Psyche and Eros Part 1: When Paradise Isn’t Good Enough

Psyche and Eros

What can mythology teach us about when life throws you a curve and you find a wonderful solution, only to discover that it’s not so perfect after all?

Greek myth says that long, long ago, there was a woman named Psyche who was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. In fact, she was so beautiful that all the eligible men thought her out of their league so she never got asked out. Here’s Psyche, the most gorgeous woman in the land, staying home on Saturday night and helping her mom weave instead of partying with her sisters and friends who were hanging with the fine fellas.

Time went on and Psyche’s parents began to get worried, all of Psyche’s friends were getting married and having families and here’s Psyche, as beautiful and sweet and smart as could be but without anyone to share her life with. And it wasn’t like she wasn’t trying. She’d go out and try to strike up a conversation with the man down at the Frozen Greek Yogurt shop but he would always turn his head away, all bashful like, and eventually start talking to some of the lesser ladies. This happened time and time again much to Psyche’s disappointment.


So, Psyche’s parents decided to stage an intervention. They decided to go to the great Oracle at Delphi and ask her what to do about their oddly destitute daughter. And with clarity and wisdom, greater than Psyche’s parents could understand at the moment, the Oracle told them that they were to take Psyche out to the bleak and craggy cliffs along the shore and leave here there to die. Perplexed and disturbed but faithful, Psyche’s parents did just that.

Revelations

Now Psyche, bewildered and forsaken, resigned herself to her fate as she lay on the rocks ready to die. She knew that nobody would ever love her and that the only fate for her was death. In this desperate condition, she fell asleep while waiting for the inevitable messenger of death and when she was sleeping, she was visited by a god, but not the one she was expecting. Instead the great god Eros came down and discovered her there distraught and ready to die. He fell in love with her upon first sight, as is want to happen with Greek gods, and asked his friend, the West Wind, to carry her to his palace.

Photo Cred: wallsave.com

Psyche awoke in Eros’s palace. It was dark and even in the shadows, she could sense its opulence and majesty. She didn’t know where she was or how she got there. Assuming she had died, she was perplexed because this wasn’t what she had understood the underworld was supposed to look like. Where was the river of Styx, where was that terrible underground path winding downward, where was Hades, the god of the underworld?

Soon a figure appeared in the darkness. Though Psyche could not see his face, as he spoke to her she could sense his gentle and kind nature. He explained that he was Eros, that he loved her, and that she was in his palace, and could live there the rest of her days. He told her that she could have whatever her desire fancied so long that she was never to see his face; therefore, he would only meet her in the darkness. Eros then vanished. Finally, her desires to be in love had miraculously been fulfilled.

Photo Cred: mythman.com

 

And so during her days she was treated to scented baths, servants, delicious food and drink, private yoga classes, and anything else she could possibly want. Each night Eros would visit her. Sometimes they would make love, sometimes they would eat together, but they would always fall asleep together.


Disruption in Paradise

However, each time Psyche awoke in the morning, Eros was never there. Psyche had never seen Eros’s face, for that was the agreement. Well, Psyche became lonely and one night as Psyche and Eros were enjoying a little pillow talk, she asked him in the darkness if she could have her sisters visit her here in the palace. At first, Eros was adamantly opposed to the idea but he loved Psyche and wanted her to be happy so eventually he relented and allowed her to summon her sisters for a visit.

Psyche’s sisters came and fell in love with the place. They loved the palace, the servants, and all the amenities.  Psyche’s sisters were perplexed that she had never seen her lover, Eros. The more questions they asked about him the more she realized that she really didn’t know much about him at all. “How can you be sure that he’s not some monster, some beast who is holding you captive here in this place?” they asked.

This planted a gnawing seed of doubt and curiosity in Psyche’s mind. So, later that night after her sisters left, and Eros came for his nightly visit, she lay there in the darkness and waited for Eros to fall asleep. She crept out of bed, grabbed a candle, lit it, and fisted a knife incase indeed he was a monster whereupon she planned to kill him. She crept back to where Eros lay sleeping and as the first ray of light shone upon Eros’s face, a shockwave of astonishment sent surged through Psyche’s entire body. Never had she seen anyone as beautiful as Eros. Surely he must be a god, she thought. She shivered as she looked at his beauty and the movement caused a drop of wax to drop from her candle and land on Eros’s shoulder waking him. When he realized what she had done, he lamented that she had broken the rule and that as a mortal she was bound to leave the palace and never return. And in a flash the West Wind carried her back to that desolate craggy shore where Eros had first laid eyes upon her.

The story will be continued . . .

Life Lessons

So, like many of us, there were aspects of Psyche’s life that didn’t seem to be working well. That old life needed to face a sort of death in order for a rebirth to happen. It meant the end of her old life as she knew it. And though her new life with Eros was something new and exciting, it wasn’t without sacrifices.

Often times when life isn’t working, maybe it’s an old relationship or job or belief system that doesn’t bring us alive anymore, that old life has to suffer a death. In this myth, the Oracle represents our deep inner-wisdom that prevails over any conscious or rational thought. This wisdom can also be facilitated by a teacher or mentor who might be able to see clearly. The Oracle could also represent the mysterious circumstances of life that sometimes simply work themselves out in a way that end up being perfect for us in the long run.

And even though Psyche’s new life seemed perfect in some ways, Psyche had the wisdom to betray the old, rigid beliefs, value systems and agreements, the dogma of her decision with Eros which kept her captive in a realm that she thought would make her happy but was itself a limiting paradigm. Something told Psyche that this wasn’t the end of her evolution, that some bigger step needed to occur even though it probably wasn’t a conscious decision. In this first part of the story there is little or no effort for any of these decisions, things simply happened and appeared for her.

What are the parts of your life that need to die? Old beliefs about place, self, work, family sometimes need to die in order to find a new version of ourselves. I don’t know what I feel about reincarnation, but I certainly feel like I’ve lived several lives within this life. I’m someone very different than even five years ago. Can you resonate with that? What are the ways that your life seems to have changed? Have you experienced any sort of death re birth, maybe without very much effort on your part? What are the old agreements and beliefs you need to let go of in order to truly embrace this new life for yourself.

Join me next week as Psyche starts to make some very conscious decisions . . .

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Scott Moore Yoga

Photo by Dallas Graham

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in New York City and when he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to trail run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats to places like Hawaii and Amalfi Coast and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program

 

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