THIS TITANIC AGE

On the Significance of Exploring Titan
The Greek Gods and Contemporary Politics

copyright 2005 by Tracy Marks

 

 

Whenever we discover or explore a planet or moon, we tap into the collective consciousness of humanity in regard to the mythical meaning of that celestial body. On January 14, 2005, a joint NASA/ESA mission landed on Titan, a moon of Saturn. Saturn (Cronus in Greek mythology) was a Titan, who conquered his own father Ouranus (Uranus), and was in turn conquered by his offspring Jupiter (Zeus in Greek mythology).

 

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Titans were an early generation of gods, the fathers and mothers of the Greek pantheon headed by Zeus, whose ascent to the throne is interpreted as the beginning of Greek civilization and the end of barbarism and primitive culture.

 

Let us explore both the mythology of the Titans and the meaning of titanic exploration, both in terms of individual psychology, and the larger collective significance in regard to the current "battle against terrorism".

 

THE MYTHOLOGY
According to Hesiod, in the beginning Chaos prevailed not chaos as disorder, as we define the term today, but rather chaos as an immense dark void, the fertile empty expanse from which energy is created. Chaos gave birth to Oceanus and Tethys, from which Gaia (the earth) was created. Gaia gave birth to Ouranus (Uranus, the sky) who was inseparable from her and covered her, so that when she gave birth to the Titan, Giants, and Cyclops, they could not emerge.

 

Ouranos was threatened by the prospect of his children's freedom, for fear that they would eventually usurp his power. But Gaia was suffering under the pressure of keeping her children within, and angry at Ouranos' oppression. She consulted with her unborn offspring, procured a sickle, and recruited her Titan sons, led by Cronus, to revolt against Ouranos. Cronos was able to reach up and out from Gaia's womb. Wielding the sickle, he castrated his father. The wounded Ouranos fled his wife Gaia and separated himself from her, so that the Earth and Sky are now separate.

 

From the blood of the castration, the Erinyes or Furies, goddesses of retribution, were created. Their role was to keep alive the memory of crimes of the past, especially crimes of blood and crimes against the mother, and to avenge them.

 

During this conflict with the Titans, Ouranus gave the Titans their name. The etymology includes derivation from titainein which means to exert or reach out far and tisis which means retribution. Because they (Cronus in particular) reached high out of the womb where they had been confined and attacked their father, they must according to Ouranos pay a future price. Such a price they would pay when they would be usurped by the next generation.

 

The saga of the next generation begins with Cronus marrying the Titaness Rhea. When Rhea is pregnant, Cronus is threatened by the prospect of having children who would usurp his power, and attempts to swallow them one by one as soon as they are born. But Rhea tricks him, hiding Zeus away, and giving Cronus a stone to swallow instead. Later Zeus returns to force his Titan father to regurgitate his siblings. Then Zeus and his sibling gods and goddesses wage war against Cronus and the Titans.

 

The new generation of gods proved victorious in the battle against the Titans, and the offending Titans are banished by Zeus to Tartarus, the lowest and most inaccessible dimension of the underworld.

 

Of the twelve Titans, one in particular, Prometheus (whose name means foresight), was a bridge between the early gods and humanity, between the archaic/primitive and civilization.  Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus, on the advice of the Titaness Themis, goddess of Fate and Prophecy, sided with Zeus against their own Titan brothers and sisters during the battle of the Titans. Afterwards, Zeus rewarded them by allowing them to create life on earth both mankind and animals.

 

Prometheus however resisted Zeus' power, and continually challenged it. He also was deeply invested in creating a new life form with capabilities that rivalled the gods. First Prometheus

tricked Zeus into allowing mankind to keep the better portions of their sacrifice, while sacrificing only the bones and least desirable portions of the meat to the gods. But even more important, Prometheus also gave mankind fire, in order that they might be better able to care for themselves and build civilization. Zeus did not wish these new beings to have such power, and took back the fire, but Prometheus stole it again and gave fire back to humanity.

 

Angry at Prometheus for his insubordination, Zeus banished him to Tartarus where an eagle would eternally eat his liver, which would regenerate only to result in repeated torment (until he was freed by the centaur healer Chiron who took his place). As Jesus Christ is viewed as the savior of humanity in Christianity, so Prometheus is the saviour of humanity in Greek mythology and religion, for he chose to sacrifice himself so that human beings could survive and prevail.



THE MEANING

The Titans were the archaic forces of nature, often associated with the primal urge for power,  with wild, savage forces capable of wreaking mass destruction, without an law, limits or moral sanctions.

 

Archetypal psychologists associate the Titans with pre-civilization and prehistory, before the development of city states and the creation of written language. In psychological terms, the Titanic state of consciousness is that of the primordial infant self, both preverbal and pre-ego. The earliest state of Titanic consciousness is symbiotic and undifferentiated, still contained within the mother, and therefore not yet capable of separation and consciousness. The emergence of the Titans corresponds to the raw forces and desire and need, and the beginnings of the urge for power, in both its creative and destructive forms.

 

As human beings, we never fully overcome our Titanic urges. Although banished to the Tartarus of our unconscious, they remain powerful subterranean energies, unconscious motivating forces ever threatening to break the bounds of their imprisonment. Some persons are more aware of the archaic elemental forces within them, engaging in internal battles to keep them under control; others feel at the mercy of unconscious complexes or "horizontal subpersonalities" which are controlling their behaviors while remaining inaccessible to consciousness.

 

In our astrological charts, we can glimpse our Titanic energies in our twelfth house, and through the influences of Uranus, and especially Pluto. Currently, during the explorations of the planet Titan, we are all under the influence of Saturn inconjunct Pluto and Saturn square Jupiter (Zeus), while Saturn is in Cancer, its weakest position, where it is less capable of directing its energies toward achievement and more inclined to be seeking to protect itself from outside threats.

 

But let us return again to the story of Prometheus, and the significance of his gift of fire to humanity. This fire is the Titanic fire of desire and will, but it is also the light of consciousness, which has enabled humanity to develop reason and intellectual capabilities for its own advancement.

 

Fire, however, is dangerous, and can unlock the primordial forces which civilization demands be contained within the underworld. Fire can lead to violence, war, nuclear bombs, mass destruction. The forces of fire must be harnessed in the service of morality and reason. When a reversal occurs, and reason and morality are distorted to justify and serve primitive desire and power urges, then civilization can begin to self-destruct. Violence and the pursuit of power are sanctioned as necessary means to a noble end, and the people are deceived and deceive themselves as they allow their primal energies to be unleashed for destructive purposes.

 

In the 1930s and early 1940s, the Titanic forces erupted from the collective unconscious through Nazism. Pluto was in Cancer, the sign of mother, family, race and country; violence and barbarity were perpetrated on a massive scale in the name of racial purity and the Motherland.

 

Now in the 21st century, we are experiencing an eruption of the collective twelfth house of humanity again with Pluto in Sagittarius, the sign of morality, religion, foreign relations. Violence is being perpetrated in the name of morality and religion. The world appears to have entered into another collective regression, perhaps in part as a reaction to the overdevelopment of rationality in the service of technology, and the lack of a viable connection  to and outlet for the instinctual, energy-creating forces within us.

 

The Titans are meant to be confined to the underworld, but unless they are recognized and allowed to contribute to our lives so that we are able draw upon their energy, they will begin to revolt. Their revolt can only begin with acts of destruction as primal forces overcome the psyches of individuals and the collective psyches of groups and nations.

 

How fitting that we now exploring Titan, moon of Saturn/Cronus.  We have the energy of fire at our disposal, and with it the light of consciousness. Now, we must determine how we use the fire we have been given as a destructive force which co-opts reason and morality to serve its own primitive ends,  or as a creative life-affirming force used in the service of reason and true morality.

 

How essential then that, rather than only wage war against forces of terrorism outside ourselves, that we also turn the light within and enlighten ourselves about our Titanic forces, that we confront, own and explore our own Titanic selves, and learn to channel our own Titanic energies toward actualizing the values which we espouse. Our task is indeed....titanic.


 


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Last updated  January 16, 2005

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