story characters

Psyche, with the assistance of ants, a reed, and an eagle, completed three of the four tasks: sorting out a huge pile of seeds, filling a flask from the river Styx, and retrieving the Golden Fleece. The final task, returning from the Land of the Dead with a box containing some of Proserpine’s beauty, was accomplished with the help of Cupid himself after he left his mother’s home. And thus, this love story ends with Cupid and Psyche being officially married and living happily ever after among the gods and goddesses of Olympus.

The Characters and What They Represent

Venus, goddess of love and beauty, symbolizes the attributes of romantic love. Mortal men worship her at a distance by creating families, homes, and communities. She tells us that to love is to feel and that her presence is much like the ebb and flow of the earth’s tides. She teaches us that love believes she is entitled to admiration, commitment, and nourishment. Therefore, love is both vulnerable to and powerless over her perceptions of disloyalty, loneliness, and abandonment. Love is not immune to feelings of jealousy and rage. Love empowered by anger strives to correct a wrong; love intensified by jealousy seeks to reestablish her honored position. She alone is unable to control, define, or foresee the destiny of mortals. Thus, Venus’ powerlessness to change Psyche and mortal men within the first love triangle of this story gave birth to a second — Venus, Cupid, and Psyche.

Cupid, symbol of love, often is depicted as a beautiful winged and blindfolded adolescent. Mortals know there is no defense, either in heaven or on earth, against the ecstatic feeling of falling in love. Falling in love releases one from the haunting emptiness of being alone. Cupid’s arrow releases the expression of one’s deepest feelings and secret thoughts while suspending any concern about the less-than-perfect qualities of the beloved. There is an illusion that the newness of love and the desired attributes of the other will remain the same forever and ever.

When Cupid’s arrow pierces an adolescent’s heart, it also punctures the bindings of the childhood family. The arrow within this story tells us that young love creates an awareness of and focus upon life outside the family home, with a consequent emotional emptiness within that home. Parental reactivity to this familial emptiness delineates love as an attack upon and rebellion against family unity and togetherness. Thus, as Apollo’s oracle foretold, what emerges is a fearful beast, characterized by Venus as the “vilest and most despicable creature in the world.”

Psyche, symbol of the soul, gives form to idealized love. Idealized love awakens the human awareness of a life apart from self and family. She conveys the hope that somewhere on Mother Earth walks each person’s destined soul mate. Therefore, idealized love only needs to sit in wait for fate to deliver the experience of being passionately admired. She creates the myth that, without effort, one will have a life of perfect harmony. Idealized love foretells the birth of a union in which each will both live for and meet the other’s deepest desires. She illustrates how humans seek knowledge that serves to enlighten us about life’s meaning, purpose, and direction. She tells us that this awakening oftentimes is like a death when it defies a family’s spoken and unspoken myths, themes, and beliefs.

to be continued… 

Part 1 and Psyche a Story of Love

Part 2 Cupid and Psyche A Story of Love

Ricoh f/12 10.5mm 800 ISO

“At night, as I lay in the camp on my plank bed, surrounded by women and girls gently snoring, dreaming aloud, quietly sobbing and tossing and turning, women and girls who often told me during the day, ‘We don’t want to think, we don’t want to feel, otherwise we are sure to go out of our minds,’ I was sometimes filled with an infinite tenderness, and lay awake for hours letting all the many, too many impressions of a much too long day wash over me, and I prayed, ‘Let me be the thinking heart of these barracks.’ And that is what I want to be again. The thinking heart of a whole concentration camp. I lie here so patiently and now so calmly again, that I feel quite a bit better already. I feel my strength returning to me; I have stopped making plans and worrying about risks. Happen what may, it is bound to be for the good.

cited: E Hillesum, An Interrupted Life. p.191 Trans: A Pomerans)

If there be no little pines in the field
How shall I find the symbol of 1000 ages?

~The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu (cited: Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan)

Snowy Range, Wyoming (2018) … Nikon D750 f/4 1/2000 34mm

“These lands, siblings of the Rockies,

hold many lessons and ways of being.”

D Martinez & L Schnider (CSU) The Land Holds Memories, September 2019

“Where the prairie converges with the plains, the foothills watch. They have long been the relatives of these lands and witnesses to all adventures, explorations, and settlings. The plains and prairie have also long been partners in this space; they are the original innovators, the knowers and teachers. The foothills remain present as protectors of those west winds and incubators of the snow and rain that feed these spaces, peoples, and purposes.

Our sense of this place, our sense of this land, is beckoned through this convergence and their an­cestral traditions. Waters flow in snake rivers, are cradled in valleys where corn and long grasses, such as Indian ricegrass and needlegrass, grew and grow, dozens of flowers, includ­ing prickly poppy, yucca, rabbitbrush, and prairie sunflowers, bloom and nestle; these are the homes for the bison, prong­horn, and deer, as well as swift fox, burrowing owls, and gold­en eagles.

These lands, siblings of the Rockies, hold many lessons and ways of being. The clay still holds knowledge and foot­prints of beings, events, and experiences. It, the clay, waits for new stories and new understandings. Communities were here over 12,000 years ago; those were the times of the mammoth. And, although they are often called the Paleo-Indians, they were here: relatives, ancestors of societies and knowers of land, sensors of place, and practitioners of purpose….”

My legacy –

What will it be?

Flowers in spring,

The cuckoo in summer,

And the crimson maples

Of autumn … ~Ryokan (1758 – 1831)

Trans: J Stevens, Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf