According to legend, the Hydra was a nine-headed beast that guarded a gate to the Underworld. Hercules faced it as one of his Twelve Labors, and found that each time he managed to cut off one of the heads, two more sprang from the wound to replace it. Maybe worst of all, one of the heads was immortal and even Hercules could not destroy it completely.
This legend provides a great metaphor for the mythic journey into the inner condition, and the struggle involved in uncovering and liberating the self. The Hydra’s immortal head symbolizes the ongoing nature of the struggle, and the fact that we must, unavoidably, experience our fears and exhibit our dysfunctional behaviors in order to progress through them into wholeness.
That is the mythic path.
If you want to penetrate the Underworld of your being, you have to face the Hydra.
The Hydra can’t be killed. However bitter it may be to simply experience fear and insecurity, the real strength of these things, the real strength of the Hydra, is its ability to engage us forever, to keep us fighting at the entrance of the Underworld without ever going in.
As a symbol, the regenerating heads reveal the futility of responding with brute force to an encounter with insecurity. Too often we respond to our fears by attempting to bully ourselves through the experience. This lack of self compassion strengthens and invigorates the Hydra. To berate yourself for your insecurity is to feed the Hydra. To reject yourself in favor of the opinion of others is to feed the Hydra. To constantly give fresh battle to the heads of the beast helps the Hydra fulfill its mission: to prevent you from entering the underground of your being, and to keep your God self from entering the world.
We have to circumvent the power of insecurity and pain — the power of the Hydra. To do that we must experience these things, go through them, and keep going. You have to follow the trail of the Hydra back to its lair, to the source of its strength, in the Underworld.