For all those psychology and mythology enthusiasts out there, this is the blog post for you! Yes, that’s right, today we’re talking about the psyche.
As the root of the word psychology, the psyche is defined as the totality of the human mind. The 2nd century writer Apuleius personified this concept in one of my favorite myths, Cupid and Psyche. Here Psyche is a princess from an unnamed Greek city-state with beauty rivaling that of Venus, the goddess of love.
This allegorical love story chronicles the affair between the mortal Psyche and Cupid, the god of love and desire. It also represents the struggle of the human soul to attain eternal bliss.
Venus informs the young girl that her that in order for her obtain lasting happiness with Cupid, she must complete a series of seemingly impossible tasks, including going to the underworld to procure a drop of Queen Prospenia’s beauty. With some help, Psyche completes all the tasks and is then rewarded for her dedication with immortality.
So, according to this age-old myth, it is commitment to romantic love that makes the soul divine.
In the Jungian interpretation of this story, Psyche’s arc symbolizes the psychic development of the anima. This is the ideal feminine image residing inside the mind of every man as determined by both ancestral and daily experiences with women. Meanwhile, the woman’s inner male is called the animus. Jung believed that in order to achieve self-realization, we need to integrate the inner opposite gender aspect of ourselves.
But here’s the thing, my little psych babies, the anima and animus do not stay the same over the course of our lives, they evolves as we evolve. According to Jung, these archetypes mature from the purely psychical to the spiritually transcendent, just like what I talked about in my very first video, the Ladder of Love.
We also see plenty of examples of anima/animus in modern art, including Jackson Pollock’s early masterpiece Male and Female from 1942. (By the way, he was also a student of Carl Jung).
It is also my personal belief that Pablo Picasso’s 1932 painting of his beloved mistress Marie-Therese Walter titled Girl Before a Mirror is about this young muse confronting her animus. We know this because she is staring into an oval-shaped mirror called a psyche, and the image reflected back to her is much darker and more masculine. Also, Pablo liked to think of himself as Cupid, Marie-Therese as Psyche, and their love as a mystical, divine affair, uniting the sacred and profane.
So, let me know what you think of this myth, the idea of the psyche, the anima and animus. Thank you so much for reading. Be sure to comment below. Bye for now!