Lessons from Cupid and Psyche

Posted by M ws On Monday, October 1, 2012 1 comments
When 'Cupid' comes to mind, we often lapse into thoughts of love and even pictures of Cupid...

But there is more to Cupid than just arrows that hit the heart that make one fall in love with another.

This morning, I'd like to share with you two versions of the story of Cupid and Psyche. The first is by Paul Coelho and the second is the original story. May you be blessed and inspired by the tale and lessons within. Have a nice day!!!

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The Myth of Psyche by Paul Coelho

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess, admired by everyone, but whom no one dared to propose to.

Desperate, the king consulted the god Apollo, who said that Psyche should be left alone, in a mourning dress, at the top of a mountain. Before daybreak, a serpent would come to her and marry her.

The king obeyed, and throughout the night the princess waited, terrified and freezing, for the arrival of her husband. She ended up falling asleep.

As she awoke, she was in a beautiful palace, transformed into a queen.

Every night her husband would come to her, they made love, and he had just one condition: Psyche could have anything she desired, but she should trust him completely and never see his face.

The young woman lived happily for a very long time; she had comfort, affection, joy, she was in love with the man who came to her every night.

Once in a while, however, she was afraid of being married to a horrible serpent. One night, while her husband slept, she illuminated their bed with a lantern and found Eros (or Cupid), a man of incredible beauty, beside her.

The light woke him up and he found out that the woman he loved wasn’t able to fulfil his only desire, and disappeared.

Every time I read this story, I asked myself: Will we never be allowed to discover the face of love? It was necessary that many years passed below the bridge of my life, until I could understand that love is an act of faith in another person, and her face shall stay covered in mystery.

Each moment shall be lived and enjoyed, but whenever we try to understand it, the magic disappears.

After I accepted this, I also allowed my life to be guided by a strange language, which I call ‘signs’. I know the world is talking to me, and I need to listen to it, and if I do that, I will always be guided toward what there is of the most intense, passionate and beautiful.

Of course it isn’t easy, and sometimes I feel like Psyche at the cliff, cold and terrified; but if I am able to overcome that night and surrender to mystery and to the faith in life, I always end up waking up in a palace. All I need is to trust in Love, even running the risk of erring.

Concluding the Greek myth: Desperate to have her love back, Psyche submits herself to a series of tasks imposed by Aphrodite (or Venus), Cupid’s (or Eros’s) mother, who was envious of her beauty.

One of these tasks was to give Aphrodite some of her beauty. Psyche becomes curious about the box that should contain the beauty of the goddess, and again, she isn’t able to deal with Mystery and decides to open it.

She didn’t find anything of beauty in the box, but an infernal sleepiness that left her inert, and without movement.

Eros/Cupid is in love as well, regretting not having been more tolerant toward his wife. He is able to enter the castle and wake her up from this profound sleep with the tip of his arrow and tells her once again: ‘You almost died due to your curiosity.’

This is the great contradiction: Psyche who sought to find safety in knowledge, found insecurity. Both of them went to Jupiter, the supreme God, to implore for this union never to be undone. Jupiter strongly advocated for the cause of the lovers and got Venus to agree. From that day on, Psyche (the essence of the human being) and Eros (love) are forever united.

Those who don’t accept it and always seek an explanation for the magic and mysterious, human relations will lose the best of what life has to offer.

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Cupid and Psyche, also known as The Tale of Amour and Psyche and The Tale of Eros and Psyche, is a myth that first appeared as a digressionary story told by an old woman in Lucius Apuleius' novel, The Golden Ass, written in the 2nd century AD. Apuleius likely used an earlier tale as the basis for his story, modifying it to suit the thematic needs of his novel.

It has since been interpreted as a Märchen, an allegory and a myth. Considered as a fairy tale, it is neither an allegory nor a myth, but the folkloric tradition tends to blend these.

The Legend

Envious and jealous of the beauty of a mortal girl named Psyche, Venus asks her son Cupid (known to the Greeks as Eros) to use his golden arrows while Psyche sleeps, so that when she awakens, Venus (Aphrodite in the Greek tradition) would place a vile creature for her to fall in love with. Cupid finally agrees to her commands after a long debate. As he flies to Psyche's room at night, he becomes invisible so no one can see him fly in through her window. He takes pity on her, for she was born too beautiful for her own safety. As he slowly approaches, careful not to make a sound, he readies one of his golden arrows. He leans over Psyche while she is asleep and before he can pierce her shoulder with the tip of his arrow, she awakens, startling him, for she looks right into his eyes, despite his invisibility. This causes him to scratch himself with his arrow and fall deeply in love with her. He cannot continue his mission, for every passing second he finds her more appealing. He reports back to Venus shortly after and the news enrages her. Venus places a curse on Psyche that prevents her from meeting a suitable husband. Cupid is greatly upset, and decides that, as long as Psyche remains cursed, he will no longer shoot arrows, which will cause the temple of Venus to fall.

After months of no one — man or animal — falling in love, marrying, or mating, the Earth starts to grow old, which causes concern to Venus, for nobody praises her for Cupid's actions. Finally, she agrees to listen to Cupid's demands, allowing him his one desire, which is Psyche. Venus, upset, agrees to his demands only if he begins work immediately. He accepts the offer and takes off, shooting his golden arrows as fast as he can, restoring everything to the way it should be. People again fall in love and marry, animals far and wide mate, and the Earth begins to look young once again.

When all continue to admire and praise Psyche's beauty, but none desire her as a wife, Psyche's parents consult an oracle, which tells them to abandon their daughter on the nearest mountain, for her beauty is so great that she is not meant for mortal men. Terrified, they have no choice but to follow the oracle's instructions. But then Zephyrus, the west wind, carries Psyche away to a fair valley and a magnificent palace where she is attended by invisible servants until nightfall, and in the darkness of night the promised bridegroom arrives and the marriage is consummated. Cupid visits her every night to sleep with her, but demands that she never light any lamps, since he does not want her to know who he is until the time is right.

Cupid allows Zephyrus to take Psyche back to her sisters and bring all three down to the palace during the day, but warns that Psyche should not listen to any argument that she should try to discover his true form. The two jealous sisters tell Psyche, then pregnant with Cupid's child, that rumour is that she had married a great and terrible serpent who would devour her and her unborn child when the time came for it to be fed. They urge Psyche to conceal a knife and oil lamp in the bedchamber, to wait till her husband is asleep, and then to light the lamp and slay him at once if it is as they said. Psyche sadly follows their advice. In the light of the lamp Psyche recognizes the fair form on the bed as the god Cupid himself. However, she accidentally pricks herself with one of his arrows, and is consumed with desire for her husband. She starts to kiss him, but after a while, a drop of oil falls from her lamp onto Cupid's shoulder and wakes him. She watches him fly away, and she falls from the window to the ground, sick at heart.
Psyche then finds herself in the city where one of her jealous elder sisters lives. She tells her what had happened, then tricks her sister into believing that Cupid has chosen her as a wife on the mountaintop. Psyche later meets her other sister and deceives her likewise. Each sister goes to the top of the peak and jumps down eagerly, but Zephyrus does not bear them and they fall to their deaths at the base of the mountain.
Psyche searches far and wide for her lover, finally stumbling into a temple where everything is in slovenly disarray. As Psyche is sorting and clearing the mess, Ceres (Demeter to the Greeks) appears, but refuses any help beyond advising Psyche that she must call directly on Venus, who caused all the problems in the first place. Psyche next calls on Juno (Hera to the Greeks) in her temple, but Juno gives her the same advice. So Psyche finds a temple to Venus and enters it. Venus then orders Psyche to separate all the grains in a large basket of mixed kinds before nightfall. An ant takes pity on Psyche, and with its ant companions, separates the grains for her.

Venus is outraged at her success and tells her to go to a field where golden sheep graze and to retrieve some golden wool. A river-god tells Psyche that the sheep are vicious and strong and will kill her, but if she waits until noontime, the sheep will go to the shade on the other side of the field and sleep; she can then pick the wool that sticks to the branches and bark of the trees. Venus next asks for water flowing from a cleft that is impossible for a mortal to attain and is also guarded by great serpents. This time an eagle performs the task for Psyche.

Venus, furious at Psyche's survival, claims that the stress of caring for her son, made depressed and ill as a result of Psyche's lack of faith, has caused her to lose some of her beauty. Psyche is to go to the Underworld and ask the queen of the Underworld, Proserpina (Persephone to the Greeks), to place a bit of her beauty in a box that Venus had given to Psyche. Psyche decides that the quickest way to the Underworld is to throw herself off some high place and die, and so she climbs to the top of a tower. But the tower itself speaks to Psyche and tells her the route that will allow her to enter the Underworld alive and return again, as well as telling her how to get past Cerberus (by giving the three-headed dog a small cake); how to avoid other dangers on the way there and back; and most importantly, to eat nothing but coarse bread in the underworld, as eating anything else would trap her there forever. Psyche follows the orders precisely, rejecting all but bread while beneath the Earth.

However, once Psyche has left the Underworld, she decides to open the box and take a little bit of the beauty for herself. Inside, she can see no beauty; instead an infernal sleep arises from the box and overcomes her. Cupid (Eros), who had forgiven Psyche, flies to her, wipes the sleep from her face, puts it back in the box, and sends her back on her way. Then Cupid flies to Mount Olympus and begs Jupiter (Zeus) to aid them. Jupiter calls a full and formal council of the gods and declares that it is his will that Cupid marry Psyche. Jupiter then has Psyche fetched to Mount Olympus, and gives her a drink made from ambrosia, granting her immortality. Begrudgingly, Venus and Psyche forgive each other.
Psyche and Cupid have a daughter, called Voluptas (Hedone in Greek mythology), the goddess of "sensual pleasures", whose Latin name means "pleasure" or "bliss".

Source: Wikipedia

1 comments to Lessons from Cupid and Psyche

  1. says:

    CLY Chinese, Greek and Norse mythologies.A celestial kingdom parallel to the one on earth. The difference is that the celestial beings have superpowers but unfortunately the failings of humans. Affairs and infatuations are common. Jealously and bitter discord among members. Jealous of someone being more beautiful than you. Isn't that ridiculous for a being with superpower? Probably this is just the message the old story teller wanted to convey. One is never satisfied what one has and always covert what the other has, even though one has superpowers and immortality. But these beings were worshipped, blending reality with mythology. Some say it is a critique of the kingdom on earth.
    Coming back to the institution of marriage, young girls were match-made in the near past and made to marry someone that they only see on matrimonial night. They do not know what they are in for, a monster or a nice man. There are many cases of girls being married to drunkards or mentally challenged men. These are the real monsters of the present.
    Marriage made in heavens? Do we depend on some celestial beings shooting arrows into us before we fall in love? Then how do people fall out of love?
    Well I am not cynical or worse, guilty of not being romantic. The little quote from Pearl S. Buck (The Good Earth) sums up what the main character hope for in a wife, "Wang Lung notices with disappointment that his wife's feet are not bound and that her face is indeed as plain as was rumored. However, she has no pockmarks or a split lip, as he had requested, and he finds comfort in this." They fell in love after the marriage.
    Well mythologies made good reading in my teenage days, where there were no cartoons, cable TV and Internet. Now new celestial beings have taken over from the old. We have the League of Nations X-men and Avengers, populated by aliens out to save or destroy the world. But the kids know that this is fiction.
    Mythology is what make a human being feel proud being a human. Despite our imperfections, we can still strive for the best and has hope for a good life.

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