In the previous episode of our epic tale, the concept of “divine interception” was introduced which discusses how there are influences beyond the material plane that often are at work in our mortal lives. This section of our story deals with strictly the material plane but focuses on certain aspects of it which we mortals tend to overlook, ignore, or simply aren’t aware of its multiple dimensions.
Abundance, opportunities, and solutions abound within the tangible world but quite often a limited perspective or a hyper rational approach prevents us from discovering these wondrous things. Unfortunately in order for our awareness to expand further, we often must be reduced to a state of hopeless desolation if this internal shift is to take place. But should that shift actually occur, the material world takes on an entirely new perspective with a magic all its own.
Our heroine is about to experience just that by being introduced to other creatures which occupy our world alongside us. Creatures that make their presence known so that our mortal awareness can expand by showing how vital a role each living thing plays within the tangible world, no matter how large or small.
We return to Psyche once more as she awakens into pain-filled consciousness.
Psyche shut her eyes immediately after opening them. Her conscious mind registered pain coming from every part of her badly beaten body. Did the awfulness she went through, really happen? Her shredded back resembling tenderized meat affirmed to her that indeed it had. The wounded girl had barely begun processing what had taken place when footsteps could be heard fast approaching her cell.
“Still lounging about? Get up, you good for nothing wretch, there’s work to be done!” Psyche opened her eyes to see Venus standing over her, the goddess of Beauty looking not so beautiful as her face contorted into a cruel snarl.
Venus moaned impatiently as Psyche struggled to slowly lift her body from the cold stone floor she had laid upon in her unconscious state. When she finally was able to stand fully upright, the goddess threatened her menacingly as they stood eye to eye against one another. “Heed my command or suffer my wrath.” Venus taunted before turning on her heel and bellowing the word “COME” insinuating that Psyche follow her.
Dizzy with pain, Psyche had to pause to gain her composure. Mercifully, the goddess’ groans of impatient disgust informed the girl which direction Venus had taken upon leaving her cell. Psyche came upon the goddess as she stood in the entranceway of a voluminous storage room. As far as the eye could see from within were mountainous piles of every seed imaginable. Countless examples of barley, wheat, poppy, chickpea, lentil, and millet seeds were indiscriminately thrown across the entire length of the storage room’s floor.
“I want every seed sorted into piles of each of their own kind by dawn.” Venus said apathetically, adding “Since you lazily spent the better part of the day slumbering, your time is limited.”
Psyche stood slack-jawed with dismay. In her stupor, she observed the goddess reach behind her while saying “Never let it be said Venus does not indulge her slaves.” as the deity thrust a roughly hewn stool into Psyche’s arms before pushing the overwhelmed girl into the room and locking her in from the outside.
Psyche slumped to the floor, sobbing in exasperation. Even if an entire week’s worth of time were granted, she never would be able to complete such an impossible task, she thought to herself. All the girl could do while looking at the endless sea of seeds surrounding her was to lean her head on the tiny stool and weep tears of frustrated desolation.
In her defeated state, the girl didn’t notice a butterfly had flown into the room through a tiny barred window and had alighted upon the stool to observe her. Its large eyes were tinted a brilliant powder blue and its white wings were ornamented by bright spots of orange and topaz. Upon noticing the creature, Psyche sat up as she brushed away the thick layer of tears which covered her face. To her surprise, the butterfly rose on its hind legs with its wings outspread and lowered itself as if bowing towards her, much like the birds of the enchanted fountain had done. Psyche responded by quickly sitting on both knees while graciously lowering her head, returning the insect’s noble gesture.
“O my beautiful friend. If only I could ascend with wings such as yours and leave this awful place. Whatever shall I do?” Psyche said as she wept anew. The butterfly lowered itself to bow again but in a flash broke into flight through the small barred window from which it came, causing Psyche’s heart to sink even further.
But no sooner had the butterfly left did the creature return and this time no longer alone. On its back the winged insect carried an ant similar in size. After landing on the stool, the butterfly’s passenger climbed down from its air borne transport as the butterfly landed upon Psyche’s shoulder.
The ant, colored a brilliant bright red, stood upon its back quarters and proceeded to deliver a most regal bow as its front left leg swept the ground with a dramatic flourish. Psyche smiled with delight as she stood up and genuflected before the ant in a similar manner.
What happened next defies Reason.
Remaining upright, the ant tossed its head back revealing mandibles that were extraordinarily large. It then rubbed its front legs together while repeatedly clicking its giant mandibles, causing a distinct sound that could be noticeably heard.
Suddenly from every corner of the room, a vast army of ants emerged, pushing their way above the thick layer of seeds in response to being summoned by their leader. Each creature stood on its hind legs and with the same dramatic flair their ruler had shown Psyche, bowed towards the ant who remained perched on the stool. Upon showing allegiance to their King, the army of ants went into action. As they undertook their task each ant clicked with productivity, creating an atmosphere of sound that was capable of drowning out the largest gathering of crickets on a midsummer’s evening.
Each ant made its way to and fro as if already given its orders in advance of whichever seed it was assigned to move and assemble. Psyche watched agog with utter fascination as much to her disbelief the sea of seeds became transformed into tightly formed piles marked by separately distinct colors after having been organized by each seed’s similarity of kind.
The last straggling seeds were being arranged in final order when a key could be heard releasing the room’s outer lock. Instantaneously, every creature disappeared out of sight as the ants darted towards the walls and into the room’s four corners while the butterfly bolted in flight out the barred window.
Venus’ surprised sense of shock was clearly visible as she entered the room, only to discover her insurmountable task had undeniably been accomplished. The goddess’ eyes tightened with rage as she uttered through clenched teeth, “You wicked girl! Clearly the gods have shown their favor by assisting you! Know that your work is far from over.”
Tossing a blackened piece of partially moldy bread towards Psyche’s direction, Venus locked the door from the outside once again before storming off, fuming with resentment.
Psyche’s first task was officially complete.
*Image above “Aphrodite Finds Psyche’s Task Accomplished” by Andrew Lang, 1921
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.