Sorting Seeds: Psyche’s First Labor Gives Us Lessons for Life


By Elaine Mansfield
  HealthPsychology and Mythology   

When I read this I must again think and thank my brother who had learned me, among the others, the might of Mythology.

It is really interesting how Mythology Saga, has been interconnected to our Curriculum Vitae. As I began to know and learn about it, he gave me a dictionary of the Greece Mythology which helped me as a gadgetry to open it if needed! It was a fascinating dictionary as I ever saw in my life.

Now as my dear friend Elaine Mansfield tells about her feebleness of her hearing, that I wish it will get better and best, I’d say I mention almost a same feebleness not about my hearing but my eyecare. yes, it is unfairly destiny of ageing!!

Yes: We might all know Helen Keller http://Helen Keller who was
 deaf-blind but I think it’s wrong to compare with the people who lose their one or other senses through their life. they have had them for many years and they would miss them, as Elaine explains here:
“Last night I heard a chorus of birds singing their joyful evening songs. I felt one step closer to Eros.”

Anyway, I’m honoured to share her blog to feel whit and learn a lot. ❤ ❤

Psyche at the Throne of Aphrodite, Edward Hale, 1883
  • “Is this easier or harder?” my audiologist asks. “Raise your hand when you hear a beep. Do you prefer program 1 or program 4? You made great progress in a week, so keep going.”
  • It feels impossible, but keep sorting. I don’t recognize that sound, but I can stay calm and learn. I wear the audio receiver every waking minute as instructed. It’s OK to be tired.

In the Roman story of Eros (Love) and Psyche (Soul), Eros visits his lover Psyche, but only in the dark. Who is this midnight lover? One night she lights a candle to take a look. Burned by dripping wax, Eros flees. Psyche is dragged before Eros’s mother, the goddess Venus.

Psyche at the Throne of Aphrodite, Edward Hale, 1883

After raging at Psyche, Venus gives the girl Four Labors. The “impossible” tasks are Psyche’s way back to Eros. I don’t think of Eros as only sexual love, but as a broader love for the sensory world, for connection and embodiment. Eros brings sacred as well as sexual pleasure. The heart lifts and opens to receive an angelic choir or celestial symphony or a bird song.

With hearing loss, I lost the joy of music and spoken words. Like Psyche, I fought despair.

A cochlear implant promises to connect me back to the world of sound through a slow sorting process. Knowing Psyche’s story gives me patience.

Here’s a description of the First Labor translated from the original story:

“Venus leaped upon the face of poor Psyche, and took her by the hair, and dashed her head upon the ground. Then she took a great quantity of wheat, of barley, poppy seeds, peas, lentils, and beans, and mingled them altogether on a heap saying: Thou evil favored girl, thou seemest unable to get the grace of thy lover, by no other means, but only by diligent and painful service, wherefore I will prove what thou canst do: see that thou separate all these grains one from another disposing them orderly in their quantity, and let it be done before night.” Apuleius, The Golden Ass

Apuleius wrote this in 150 AD, but it’s as relevant now as it was almost 2000 years ago. Since I had many years of vertigo, I relate to being thrown to the ground, but think of it symbolically.

My audiologist & his resident unpacking & tuning

Psyche’s sorting job feels impossible, but helpers arrive for Psyche and for me. Before and after surgery, friends and sons offer gifts of healing balms, soup, rides, and loving patience. Six weeks after surgery, my audiologist programs my audio receiver. He opens a backpack plus a cloth bag filled with directions, warranties, audio receivers, chargers for domestic and foreign travel, a dehydrator for humid months, and more. Then he sorts to make sure everything is there.

It’s a mountain of chaos, but somehow I will figure it out.

Ants, those discriminating seed gatherers, come to Psyche’s rescue and sort the seeds into tidy piles. I have a surgeon and audiologist instead. My process is slower, but it’s coming along.

Cochlear implant audio receiver: mine is hidden under hair (wikimedia commons)

One task won’t be enough to reunite me with embodied pleasure and joyful listening. I want to love music enough to dance. More tasks lie ahead. More steps to unite body and soul with the love of hearing. Like Psyche, I’ll complete one task at a time. I’ll also doubt, before remembering. I don’t have to do this alone.

Last night I heard a chorus of birds singing their joyful evening songs. I felt one step closer to Eros.


I often return to Psyche’s Four Labors when life’s tasks are overwhelming. When have you had a repetitious sorting job like putting together a book or moving to a new home, taking a new job or cleaning out a closet? For a post about Psyche’s last task, see Clutched: An Essential Lesson from Psyche’s Fourth Labor. For more about how I prepared for this life-changing surgery, see A Healing Ritual in a Sweetgrass Bowl: Self-care for Surgery.

2 thoughts on “Sorting Seeds: Psyche’s First Labor Gives Us Lessons for Life

  1. elainemansfield

    Thank you, Sir Magician. I’m focused on listening so my brain/mind can learn to interpret the new sounds. A cochlear implant is a long slow process, but it’s a gift. Like Psyche’s First Labor, it requires patience more than anything.

    Liked by 1 person

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