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Psyche, the soul  

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Notes from Hrana

Goddesses & Heroines text

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Hrana's Notes

I painted Psyche in 2000 for Llewellyn's 2001 Goddess Calendar.

from Goddesses and Heroines
  Exerpt from Goddess & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan
[Used by permission. This text is NOT included in the Goddess Oracle]

The Heroine of a Greek allegory, Psyche represented the human soul, married to the loving heart personified as the god Eros.   Psyche, the story goes, spent her days alone, making love each night in darkness with a husband she never saw; only under these conditions would he remain faithful to her.  For a while she lived happily enough.  But finally a fearful curiousity about his identity and a deep spiritual loneliness drove Psyche to bring a lamp into the bedroom.  Hardly had the woman seen the beautiful winged body of her lover than a bit of oil from her lamp, awakening him.  Instantly Eros flew away.  Thus the soul, the Greeks knew, could remain happy in romantic union, until unmet needs demanded conscious knowledge of the lover's real identity.

Next, the tale goes, Psyche was charged with many near-impossible tasks to gain back her beloved:  sorting overnight a roomful of seeds; catching the fleece of the sun's sheep; travelling to the underworld to ask for magical beauty ointment.  Intent on regaining Eros, she overcame these obstacles one by one.

But as Psyche returned from Hades with Persephone's ointment box, vanity overcame her.  She opened the jar to rub beauty cream on her weary face.  Psyche fell into a swoon and might have died, but Eros persuaded the Olympian divinities that she had struggled enough. She acended to heaven and was reunited with her lover, bearing two children, named Love and Delight.  In this allegory, the Greeks produced a magnificent tale of the relations of heart and mind, the journey through romance to real marriage, and the human joy born of the victorious struggle.

Back to TOP Text from Patricia Monaghan's The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines
Published by Llewellyn, copyright 1997.   Used by permission of the author.

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