Image Credit: Evdokia Shorru Georgiou
The tale of Psyche and Eros is arguably one of the most notable of the Greek myths. One that has captivated and enlivened the poetic imagination of the Western world for centuries, and in more recent history a source of inspiration for Jungian depth psychology. It is through this way of seeing and relating to the story that we are shown a representation of a journey of an individual self, who is called Psyche.
A story of a young woman who through a series of seemingly impossible tasks learns to cast aside what is no longer required, trust in life, love without fear, and in doing so she becomes reunited with her soul.
It is a complex and rich story of personal growth and inner transformation with multiple twists and turns, and the more time that I spend with this narrative, the more I see, hear, and feel what is present. In many ways it is a story that has claimed me rather than me claiming the story and for this I am grateful if not a little bemused and bewildered.
Often referred to and referenced as a classical tale of star-crossed lovers, whose attraction for one another is overlaid with feelings of joy and delight, which move into betrayal, confusion, anger, and jealously before transforming once again into creativity, humility, compassion, redemption, and love.
A roller coaster of a plot line that is worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. But it is here that the similarities to an atypical Hollywood story end. As in this tale we discover that it is the Heroine, Psyche, rather than the Hero, Eros, who takes the leading role. It is this difference that invites us into the inner realms of the feminine and illustrates the alternative perspective of the Heroine’s journey. Which requires a propensity towards openness, receptivity, and re-union.
Qualities that are not so forth coming in our telling of the classical Hero’s journey, with often speak more of conquest, conflict, and competition. More a grasping than a receiving. Taking more than giving. Here, I am referring to The Hero’s Journey, as conveyed within the Greek classic, The Odyssey, and the later Celtic tale of Parsifal.
Psyche’s outer journey, which is symbolic of an inner journey, undertaken by a mortal woman marks a turning point in how the culture of that time perceived the place and role of women in society. The world was changing and Psyche’s story contained the seeds of a new story, one in which we see how a fellow human being can transform herself, as she learns to access her own agency and creativity, foresight, and ingenuity. She is the one doing the rescuing rather than being rescued.
The critical inflection point in this story is that Psyche, although she falls in love with a God, Eros, she is not a goddess, so she is not blessed with divine powers and abilities to defeat and deny the Gods their fun and mischief making. What Psyche requires are the human capabilities of courage, creativity, and resilience.
These three generative threads are Psyche’s to acquire and weave through her own endeavours, choices, connection, and trust. Then once we witness that these qualities have been securely woven into the beating heart of her journey, we see another bright and dominant thread emerge, that of the self who is reunited with the soul through the commitment and selfless act of love.
Love in this human context, like rich nourishing earth becomes the medium for each individual’s search for genuine personal growth, and a reminder that the integration of our experiences, however tragic or frightening they may be, mature and transform us. Love is the transformative life affirming energy and is symbolic of deep regenerative change within our true nature. Just like the image of the butterfly emerging into the light from its dark cocoon, so to Psyche enters the nourishing darkness of her soul to emerge as her true nature.
An adapt metaphor when we consider that to the Greeks, psyche is not only a synonym for soul, but psyche also meant "butterfly,” which suggests how this culture perceived the human soul as being physically present in both the outer and inner worlds of our human experience. We have the capacity to attend to both, we hold the intentionality of the form, and we also connect to the energetic flow of the field. Both our inner and outer connectivity of self and soul imaginatively weave the form and field together into one unified vision.
Now, I have long been attracted to bright shining threads but slowly as I learn to adjust my gaze and explore the evolving imagery within my psyche, I am discovering ways to look a little deeper and peer into the interwoven depths of our experience. To facilitate this way of seeing, one of my intentional creativity practices is to pause and focus my attention between the gaps in the printed word. I then invite my embodied imagination to consider what other riches and treasures might be present just below the surface of our everyday parlance, meaning and experience.
I am discovering that this process of calling upon my thinking, feeling, sensing and imagination, in an intentionally creative way, opens up new perspectives and doorways into the unknown. Here, I encounter, a gracious and generous darkness that is slowly illuminated as I deliberately shine a light on contemporary interpretations and pre-set terms of reference.
This process often reveals new inquiries which are compassionately unearthed not to provide new fixed frames of reference but to generate new questions and insights. New ways of seeing and attending to our shared human experiences. Which can challenge long held orthodox views that have become frozen in time and no longer serve as the common symbol of who we are and who we are becoming.
So, as I move into this more expansive and imaginative frame, I often stumble across new configurations which spark my curiosity and ponder why in this story…
The feminine, as portrayed by Psyche, or Soul, or both, is presented as the guiding energy, the life force of change and transformation, and the masculine, as portrayed in the form of the God, Eros, is shown as a supportive rather than directing or forceful energy.
There is an intuitive relationship, dynamic collaboration and guidance offered freely by the natural world, as illustrated in Psyche’s partnership with various creatures and plants, whose assistance ensures that she completes what could be perceived as impossible tasks.
There is the presence and continually shifting relationship with other feminine archetypal figures, Aphrodite, Demeter, and Persephone, throughout Psyche’s story. Do each of these Goddess figures represent a different dimension of the whole feminine experience? And, are we encountering in this story a moving and expanding image of the feminine as a form of living composition?
In which the feminine does not exist in one singular form but is multidimensional and continually regenerating herself, depending upon circumstance and need: with life herself being the underpinning heartbeat?
A combination of vastly different feminine faces who each exist within an evolutionary spiral. Which is a symbol of an older, larger, and more inclusive story of the way in which we each need one another and to grow together. Remembering that each has her rightful place at the table, and each is required to reclaim her individual and collective story, in her own image.
Psyche is an enigma, she is a mystery, and a riddle that has captivated the minds and hearts of academics, poets, writers, and painters throughout the centuries. Her story and her message stretch out through time, touching the lives of others and in the process inviting a pathway to transformation and a return to a natural self. Free from the constraints and restrictions of our conventional thinking, and symbolic of a turning point, as we enter the next phase of our evolution, and story, which I hope will be more free flowing, generous and inclusive in its orientation.
I will complete this post by sharing how I came upon the beautiful picture of Psyche and Eros, re-united in their love, that I feel captures Psyche’s spirit and the essence of the whole story.
There are lots of classical depictions that show Psyche in a very particular way and although they have a certain charm and quality none of them grabbed my attention. I felt that these images had become trapped in time, and these classical depictions are of an age that no longer speaks for who we are and who we are becoming.
So, it was by a happy circumstance that I came across the work of the Artist, Evdokia Georgiou, who very graciously gave me permission to use her painting of Psyche and Eros. Which exquisitely captures the idea that stories are not static, they shift and change according to the culture, the place, and the age in which we are living, and how we see the world and see ourselves within that world.
As soon as I saw this painting, I thought to myself, ‘yes’ this is a feminine response to a feminine story. In this painting a place has been made for everything whilst at the same time we are also invited to constellate the themes of the story into our own image. I think it is a uniquely beautiful depiction of two souls reunited and I hope you see something of that too.
Evodokia, writes of her picture, “Eros and Psyche is part of a series of paintings called, ‘Mythology’ in which I aim to view how a myth was used in the past and how could be act as a guideline nowadays. I see myth as an essential guideline for humans to get involve, explore, and enhance through contemporary applications and obligations. “
Evdokia is an Artist and Art Curator based in Limassol, Cyprus where she owns an Art workshop for her Art practice.
As a Fine Art graduate of University of Kent; Evdokia, in 2015, she was short-listed for the CVAN Platform Graduate Award. In addition, Evdokia has participated in several exhibitions as an artist and in events, as the designer and the leader of Art workshops in Cyprus, Ukraine, Italy, Spain, and United Kingdom.
Evdokia sees society as the macrocosm of the domestic space and vice versa and that these two spaces are complementary. Through her practice she aims to make people re-think about their social behaviour and challenge their everyday life more often. As a result, she uses the daily life as an inspiration and how it could be altered in order to explore and challenge the private and public realms of the everyday behaviour.
This is achieved through various ways including among others the transformation of ordinary objects into sculptures, through drawing and thread creations. In this way, Evodokia aims to illustrate a new vision and add a new dimension of the reality in the everyday social systems, realms, objects, and the objects’ functionality. Her practice also includes sociological, political, and philosophic aspects of the contemporary, and not only era, we are going through and how the daily life could be challenged.
You can learn more about Evdokia’s work and view her exhibitions, and sculptures at https://www.evdokiageorgiou.com/
Alchemy of the Soul: The Eros and Psyche Myth as a Guide to Transformation. Martin Lowenthal
Till We Have Faces. C.S Lewis
Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness. Marion Woodman
I specialise in weaving together, stories, images & nature connection practices to help people access their true nature, strengthen their creative fluency and increase their sense of wellness, and wellbeing in the world.