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Labour 1: Capture of the Man-Eating Mares



For the first of his Labours, Hercules is instructed to capture wild horses in the land of Diomedes, son of the God of war. So evil and destructive have they become that they are killing all whom they encounter and devastating the land. Hercules, confident that he can capture them, enlists the help of his friend, Abderis. Together, and with careful planning, they successfully corner and tether the beasts. With delight in his own prowess, Hercules leaves his friend to finish the task of driving the horses through the final gate. Fearful and unable to control the terrifying beasts, Abderis falls victim to them and is killed, the horses escaping to continue their rampages against the populace. Grief-stricken, but wiser, Hercules must repeat the task, his eventual success being purchased at the great price of his initial failure.


The sign Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac, a sign of beginnings and cosmically speaking, the sign of creation. All beginnings start in the mind of the creator, whether it is God or the soul of man. Aries starts the path on which form is taken and dominates, and likewise, on which begins the life of inner unfoldment of subjective Being. Re-organisation, re-orientation and regeneration characterise this stage. Each of these characteristics depends upon the state of mind, divine or human, with the same force impelling the journey, but with this force either being pre-occupied with form, or with it being focused on treading the path of liberation.


Three urges characterise this sign - firstly, the urge to begin life restricted by form or, reversing the process, to begin to achieve freedom from form; secondly, the urge to create, including that of the soul when taking a body, or of a human being when engaged in constructive activity and thirdly, it is the urge to resurrection. Aries is a sign of strong impulses and often of violent fluctuations - a sign of initial failure but always of ultimate success.


Interpretation of the myth

As the new disciple beginning his work in Aries, Hercules is set the task of capturing wild horses, symbols of intellectual activity. This picture illustrates the unruly activity of the lower or concrete mind, with its harmful ideas and thoughts, contrasting strongly with the constructive and redemptive emanations from the soul or higher consciousness. Hercules has to begin to gain mental control and to learn the potency of thoughts as well as the harm they do when they are uncontrolled. Initially, he fails to realise their power and leaves them in the care of the lower self or personality, symbolised by his friend. The lesson he finally learns is that the soul, with the co-operation of the personality, is needed to guard and control the wild horses of the thought-life.


Keynote of Aries:

Personality Aspect: And the Word said: Let form again be sought.

Soul Aspect: I come forth and from the plane of mind, I rule.