In the Greek story, Gaea asked her mythic monster son Typhon to avenge the defeat of his brothers, the Gigantes, as well as to free his other brothers, the Titans.  Without batting an eyelash, Typhon surged ahead, attempted to destroy Zeus and carry out the mission…

The heavens raged to catastrophic proportions, leaving the island a complete wasteland.  Fallen debris of homes, shattered buildings and personal artifacts flew everywhere as if a nuclear bomb had blasted and flattened the entire place.  What’s worse, the stench of death filled the air. Thousands of rotting corpses, just body after body stretched on the ground, waiting to be registered and buried in mass.  Everybody was in search of their own people who might have been dead by now or hoped to have escaped from the wrath of Typhon.  One elderly mother took on a quest alone to find her missing kids while the others found strength to sleep on the street beside their dead loved ones.  Scraps of food, water, shelter have grown scarce and families were stripped bare.  Everything else has been taken away broken and battered and the people have nothing saved except their own lives.  A few days after the deluge, it rained again some more.  A church with no roof stood still and although the belfry had collapsed, the bells were tolled by the cleric.  A service was celebrated and those who sat in the pews bowed and prayed hard and grasped on to their deeply-held faith to start life anew.  With the sogginess of the whole place, it almost became the right for every people to despair and to get angry. But instead, people found a reason to smile, to laugh, to love and to live.  Right there, right then, a protest march was held, not one condemning the government’s inaction but a march with signposts which read, “WE SHALL OVERCOME,” encouraging survivors to be resilient ever more.  Amidst the hunger and thirst, death and destruction, the chaos and confusion, the inhabitants in this island nation stood high with unbroken souls.  Soon after the great inundation, the rays of the sun burst forth.  Moments of ‘Deus Ex Machina’ (God from the Machine) poured on the ground.  With foreign aid, inter-governmental interventions, news media coverage, care and assistance from medics and volunteers, and compassion from fellow countrymen and the rest of the humanity, this ravaged land, these battle-worn people made it through.

weshallovercome

Typhon is easily seen here as any natural force which embodies “hell on earth”:  typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, plagues, tsunamis, floods and tornadoes.  But since Greek mythology is also about human archetypes, Typhon is also that quality as embodied in our lives—the natural “personal” disasters: death, trauma, crippling illness, violence, accidents and many more. Gaea is not just “Earth” the planet but “earthen” which is of the earth or humankind.  And the Titans are all things primitive, primal and instinctual.  It can be observed that “Titanic” forces once ruled our world long before humans arrived, carving the land—and the human character which then became civilized through inventing and adopting social systems. All the primal instincts still exist to this day and age—though buried and held within every people’s hearts.  So when Gaea asks Typhon to release the Titans, that only means freeing up our primal and primitive self through embodying “hell on earth.” What the mythology teaches us is what exactly happened in the Philippines (Gaea) most recently. The motherland wanted to send out a message of respect to environment and let go of the overflowing strength and compassion for humankind (Titans) through Super typhoon Haiyan (Typhon). But in the Greek story, Typhon was overthrown.  He was finally defeated by Zeus, who trapped him underneath Mount Etna for eternity.  All this is to say, looking at our inner lives, we can derive the moral with this analogy.  That no matter how big or “hellish on earth” are the challenges we encounter, we are reminded that there exists a God, a much bigger force in the universe, who drives us to prevail–to live a fertile life with purpose and direction.  WE SHALL OVERCOME. This is the demand life makes on everyone.

 

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