Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

The myth of Psyche

Author: Paulo Coelho

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess, admired by everyone, but whom no one dared to propose to.

Desperate, the king consulted the god Apollo, who said that Psyche should be left alone, in a mourning dress, at the top of a mountain. Before daybreak, a serpent would come to her and marry her.

The king obeyed, and throughout the night the princess waited, terrified and freezing, for the arrival of her husband. She ended up falling asleep.

As she awoke, she was in a beautiful palace, transformed into a queen.

Every night her husband would come to her, they made love, and he had just one condition: Psyche could have anything she desired, but she should trust him completely and never see his face.

The young woman lived happily for a very long time; she had comfort, affection, joy, she was in love with the man who came to her every night.

Once in a while, however, she was afraid of being married to a horrible serpent. One night, while her husband slept, she illuminated their bed with a lantern and found Eros (or Cupid), a man of incredible beauty, beside her.

The light woke him up and he found out that the woman he loved wasn’t able to fulfil his only desire, and disappeared.

Every time I read this story, I asked myself: Will we never be allowed to discover the face of love? It was necessary that many years passed below the bridge of my life, until I could understand that love is an act of faith in another person, and her face shall stay covered in mystery.

Each moment shall be lived and enjoyed, but whenever we try to understand it, the magic disappears.

After I accepted this, I also allowed my life to be guided by a strange language, which I call ‘signs’. I know the world is talking to me, and I need to listen to it, and if I do that, I will always be guided toward what there is of the most intense, passionate and beautiful.

Of course it isn’t easy, and sometimes I feel like Psyche at the cliff, cold and terrified; but if I am able to overcome that night and surrender to mystery and to the faith in life, I always end up waking up in a palace. All I need is to trust in Love, even running the risk of erring.

Concluding the Greek myth: Desperate to have her love back, Psyche submits herself to a series of tasks imposed by Aphrodite (or Venus), Cupid’s (or Eros’s) mother, who was envious of her beauty.

One of these tasks was to give Aphrodite some of her beauty. Psyche becomes curious about the box that should contain the beauty of the goddess, and again, she isn’t able to deal with Mystery and decides to open it.

She didn’t find anything of beauty in the box, but an infernal sleepiness that left her inert, and without movement.

Eros/Cupid is in love as well, regretting not having been more tolerant toward his wife. He is able to enter the castle and wake her up from this profound sleep with the tip of his arrow and tells her once again: ‘You almost died due to your curiosity.’

This is the great contradiction: Psyche who sought to find safety in knowledge, found insecurity. Both of them went to Jupiter, the supreme God, to implore for this union never to be undone. Jupiter strongly advocated for the cause of the lovers and got Venus to agree. From that day on, Psyche (the essence of the human being) and Eros (love) are forever united.

Those who don’t accept it and always seek an explanation for the magic and mysterious, human relations will lose the best of what life has to offer.

(there are several versions of the Myyth of Psyche. You can find another one BY CLICKING HERE

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