The Symbolism of the Story Psyche and Psyche Meaning
The story of Psyche meaning is filled with lessons about listening to our inner intuition and trusting our instinct. This story also carries lessons of love and trust in our partners. This is an epic, timeless Greek myth that never loses its depth and meaning to the reader over the years.
I love classic Greek mythology because these myths serve as effective parables. The story of Psyche is particularly noteworthy as it relates to the progress of the soul and can be easily translated into our own life experience.
My favorite rendition of the story of Psyche was told by Lucius Apuleius Platonicus, a Latin scholar of prose who introduces Psyche in the fourth book of his renowned piece: The Golden Ass. This article draws comparisons between the story of Psyche and humankind’s journey into soulful evolution.
In Apuleius’ version, Psyche is born of nobility – a mortal – but she is also a princess of incomparable beauty. This sets the stage in terms of parable, as we can already relate to Psyche on a mundane level.
She is human, as we all are (at least, all of you reading this article). Moreover, she is born from royalty – as we all are too. Right from the start the parable of Psyche comes from the understanding every mortal is of regal descent because pure positive potential and immortality is humanity’s inherent birthright.
Psyche is so devastatingly beautiful, she attracts throngs of admirers, and the temple of Venus begins losing worshippers because everybody is hanging out to be in the presence of the lovely Psyche. Here’s another corollary: Royal beauty comes from the soul (indeed, the Greek word psyche is means “soul” as well as “butterfly” which underscores the theme of soulful evolution Learn more about psychic meaning here) and is a magnet, attracting a loyal following.
Each of us is equipped with spectacularly radiant inner beauty. When we allow this natural radiance to flow from our soul-centers, others will be compelled to be in our presence. Spontaneous, unfettered expression of the soul attracts attention as powerfully as pollen lures butterflies.
The comparisons between human soul development and the story of Psyche gets dicey from here as Venus, the goddess of love, becomes highly threatened by the radiant Psyche. Venus commands her son, Cupid, to extinguish Psyche’s loveliness by means of romantic trickery. Cupid’s mission is to procure a totally inappropriate (gruesome and lowly) mate for Psyche, and charm the two into a mismatched union.
We can pick up on themes of jealousy and vengeance in matters of love as we observe Venus’ call for action against Psyche. The unsavory (and irrational) actions of Venus points our attention to errant thinking. Observing Venus’ poor (and somewhat comical) judgment causes the mind to naturally explore alternative solutions. At least, that’s the idea of the parable.
Furthermore, we discover later in the story Venus’ nefarious schemes backfire horribly as her son Cupid, the very fist of vengeance she sent to pummel Psyche’s ephemeral beauty – not only fails in his mission, but falls in love with Psyche.
This turn of events symbolizes the inevitable ineffectiveness of vengeance.
Cupid’s love for Psyche isn’t without complication. They join in blissful harmony, but with a caveat: Psyche is never allowed to see the face of her lover.
For a time, Psyche is content with this. Feeding only on the nectar of love, and relishing the purity of their ecstatic connection – Psyche never gives a second thought to the concealment of Cupid’s face.
There’s a great moral to this. Bearing in mind the story of Psyche is synonymous with soulful evolution, we can intuit the nature of the soul is wholly accepting – and a source of unconditional love. Authentic bliss and freedom emerge from this relationship because there are no conditions of acceptance.
It’s not until much later when Psyche visits her sisters she begins to succumb to the trappings of restrictive/conditioned love, and all the illusions it implies. Her sisters convince Psyche the concealment of Cupid’s face is an abnormality, and misguide her into thinking her lover is actually an abomination.
At her sisters’ urging, Psyche hatches a ruse to catch a glimpse of Cupid’s face. Upon first sight, Cupid instantly flees her presence, withdrawing not only himself from her life – but evacuating his love and that sense of pure bliss too. She is left utterly crushed. The pain of his abandonment is heart-wrenching.
There’s huge significance in this turn of events. We all get misguided. At some point, we have all fallen victims to bad advice from others. Further, Psyche’s misdirection conveys humankind’s tendency to sometimes turn away from the light.
Rather than trust, and follow the radiant nature of our soul-guidance, to the exclusion of all other guidance – we can sometimes set ourselves off-course by following other people, false beliefs, or material objects. As we see in the consequential emotions and events exhibited in Psyche (heartbreak, depression, loneliness, desperation, hopelessness), the key to illumined bliss is following the light of the soul with blind faith (as illustrated in Psyche’s contentment at not knowing Cupid’s physical visage).
Psyche realizes this, and begins to make reparations. She accepts several challenges set forth by Venus, in an effort to win back her true connection with soul-love. Venus gives her impossible tasks, knowing there is no humanly viable way Psyche can succeed.
Regardless, to reward Psyche’s whole-hearted devotion to love, Cupid plays a part behind the scenes to insure her success at each task Venus doles out.
In the end, Psyche (with Cupid’s back-scene help) is victorious. Her unwavering commitment to true love, purity and soulful expansion is proof to Cupid of her sincerity and devotion. In fact, so intense was her dedication, it earned her the gift of immortality.
Ultimately, this is the finest lesson we can learn from the story of Psyche: The expansion and evolution of the human soul is guaranteed when we fix our focus on the pure potential of divine love.
Personally, this parable encourages me to ask: “Who or what you are following?” and the answer to this question always prompts me to make corrective action as needed.
So, what is your north star? Who or what do you pay your attention to? What possesses your full devotion? Food for thought, to be sure.
I hope this comparison between Psyche’s journey and the journey of our own psyche (soul) has brought some insight into your awareness.
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