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Mircea Eliade - On the Gardens of the Hesperides



Type of Spiritual Experience



In Greek mythology, the Hesperides  are nymphs who tend a blissful garden in a far western corner of the world, located  on a distant blessed island at the edge of the encircling Oceanus, the world-ocean. 

The Garden of the Hesperides is Hera's orchard in the west, where either a single tree or a grove of immortality-giving golden apples grew. The apples were planted from the fruited branches that Gaia gave to her as a wedding gift when Hera accepted Zeus. The Hesperides were given the task of tending to the grove, but occasionally plucked from it themselves. Not trusting them, Hera also placed in the garden a never-sleeping, hundred-headed dragon named Ladon as an additional safeguard.

This is clearly a myth, possibly based on actual experiences, but its symbolism is important.

I have classified the source as the Eleusinian mysteries where in fact the source is more correctly the Greek Mysteries, in order to show that the Mysteries were actually all from the same root.

A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade

When Hercules went to steal the golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides, he had either to kill or put to sleep the dragon guarding them …..

The golden fleece of Colchis was also guarded by a dragon, which Janus had to kill to obtain it.  There are serpents guarding …. every repository where the sacred is concentrated.

The Garden of the Hesperides by Frederick, Lord Leighton 1892

The source of the experience

Eleusinian Mysteries

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps