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Psyche and Eros, Part 2

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It is recommended that you listen to the story first. To listen to the story, go here

Part 2: Psyche meets her fate, and so does Eros

“You will see a young woman atop Mount Aetna. Kill her,” Aphrodite tells her son, Eros. He flies off, obeying his mother without thought. 

Is this a case of blind obedience?

For the younger child, the parent is as a god, protecting and providing for the helpless little one until the little one grows up.  The process of growing up is difficult but made easier if the god slips into human mode, as he is supposed to do over time. The healthy parent learns to let go. For Eros, mama is a god. She has no human role to slip into. It will be Eros who will have to make the break from her. It will be Eros who will have to learn to say no to her demands. 

At this point in the story, Eros can be looked at as a young man with a job who still lives at home. Meaning, he’s immature, not yet a man. He will have to develop a firm resolve if he’s ever to “leave home.” To do so, he will need to broaden his experiences in life, to get out of Olympus to see how the humans live. He will need to suffer if he’s to experience the depth of humanity.

Aphrodite is a stand in for an extreme type of parent. There are those human parents that will ask their child to kill in their name. Think Mafia dons or political tyrants and you get the picture. Besides the material killings, inner or spiritual killings can do great harm. Psyche does represent the soul, therefore, Aphrodite is at war with the soul. She is asking Eros, the male god of love, to kill the soul. 

What does it mean when he refuses? When Eros releases his bow and then returns the poisoned arrow to the quiver, he commits an act of independence. After he sees Psyche for the first time, it takes only a few moments for him to decide what he wants and how he will get it. He makes a plan. It’s his first human act. Due to circumstances, he must implement his plan immediately. He’s growing up fast, going from obedient child to a young man in love in a matter of minutes. Before the day is out, Eros will provide for his wife, make love to her and set in motion a plan to keep his mother from knowing about his marriage. It may seem that he’s not entirely grown up since he doesn’t want to tell his mother about his wife. Not so. Aphrodite wanted Psyche dead. If Eros refuses to kill her, there are other gods and humans who will do the job. 

Psyche, expecting to be devoured by a monster, instead hears a very human like voice speak to her. This voice asks her to trust him. He doesn’t sound ominous, so Psyche continues to follow her destiny. This part of the story illustrates how the soul can become an active guide. We refer to it as intuition when we listen and follow our deepest selves. Psyche is rewarded for her trust. Eros provides everything: house, food and sexual pleasure. What more does a girl want?

Companionship. Psyche’s marriage is lopsided. The pair are like many young couples who have not matured into full relationships. Eros is gone all day working. Psyche doesn’t have enough to do. She doesn’t even know what her husband looks like. He’s a voice in the darkness. Their pleasure is purely tactile for her because she has not seen him. For the sake of Psyche’s protection, or so he thinks, Eros doesn’t allow her to fully participate in their marriage. Like many a wealthy husband, he doesn’t think beyond taking very good care of his wife. That fills his needs, not hers. 

Naturally, Psyche gets bored. She wants to go home to see her family, to let them know that she has not been eaten by some horrible monster. Eros agrees. When she arrives home, her family is overjoyed. Her parents do the wise thing; they don’t ask her too many questions. Her sisters, however, are curiosity unleashed. They ask every question and make every comment they can about this unseen husband. They get it, that while Psyche may be well cared for, until she knows and understands who her husband is, it’s not a real marriage. Like the snake in the Garden of Eden, Psyche’s sisters encourage her to discover the truth, to break out of her state of ignorance.

Psyche, by maintaining her ignorance, hangs on to her childhood. If she is to flourish, however, she must gain knowledge. She must bite into the apple. 

Her apple is a lamp. Once she returns home, she hides a lamp in her bedroom. Instead of falling asleep after her pleasure with Eros, Psyche opts to learn the truth. She wants to know exactly who she is married to, who she is sleeping with. 

Shouldn’t we always know who we are sleeping with? 

When Psyche looks at Eros, he awakes. He is disappointed that Psyche would no longer agree to stay in the dark. Here he betrays his own immaturity by leaving her immediately after she has seen him. He wants to keep things hidden, to not reveal himself. Eros is not quite ready for prime time. 

What is Eros afraid of? Of giving himself totally to Psyche. Eros was stuck in the “give” mode, he didn’t know how to receive graciously. Like the Godfather, who gave favors so that he could get what he needed later, Eros didn’t want to owe Psyche anything. He wanted her to be grateful. He didn’t want gratitude applied to him. But the soul needs fullness. It needs to give as well as take in. It needs trust. Eros did not trust Psyche with his secret. His love was for love, not for Psyche. What Eros didn’t understand is that he needed soul in his relationship. He needed to look this woman in her eyes in the midst of his passion so that she could return his adoration. 

Eros may be able to fly away, but he cannot leave the effects of a lopsided marriage behind him. He will suffer for his timidity. Psyche’s boldness turns to distress. Nothing here is unusual, for everyone stumbles on their way to providence. No one is exempt. Not even the gods. 

In our next analysis we will look at Psyche’s quest and Eros’ suffering. 



Written by lcrockett

July 25, 2013 at 10:51 pm

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