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Thread: Beowulf - The Ancient and Modern Texts

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    Senior Member Sigurd Volsung's Avatar
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    Beowulf - The Ancient and Modern Texts

    The Ancient and Modern Texts

    Anglo-Saxon Edition

    The Modern Edition (Translated by Francis B. Gummere)

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    On Beowulf

    In the symbolic poem Beowulf, the giant Grendel and his mother are two forms of the dragon or demiurge, which also represents the regnum and the ancestral path; the father then is the sacerdotium. In the heroic tradition, battle symbolizes the initiatic trials, the success of which produces the kingdom proper as a reunion of Sky and Earth, male and female, sacerdotium and regnum, as is seen in the marriage rite. The kingdom is of one’s own mind, in which there are two selves, the mortal and immortal parts of the soul; life itself is a recurrent death and rebirth, or becoming, which is escaped by the sacrifice. We are the “food of the gods” insofar as heaven and earth are separate (in a fallen state) but attain the Shower of Wealth through correct performance and understanding of the rites. Beowulf and Grendel are thus two aspects of the same person, the latter as the mortal, outer self, the former as the immortal, inner self. Such is the “evil brotherhood” in which we are at war with ourselves.

    In the first battle, Beowulf must face Grendel who was angered by the singing at the mead hall. This singing was the chant, like the Hindu mantra, which started the rite. The dragon, which is also the mountain and the World Tree, must be dismembered as a tree is logged and then reassembled. As significant of the ancestral path, Grendel eats the warriors who sacrifice unto him; the act of swallowing represents the outer man. It isn’t until he faces Beowulf that we see the full significance, where Grendel’s arm by which he does battle was ripped off by Beowulf to signify that his is an inner battle. Beowulf thereby successfully performed the first sacrificial rite, inwardly not outwardly; it is the evil which is cut out of the self.

    The second battle against Grendel’s mother shows a further symbolism of the dragon as the mountain, the cave of which is accessed through the lake; for water is a symbol of life, and the lower waters of formal manifestation. There Grendel and his mother are slain, after which the hero claims their treasure and distributes it to his followers. Of special mention is the cup which represents the heart as the seat of the soul.

    At this point the primordial state is attained, the Sky and Earth are united, which is the marriage of the sacerdotium and the regnum. The king is immortal (meaning in the mind one is beyond duality rather than living forever in the body). Having slain the dragon and taken its treasure Beowulf then becomes the dragon; he reigns for many years until the grail is stolen by his successor. The father on his deathbed initiates the son, so that his spiritual lineage truly does continue. But for Beowulf, the last battle against the dragon in which he himself suffered a mortal blow and his subsequent funeral pyre represents the completion of the greater mysteries. Death has been conquered and all bonds have been destroyed; breaking out of the cosmos, there is no more individual self, the Supreme Identity is attained. The throne is resumed by his heir.

    For further reference see Coomaraswamy’s Hinduism and Buddhism, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power in the Indian Theory of Government, Guenon’s Symbols of Sacred Science, and Evola’s Mystery of the Grail and The Hermetic Tradition.

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