Researched Author: Sir Godfrey Gregg GCO, ROMC
The Personal Transformation of Agagnorisis
Anagnorisis refers to a very specific kind of personal transformation.
In early Greek drama, it represented the point in the story when a character learns a profound truth that causes all misleading illusions to dissolve. Nothing is left but real self and the world as it truly is. This is best illustrated in Sophocles’ famous tragedy Oedipus Rex. When Oedipus learns of his true parentage, the sinful side of his greatness is revealed. He is no longer the same man. He can’t be. Truth has changed him to the core. His vision is so clear, in fact, that he blinds himself to the shame that he cannot accept.
The Mystical Court, the concept of Anagnorisis is not one of tragedy but of liberation and positive rebirth. It is a change of perception, a change of consciousness itself, brought about when our hero’s journey, our personal quest for truth, is sufficiently able to jar us from the trap of illusion induced complacency. We become more alive. We see things differently. The lure of following the crowd loses its power. Illusions no longer appeal as they did before. It is like seeing the world for the very first time, in all its struggling beauty, majesty and dreadful challenges. It also reveals the baseness of life that we must contend with, and hopefully turn around. It brings with it a pause button of sorts, which empowers us to slow things down, see them more clearly and reflect on their significance.
This change can be sudden and dramatic, or gradual. Sadly, for those who are not open to the possibility, who are addicted to the constant stream of distractions that mollify us, it may not come at all.
Jesus once said that “the truth will make you free.” He also spoke about rebirth, of being “born again.” Powerful words. While Christian dogma may apply they meaning differently, Anagnorisis reflects their simplest, experiential meaning. Anagnorisis is not a matter of faith limited to true believers, It is a matter of direct experience available to us all. It is a turning point that substantially changes the progress of one’s quest. One’s commitment to life is no longer superficial.
It is the process of the quest, and the confrontation with mystery, that leads to this transformation.