Severence: An Apollo Archetype Parable

This is a parable based on the Apollo archetype—the logical, intellectual, scientific aspect of consciousness.


Once upon a time, there was a Scientist who achieved many brilliant discoveries in the fields of medicine, physics, and technology. His work advanced his society into a new age of vibrant health.

Among his many successes, the Scientist cured a blood-borne disease that had wiped out whole populations in some countries in Africa. He won a Nobel Prize for his work.

After his big win, the Scientist felt pretty good. He had really done a lot to benefit the world. He had saved millions of lives. He decided to celebrate.

He didn’t have any friends to celebrate with—spending years nose-deep in research and experiments didn’t exactly give one a rich social life—but that was okay. It worked the other way around, too—having a rich social life would have taken away the vast amounts of personal time and space he needed to do his best work.

And the Scientist was used to his own company.

The Scientist took himself to his lab at the top floor of a research facility, and sat down to watch a video of himself administering the first few vaccines to patients who had the blood-borne disease. The camera zoomed in on his hands in their white latex gloves.

The Scientist began to wonder how one man’s hands could effect such change. After all, he was only one man. And look at all he had done.

Alone in his lab, he began to examine his own hands. He held them up before his face, examining the fine hairs on the backs of his fingers, turning them over and examining the lines on his palms. How did his hands work? What made them special? He turned on the bright task spotlight over his lab table and examined them again—the thin membrane of his skin, the network of veins like rivers just underneath, the wrists and forearms.

He couldn’t see enough.

If he could just understand more about how his hands worked, maybe he could understand how to use them better to create more benefits for humanity.

The Scientist had an idea (and his ideas were usually very good).

First he sterilized his entire room and especially the surface of his lab table.

Then he found a bottle of strong painkillers and one of antibiotics. He got a stack of towels, a roll of medical gauze and a glass of water. He placed these things on the edge of his lab table.

The Scientist washed his favorite bathrobe in bleach, and when it was dry he cut the right arm off the bathrobe.

Then the Scientist showered. He used the same kind of soap he used before performing surgeries, and used the hottest water he could stand. After stepping out of the shower, he put on the bathrobe. His right arm stuck out of the new hole in the robe, bare to the shoulder.

The Scientist took his small electric saw, bound his bare arm (palm up) to the edge of his lab table with a clamp, tied a tight tourniquet around his upper arm, and cut his arm off just below the shoulder.

It was very painful, of course, but the Scientist had been expecting that. He only passed out for a little while.

When he woke up—on the floor in a puddle of blood—he was more surprised by the pain. It hurt a lot more than he had been expecting. But the surprise and shock was, after all, also not unexpected. It was not noteworthy.

He sterilized his new wound, applied a very thick layer of bandages, took the painkillers and the antibiotics, and drank the whole glass of water.

Then he cleaned up the blood. That part took a long time. But the Scientist had prepared for it with a lot of towels so it worked out.

He had to wash his bathrobe with bleach again, though. He drank a few more glasses of water while the robe was in the laundry.

When he was finally able to sit down at his lab table, he began examining his arm.

It was not a special arm, in and of itself. Nobody would guess it had created the cure to a disease that had devastated humanity for all of history. Nobody would guess the arm had changed the course of the world’s future. The skin was paler and ashier than it had been when it was attached to his body. The nails were smoother and more well-shaped than he remembered them being. The hair reminded him of the fine antennae and legs of an insect.

The arm seemed to reach for him, though it could not actually move. The fingers, curled gently into the air like the bending fronds of a fern, twitched toward him.

He began the dissection and the examination.

Over the next two days, the Scientist examined the bones of the arm, the layers of the skin, the tissues of the muscles. He examined the cells under his microscope. He mapped the veins and tendons.

Everything was perfectly put together. It was a perfectly formed arm.

He had to stop every few hours for more painkillers and antibiotics, but he did not let it impede his study.

The arm itself did not object (of course), although the fingers did still sometimes reach for him, as though pleading. The arm was not alive (of course), but it did not seem to be dead, either.

Even when he had the skin flayed open and was examining the way the tendons in the fingers made the joints SNAP, SNAP, SNAP. The arm did not seem to be dead. The fingers seemed to be beckoning to him.

On the third day, the Scientist ran out of painkillers.

That was really too bad. But there was nothing to be done about it. He changed his bandages regularly and kept up with his antibiotics. He couldn’t go out and get more painkillers or have them brought to his lab. Someone would notice his arm, and he’d be taken to a hospital and unable to finish his important work.

The arm on his lab table reached for him, pleading, pleading. PLEASE.

On the fourth day, the Scientist drank some of the alcohol he used to keep things sterile. It wasn’t a good idea to drink alcohol at this time, but the Scientist needed to do something about the pain.

His left hand was becoming clumsier. He accidentally nicked a vein when he’d only meant to move it out of the way. The Scientist had thought that all the blood was gone from the arm, but a little more flowed out of the vein when he nicked it.

On the fifth day, the Scientist acknowledged that things were not going well with his experiment.

He had made a huge oversight. For although he could see the perfection of the inner workings of his arm, he could not see any of it in action. Blood did not pump through the map of veins. The perfect tendons did not bend, the muscles did not flex. The skin did not form goosebumps or react to his touch, and the hairs on the skin only moved in response to a sudden swish of air.

A dead arm was not, in fact, an arm.

And the Scientist was in such pain, so much pain. His left hand had begun to shake with the alcohol and the pain. He could not work, and the pain made him want to die. The Scientist began to cry, sinking to his knees at the side of his lab table. He clasped the upturned palm of the arm with his own shaking left hand, and the fingers seemed to close around his. The Scientist wept there until he fell asleep.

When he awoke, the cold palm clasped in his own felt as though it was pulling him to stand up. Eventually, after trying and failing several times, the Scientist managed to get back on his feet. He was dizzy for a few moments, but the cold hand remained clasped in his own and soon he knew what he had to do.

Piece by piece, the Scientist stitched together the arm he had cut apart.

And he began to work on a method of reconnecting severed flesh to the heart-center of a body, so that it would come alive again.


The End


This story was given to me by Apollo. Our culture is largely an Apollo culture.

The Apollo archetype represents the power of the intellect to master nature, to build civilizations and cities, and to create a structure that offers culture room to flourish.

It is emotionally cold and distant. The Apollo archetype has severed itself from heart and intuition. Those things aren’t “logical” and so should not be followed. Instead, Apollo usually serves the ego.

This is only empowering up to a point. The intellect and ego are capable of amazing things, but are vulnerable to narcissism. If intellect is not guided by heart and intuition, it often makes some pretty destructive choices. The intellect can melt the ice caps, send entire species into extinction, poison the environment, and exploit people for what it sees as its own gain.

The Apollo archetype in our society can only be trusted to stop making choices from a self-serving place when it realizes that its actions are self-destructive. Then it will attempt to align itself with the needs of heart and intuition.

The intellect may not understand much about heart . . . but it’s pretty good at learning. I am sure it will figure something out.


L. Marrick is an author, ghostwriter and suitcase entrepreneur, which is a hipster way of saying she travels and works from her laptop. She writes about archetypes, spirituality, and history at Mythraeum.com. Follow her on Twitter @LMarrick, and on Facebook.

© Mythraeum LLC 2016. The content of this article, except for quoted or linked source materials, is protected by copyright. Please contact the author at the above links to request usage.

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