Orpheus--Going the Distance for Love
Mars retrograde may be over, but it isn’t really finished until Mars has exited the “retrograde patch,” that span of 0-to-19 degrees of Fixed signs he’s been in for the last 2 months. So themes of anger management, self-assertion and the need to be a hero will pervade the atmosphere through May 17 and I’m continuing my thread about the virtues of a hero as told through classical Greek and Roman mythology. Today’s heroic virtue is devotion—the capacity to place one’s talents and abilities in the service of a greater power, to be a worthy instrument in the hand of God. Orpheus, legendary musician and charmer of beast, men and gods, was such an instrument.
Legends of Orpheus: Music, Charm and Devotion
Orpheus was a legendary musician of extraordinary talent and ability. He played the lyre so beautifully that he made rocks dance and stirred the hearts of even the most hardened individuals. While playing, he created a trance so beautiful that no listener wanted it to end and using his lyre he could tame wild animals. Nothing could withstand the charm of his music; it was like a superpower for him. Once, during the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece, he even appeased a storm with the power of song.
But Orpheus’ greatest accomplishment was to bring back his wife from the dead. Here’s how it happened. He had just won the woman of his dreams, lovely Eurydice, and had married her, when, just a few short weeks after their union, she was bitten by a snake and died. He mourned and played a dirge for her that stirred not only men, but gods also. He would not stop his grieving until he had made his way to the underworld, where he sang and played for those cold deities Pluto and Proserpine. And there he bent the will of the Lord of Death himself, and obtained a reprieve for Eurydice. But there was a catch—he was not allowed to look at her, but had to trust that she was following him, until he got her aboveground again. At the very last minute, because her footsteps were so quiet he could not hear them, he turned to look back at her, and she was carried away back to the underworld, with no recourse to try a second time.
Heroic Virtue #6: Devotion
Orpheus had a tremendous power to charm and could probably have made any woman fall in love with him. But his love for Eurydice was greater than his love for himself. She was, for him, an inspiration, a muse and the meaning behind everything beautiful in his life. So although his gift was great, his ability to be inspired by love was even greater.
Love does not have to take human form to serve as an inspiration to bring out a person’s heroic greatness. What is needed is to be devoted to something greater than yourself, something that endures beyond physical death, something divine.
Upon his own death, Orpheus went to the netherworld and was restored to the arms of his loving wife, who had been waiting for him there with a devotion equal to his own. It is said they wander the Elysian Fields together, hand in hand, and that Orpheus’ lyre now dwells in the sky as the constellation Lyra.
What Mars is Asking of You
Do you have a gift that you want, or even need, to give to the world?
What is your cause, your mission, the flag that rallies you?
What is the beautiful purpose that guides everything you do?
When you know that, you have transformed from a warrior, who lives for war, to a hero, who lives for a truly higher purpose.
Articles in this thread:
Mars Retrograde: The Hero’s Journey
Hercules, Hero of Strength
Achilles, Hero of Courage
Resourceful, Clever Odysseus
There’s Still Time To Be A Hero
Castor & Pollux: Brotherhood in the Trenches
Alexander the Great & the Gordian Knot
Orpheus: Going The Distance For Love