One of the more fascinating connections I have found in popular culture of late concerns comic book superheroes. Virtually everyone in the Western world is familiar with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. But does anyone realise that these superheroes represent modern mythmaking - and that the core 7 heroes are but the latest embodiment of the 7 planetary gods?
In one of my favourite books, The Secret History of the World, the author points out that all through history there has been a perennial philosophy - a vision of the spirit worlds and the creator gods based not on dogma but ancient tradition, connecting the creation of the world with the spirits of the Sun, Moon, and five classical planets (Mercury through Saturn). Recently I realised that you can quite easily see how these gods - the same gods of the Olympian era - have been reincarnated in comic book form in the twentieth century.
Let's start with Superman. He draws his power from the Sun, and has a big golden "S" on his chest - which stands for the Sun, Sol, or Sol Invictus. He flies across the blue sky - blue being the main colour of his costume. His birth name, Kal El, comes from the character's creators Jewish heritage and means "voice of God"; in esoteric philosophy the Sun God is equivalent to the Logos or the Word - the spoken Word that in the beginning manifested all of creation. Superman is therfore clearly a solar hero; strong, noble, doing all his work in the bright light of day and working to bring all criminals to justice.
Batman meanwhile is his cosmic counterpart. He is an Earthling, cannot fly under his own power, and does all his best work at night. His animal totem - the bat - is a night creature. Batman uses fear and illusion to snare his foes. All this is highly suggestive of the Moon. Batman is therefore an incarnation of the Moon powers.
The Flash? That's simple- the golden wings on his helmet give the game away immediately. He is an avatar of Mercury, the winged messenger of the gods, fleet of foot, fast as quicksilver.
Wonder Woman is clearly Venus; not only is she female, and is a warrior princess (as were some early versions of Venus, or Astarte), but she bears the pentagram of Venus on her tiara.
Mars, again a no brainer: the Martian Manhunter!
Jupiter is a little trickier to spot in this bunch, but for me Aquaman takes the title. In Jupiter or Zeus' earliest forms he was a fish god - and otherwise known as Poseidon, god of the seas.
Now - Saturn had me bamboozled for quite some time. The hero Green Lantern suggested himself, but I thought how is he connected? I couldn't see it for the life of me. Then I read that at one point in the DC comics' history, they killed him off and replaced him with a demonic entity called the Parallax. This entity travelled from world to world feeding on people's fear, destroying whole civilisations. This is surely a primordial representation of the ancient god of death, Saturn.
And there you have it! The Greek gods are alive and well, folks, and we are re-telling their myths every day, in comics and in movies.