Because your life is mythically storied, you are on a grand heroic Quest. What is your Quest? Do you know? Has it shifted over time or is there one Lifetime Quest you came here to Earth to fulfill? For some it may be related to parenting; for others it is realizing their talents, contributing to knowledge, or realizing spiritual goals. Let’s start by exploring what a Quest is or can be by reflecting on some mythic and historical Quests.
Jason and the Golden Fleece is a Greek myth all about The Quest. In order to take his prophesized place as King of Thessaly, Jason is sent on a quest by Zeus and Hera to obtain a golden fleece, with Hercules and other fine crewmates, but also with a saboteur aboard the famous ship, the Argo. After facing many tests and obstacles, Jason demonstrates resolve, loyalty to the gods, and virtue, eventually defeating the protector of the fleece, Hydra (who has killed the saboteur) so that Jason and his surviving Argonauts, along with his wife to be, Medea, return to Thessaly where Jason will be King.
Jeanne d’ Arc’s (La Pucelle’s) historical epic is iconic of a female ‘spiritual warrior quest’. Against all gender norms and odds, Jeanne listened to her saintly voices and led her French people to success in battle against Britain at Orleans, but then she was betrayed from among her own countrymen and tried for heresy. To the end Jeanne d’Arc honored her spiritual Quest of service to God, refusing to recant and ultimately being burned at the stake. It is said that witnesses to her death saw a white dove flying out from the ashes. (Here you can link to Leonard Cohen’s “Joan of Arc”).
Then there was Odysseus, whose adventurous quest to return Home to his wife and son at Ithaca after the Trojan War took ten years. Like Jason, Odysseus and his men faced a series of deadly challenges and obstacles placed in their path. To survive to reach his home in Ithaca, Odysseus had to demonstrate strong leadership and to outwit his deadly foes.
One of my favorite poems, Ithaca by the modern Greek poet Cadafy, frames each of us as on a Quest similar to that of Odysseus:
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.
Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.
Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)
So, Quests come in various modes: Tests of worthiness; Goals of Service; and Going Home (spiritually as well as physically) are various ways to realize your own highest nature and achieve your Purpose.
Where are YOU at in relation to the pursuit of realizing your own Quest? I invite you to take some time this week to reflect on and to envision your Quest.