by Robert Wilkinson
Since this is the day of the year dedicated to lovers, I thought it would be nice to examine some things about that. In mythology, the Lover is one of the six archetypal roles, or Masques, that the personality learns to discover, show to the world, and hopefully elevate beyond the callow superficiality of seductions, whether those of others toward us or the seductions we project to others. In this article, we'll explore some of the symptoms of seductions, and see the difference between healthy affection and seductions that only leave us feeling wounded.
Our old friend the I Ching makes a distinction between seduction and courtship. From Hexagram 31, "Influence (Wooing)" also known in various other translations as "attraction," "persuasion," and "reciprocity":
"... for it is perseverance that makes the difference between seduction and courtship; in the latter the stronger takes a position inferior to that of the weaker and shows consideration to them. This attraction between affinities is a general law of Nature. Heaven and earth attract each other and thus all creatures come into being. Through such attraction the sage influences human hearts, and thus the world attains peace. From the attractions they exert we can learn the nature of all beings in heaven and on Earth."
I note that consideration is a keyword for the expression of respectful sincere affection, and so it seems that one clue about seduction is the lack of consideration. If another is not respectful in their affections, then it's a seduction. This of course can be associated with a lack of respect for appropriate boundaries, and not allowing for a healthy individuality to express itsef. Any time there is a coercion, a push and pull that seems out of balance, or offers that disrupt the life with associated demands to explain why you aren't going along with them, it's a seduction. Remember that seductions may seem playful, but if you don't go along with them, there are overt or implied threats, whether of withholding of affection, gifts, or even emotional connectedness.
Think "I've done x, y, and z for you, and you don't seem to care." Or "Because I've done a, b, and c, you should be doing d, e or f." Though it seems like these are forms of bargaining, make sure you agreed to the bargain to begin with, otherwise it's a seduction. While I agree reciprocity is very important for a relationship to stay in balance, often one partner tries to do things the other did not ask for, and expects something in return for the "favor." This is a seduction.
Moods are seductions by the subconscious. A good mood is when the subconscious has been bought off, a bad mood when it has been denied its desire. You can observe more moods, and moodiness, than usual when a seduction is going on. Objectivity and dispassion are the solutions to moods and seductions, since these are not easily manipulated by either subconsciousness or the desire mind, the vehicles of seduction.
I have noted that seductions are often accompanied by too much emotional baggage automatically associated with expressions of affection. These are interactions that escalate much too quickly to be authentic. Other times, seductions involve the need for one to "save" another, or "be saved" from something by another. Seductions do not like a healthy autonomy, as they are based in unconscious power and control factors.
To the degree our "inner Lover" is unhealthy, we are needy and hope someone will come along to end our feelings of inadequacy. If our inner Lover is healthy, we tend not to attract destructive or clingy people who get attached and controlling, or those who quickly begin offloading heavy emotional freight or expecting a form of salvation from us and what we offer or don't. Beware of self-pity, as this is a common form of seducing another into "helping" in ways that don't help.
Robert Johnson (the author, not the bluesman!) wrote some interesting things about the nature of seduction in his three classic works, "He," "She," and "We." These are short, enchanting works that explore certain archetypes within us and our world, and definitely worth the time.
Ultimately, the Lover is about the dance of courtship between the lower self and the Higher Self, and we play out this dance through relationships that mirror both of these parts of our inner nature. As we embrace the courtship of the Higher Self to bring our personality out of various forms of suffering, we can find a way to view all our relationships through the eyes of the Lover, and grow beyond the seductions that only cause us pain.
Being Valentine's Day, I'll offer some history as to how the world came to even give a day to value lovers. Of course, being about a saint, it's a holiday of recent invention, originating in Rome. February 14 originally honored Juno, the Queen (who also happens to have an asteroid named after her, but that's another article for another time.) February 14 was the day before the Feast of Lupercalia, where children were allowed to pair up for the festival, and longer if they chose.
In a nutshell, Claudius II, the tyrant of the third century, needed soldiers, not lovers, so he cancelled marriages and engagements in Rome. Saint Valentine continued to marry people in secret, so Claudius chopped off his head on February 14. After that the church co-opted the Feast of Lupercalia, re-naming it Valentine's Day. And there you have it.
So at this time, see how others have offered you healthy affection, and how you offered it to them as well. Consider all you have liked and loved, and offered your tender affections to. These were the times you were wearing the masque of the Lover, doing a timeless dance with a form of the beloved, and therefore yourself. We all like that which is beautiful to us, since it mirrors our own beauty. And exploring beauty is a very good thing. Happy Valentine's Day, you beautiful lovers who read this.