The Odyssey: Adventure Story or Coded Message?

This mosaic from the A.D. 300S illustrates an episode from the Odyssey

And as equally astounding to historians and traditionalists as Wilkens’s placing of the Trojan War in England is his assertion that the Odyssey does not tell the story of a legendary voyager but rather imparts directions to sea traders and initiation instructions for Gnostic mysteries. Simply put, Wilkens asserts that the Odyssey was a coded message for traders of the time. The author painstakingly examines Homer’s work, trying to reconcile its descriptions with the traditional Mediterranean theater. And just as frustratingly as in the examination of the Iliad, the words and maps don’t match up. Odysseus, for instance, Homer says, was adrift nine days with a strong wind blowing east to west. Traditional translations of Homer would have Odysseus still in the Mediterranean. Not so, charges Wilkens. The math doesn’t add up. Also inconsistent are descriptions of landmarks and their traditionally prescribed geographical values. Homer’s description of the Land of the Laestrygonians exactly matches the description of the entrance to the port of Havana.

But on to the coded messages. Almost everyone is familiar with the story of the Cyclops, the one-eyed monster whom Odysseus fools by hiding under a ram. Wilkens asserts that the one-eyed monster was none other than a volcano. When Odysseus sailed from the Land of the Lotus-Eaters, he turned west. Why? He was following the zodiacal patterns of the sky. Aries (the Ram) is in the west. Sailors of that time used the stars as their guide. Wilkens argues that the story of the Cyclops was a coded message telling traders the location of a volcanic island to the west of Senegal. The land of the Cyclops is the island of Fogo in the Cape Verde archipelago.

Why do this? Trade at that time was fierce. In the first part of his book, Wilkens argues that the Trojan War was fought over trading rights and sea supremacy in the North Atlantic. This was the Bronze Age. Bronze needed tin, and 90 percent of the world’s tin was to be found in Cornwall. So, traders would have had to go to Cornwall to get their tin. Competition over other commodities was also fierce; and the Celts, who were a protective society to begin with, wanted to keep their secrets. The Odyssey, then, is a large set of shipping instructions that, like the Biblical book of Revelation, could be read by anyone but understood by a select few. Someone who wasn’t clued in would see the seemingly random adventures of a war hero as he sails his way home. But a trader in the know would read in Homer the strategies needed to further the trade at the expense of the unknowing.

This concept was also to be found in Mystery admission rites. Homer tells us that Odysseus “dies” or is near death. A near-death experience is a requirement for initiation into the Mystery cult. Wilkens asserts that reading this tale of Odysseus would inspire acolytes to prepare and undergo their own near-death experience as a means to the end of initiation.

Wilkens returns to etymology, which he so convincingly used in placing Troy at Cambridge, in placing Hades in the Netherlands. He finds in present-day Holland several places that still bear exactly or very nearly the same names that Homer mentions. Hades is today’s island of Walcheren. Why? Walcheren is cognate with the German Walkuren, the handmaidens of Odin who are in English known as the Valkyries. They accompanied the dead into the world beyond. Nearby is the Island of Aeaea, home of Circe, which corresponds to modern-day Schouwen, in southwest Holland. These are just a sampling of the detective work that the author does.

As with Part I of Where Troy Once Stood, Wilkens in Part 2 offers a convincing argument against historical tradition–if the reader is willing to listen. Too many times, historians are taught and continue to believe what the majority believes, regardless of available facts to the contrary. In this fascinating book, Iman Wilkens encourages the reader to take another look at something he thought he knew. The proof is in the putting off of blind obediance.