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To embrace the eternal-Psyche and Eros, part 3

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To hear the story first, so that you will know what I write about, go here. Image

Psyche, the beautiful, the beloved of husband and parents, she who has been given everything that heaven and earth can offer, tosses it all away in the name of a curiosity that must be satisfied. When Psyche raises that lamp to gaze on her husband’s face, she takes the next step towards fulfilling the destiny she has carved out for herself. It is at this moment that she continues her journey up the mountain. Psyche is on her way to an elevation that she does not foresee.

How many of us, when we seemingly had everything, have lost it all to a disastrous decision? Did you begin life as a “golden child” only to find yourself caught up in “circumstances beyond control?” Worldly goods or innate talent, or being the favorite of your parents, to have it all and to not lose it at some point is a sure fire way to the life Thoreau described as one led in “quiet desperation.”
The way out of such a life is to take the hero’s journey.

Psyche isn’t tossed from her palatial home. She leaves it. Like every hero who takes their proverbial journey, it is taken up willingly. Deliberately, Psyche next seeks out her enemy, the goddess Aphrodite. We can say of Psyche, as the thug said of Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, “You take chances, mister.”

Psyche takes chances so that she may learn from the goddess how to overcome the shortcomings that got her into her fix. For every one who would take the journey, learning from one’s enemies is an important part of the process. An enemy may be out to kill you, Aphrodite wanted Psyche dead, but if you can survive their plans, you’ve won a great victory. Aphrodite, for her part, is in no mood to be understanding for Eros lies sick, indeed, he may die. His disappointment in Psyche nearly kills him. This state of affairs represents many things, including the idea that the male is sensitive. He’s not only about sex and macho pursuits. Men feel deeply, they just don’t show it. For it is usually men who are given to suicidal thoughts and actions when they are devastated by love gone bad.

Which means that Psyche has unleashed quite the storm on the material plain, for if Eros dies then erotic love dies. Male and female would copulate only for the physical pleasure of making babies. What a dreary world that would be! The soul, which longs to be satisfied as much as the body does, needs erotic love. Psyche, then, cannot survive if Eros doesn’t. Psyche has clarity here. Whatever Aphrodite commands, Psyche will obey.

The first three tasks given to Psyche, the temple grains, the golden wool and the magic water, Psyche accomplishes with the help of nature. The ants who organize the grain, the river who warns her of the deadly sheep and the eagle who retrieves the water for her, these elements of the land, water and air represent nature protecting Psyche from the harsh Aphrodite.

What does it mean that the ant, the river and the eagle take up Psyche’s cause? That nature cooperates with us, with humanity. Recall the beginning of the story when Aphrodite cursed all of nature when she found out about Psyche. All of nature was touched by her destructive edict. Human beings are a part of the natural world, therefore, I will suggest that the ant, the river and the eagle helped one of their own to overcome the goddess. The second meaning is that our natural selves help our souls to develop since our souls reside in this mortal, physical body. We feel this when we get that high from physical exertion. Even when our bodies deny us mobility through pain or disease, we feel that triumph when we overcome the effects to live a full life.

What does the fourth and final task mean? For one, we see how Aphrodite must now conspire with her counterpart in nature: death. The Queen of the Underworld, who gives Psyche the box of beauty, is the degeneration of Mother Nature. All is dark, all is waiting, there is nothing to achieve in the underworld, except the waiting. This is the “nothing” we learned of from The Never Ending Story.

It is at this point of the story that we know that Aphrodite has figured out the human soul is ever curious. The soul must know things if it is to grow, to expand, to rise up toward the stars. It is this understanding that places Psyche in mortal danger. For here is how our devils tempt us. Inwardly. Psyche, the curious one, cannot help but open the lid of the box to see what beauty looks like. Perhaps a little of that beauty will help the, by now fatigued, Psyche look a little better? Yes, the most beautiful woman in the world can have a moment of doubt! A fatal one.

Only a prince can wake Psyche from her “beauty sleep.” Now we see where those writers of such stories as Sleeping Beauty and Snow White got their material. We also get, from Eros’ determination to find his missing lover, where such lines as “Love conquers all,” and Shakespeare’s “The course of true love never did run smooth,” come from. From this couple, lovers eternal who will fight for their relationship.

The two important ideas to take away from this story is that one, we need to take the hero’s journey to fully develop our soul, and two, when human beings love, the soul must engage. Enlightened erotic love is soulful, and everlasting. Those who long for their “soulmate” are on the right path. This is, however, not a sentimental issue. For the soulmate, one must be prepared to risk all, even to the death. This is how a coupling is lifted out of the mundane world into the realm of the eternal. In marriage, Aphrodite, aka our natural instincts, is recognized and given her due. This balance with nature and the soul helps us lead the measured life, one with passion and reason engaged.

The ending of the story brings us to the issue of eternal life, where Psyche is taken to Olympus to live as a goddess in her own right. Mythology, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Pagan, et cetera, gives us the idea of eternal life. Myths, I will argue, speak to us beyond the word “belief” and address that which we term “inner knowledge.” Do you know that life goes on and on? Is this your gnosis? Then this myth, Psyche and Eros, is a guide for you to gain further insights on how to elevate your inner being, your soul. It is your physical self with your psyche firmly engaged that will take the hero’s journey. During this journey, when you love, you will engage the soul as well as the body. For to engage the soul in love, is to embrace the eternal.

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Written by lcrockett

December 17, 2013 at 4:23 pm