Parmenides – Philosopher – Poet

Last week, while re-working an article I wrote 18 years ago on the symbolism of  two West European Nations, namely Germany and England (having lived equal decades in each), I lost myself in the history of these nations, back to the Roman Empire and its fall. Something was missing. Reeling back another thousand years, to my beloved philosophers, I found IT.

I was reminded of the only ever poetry course I attended, where a tutor told me ‘You have to decide whether you want to be a philosopher or a poet.’  Over the years I’ve come to realise that some good people, in order to be respected, have sadly allowed their inner voice to be silenced by the academic system.                                                                                                                           *    *    *                                                                                                                                                                         Here an excerpt of Parmenides’s poem as it appears in Kingsley’s ‘In the Dark Places of Wisdom’. The text is subtle, humorous, with repetitions that are no accident. The poem induces a journey that appears in many traditions throughout the world under many names.

The mares that carry me as far as longing can reach

rode on, once they had come and fetched me onto the legendary

road of divinity that carries the man who knows

through the vast and dark unknown. And on I was carried

as the mares, aware just where to go, kept carrying me

straining the chariot; and young women led the way.

And the axle in the hubs let out the sound of a pipe

blazing from the pressure of the two well-rounded wheels

at either side, as they rapidly led on: young women, girls,

daughters of the Sun who had left the mansions of Night

for the light and pushed back the veils from their faces with their hands.

There are the gates of the pathways of Night and Day,

held fast in place between the lintel above and a threshold of stone;

and they reach up into the heavens, filled with gigantic doors.

And the keys – that now open, now lock – are held fast by

Justice: she who always demands exact returns. And with

soft seductive words the girls cunningly persuade her to

push back immediately, just for them, the bar that bolts

the gates. And as the doors flew open, making the bronze

axles with their pegs and nails spin – now one, now the other –

in their pipes, they created a gaping chasm. Straight through and

on the girls held fast their course for the chariot and horses;

straight down the road.

And the goddess welcomed me kindly, and took

my right hand in hers and spoke these words as she addressed me:

‘Welcome young man, partnered by immortal charioteers,

reaching our home with the mares that carry you. For it was

no hard fate that sent you travelling this road – so far away

from the beaten track of humans – but Rightness, and Justice.

And what’s needed is for you to learn all things: both the unshaken

heart of persuasive Truth and the opinions of mortals,

in which there is nothing that can truthfully be trusted at all.

But even so, this too you will learn – how beliefs based on

appearances ought to be believable as they travel all through

all there is.

*    *    *

The hero travels the road of death while still alive, making the connection between this world and the other.  He goes to the depth of ignorance – the ignored – to unknowing – in search for wisdom instead of straight to the light

Kingsley says when Plato and his followers took over these ideas from the Pythagoreans they cleverly amputated the ambiguities: focussed only on the true and the good and the beautiful, and cut out the need for the descent.  He makes a link to inscriptions  discovered during the 60s in Velia, Italy. Three words puzzled …  Ouliades – Iatromantis –Apollo … The healer who can access special states of awareness, look beyond appearances, give voice to what has no voice. In Sept 1962, at the same place, Mario Napoli found a small block of marble with another inscription: Parmeneides son of Pyres Ouliades Physicos

These findings must present a challenge to historians. Obviously they stayed clear of the mystic drone carrying the song of Parmenides and the Pythagorean’s. The incubatory practice and its profound wisdom were rationalised out of western history. Kingsley writes:

Between them, Parmenides and Empedocles laid the most basic foundations for the world and culture we now live in. But with the passing of time we have forgotten who they were. The truth about the real nature of their work has been neglected, distorted, ignored—transformed into just another of those empty illusions that they themselves tried to set us free from. There is nothing accidental about the fact that we in the West are starved for some real sense of meaning and crying out for something that, in spite of all our apparent sophistication and material success, we are no longer even able to name. This western civilization of ours was created for a purpose. Until we start to discover that purpose again, our lives will be meaningless. Unless we touch our roots and make contact again with the essence of our past, we can have no future.

One of the many resources Peter Kingsley used:




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13 responses to “Parmenides – Philosopher – Poet

  1. I love this! You have a beautifully clear and eloquent voice, Ashen! 🙂


  2. Alethea Eason

    A couple of hours ago I was sitting on a dock in the middle of a marsh with a friend talking about these things as we listened to the frogs and the duck, the lone goose, and watched the redwing blackbird flitting about in the tules. The purpose of grief. Of people broken with it who cannot find meaning. We expect a direct ticket to the light and so often become lost when the dark times come. But the dark is the forge and where we transform so the light can fill us when it is time. We discussed that it is the capacity of finding meaning that is our only guide. Thank you.


  3. All this we must be, the smithy, the hand of the blacksmith, the dense metal and the furnace, but also the deep silent dark where the guardian whispers – do nothing -. I enjoyed visiting you site, Alethea. Will return.


  4. Incredible! Today. Had you found the brief verse on Parmenides in Involution? Quoted in the Pen Portraits page?Or was that simple synchronicity? It is followed by another on Empedocles(in the book) I have swum in Kingsley and in a telephone conversation with him he said we were all ‘too late’. II still hope to find him because I quote him quite extensively and he deserves to know how important he was to my understanding. Wir sind unglaublich zusammen, nicht? Tol (My German such as it was, is very rusty but I loved your philosopher or poet choice?) I have never decided.


    • I did spot you lines on Parmenides on your Pen Portraits page. And yes, it’s also synchron. I’ll explore more of your site, between client sessions. Kingsley sounds as if he needs perking up. Toll 🙂 In truth, my German is a bit rusty too. When visiting friends, it takes me some days to get into the swing of its music.


  5. A great read, Than You 🙏💖

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, a heroic rising into the light must be met with a descent, light with darkness, the left hand with the right, before truth can reveal itself. Thank you, Ashen. I love this. Jeanie

    Liked by 1 person

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