Is hoping that something good will happen in your life a substitute for acting to make something good happen? All too often it is, but the good news is, we can do something about it. Hope makes us momentarily feel better about the circumstances of our lives, but it doesn’t actually change them.
- We hope for peace in our lives, but peace is fickle and is subject to the default contingencies around us. We can’t stop change, but maybe—if we knew how—we could make it more gradual and even desirable.
- We hope that something will come along to fill the gaps in our lives—the connections to the highest realms, above the human “condition.” We seek someplace where there is a surcease from the ills of the world: strife, lack, pain, sickness, death and all the rest. We seek the assistance of others—the religions of others, the inspirational books and teachings of others, we join the groups others have created—but only very rarely do any of these things deliver what we hope they might.
We’re all a little familiar with the story of Pandora, but the popular version is quite misleading. Here’s the real story.
According to the early Greek writer Hesiod (7th or 8th century BCE), Pandora was the first woman. She was created by Zeus’ order as a punishment for mankind, since Prometheus had stolen fire from Olympus and given it to humans—against Zeus’ strict order not to. Zeus sent her to foolish Epimetheus, brother of Prometheus as a gift, as she was very beautiful. Prometheus warned his brother not to accept any gifts from Zeus, but her beauty made him forget all about this warning.
Pandora had with her—another “gift” from all-powerful and unforgiving Zeus—a vase or jar, which was mistranslated in the Middle Ages as Pandora’s “box.” She lifted the lid and out flew every spite and pestilence that now afflicts humankind: Old Age, Labor, Sickness, Insanity, Vice, Passion, and so on. This was Zeus’ angry revenge against mankind.
(Why was Zeus so angry? There had to be an explanation for the ending of the Golden Age long before, and the reason couldn’t be Zeus, for God’s sake. Get the pun there? So the Pandora story was invented as an excuse for blaming the whole misunderstood mess on women.)
Also in the vase was delusive Hope, to prevent men from killing themselves in despair and endless suffering, as Zeus intended. Hope alone remained inside the vase, and it is this same Hope that still allows us to think better days are coming—if only there might be someone or something that will deliver them.
Goddesses Become Gods
Before we go further, we should find out who Pandora really was. Originally she was Rhea, the Earth-goddess whose name meant “all-giver.” Her “vase” was cognate with the Cornucopia or the Goddess’ Horn of Plenty. Pandora, says Barbara Walker, was
personified as the first woman in an anti-feminist fable by Hesiod, who tried to blame war, death, disease, and all other ills on women. (The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, p. 767.)
The context here was the violent shift from matriarchy to patriarchy, which happened long before Hesiod’s time, although he was definitely spouting the male party line. Zeus was originally Rhea’s last child. Rhea’s husband, the Titan Cronos, vowed to eat all his children, but Rhea managed to fool him, and he ate a rock instead of the infant Zeus. Later, the grown Zeus overthrew Cronos, and disavowed his mother. This is the Greek version of masculine power over feminine wisdom. The Biblical Eve is an obvious version of the Pandora story.
So as part of this shift, Pandora’s “gifts” became “evils,” as no Goddess could be the source of something good; all good things, and all evil things as well, as the story illustrates, come from the male gods. The idea was to discredit feminine power by making it evil, just as it was Eve’s “evil” act of giving Adam the “forbidden” apple. Remember, though, that a vase and cornucopia are womb-symbols. Perhaps the mistranslation of “vase” to “box” wasn’t a mistake after all. Anybody can carry a box; only women have wombs.
Hope Is Inside
If Hope remained inside the vase, then it’s still there—inside the Goddess, and in a real sense, inside ourselves, as this is where the Goddess can be found, even today. If the “evils” are out in the world, then one might look inside, away from the outer world, for Hope. This necessitates a rejection of male-dominance, and a return to at least a female-male balance in the world and within ourselves. For in case you hadn’t noticed, there is still a war on women that is going strong, and has been since Hesiod’s time. (There is no space here to detail this; just look at the headlines from around the world: the anti-abortionists, less pay for equal work, the religious suppression of women in Islam and even Catholicism to this day. On and on.)
Entering the cornucopia/womb of the Goddess is a metaphor for going inside ourselves to seek Her wisdom. (The God/Male Principle of the universe can only be reached through the Goddess/Female Principle which then unite, as I discuss at length in The Fool’s Secret Journey books.) Or, equivalently, standing at the mouth of this vessel is a metaphor for coming into resonance with Her in order to achieve Her gifts. Note well that there is nothing remotely sexual about this imagery; it all happens on a non-physical level where there are no physical bodies. Yet it is utterly real.
It is in the sense that Pandora = Rhea, Earth-Mother = an aspect of the Great Goddess, that She is the only alternative to plain hope. Here’s how it works.
The Action of Hope
Instead of just hoping something good will happen, how can we induce something good to happen? How can we turn passive hoping into action, with the assistance of our inner guides, whom I am symbolizing as a Goddess, or a being very like one?
If inner guidance is to be heard, then inner stillness must be achieved first, lest the dim of everyday life drown it out nearly completely. Achieving such inner stillness is the required action. Although it is not a physical action, it is still a difficult one unless the proper techniques are used. It’s a two-step process:
- Peace, meaning peace from the distractions of the noisy outer world, and then
- Stillness, meaning when the mind’s inner chatter ceases, which our thoughts and emotions keep busy, even in meditation or quiet contemplation.
This is a large topic, too long to explain fully in a single post, but here’s a start regarding the first point,
We’re not talking about world peace or anything else “out there.” Peace here means essentially that we don’t get sucked into the emotions and thoughts around us, nor those from our past, or speculations about the future. It means being an objective witness, not a participant who gets emotionally hooked. It means learning to be present—right here, right now. This is another way of saying Be Here Now, but this is why. If we get hit with emotions triggered by someone near us, and we get hooked into them, we can’t be present; we are carried away by emotions or thoughts as we mentally relive some past event, or project what we think is a probable future event.
The practice of creating inner peace just means this: We can observe our thoughts and emotions, but without passion. We must be an observer of our thoughts; we must be a witness to whatever comes into our minds, and not get hooked by it. We can remember, but not replay. To do this, we create an observing center in ourselves. With a little practice, we can learn to sense thoughts and emotions coming and merely look at them as if from a distance. For—when we observe ourselves closely, we always have a split second to decide to get hooked by something, or let it pass. Take anger as an example. We can experience anger from another person and just think, “Oh, that’s interesting. This time I don’t have to get angry back.” Or, we might be apprehensive about a business meeting tomorrow, but merely think, “Oh, it’s interesting that I’m worried about this,” and not get hooked into the worry right now. Of course the worry won’t help; it might even cramp our style or limit our ability to catch a creative solution. But this sort of thing isn’t what I’m getting at. It is stopping all internal thoughts for the sake of stopping them. (This is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of my book Invisible Agents of Creation.)
Once you clearly contact your inner wisdom beings—meaning hear them, as opposed to just vaguely sensing “something”—the universe begins to operate on your behalf, because you have begun to cooperate with the universe’s nearest and most powerful representative: your own inner guidance.
How cool is that?
More on forgiveness and compassion as necessary steps toward inner Peace..