The mythological story of Eros and Psyche is one of my favorites; it’s a great reminder of the many obstacles the soul must overcome to find true love.
Eros, the god of love, is one of the primordial gods involved in the creation of the Cosmos, although he was later portrayed as Cupid (or “desire”), a son of Venus, the goddess of sensual love.
As the story goes, Venus is jealous of Psyche, a young princess who is so beautiful her admirers honor her instead of the goddess. She sends her son to make her fall in love with something hideous. However, Cupid accidentally pokes himself with one of his magic arrows and falls in love with her.
He takes her to a luxurious grove where she spends her days alone (taken care of by spirits) and becomes his lover at night. Cupid makes her promise not to look at him and always leaves before the break of dawn. When Psyche realizes she is pregnant, she pleads to have her sisters visit, to which he reluctantly agrees.
Seeing the splendor she lives in, the sisters are envious and want to undermine their relationship. They convince her that she needs to uncover her lover’s identity for he is a monster that will eat her and her baby up. When Cupid falls asleep one night, she grabs a lamp and a dagger she’s kept hidden.
Once the light reveals the most beautiful man she’s ever seen, she is surprised and disoriented; she accidentally pokes herself with one of his arrows and spills oil on his body. Startled by this, he realizes he’s been betrayed and flies away; the young woman tries to follow him, but finds herself alone at the bank of a river.
Now Psyche is harrowed by the loss of her love and the guilt of violating his trust. After unsuccessfully pleading with her favorite goddesses, she concludes she must serve Venus to redeem herself and find Cupid. The jealous goddess is thrilled to have her under her power and first sends her maids Grief and Anxiety to torture her.
The Dark Night of the Soul
Then she commands the love-impregnated mother to accomplish three difficult tasks. During each venture a hopeless Psyche wants to give up an die, but she receives divine guidance and help to keep going. Her last task consists in journeying through the underworld to bring Venus a dose of Proserpina’s beauty in a golden box.
Once again, she is divinely protected and given instructions to navigate the darkness of the underworld while avoiding some ominous and ferocious creatures. She finally meets Proserpina, the queen of the underworld, who graciously grants her what she needs. Curious, she opens the box hoping to enhance her own beauty, only to find an infernal sleep that immobilizes her into a stupor.
Cupid, who’s been recovering from his injury at his mother’s abode, flies out to awaken Psyche and put the sleep back in the box. He carries her to present the box to Venus and asks Jupiter, the king of gods, to convene a divine assembly to witness his sacred union with Psyche. During their luscious wedding ceremony, Psyche is given the ambrosia of immortality to become his equal and grows butterfly wings in that process. Soon after she gives birth to Voluptas (or Hedone in Greek), the personification of joyful pleasure.
Psyche is the Greek word for “soul” or “breath” (of life), so from a spiritual perspective this story symbolizes the journey of the incarnated individual soul: Psyche is a mortal who reaches divine stature once she goes through her own metamorphosis. Although the soul is truly infinite, being in a physical body entails a sensory perception of life that limits the awareness of our divinity. However, the driving force pulling toward this higher awareness is love.
Love falls in love with the soul and the soul falls in love with Love because they’re really one and the same Divine Consciousness, differentiated only by the human ego coloring our individual experience and the capacity for inner transformation. Psyche’s journey through the underworld reflects what is often referred to as the dark night of the soul, the death and rebirth you must go through to become self-aware—that is, aware of your true, divine nature.
Self-awareness yields self-love and self-love is reflected in your reality and interactions with others as well. The story of Psyche and Eros is a great reminder that the love you spend so much time seeking outside can only be found within you—through your own butterfly-like metamorphosis. If you’re ready to transform your reality or take your awareness to a deeper level, contact me today and start living a soul-guided life!
© 2015 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.
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