• When looking at Eros and contemplating its form as a complexio oppositorum, I try to assume that every desirous notion that burns within my heart has another side somewhere where my heart loses itself in cosmogonic bliss.I have had a overwhelmigly beautiful dream when I was in my twenties that I think showed me that dichotomy. Many times dreams are encapsulated in a polarity or duality where one side feels trapped and another side is blissful. To get from one side to the other and unite those two may be the process of individuation.

  • I would contemplate Logos and Eros rather than Psyche and Eros, I think Logos and Eros are the kicker. That is closer  the Appolo and Hermes relationship. The psyche is an ultimately undefineable aspect of a human being, hence is eros part of our psyche? I would say so but of course the love for words many times rides us while we enjoy the pleasure they arouse in us more so than understadning the meaning of them.


    I had two wonderful dreams back in the 1970's when I was a young single male. I was then a very conscientious, momma's boy, who had been steeped in his religion's intensive fear of and suppression of his instinctual desires.

    The first dream was set in a large room in a house (much larger than a room in a house would typically be). I was with the other adolescent members of my religious youth group. We were all trying with little success to ride our horses.

    There was this one young woman whose horse was riding gracefully, weaving throughout the entire room at the total command of this young woman. Everyone else was working very strenuously just to to prod their horse forward a step or two.

    I heard a declaration then. It stated; “Horses are better loved than kicked”.

    I could easily see that this dream was talking about my relationship with my body (the horse, which was meant to carry me through life). And that if I loved my body (and the instinctual desires in it I would have more control over those desires than if I were to kick my self (condemn my bodily instinctual desires).

    The problem was, however; how does one come to love the desires that might turn out to be very destructive? Fear of those desires potential for destructiveness was keeping me from loving my instinctual life. I was at a loss to move forward.

    Then I had a dream in which I was hunkered down in a foxhole, in the Vietnam war, across from a Vietcong soldier. I knew that both he and I wanted very much not to be at war with each other. I knew this Vietnam war to be a useless, unjust war. But, neither he nor I was courageous enough to be the first one to lay down his weapon. We were in a terrifying stalemate.

    Then I heard a statement, saying; “Peace has been declared”.

    I understood in the dream that this declared peace was so declared 2000 years ago on a Roman execution stake, and that it was this peace that would now allow me to risk laying down my weapon first. I knew that this aspect of my human existence that I saw as being my enemy had been forgiven just like the rest of me.

    This meant that my scary, potentially destructive desires were made acceptable to God, along with the rest of me. This, in turn, allowed me to begin to forgive my desires for being hurtful to me in the past. And this allowed me to once again begin to love and trust my desires.

    These two dreams set me on a path to trusting my human instinctual drives, and seeing their divinity, their naturalness. I knew that even when my desires turned out to be selfish (fear-driven, compulsive), and thus destructive, they would be forgiven, and thus I could be free to learn from those experiences with my desires. I began to reach out in increasingly daring ways to love and trust my instinctual desires. And I found to be true, what my first dream had told me; that horses are better loved than kicked.

  • We cannot understand the psychological application of myth unless we have a clear model of our human conscious equipment. Unfortunately, the model we inherited from Freud (and that has been built upon by people like Jung) was only a confused beginning model. It does not actually serve us well. The Freudian model did not draw upon the myths that an accurate model of human conscious existence would have done. Our myths are our species' unconscious mind's way of plotting out the landscape of our conscious existence, and the pivotal things that have occurred therein (those transformative things that have affected every member of our species in the same ways from the outset of our journey on this world.).

    For a more useful model of Human conscious existence we should substitute Freud's rather arbitrary ego/Id/superego/and unconscious, with a model that accounts for the two cognitive factors (the Will-our awareness of what we need, all things considered, and our Heart/our awareness of our experiences and the lessons we have learned from them.) that represent the end state of cognition.

    And it should include the foundational aspects beneath these two cognitive elements (The Will, which is awareness of need is an extension of our instinctual needs, and the Heart- our personal log of our experiences, complete with evaluations of those experiences). The Heart inherently involves an awareness of value, because this need to understand the value of things is what drives us to remember our experiences to begin with. We can only determine value by means of comparison. Comparison requires memory. The Heart is an extension of our emotional life, because concepts of value are constructed upon the more basic elements of value embodied in our emotions).

    This breakdown of human conscious existence will result in us having much more success in navigating the world of symbolic meaning in general and myth in particular.

    Now then, if by Eros we mean our Will (our instinctual drive to become cognitively aware of what we need in order to survive and be realized), and by Psyche, we mean our Heart (our repository of our memories and the lessons we have learned about value and life from those remembered experiences), we can begin to see that there is good reason these two do not get along.

    At first, our innocent Heart/Psyche holds no negative thoughts about our instinctual desires, or our Will.

    {Our Will being the cognitive realization of those instinctual drives. We have an instinctual drive to become cognitively aware, which dominates our relationship with every other instinct within us. It is this instinct to become aware/conscious which manifests as the Will in our species.}

    In fact, our heart remains unaware of those desires (and what we want), which is represented in the present myth as Cupid/Eros remaining invisible to her at first.

    But, the values she inherits from her society (Venus), and those values she receives from her contact with her social circle/and her family, and their value systems (symbolized as Psyche's sisters), results in Psyche (our Heart) wanting to know more about the desires driving us, and what it is we want. We begin to suspect our desires and our Will might be evil, and that is why we remain unaware of them.

    Eventually our conscience leads us to fear our drive to become aware of what we want/need. It imagines our Will to be inherently monstrous, as a result of unresolved past experiences of us wanting things that resulted in pain and fear. Our Heart would rather we only focused our attention on our values, and not at all on what it is we might want.

    And our Will, having been unjustly suppressed and condemned by our Heart, has come to no longer trust our conscience. Our Will thus becomes even more difficult for us (our Heart) to know. It withdraws from consciousness (How many of us truly know what we want?).

    The myth of Psyche and Eros provides a detailed breakdown of what happened in our species to render these two aspects of human cognition at odds with each other.

    First of all, our mother-in-law (who is cast as Venus in this myth), is a symbolic representation of the values we inherit from our family, our society, and our civilization’s culture.

    And in as much as she is cast in the person of Venus, this mother-in-law (our inherited values) is further defined as those values born to us (and our species) from the great suppression of our (and our species) unconscious mind in our (and in our species) through (both our own and our species collective) psychological passage out of childhood through the cataclysm that is puberty (symbolized as Jupiter's murder of his Father, Saturn, and as the Great Flood in the Ancient Hebrew sacred text). The historic time assigned to the Great flood by the ancients was the time before the great flood. The Flood (puberty) brought the age of Saturn (childhood) to an end.

    Our species, like each person individually does, underwent a terribly difficult transition from the innocent childhood consciousness, a consciousness marked by an intense undifferentiated relationship with the unconscious mind, via a very active imagination, to a more rational, adult mind, a mind that suppresses the unconscious mind. On a species-wide level, this transformation from childhood to adulthood is what we know as the transition from what we think of as primitive culture to a culture dominated by civilization's rule of law.

    There are a host of details in this myth of Eros and psyche that need going over, but for the sake of this forum, suffice it to say that the reunion of psyche and Eros is not something our species will ever be able to achieve by means of the strategies generated by our cognitive mind, or those our now terribly subjective and emotionally damaged Heart comes up with.

    Salvation is birthed in our Heart, but it is engendered by the exercise of our Will. And we civilized humans are now so far removed from awareness of what it is we want, we are such instinctively and emotionally and intuitively suppressed beings, that acting on our Will is not even possible, accept in the tiny steps our unconscious mind leads us to take (on what Jung referred to as the process of individuation). We cannot handle anything but these tiny steps, and most of us will not even tolerate the control of our life by our unconscious mind necessary to take these tiny steps. We either actively and aggressively suppress all contents emerging from our unconscious mind, or we seek to control those contents with our magical formulas. In either case, we do not have the benefit of our inner Shepard, the unconscious mind, who would lead us out into the green pastures of a natural human existence.

    Yet, there are a very few who will let the unconscious mind conduct them on the path to life, to transformation. And these whisper to the rest that the path is over here, away from your pride and your fear-driven herd instinct, and your tyrannous heart and its militant and increasingly subjective value-system, in the arms of divine forgiveness (that sort of forgiveness proffered to our cognitive mind by our unconscious mind).

    It is only the humiliating embrace of divine forgiveness that is powerful enough to wrest control of our life from our Heart, and give it to god within us, our unconscious mind. Only Siva's expression of forgiveness (swallowing the poison of the Assuras, our fears) can restore our relationship with the processing of our religious ideas (the ocean of milk) to something not controlled by fear (our inner Assuras), and thus produce Amrta, the food of the divine us, the natural us. The processed religious ideas are designed by our unconscious mind (god) to give us Amrta, what we have come to call enlightenment, or the means of experiencing spiritual rebirth.

    This issue with our subjective values, and the progressively distant relationship that subjectivity has produced in our relationship with our Will (and by extension, our emotions, intuition, and instinctual desires), is a universal reality. All of our religions refer to this disconnect, between the Will and our heart. This disconnect has engendered a similar disconnect between our emotions and our instincts, and our reasoning mind and our intuition, the four poles of cognition. Our entire conscious existence has become a disharmonious chaos, born of unnatural conflict. And this conflict began in our species first steps into our current evolutionary incarnation.

    Our species was the only species to extensively develop the instinctual drive to be aware of our identity. This serpentine instinct, being more developed in our species than any other, rendered our species far more cognitive than any other species. For, this need to know how our unfolding experiences with life are changing our identity requires us to become far more cognitive than we would be if the need to know who we are was not active.

    This serpent, that was placed in the garden of our species by God/our unconscious mind/ by nature, and thus is a natural aspect of our species, is alone responsible for our species higher level of cognitive function, but it is also responsible for our species fixation with and dependence upon our heart's evaluation of things.

    We are a species that, through unresolved experiences with pain and fear, have become enslaved by our knowledge of good and evil. And this is the source of our inner war between Eros and Psyche. And divine forgiveness (the idea that our cognitive performance cannot be the source of our soul's restoration to a state of inner harmony) is the only cure for what ails our species. The cognitive mind must bend low; our pride in our ability to achieve, to perform, to save ourselves must die in us, in the act of embracing a gift of divine forgiveness.

    There is nothing in such an act that our fixation with the knowledge of good and evil can cling to. We do not embrace forgiveness because we are good, or because we are doing good. The good is being done by God/our unconscious mind. Our cognitive mind (our Ego as Freud would have it) is what is wrong with our species, and everything it does to save us only makes us worse off. It does because of our species unresolved issues with identity, issues that sprang up in the infancy of our species, can only be resolved by God / Our unconscious mind.

    This is, of course, the origin of the virgin birth myth. Our unconscious mind is telling our species it will not egotistically, cognitively, solve its issues with inner disharmony. God /nature must birth this salvation in us. Our unconscious mind must come up with a solution that our cognitive mind would never come up with; just embrace forgiveness. This is why the idea of divine forgiveness is so scary, so hated by our species. Even in the Christian world, it is so distrusted that there has been a powerful effort to water this idea down to something resembling the same old fixation with good and evil, and the dogmatism that such a fixation always generates in our species to allow us to further suppress our scary unconscious mind.

    So, that is how we can effectively move toward the reunification of Eros and Psyche, and of our emotions and our instinctual desires, and of our intuitional life and our deductive (rational) life. We can embrace divine forgiveness. How does this notion make you feel? Study that reaction in you. You may begin to see what I have been telling you about the discomfort our Ego has with the idea of divine forgiveness.

    It looks evil, positively evil to our Ego. It triggers the deepest fear in our collective psyche, that trusting our Will will lead to our horrible destruction. we want to be forgiven of course, but we fear that accepting such forgiveness will result in us undoing a lifetime of control by our ego, and the subjective value-system it has produced, and the pride we have amassed in our Ego's accomplishments.

    There is the whole human story in a little post.

    So, the answer to the question; “Where do you see this union (between Eros and Psyche) happening?'is in the letting go of the knowledge of Good and evil as the means to ensuring our life's value (We call this approach performance-based acceptance), via the embrace of unconditional love of our being expressed as divine forgiveness.

    The way this divine/natural way works to unite Eros and Psyche is that a person begins to trust that regardless how destructive their Will is or has been, they will be loved, and thus can learn from experience with it what it is they truly want. By trial and error they will find out what a human really needs/wants to live fully, but only if they do not have to pay for their tries with their life's value.

    If their value is assured by the existence of forgiveness, then they can begin to try again more daringly, they can begin to trust what they think they want, even while it is merely an undeveloped sense of what they want, and even though this undeveloped sense of what they want may prove to be destructive. They will be able to afford to learn from their mistakes.

    The union of Eros and Psyche, or of instinct and emotion, or of intuition and reason cannot happen apart from the destruction of the subjective delusion of performance-based acceptance that gripped our species in its cradle. This is a practical reality that no amount of intellectual fudging will overcome.

  • Thank you Kathleen for mentioning the book by Alexandra Fuller. Since I very recently came out of a similar experience, it will help me put certain things in perspective.:-)

  • Kathleen, attributes this quote to The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, vol. 8 CW.

    From their article:

    "According to Carl Jung, what prevents people from becoming autonomous, fulfilled and ultimately happy is their refusal to open themselves to experiences that are new and unfamiliar, and thus potentially threatening to their sense of self. When we have passed from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, nature abandons us to the world of consciousness, which is to say, to culture. We are thus forced to say "goodbye to childlike unconsciousness and trust in nature." The question then arises, "What kind of person shall I then become in this strange new world?" Each of us must confront it.


  • Many, years ago, I purchased two blue-grey stones. You know, the kind that have been so popular in hip, psychologically tuned in gift shops and book stores. On the larger grey stone was carved the word Trust. On the blue-grey stone was the word Eros. Not too long after that I received a Christmas gift from my daughter of quite a large lighter, grey, stone, with the words Imagine meticulously carved upon it. These three words became my mantra. Trust, Eros, & Imagine . ..Or Imagine & Trust Eros. Or, Imagine, Eros & Trust. Or, Trust & Imagine and find Eros. etc. I often would sit and stare at the stones as I spent time day dreaming of various scenarios within my own life.  Those three stones, which not one patient,  in all these years, has ever commented upon have stood silently by, like protective, inspirational, and at times even seductive sentinels watching over psyche.  I have learned many things from their presence.   Their meaning has been a source of personal,  professional, artistic inspiration, and courage.Each time I begin a new sculpting project, I must trust the impulse that drew me to the idea to create this particular thing. Sometimes I find I am off the tract and must change course. But step by step the piece reveals what  and how it wants to be..Every step of the way I am faced with placing my faith and trust in Eros.  Several years ago I was moved to sculpt  a small bust of Eros. Shocked at the end by how well it turned out, my teacher, suggested I write the words, "My Eros"  on the bottom of the piece. Writing that phrase, as I owned my creativity  was one of the most memorable, powerful moments of my life.

    Often I refer patients who are in training or  practicing therapists to the late, Robert M. Stein's landmark work, Incest and Human Love. The essays at the end of the book, I feel should be required reading for anyone working as a psychotherapist., or anyone who is a parent.  Bob's exploration of this subject in all of its permutations, in my view, directs one to an understanding, of what  I have come to think of as healthy risking. The term healthy, here being operative. In the myth, Psyche risks everything when she  looks at the face of Eros. And from what  I recall about the story, at this 4 am hour,  everything then unfolds. As we traverse the  trajectories of our lives we travel in and out of deep places within ourselves and with one another, where we must, if we wish at all to live an authentic life, meet the challenge to bring forth out of ourselves the courage to, as Hillman has noted,   Face.."the Gods.."The myth of Psyche and Eros, brings to my attention, how very empty life is when love and imagination are absent, and how, if and when one has the courage to imagine while  placing their Trust in Eros, then love and creativity, as the offspring of that union, with all  its myriad of permutations, can and will, be born.

    Judith Harte.Ph.D.

    IMAGES OF SOUL:Reimagining Astrology


    Amazon Books

    • Hi Judith! How beautifully written...:-).. I love the play of words as I have recently started this experience myself... The discovery of Eros & Creativity is thrilling... particularly for a "good girl" raised in the catholic tradition.

      • I've been enjoying this discussion on Psyche and Eros, both from the perspective of being raised as a good Catholic girl (a background mentioned by one of the participants) and in the the Winter of  Life

        As Jupiter transits the Nadir of my horoscope, the Alpha and Omega point where the Soul comes in and begins the process of growth in Consciousnessness,  circling back around every 12 years, there's a synchronicity present in the Outer World: the 50th class reunion at the Catholic undergraduate college in my natal place this June. With Jupiter as in Leo (Individuation Sign) it should be fascinating to see the directions their journeys have taken. 

        For everyone, as Jupiter transits Leo until mid -August, bringing attention and creative focus to the House with Leo on the cusp, it can be challenging to keep the balance with Other and Eros in the House oppose Leo ( the Aquarius House)  Focusing on Individual creativity usually requires alone time, which the partner may not see as a Good Thing. Or a group (symbolically, Aquarius) where we volunteer may feel we're shirking our duty.  

        At the moment, I'm reading Leaving Before the Rains Come, by South African author Alexandra Fuller, about her marriage to an adventurous American, an uneasy balance for her to maintain, even before the crash of 2008 which constellated many of their problems at once.

        She quotes Jung: "thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life  Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live in the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie."

        I'm wondering if anyone knows the source for this in Jung's works?


        Kathleen Burt

        Jungian astrologer, yoga teacher

This reply was deleted.