I love how names from ancient mythology still permeate our language. They do not shrivel and fall away. They persist.
Today we use the word psyche to sum up everything that we are. It is our soul, our mind. It is both our conscious and unconscious. Our subconscious fears and troubles lurk in our psyche. We also have great power and potential there, sometimes left uncovered unless we are brave enough to pursue it. Our psyche is literally everything. It is our soul.
Psyche, the youngest daughter of a king, had such remarkable beauty that even the goddess Aphrodite had grown jealous. So jealous, in fact, that anger consumed her and led her to instruct her son Eros (god of love) to cause Psyche to fall in love with a repulsive and horrible man. Except Eros was so struck with Psyche that he fell in love with her himself.
Spiriting her away to a secret location, he instructed Psyche to never look upon his face. In darkness he visited her every night, leaving before the dawn of day. Although blissfully happy with her love, Psyche was taunted by her jealous sisters. They convinced her that it was a hideous and grotesque monster who embraced her each night. With the seeds of doubt sown in her mind, Psyche broke her promise to Eros and looked at his face by the light of a lamp while he slept. Far from a monster, Psyche found herself gazing upon the face of a god. What should have been a moment of bliss quickly turned tragic as she inadvertently dropped oil from the lamp, spilling it on Eros’ shoulder. Eros awakens, feeling angry and betrayed. Psyche has broken his trust and he leaves her, seemingly never to return.
Devastated, Psyche throws herself into a river in an unsuccessful attempt to kill herself. She later encounters the god Pan who comforts her and suggests that she might possibly win Eros back through servitude. Psyche begins to wander and search for Eros until she eventually reaches a temple of Aphrodite. Here her suffering reaches new depths as Aphrodite takes Psyche on as a slave, imposing tortuous tasks for her to accomplish. Once Psyche completes her tasks, she becomes immortal and is reunited with Eros.