Once upon a Time, in a very far away country, there was a happy kingdom ruled by a fair and benevolent king and queen. They were blessed with three daughters, who became lovely young women and princes started to claim them for getting married. All the other sisters got married but Psyche, the most beautiful of them all, however, was still single as no man would dare to court her. Her beauty was so enchanting that they approached her like a Goddess, and people started to pilgrimage to the palace to adore princess Psyche. At the point that they seriously neglected Aphrodite`s temple and the Goddess got jealous and furious with Psyche: she coursed the lands that became barren and the crops ceased to grow.
When a mere mortal usurps the place of a goddess, she pays the price. We must not identify with no divinity - archetype as we have to honour our human condition. Being super-human: totally perfect - was “being like the gods” thus daring to go beyond human status and infringing the law. By this sin Psyche was punished by Aphrodite’s oracle that demanded her to be given as a bride to a sea monster; it was the only way the land would flourish again. In her funereal walk, as a bride meeting her death in the monster's encounter, maybe she wasn’t yet ready to face the meaning of the creature from (her) depths… she was just light, perfect beauty, and enabled to face her own shadow. That's why she couldn’t be fully human - as long as one can`t acknowledge and integrate his/her shadow contents, he/she remains unconsciously “infrahuman” (“asleep” to the human full identity and potential) or superhuman” (possessed by an idealization or an archetype).
Here I drive you into an unexpected detour: why a sea monster? Why not a dragon or a beast from the earth? We find the same motif in another myth, Andromeda’s, a woman that became divine in the star’s firmament: she was chained in a sea rock and saved by a half human half god, Perseus hero, that felt in love with her. The sea is the unconscious (that the ancient called “hell” with its monsters), moved by the moon’s tides; the moon rules the night, when the unconscious is more active. Psyche made unconscious wedding vows with the shadow-monster after all, prior to marry with the godly image of Eros-love. That’s the way things should be, to have a chance to evolve into completion. As a priestess of Goddess, I officiate wedding ceremonies based in the ancient Celtic traditions of the Sacred Feminine. When I prepare the bride and groom, I read their astrological charts and speak about the challenges and harmonies of the relationships, I teach them about the conscious feminine and masculine and do Shadow Vows ceremony before the wedding where they deepen their mutual compromise, based on reinforced knowledge of their respective shadows. It is a beautiful honest moment that reinforces intimacy and prepares them better for the inevitable challenges they will face.
Returning to the myth, we can see that the beauty - Psyche - was not ready yet, for the beast - the sea monster. In real life, sometimes we are ravished to dark abyss by our monster-grooms. This is usual when the bride is a “Psyche woman”: “perfect” the “still unravished bride” with her non embodied feminine soul. This kind of woman attracts the “demonic lover”, the monster-shadow that will rape her soul. It can be “the seemingly perfect husband but with a perverse secret life”; the absent workaholic, the narcissist, the border line or the psychopath, so alienated from soul as she is. The only way to redemption is then through the painful descent into her own rejected darkness, projected into the lover. The more repressed the shadow, the more regressive it appears; on this tale, as a sea monster, almost a reptilian figure symbolizing our most regressive urges and impulses (that tend towards “thanatos” or death). These women have to work deep within, learn how to become good mother of themselves, redeem their repressed or unbalanced sexuality, inhabit their bodies to embody their exiled souls.
In the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, the union between these two is somewhat easier (ego and shadow, personality and soul, feminine and unconscious masculine). She starts rejecting the ugly beast that turns into a most beautiful prince with her love. Psyche starts marrying a beautiful god (which she can’t see) and through the ordeals of love, she not only recovers the relationship, but ascends into the category of divinity. Love - in the myth symbolised by its Goddess, Aphrodite, it’s the ultimate initiator in life’s sacraments, such as marriage.
When god Eros/Cupid, Aphrodite’s son, comes to shoot his arrow filled with love poison, he accidentally cuts himself with the tip and falls immediately madly in love with Psyche. A non-human woman is ravished by a god - it makes sense; they marry and live happy in his heaven's palace. Also, when we fall in love, we are god and goddess to each other and live in “heavens delight” for a while. But life “wants itself complete, not perfect”, so the shadow finally enters the stage. Psyche was exchanging messages with her sisters and as she started missing them a lot, they were allowed to visit her at the palace. They got to know that Psyche was not allowed to see her god-husband: it was the only condition he placed on their marital vows. They grew painfully jealous of Psyche’s life as a goddess in a most magical, abundant and beautiful palace. The plot germinated and they instigated fear and doubt on Psyche`s heart: “he can be a monster, ready to kill you at any moment! You must see who he really is” they insisted. Jealousy, envy, fear, so often buried inside and flourishing in the shadow, came to do their part and stimulate Psyche to go forward in her self-knowledge process. So, she had two initiators in consciousness: Goddess Aphrodite and the shadow - or only one, the Goddess, using darkness to teach what Love is. And also, Eros, of course! As an invisible lover, he symbolised blind passion - but Love isn’t blind, on the contrary, love as a consciousness status, is higher the most awakened (truly seeing) we are.
Eros repudiated Psyche that broke their vows and, urged by her sister`s malevolence, dared to see his divine beauty with the light of an oil lamp… Passion ends when we are forced to retrieve the projection of god/goddess we made on our lovers and this takes normally up to two years: the human body couldn’t handle more time of heart palpitations without consequences. Then, the blindness ceases and we begin to see... their human flaws and essence. Some run away, some look for another lover, some dare to take the road of trials to regain the “lost love” as Psyche did with her “impossible” tasks. What do you do?
Dealing with reality is a maturing process. Better than living always in Neverland with Peter Pan and the lost boys (lost for consciousness and a functional, responsible grown up life). And how can we really say, without idealization, that we love a person we still don’t know? How could Psyche really love that she couldn’t See? Mature love grows through the knowing and dealing with the other`s shadow, shortages and vulnerabilities. If the other as sufficient human quality to be in our lives, then we must show the courage to face their darker selves, along the way. The love story between the Beauty and the Beast transforms both by the courage to face their demons. By accepting their human positive and negative traits, they can integrate them into a most lucid, conscious and wholesome identity. And this is truly remarkable and really beautiful, this inner union that the alchemists called the Opus - The Work!