Friday, 10 May 2013

Divine love

When people think of loving the gods, they associate the "love of God" with religious devotion, commitment to the gods and goddesses. There are many different types of loving the gods, as there are many different types of love. To love gods, goddesses, or a particular divinity, has different forms and various feelings. Yet there is one aspect of loving a god, which is probably rare, and this is to be in love with a god. Mythology is rich in tales of gods taking on mortal lovers. Few, hardly any though, have taken mortals as married partners.

A mortal woman, Psyche fell in love with the god Eros. She had to follow dangerous trials and entered darkness, to do as she had to, so that she would become fully united with her god. I'll examine this story a bit further soon on this subject. There is the tale of the holy avatar Krishna who in love with a princess named Radha. They were then spiritually and physically joined. This idea of divine love is how one can explore the deepest aspect of ones soul with the universe. There is a complex tapestry of emotions, given symbols and flowers, with the meanings obvious and in secret.

The Greek myths are filled with gods and goddesses taking mortal lovers. The tale of Eros and Psyche is harsh and gritty in comparison to the Radha-Krishna romance of Hinduism. Some believe it's a fairytale but there is more to it.

Psyche was a beautiful woman and admired by everyone. People commented that her beauty surpassed the goddess Aphrodite. This made the goddess angry. She ordered her son, Eros, to strike the girl with an arrow and make her fall in love with a beast. When Eros encountered Psyche, who was fast asleep in her room, he fell in love with her the moment he saw her. Unable to inform his mother, he returned home without fulfilling his duty. But Psyche was a very lonely young woman. Men wouldn't marry her. One day her father visited the Oracle of Delphi and met the god Apollo, who instructed him to give Psyche to a winged serpent as a bride. He was so worried that he had to take Psyche across to the caves and leave her there, for the monster to arrive and marry her. Zephyr, a god of wind, rescued Psyche from this fate. He lifted her up in the air, and carried her to a shimmering gold palace to be with her husband. Psyche found herself guided by a strange man's voice, who appeared loud throughout the palace. Psyche was given delicious food and sweet scented baths although she never saw who it was speaking to her. Then at night, this male voice whispered into her ear and joined her in bed. She became happy there with her new husband but she couldn't see him. The voice belonged to the god Eros.

Psyche was soon missing her father and two sisters. She asked her husband if they could visit her. Eros agreed but warned her not to be influenced by their words. One day Zephyr brought the two sisters of Psyche to the palace. After the reunion of joy, they had a feast and the sisters turned jealous of Psyche living in luxury. On their way out of the palace, ready to go home, the sisters felt bitter and told Psyche that she was married to a winged serpent.          

Psyche felt paranoid after listening to the words of her sisters. She forgot her husbands warning from earlier. Believing that her husband was a winged serpent, she decided to kill him while he slept. Carrying a lit candle and a knife, she entered his chamber. The candle light revealed a very handsome man sleeping and Psyche was utterly relieved that this was really her husband. Then in her excitement, a drop of wax from the candle fell and landed on Eros' back. He woke and stared at Psyche. He informed her who he was and told her he would leave her because she hadn't trusted him enough. He disappeared into the sky. Psyche was distressed at having lost her husband, the god Eros. She felt determined now to prove that she trusted him.

She visited the temple of Aphrodite and pleaded for the goddess to talk to her son, Eros. Aphrodite was displeased. She told Psyche that if she wanted to be with Eros again, she had to carry out a task. It was to separate different individual seeds from a big pile within a day. Psyche couldn't cope with this, until a group of ants helped her separate the seeds.  Aphrodite was angry and set another task for Psyche, that was dangerous. She was ordered to climb a steep, slippery cliff and collect some water.from a river. Psyche was not able to climb the steep cliff, but an eagle helped her get some water. Aphrodite was angry and set a third task for Psyche. She ordered her to enter the underworld carrying a box, meet Persephone the Queen of the Dead, and drain some of Psyche's beauty into the box. Psyche underwent this perilous task, and when she returned after successfully completing it, Aphrodite decided to keep her as a slave.

This erupted in anger from other gods at such cruelty towards a young woman. Hermes visited the god Eros to inform him of all this. Eros was overcome by the news that Psyche did this for him. He returned to her and loved her. Psyche was made immortal and remained with Eros happily.

In the story there is a familiar children's fairytale "Beauty and the Beast", where a woman spends time with a monster. She grows to love him and because of this, the beast reveals his true identity as a handsome prince.

The image is "Guardian Angel" by Rowena Morrill

1 comment:

  1. ...yes ~ this story doth have much in the way of an ingredients list!...
    ...so toO ~ doth every story carry ~ messages to be gleaned and shared!...
    ...the wonder of the tales ~ nurturing that which ~ is handed down thru' the ages! ~ always such a delightful treat! ~ blessed be! ~ dear kindred sister!...(O: