There’s a musical amphitheater close to my hometown, called the Orpheum. This isn’t a rare occurrence; there are quite a few Orpheums across the globe. So, who exactly is this Orpehus fellow, and why does his story matter?
Maybe, because it’s a metaphor for love, and more exactly, trust. Orpheus was a divinely talented musician; a singer so graced that he could even charm the Queen of Hell, Persephone. And this is exactly what he did, in the hopes of saving his dead, beloved wife, Eurydice.
Unfortunately, the Greek deities understand fate in a dark fashion; Persephone told the young musician that he could recover his wife from the realm of the Shades, but on a single, absolute condition. One simple instruction stood between him and the one he loved: he could lead her out of Hades, as long as…
As long as he didn’t look back.
Looking back is one of our most natural human characteristics; whether we are looking back in fear, jealousy, rage, distrust or love. I’ve been blessed in my own life; I now know better than to look back. But…the Greek gods as my witness, I had to learn Persephone’s dire warning the hard way.
More than once, I looked back.
I’m glad I found my Eurydice. Or maybe it’s the other way around; maybe she’s the Orpheus who successfully lead me out of the Dark Spaces, through her grace, compassion and trust.
And by never looking back.
My advice to the young and wild at heart: learn from Orpheus, and don’t look back.
P.S. If you do look back, you might be torn to shreds by a group of angry Maenads, but that’s a story for another time (and yes, if you know what that means, you know there’s a Dionysus post coming, but I’ll uncork that story later).
P.P.S. the painting above is by Edward Poynter, who painted several mythic themes, including The Siren, The Cave of the Storm Nymphs, and Psyche in the Temple of Love.