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The Charioteer of Delphi

The Charioteer of Delphi

When Goethe published Part I of Faust in 1808, he was 59 years old, and Faust is left with no solution to his “Faustian” dilemma. And yet, he has become far more aware of his condition than he was at the beginning of the play.

Goethe spent the remainder of his life writing Part II of Faust, and did not allow it to be published until after his death in 1832, nearly a quarter of a century later. Through the character of Faust, Goethe himself was working toward becoming four dimensional.

This is why Part II is “an expression of the symbolic working of man’s soul,” according to Robert Johnson.

“It is written in the language of imagination,” he writes, “a kind of alchemical treatise, a fairy tale, a myth.”

In the beginning of Part II, Faust finds himself in the Emperor’s court where gold is being made. And while we are never certain gold has been produced, there is a lot of heat and fire and energy. Suddenly, a boy charioteer mounts a horse and gallops away, never to be heard from again.

Johnson says this boy charioteer symbolizes the first gift–pure undifferentiated energy–of the inner child or puer of every man.

“When a man consents to begin the interior journey, the symbolic quest,” Johnson writes, “he may expect certain characteristic experiences.”

When one touches a symbol or has a symbolic experience, a great deal of energy is produced–emotions flare, and alternate between fear and exhilaration. Inflations are extremely common.

Symbolically, the Emperor’s court is a place deep in one’s unconscious, and one must have the emotional stability to withstand the intense heat as well as the oddity of the journey. A guide or teacher is inestimably helpful in this regard.

“Since the journey is largely outside the laws of the three-dimensional world of time and space,” Johnson says, “it is not surprising that the archetype of (eternal youth) the puer aeternis is activated.”

The eternal inner child is geared to fantasy and his eye is on heaven rather than any practical endeavor. Many men do not integrate this energy maturely, Johnson says, and go through life as dreamers, but qualities of the eternal child are are also necessary for salvation.

The First Puer–The Charioteer

There are four puer figures in Part II of Faust, according to Jonson, and none of them are very practical, but all are necessary to Faust’s evolution to four-dimensional man. The first puer gallops off at full speed, representative of the fact that any man who embarks on a symbolic quest will be swept into one enthusiasm after another. These enthusiasms may wane and be forgotten but they provide the energy for the mystic vision.

Following this energetic but inconclusive time in the Emperor’s court, Faust demands of Mephistopheles a visit with Helen of Troy–a vision of beauty and femininity. It is in outlining how this request might be fulfilled that Mephistopheles launches Faust’s transformation from time-and-space-bound consciousness to the next level of enlightenment.

Mephistopheles tells Faust that he must go to the place of the Mothers in the eternal depths, insert his key into the tripod, and thus summon Helen of Troy.

“Few sentences in the history of consciousness say so much in few words,” Johnson writes.

Going to the depths indicates that the journey is both profoundly inward and solitary; going to the place of the Mothers is an act of regression, a psychologically incestuous act.

“The place of the Mothers is where consciousness and cultural and spiritual power originate,” he says. “Returning to your origins and generating or regenerating yourself is the act of creating consciousness.”

The third level of consciousness can then be turned into the fourth level by the “insertion of the key into the tripod.” Goethe uses this literary device to indicate the addition of the one to the three. This results in the four, the consciousness that is the true goal of humanity, according to Johnson.

“By working most of a lifetime at the task of civilization,” he writes, “an educated, intelligent man has erected a ‘tripod’ of life.”

Johnson compares this tripod to the Holy Trinity. Both are symbols of a consciously constructed what if chuff, he says, that is cultured and civilized, but inevitably leaves out the fourth element. With Christianity, that element is Satan; with Civilization, that element is the shadow or dark side of one’s self.

“It is the addition of the neglected element that brings an individual or a culture to wholeness,” he writes.

Next Week: The Evolution of Three to Four