Astrology and Mythology: Eros–Beauty and the Beast

Cupid Revives Psyche

Cupid Revives Psyche

One ancient Greek myth survives in the story Beauty and the Beast. In the fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, dutiful and loving daughter Beauty, is sent to live in a beautiful, magical castle where she lived in luxury. The catch was the master of castle, incredibly rich as he was, was a horrible looking beast. Gentle and kind though he was, Beauty was repulsed by his physical form. Each night he asked her to marry him, and each night she refused.

When Beauty grew heartsick from missing her family, the Beast allowed her a visit to them, on the proviso she would return in a week. When she missed the return date by a day, she was horrified to find the Beast half dead from heartbreak. She threw herself on his prostrate form and sobbing declared she would marry him if only he did not die. Upon her words the beast transformed into a handsome prince. The prince then told her he was cursed by a fairy for his selfishness to live his life as an ugly beast until he found a woman who would marry him as he was.

In the Greek version, Aphrodite who the Romans called Venus was jealous of a mortal woman Psyche whose beauty was said to rival her own. Venus sent her son to shoot an arrow into Psyche timed so that she would fall in love with an ugly beast. Cupid went to her bedroom as she slept, and was so in awe of her beauty that he clumsily nicked himself with his own arrow. Thus Cupid himself fell prey to his own magic and fell hopelessly in love with this mortal girl.

Though Venus was the goddess of physical love, who presided over drawing people together to marry, and animals to mate, it was her son Cupid that did the heavy lifting. It was his arrows that quickened desire. In this complex mother/son relationship, Venus could not fully perform her duties without Cupid’s contribution. Thus Venus kept tight control over her son’s activities, micromanaging who he shot with his arrows and when. You could say that the Venus/Cupid relationship mirrors the relationship of mother and son before the son matures through sexual development to manhood.

Because of his importance to her career, Venus’ and Cupid’s convoluted relationship delays Cupid’s development into manhood. It is not a coincidence that he falls for a woman that his mother considers a rival. When Cupid discovers his own sexual feelings it does no less than threaten to disrupt the balance of the Universe.

Besotted Cupid was unable to carry out his mother’s mission, and when he dutifully reported what had happened, the jealous goddess flew into a rage. The goddess then places a curse on Psyche that prevents her from marrying any mortal man. Appalled and upset with his mother’s actions Cupid goes on strike.

As the earth and Venus’ temple coffers suffers, Cupid arranges for the West Wind to carry Psyche to his own palace, where he secretly marries her, consummating the marriage while not revealing his true face and form to her. Psyche lives in luxury and is visited by her husband each night, but because she is kept in the dark as to his true nature trouble ensues. Her jealous sisters convince Psyche, now pregnant with Cupid’s child, that she is married to a great and terrible serpent that will devour her and the child as the child is born. They convince her that she must kill the serpent, and to this end she conceals a knife and an oil lamp in her bedroom. When Cupid fell asleep, she lit the lamp and recognized to her delight that the man lying in her bed was Cupid. Though she couldn’t be happier, a drop of oil accidentally fell from the lamp onto Cupid’s shoulder, and he awoke, and thus exposed, flees leaving Psyche sick at heart.

Psyche then embarks on a search for her feckless husband who flew to his mother’s side and moped about her palace, depressed. Eventually it seems Venus wrangled the story from Cupid as to the reason of his ill health, and blamed Psyche for her lack of faith in her son. Psyche unable to locate Cupid enters one of Venus’ temples, a little poorer for the lack of supplicants and encounters her displeased mother-in-law. Venus orders Psyche from one more dangerous task to another, hoping one of them would kill her but Psyche receives help on all sides until one task proved dangerous than the others. Venus sends Psyche to the Underworld to get from Persephone some her beauty ointment. Psyche survives the trip, but not the beauty ointment as she tried for herself the preparation meant only for goddesses. Psyche falls into a deep sleep that made her appear as if she were dead. How Cupid finds her, we don’t know. Maybe Venus announced to her son that she took care of the problem and Cupid finally mans up and decides enough is enough. He finds his wife, and wipes the beauty ointment off her face and kissing her brings her back to consciousness. He then makes a petition to Jupiter to intervene and Jupiter, of course calls a council. It was decided, even in the face of Aphrodite’s displeasure, that marriage stood, and to seal the deal, Psyche was brought to Mount Olympus where she was given ambrosia to drink giving her immortality. Psyche and Venus then grudgingly forgive each other.

In one of the Universe’s synchronicities, NASA recently discovered that the asteroid Eros has roughly the shape that looks like a phallus. This is most telling as love is often sparked by our sexual response to another. Thus Eros points to our chart where sexual feelings can blossom into love. But Eros’s function is a bit more than that. It shows the point where our emerging sexual feelings help us to navigate the often tempestuous sometimes beastly road that separates us from parental influences to establishing our adulthood. The aspects from Eros to the other planets in your natal horoscope charts just that path.

Image published under a Creative Commons License from Wikipedia.

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