EROS and PSYCHE: Mythology of the Erotic and Soulful Impulses
EROS & PSYCHE
Mythology of the Erotic and Soulful Impulses
from PANTHEON: Archetypal Gods in Daily Life, Iona Miller, ©1983
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 initiation story of Apuleius.
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. In the tale, Eros representing the reproductive passion
is transformed through its relationship with Psyche.
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 transformation formula of I.A.O. (Isis-Aphosis-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. 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 form 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). The same theme played out in the Dionysian mysteries,
where the god of ecstasy is torn limb from limb by the Maenads.
The story of Eros and Psyche on various arcs concerns such important human
areas as anima (for a man) and animus (for a 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
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 material, motherly type and the young sexual 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 en and women,
male 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 become 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 in 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 use 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.
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
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 seem 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, guru or 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-existent) relationships
and degraded relationships. The sensual animus may be presented as
the 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 within becomes. He provides her with inner light, not
inspiration which is a function of 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.
How does this myth of the divine lovers play our 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 rather than
enmeshment, vulnerability, self-disclosure, sensuality, ecstasy, as well
as respect, caring, belonging, togetherness, toleration, and constancy.
Jeffrey Satinover examines the role of the Self in relationship in a Jungian
tape, "Being Separate, Being Together." The 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
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,
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 -- trying to see what his unconscious relationship with her is.
In love, the root experience is of the archetype of the Self. The
broad, deep emotional experience coupled with detachment facilities 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 our 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. These 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 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
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 know one'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 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
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 defense 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 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 of
The associations of a complex can be detached from an image which should
be archetypal. We can consciously separate our what is personal and
human from what is archetypal and essentially 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.
Though many versions of this tarot trump, the Lovers, 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.
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 our 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
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 --
and the possibility of realizing sacred sexuality through the practice
of such pursuits as Tantra, where the divine is given it's due, though
seemingly incarnated in the partner.
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
In fact, the Greek word 'Pysche' 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 to 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 matte. 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
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 y 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 sister, Aphrodite, and Eros himself. She 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 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, the Word, 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 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
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, Pysche was able to complete
her nearly impossible task, through methodical concentration. Psyche's
ability to touch her unconscious depths have 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 wants to remain disguised in
Eros' anima projections, which hark back to 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
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.
DIALOGUE WITH EROS AND 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 ill 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 of 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 supercede your
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 behavior could begin producing different outcomes.
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