on the long journey to the Sacred City but had not gone far when he was overtaken by the monster Geryon who throwing a spear closely missed Hercules who responded by firing a single arrow with such force that it pierced all three bodies of the monster. He continued on his journey, crossing the Alps where he encountered yet more opposition and lost his way many times but eventually he succeeded and arrived at the city where he was welcomed as a Son of God who is also a son of man. With all twelve labours now completed Hercules had overcome the struggle of the human and had put on the divine.
What can we make of this symbolic story? It is the story of the transformation of a human into a divine being, of the stepping out of the human kingdom into the next phase of our evolution, into the divine kingdom. This is a place that is going to be here upon the physical plane of our planet. As with our transformation from animal man into becoming fully human we remain an animal but are given the opportunity for an expansion of consciousness that allows us to become fully human. We now see a world full of opportunities we didn't have the capacity to see as an animal although it is the same world in which we lived and to which we have always belonged but we now see new dimensions to that world. We all enter the spiritual kingdom by remaining human but with an expansion of consciousness that allows us to see this spiritual dimension of our world, a dimension that we cannot see until we are prepared to step beyond the purely human into the divine consciousness: yet it is there and always has been there and we are essentially a product of that world. Our physical world is only prescribed or defined by our degree of consciousness; it is always just a part of some greater world. The fish lives in an aquatic world that is just a portion of the greater physical world we know. Some humans still live in a world so far removed from our own 'modern' world, a world that they can only imagine, for them it is an illusory world with little meaning for they lack the means to interpret what they see of that world, an aeroplane is seen as simply a big bird. We are constantly held in a ring-pass-not defined by our limited understanding but there is always a gate or doorway into a world of greater understanding we can pass through when our consciousness has been prepared to do so. Likewise we must close doors behind us; we can no longer be all the things that we were just as animals. The fish will never remain just a fish because it has the potential to fully express the divine quality which the fish conceals and through evolution the needed form will eventually be perfected for the expression of that particular divine quality.
The land of Eurytion represents the human world as it is for most of us, filled with so much glamour, desire, fantasy and darkness, that great illusion which grips most lives. Geryon the monster represents the typical man as he faces the last test of Pisces with his three personality bodies, the mental, emotional and physical bodies united into a powerful but self-centred individual who places himself at the centre of his world, spends his time chasing his desires and fantasies. Those red cattle (deep red for the hearts desire) symbolise our lower desire nature that must at this stage be transform into its higher correspondent, which is right motive and aspiration, these he must place in the golden cup. The shepherd of the cattle represents the mind which must now be transformed into the interpreter of spiritual energy. His two-headed dog represents the psychic emotional nature and the matter aspect; it is these that create our glamoured fantasy world whose influence on the personality must now become totally controlled. In some versions of the myth the shepherd is also taken into the cupthis is the thing that needs to happen for the mind must be refined and thoroughly transformed. It is suggested that this cup is the Holy Grail. But what is it? It seems to me to be the union of spirit-mind-matter, manifesting as a true bridge between the form and its spiritual counterpart the spiritual triad or monadsuch a bridge can only be centred in the soul. We can see that the grail appears to Hercules through long and deep reflection or meditation producing the needed expansion of consciousness.
Hercules is told to seek the aid of Helius the god of fire in the Sun. The fire of the Sun is the physical symbol of Solar fire that is said to be the fire of the higher mind or cosmic mental fire and "The fire of knowledge burns up all action on the plane of illusion, therefore those who have acquired it and are emancipated are called 'Fires'." 1 The fire of the mind manifests in us as the intuitional link with the divine is formedthis bridge whose construction begins through the work of the soul is traditionally called the antahkarana. Through this mind bridge we slowly become privy to the things of the mind of the Logos, become conscious within the cosmic mental fire that animates His mental body. How can this be? There is great truth in the expression 'as above so below' because this fire is the sum total of the sparks of mind that animate the evolution of consciousness in the human race. Eventually our spark must be reabsorbed into the fire of the Logos and we will become, like the great sons of God, a clear expression of Logoic consciousness. It is this mental fire that creates the expansion of consciousness within us as it burns away our illusions. Illusions are like screens surrounding us, made from a material that we could call unthinking ignorance. They are barriers blocking our vision of truth and that knowledge of all things; it is fortunate that they are combustible and will be destroyed as the fires of the mind are kindled.
Solar fire (the fire of the higher mind) is the inevitable outcome of the union of polar opposites, of electric fire (Spirit) and fire by friction (energised matter). This is the process going on within the human; it distinguishes our evolutionary development through the gradual intensification of the heat to be felt, and of the light to be seen by us. Over many centuries humanity has appeared to be predominately in a state of quiescence between Spirit and substance, a neutrality, negativity or passivity. The evolution of consciousness in humanity has been moving at a great pace. We should realise that time in the cosmos is a very different thing to humanity's traditional sense of time which appears to be of much greater duration. Although that perception is changingwe are able to do things like looking at events that took place millions of light years in the past that can be seen today because the light from those events has taken that long to reach us.
The process of evolution, both material and mental, is the perfecting of this relationship between the spiritual and matter aspects of our being. As this process is increasingly excited it speeds up and it is telling to see that everywhere we look today material and mental evolution is moving at such an increasingly faster pace. We can see that these two polar opposites are now not really neutral to each other but rather respond through processes of attraction and repulsion, interaction and utilisation in their relationship. This is the process that animates all life and demonstrates as the evolution of consciousness within humanity; its potential is hidden in every atom and that potential to transform life and consciousness is on the threshold of being significantly realised within humanity as we enter the New Age.
Hercules drove the red cattle, (symbol of desire), to the Sacred City and as he did so they (his desires) were being transformed and driven on by his aspiration and when he arrived at the city he offered them to the Goddess of wisdom, Athena. The city that best fits qualities of this model is that City of Love-Wisdom, the so-called New Jerusalemthese are names given to the Planetary heart centre. It is the centre that is ruled by the World Saviour, and Hercules by completing this last task becomes one of the world saviours. It is the home of the planetary Hierarchy and as a saviour Hercules becomes a member of that human Hierarchy, that group of spiritual beings who have turned back from their journey into Light to help those who follow on to find the salvation which is within them. Hierarchy's work is ever to seek the unity within each one of us and between all of us.
How has Hercules become a saviour through the task of Pisces? It is because he has become not only an integrated personality but has aligned and become completely integrated with the soul. Sutra 23 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (300 B.C.) reads, "By intense devotion to Ishvara, knowledge of Ishvara is gained." Ishwara is the macrocosmic aspect of the son of God, the Cosmic Christit is the soul, that jewel hidden at the very heart of being in each one of us. He is reached and revealed through pure love and devoted service. When Ishvara or the Cosmic Christ is known he will reveal the Logos or God the Father. But for this to happen we must, as Hercules does here, make all those modifications of our lives, we must combine intellectual knowledge, mental control and discipline with the qualities of the heart; we must no longer be under the control of the forces of the lower nature, then we will become the soul in outer expression. This is what Patanjali called the path of Raja Yoga. In the next Sutra he writes, "This Ishvara is the Soul, untouched by limitation, free from karma and desire." 2 This is our true birthright to live as the soul the true ego or higher self. We will then be untouched by limitation, for the four lower sheaths the dense, etheric, emotional and mental will no longer be our prison but rather instruments which we can use at will. Patanjali says we will be freed from all karma, all debts, obligations and claims against us because we will work within the karmic law, will no longer set in motion conditions that must necessarily produce evil effects. The soul is one with all and as soon as we cease to identify with the vehicle of the personality, or the physical body, the germ of all knowledge in us begins to expand. We shall become the very expression of Love-Wisdom, the Word of revelation, or the divine self.
The symbol for Pisces represents the great struggle of this labour or lesson, which is concerned with resolution of the duality of human life so that its matter aspect may be raised and united with its divine nature. This symbol is of course two fishes bound together by a silver cord, one representing the threefold personality and the other the threefold divine aspect represented by the soul. It is the soul who is captive and the prisoner locked up in the personality during the first cycles through the signs. In divine terms we are the Lords of Will and Sacrifice who chose to come down into manifestation, sacrificing their high status in order to eventually redeem matter and raise it to the point where the life that formed it, can manifest through it upon the physical. That process is governed by free willwe must choose to renounce the sense of separation and recognise that we are essentially this divine being who has a task to do. Then as is Hercules' experience in this last cycle of his through the signs, our progress is reversed and we eventual choose the death of the lower nature and so we can be freed to live as the soul. The personality is, of course, then bound to the soul but out of choice, so it is a dual bondage. This only comes to an end by what is called the final death when the life aspect is completely freed from the life of the form. The soul body is itself a form but a form far subtler than anything physicalit will continue to do its work for the planet while out of incarnation, but eventual its work at this level will be completed and as its essence reunites with the spiritual triad or human monad it also ceases to exist. This spiritual centre of us is always driven by knowledge, love and will, in ceaseless devotion to the course of the evolution of spiritual being. After this reunion the spiritual being works at a higher stage of consciousness upon a higher plane of being. There are planes to evolve through beyond that next plane, at every stage beyond the human an ever greater inclusiveness of consciousness is arrived at, human - planetary - solar - universal consciousness, this is the pattern of things to come. In a sense we as the human are at the atom stage of the growth of a universal consciousness, as we realise the vision we turn back from it in order to serve because we recognise that we are never complete until all are complete, for we are essentially One Life. This is ever more deeply realised as we climb through the ranks of the hierarchy of beings and at each stage we turn to save.