Finding Aphrodite and Psyche

‘african venus; d sinclair ’06

“..can we realise that we are each, in soul, children of Aphrodite, that the soul is a therapeutes, as was Psyche, in the temple of Venus – that is where it is in devotion – the soul is born in beauty and feeds on beauty, requires beauty for its life…

…psyche is the life of our aesthetic responses – that sense of taste in relation with things, that thrill or pain, disgust or expansion of breast; these primordial aesthetic reactions of the heart are soul itself speaking.” (hillman, thought of the heart, p39)

Actually, I’m not all that sure that Aphrodite or Psyche can be ‘found’. Not that its impossible to know them, only that the ‘searching’ may be fruitless – because they’re experiences of the senses and the emotional body, and in as much perhaps only need to be recognised as and when they arise.

When we feel something and the thought ‘beautiful’ surfaces, where is it is any of it surfacing from, but within? Aphrodite is surely a necessary part of our inner workings, as much as is needed in the outer, physical cosmos.

Thomas Moore writes about Aphrodite ‘rising from the sea’ as per her creation myth – and this is very apt. Beauty originates from the unknown depths; rises through the body, catches in the throat, takes away breath, and puts a blindfold on one’s other faculties.


Oh, I’m just musing – waxing poetic. There’s no better subject to do it on.

Yes, Aphrodite is more than Beauty, but as a starting place, we can’t do better. If there were a map of the human cosmos, Beauty might be found were land meets water, and the unconscious meets lived experience. Beyond there is Pleasure and then Desire, past mountains where warm breezes blow and earth’s fires burn with melted ores spill over into green forests.

I have to believe that until we can get in touch with our inner beauty, our inner Aphrodite, we are closed off to a whole realm of sense and taste – and life. The beach will be closed, so to speak, forget the volcanic springs, the river mouth, the forest.

I took life drawing classes at the School of Art; enrolled in the course without really thinking about it and realised with horror on the first day that life drawing involves drawing naked people. Naked people!

For an ex ballet dancer the idea of physical ‘imperfection’ (that is, anything less than the ideal ballet dancer’s body) is hard to, er, well, stomach.

After a while it became clear to me the ‘imperfect’ bodies – people – had a beauty of their own that had nothing to do with any ideals of mine. It’s as though looking without ego – and nothing is better for stripping away ego than doing something so new, in the presence of a naked person no less – gives a new perspective on form.

Hillman calls for us all to practice that which the classical texts call notitia – seeing and imagining through the heart. Its about looking – really looking – and seeing things, not our ideas of things. Its allowing without describing.

Its like seeing through childs eyes – before Old Mother Bone Maker comes along and names everything, defining and setting in stone the world around us. Before being taught that this is ‘self’ and this is ‘other’ – when, without knowing what things are, everything is amazing and interesting, and there’s no difference between ‘it’ and ‘me’.

Its an old cliche; beauty is in the eye of the beholder – but its the eyes of soul that are calling it, because like calls unto like. This is a truth that takes practice to realise.

13 thoughts on “Finding Aphrodite and Psyche

  1. I’ll be back to add to this – it got a bit hot and gin-laden around here today, and the children need my attention now. x d

  2. Giggling here – hot and gin laden.

    Had lunch with Catherine up in the hills today – can’t say that it was either warm nor gin laden, though we did have a chance for a chat (inbetween other stuff) and will definitely be going back up there again – perhaps while Dave is away in NT in a few weeks time (though haven’t yet broached this with Catherine)

    Thanks for exploring this more … even though this is just a taster … I’m sure this is what I am looking for? I must get that new printer cartridge (Amy offered to buy me one and write it off on her tax next year in Canada!)so I can print this off and read and muse further …

    Oh I blog tagged you for a short-ish meme – re blogging!! When you’ve got a spare moment – of course!

  3. Giggling here – hot and gin laden.

    Had lunch with Catherine up in the hills today – can’t say that it was either warm nor gin laden, though we did have a chance for a chat (inbetween other stuff) and will definitely be going back up there again – perhaps while Dave is away in NT in a few weeks time (though haven’t yet broached this with Catherine)

    Thanks for exploring this more … even though this is just a taster … I’m sure this is what I am looking for? I must get that new printer cartridge (Amy offered to buy me one and write it off on her tax next year in Canada!)so I can print this off and read and muse further …

    Oh I blog tagged you for a short-ish meme – re blogging!! When you’ve got a spare moment – of course!

  4. Speaking of beauty and gin…perhaps finding beauty in ‘ordinary objects’ is Bombay Sapphire not a wonderous fluid? All herby and ginnish with that pretty bottle?

  5. sounds like a wonderful day, you two…

    yes, Bombay Saphire is kind of lovely.. even prettier was the very expensive bottle of sloe gin I was extremely tempted to buy, but didn’t. A gin laden afternoon on a 42degree day is just gorgeous, don’t you agree? πŸ™‚

    Jodi thanks for the tagging (get you back sometime!!), I’m up for it!

    d x

  6. sounds like a wonderful day, you two…

    yes, Bombay Saphire is kind of lovely.. even prettier was the very expensive bottle of sloe gin I was extremely tempted to buy, but didn’t. A gin laden afternoon on a 42degree day is just gorgeous, don’t you agree? πŸ™‚

    Jodi thanks for the tagging (get you back sometime!!), I’m up for it!

    d x

  7. I think the concept of notitia, the seeing without describing is along a similar stream to where I was trying to describe the feeling of story, without story. Except ideally it’s closer to being, without describing.

    As much as I like a good story,reading, writing or relating…I felt like there were times last year where by describing an event or concept I had participated in or developed to a close friend, it would take on too much of their meaning, their interpretation and become something very far from my story.

    I found myself in this friendship that became really strange…or maybe it always was and planets moved and I saw more clearly…It seemed as though any comment I made was dissected and analysed so much that it became distorted or infected with storyseep? A term that just came to me where someone else’s story seeps into your own…muddies the waters. If I’m completely honest there were probably times where I did the same in return…

    I’m very careful now, about what I describe, and to whom, to the point that I find myself no longer comfortable speaking with this person any longer.This pattern was very firmly entrenched in our interactions.I am trying to tip the balance more to being my own story than describing it.

    So I think there are times where like has called to like, but I am very concious now of the potential for seepage.

    Maybe this is where the perfect and imperfect blend.As without the distortions of my own story occurring, I would not, now…strive quite as hard to be my own story.

  8. I think the concept of notitia, the seeing without describing is along a similar stream to where I was trying to describe the feeling of story, without story. Except ideally it’s closer to being, without describing.

    As much as I like a good story,reading, writing or relating…I felt like there were times last year where by describing an event or concept I had participated in or developed to a close friend, it would take on too much of their meaning, their interpretation and become something very far from my story.

    I found myself in this friendship that became really strange…or maybe it always was and planets moved and I saw more clearly…It seemed as though any comment I made was dissected and analysed so much that it became distorted or infected with storyseep? A term that just came to me where someone else’s story seeps into your own…muddies the waters. If I’m completely honest there were probably times where I did the same in return…

    I’m very careful now, about what I describe, and to whom, to the point that I find myself no longer comfortable speaking with this person any longer.This pattern was very firmly entrenched in our interactions.I am trying to tip the balance more to being my own story than describing it.

    So I think there are times where like has called to like, but I am very concious now of the potential for seepage.

    Maybe this is where the perfect and imperfect blend.As without the distortions of my own story occurring, I would not, now…strive quite as hard to be my own story.

  9. hi Catherine,

    its amazing that you’ve written about something similar to what I’ve been working through over the weekend – the ‘wearing’ of others’ stories. (which are no-one’s stories but my own!)

    I started to write here about how others judgements, descriptions, distortions and whatnot are actually about them – but lately I’ve come to realise that there is nothing in my experience that is outside of my story. Everything that happens is happening for me, not to me, not AT me. Everything outside of me is also inside of me. Others voice for me what I cannot – doubts, fears etc. I’m listening, because I’m learning about me.

    even so, its too easy to fall into Story – seemingly without words or judgements, parts can end up ‘on’ us, if that at all makes sense. An archetypal scenario plays out, one party takes on ‘Victim’, the other takes on ‘Bully’… one is ‘Mother’ and the other ‘Child’, and so on. Or we swap, or we pay attention and just stop playing the role that keeps the other pushing it on us with their unconscious behaviour.

    its so subtle and unconscious – we’re all quite innocent and confused in this!

    I hope that doesn’t come across as too ‘wah wah’.

    Lately I’ve noticed, in particular, that when I play ‘Brat’ (read: abandoned/afraid/tantrum throwing child) with a particular person, he responds with ‘Disapproving, Withholding Father’ – and the opposite (when he does his Dad thing, I respond with Brattiness). When the ‘Mother’ in me becomes threatened and Witchy; HE becomes the whining Victim, or the Hero (here he has to either ‘slay the witch’ or be devoured!). We’re keeping the whole thing going together, and I’m watching it all and wondering how long this story will hold on to us/me.

    It helps that now I laugh about being bratty, witchy, heroic, victim-ish etc… its good to step away from the mirror and take a look through a window instead.

  10. Hey Danae,

    Had to laugh at the comment about confusing yourself. I’m familar with that condition.Only too well.

    Thanks for sharing where you’re at regarding stories, it sort of rounds out some of what I’ve been sensing/processing.It even reminded me of analogy I used to explain the effects of the ethics of businesses in the community for a uni paper…Ego roaring here a bit…but I was rather chuffed to have my lecturer approach me later about citing me in her work…anyways it sort of was based on the concept of the ripple effect not just spreading out. That in nature while a ripple spreads out, it also reaches a boundary and flows back. Which I think better incorporates the holisticity of story, than I did before I read your post.

    I’ve also been actively tapping into connectedness a lot the last couple of days especially.The effects of sharing thought…I’ve had some really lovely reminders that just by spontaneously sharing something that’s exciting to me, with minimal forethought of consequence(lol)…it’s given some people a little burst of joy in their week when they needed it. I’ve had really positive feedback….which is encouraging.

    The other word that has been resonating rather strongly has been acceptance…possibly an extension or incorporation of the it’s all good/perfect belief.
    Jodi has posted a rather raw, honest post on her blog regarding acceptance, herself. So maybe these are some fairly universal aspects cropping up for a lot of people this week?

  11. oh, lawdy. I thought about it a while last night, trying to unravel the confusion.

    my friend Robyn keeps telling me ‘you’re the only one here’ – which is to say, ‘its all happening in your head’!

    so there’s no confusion, I just have to own it all – the whole scenario playing out is apparently me. (nooooo! I don’t want to be the Father! πŸ™‚ I want to be the Princess!!) lol.

    You’re right about connectedness and the same applies… I think? lol something tells me we may be discussing synchronicity soon…

    Jodi’s post on acceptance is indeed very raw and honest. Necessary, is all I can think.

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