Eros' Hidden Task
This is part of a series of articles, beginning here:
Venus Goes Retrograde: The Tale of Eros and Psyche
Psyche receives a lot of help in the completion of her four tasks, often at the very moment when she has given up. Where does that help come from? It appears as if by magic from resources that are close at hand, but the power behind that help is Eros himself. He stirs the ants up to help Psyche sort the seeds and he breathes wind into the reeds that tell Psyche the secret of how to gather the golden fleece. The eagle that fills the crystal goblet is sent by Zeus (Jupiter), who is Eros’ father and is helping him. And Eros himself shows up to gather up the stygian sleep and cram it back into the box so that Psyche may return with it to Aphrodite’s temple. Without love to inspire her every move, how could Psyche ever reawaken love? And so he is her helper, but he cannot do these things for her.
Eros has his own story, which is the negative space around Psyche’s story. His is the story of how erotic love connects with the soul and matures into intimate love.
Eros represents erotic love. He is portrayed in Greco-Roman mythology as a mother’s son, a male principle that arose from the feminine. But even Love had to grow up and leave his mother. Eros’ journey begins when he first catches sight of Psyche (having been sent to kill her by Aphrodite). He pricks himself with one of his own arrows and falls in love with her. This means he must change from devoting himself to beauty to devoting himself to soul.
Instead of killing Psyche, Eros has her carried away to a hidden castle where he lives with her. But he is a god—love is an eternal principle, a divine thing, and it cannot live forever with that which is mortal. The marriage between Eros and Psyche is inherently unsustainable as long as Psyche is not a goddess. Eros has married beneath himself, captivated by Psyche despite knowing that she would age and one day die. You might say he was hanging around a girl from the wrong side of town.
A story is no story without setbacks. What did Eros do when Psyche lifted the lamp and viewed him in the light? He flew away to his mother, Beauty. Eros’ part of the story is about how erotic love must learn to stop revolving around the beauty (Aphrodite) that gave birth to him and start instead apprehending the soul inside what he loves.
The tale of Eros and Psyche is a tale of converting passionate love into intimate, enduring love. Passionate love is intense and consuming—if you were to try to live that way on an everyday basis, it would burn your life away. Enduring love is less intense, but it is what passionate love turns into when it learns to bear the light of day.
At the beginning of the story, the Soul (Psyche) is in love with Love itself, and by the end she has taken a hard look at Love and deepened her soul. Love is already divine; the soul has to earn her divinity. At the beginning, erotic love (Eros) is in love with the beauty that aroused it (his allegiance to Aphrodite) and has to sneak around to explore his connection with the soul (Psyche) and even leave her to return to beauty. Ultimately, the soul wins him over and Eros gets to have, not just sexuality with beauty, but sexuality with soul. Not just erotic love, but intimate love.
Put another way, the psyche falls in love with love, but love itself is in thrall to the beauty of the beloved and needs to learn to love the beloved’s psyche. Love is the offspring of beauty and is devoted to beauty, but upon encountering the soul, love is awakened and made conscious.
The message here for the Soul is: Do your own soul-work. A mature lover will see your depth and not run to Beauty to escape encountering the Soul.
The message here for Love is: Beauty is enthralling, but connection to the Soul is what’s needed to create the enduring connection that will allow Love’s expression over a lifetime.
There’s one final post in this thread, Psyche Is Made Immortal . . .