The “myth of the Psyche” is one of the mythological and symbolic stories of ancient Greece and Rome, which, at least in the sense that the name is equivalent to the word “psyche” and the prefix of the words psychology and psychiatry, can be of interest to health professionals.
Although this myth was first narrated in the second century AD by the Platonic philosopher “Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis” in his book “Metamorphoses”, the myth undoubtedly dates back to prehistoric times.
Aphrodite had a son named Amor (Eros, Cupid). Cupid, the son of Aphrodite and Ares, is commissioned to love and seduce humans, animals, and plants. Amor (love) has a golden bow and arrow, and whoever is destined by Aphrodite, targets her chest with these golden arrows. After being shot, the shooter falls in love with someone who gets in her way for the first time.
The ancient Greeks believed that the “conditions of love” were created by Aphrodite with the golden arrows of Cupid. Eros (Cupid) is responsible for the fall in love with humans, as well as for the estrus of animals and plants, and basically regenerates the world at the behest of Aphrodite.
When Aphrodite became jealous of Psyche, she asked Eros to wound Psyche with her arrow in her sleep, and at the same time a very ugly human being was placed in front of her so that Psyche would fall in love with him.
But when Eros lay on the Psyche’s bed, the psyche opened her eyes, and although Eros was invisible, Psyche looked deep into his gaze. Eros suddenly panicked and the arrow landed on his shoulder and “Eros” fell in love with “Psyche”.
Upon learning of this, Aphrodite did not allow Eros to marry Psyche. Eros also went on strike. From then on, Eros did not make anyone to fall in love with any creature with his arrow, and since no creature fell in love, of course, birth did not take place.
This process led the world to land and destruction. Aphrodite, who saw the world on the brink of extinction, found a way to back down a little and allowed Eros to flirt with Psyche, provided that Psyche was alone in a palace in the world of the gods. And Eros only has the right to hug her without seeing “Psyche”, even in the dark of night. And if this mortal man sees Cupid, there will be a distance as wide as the east and the west of their world.
Meanwhile, the parents of “Psyche” (King and Queen), who were deeply concerned about the condition of their daughter, who, despite her boundless beauty, had no suitors, turned to the priest of the Temple of Apollo.
The priest’s version was that in order to break the spell (curse of the gods), “Psyche” had to wear a wedding dress on a mountain top so that a monster would mingle with him and the gods would break their curse. “Psyche” went to the top of the mountain and Aphrodite asked “West wind” (Zephyrus) to take “Psyche” to one of the palaces of the gods so that “Eros” could make love to her in complete darkness overnight.
Although “Psyche” had never seen her husband, but she understood his unique love in this love affair and was not afraid of him. This process continued until Cupid allowed Psyche (who had never seen the groom) to visit her family.
The “Psyche’s” sisters came to the palace to see her. They approached her husband from “Psyche”. “Psyche” told them that he did not know him because he came and went in the dark of night and did not allow her to turn on the lights.
The Psyche’s sisters who were jealous of her said that this was definitely the monster. His intention is to swallow you and your baby together after pregnancy and childbirth. This statement of the sisters caused “Psyche” to turn on a light at night, when Eros was asleep, contrary to her promise, and this time “Psyche” fell in love with Eros.
“Psyche” was so stunned by Eros’ beauty that he poured hot lamp oil on Eros (Cupid) and woke Eros. As soon as Eros’ eyes were opened to the “Psyche”, as Aphrodite had said, the two moved away from the east and the west of the universe.
After the separation, Psyche decided to take revenge on her jealous sisters. She told them that my embraced all nights is the king of beauty who welcomes you as well and you have to go to the same top of the mountain to meet him, throw yourself so that the westerly wind will take you to the beautiful king.
The sisters did the same, and since the wind did not have such a mission, the “Psyche’s” sisters were thrown from the summit and dead. Psyche then asked the priests to ask the gods to forgive her for her misconduct with Cupid.
Aphrodite accepted the priests’ request, but set conditions for the pardon, saying that she would be pardoned if “Psyche” could pass the tests I had given her.
Psychic’s first mission was to separate an huge pile of mixed grains before sunset provided by Aphrodite. This was impossible for Psyche, but an army of ants came to her aid and finished it for her.
Psyche’s second mission was to pick up wool from golden goats, which were very dangerous, and bring them to Aphrodite. This difficult mission was well done with the help of the grasses of that area. In this way, the sticky grasses cut off a part of the sheep’s wool So Psyche made it as well.
Psyche’s third mission was to bring water jugs to Aphrodite from a well guarded by a dangerous snake. This time an “eagle” came to her aid and filled the water container. So “Psyche” completed all three of her missions well with the help of nature, but Aphrodite was not so easily manipulated. Aphrodite told Psyche:
You have suffered so much that you are old and ugly, so you must go to the land of the dead (the underworld) and go to Persephone (the same as Persephone, the goddess of the land of spirits, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter and the wife of Hades, the god of the underworld). Ask for a beauty and youth elixir for you in this box, and you will be beautiful again after opening the box.
With the guidance of a tower that wanted to escape to the underworld, Psyche found her way into the realm of ghosts, unaware that Aphrodite and Persephone had conspired, and instead of being poured into the box of the “elixir of youth,” the “elixir of eternal sleep.” It was dumped and as soon as it was opened in the box, the cat fell into eternal sleep.
After this incident, Cupid goes to the psyche and removes the sleep from her face with his wings. He then goes to Jupiter (Zeus, the god of the gods) and tells him his story. Zeus (Jupiter) also accepts his complaint and agrees to the marriage of “Eros” and “Psyche” and “Psyche” who was from “Mortals” becomes “immortal” by drinking the wine of the gods “Ambrosia” and marries Cupid.
The essence of the story is that the origin of “Psyche” was mortality and immortality, but his destination and destiny is immortality. The fruit of the marriage of “Eros and Psyche” is a girl named “Hedon” (meaning joy and pleasure) who in Greek mythology is the goddess of indestructible pleasure. By examining this mythical story, one can understand what the ancient Greeks and Romans (especially the Platonists) thought about the psyche:
First: If Psyche remains only in its origin, it disappears with death. But the mental destination is immortality, to reach which one must pass very difficult tests. Therefore, not all human beings have an immortal psyche, and with the decay of the body in the soil, the psyche is also destroyed. Only those who pass the difficult tests will have an immortal and immortal face. So depending on how we look at the psyche (origin or destination), the Platonic philosopher’s view of the psyche can be materialistic or non-materialistic, similar to what Rumi wrote:
The spirit unfolds its wings (to fly) upwards;
The body has stuck its claws in the earth.
And “Mulla Sadra” has said:
“The physical soul of occurrence, the spirituality of survival”
That is, the psyche has a physical origin and a spiritual survival.
Second: The inviter of “Psyche” is Cupid, Amor or Eros, Eros’s job is to connect and his mission is to give birth. This is the “libido” that Freud called the “Psyche’s essence”. Perhaps the importance of love in mystical discourse and literature is rooted in this myth.
Third: Humans can be loved by the gods as long as they follow the framework of the gods and remain in darkness and ignorance! But man is curious, and the desire to know in him overcomes the desire for security and comfort, and crosses the red line of the gods: what Adam and Eve(Hava) were expelled from paradise in the Hebrew myths who ate the forbidden fruit, and what Psyche who lit the forbidden lamp .
It seems that when man becomes aware of his own choice, they are driven away from the gods (descent). Man is born in a “pleasant childlike innocence.” When he eats the forbidden fruit and exercises his choice, he is deprived of the sweetness of ignorance. He can no longer return to childish happiness, there is no way back, he must continue to take risks and move forward to sit in the place of the gods himself. (Sunset of Nietzsche’s idols and humanism)
Fourth: By reading Jung, we can talk about the last stage of Psyche’s journey. When man enters the underworld (irony of the unconscious) to obtain the box of beauty (irony of art and creativity), he may experience eternal sleep (irony of madness). Thus, “communication with the unconscious” may throw us into an autistic, imaginative, sleepy, and psychotic world. In this regard, “Joseph Campbell” writes in the book “The Power of Myth”:
The “mystic” swims in the same sea in which the “madman” drowns.
Who is mystic?
A person who is able to travel to the Autistic world within himself and bring souvenirs from there, and that souvenir is “his unique view of the world.” It seems that in order to “become an artist” and “be creative”, one must inevitably embark on this journey, and if one does not relate to one’s subconscious (the repository of treasures), one will never be able to achieve one’s self-actualization or individuation.
Because everything he learns in the outside world is repetitive and he has to explore his underground reservoirs to find new things, and there is a risk of drowning in his underworld or, in other words, “psychosis”. Interestingly, like Psyche, who traveled to the dark land of Hades in search of eternal youth, in mystical tales, “Khidr” went into darkness to find the water of life.
Fifth: In this myth, you saw that the prerequisite for entering the underworld is success in tests that were intended to have material elements: grain, wool, and water! Therefore, the immortality of the psyche requires that the seeker be able to know and apply “nature” and its rules. In the myth of the Psycho, ants, grasses and eagles (insects, plants, animals) help the Psycho to come out of the tests proud. This is the physical (biological) health that is necessary to enter the subconscious.
Sixth: Eric Fromm in The Crisis of Psychoanalysis and The Art of Listening says:
“There are two interpretations of Thanatos (death instinct), one is the dual “‘llibido- Thanatos” like ‘Yang and Yin’ in Chinese philosophy that complement each other and should be together, and the other is the ‘extreme Thanatos that promotes death in psychiatry. Manifested as a craving for suicide or other suicide. In this story, “Extreme Thanatos ” can be seen in the two sisters of Psyche, because they, without any merit, wanted to enter a position that they did not have the ability to do, and this led to their destruction. “In Platonic philosophy, which also has a great influence on Iranian mysticism, not everyone has the ability to experience revelation and enter the world of the gods. The gods take the first step in choosing!”
Seventh: At the beginning of Cupid’s love, the psyche was asleep, then the lovemaking continued in the dark, the consciousness caused deprivation and regret, and difficult steps took place until the second connection was possible.
“Hafez“ has written about this state as follows:
“Love made it easy at first, but problems came after”
It can be understood that the beginning of love in sleep and darkness is the same neurotic love that arises under the influence of anima-animus projection on another person, the end of which is failure because light causes the collapse of projection. In order for love to continue, one needs to communicate with the anima-animus within oneself. It also needs to reach maturity. It is then that he can see and like the other person as he is, not as he wishes.
Eighth: The Jungians and Neo-Jungians believe that myths are the spiritual roadmap of mankind, and mythologists are inspired by this roadmap. Accordingly, the “healer” is a seeker who has eaten the “forbidden fruit” of choice and awareness and has become acquainted with the tragic nature of life.
He is the “traveling psyche”, a journey from the “dead psyche” to the “immortal psyche” and the myth-centred therapist must be able to discern what stage this psyche is at and what tools and dangers it needs to go to the next stage. With this view, myths find more and more function than entertainment.
Dr. Mohammad Reza Sargolzaei – Psychiatrist
Translated By: Negar Kolkar
Photo From: meteoweb.eu
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