Cupid is the Rome equivalent to Eros and their names basically mean ‘desire’. Desire is the reason we humans have time. It is also said the Cupid is the god of erotic love, attraction and affection, hence we say he is the god of love. It is because of misinterpreting the myths and legends that we think the ancients were obsessed with sex. The myths are way more beautiful when they are translated correctly.
Most people know cupid as a chubby little baby with a bow and arrow. In the ancient myths he is a slender, young, handsome man. The chubby baby is a Renaissance period invention. Cupid is usually a minor character in stories except for the tale of Cupid and Psyche. This is the myth I will be explaining to you. The myth of Cupid and Psyche is the origin of Beauty and the Beast. Before we start I have to tell you the true symbolism for Cupid is lunar worship and the bow and arrow symbolize masculine and feminine. When he shoots his arrows it symbolizes creation. He is also a winged god and winged gods symbolize non-physical abstract dynamics such as intellect, spiritual, imagination and psychic.
The story of Cupid and Psyche is a beautiful story of consciousness with astrological and nature symbolism ingrained. Psyche has unearthly beauty and Venus becomes jealous of her. This has astrological symbolism because on a clear moonless night Venus is the brightest star that everyone notices, but on a moon lit night the moon out shines Venus. The planet Venus is jealous because the beauty of the Moon takes the mortals attention away from her.
The name Psyche is where we get psychology. Unless you took psychology or you like myths, you probably never heard of her. In ancient Greek psyche means ‘soul’. Now why would we get a term for the mind that means ‘soul’. To understand what is going on here, you have to be a student of Hermetic. In the Principal of Mentalism it says “The All is Mind; The Universe is Mental”. To go deeper on you still, you are not a soul in your body, you are a body in your soul. Psyche being a female is showing you that this universal energy is feminine. It is why nature is always portrayed as a female.
Venus sends her son, Cupid, to use one of his arrows on Psyche. This would make Psyche fall in love with a human monster. In this story Cupid is the masculine energy with Psyche being the feminine energy. Cupid is so astonished by Psyche’s beauty that he accidentally shoots himself. From that moment, Cupid was irrevocably in love with Psyche. Psyche and her parents now realize that her beauty has angered the gods. The go to the Temple of Apollo and find out that no mortal man can have her hand in marriage, but her future husband, that is a monster, awaits her on top of a mountain. Mountains symbolize the mountain you have to climb to reach enlightenment.
Psyche goes to the highest cliff and is swept away by he west wind, Zephyr. Wind always represents your thoughts or mastering your thoughts. She is brought to a beautiful valley that has a palace so magnificent that only the gods could have built it. Going from a high cliff to a valley is showing that this universal energy peaks and wanes. The palace is representing individuality. The palace is surrounded by luscious trees and a crystalline fountain. Here we have the water that represents her emotions. The trees represent the Tree of Life(see Tree of Life post) and the higher you go the more grounded you have to be. Psyche accepts that this is her new home, but does not know that Cupid is the stranger that lives here.
Cupid makes Psyche promise that she will not look at his face and he visits her every night to make love to her in the darkness. Despite all the love and tenderness Psyche is still bothered by the oracles claims that her husband is a monster. This is showing that the feminine and masculine is still not balanced. They are still separate so there is no enlightenment. Psyches’s sisters visit her and are jealous of her beautiful home. They insist that her husband is a monster and talk her into finding out.
Psyche decides to break her husband’s only request of allowing his face to remain secret and look upon him at night. She lights a candle to gaze at his face and all his majestic beauty. A single drop of oil falls from the candle and wakes Cupid. Cupid flees their home in distress because he had been betrayed. The flame of the candle represents intellect. So here we have 3 of the 4 elements on our way to enlightenment.
Psyche is distraught and she goes in search of her husband. She travels many days until she meets the goddess Ceres. Ceres is now the second goddess in the story and 2 goddess symbolize seen and unseen wisdom. Ceres tells Psyche to surrender herself to Venus and whatever ill will the goddess throws at her. Obeying Ceres’ advice, Psyche is giving what seems like 3 impossible tasks. First is to separate the grains of Venus’ temple into piles. Second she has to steal a wool fleece from a herd of sheep. Third she has to travel into the underworld and request some beauty from Queen Proserpina, so she can give it to Venus. In doing the last task Psyche has to keep the box in which the beauty is placed tightly closed, for fear of terrible repercussions.
Psyche starts the trials and without her knowing Cupid assists her. The first trial is alchemical symbolism. In alchemy the grains of Venus’ temple were the seven heavenly spheres in the sky. They are as follows:
Sun – Wheat
Moon – Rice
Mars – Oats
Mercury – Millet
Jupiter – Rye
Venus – Barley
Saturn – Corn
Her having to steal a fleece from sheep tells me this myth was written in the time of Aries. Finally she is given divine advice on how to surpass the dangers of Hades. Those who have read my previous work know that Hades symbolizes your body. You being in Hades or the underworld is you being here on earth in the fleshy body(See Magic). So now we have the 4 element for enlightenment.
Psyche is so upset about all the trials that she opens the forbidden box and is immediately put into a Stygian sleep. This is a sleep so strong she is considered the living dead. This is the sleep of the river Styx or Hades, in other words the sleeping masses. She had become one of the masses. By that time Cupid has had enough and he wants to be with his wife. This is the Masculine yearning for the Sacred Feminine. Cupid flies down to rescue her and lifts her in her sleeping form into the heavens. He pleads with Jupiter to talk some sense into his mother, Venus. Venus lifts the curse from Psyche and she is transformed into an immortal. Once she becomes immortal her and Cupid are wed.
This is the story of your enlightenment. The marriage of the Sacred Feminine with the Masculine.