Naïve. Child-like. Unworldly.
The words above have been readily used to describe the personalities of those that express the strongest of human emotions in its purest state. Truth be told, those who love purely have a tendency to accept everything and everyone at face value, never questioning the motives of others, especially those closest to them. The tragic flaw of those who love purely is their assumption that the rest of the world is as honestly upfront and direct as they themselves are, with all parties having nothing to hide.
They learn soon enough this simply is not the case.
This was especially so for our story’s heroine. When we last left Psyche, she was in a state of confused shock by the odd behavior members of her own family had displayed towards her. After being reunited with her two elder siblings who assumed she had departed for the Underworld, never to return, Psyche couldn’t understand why their reactions were anything but happy after openly sharing her newly acquired wealth with them. Not only was neither sister noticeably pleased by Psyche’s gifts, it seemed almost as if both were angered by their younger sibling’s attempt to share her abundance with them. Psyche was left stunned when her sisters abruptly ended their visit, which she assumed was to last much longer than just a mere few hours.
Even with that said, the girl who loved so purely would never have imagined what transpired between the two people she kept closest to her heart upon their taking leave of her home.
“Can you believe the audacity, sister?” scoffed one. “Here we both lamentably suffer into believing our youngest sibling was dead and she mocks us by remaining alive all this time!”
“Not only that, sister.” retorted the other. “Our youngest sibling has the nerve to remain alive while we mired in our grief but was also brazen enough to become immeasurably wealthy as well!”
“And after everything we’ve endured, sister, to rub our noses in that wealth by humiliating us with mere trifles of it.” the first said. “If she truly loved those who are her flesh and blood she would have insisted everything in the castle be rightfully divided in thirds. Monstrously selfish, girl!”
The two sisters tacitly nodded at each other in defiant agreement.
“Sister….pray you recall seeing or even hearing her providing any mention of her husband?” asked one.
“I can’t say I did, sister. In fact, I do believe she avoided discussing the matter altogether.” replied the other.
“We’ll soon enough discover the source of her newly acquired abundance as well as teach our youngest sibling quite the memorable lesson for acting so haughtily selfish towards the two people who love her most.”
After indignantly nodding at each other in mutual agreement once more, the two people whom Psyche loved most began to plot her destruction.
To which they were given an initial opportunity to enact their scheme not too long there after. Psyche sent word to her sisters she was with child.
Here it must also be mentioned that along with being naïve/child-like/unworldly, another common trait shared by those who love purely is their inability to hold any kind of grudge against others, especially those closest to their heart. When Psyche discovered her body housed another soul alongside her own, every uncomfortable thought or strange recollection which lingered around her sisters’ actions from both the recent and distant past was instantaneously replaced with an urge to see them both as soon as possible in order to partake in her unbridled joy.
However, this time around her husband’s generous nature was not so readily forthcoming.
“Thou lovest too much.” Cupid said to his spouse. “Can’t thine eyes see those two for who they really are?”
“They are my sisters and that is all I need to see or know, Sir.” Psyche willfully replied.
“And those thou callest thine sisters shalt come between us, my wife.” Cupid prophecized. “Thou shalt see their true nature but I fear it will be far too late when all is revealed.”
“The mother of thy child forswears that only good shalt come of their return visit into our home, my lord.” Psyche stated, knowing her words did nothing to abate her husband’s fears despite him allowing her sisters to return to the castle once again.
After knowing what to expect regarding their transport, instead of screaming in fear upon being delivered to the castle grounds by Zephyr, the West Wind god, Psyche’s sisters arrived this time around with their arms folded in a state of annoyed impatience.
As if that wasn’t rude enough, both women were dressed from head to toe wearing nothing but black.
“Dearest sister, we came as soon as we heard!” said one as she grabbed Psyche’s right side while hugging her too tightly.
“You poor, poor girl. To be cursed by the gods yet again.” lamented the other as she gently tapped Psyche’s back while embracing her youngest sibling’s left side a bit too weakly.
This time it was Psyche who broke the circle of reunion among the three saying, “Sisters, pray I am not mistaken to have sent both of you word of death and loss but rather of joy and gain.”
Both looked at their youngest sibling with expressions of alarmed shock as they once again embraced Psyche from either side too tightly and too weakly.
“The girl is blind to her own fate, sister!” said one over Psyche’s shoulder to the other.
“Our little sister is doomed but as of yet cannot accept that fact!” answered the other over Psyche’s shoulder as if she weren’t present.
Both overdramatically sobbed with barely a tear shed between them.
At that, Psyche’s patience fully departed much along the same way her sister’s tears were noticeably absent. “How can you two say such things? Bearing a child is NOT a doomed fate!” she overzealously argued in the manner of one whose birth order is last in the family.
“It is…if the father of the child is a demon.” replied one.
“Or with looks so brutal he feels there is no other choice than to hide his face from his own wife.” added the other.
Psyche was stunned to silence, unaware her reaction was a hoped for opportunity for her sisters to begin initiating their scheme.
Insisting they confer beyond the magic of the castle’s walls, Psyche’s sisters weaved their manipulating web of deceit by replacing their youngest sibling’s innate sense of trust with abject fear. Under the guise of caring concern, the two unveiled what they claimed to have astutely “observed” – how Psyche’s husband was never present, how she barely mentioned him, and when pressed couldn’t say what he did nor describe what he looked like overall. They also explained why their initial visit had ended so abruptly due to both sisters remembering the oracle’s prophecy at Delphi which spoke of their youngest sibling marrying but her betrothed would be a flesh eating winged monster that was destined to eventually destroy her.
“But now your sisters are here to help.” comforted one.
“We have devised a plan for you to escape your horrible fate.” affirmed the other as they both stared into Psyche’s eyes while smiling intensely.
Four words were reiterated to the mother-to-be over and over – “Kill or be killed“. In order to save herself, Psyche was told she had to remove the life of the one who threatened her own, her siblings explained. They then presented before their stunned little sister the tools they thought were necessary to ensure her freedom. Tools which Psyche’s sisters coincidentally just so happened to have on their persons – a satchel bag, a lamp, and a dagger.
Instructed to wait for the tell tale signs of her husband being sound asleep, the girl’s siblings directed Psyche to light the lamp in order for the dagger to be properly aimed for the purpose of cutting off her husband’s heinous head. Once that task was completed the dismembered body part could be placed out of view within the spaciously sized satchel. Her sisters then informed the girl they would wait at the rocky crag at dawn to be transported by Zephyr for the purpose of accompanying their youngest sibling from the castle, never to return.
What the two failed to mention about “never returning” was the part about Psyche being killed by her own family members so that they could pillage and steal the riches housed within the castle, which would be available for the taking given the lack of ownership at that future point in time.
After reminding their youngest sibling that it all came down to her life versus that of her monster of a spouse’s, Psyche’s sisters imparted their “survival tools” with her and parted from the castle grounds, content in knowing their scheme couldn’t be going any smoother than initially planned.
Psyche stayed outside remaining fixed in the same seated position. She solitarily sat, alone in her thoughts until the sky grew more illuminated in the West while growing ever darker in the East, informing her nightfall would soon be approaching.
But instead of rushing home to prepare for her husband’s imminent arrival, she hurriedly went to the other end of the castle grounds to the enchanted bird fountain.
Once again, there were chirping birds. Once again, the winged creatures didn’t fly away in fear but perched themselves on a nearby tree branch, silently staring at her as if bewitched. Once again, Psyche was crying as she approached the fountain and upon the birds’ cue lowered her head causing one of her tears to fall upon the water’s surface.
And as the teardrop’s collision rippled outward, once again the weeping girl beheld a vision which wasn’t of her own reflection.
Psyche could barely make out the details as a woman with her back turned made her way through the gloom of near total darkness. Suddenly, everything was brought into clear illuminated view as the fountain displayed the woman lighting a lamp brightly aflame as she turned to face forward.
Revealing the woman to be Psyche, herself.
With her face moving ever closer into view, the water’s magical reflection showed Psyche approaching her bedchamber immediately followed by her visage emitting a reaction of sheer shock while sharply gasping an intake of air.
But the sight abruptly vanished due to another of Psyche’s tears splashing through the water’s surface, causing yet another vision to take shape.
What she saw next was unspeakable and not to be believed.
Her sisters were each being attacked. The fountain’s magical water projected images Psyche wished she could forever erase from her mind but knew they were permanently emblazoned in her memory. Much like the vision which preceded it, the water’s surface displayed Psyche’s siblings from up close, both reacting in self defense as they fought their assailant back with a most vicious ferocity.
Nothing further could be seen due to Psyche swooning to the ground in a state of fainted unconsciousness. She awoke hours later in the thick darkness of night.
Alarmed and confused, Psyche regained her bearings and quickly made her way back inside the castle. With her “survival tools” still in hand, she could hear her husband’s pattern of slow, prolonged breath as she made her way up the castle stairs indicating he had already submerged into a state of deep sleep.
Realizing this was the best possible moment to take action, Psyche paused only for a moment to place the satchel down, grip the dagger, and light the lamp before she rushed in upon the chamber where Cupid lay soundly asleep.
Just as was shown in the fountain’s vision, Psyche gasped in sheer shock at the sight she beheld.
The most beautiful man lay before her. Serenely resting like the most content of cherubs with his downy white wings folded underneath his lean body, the lamp’s light was reflected in each of his thick curls which were the color of honey and ripe wheat. His nose was of a perfectly formed Romanesque shape and his lips were full yet delicately lined. The lamp’s illumination was also replicated by the hue emanating from his rosy cheeks which were positioned above a most strong and powerfully placed jawline.
Her husband’s exceptionally handsome face literally froze Psyche into a motionless state of loving adoration as she gazed upon the vision of beauty which slept before her. So much so, the girl was oblivious to the fact her hand had been gradually tipping the lamp directly over his body. As Psyche involuntarily moved closer to verify that her spouse was Loveliness itself and the furthest thing from anything monstrous, the unthinkable happened.
Oil fell from the lamp and splash landed where he lay, burning right through the skin of her husband’s shoulder and arm.
Cupid’s eyes flung open as he was violently forced awake from the oil’s searing pain. Upon turning his head to observe his wife standing over him in clear view illuminated by a lamp held in her hand, he glared at her with incredulous indignation as his massive wings unfurled with lightning speed. As the handsome youth flew off into the night, Psyche could hear his words echo across the black tempestuous sky as if etches of burst lightning:
“Love cannot exist where there is no trust.”
Cover image “Psyche Frightened by her Sisters” by Errol le Cain, 1977
Text image “Winged Spirit” by Natasha Von, 2013
Brad Kronen’s book “Love in the Stars” published by Llewellyn Worldwide, Inc. is available for purchase at your local book seller or online at amazon.com at the link listed below.