When reading about ante-Purgatory, an image came to mind: Dante was getting cleansed of the stench and sin from Hell before heading towards the heavenly place. I pictured the religions that dip their finger in holy water and cross themselves before entering a church or chapel (not sure if only Catholics do this). Like baptism, the sinners wash away their past lives and transgressions and leave the intentional sinning behind. Of course, for those of us who have a strong conscience, rumination never allows the past to be completely gone. We remind ourselves of the foolish past in order to keep from repeating the mistakes. This is very simplified. So, before entering a holy place, the outside must be washed off (crossing with the holy water) in order to go forth with pure thoughts. Or, before committing oneself to the Baptist religion (or others) the sins must be washed away with a baptism before proceeding.
If Dante hadn’t been washed of the stench, he would be taking those horrific images with him into Purgatory. With negative energy in the mind, it is very difficult to see the positive in anything. Dante needed a moment of meditation and purification of the mind before opening his mind up to the glorious light ahead. Without it, he would be looking at that glorious light through a dark veil and his eyes would not be completely opened to the wonder. Does this sound cheesy or does it actually sound as profound as I intend?
Looking back into Hell, I see Geryon and how this is a perfect image for people. Most everyone has multiple personalities, the one’s we can control. We have the image that we give to our parents, grandparents, or others whom we wish to view us as flawless as possible. Then we have the image of our dark sides, the parts of us that we may be ashamed of, and suppressed emotions. We also have the image that we give to employers or professors, first introductions, in-laws, etc. Our image isn’t stone, at least mine isn’t. (For those of you who have a single image for everyone, I can’t say that I envy you, but good for you. When I say ‘our’, I don’t mean everyone, but those of us to whom this applies.)
To give an example, I’ll name a girl Penelope and introduce her to a male friend of mine. Penelope comes across as a sweet girl with a good sense of humor. My male friend really likes her. As he gets to know her, he sees some of her real personality; she is very impatient and blames everyone else for her problems. He begins to see the wings of reality appear. She has a temper when she doesn’t get her own way. Here comes her hairy chest and arms (what an image!). He then discovers she hates animals (as if!) Her hairy arms and claws appear. Get the idea? Of course, wouldn’t her claws appear with the temper? Anyway, so not everyone has the complete body of imperfections, but gradually reveal those true identities the more we get to know them. Then my warped mind compares Geryon to Mr. Potatohead. We begin with a simple potato. Then we add a pegged eyeball, a nose, etc, revealing a different image with every added body part. Geryon and Mr. Potatohead, now that’s stretching it. So, here’s a question for you to ponder: Are we being frauds if we only reveal the good parts of ourselves or are we just being human?