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Eros’s Arrows

January 28, 2014

The Many Planes of Love

By Madeline Montalban

mm6Psyche, Hermes, the Crescent Moon, the Torch – all are ingredients of a charming mystery to which No. 6 in the Tarot trumps provides the key.

No. 6 in the Tarot trumps, called “The Lovers,” has always been regarded as a card implying a triangular love affair because, in its usual symbolism, it shows a man in a state of indecision between two women, while the little god of love flies above. As such, in a spread, it often crops up before the rupture of a love affair or marriage. But this is only the outer meaning of this wonderful card. I think its inner meaning is far better expressed by the old illustration used here, which shows the youthful winged Hermes entering through the “window of the soul” to inspire and revive the “sleeping Psyche,” or soul.

The soul’s awakening
Notice the crescent moon in the window, the torch burning on the wall, and that both figures are very young, and the gate of understanding to No. 6 in the Tarot trumps begins to swing open.

Connected with this card is a charming mystery that has inspired many poets concerning the duality of us all. Remember that though the soul is usually represented by a female figure (Psyche), what I have to say now concerns both sexes equally, since we assume that we all have a soul, which can be aroused, or sleep for ever. The legend runs that each of us is “two in one,” that we have a higher self (the soul) and a lower self (the spirit in its material body) and that both are at war. The lower side of ourselves seeks satisfaction, solace and completion from another, implying falling in love, with all that can mean on the physical plane. Whether such a love affair ends in marriage or plain frustration makes no difference to the message, which is that unless the winged god of love (Eros, or young Hermes) awakens the souls of both individuals their higher selves will go on sleeping.

War of the emotions
Two things in life are very hard to bear. One is a frustrated love affair, with all its longings and heartbreaks; the other is a broken marriage, with its disappointments and disillusions.

The ancients held that neither of these things could have occurred if the god of love had awakened the “psyches,” or souls, of both parties before he shot his magical arrow. He has arrows also of two kinds. One, the unfeathered, the Eros arrow can cause falling in love, or an infatuation which stirs up the physical emotions of the two people concerned. But the other arrows, the feathered ones, are the symbols of truth (the soul was always weighed against a feather in the ancient Egyptian underworld) and feathers also imply “wings of the soul,” or enlightenment and awakening.

Falling in love
When two people fall in love and have their souls awakened at the same time, no frustration can possibly occur, for they fall in love with the higher side of each other. They see each other not for what they are, but for what they can become in the very highest sense. They stir each other’s souls, and only good can come from that. Each will be a good influence on the other, and bring out the best. Together they can soar to the heights of happiness and attainment (always the desire of the soul) and become far better beings than they were before they met. But, when falling in love disturbs only the emotions and sexual impulses, the affair is doomed to extinction, either before or after marriage, with the first one of the party who “sees through” the other causing the breach.

It’s better that this kind of thing should occur before marriage, when only two people are involved, for then the unhappiness and frustration, and even bitter disappointment, are confined to the two who enjoyed the original transports of love. After marriage, it can involve others, who must suffer for years through no fault of their own. Physical love or sexual attraction can cast a rosy glow over all for a time. But they cannot last, for the “love” has no soul roots, and, therefore, no real foundation to build on.

All passion spent
“The hotter the flame, the sooner the fire is out.” is an old maxim. When the emotions and physical bodies alone are stirred, there is only a bright flame with a burning heat that is already making its own ashes. Sooner or later, unless the two come apart, they would destroy each other, for the disappointment and resentment when attraction has died are terrible destroyers. So the couple usually come apart, and one, if not both, suffers in consequence. This is the time for the lovers to look into themselves, and ask if they are better people for the encounter than they were before. When physical attraction was the cause, the answer must be “No,” for lovers are cruel to those they no longer desire, and the rejected one can become bitter and revengeful. The other party feels a strange, inner sense of guilt at having deserted, and this evinces itself in a display of the less pleasant side of that person’s nature. So we get two spoiled beings, who have had not only passion burned out of them, but a lot of better things, too, including their self-respect.

From such unhappy love affairs or marriages, the psyche, or soul, can rise triumphant. Not because the parties concerned were improved by the affair, but because they had to find some way to live with it, and when one looks for such a way, the soul awakens.

If you find your love affair requires lies, deceit or anything not above-board . . . be warned. You have been shot by the unfeathered arrow. Love and lies cannot live together, no matter how prettily you trick them out or excuse yourselves. The foundation was wrong in the first place.

Settling the account
Again, if the other party seems to bring you bad luck in any noticeable way (loss of prestige, income, or prospects) be sure that this is a warning that you had better end the affair in time, or, when the flame dies, you will be left with nothing.

There is a saying that it is only a fool of a woman who tears down her house with her own hands. That means anything from breaking up your marriage and home to tearing down the “house of self,” for remember, self also houses the soul. I do not subscribe to the view that “to be in love means you can do anything to fulfil that love”. That is based on anti-occult laws. By it you fulfil nothing except the demon of self-indulgence, who delights to betray you afterwards.

But two people who find that their association has uplifted them mentally, spiritually and materially and made them better than they were before, can really say they have received the feathered arrow. For the god of love is not divorced from mentality. Are not both Eros and Hermes winged? One rouses the body – the other the soul.

The best kind of love
A true love awakens the mind, soul and spirit. The two together strive upwards, to get out and beyond the barriers that formerly held them down. Each can inspire and raise the other, and this brings happiness founded on mutual love and respect.

Remember, no man continues to love a woman who destroyed him, his standing, or his ambition. Neither does a woman continue to love a man who encouraged her to “tear down her house with her own hands”. Each soon forgets what they have, and retires into resentment for that which they have lost. Occultism does not say that the world is well lost for love, but that the world can be saved by it. This is the soul-love that should be a part of every love affair, the Psyche and Hermes of the Tarot, for then the two who influence each other for the better will spread that influence to all they meet. These are the lovers whom all the world loves, not the sexually infatuated chumps who upset everybody.
[First published in Prediction, April 1966.]

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From → tarot

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