Psyche comes to us from a Greek legend. however the origin of Psyche both as an archetype and as a primordial goddess can be traced back to the Neolithic worship of Butterfly and Bee Goddesses. Such creatures undergo a physical metamorphosis to become symbols for the death of the body and rebirth of the spirit in a different form.
The butterfly, as a living metaphor for reincarnation was one of humanity’s earliest spiritual teachings, recorded in carvings and painted pottery. Her largest following was in Minoan Crete where she had shrines and celebrations connected to the pollination of the crops. Indeed, one of the most famous symbols of Minoan culture, the Labrys, was a double-bladed axe whose shape resembled the form of the butterfly. The Labrys represented Death, which releases the Soul whose symbol was a butterfly. The Labrys was a many-layered symbol of Death and Rebirth in a single ritual object. It later became stylized into the form of the Greek letter Psi, symbol of the mind itself.
This ancient doctrine formed the basis of most classical Mystery traditions, Pagan religions, and schools of philosophy fromEgypt,Syria,Greece, Asia Minor, andIndia. In theAmericas, the Hopi, and Pawnee had some form of the Butterfly Maiden, as well as the Maya and Aztecs. But the most popular expression of this myth remains Ovid’s telling of the tale of Eros and Psyche, enduring for thousands of years with elements of the story appearing in folk and fairy tales, and eventually even Disney movies like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.
The myth tells how Psyche, the most beautiful girl on Earth, captures the heart of Eros, the God of Love. His mother, the Goddess Aphrodite, disapproves. He assumes a secret identity, but the effort is foiled by Psyche’s curiosity. Psyche allows Aphrodite to test her worthiness, and she passes all but the final test, which is Death itself. At that point, Eros intervenes on Psyche’s behalf and the other Olympians grant her immortality.
Now Psyche’s trial and journey becomes the means by which humanity gains immortality, for it is true Love that allows us to transcend mortal flesh, be purified and reborn anew. Psyche represents the individual divine self present in each mortal, released and rejoined to the greater immortal Whole through the flame of Love.
Images of the butterfly adorn our homes even today. Paintings, wall hangings, sun-catchers and jewellery items all carry this symbol of life, death and rebirth. The myth has been told and re-told and carried through generations and will be for generations yet to come. While humanity seeks to discover their own divinity, the divine Goddess Psyche remains, to show us the way with clarity and the promise of immortality….through the power of Love.
Written by Salara Kalman…
Meditation Guide, Therapist & resident Psychic at THE AMETHYST CAVE.