The Meaning of Elysium
Elysium is described by Homer, Hesiod, Virgil and many other poets as the mythological paradisiacal plains reserved for deceased heroes. The name may have its origins with the Greek verb eleuthô, meaning release for the souls of heroes and virtuous men. Some traditions considered this a realm of the netherworld, others certain eastern islands in the Aegean Sea, and later, a place by the Black Sea.
Perhaps the best way to explain the meaning of Elysium within the context of the series is to include an excerpt from chapter 19 in The Summit called CHAMP-ELYSÉES which explains how this name came about in the novel and what it means:
‘By the way,’ I said, ‘what do you call this domain of yours, Shangri-La?’
‘The world has contrived many names to describe this state of being,’ Eli said, ‘Paradise, Heaven Beulah, Nirvana, Valhalla, Happy Hunting Grounds; the list goes on. Yet these are only names that can’t possibly reveal its prevailing state of total peace, happiness and contentment. As for me, my state of ecstasy needs no name so I just call it home. That's what it felt like the instant I arrived: the perfect fulfilment of my most inward desires.’
‘And that's why names don't matter,’ Mo said. ‘Call it whatever you wish; essentially it's your resting point, the only real one you can have where there is always a sense of belonging and union based on what you are within.’
‘Still, for purposes of discussion, I’d like to have a name since I can hardly call it home while my body remains bound to my earthly residence. But I’d prefer not to use the word heaven any more than hell.’
‘So why are you uncomfortable with that?’ he asked.
‘It sounds too ecclesiastical for my secular sensibilities and therefore not credible. Ever since a boy, I’ve thought of it as an affected Pollyannaish fantasy to bait the gullible and naïve masses into thinking and behaving in prudish ways that I could never relate to. And as I said before, I’ve always associated the name with pale effete angels and pudgy little cherubs we often see depicted in medieval and renaissance paintings. They were a big hit then, but I think the world moved beyond that otherworldly scene sometime back in the eighteenth century.’
‘You mean the otherworld where you now find yourself?’ Eli asked.
‘I’m not sure where I find myself,’ I said, ‘except perhaps somewhere between worlds, but at least I don’t see goofy things like that going on. Hmm, after being here with you two, maybe I should take that back.’
‘All I know is that in the past any notion of heaven seemed too pie in the sky for anyone with enough intellect to think for themselves. I’m a realist and the very idea of such a utopia has always seemed like wishful thinking. I don’t even like the sound of the word; to me it sounds weak.’
‘So why not choose another name?’ Mo asked, ‘perhaps something without religious connotations. It really doesn't matter what you wish to call it, as long as it’s realized the meaning points beyond any earthly connotation. You need not get too creative, since whatever description you ascribe to this domain could never even approach its true essence and transcendence.’
‘Sorry, but I haven’t the slightest idea what to call your new home. Like I said, until recently I’ve been sceptical about its very existence.’
‘Well maybe I can help you,’ Eli said. ‘Do you recall reading The Odyssey?’
‘Yes indeed; and by the way, thank you for leaving me a copy, I plan to read more of it tonight. Ever since I was a boy I’ve enjoyed Homer and Greek mythology.’
‘And why do you think that was?’ he asked.
‘I’m not exactly sure. I just know when my father’s books found their way to me I wanted to read them from cover to cover even though there wasn’t much I understood back then. More than anything, the books scribed by Virgil and Homer held a sentimental value that somehow provided me with a vague connection to my deceased father, who I could hardly remember.
‘Perhaps I wanted to bring something of him into my life by sharing the same thoughts he had when he read these books. I even memorized the lines he underlined as if they had special significance. Once I became very upset when I noticed he underlined the phrase, it is a wise child that knows his own father. So what did that make me, I wondered? Wouldn’t it have been better if Homer said it’s a wise father that knows his son? I really wished he hadn’t underlined that because every time I read that it made me feel as though he was mocking me for not knowing him.’
‘That’s really sad to hear,’ Eli said. ‘I’m sure, he would never have wanted you to feel that way.’
‘And yet I did, at least until I got over it when I was older. Years later when I went to sea, I brought his leather bound copy of The Iliad with me to read just as I imagined him reading several years ago while sailing through the same Aegean islands.’
I paused for a moment as I reflected on these distant memories. Finally I got up and said, ‘I have no idea why I just told you all that; what does any of this have to do with rebranding heaven?’
‘Perhaps more than you realize,’ Eli said. ‘Do you remember the term Homer used in the Odyssey to describe Paradise?’
‘Of course, Elysian Plains or, as the French say, Champs-Elysées. In fact, everything in Paris seems to be associated with that name; more than anywhere else, they made it famous, even if they don’t always recognize where the name came from or what it means.’
‘That certainly is true,’ Eli said, ‘Elysées has found several expressions in modern culture including Paris' famous Avenue des Champs-Elysées and Palais de l'Élysée of the French Republic. The name is even in their much beloved pop song, Aux Champs-Elysées. So wouldn’t you like to make the name famous for the rest of the world too?’ he asked.
‘But there already was a movie produced with that name not that long ago.’
‘More reason for you to let the world know that Elysées is not a spaceship,’ he said. ‘Then you will be able to tell everyone how close you came to it while your body was resting in a coma. Also, considering how you sailed among these same mythical islands near Elysées. The name is superb for you. Who knows, perhaps even as you thought you sailed past it in your imagination, you were already searching for it.’
‘Okay then, why not,’ I said. ‘Let’s go with Elysées. Perhaps one day it will catch on, just as it did in the past.’
‘Ah yes,’ Mo said, ‘the Elysian Fields. I like it; a most heavenly choice! As I’m sure you’re aware, Homer is considered to be among the first to have used the name in literature. The nomenclature possesses a refined and illustrious history. Poets throughout the ages talked about the Elysian Fields as an afterlife paradise, including Virgil, Plutarch, Dante, Blake, Keats, Shakespeare and several modern poets such as W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound and Emily Dickenson.
‘So if we're all in agreement,’ I said, ‘we’ll hereinafter confer the name Champs-Elysées as your home, or alternatively Elysian Fields, being the Anglo version. Be sure to tell all the folks there.’
‘To keep things simple,’ Mo said, ‘let's drop the champs/fields and go with Elysées, Elysian or Elysium, as you prefer. For my part I’ve always been more partial to Elysium, the more common Anglo version.’
‘Ever since I spent time in Paris several years ago,’ Eli said, ‘I grew accustomed to the French version, and so you may hear me sometimes pronounce it as Elysées. Some consider the name to be neo-pagan, which I suppose it is, having originated several thousand years ago in Greece.’
‘As venerated as the word has been through the ages,’ Mo said, ‘Homer's depiction was only a limited earth bound symbol that reflecting his times and environment. But, we may now expand that by thinking of Elysium as an ongoing higher vibratory state of expansion, rather than some locality beyond the blue. It seems very difficult for most humans to understand that. Still, the name carries an interesting pagan mystique that includes the seas and plains of earth and yet transcends the elements.’
‘Mystique; that’s what I want to hear more about, so tell me about these mysteries that lie within Elysium. Far beyond earth's seas and plains, what kinds of things do you amuse yourself with when you’re not confusing me here?’
 From Book 1 of The Odyssey
 Elysium, released in 2013; starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. The wealthy and powerful live on a gigantic space paradise called Elysium located in Earth's orbit.
Some Questions Regarding Elysium
Shortly after finding himself in an altered state of consciousness, James (the series hero/narrator) asks his other-worldly companions various questions about the afterlife. At first, some of his questions are on a bit on the facetious side since he never believed in any of this before he arrived on the Summit. In any case, many of these questions, and several more, are discussed throughout the series.
The following are some of the questions James askede, both serious and frivilous:
Okay, so if there's an afterlife, then tell me all about it? Do we still have bodies or do we drift around in the sky as amorphous clouds of consciousness. And if we have bodies, what would that be like? Do we need brains? If not, how would we think? Would we still look the same, but at what age? I always want to look my best, like now.
Are there cities, towns and villages? If so, what all goes on there? I prefer cosmopolitan like me.
Do we still have to work or do we just sit around by the pool side all day sipping pina coladas. Do we have residences to live in? Hopefully not somewhere in the clouds. I was hoping for something a bit more substantial. What are they like; same as here or are they all big honkin mansions like Hugh Hefner had. By the way, did he make it there? Because if he didn't, then I'm probably in big trouble too.
Are there businesses there; but then, why would there be if there's no economy? But if there is, would it be something capitalist like Adam Smith envisioned or socialist like Marx advocated? How about Porches, could I find myself a 911 to race on your autobahn there? What’s the preferred means of transportation? Or do we just fly around?
How about animals? If there are any, then what kinds – hopefully not reptiles, vicious animals, bugs and mosquitoes that bite – so how about puppies and kittens for children to play with? But then, are there any children there; perhaps the ones who die on earth? If so, do they remain children or do they get to grow up?
What about lifestyles? Who do I get to hang out with? What about sports? If I like to snow board, for example, do I still get to do that? Are there competitions where someone wins and everyone else loses? And sailing; are there oceans and seas to surf and sail on? If this turns out to be a long stay, what happens if I get bored? Turn off the switch for a few millennia?
What kind of music do they play there – all types? Hopefully it’s not all harps and elevator music. Is David Bowie still doing gigs?
Do we still eat and drink? If so, can I get whatever I want? How about wine or other alcoholic beverages? What if, just for the hell of it, I want to get wasted one night with my buddies; can I?
How big is the universe? Are there other beings out here like us? How many dimensions exist? And what’s time like there, if there’s such a thing? What about the Big Bang; is there anything to it? What’s God like; is he mean or is he nice. Or is he a she? Probably that's a stupid question.
Anyway, I'm curious, who got it right with religion, or did they all get it wrong? Does anyone even do religion there? But then what would be the point once you've made it, so to speak? What if I want to go back to earth to do this all over again; can I reincarnate. Not that I would want to. How about Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, Mary and all the others; do we get to meet them?
And how about the devil and all those bad-ass dudes that keep causing so many problems on earth? Is there a hell, and if so, who goes there? What must that be like; is it forever or just probation. Speaking of which; do we need to hang out with relatives we can’t stand? Are there any atheists there, especially the really militant ones like Dawkins – or do they go somewhere else not so nice? And what’s Christopher Hitchens writing these days, wherever he is – a retraction?
And oh, I almost forgot: here’s the big one – how about sex; do we still get to do that there? I'd really like to know. Or are we all androgynous – hopefully not. But if we’re still sexual, then how does that work if I’m no longer in a body? What about marriage; am I going to be stuck with the same woman? Or are there some more creative arrangements? – hopefully better than what we've come up with here?
These and several other questions are addressed and speculated on one way or another over the course of the series, meant to provoke our thoughts about life here and hereafter, since it's really all one life, only experienced as different stages.
Let me summarize this post with a couple of quotes by philosopher/scientist/mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), who claimed to have visited the afterlife domain almost daily for close to thirty years.
"This I can declare: things that are in heaven are more real than things that are in the world."
"Heaven is not located on high, but where the good of love is, and this resides within a person, wherever he or she might be."
For more information and quotes by Swedenborg, you may review what is contained in the "Quotes" post on this site.
THE SUMMIT is the first in a series of five Elysium’s Passage narrations regarding a young British philosopher named James Phillips who finds himself living in an altered state of reality while still remaining on earth.
After experiencing a near fatal fall while climbing to the summit of a remote mountain in the Andes, James awakens in a new dimension. He soon encounters two mysterious beings who provide him with a very different perspective on the nature of his existence. Over the next year, before his body recovers from the coma, he is challenged to re-examine his understanding about life’s meaning and purpose far beyond anything he previously believed, or could believe.
An engaging and sometime surreal adventure with intimations of impending romance, the narrative explores the most important questions about life, death, reality and our ultimate destiny.
The Plains of Elysium (Champs-Élysées) was described by Homer, Hesiod, Virgil and many other poets as the paradisiac afterlife realm reserved for heroes. As the title suggests, this is about a journey through a passage that leads towards Elysium’s exciting realm of existence.
To access all articles posted on this blog you may click on the link at: https://digitalbloggers.com/articles/elysiumspassage
Or go to the Elysium's Passage website at www.elysiumspassage.com and click MY BLOG
If you wish to read about the series' intriguing Back Story, I invite you to visit the Home Page of the website www.elysiumspassage.com where you may download the free eBook: HOW IT CAME.
PENDING PUBLICATIONS ELYSIUM’S PASSAGE SERIES
The Summit, will be available for purchase in March or April 2018. With the exception of the last novel, the other three have been written but still require more editing before publication.
The following titles in the Elysium's Passage series are projected to be released as follows:
THE SUMMIT early 2018
SURREAL ADVENTURES fall 2018
MYSTICAL ROMANCE spring 2019
THE ELIXIR fall 2019
THE RETURN sometime in 2020