Multiform and multi-names Eros with mortal Psyche. Together they give shape to a new alchemical body, a nightly butterfly having strange and unexpected flight plans.
In greek mythology there is little agreement about Eros origin. Unknown in homeric times, according to Hesiod’s Theogony Eros is “the love which softens hearts”, the young God with fructifying influence, in fact he is responsible for the formation of beings and things. It is he who “brings harmony to chaos”, and in so doing permits life to develop
Eros represents the force of attraction which causes beings to come together. In later periods, and this was the most widespread tradition, he was considered to be the Aphrodite’s (or Venus) son. As to his father, the ancients hesitated between Ares, Hermes and Zeus.
Very often we hear of Love or “Amor” in Alchemy. Of course nothing of anthropological value but laboratory concerns and something more. In Starkey “Pyrotechnie & Volatilization of Alkalis 2” we can find: “Alkalis and Essential Oils kiss each other by bonds of Love”, that’s to say the solution-mixture comes to a cream consistency. For a seventeenth century chemist this was the evidence of an intimate and never-back union. But we are obliged to take for granted that alchemical Love or Eros, like quite every symbol and allegory, stands for at least three different concepts, this being our nasty rule of three. Eros and Psyche allegory is not an exception. And alchemical body too cannot be an exception. In fact if we have at least three Eros or “ force of attraction which causes beings to come together” and at least three Psyche or Soul or determined Seed or fixed or Sun or Man or Redness or Sulphur, we can apply the same rule to our alchemical body. In fact, how many alchemical bodies are allowed in Alchemy? The aforementioned chemical love example is just the first step of a more and more ethereal stair.
Let’s check Mythology: “Psyche (in Greek the word means “soul”) was a princess of such remarkable beauty that Aphrodite/Venus herself was jealous of her. So she asked her son Eros to punish this audacious mortal. Shortly afterwards an oracle commanded Psyche’s father, under threat of terrifying calamities, to conduct his daughter to the summit of a mountain where she would become the marrying prey of a monster. But suddenly she felt herself gently lifted in the arms of Zephyrus, who carried her to a magnificent palace. When night fell Psyche a mysterious being joined her in the darkness, explaining that he was the husband for whom she was destined. She could not see his features, but his voice was soft and his conversation full of tenderness. Before the return of dawn the strange visitor disappeared, first making Psyche swear never to attempt to see his face. In spite of the oddness of the adventure, Psyche was not discontented with her new life; in the palace nothing she could desire was lacking except the constant presence of her delightful husband, who only came to visit her during the dark hours of night. Her happiness could have continued in this way had not her sisters sown the seeds of suspicion in her heart. “If your husband,” they said, “is afraid to let you see his face it is because he must really be a monster.” One night Psyche, in spite of her promise lighted a lamp and held it above the mysterious face. Instead of a fearful monster she beheld the most charming person in the world, Eros himself. He awakened at once, reproached Psyche for her lack of faith and immediately vanished.
The palace disappeared at the same time, Psyche considered suicide and threw herself into a nearby river; but waters bore her gently to the opposite bank. From then on she was pursued by Aphrodite’s anger and submitted to a series of terrible ordeals. She succeeded, however, in overcoming them one by one, thanks to a mysterious assistance. She even had to descend into the underworld. Finally, touched by the repentance of his unhappy spouse, whom he had never ceased to love and protect, Eros went to Zeus and implored permission for Psyche to rejoin him. Zeus consented, conferred immortality on Psyche and Aphrodite/Venus forgot her rancour. “ (1)
More or less this is what mythology provides. We have been taught that every raw matter body or Materia Tertia is composed by a corpse, a Secret Fire/Spirit of Life/Mercurius/Eros/Moon to give life to the corpse and a Secret Fire/Soul/Sulphur/Psyche being the glue fastening a material corpse to life. Masonic hermeticism ties Eros and Psyche concepts respectively to body and mind struggling dichotomy. Nevertheless freemasons further admit that Souls must have learned to wound around their immortal principle since they have been inside a body. Apparently giving a divine verisimilitude to the immortal principle. Nothing more easy for a christian to identify this principle with God. But we alchemists, and would be, are a bit sophisticated and find this statement lacking science. So I would ask: “any Soul wounding around the same God or independent pieces of God”? Since christianity cannot allow multiple pieces of God, church fathers allow for a unique piece towards it all Souls should direct. While Alchemy is about Souls keeping their individuality. As a matter of fact a Soul, by definition, cannot but being individual.
But where Psyche can possibly draw life and substantiality? Apparently from its same couple with Eros. And we should intend our alchemical body formed by these two.