"Once upon a time, I Chuang-tzu, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. . .Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now butterfly dreaming I am a man."
The butterfly is the universal symbol for Psyche. Like a butterfly struggling to get out of the chrysalis, each of us is struggling to emerge from the undifferentiated into the individuated, the spontaneous image-making of the soul.
In Greek mythology, Psyche is the deification of the human soul. She was portrayed in ancient mosaics as a goddess with butterfly wings. She embodies the psychic states experienced on the threshold between consciousness and unconsciousness, a pathwhich involves a return to the unconscious of nature and our nature. Psyche consists essentially of images and the vital activities taking place within us.
“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection. To round itself out, life calls not for perfection but for completeness; and for this the “thorn in the flesh” is needed, the suffering of defects without which there is no progress and no ascent.” (C. G. Jung, CW, Vol. 12, para. 208)
She is an autonomous force that demonstrates our existence is more than physical, a symbol of transformation emerging from the boundless domain of the deep unconscious, an underworld that is dark, murky, and fraught with unknown, liminal forces. Within the liminal state an integration of new knowledge occurs which requires a reconfigation.
Just as a butterfly experiences a metamorphosis, so the psyche may experience transformations that can be be lived through with awareness of social, psychological and spiritual significance. Our self-mythology is tied to our experience of the universal substrate of the collective unconscious.
Myth remains relevant to the contemporary psyche. Like Psyche we may go through a major transition and crisis leading to the emergence of our potential, where the necessity of fate meets the destiny structured by our environment and opportunities.
We are thrust into the liminal position by the colliding pressure between two worlds - conscious and unconscious. It describes our disorientation in a movement through liminal space and time opening strange spaces into which the unconscious can flood. The liminal world enables our experience of the numinous.
Liminal states unite opposing unconscious forces operating through the transcendent function. Jung (1964) described the gradual suspension of ego functioning that allows the unconscious to emerge as individuation, while also emphasizing the need to return to the world.
Liminality finds a place in the everyday world, for example, in expressive arts, and the liminality of the creative state, between the objective world and the realm of imagination and art. Liminality also comes through depression, loss of persona, or other major life transitions and their psychological phenomena.
But, what happens when we lose what appears to be our “everything” and do not know what to do next in the absence of tangible and cultural signifiers? When we feel that we are anxiously floating inbetween we are in the liminal space. We may or may not notice, as the liminal is actually the sub-liminal, between conscious and unconscious, primary and secondary process thinking.Transitions shake things up. Will we survive the transition from the old to new state?
Will we come through breakdowns and breakthroughs and be transformed, or will we die or even just imagine we do? The caterpillar is dissolved back into its primordial state. This “liminality” is an experience of intense non-being, a prelude to psychophysical transformation.
We don't know if it's the tomb or womb of rejuvenation but the end of the cycle is mirrored in the beginning. Metaphorically, death and new life are always emerging. As with liminality, much of the imagery of individuation expresses the themes of birth and rebirth. Liminal spaces auger a rebirth.
The liminal is also archetypal situations and experiences. Reality and identity are challenged in a world of disorder, senselessness and madness. Between world and psyche is a quasi-subjective.space of ambivalent nature.At first, we find ourselves in the dark. Liminality bridges the gap between the subjective world of the psyche and the objective world of (seemingly) external phenomena of identity, belonging, and anxiety. We have to let go to enter liminal space.
The cocoon, a radical transformation in the dark, is a metaphorical threshold, a halfway position, a zone of betweenness, a location or position or status that “falls between the cracks. This is also the zone of emergent creativity, between our old comfort zone and as-yet-unknown solutions. Liminal themes include uncertainty, initiation, and religious experience, ultimately suggesting a move toward a hidden but genuine spiritual response to the questions of psychic and cultural fragmentation.
It can also mean the transition stages between sleep and wakefulness. In the world of dreams and nightmares we definitely leave behind the model-dependent reality of everyday life. But even our waking state is bounded by a vague penumbra of the unknown, altered states, dissociations, traumatic stress, and anomalous realities.
This Lunar consciousness is ambiguous and paradoxical realities that seep into us from the ragged edges of experience, the edge of chaos and order. In liminality, there is substantial distance between the adaptive persona and personal preferences.
We begin ignoring cultural demands, question our essence, lack a sense of self, and rely on new external identifications while we work toward establishing a new persona. Identity hangs in suspended anmation. Archetypal energies such as the Victim, Persecutor, Child, or Hero may be present in the liminal space for us to follow deeper. The potential innovation has deep emotional implications for those who experience this crossing.
Our organic inquiry incorporates archetypal experiences, both transcendent and immanent, spontaneous and intentional, liminal and spiritual–experiences that are beyond ego. The borderland stateis required to simultaneously maintain stability and induce transformation. We feel compelled to cross the liminality for the sake of psyche, though we are somehow aware of the risk and the danger involved.
Rituals and symbolic forms foster and channel such crossings in order to reach new configurations. Innovations take place in liminal space. New and different ideas emerge, new knowledge of the world is introduced. Novelty emerges through free recombination of familiar elements with non-familiar elements. The liminal area is a space of many virtual possibilities and potential opportunities,the raw material from which the psyche of all of humanity is drawn.
Liminal space is characterized by instability, by a blurred space-time distinction and by ambiguities. What occurs in liminal space is intense affect. This is the setting and activation of liminality processes that lead to novelty and creativity and enable the creation of new narratives. Narrating is an ongoing process of sensemaking implying bordering and liminality.
A totally different reality that has as much validity lurks behind our normal existence. Liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rites. This is different from shamanic initiation because the unconscious emerges spontaneously in everyday reality through extraordinary synchronicities, significances, and psychic events -- beyond what we normally recognize as 'reality.'. Life-changing events yank us out of our ordinary trance state from one order of reality to another.
Our psyche is reflected, portrayed in the world around us. Humanity is collectively facing James Hillman's dilemma in The Soul's Code, “I can no longer be sure whether the psyche is in me or whether I'm in the psyche…”
Soul is at the heart of the world. The world soul is, according to several systems of thought, an intrinsic connection between all living things on the planet, which relates to our world in much the same way as the soul is connected to the human body. So, personal grief extends into grief for the living world and loss of the sacred and the wild world. What we are losing cannot be regained.
“The psyche is not only a personal problem but a world problem...Nowadays we can see as never before that the peril which threatens all of us comes not from nature but from man, from the psyche of the individual and the mass. The psychic aberration of man is the danger. Everything depends upon whether or not our psyche functions properly. If certain persons lose their heads, a hydrogen bomb will go off.” MDR p. 132
Our suffering and healing is mutually entangled. Chellis Glendinning writes, “To open our hearts to the sad history of humanity and the devastated state of the Earth is the next step in our reclamation of our bodies, the body of our human community, and the body of the Earth.” Thus, we directly experience the soul of the world, the anima mundi and her seamless embrace, unmediated instinctual intimacy with the living world.
Our collective planetary society is undergoing an analogous unprecedented transition. Our pain and outrage at the sad state of the world, (pollution, extinctions, overpopulation, not to mention man's inhumanity to man), may be her weeping the cumulative grief of the world through us. We tend to interpret the emptiness as a failure of our personality not a hollowness arising from the missing birdsongs, rich tones, saturated tastes, and ephemeral scents of by-gone eras.
“Psyche is the mother of all our attempts to understand Nature,” Jung wrote. "Psyche is image," as Jung says. Psyche, according to Hillman, is the spirit that has "afterlife, cosmic issues, idealistic values, hopes, and universal truths.
We can create our own unique image of ourselves and, in so doing, rediscover our essential nature. Heraclitus said, “One would never discover the limits of psyche, should one traverse every road–so deep a logos does it possess." Like the butterfly, psyche hovers between the material world and the abstract sky of spirit.
The Greek word psyche literally means "spirit, breath, life or animating force". Hillman says, you cannot kill a god or a goddess, or an archetype. They will come again in a different form. The butterfly goddess continues to surface in the psyche, which means butterfly, It hides in fragments of myths and fairy tales, the transition, liminality, chaos, and change of our ordinary lives.
Hillman considers the “dark night of the soul” the death experience of an old pattern, or lifestyle, as the new way of living that is gasping to be born, the soul crawling towards transformation like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, always grounded in the impersonal and unknowable depths of the psyche.
In emergence from the caterpillar state, there is continuity between the caterpillar and the butterfly. They need each other for their different states. Psyche and body are clearly interdependent, concerned with imaginal inner others already present in potentia.
In Reenchantment of Everyday Life, Thomas Moore says to “never forget that 'analysis' means loosening, and the 'psyche' means butterfly, a beautiful but elusive being that should be glimpsed in flight but never pinned down." So, psychoanalysis means, 'letting the soul go free.'
A living and responsive world, the concept of anima mundi is the world as body of God, a turn-around from concepts of matter and nature as dead and exploitable, the aliveness of the world. Psyche, far from being exclusively human, pervades the cosmos. Through death, which is an organic and symbolic part of life, she is born into eternal life by undergoing tests, purifications, death, resurrection, and ascension.
“Death is the translation of life into soul,” Hillman wrote in Animal Presences. Psyche is both mortal and immortal. Psyche archetype is connected with psychic sensitivity, especially towards the mind and feelings of another, but also with being able to feel and communicate with nature and the natural flow of life and time.
The soul’s separation from nature is an illusion of the mind. Rather, the soul generates images unceasingly. The soul lives on images and metaphor. These images form the basis for our consciousness. All we can know comes through images, through our multi-sensory perceptions. So this soul always stays close to the body, close to corporeality, to what "matters."
The caterpillar is literally re-membered into a butterfly. We all carry the seeds of our potential deep within the soul. During disintegration, such as a crisis, illness, or midlife transition, memory is stirred and activates the process of individuation, of "psychic growth" gradually results in "a wider and more mature personality" (Jung & Von Franz, 1964, p. 161). Soul, therefore, carries the same transformational elements as that of the caterpillar, which bursts from its death-tomb, with brilliant-colored wings, ready to take flight, ecstatically living and expressing the full power of its new life.
Double Healix Let the images come into your body. Embrace the image. To heal the mind-body split we need a view of reality that eliminates the dichotomy of "in here" in this separate body vs. "out there" in the alien, external world. Hillman defines soul as a "perspective rather than a substance," the immaterial part of us that actuates individual life: that which is responsible for our thoughts and feelings; the seat of the soul.
Psyche is our soul-guide, our daimon. Dialog, dreams, fantasies, expressive arts, and symbols are suggested by the deeper, uncensored levels of the psyche. Autonomous psyche in its self-generative glory is cultivation of imaginal feedback.
Soul refers to the rich and baffling dualistic drama that is played out moment by moment within each of us. Incompatible instincts assail us, inexplicable shifts in mood, conflicting desires and sudden revulsions, puzzling dreams, hallucinations and fantasies, etc.
Soul designates the fields or patterns of transhuman archetypal ideas, emotions and actions in which each of us is immersed from birth. Psyche is also a pilgrim, compelled toward love and wisdom through circumstantial pains, getting stuck and unstuck, her wings burnt by the flames of Eros.
These universal psychological patterns enfold us long before they begin appearing in our individual identities. In our instinctual longing for reunion, Hillman writes, “the soul becomes operative in converting it into a Thou—making soul of objects, personifying, anthropomorphosing, turning into a partner the object with which it is engaged and which it has implanted soul."
For Jung, Psyche refers to the totality of all psychic forces, totality or processes, conscious as well as unconscious. Soul is more restricted to a "function complex" or partial personality, like anima, animus, or soul-image. Psyche presents itself in, and is reflected upon by images, thoughts, language, feelings, lacunae, symptoms, dreams, the totality of conscious and unconscious processes -- protomental and psychoid, a plurality of vision, with an acceptance of the fluidity of the psyche. Jung said, “A kind of fluid interpenetration belongs to the very nature of all archetypes."
Hillman's tried to restore psyche to "its proper place" in psychology. He sees the soul at work in imagination, fantasy, myth and metaphor. He also sees soul revealed in psychopathology, in the symptoms of psychological disorders. Love that leads to psyche is not bound by human concerns and conditions. It is both active and receptive. It comes in to life as a grace, so that, like Psyche of the tale, one has a relationship to love itself.
Hillman reminds us that we don't have nearly as much to do with psycho-spiritual encounters as we think we do. Divine experiences, like mathematical equations and musical notes, exist apart from the human brain. Psychic phenomena come to us and through us, but not from us.
"As a connecting link, or traditionally third position, between all opposites, the soul differs from the terms which it connects...It is not life that matters, but soul and how life is used to care for soul." (James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology, pp. 174-175)
“The caterpillar dies so the butterfly could be born. And, yet, the caterpillar lives in the butterfly and they are but one. So, when I die, it will be that I have been transformed from the caterpillar of earth to the butterfly of the universe.” (John Harricharan)
The significance of the butterfly symbolizes the ability to cross into the Otherworld, transformation and creation. The ancient Egyptians were fascinated by the caterpillar as emblematic of reincarnation. and Mummification rituals were likely developed as a symbolic creation of the cocoon. Ancient Greeks were inspired by their transformation to placed representations of butterflies in their tombs.
Because of its metamorphic capacity for changing form, the caterpillar symbolically can represent individuation, transformation, development, and growth. This psychic journey transforms old ways, attitudes, patterns of thought. When old behaviors and values yield to a new sense of inner life, psychic reality comes forth, emerging like the butterfly.
The conscious personality, or ego, attends to this process through creative introversion. Thus, the caterpillar’s retreat into the dark and silence of the cocoon has been seen as a model for quiet withdrawal, spiritual focus and meditation. In dreams, the caterpillar can be an image for a transition, characterized by the death of the old and the birth of new patterns of conduct and attitudes.
Jung suggested that our core issues "must be understood, ultimately, as the suffering of a soul which has not discovered its meaning." He does not rule out suffering, only the meaninglessness of life against which our denial, repression, and defenses struggle. We can understand our lives and instincts more deeply through archetypal phenomenology, including the the interaction of love and suffering of eros (feeling life) and pathos.
Soulful love is a spiritual path. Most of us have suffered the pathos, confusion and pain, trust and betrayal, jealousy, need for power, loss of identity, erotic fantasy, and even co-dependence. They are born from both our dysfunction and deep longing for authenticity. "Creative life always stands outside convention." (Jung, CW 17, Para 305).
Hillman called this suffering pathos. Existence is, not a problem to be solved, but a pathos to be deepened into in search of insight. Archetypal psychology is a psychology of value, a life-affirming pathos based on eternal return.
Confusion, symptoms, pathos, and complexes are the very things that connect us to soul, to core self-knowledge. Hillman called pathos, “the spiritual component of love or the erotic component of spirit,” and considered it “the longing towards the unattainable, the ungraspable, the incomprehensible.” Psyche-pathos-logos is the “speech of the suffering soul” or the soul's suffering of meaning. Your former life still seems to exist, but you can't get back to it. You feel panic, guilt, bewilderment. Pathos comes in waves, breaking over us in visceral sensations, delivered with a striking emotional intensity. It befalls us as a necessity and we must suffer and endure it.
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. . I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world ...
Hillman sees the soul at work in imagination, in fantasy, in myth and in metaphor. He also sees soul revealed in psychopathology, in the symptoms. In Greek, pathos is a changeable quality, but especially concerns extreme grief, misfortune, or distress: appetite, anger, fear, confidence, envy, joy, love, hate, longing, jealousy, pity, in general.
We suffer what befalls us. Pathos inspires us to overcome the suffering and sorrow. "The pathos of things" is also "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", awareness of impermanence, or transience of things, and a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.
Etymology - Greek páthos suffering, sensation, akin to páschein to suffer. ... the quality or power, esp in literature or speech, of arousing feelings of pity, sorrow, etc. ... a feeling of sympathy or pity: a stab of pathos. "suffering, feeling, emotion, calamity," literally "what befalls one," related to paskhein "to suffer," pathein "to suffer, feel," penthos "grief, sorrow;" from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer." ...
When the dam of repression breaks, a surge of torrential tears erupts like a profound deluge, releasing the grief repressed for so long. Some weep like their eyes would drop from their sockets but grieving openly returns us to a more natural mode; it is less personal and more universal, more self-compassionate, and heartful.
Working with myth, we embody the passion and the pathos of Isis as she seeks to recover the remains of her husband Osiris. We take on Parcival's quest for the Grail. We labor with Hercules and travel with Odysseus into the archetypal islands of inner and outer worlds. Depth psychology in particular must stay close to the appearance of pathos, wistfulness, longing, and loss, which cannot be separated from soul, but is unbound to clinical vision.
It requires that we undertake the extraordinary journey -- the descent into ourselves -- patheia meaning "feeling, perception, passion, affliction, experience". With access to the unconscious, pathos and lament become fulfillment.
We are touched and moved by our pathos. This emotion is pathos. Grief and despair primarily tend to the giving up of breath, the weakening of resolution and control, and the use of minor inflections, and even outcries. Giving up of breath is a giving up of soul - soul loss or depression, the dark night.
An archetypal viewpoint provides an alternative perspective on the pathos present within the imaginal realm. The engendering process re-invokes previous images, memories, dreams, and reflections, imbuing intense pathos with new meaning and significance for those who mourn.
A lament or lamentation is a passionate expression of grief, often in music, poetry, or song form. The pathos of grief is the saga of a broken heart. Pathos is the most difficult emotion to express because it sinks into despair, weakness, and self-loathing with its own rhythms of intensity, throbbing pain, and giving way to tenderness. Even deep in the pathos, the heart always demands some rest in spite of the darkness, and because of the hope.
The grief is most often born of regret, or mourning. Laments can also be expressed in a verbal manner, where the participant laments about something they regret or someone they've lost, usually accompanied by wailing. We learn to treasure our tears and fill our lungs with breath and meaningful vocalizations as the foundation of self-expression.
It can include symbolic discourse of the living with the dead, including loved ones not named so dead to our ears and formal utterance. Grief and the pathos account for the specially plaintive element in some music identified as “soul.” In pathos, our's becomes an archetypal life. We learn to follow our uncertainty.
There is a symmetry in pathos, paradox, and poetics from which self-compassion emerges through the pitch and range of voice. Extreme transitions are marked by movement, tone-color, extreme pitch, and long inflections. Key and range contain emergent power in the act of being.
Right use of power implies sympathetic co-ordination and control by voluntary and involuntary forces. Symbolic and verbal resonance supports strength of voice, which comes from the amount of 'breath' in the lungs, articulation and volume of the tone. Retained breath expresses depth of feeling.
It requires the extraordinary task of dying to our current, local selves and of being reborn to our eternal selves. A psychology with a mythic or sacred base demands that we have the courage both to release the limitation brought about by old wounds and toxic bitterness and to gain access to the undiminished self with its vast inner storehouse of capacities. Consciousness is direct experience which has an intimate connection with pathos; the emotional awareness.
Prostration might go beyond pathos and reach total shock or unhinging of the mental mechanism, which remove from it the power to again act at all. This extremity of condition being the completely broken and irrecoverable, passes out of the consideration of the functional action of mind.
We can then use these capacities to prepare ourselves for the greater agenda--becoming an instrument through which the source may play its great music. Passion (drive) and pathos are reflected in the fact that if the creative spirit isn’t served, we can even become physically ill. Images, ideas and inspirations cry out to become manifested. Order or form yearns to be born from chaos; and those very acts of creation breed destruction of old systems.
We cannot cure and eradicate pathos, or discard old myths for replacement with a new ones. Individual telos finds its expression through our vocation, our calling. Recognition of fate is not fatalism. We have a latent purpose but may fail to recognize it, however, its literalization into definite, overriding goals must be avoided. Hillman says to follow the image is to discover the “telos,” direction of the soul’s path, its destiny. This telos is also clearly illuminated in the body, which is also a metaphorical field.
Psychic events have a telos or integral aspect. We sense their purpose is therapeutic. Imagination bridges body and soul — the material beating heart and the imaginal heart. Looking or seeing through events and things to their imaginal image is not a method, but a way of living. Subjective perspectives deepen vision, reflection, rhetoric, values, and ideas. The telos, the inner direction and goal has been to reconnect with the cosmos in a mature participation mystique.
Authentic suffering is a realistic response to the ragged edges of being. The purpose of therapy is not to remove suffering but to move through it to an enlarged consciousness that can sustain the polarity of painful opposites, the discovery of the dense fabric of correspondence between external and interior events which constitutes every life.
PANTHEON: CHAPTER VI: THE LOVERS - EROS & PSYCHE Iona Miller, 1981
The story of Eros and Psyche has been passed down through the work of a Greek initiate in the Eleusinian (or Isis) Mysteries. In THE GOLDEN ASS OF APULEIUS, the tale of these divine lovers is inserted into the personal story of Apuleius. It is a tale of psychosexual transformation.
Eros and Psyche is a 12-part Mytheme:
1. Psyche--Wow, She's Gorgeous! 2. The Wrath of Venus 3. Eros Tumbles for Psyche 4. Eros Conceals Himself 5. Psyche Smells a Rat 6. Psyche Takes a Peek 7. Eros Abandons Psyche 8. Psyche Is Punished 9. Venus Imposes the Tasks 10. The Impossible Task 11. Eros Lends a Helping Hand 12. Psyche Joins the Immortals
The tale has great psychological value since it reveals the development of the initiate's relationship with his anima as a result of the initiatory process. Eros is a phallic god -- the erotic impulse -- who pricks and stings with his arrow of love. In the tale, Eros represents the reproductive passion which is transformed through its relationship with Psyche. The union of Eros with Psyche engenders bliss. Eros bonded with Psyche represents bonding of soul and mind. In the mytheme, Eros is cured from lust and cleaves to Psyche. Elements of this tale have come down in fairytales such as Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.
In The Uses of Enchantment (1975), Freudian analyst Bruno Bettelheim interprets the "Cupid and Psyche" myth as a story about a the development of mature consciousness, the difficulty of joining wisdom and sexuality, and the problem of sexual anxiety. He also sees some aspects of Oedipal love involved in this story, especially Aphrodite’s possessive jealousy of her son, but overall, his interpretation is very optimistic about the psychological potential of human development as it is presented in the Eros and Psyche tale.
When Psyche breaks the taboo by using the lamp to see Eros in the darkness, Bettelheim understands this as an attempt to expand her consciousness before she is ready for it: The story warns that trying to reach for consciousness before one is mature enough for it or through short-cuts has far reaching consequences; consciousness cannot be gained in one fell swoop. In desiring mature consciousness, one puts one’s life on the line, as Psyche does when she tries to kill herself in desperation.
The incredible hardships Psyche has to endure suggest the difficulties we encounters when the highest psychic qualities (Psyche) are to be wedded to sexuality (Eros). Bettelheim emphasizes the dangers involved in developing consciousness. Psyche’s repeated decisions to kill herself in order to end her despair at the prospect of completing her seemingly impossible tasks symbolically express the depression which frequently accompanies psychological development.
For Bettelheim, a primary aspect of this development is the integration of sexuality with the highest aspirations of consciousness. He insists that nothing less than a spiritual rebirth is required to bring together these seemingly opposite aspects of the human being.
The troubled relationship between Eros and Psyche symbolizes the difficulty involved in this integrative process, and Psyche’s journey to the underworld dramatically portrays the powerful experience of rebirth which preceeds and helps to bring about this hard-won integration. . . .To begin with, the prediction that Psyche will be carried off by a horrible snake gives visual expression to the inexperienced girl’s formless sexual anxieties. The funeral procession which leads Psyche to her destiny suggests the death of maidenhood, a loss not easily accepted.
The readiness with which Psyche permits herself to be persuaded to kill Eros, with whom she cohabits, indicates the strong negative feelings which a young girl may harbor against him who has robbed her of her virginity. According to Bettelheim, the value of the animal-husband tales, including the Eros and Psyche story, is that they assure children that their fear of sex as something beastly is not unique to them and that sexual anxiety, which is often implanted by others, frequently turns out to be unfounded.
Stories about the animal-husband assure children that their fear of sex as something dangerous and beastly is by no means unique to them; many people have felt the same way. But as the story characters discovers that despite such anxiety their sexual partner is not an ugly creature but a lovely person, so will the child. On a preconscious level these tales convey to the child that much of his anxiety is implanted in him by what he has been told; and that matters may be quite different when one experiences them directly, from the way one sees them from the outside.
So when Psyche discovers that her lover is not the monster she feared but a magnificent god, this reassures people on a subconscious level that sex is not beastly but potentially beautiful. In this reasoning Bettelheim goes a step beyond [J.] Schroeder and [Jacques] Barachilon, who more or less use the Eros and Psyche myth to illustrate the dynamics of projection as a girl’s way of dealing with her sexual anxieties. Bettelheim stresses ore than these other two commentators the role of society in generating sexual anxiety in children and the positive unconscious role which the Eros and Psyche myth and other animal-husband tales have in offsetting such anxiety.
Erich Neumann sees Psyche as originally bound to Eros in a paradise of uroboric unconsciousness, and when she sees Eros in the light, this original unconscious tie is dissolved. For Neumann this change represents a shift from the principle of fascinating attraction and the fertility of the species to a genuine love principle of personal development and encounter. For Neumann the link between individuation and love as encounter is one of the central psychological insights of the myth: "With Psyche, then, there appears a new love principle, in which the encounter between feminine and masculine is revealed as the basis of individuation" (Amor and Psyche, p. 90).
Individuation is accomplished through a conscious encounter with the unconscious, which is symbolized by contrasexual symbols: the male achieves individuation by confronting his unconscious, personified as a feminine anima and the female meets her unconscious personified by male figures. This process is usually understood intrapsychically, but it is generally influenced by encounters with persons of the opposite sex in the external world. In this view, a loving encounter is often the occasion for an intensification of the individuation process.
From this traditional Jungian perspective Eros can be seen as either Psyche’s inner masculine side or as a figure who transcends (is outside of) her own mind—either as a person in the external world or as a god in a transcendent reality. In an accessible style and readable prose, Barbara Weir Huber explores the myth of Psyche, interweaving research from diverse disciplines such as current feminist and educational theories, mythology, literature, psychology, and cultural anthropology. She offers an original, critical reinterpretation of the myth, highlighting the way it overtly portrays female experience in a patriarchal context while covertly affirming all aspects of female life.
In Transforming Psyche Huber shows that the myth of Psyche and Eros can be interpreted to illuminate the experiences of twentieth-century women. In contrast to the portrayal of Psyche as indecisive and amorphous, Huber emphasizes those aspects of the tale that describe Psyche's connectedness - to her sisters, her own sexuality, her earth-bound experience and, ultimately, to the birthing of her child. Using the works of such writers as Emily Carr, Margaret Laurence, Gertrude Stein, and Virginia Woolf, Huber demonstrates that feminist theory and women's autobiography mirror the insights uncovered in her retelling of the Psyche story, a feminist response to Neumann's powerful classic, Amor and Psyche.
According to Jean Shinoda-Bolin, "In the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche, Psyche's story is about the growth of the soul that began with her decision to face the truth, and led her to being on her own, challenged to complete tasks that were initially beyond her ability to perform. In the myth, her unseen bridegroom would come to her in the dark of the night and be gone by morning. Metaphorically, she was in an unconscious relationship. Fearing that he could be a monster, Psyche followed her sister's advice, hid a lamp and a knife, and waited until he had fallen asleep. She needed the lamp to see him, and the knife to cut off his head if indeed her were a monster." "These two symbols, the lamp and the knife, are both necessary for a psyche--for a soul--to act decisively when we know the truth. The 'lamp' is a symbol of illumination, of consciousness, the means of seeing a situation clearly. The knife, like the sword, is a symbol of decisive action, of the capacity to cut through confusion. The lamp without the knife is not adequate; it is insight into the situation with the capacity to act upon this perception." "Myths and symbols are in the language of the soul. A myth helps us to take a situation to heart and know what we must do: if it is to see the truth and act upon it, then the image of Psyche with her sword provides a magic perspective. A symbolic object can then be a talisman that helps us to do what we need to do. Like passing a literal torch, these are rituals that empower us by infusing an act with a deeper meaning. To think and act this way is magical, metaphoric thinking that can call forth the qualities we need from within ourselves and may also tap into sources of help that lie beyond us." (Jean Shinoda-Bolin).
Psyche is a mortal incarnation of Eros' mother, Venus or Aphrodite. Since she is mortal, she represents that part of Eros' anima which is closer to consciousness. Venus becomes jealous of Psyche because mortals begin worshipping her beauty, preferring her to an abstract Olympian goddess. Psyche's appearance in an account of the Eleusinian Mysteries points to the identification between Psyche and Isis, and Aphrodite and Isis. One might think that the goddess, then, fights against herself. In a sense, she does.
She protests because of the narrowing of her potential into a finite mortal form. If Psyche is Venus in diminutive form, Eros actually takes part in a variation on the theme of sacred marriage with his mother/daughter/sister. This repeats the old Egyptian transformative formula of I.A.O. (Isis-Apophis-Osiris), concerning the mystery of rebirth. Psyche is a form of Kore, the eternal maiden, the mother goddess in rejuvenated, human form. Therefore, the Eros and Psyche tale is a variation of the Demeter-Kore myth (see CHAPTER VIII).
For the female initiate, this myth represents the deepest experience of the female "ms.teries" of the Self. For the male initiate, it means a progressive integration of the anima which then leads to an experience of the Self. While he is still mother-complexed, all the forms of the goddess are compounded in the figure of the Great Mother. Without transformation he is her eternal lover who is always subject to fragmentation of his personality (i.e. death and rebirth).
So, the story of Eros and Psyche on various arcs concerns such important human areas as anima (for a man) and animus (for woman); it is also a paradigm of developing relationship, and bears a strong message regarding developmental tasks in the natural process of women's (or feminine) consciousness raising. The action of the archetype of anima/animus means that we project our unconscious idea of the All-Woman or All-Man onto an individual in whom we see this ideal essence. No single person can be the carrier of all the divine attributes or qualities we project onto them. When they fail to live up to our unconscious expectations, the process of consciousness raising begins. The Venus function is a lens which can magnify or distort.
The story of Eros and Psyche reveals a process of deep metamorphosis and renewal where all the values of the feeling function, emotional life, and moral standards gradually gain new significance and purpose. There is a "change of heart." Eros moves from sexual objectification toward soulful love; Psyche from projection of her masculine qualities toward empowerment. Emotionally, they act out the dynamic of the puer/puella immature relationship in the meantime. This naturally leads toward active introspection on the mental level, which results in spiritual consciousness raising--a renewed sense of empathy and compassion.
This myth resonates with the Tarot trump, THE LOVERS. The Crowley deck shows an exalted version of the sacred marriage. But more mundane decks generally show a man flanked on either side by two women competing for his attention. He is in an unconscious relationship with both the more maternal, motherly type and the young sensual counterpart who probably represents an immature anima or soul image. These female figures are sometimes polarized as light and dark anima figures. If we view the young man as the immature ego, this card can also represent a woman with a split between the physical and spiritual aspects of love. Sometimes this dynamic becomes concretized, "acted out," in life through a love triangle.
The ego must bear responsibility for any action it takes in response to the conflicting figures. In the psychology of both men and women, male figures usually represent consciousness, intellectual attainment, and spirit; female figures symbolize aspects of the body, emotions, and soul. The polarity is between sexual passions, secret feelings, and spiritual strivings, which exert a definite hold on the ego. Each is compelling in a magical, magnetic way. The ego cannot detach itself from either of them in outer reality since each belongs to its inner reality.
If the ego stands its ground, and endures the tension of conflicting desires, it can becomes free of the spell of unconscious projection in either direction. We must come to terms with both instinctual draws to gain full stature. This is a step toward individuation. Otherwise we remain in thrall to our feminine, instinctual side which conditions our emotions. We live out a frozen, trance-like state of mystified love, rather than mature, soulful love. The challenge is to connect our spiritual and emotional life, through passionate involvement in all of life. Then we find ourselves in a new relationship with others and in harmony with ourselves, facing each individual conflict and suffering through it to its resolution or transcendence.
By facing our fears and pains -- becoming conscious of our conflicts -- we can find peace. New realizations appear in their embryonic stage as conflicts which offer us choices in life. These decision points become either our life's path or roads-not-taken. Eros, like Fate, is symbolic of the fatal power of attraction which brings opposites together. He is the incarnating life principle, which ushers in the irrational, passionate intensity which makes transformation possible. He "turns up the heat" on the psychic process; he is that spiritual or divine fire which can unite with instinct.
Lagrenee, Louis Jean Francois
In the creation myths of many cultures, Primordial Wholeness divided into two polarizing aspects. Together these are known as the "syzygy" and indicate an archetypal coupling where one aspect is never separated from the other. In the "impersonal" aspect of lunar (or Venusian) experience, the Great Goddess is never separated from her masculine Son-Lover. They are locked in an eternal fascination for one another. One implies the other for wholeness. They exemplify the soul-spirit relationship on a naive level of psychological development.
On the "personal" level this tandem is expressed as anima/animus. They are the contrasexual component within us all. In other words, these soul figures embody our latent capacities for expression and realization of the traits normally associated with the opposite sex. Thus, the animus leads a woman to the outer world and promotes her ability in focused, rational thinking; conversely, the anima guides a man (or our ego) through the inner worlds of relationship. Since anima and animus build a bridge between the conscious and unconscious perspectives, they function as mediators between the known and the "unknown." This is the level of psychological "complex" where there is a blending of archetypal realities with our individual experiences.
Complexes function like psychological "strange attractors," magnetically centering portions of our energy within their particular patterns of expression. This magnetic draw is the attractive force of Eros coupled with the psychic urge toward manifestation. The imagery of anima/animus is based in archetypal symbolism and in childhood memories of significant others of the opposite sex. This includes parental attitudes and behavior, grandparents' influence, siblings, first-love, caregivers, mentors, and cultural expectations and norms. Anima/animus determines our conceptualization of the ideal mate, and is responsible for such phenomena as "love at first sight," and "star-crossed lovers." It takes the elements of fate and destiny and combines them in an impersonal formula, which paradoxically feels totally unique.
Anima/animus represents the balancing of masculine and feminine traits in us as individuals. This balancing is a form of sacred marriage, a union which produces a magickal child which is the higher Self, much like Eros and Psyche give birth to Voluptas, deep and abiding pleasure or satisfaction. The animus is the masculine personification of the soul. He carries both a transcendent spiritual aspect and a personal aspect. He is shown in the tale as a beautiful creature, whom Psyche is at first convinced is a terrible monster-- sort of an "all men are beasts" programming. Later, she learns his true nature.
Anima/animus are potential guides to the depths of the unconscious, forming a bridge to daily life. They are factors which transcend consciousness, both light and dark. So in a relationship which seems to have everything going for it, there can be friction or "animosity" produced by the unconscious forces (complexes) operating below the surface. Most of these troubles stem from projecting the anima/animus image onto our loved ones, then maneuvering them into fulfilling our expectations. Internal conflicts come from the split nature of anima/animus which we experience in modern life. This again revolves mainly around the gulf between the "spiritual" and "sensual" aspects of the inner figure. For example, a Madonna/whore complex, which is a split between the holy mother and the erotic love goddess. Or, the spiritual animus might be projected onto the figure of a wise man, a ghostly lover to whom a woman faithfully goes in her fantasy-life, or onto an idealized brother/sister relationship devoid of sexual options.
Reality must be found between idealized (virtually non-existant) relationships and degraded relationships. The sensual animus may be presented as darker gods of impersonal sexuality, phallic or obscene in nature. In any event, the animus represents a woman's need for creative expression. The more fully she can manifest this trait, the better her inner relationship to the animus becomes. He provides her with inner light, not inspiration which is a function of her anima nature, the core of her Self. Anima/animus excite those feelings of longing, awe, fear of the unknown, and incomprehensibility. They imply that when we love deeply, we open ourselves to the possibility of betrayal and the pain of separation. We open ourselves to wounding, and this very woundedness is our openness. The transpersonal power of love can appear as an obsession or possession by another, against which rational thought is no protection. Eros and Psyche represent the experience of this emotional-sexual level and its projections, coupled with the exercise of discrimination between what is archetypal and what is personal in life.
Occupations and preoccupations associated with this eternal love story include:
bridal shop bridesmaid honeymoon hotel intimacy workshop matchmaker prince/princess social butterfly feminine consciousness-raising group
Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898); Cupid Finding Psyche Watercolor mounted on linen c1865 48 x 70 cm
"It is wrong to think that Love comes from long companionship or persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of a spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a MOMENT it will not be created in years or even generations." -- Kahlil Gibran, from The Broken Wings
In the tale, Psyche, the human soul is still in the cave of illusion. Her sisters: complete cave dwellers who behave like envious sisters in fairy tales every where. Eros is the principle of desire for the good. Venus is placer of difficulties in Psyche's way. Psyche finally marries Cupid and becomes a goddess--the philosopher's soul by pursing divine desires can become immortal. The myth of Psyche and Eros is a wake-up call to the Soul. On archetypal levels, this awakening can only occur through the call of the Beloved, represented in this story by Eros.
The myth begins with the birth of a young girl, Psyche, whose beauty surpasses that of Aphrodite, representative of the collective consensus stuck in old ways and refusing to grow. She resents Psyche's beauty and to seek vengeance enlists the help of her son/lover, Eros, to shoot one of his arrows at her so that she will be "consumed with passion for a man who bring her endless agony."
Meanwhile, no one will marry Psyche, as her beauty is so great that it is perceived as "too much" and loneliness ensues. In desperation, her father seeks the advice of an oracle and is informed that she is to wed "Death." She is attired in funeral garb and led to a high mountain crag where she awaits her fate. Eros, having been commanded by his mother, is awaiting nearby and seeing her for the first time is so struck with her beauty that he accidentally pricks his own hand with one of his arrows and falls deeply in love with Psyche. Instead of falling off of the cliff, the winds carry her to an idyllic paradise and she becomes the bride of Love/Eros.
This myth has many layers of depth and meaning. The beauty of Psyche speaks of the beauty of our Soul, which if unexpressed and in an unawakened state, there is no metamorphosis, growth or transformation. This equates to Death in an archetypal sense. The call of the Beloved, Love/Eros, lures us into becoming more, reaching for more, unfolding and blossoming. The "too much" beauty of our Soul is often times shunned in our world when fully expressed, and we often want to retreat back into the quietness of slumber.
It is a wake-up call to the Soul individually, but in grander terms a wake-up call to all Souls of the collective conscious, as we sleepwalk through our global devastation and destruction caused by wars and other travesties. It is also a wake-up call to perceive all the beauties that surround us in our world daily that go unnoticed by the sleeping Soul. This is not meant to be a sounding of an alarm, but a gentle reminder of awakening through the gift of Love. Listen to the call of your Beloved to gently awaken your Soul and walk in awe of your own beauty. How does this myth of the divine lovers play out in modern emotional life? It is a metaphor of psychological growth -- "bringing up Psyche." It identifies certain developmental tasks fundamental to mature identity and the ability to love fully, such as sorting out feelings, setting appropriate boundaries, owning projections, developing a dispassionate Observer Self, and empowerment with compassion.
When relationships get stalled this process is stuck in the immature stage. John Bradshaw calls these "mystified relationships," still enmeshed in the dynamics of the very early family life of the partners. The issues of safety and trust are unresolved. These are relationships which stick together for the sake of the children, and the "children" are the regressive personalities of the lovers. The healthy Eros/Psyche relationship is one of empathy and intimacy, safety and passion. It is joyful and totally relaxed. When conflicts come up, as they inevitably will, there are means of negotiation. This is "soulful" love which includes many results of self-consciousness. It is generative in nature. There is bonding, commitment, vulnerability, self-disclosure, sensuality, ecstasy, as well as respect, caring, belonging,togetherness, toleration, and constancy.
Jeffrey Satinover, (M.D., physicist and Jungian analyst), examines the role of the Self in relationship in a tape called, "BEING SEPARATE, BEING TOGETHER." This talk is from a Jungian conference on wounding and healing in relationships. Every analyst knows that healthy, loving relationships are more healing than all the therapy in the world. The tale of Eros and Psyche is with us today in the psychological complex known as "puer/puella," (boy/girl). They are stuck at the adolescent stage of development.
This same complex is imaged in the Tarot Trump, VI, THE LOVERS. Much of psychic life remains hidden as in the initial stages of the myth. This includes secret thoughts, feelings, fears, criticisms, anticipations, etc. A psychological initiation occurs when we are suddenly forced to "go within" ourselves and discover or "own" the subconscious processes operating there. Gradually, we begin to recognize that relationship involves chronic "wounding and healing."
In the myth, for example, Psyche spills hot oil on Eros while trying to see what he looks like during his sleep. In love, the root experience is of the archetype of the Self. The broad, deep emotional experience coupled with detachment vacillates from impulse to action. This Self is the root of emotions when the ego is identified with it. The Self remains ineffable, or unknown, and is too sacred to be expressed in words. We experience the Self as our inner childlike nature when we act out a pattern of cyclic instability in our lovelife. We don't relate "adult to adult," but "wounded child to wounded child." Neediness on both parts keeps the legitimate needs of both from being met.
There are periods of despair and exaltation, wounding and healing. This is a variation of the archetype of the dying and resurrecting god. In its self-reflecting narcissism, this complex provides no stable sense of identity. We ask ourselves, "Who am I, and why can't I behave as I'd like to?" Some people seek therapy for this very absence of a stable sense of identity, after trying to form a false identity as a couple. Love brings alterations and fluctuations between feelings of fear, of "being nobody," or worthless when we are wounded, or feeling special and precious when things are going well.
These feelings may change rapidly depending on the emotional climate, and this is an unsettling feeling. The chronic emotion is a feeling of overwhelming longing for support of the loved one, coupled with feelings of extreme emptiness when the beloved is gone. Possessive jealousy comes from projecting our own negative self-image onto the rival who seems to succeed in an area where we have failed the loved one.
When the Self begins operating in an individual, the ego automatically begins acting defensively to protect itself against the intolerable sense of fragmentation which it anticipates will follow. The feeling of being unique and whole alternates with self-defense against feeling wounded and worthless. The defense consists of cutting off the roots of all intense emotional experience with the beloved, and may even extend into other friendships. Some people seek solace in the predictable gratification of alcohol or drugs as substitutes for the unpredictable pleasures of love. The Self's proper role in relationship is concerned with self-analysis or getting to knowone's inner workings better.
Each marriage or relationship consists of a union among four aspects -- the normal consciousness of the partners and their subconscious or inner Self. Thus, a woman loves not only a man as he behaves in outer life, but his inner "feminine" soul; a man embraces his wife and her inner "masculine" soul. This relationship was depicted in alchemy as the marriage of the alchemist and his mystic sister who is his inner nature. Instead of depending on one another for a sense of self-value (co-dependence), self-esteem emerges from within through reflective introversion. We can mirror, validate, and support ourselves when we listen to our inner nurturing voice.
When we explore our own personal depths, we come into our daily relationships as whole people. Then we can form truly interdependent, reciprocal relationships. "Falling in love" is a vehicle for the experience of the self. This experience, or even yearning for it, influences our daily life and human experience tremendously. As they say, "Love makes the world go around." Yet it automatically means there will be a fragmentation of personality following sooner or later, since an unconscious dynamic process has been unleashed.
The old personality must be dissolved before the new structure co-created by the partners can be established. Difficulties and disappointments follow when the other doesn't reflect back the expected sense of specialness or idealness. We often hold ideals of relationship which we have never seen and could not exist in real life. In an attempt to actualize our fantasy life, we unconsciously compel or manipulate the other person to fulfill it. There is a simultaneous attachment or identification of the ego with the vast potential of the Self, which no partner can maintain. When one partner doesn't fulfill expectations, the addictive yearning to experience the specialness of the Self changes into an indifference to the other which is not genuine. This is a reactionary defense against the Self in that both the unique and fragmentary periods produce pain for the ego.
It is difficult for the ego to "live up" to the idealized image, also. There is a pressure on the ego to live the demands of the Self, or cut them off entirely in a negative defensive move. Longing and disappointment change to seeming indifference and then the person begins to seek outward. This is a compulsive drive to recreate the appearance of the Self through yet another lover. The feeling of jealousy in the deserted party comes from feeling possessive of the lover as something of one's own, and experiencing the loss of Self, or even fear of the loss of Self.
The type of attachment that believes the other is responsible for the experience of the specialness of the self leads inevitably to painful separations. There is a "way of being together" in which both partners maintain separate identities. They are distinct, yet conjoined. In this liberated experience there is emotional intensity combined with detachment from compulsion. When each person experiences the Self with some degree of autonomy from identification with the ego, there is reduction of the strain in maintaining the Self of the other.
We cease to make such exaggerated demands on one another. We let go of the reactionary stage of power struggles, and become emotionally independent. The power-struggles (counterdependence) in relationship aren't for power, per se. They are manipulations and desperate maneuverings of the partners to maintain their individual sense of Self. These struggles are a natural stage which comes prior to true independence, individuation, or self-actualization.
True lovers are partners as well as friends and lovers -- head and heart, feeling and intellect combine. The associations of a complex can be detached from an image which should be archetypal. We can consciously separate out what is personal and human from what is archetypal and divine. We don't need to confuse our lovers with divine archetypal powers, though we each carry a divine component. When we reown our projections, the other doesn't carry the burden of our spirituality for us.
The spiritual problem is no longer disguised as a relationship problem. Our relationship with the higher power becomes direct. When each individual has an internal relationship with the Self, the other partner is not forced to carry and reinforce the projection of the Self. They are no longer exposed to the intense disappointment of the lover when they inevitably fail to live up to god-like qualities which only a higher power can carry.
Keywords for the cycle of Eros and Psyche include,
Though many versions of this tarot trump depict the classic love triangle, this card has much deeper meanings. Depth experience of the higher Self comes from being actively introspective, as shown by THE LOVERS in the Rider Tarot Deck. The male (consciousness) looks to the female (subconscious) who in turn looks to the Angel (Self) for guidance and direction. We should look within ourselves for validation and certain fulfillment. We need to examine our own feelings and thoughts, not pass the buck for our unhappiness onto our partners. Psyche abandoned by Eros becomes lovesick or depressed.
In "Depression: Soul's Quest for Depth, Meaning & Wholeness" Maureen Roberts, PhD explores the prospective meaning of depression. Sufferers of depression are often forced to endure, in addition to their pain and energy loss, the stigma of being told that they're 'ill', hence that their depression is a problem to be eliminated, or that it has no value, meaning, or purpose. From a soul-centred perspective, however, depression is not primarily another word for unhappiness; nor is it 'mental illness.' It is, rather, in many instances a response to soullessness (or what shamans call 'soul loss'), including, ironically enough, the soullessness of the materialist medical model which continues to 'treat' depression as a biologic illness that can be.
To achieve genuine individual and cultural healing, we need, instead, more wholeness , that is, more soulful and well-rounded individuals who embody life's dance of opposites and in so doing live fully human, fully divine lives. We need more people who are not ashamed of, or embarrassed by their pain, but who can instead respond to their own and others' suffering - as an unavoidable facet of the human condition - with love, patience, sympathy, nurturing and respect.
True happiness, after all, does not exclude sadness, but rather embraces it within the living paradox which personal wholeness demands. As the quiet contentedness of joy, such happiness is not attained by seeking happiness, nor by eliminating sadness through addressing purely personal wants, needs, fears, anxieties and insecurities. Indeed, a reactionary cult of 'happiness', based on the indiscriminate elimination of all psychospiritual suffering, is in the longrun as lopsided, narrow, false, repressive and self-defeating as the current 'epidemic' of depression.
Endorsing happiness above sadness, in other words, simply amounts to replacing one extreme (which is falsely viewed in a totally negative light) with its opposite, which is seen as positive. In reality, though, not all happiness is positive - and not all depression is 'bad'. From soul's angle, far from being an 'insidious illness', depression is often a valuable phase of a person's life journey, a critical juncture at which a soul-searching re-assessment of priorites, directions, relationships, work, gifts, self-image, home life, spirituality and/or values is being called for.
For this reason, dreams and myths often contain the theme of the 'buried treasure', symbolically the soul hidden, or trapped in the unconscious depths, which the hero or heroine must retrieve in order to become healed, mature, content and whole. Mythically, the gods reside not only in celestial realms, but also down below in Underworld, the mythic equivalent of the unconscious. Soul, which unlike light, airy 'spirit', gravitates to the body, the Earth and the watery realms of night and ocean depth, does not lift us to mountainous heights, but pulls us - when it's neglected, stifled, or shunned - down into neurosis, depression, suicide, psychosis and psychospiritual chaos.
As an example, in the Greek myth of the human girl Psyche, whose name means 'soul', Psyche abandoned by Eros (the divine Love which soul needs) is left alone, directionless, depressed - literally, 'pulled down' - hence she is finally driven to Underworld depths. For Eros, mysterious god of entanglements in relationship, involvement with life, immersion in suffering, depth and joy, is the god behind human vulnerability, the one who exposes us, through love, betrayal, cruelty and kindness, to life's inseparable blend of woundedness and pleasure. Psyche, in other words, is a myth that provides a 'psych-ological' context for understanding depression as soul's need to descend in order to retrieve its Underworld treasure.
By exploring depression from this soul-centred perspective, we have thus re-mythologized a universal (archetypal) human experience: soul's hunger for depth and for the elusive riches harbored by Hades, Lord of the dark Underworld of the unconscious. Just as Psyche had to journey 'down under' to find her way back to lost Eros, so we shall be driven to the depths of our wounds, depressions, madness and fears in order to be reunited with lost soul. In the shamanic vision that this re-mythologizing of our lives is the medicine we need if we are to help one another reconnect to a life wrestled with, shared and celebrated in all its fullness, vibrancy, imaginal richness, pain and joy. With this guiding vision at heart, the following soul-centred delineation of depression offers itself as a yeast, vessel and catalyst to help reactivate the sense of soul within the individual, in the floundering field of mental health, and throughout global culture as a whole.
Depression, which literally means 'a lowering', occurs when energy (libido) which is normally available for day-to-day conscious living, becomes depleted, blocked, pulled down, or trapped in the depths of the unconscious. Depression can arise through endless combinations of psychospiritual and physical causes, but in many cases, its primary source is an unresolved, repressed, or forgotten grief, trauma, crisis, conflict or loss. In addition, depression is often an emotional, relational and spiritual response to a sense of meaninglessness, lack of harmony with Nature, or lack of truthfulness with oneself and others. Poor diet, seasonal changes, lack of sunshine and lack of exercise can contribute to depression, as can soulless environments, materialism, lack of imagination, damaging relationships, dull routine, empty forms of work, and apparent lack of life purpose.
Depression is a natural human response to an endless variety of circumstances and states of unresolved suffering, or tension within the psyche. While it can be debilitating (for example, in cases of repressed conflict, extreme crisis, or forgotten childhood trauma), it can also have a creative outcome. For example, some depressions are caused by a lowering of consciousness in order to retrieve needed wisdom, or creative and healing gifts from the unconscious. This kind of depression is best dramatized as myth, when the hero or heroine must go through a symbolic death and rebirth. Examples of such myths are Dionysus, Osiris, Christ, Demeter and Persephone, Orpheus and Eurydice. Reading and reflecting on such myths can help provide an imaginal context for soul's journey through depression. Bear in mind that the depression is never the end of the story. There's always a rebirth at the end of the journey.
The Self is a powerful internal dynamism of positive and negative manifestations which range from despair to exaltation. Since it symbolizes this entire range of emotion, you can't depend on it like a benevolent parent. When each partner isn't held responsible for what they are, they have the option of acting with charity or benevolence, instead of out of a compulsion to control one another. The nature of any relationship cannot be predicted from the qualities of the separate people involved.
For example, oxygen and hydrogen chemistries do not predict the emergent properties of their combination in water. Both are completely altered in the process of uniting. When people enter a relationship, there is a trans-FORM-ation of personality. The old form of the ego must die to be reborn in service to the relationship. Even the word 'transformation' contains images which intimate a knowledge of the fear of death. Morphe- (also in metamorphosis) means to gleam or sparkle with an appearance seen as beauty. "Trans-" contains images of piercing, mutilation, or maiming. These images of needs and distress produce relationship, but not idealism. Eros embodies both compulsion and inhibition.
We are both anxious and wary or leery of love. Love and fear seem to go together. The natural inhibitions of Eros need not be overcome. They are his way of eventually getting in touch with Psyche on a more profound level. Eros embodies both creative and destructive instincts, therefore love can be a long process of being wounded and regenerated. Psyche would still be a virgin if she and Eros didn't go through this cycle. She is the reflective instinct, who would still be fascinated with her own dreams and visions if Eros didn't change her.
Eros makes Psyche's potential fertility into a regeneration of the power of love. At last, Eros and Psyche are united in vitality and passion through the imaginal aspects of interested love. The archetypal patterns are not only perceived in life, there is an active participation in the cycle. There is a suffering of impossible love until Psyche's soul work, symbolized by her tasks, is completed. Then a psychologically creative union produces experiences of pleasure, the "Pleasure born of the soul." There is perception of the dimension of immortality intimated by love. How does the heart open to the other? This riddle has long obsessed human-kind. In the blink of an eye, Eros's dart pierces the shield of isolation, and fragmentation is no more. A new question appears: who am I who is so easily smitten?
The first lesson of the lover is vulnerability. Acceptance is indeed a work. To allow love to show its beauty, the soul must submit to onerous trials, as Harriet Eisman describes in her study of the tale of Eros and Psyche. If we harden our position, and our hearts, into thinking that love is our due and not an earning, then the end of this story is all too familiar. Love turns into its opposite, attachment. The ego may immediately inflate to an even larger size, forsaking the call of integration. The addiction of a Cassanova or Don Juan is the self-centered solution to love's enigma. Yet if we accept the "wound" of love, a bridge to what Jacob Needlemancalls another level of being springs into existence. Wholeness, advaita, nirvana: different traditions express the same mystery of crossing over. In each, the embrace of a non-dual consciousness frees us from the desire of conquest. In this way, we are touched by the mystery in which love blends two into one that yet remain different. If we accept, what must be accepted is the essential incompleteness of our humanity.
In Plato's image, we once were eight-limbed and double-sexed, but were bisected by gods who feared for their power. Moved by erotic desire, we now perpetually and unsuccessfully seek our "other half." However the relentless pull is explained, poetry of all ages, as Sam Hamill shows, celebrates longing for union with the beloved. Eros, erotic love, finds us unexpectedly, without warning, and instantly we are all attention. Called back from dreams, we are again ready to meet joys and sorrows of the hero's journey. But what if we find total fulfillment in our beloved and forget the unending role of the hero? Francesca, the most sympathetic figure in Dante's spiritual journey, speaks of such inner death:
Love, which permits no loved one not to love, took me so strongly with delight in him that we are one in Hell, as we were above. (V.105)
Most remarkable of all in Eros is his mighty force. It is a force with two edges. Turn it one way, and it cuts through walls of separation. Turn it another, and discernment is sacrificed. With what knowledge must we travel to face the hero's challenge with skillful choice? (David Appelbaum).
Further reading on Eros and Psyche may be found in the following:
IN SEARCH OF THE BELOVED, Jean Houston, (guided imagery exercises for Eros and Psyche) THE GOLDEN ASS, M.L. VonFranz AMOUR AND PSYCHE, Erich Neumann SHE!, Robert A. Johnson EROS IN LANGUAGE, MYTH, AND DREAM, Russell Lockhart THE MOON AND THE VIRGIN, Nor Hall THE MYTH OF ANALYSIS, James Hillman (Part I) FROM CHAOS TO EROS, "Eros and the Experience of At-Homeness in Reality," Betty Meador "Being Separate, Being Together," Jeffrey Satinover (audiotape, 1980) CREATING LOVE, John Bradshaw THE COUPLE'S JOURNEY, Susan Campbell A CONSCIOUS PERSON'S GUIDE TO RELATIONSHIPS, Ken Keyes, Jr. LIFEMATES, Harold Bloomfield, M.D. & Sirah Vettese, Ph.D. P.C. MILLER, "Plenty Sleeps There", The myth of Eros and Psyche in Plotinus and Gnosticism", in Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, ed. R.T.W. ALLIS, 1992, p.223-238.
Psyche’s Knife examines the myth of Eros and Psyche as a metaphor for the development of soul in the psychology of women, explicating the tropes of love and power as depicted by Psyche’s use of a knife in attempting to learn the identity of her lover.
Nelson examines the metaphor of the knife from all angles—alchemical, sacrificial, lunar, phallic—and delves into the mythology and imagery of women and knives, connecting our deep past to our present lives and our possibilities for the future.
Hale, Psyche at the Throne of Venus
The tale of Eros and Psyche relates the trials and tribulations of a maturing love affair. It means moving from separation and control toward praise, honor, and love. It occurs within the psyche through the process of metamorphosis. In fact, the Greek word 'Psyche' means butterfly and this process of essential restructuring involves cocooning and re-emergence in the new, potentiated form. The failure or stalling of this natural growth process is a spiritual issue, and may become a spiritual problem, which most frequently is perceived as a relationship problem. Eros and Psyche are the primordial lovers. In this context Eros is more of a transpersonal daimon than a god. The Gods relate among themselves, but a daimon mediates between gods and men.
Psyche is a diminutive incarnation of Eros' mother, Aphrodite. She personifies the anima and positive mother-complex. By her attributes, we can see that Eros has a good feeling relationship with women and the unconscious, but one which is still too naive. His attitudes toward love are idealized. Eros himself has been acting like the archetypal Don Juan before his encounter with Psyche, expressing the pattern of behavior his mother favors. This shows he is still identified with her, still in the grips of the puer complex. He is a son-lover, still compelled to serve his mama. Aphrodite is jealous of her own incarnation in matter. This deep level of the unconscious does not wish her son to develop out of his naive, unquestioning attitude toward her role and desires for him. She is angry and tries to destroy Psyche or Eros' reflective ability.
She realizes that Psyche embodies the mother-complex of Eros, but as his anima image is closer to consciousness than she is. Things proceed well, though blindly, in the newlywed's paradisical realm until Aphrodite stirs up trouble by sending in Psyche's jealous sisters. These sisters instill grave doubts in Psyche regarding her lover. They are too skeptical, too cynical, and too aware of the mundane side of relationship. Secretly, they wish they could recapture some of Psyche's naive romantic attitudes in their own relationships. The closeness of their friendship opens the doorway for envy to enter. What is needed, though is a mature attitude which recognizes the paradox of love.
There is always a divine and banal aspect to relationships. Both together represent a realistic, well-rounded experience, that is neither debased nor idealized. Psyche begins her marriage as mortals do by being "in love." She is contained in a very unconscious state in the palace of Eros. She is possessed by love -- in love with love. She longs for that superhuman quality of perfection in her lover. However, her humanness makes it necessary for her to make a transition to being consciously loving, accepting imperfection.
All of the forces which surround her conspire to make this absolutely necessary. The agents of this process include Psyche's inner desire toward consciousness, the sisters, Aphrodite, and Eros himself. She needs to divest herself of her myths about relationship and personal growth. Eros compels her by remaining in the dark. His soul is still in the grips of primitive passion -- sexual objectification. So, of course, after a time, Psyche resolves that she wants a real relationship and wants to see her lover "as he really is." She has wearied of "nothing but sexuality." Her real motivation is her fear, but the unconscious has its own, as-yet-unknown goal. She also has the burning passion which wants to know real love.
When she surrenders to the mysteries of the soul, she embodies the genuine, personal love. Paradoxically, at this point, Eros flees her (incapable of emotional intimacy). Aphrodite (in an attempt to destroy her) sets the tasks which further her inner development. These are experienced as insurmountable problems, and she has suicidal impulses at each difficult point. These symbolize her readiness for self-sacrifice, but also allow her to transform from one level of consciousness to another.
Psyche's first task, sorting a huge pile of seeds, is set by Aphrodite. Psyche's biological instincts come to her aid in the form of ants. This "ant-quality" is a primitive, quiet quality which is part of her inner masculinity. It is a discriminating function of Eros. In fact, she has instinctually discriminated and sorted seed in a literal sense. She becomes pregnant by Eros while still in the paradisical state of unconsciousness. Even though she has seen the divine quality of her lover, she is no longer only animus possessed, but begins to live woman's inner biological mystery. In a way, Eros is with her through all the trials in her inner world as her incubating child.
She regains enough faith to tackle the second task which is gathering some fleece from the "golden rams of the sun." This time, she earns a bit of the Logos, or the power of the spiritual impulse, which is a trait of masculine consciousness. But she does it, thanks to wise counsel, by avoiding direct contact with it in its destructive form. She can wield some masculine power, but need not gain it in an aggressive way. She is coming to know Eros' nature better, even though he is not there. Psyche is coming to know and understand him from the inside out, by contacting her inner animus, acknowledging the potential of her inner masculinity, while remaining absolutely feminine to the core. Through this process, she is coming to know herself. Psyche is mustering her inner strengths as well as courage and valor; but true to form, she collapses at the prospect of the third test.
Aphrodite makes the trials progressively harder. This time she must fill a crystal goblet with water from the river Styx, the powerful current of psychic energy. Psyche succeeds in capturing a bit of this river of life with the help of Ganymede, an eagle sacred to Zeus. This eagle represents high-flying spiritual intuition. She is, once again, saved from destruction by an act of grace. By dipping only a small amount from the river of libido, her fragile ego (the container) is not shattered. By listening to her quiet, inner guiding voice, Psyche was able to complete her nearly impossible task, through methodical concentration. Psyche's ability to touch her unconscious depths gave her access to the creative solution. She understood this through an intuitive vision.
The final test involves a terrible journey to the underworld. One needs proper guidance for such a journey. Modern examples of this task of making Psyche more conscious include the therapeutic process of individuation and spiritual disciplines like yoga and mysticism. This process of understanding one's depths repeats the shaman's initiation in the underworld and leads to self-realization of inner potentials. We become progressively more enlightened by shedding our illusions about self and world. It requires all of the energy and resources we can muster. Once begun it must be followed through to the end. Psyche fortunately acquires the treasure of the subconscious as the box of divine beauty which Aphrodite has demanded of her.
The beauty of Persephone is the resplendence of the most profound depths of the feminine Self. Betty Meador calls it "the awesome and overpowering essence of death and resurrection, the passage of the female goddess through the dark regions of Hell into rebirth and transformation." This process was the subject of both the Isis and Eleusinian Mysteries. On her return from the underworld (subconscious), for love of Eros, Psyche opens the box of beauty ointment. Seeking to make herself more desirable to Eros, (and inadvertently cheating Aphrodite), she does not have the courage to face Eros as herself.
She want to remain disguised in Eros' anima projections, which hark back his mother-complex. Her fantasy is that then they could continue to share the paradisical state. True, she does this for love of Eros, but this keeps him in his adolescent phase, devoid of the maturity a real relationship would bring. She regresses into an unconscious state of deep sleep. She becomes a "sleeping beauty." In this apparent failure, she shows herself to be most human! How unbearably egotistical Psyche might have been if she had completed the tasks perfectly. Through her regression into humanness, Eros is redeemed from his boyish hangups and allowed to mature. He can show some true love, rather than instinctual reproductive passion.
Through his love Eros redeems Psyche and awakens her to an understanding of the archetypal functioning of the animus as a bridge to the divine. She is transformed from her mortal condition to an awareness of her own immortality of soul. Together they experience the birth of their child as joy, mutual ecstasy, and the pleasure of life and love. There is a blending of the human and divine qualities in love. The opposites merge in mutual love, and experience unification on a profound level which has both depth and conscious awareness.
Eros is contained within Psyche. The reproductive instinct transforms into a highly differentiated feeling function, and Psyche goes through rebirth which frees her "butterfly" nature. Feeling is a reflective function which requires time more than perception. When Psyche evokes true feelings from Eros, her task is complete. Daily life is connected with archetypal reality. Eros embodies the Mystery of the Inner Process in matter and spirit. Love is the fundamental universal principle that even holds atoms and molecules together as matter. Eros is a mysterious energy inherent in the whole of creation, fascinating seekers all over the world. Across the cultures, Eros takes different names but still remains the same agent that has to be awakened from within, since it is the only element that can transform the human psyche.
Psyche has to be pacified and Eros’ "fire" has to be transformed into "light" so that he can become the mediator and guide that gently pushes and pulls the seeker towards the source of divine love—Eros the Beloved—that awakens from within, guides and accompanies the seeker from within the inner planes. He is the inner witness, the agent within the seeker that unfolds gnosis, or divine knowledge. This divine knowledge awakens higher levels of consciousness within him and, in turn, these levels of consciousness aroused by Eros lead the seeker back to the source of light. The Greek mysteries relate that at the very beginning of creation, only chaos existed, and from chaos was born the cosmogonic Eros.
Elsewhere, according to mythology, we are told that amongst the gods, Eros was the most handsome. This is how theogonia (the birth of the gods) begins and we are assured that the poet Isiodos heard it from the mouth of the Muse herself. According to Isiodos, Eros represents the driving force behind the entire theogonia. The Orphics agree that Eros appears at the beginning of theogonia and cosmogonia in general, and they tell us that his mother was Night, the dark goddess, and his father the Wind. From their first cosmic and elemental embrace, Eros was born from a silver egg.
For the Greeks, the essence of Eros is the unfoldment of human thought, and in Greek philosophy, he is described as a liberating agent who releases and activates the creative process of the mind. Eros inspires and opens the channel of intuition to the higher and abstract understanding and communion with beauty and truth. The myth of Eros and Psyche describes in detail the inner process of transformation.
In fact, Eros cannot be separated from his beloved Psyche, since they are united by a secret and sacred bond, invisible and unconscious in man. In fact, man’s psyche remains filled with erotic, sensual, carnal desires that keep him and his mind trapped on the physical plane along with his emotions and consciousness. But a seeker must transmute the attraction of Eros and awaken the bond with his psyche so that he can rise towards the "beloved," the invisible golden thread that links his consciousness to the universal qualities of beauty and love.
The gifts of Eros affect the emotional and thought processes of humanity, especially those of a seeker who has to learn how to open up and integrate these gifts in his psyche. From the lowest and most physical levels of consciousness to the most spiritual ones, Eros remains forever present,gradually transforming the inner fire into pure light. Eros operates in every living creature, and Greek poetry and philosophy describe how nature partakes of the gift of Eros.
We could say that Eros’ contribution to humanity is not only inherent in man’s psyche, but that it is also involved in the process that awakens the ego to its true nature, the beauty and unconditional love of the soul. This awakening activated by Eros and Aphrodite reveals the qualities of pure love and gnosis in the consciousness of the seeker. This level of consciousness cannot be described, however, because it is itself a higher aspect of intelligence in which abstract knowledge and impersonal love are combined.
We could simply call this level of awakening, wisdom. So, on one hand, Eros can simply mean carnal love and desire for material possessions, but on the other, it can also express the spiritual energy that attracts and leads the psyche towards the Center of Pure Being, where the beauty and love of the soul are revealed. Many Greek philosophers, Plato and Pythagoras included, said the same thing—that beauty and gnosis are inseparable and inherent in the essence of Eros. Thus, we understand that in the psyche of man, Eros rules over his carnal desires but also over his higher aspirations and longing for wisdom. This is not the playful cupid, the winged son of Aphrodite and Mars, but an elderly primordial deity, worshiped by the ancient Greeks as the first element of the primordial creative cause, the element that binds and attracts spirit and matter together.
Greek philosophers saw the spirit of Dionysus penetrating the whole of nature and binding together the two aspects of Eros, the penetration and blending energy of matter with its counterpart and complement, spirit. Esoterically, Eros is the leading force within a seeker that takes him away from a level of duality to a level of unity and wholeness. Furthermore, Eros is the key to transforming psychic vibratory rates. He does that by placing a seeker on his axial center, the neutral and timeless zone within his conscious self. This level of being brings about the integration of ego with soul. Hence,
Eros is the god or essence that gives us the possibility of letting go of the past and living in the present moment, embracing spontaneously everything within and without our reach. Eros allows us to see everything as part of our own nature. He also shows us how to transmute carnal and unconscious attractions and desires of all kinds, and how to re-direct and reintegrate their energies back into the center of pure love and wisdom.
This inner process must be conscious, because the ego and psyche must harmonize and unite before being invited to enter into the higher realms, where the qualities and gifts of Eros are awakened. On that level of achievement and realization, the seeker receives more gifts from Eros who directs him towards his own invisible and sacred Center of Pure Being, not really a "place" at all, but more a level of being and attunement. This is a level of consciousness where the essence of pure love and beauty manifest themselves through ordinary consciousness and can be said to be a part of the undivided unique consciousness of the whole of creation.
In Symposium, Plato expounded that Eros had two aspects, one physical the other intellectual, i.e., wisdom. He knew that they had to harmonize and blend so as to transform ordinary men into heroes. According to Empedocles, "Aphrodite is Eros himself," the immortal force that unites and harmoniously blends together all the elements in nature, the "bringer" and "giver" of life. He also said, "the path to knowledge can be achieved only through Eros himself. The energy represented by Eros brings about a balance between pleasure, delight and gnosis, and this harmonious and enthusiastic search for gnosis comes not so much from the answers one receives but more from the search itself."
Hence the quest goes on forever, since pleasure and gnosis go hand-in-hand and cannot be separated. Eros questions everything because he loves wisdom and is, therefore, the living source at the center of Greek philosophy. So Eros teaches the Greeks how to become free and fearless in the face of the unknown. He invites them to follow the path of knowledge and apply the sacred principles of freedom and equality, qualities that belong to Eros’ mother, Aphrodite, whom Empedocles identifies with Eros for, without the freedom and courage to explore our inner nature with imagination and intuition, we remain unconscious prisoners of conventional ideas, routines and vicious circles.
Eros is himself the "mixer of the seeds and sperms" in creation, the primal cause, the bringer of life in the womb of nature. Eros’s gift to the seeker, therefore, is the transmuting energy of pure love, which is synonymous with the Logos. The oldest mythology of Homer does not mention Eros. Apparently Eros was not born out of a popular tradition but he is the creation of an abstract philosophical conception.
In Greek esoteric philosophy, the Eros of theogonia took part in the creation of life itself. Eros pulls the sexes together and rules over all living creatures through the need for procreation and, for that reason, we see Plato, Sophocles, Eurepides, etc., praise his irresistible influence along with his mother, Aphrodite, as they both give life and rebirth. The orphic firstborn god Phanes Protogonus, known also as Eros, Pan and Phanes-Jupiter who sprang from the primeval egg. In the picture, he seems to be emerging in flames from the sundered halves of Phanes’ egg, above his head and below his feet. The symbolism also includes solar rays and a lunar crescent behind his head and shoulders; masks of ram, lion and goat on his torso; thunderbolt and staff in his hands (the attributes of Serapis), whilearound him are the familiar circle of the zodiac and the square of the winds. The inscription "Felix Pater"and an erased female name suggests a Mithraic environment, thereby identifying this picture also as Aion.
Tarot card VI is the Lovers, representing an inner process. It portrays Eros, the universal power of union and love, the agent that brings a new level of consciousness to the seeker, and of "being alive" in the world. Eros is shown pointing his arrow towards the seeker’s crown chakra, meaning that the seeker is in a higher initiation that will unite the two opposites and paradoxical sides within himself, and blend them on his axial level. In that axial inner space within his being, the soul reveals itself to the seeker in many subtle ways.
The gifts of Eros are many and they manifest in the ever-fleeting present as sudden bursts of enlightenment and intuition that are part of a transcendent primordial knowledge that gradually unfolds in his life. Interpret this card as representing a high level of initiation that corresponds to a baptism of fire, or the awakening in a seeker of a higher level of the abstract mind that remains a grace and a sacred mystery. Receiving the "wound" of the arrow of Eros illuminates the ego, or the limited mind of a seeker, and opens it up to receive higher truth, from where it unites itself with the source of the primordial tradition. The conscious choice of the seeker to enter a new dimension of being comes after his spiritual transformation and rebirth when the arrow of Eros opens his crown chakra, and from that opening, spiritual love pours down and inundates the psyche of the seeker who, from that moment on, transforms from being a lover of self to a lover of God.
Eros brings about conscious spiritual transformation in a seeker, unfolding in him higher levels of consciousness. Later on, Eros appears as a cruel, playful child who torments gods and mortals alike, giving them more sorrow and misery than harmony and joy. Cupid aims his arrow directly at the human heart, piercing it, but we should look at this as purifying, as awakening and introducing the spiritual element into the nature of psyche itself. It also teaches us how to escape the entrapment of the lower energies In Kabbalah, the imagery of love, or eros, is crucial for a discussion of Shekinah.
Eros implies a yearning for unity, harmony, and completion. Shekinah is the aspect which receives an impulse from its masculine counterpart, Yesod, and engages in the creative activity of harmonization. It is a mystical marriage bringing balance to the world. This marriage is God’s call to Himself in a transfiguration of His harmony in love. One important principle in Zoharic thought is man’s role in maintaining the sefirotic balance. What is found in heaven is found in transfigured parallel in the world. The actions of man affect sefirotic harmony, balance, and wholeness. In following Torah, one influences one’s sefirotic counterparts, thereby helping to keep the divine realms in harmony.
Cupid and Psyche (Roman) Kama, lord of love (Hindu) Sir Lancelot and Guinevere (Celtic legend)
Outmoded but archetypal - the fairytale romance of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. It came complete with a meddling mother and jealous siblings, but no fairy tale ending. The jealousy was there when Diana's good looks and sparkling personality captured the affections of the world. But the relationship quickly went from the "in love" stage to that of counterdependent behavior and power struggles. Charles triangulated the relationship from the beginning, leaving room only for pseudointimacy based on false-self roles. When the relationship degraded further, they began living totally independent lives based on their respective interests. The conflicts cooled down because they simply left one another alone, relying on their "false couple" image. The marriage de-railed prior to the stage of co-creative interdependence. John Lennon and Yoko Ono; Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
___________________________________________________________________________________ DIALOGUE WITH EROS & PSYCHE
You may use a little self-reminder, when caught in old emotional patterns in your relationships. Just "Ask your Anima!" or animus, discussing it with the contrasexual aspect of yourself. Even if the discussion is not fluid, the response of the inner figure will be quite revealing. Is there envy, competition, immaturity, narcissism, or an opening for safely revealing yourself to the "other"? Notice how your beloved is similar to or different from your parent and idealized anima or animus image. What is realistic. Remember, no one will ever love you truly unconditionally simply because they are human. Also remember, the archetypal dynamic operates in, through, and behind all human relationship, conditioning it with its own divine agenda irrespective of our personal needs.
Some of the issues and areas of intimacy include sexuality, emotional intimacy, intellectual sharing, and other forms of communication. Aesthetics, creativity, recreation, crisis management, conflict management, commitment and spiritual sharing are fertile areas to dialogue about with these inner daimones. Also, try communing with their daughter, Voluptas, whose name originally meant "plunging into life." Jean Houston concludes her contemplation this mytheme with an image of fulfillment: "Thus Psyche's search for the Beloved of her soul has plunged her into discovering the psychic source of instinct, wisdom, discrimination, and culture. She now rises on strong but gossamer wings as the vision of transformation and the call to the soul."
EROS AND PSYCHE IN YOUR LIFE
1. Do you believe, or ever act like you believe that love means giving up yourself for another. Do you allow their needs to supersede your own?
2. Married or not, do you carry the fantasy that the "right" person will come along and heal your wounds if you simply wait long enough?
3. Do you "fall in love" with potential lovers quickly, or stay stuck in relationships where no growth takes place?
4. Can you relate to Psyche's tasks from any period of your life? Is this dynamic still in process? If the developmental process derailed in any of your relationships have you noticed a pattern or similarity with your early childhood situation?
5. How committed are you to your personal growth and how supportive of your partner's personal growth?
6. Do you have a means of negotiating conflicts and differences? What is it?
7. During the "in love" stage, we are essentially still "living at home" in a state of blissful fusion, trying to recreate and maintain the unconscious unity of parent and child. The yearning for this original condition may be the source of divine longing. What is your relationship to this developmental stage right now?
8. Plato called love the "child of fullness and emptiness." We can be filled with it, or feel it as loneliness, heartache, and anguish. In your dialogue, you may also include the child of the union, Voluptas. How do you experience the fullness and emptiness of love? Describe your emotional hunger.
9. What does "soulful love" mean to you personally?
10. The dark side of love includes disillusionment, betrayal, anger, and grief. What was your biggest disappointment? What unrealistic expectations did you hold?
11. Have you used the imagination process (psyche) in a therapeutic way to further the bonding and intimacy in your relationships? How? We need to be able to imagine being different to change. Just imagine what different behaviors could produce different outcomes.
12. What significant relationship are you involved in? How does this relationship mirror your own sense of self-worth? What choice or decision do you need to make? What responsibility will you have to take for your decision? What needs to be combined, synthesized or brought together?