Kore

Earth-Born Kore

If we think of the psyche as an internal polis, Athene can be seen as the force which seeks to civilize the contents. Despite her status as Parthenos goddess, she is uniquely qualified to enact this civilizing potential through her relational aspects which differ from other virgin goddesses—Athene is the protectress of ordered relationship. Within herself, she contains and holds, not only herself but the potential for constraint and mastery of the strictly held and strategic moment. Like Kore, Athene shares space with Necessity for all three are self-contained in their inherent psychological directness. All three goddess images dwell within themselves, and are, on one level, entirely whole and implacable. Athene’s self-contained and armored wisdom is crafty with an ability to weave various strands and impulses into “a whole fabric” just “as her own person is a combination of Reason and Necessity” (Hillman, 2016, p. 66). She uses strategy, craftiness, and intelligence to redirect (through persuasive rhetoric) the chaos and irrationality of the psyche into a recognizable, satisfying, and cohesive integration where each piece has its clearly defined and necessary place. 

And yet Athene cannot stand goatish Dionysus, cannot abide sensual Aphrodite, is in constant warfare with Poseidon and his inherent depth, and smothers the fires of Ares with her measured tempo. Her urge toward order and civilized containment, her bridling of the wild horse, can be seen as its own shadow since it tends to circumnavigate the intrinsic and necessary wilderness of psychic regions where the necessity of chaos gives birth to new and unruly life. There is also Jane Ellen Harrison’s rather convincing critique about Athene’s negation of the mother as expressed in the manner of her birth which Harrison calls “a desperate theological expedient to rid an earth-born Kore of her matriarchal conditions” (Harrison, 1991, P. 302). 

Hillman, J. (2016). Mythic figures. The uniform edition of the writings of James Hillman, Vol. 6. Putnam, CT: Spring. 

Harrison, J. E. (1991). Prolegomena to the study of Greek religion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 

Kore and the Parthenogenesis of Psychological Androgyny

There is a self-contained certainty in the hermaphroditism of Dionysus that reminds me of the Kore—the just-so status of each is not given or attained but rather exists psycho-parthenogenetically. So the first thing to internalize is that the dual consciousness, the hermaphroditic bisexual androgyny preexists in Dionysus consciousness. And yet, remarkably, Dionysus is also the dismembered one, the repressed one, the regressive one. So there is the suggestion that inner (divine) nature, the nature that is given with life, the one-ness or non-duality of psyche, is perhaps also the cause of wounding dismemberment, the cause of regressive repressions. Or is it that by repressing this oneness and dividing it into opposites that painful dismemberment occurs? After all, why do the Titans lure Dionysus specifically of all the divine babies in creation? Is it because he is undivided? 

The complexity of Dionysus knows no bounds. I’m beginning to see what James Hillman meant when he said that the image goes on and on, forever. Because even after the dismemberment, his androgyny is still intact. Again, it reminds me of the intactness, the un-consumable virginity, of the Kore—nothing can dislodge it, not even tragedy. But then, why the female-only worshipers, why the tragic emotions, the madness and the hysteria? If original selfhood is forever intact, why the necessity for psychic agitators? I think the answer lies in the fact that the state of psychological androgyny preexists yet remains unavailable to consciousness without an experience in the body of tragic emotions. Dionysus is still a baby when he is dismembered and an androgynous god later in life, after the violence of Titanism is experienced. This shows the psychological necessity of emotional madness, why ever and anon we must undergo painful periods of psychic dismemberment before we can return once again to a space of equilibrium.