The Perception of Time
Through our limited eyes of duality, we can only perceive creation in developing itself through a linear, unidirectional flow: past, present and future; the divine mind reveals itself and then it conceals itself again.
No doubt that the less understood element of our reality is the concept of time. Being an intrinsic part of our living construct, time seems to be the most intangible and fleeting component of our lives. The dualistic matrix induces us to perceive reality through a framework which encompasses three dimensions of space and only one dimension of time. We can therefore only perceive, through our limited gauge of perception, a linear flux of time.
Nevertheless, through a metaphysical standpoint, immeasurable and infinite are the ways that the Universe organizes itself in order to continue to offer unlimited possibilities of perpetual unfolding and evolution. Through the many transpersonal and individualized understandings on the path of self–realization, one can recognize a quite diverse spectrum of experiences and finally realize the multidimensionality of and multi-directionality of time.
The ancients understood empirically the different aspects of Time and populated their imaginary with different archetypes and myths that help them understand the meandrous transitory aspects of time, creating an organized map for their own understanding.
The temporal structure of modern civilization usually employs a single word to mean “time”.
The Ancient Archetypes of Time
The God Chronos
Chronos was a God of pre-Hellenic mythology to whom was ascribed functions related to agriculture, but with a negative and sinister character. Acknowledged to be the first classic guardian of time; in Rome, he was known as Saturn. In Greek mythology, he was the youngest of six major Titans, being the son of Uranus (Heavenly sky) and Gaea, or Gaia, (the earth) and the Commander of the Titans. Annoyed with the fact that every time she had a son, the God Uranus returned him/her to her womb, Gaia conspired with one of her sons, Chronos against her husband.
Thus encouraged by his mother and helped by the brothers, the Titans, Chronos waited for his father to fall asleep and castrated him. Through this powerful act, he separated heaven from earth.
From the blood of Uranus that fell on Gaia, the Giants were born, then the Furies and the Meliae or Meliai. The Testicles of Uranus thrown overboard, formed a sperm-foam from whence sprang Aphrodite-Urania, the goddess of love.
Chronos proceeded to take the place of his father and married his sister, Rhea, becoming the first king of the Gods. Since then, the world was ruled by the bloodline of the Titans which, according to Hesiod, was the second divine generation of Gods.
He reigned during a period of prosperity known as the Golden Age of Earth. Nonetheless, his reign was threatened by a prophecy that said he would also be overthrown by one of his own sons.
Fearing the prophecy, Chronos also devoured all the children birthed by his wife Rhea; until one day Rhea, resentful of her husband’s ways, managed to save Zeus, her sixth child, hiding him in a cave on the island of Crete. She gave her husband a stone wrapped in a cloth to eat instead, which he devoured without realizing the difference.
When Zeus grew up, he took his place in the pantheon of the Gods after he, in turn, got rid of the Cyclops, his uncles, and in association with the Oceanidae Metis, goddess of wisdom, Styx and her children and Prometheus, son of the Titan Iapetus, the latter being also a child of Gaia and Uranus.
With the help of Métis magic potion, Zeus made Chronos vomit all the other brothers and sisters: Demeter, Hera, Hades, Hestia and Poseidon and the Dactyls , and expelled him from Olympus, banishing him with their allies, the Titans to Tartarus, a place of torment. As the father Chronos symbolized the regular dualistic time, by defeating him, Zeus became himself immortal and established the kingdom of the immortal Gods. Chronos reign over the linear time of our immediate reality and helps us organize our daily activities and calendars.
The God Kairos
In Greek mythology, Kairos (“the right time” or “appropriate” time) is the son of Chronos, and he is also the god of time and god of the seasons. The Greeks called Kairos the God of the existential time, or the internal time, with its transitory flow regulated by the emotional dimension of our beings. Kairos expresses the need to ordinate and organize past, present and future within our minds and souls. Many times we feel that an event that took place in the past is still relevant and influential in our present lives. These events exist in the construct of interior dimension of Kairos, not Chronos.
In Greek and Roman philosophies, it translates by the experience of the right moment, the perfect timing. The Pythagoreans called it Opportunity. Kairos is the time potential, eternal time, while Chronos is the duration of a movement, a cycle of life and creation, the fleeting moment.
Usually he was considered a minor child of Zeus and Tyche, but inside of the genealogy of the gods, Kairos seems to be associated with all of them as a manifestation of either: Kairos, and son of Zeus, Zeus may be the same; Kairos can be Chronos (Time) but also Aevum (Eternity); Kairos is Athena (Intelligence) and Eros (Love), even Dionysus can be Kairos.
The ancient Greeks had two words for time: Kairos and Chronos. While the former refers to chronological time, or sequential, time that is measured, the latter is an indeterminate moment in time in which something special happens, the experience of perfect or right timing. It is also used in theology to describe the qualitative form of time, “God’s time” while Chronos is quantitative, the “human time.”
In Christian theology, we can say that chromos, the “human time”, is measured in years, days, hours and its divisions. While the term kairos, which describes “God’s time”, cannot be measured, because “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.”
In monotheism, Kairos and Aevum become attributes of the one God, gathering ideas precedent of classical Greek philosophy.
The God Janus
Janus, the ambivalent Indo-European deity with two faces, one on each side of the head, was one of the earliest gods of Rome. He is a god that sort of incarnates a cosmological principal of time and of memory. Being considered a solar god, he was the patron of the daylight, as a guardian of the celestial doors of heaven. It was said through tradition that he was the creator of the civil laws, of spiritual ceremonies (especially of the beginning of them) and the cunning of coins-money. Originally, he was known as the god of gods and benevolent creator, he became the god of change and transitions such as the progression of past to future, of one condition to another, of one vision to another, and of one universe to another and young people’s growth to adulthood; along with all humans rites of passage.
He was god of the gateways and the presiding deity of the beginning of anything and everything. The function of ‘god of beginnings‘ has been clearly expressed in numerous ancient sources, among them most notably perhaps Cicero, Ovid and Varro. As a god of motion he looks after passages, causes actions to start and presides over all beginnings, and since movement and change are bivalent, he has a double nature, symbolized in his two headed image.
The opening month of the year (January, from janua, “gate”) was sacred to him, as was the first day of each month. He presided over the start and the vestals took care of the completion of any enterprise. In general, Janus is at the origin of time as the guardian of the gates of Heaven. Tradition says that Jupiter himself moves forth and back because of Janus’s working. He ruled the birth of gods, the cosmos, mankind and its undertakings. As warden of gates, which he opened and closed, he was depicted with a doorkeeper’s keys and staff. His two faces meant that he watched entrances as well as exits, and saw into the internal as well as the external world, left and right, above and below, before and after, for and against. His shrines were archways, such as gateways or arcades at crossing places.
 The Curetes or Dactyls were the five guardians of Zeus as a newborn in the cave Dictate and quietly took care of clashing their weapons and dancing to Cronus, so he would not hear the cries of the child he would want to devour.
 In the myth of Janus, it is said he was the first God to be mentioned in highly religious and spiritual ceremonies, and in this aspect is much like the Indian God Ganesha.