What is the Esoteric meaning behind Valentine’s Day?
The esoteric meaning behind Valentine’s Day is best described in the allegorical story of Cupid and Psyche from Apuleius (or Platonicus), originally told in his Metamorphoses (also called The Golden Ass), written in the 2nd Century AD. The theme of the story describes in detail the souls journey in overcoming the eternal obstacle between “Cupid” (Latin: Cupido, “Desire” or “Amor;” Greek: “Eros” or “Love”), and “Psyche” (Greek: “Soul” or “Breath of Life”). As part of the mystery religion and sacred rite, he describes the heroes journey as a divine union through sacred marriage between Cupid and Psyche (Eros and Psyche). Apuleius draws on the imagery of the human ascent of the winged soul and the union with the divine achieved by the Soul through the agency of the “Daimon.”
Ultimately he seeks to remind us, “Eros” (Cupid) is the agent for awakening and transforming the human psyche (Daimon). The union between the two is the process of inner metamorphous. As their union unfolds, Psyche becomes Cupids inner witness, the source of all his divine wisdom. The same divine knowledge that Eve took from the Tree of Life, awakens Cupid’s Psyche into higher levels of consciousness. This inner gnosis “Philos-Sophia,” ultimately reunites him with his immortal love.
Greek “Philo-sophy,” describes the essence of Eros as the unfolding of human thought, the liberating agent that release and activates the creative and unbound processes of the awakened mind. This parallels what Apuleius is ultimately for telling as his main character Cupid, who has fallen from grace, is instructed on how to navigate and control the torrent ocean so, he can gain entrance to the underworld. In the final acts of the story, Cupid awakens Psyche from her bounded sleep by pricking her with his arrow. He lifts her into the air to present their union to “Venus” and “Jupiter” (Saturn), where they assemble the rest of the gods in a theater of heaven. After “Mercury” warns Venus to back off from their sacred union, they receive a cake of ambrosia, the food of immortality, and with consent, they proceed to their wedding. The story ends with a “Feast of the Gods,” where Cupid (the husband), reclines in a place of honor, embracing Psyche upon his lap, and in classical Greek comedic fashion, they bare a child, whom he calls Voluptas (Greek: Hedone), “Pleasure” in English.
Happy Valentine’s Day, may you all find your true love!
© Written by Carrie Love
Featured image, The abduction of Psyche by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1894)