“Psyche’s first task was to sort a huge, disordered heap of seeds, placing each kind of grain in a separate mound. Her initial reaction to this task, as well as to the next three, was despair.”
Many women have at times in their lives have situations handed to them that they don’t feel capable of handling at the time. It’s all too overwhelming.
But “when a woman senses that there is a mythic dimension to something she is undertaking, that knowledge touches and inspires deep creative centers in her. ”
This ongoing series is based on Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book “Goddesses in EveryWoman” and all quotes are from the book. Psyche is not a goddess but her story is so interesting that I thought to include it in this series.
The Myth :
“Psyche is a pregnant mortal woman who seeks to be reunited with her husband, Eros, God of Love and Aphrodite’s son.”
Aphrodite is the typical NASTY mother-in-law archetype in this story :)
Psyche presents herself to Aphrodite, who is antagonistic and angry, asking to be reunited with her love, Eros.
Aphrodite gives her four tasks to complete.
Sorting the seeds; she’s led into a room showing an enormous pile of corn and barley, millet lentils, beans, chick peas, etc. and told that she’s got to have them sorted by morning.
” Similarly, when a woman must make a crucial decision, she often must first sort out a jumble of conflicted feelings and competing loyalties.”
Acquiring Golden Fleece : Psyce has to acquire fleece from the rams of the sun, huge agressive beasts..
“Symbolically, the golden fleece represents power, which a woman needs to acquire without being destroyed in the attempt to attain some.”
Filling the Crystal Flask : Psyche must now fill a flask from a dangerous and forbidding stream.
“Metaphorically this stream represents the circular flow of life, into which Psyche must dip to fill her flask.”
Learning to Say No : Here she’s ordered to descend to the underworld with a small box that Persophone will fill with beauty ointment. In this descent she’s going to encounter people…lost souls perhaps? They will ask for help. Here, she’s going to have to forsake her compassion and harden her heart against them…if she does not, she’ll be trapped in the underworld forever.
” To set a goal and keep to it in the face of requests for help is especially difficult for all except virgin goddess women. Maternal Demeter women and obliging Persephone women are the most responsive to the needs of others, while Hera and Aphrodite women are somewhere in between. ”
Psyche is aided by various things in the natural world to accomplish her tasks…insects, a golden reed, an eagle and a tower. If you haven’t read the myth before, or read it long ago, it’s worth revisiting.
This little series only briefly touches on the incredible depth and detail of the actual book mentioned above. Your local library may have it or you can find either a new or used copy on Amazon if you are interested.
1st / Basis in this series : Which Goddess; Archetypes in our Daily Lives