The Sickle of Titan Kronos: Archetypal Symbol of Power and Progress

The idea that a weapon has power beyond what can be understood scientifically or through the laws of nature is very old. Nobody really knows the historical origins of the tales and myths surrounding such magical objects. While speculating, we can suppose that a logical place to look for the beginning of such mythical narratives would be the communities of the early metallurgists and craftsmen who created these weapons, as well as the legendary men, heroes, and Gods who wielded them.

In the west, the concept of a “weapon of power” originates in the Greek tradition where a number of magical weapons are mentioned, such as the sickle of Titan Kronos and the harpē of Perseus, his grandson. In the Theogony, Hesiod mentions that the sickle of Kronos was fashioned out of gray adamant by Gaia (Earth) herself and was given as a gift to Kronos who castrated and overthrew his father Ouranos (Uranus) taking his place as the ruler of the Cosmos:

But huge Earth groaned within, for she was constricted, and she devised a tricky, evil stratagem. At once she created an offspring, of gray adamant, and she fashioned a big sickle and showed it to her own children.

(Hesiod, 16) [1]

Soon after, Hesiod clarified the reason for the plot:

And Gaia spoke, encouraging them while she grieved in her dear heart: “Children of mine and of a wicked father, obey me, if you wish: we would avenge your father’s evil outrage. For he was the first to devise unseemly deeds.”

(Hesiod, 17) [1]

It is important to understand the symbolic meaning of the sickle of Kronos because it is the archetypal weapon of power in the west and its influence as a literary device on later mythological traditions is immense. When it appears in the writings of the ancient Greek authors, the sickle is almost always used in the context of mythology.

Philosophically speaking, in Greek cosmology the sickle of God Kronos symbolizes the immense powers through which the Primordial Space-Time became a condition of change and progress in the material Cosmos and its evolving state. For that reason, the sickle is also a phallic symbol, denoting the fertile powers and creative forces in the universe, therefore becoming a symbol of transformation, progress, and renewal. The deployment of a weapon of power, in Greek myth and in relation to the killing of a God by another, operates as a symbol of the co-interaction of the cosmic forces, which eventually assists into the birth of a more evolved state of the Universe.

In Greek mythology, the sickle was later passed down to God Zefs (Zeus) who in turn also castrated and overthrew God Kronos, his father, in order to take his place as the ruler of the material universe, in very much the same way as Kronos did to his father. The symbolism of the sickle as an instrument initiating progress is retained through the mythology of succession of the Gods: Ouranos – Kronos – Zefs.

In terms of theology, Kronos stands primarily as a symbol of the purity of space (and time) that the rest of the Gods are born into. For the Greeks, space has always been sacred and this case is not any different. The space-time, where the above-mentioned genealogy of the Gods takes place in the Greek Theogony, cannot be impure and polluted. As Socrates explains in Plato’s dialogue Cratylus:

Zeus is the offspring of some great intellect; and so he is, for κόρος (for Κρόνος) signifies not child, but the purity (καθαρόν) and unblemished nature of his mind.

(Cratylus, 49) [2]

The Dual Nature of a Forged Weapon

The philosophical implications deriving from the inherent duality of a forged weapon during ancient times are enormous. The weapon was not only a testament of the skills of its creator, but it also reflected the qualities of the person, hero, or God wielding it. Its shape and materials are also very important when considering it as a symbol. God Kronos, in the Greek and later in the Roman tradition (see Saturnalia), is an agricultural deity as well as the lord of Space and Time.

The gray adamant, which the sickle was made of, being one of the hardest materials on earth, denotes the firmness of Kronos’ powers and his completed and perfected state as a force in the universe. The word adamant comes from the Greek word ἀδάμας, which translates to “untamable” [3]. With that piece of information, we have a more complete understanding not only of the powers of Gaia who created the sickle, but also of the origins and nature of the powers of her son, Kronos. As a tool, the sickle is associated with agricultural societies and was used by farmers to cut crops for thousands of years. Symbolically, it denotes the moment a person has achieved a high level of cultivation. The individual who has planted and cultivated the seeds of knowledge for a long time is now ready to reap what they sowed, and that is of course none other than the gift of wisdom, one of the four classical virtues.

In regards to the forging process and the materials used, the symbolism is also very deep. The raw materials such as iron and steel used to forge weapons come from the earth in a rough form, but they are molded and perfected through fire, air, and water by the weapon smith. This act of the transformation of matter into something useful is the point where the real process of forging a sword, a tool, or a weapon becomes a symbolic one.

Contemplating on the powerful symbolism of ancient archetypes such as the adamantine sickle and how they operate in the various mythological narratives can become a powerful agent of change and transformation for the seeker of wisdom. If we want to create a “weapon of power”, a tool for our progress, we have to see ourselves as the rough material coming from the earth to be molded appropriately in order to produce perfection and beauty in the form and in all aspects of the self.

This transformation is not only spiritual but it is also a physical one. Its process can be summarized in the three acts already mentioned in relation to the planting, cultivating, and sowing of the crops: First comes the “planting of the seeds of knowledge,” then we nurture and cultivate these seeds further, and finally we master this knowledge and share it with the world for the benefit of all (the sowing). An example of this is the philosopher who transforms his/her life through the art of dialectics, meaningful contemplation, theurgy and dietics. Another example is the martial artist who transforms the self through the martial art of his/her choice, by adopting the philosophy and all physical aspects of the art.

Closing Thoughts

By contemplating on the sickle as a weapon of Divine power and as an instrument of cultivation we take away its main attribute, which is that of an instrument of death, so that we can transform it into a powerful symbol of progress that will assist us toward what is known as the philosopher’s death. Philosophical death is a condition where the seeker finds him/herself egoless, reaching out with the powers of the mind towards the divine, while detached from the physical body and its needs, as much as this is possible of course. Using an image such as the sickle of Titan Kronos to meaningfully transition, through contemplation and inner dialectics, from the physical world to the noeric world of the mind, is a very important step in the process of achieving the philosophical death and “planting” the first seeds of knowledge.

Like in the mythology of Ouranos, Kronos, and Zefs, which symbolize three different states of the progressing Cosmos, the “weapon of power” can be used as a great symbol of progress through the aforementioned three-step reformation. However, only when the transformation is done meaningfully, with self-honesty and completely, will we manage to “kill” our former and less evolved states in our “battle” towards renewal and perfection.

References:

[1] “HESIOD, Theogony.” Loeb Classical Library, 25 Oct. 2018,
www.loebclassics.com/view/hesiod-
theogony/2018/pb_LCL057.17.xml?result=2&rskey=XGZM6v
[2] “PLATO, Cratylus.” Loeb Classical Library, 24 June 2019,
www.loebclassics.com/view/plato_philosopher-
cratylus/1926/pb_LCL167.49.xml?rskey=Qb4bVO&result=2
[3] ἀδάμας. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://logeion.uchicago.edu/λογεῖον

Tony Crisos is a guitarist, educator, philosopher, and esoteric arts practitioner, born in Greece and now living in the USA.

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