The Goddess Path Issue #19
The Last Task of Psyche
This Issue: Table of Contents
Overwhelmed: A Personal Note
A Lesson from Psyche
Equal Opportunity Screensaver (Macs
On The Horizon
One of life's important lessons is learning how to handle life when
you fall behind schedule, become overwhelmed, have more on your
plate than you can possibly "say grace over".
to remember that it's not the actual amount that we have to
do that kills us, it's the thinking about how much we have to
do. That's why it helps to let go of what is not truly important and
to remind yourself: "Breathe".
life took an unexpected turn down a different path recently and left
me momentarily overwhelmed and "behind schedule", I decided to share
some of my experience and musings about it in this issue. Next month
we'll return to normal (the newsletter, and hopefully me as well).
ago my husband had a heart attack at work.
addition to being my beloved and best friend, he has developed quite
a "following" of friends, colleagues, patients, students, and
co-workers over the years -- all of whom depend upon him for
guidance and support, all distressed when word spread rapidly
through the ranks that their "king" had fallen and lay near death.
By the time I
reached the emergency room, a small crowd was already forming, waiting for
word, expressing concern and support. In the next hours, the
growing number of visitors and calls became a source of distress.
therein lay the challenge for me and the opportunity to learn a
the cardiac unit waiting room where I had been told to wait till he
emerged from surgery, surrounded by a coterie of his co-workers, I
felt frantic and trapped. I "needed" to focus, to meditate, pray,
pace, cry, tear my hair, and to rock and keen -- none of which I felt free
to do in front of an audience.
insisted on staying, but a few hours later it seemed completely
natural and easy for me to protect him, banishing countless
visitor-wannabe's so that he could get the rest he needed. Fight as
I would for him, I had been unable to conserve my energy by protecting
myself from the "neediness" of others.
surprisingly, I had a brief descent into depression a few days after
we returned home from the hospital. Short of sleep, behind schedule,
full of pent-up emotions, and momentarily overwhelmed, I spent a whole day having my very own
about the waiting room experience , I grew even more depressed, telling
myself that I had been treated as if I did not matter. I was also
feeling a bit guilty about not having been very sympathetic to the
needs of others. This kind of
thinking, of course, only made me feel worse.
gloomy day that was, but I soon found my reset button and returned
to what passes for normal.)
I had been poised precariously between two worlds, that of my soul
and an avalanche of social convention and practicality.
would a goddess do?
I didn't pass the test that time, but I will. The important lessons
that I need to learn become much much clearer as I reviewed the
story of . .
Psyche's Final Task
a mortal princess so gentle and lovely, achieved immortality and an
eternal marriage to Eros, the god she loved, by successfully
completing four impossible tasks that had been set for her by the
jealous Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty.
the fourth, the final task that was the most difficult of all.
Aphrodite ordered Psyche to bring her a container of Persephone's
beauty cream. To do this Psyche would have to persuade Persephone,
Queen of the Underworld, to give her some of the magical potion. A
horrifying prospect since no mortal (and only a select few of the
gods) had ever been allowed to return from the underworld, the land
of the dead and the sleeping.
Sensing the impossibility of her mission, Psyche was
bereft and climbed into a high tower where, she planned to jump to
In each of her previous tasks, when Psyche grew
forlorn, something magically appeared -- an army of ants, the reeds
growing by a river bank, and even an eagle sent by Zeus -- to
advise her how to complete her appointed task. This reminds us that
a woman faced with her own collapse usually has to withdraw into a
quiet, still place to listen for the helpful elements within her
This time it was the tower that intervened, giving
Psyche the instructions she would need to perform the task.
The passage through the underworld would be
difficult. Preparation for the journey was essential. Following the
counsel of the tower, Psyche left to make her way alone, carrying
two barley cakes and holding two coins in her teeth. Three times the
kindly Psyche had to harden her heart and ignore the pleas for help
from others lest she be distracted from her mission.
After paying the ferryman one of the coins to
transport her across the River Styx, she had to shut her ears to the
urgent cries of a drowning man, for she had been advised that her
total focus and attention must be devoted to the dangerous task
Confronted by Cerberes, the three-headed guardian of
the underworld, Psyche tossed one of the cakes at his feet and
passed safely into the underworld as the dog's heads fought each
other for the cake.
Meeting with Persephone, Psyche graciously declined
her offer of hospitality as she had been instructed, for to eat or
drink in the underworld would mean she would never be allowed to
return to earth. Growing in confidence, she persuaded
Persephone to part with a small container of her precious beauty
preparation as a gift for Aphrodite.
Using the last barley cake to distract the dog once
more and her last coin to hire the ferryman to take her back, Psyche
emerged from the underworld. Safely home, the pressure was off (and
perhaps she was feeling a bit smug about just having done the
impossible) she decided to bend the rules a bit.
"Just one little dab", she thought, "no one will
ever miss it." And so, disobeying the tower's instruction, she
opened the jar and found . . .
Nothing! At least there was nothing for her to see,
only a vapor that causes an eternal sleep. With its release
Psyche fell unconscious on the path.
Eros, hearing news of her collapse, flew to her side
and, wiping the eternal slumber from her eyes, awakens her. Placing
the vapor back in the box, he directs Psyche to take it to Aphrodite
to complete the task so that the lovers might finally be reunited.
Meanwhile Eros hastens to his father Zeus where he
pleads their case, begging to be allowed to marry Psyche. Zeus,
touched by Psyche's suffering and impressed with her bravery,
removes the obstacle to the marriage of a god to a mortal by giving
Psyche a jar of immortality to drink so that she became a goddess in
her own right.
The spectacular wedding festivities were unrivalled
in the history of Mount Olympus. Even Aphrodite had such a marvelous
time that she relented and gave her blessing to their union.
So there it was, the happily ever after . . .
Eventually Psyche gave birth to their daughter.
Her name was Pleasure.
There are many lessons for women in this myth. Psyche must
find her way in the dark recesses of the interior world of the
spirit, hoarding her energy for the things that are most important,
and learning to resist the normal feminine impulse to kindness by
ignoring the entreaties of the needy lest she be stranded when her
resources have been exhausted.
Her journey requires solitude. Though she explores the underworld
(her unconscious), she must not stay there. Psyche is called to
return to the world of mortals and to embrace the practical details
of an ordinary life.
The final task of Psyche speaks of the collision of the ordinary
world and the darkly beautiful world of the spirit. We are given a
choice: whether or not to live consciously, in full awareness of the
numinous beauty, heroism, and terror of our lives.
Personally, I still don't know whether I should give thanks for
that. I must admit that there are moments when I'm more inclined to
beg the goddesses to go back where they belong and leave me to cope
in an ordinary human fashion.
To read more about Psyche, her love affair
and marriage to Eros, and the valuable
lessons she was required to learn click here:
Greek goddess Psyche
It's About Time! A Goddess Screensaver
for Mac Users is Now Available
By popular demand we developed a second version of the Goddess
Screensaver for you Mac users out there. Yes, your emails did make
us feel guilty about depriving you of the wonderful experience of
having stunning classical images of "The Lady" spiraling across
your screen in a never-ending series of transitions . . . some innocent and playful, others moody and mysterious, and others self-possessed and radiant, each bringing inspiration in her wake.
Steve Whittaker of My Dark Canvas Design
took Mindy's gorgeous creation and adapted it to work on the Mac.
Both versions ( for Windows and for Macs) are easy to install and uninstall. Find the free download using the link below. Invite the presence of the goddess into your daily life: Goddess Screensaver
On The Horizon
year and a half on the web, Goddess Gift is undergoing an evaluation of our
progress, a review of our operations that will help us decide what works and what doesn't. Under review are:
1) the overall website design -- we're aware that we need to improve navigation and to
increase consistency of the site's "look and feel".
2) the pricing of the Goddess Quiz and
Report, with an increase in price being a possibility.
3) the viability of the Goddess Shop. Following review
we are considering eliminating the shop in its current form. Earnings are
minimal and it requires a lot of work.
We're exploring a different kind of
shop, offering a few select products that are very goddess oriented,
including a very, very special item that has absolutely stolen our
hearts. We plan to share it with you next month, so stay tuned.
For those of you wanting to order a God or Goddess
Report (or to take the Goddess Quiz again) we're offering Gift
Certificates to take the Goddess Quiz at $12 each (a 30% discount).
If we have to raise the prices of the Goddess Quiz next month, we'll
still always offer a discount to subscribers, but this may be the
last chance to get them at this low price.
Goddess Quiz Certificates
For the Truly Curious Among Us . . .
more detail about our work at the website, you can read the:
In closing, a timely reminder to ....
improve the balance in your life and to tend carefully those things
that you hold dear.
Balance and Breathe,