Eros is a mysterious energy inherent in the whole of creation, fascinating seekers all over the world. Across the cultures, Eros takes different names but still remains the same agent that has to be awakened from within, since it is the only element that can transform the human psyche. Psyche has to be pacified and Eros’ "fire" has to be transformed into "light" so that he can become the mediator and guide that gently pushes and pulls the seeker towards the source of divine love—Eros the Beloved—that awakens from within, guides and accompanies the seeker from within the inner planes. He is the inner witness, the agent within the seeker that unfolds gnosis, or divine knowledge. This divine knowledge awakens higher levels of consciousness within him and, in turn, these levels of consciousness aroused by Eros lead the seeker back to the source of light.
The Greek mysteries relate that at the very beginning of creation, only chaos existed, and from chaos was born Eros. Elsewhere, according to mythology, we are told that amongst the gods, Eros was the most handsome. This is how theogonia (the birth of the gods) begins and we are assured that the poet Isiodos heard it from the mouth of the Muse herself. According to Isiodos, Eros represents the driving force behind the entire theogonia. The Orphics agree that Eros appears at the beginning of theogonia and cosmogonia in general, and they tell us that his mother was Night, the dark goddess, and his father the Wind. From their first cosmic and elemental embrace, Eros was born from a silver egg.
For the Greeks, the essence of Eros is the unfoldment of human thought, and in Greek philosophy, he is described as a liberating agent who releases and activates the creative process of the mind. Eros inspires and opens the channel of intuition to the higher and abstract understanding and communion with beauty and truth. The myth of Eros and Psyche describes in detail the inner process of transformation. In fact, Eros cannot be separated from his beloved Psyche, since they are united by a secret and sacred bond, invisible and unconscious in man. In fact, man’s psyche remains filled with erotic, sensual, carnal desires that keep him and his mind trapped on the physical plane along with his emotions and consciousness. But a seeker must transmute the attraction of Eros and awaken the bond with his psyche so that he can rise towards the "beloved," the invisible golden thread that links his consciousness to the universal qualities of beauty and love.
The gifts of Eros affect the emotional and thought processes of humanity, especially those of a seeker who has to learn how to open up and integrate these gifts in his psyche. From the lowest and most physical levels of consciousness to the most spiritual ones, Eros remains forever present, gradually transforming the inner fire into pure light. Eros operates in every living creature, and Greek poetry and philosophy describe how nature partakes of the gift of Eros. Hence we could say that Eros’ contribution to humanity is not only inherent in man’s psyche, but that it is also involved in the process that awakens the ego to its true nature, the beauty and unconditional love of the soul.
This awakening activated by Eros and Aphrodite reveals the qualities of pure love and gnosis in the consciousness of the seeker. This level of consciousness cannot be described, however, because it is itself a higher aspect of intelligence in which abstract knowledge and impersonal love are combined. We could simply call this level of awakening, wisdom. So, on one hand, Eros can simply mean carnal love and desire for material possessions, but on the other, it can also express the spiritual energy that attracts and leads the psyche towards the Center of Pure Being, where the beauty and love of the soul are revealed.
Many Greek philosophers, Plato and Pythagoras included, said the same thing—that beauty and gnosis are inseparable and inherent in the essence of Eros. Thus, we understand that in the psyche of man, Eros rules over his carnal desires but also over his higher aspirations and longing for wisdom. This is not the playful cupid, the winged son of Aphrodite and Mars, but an elderly primordial deity, worshiped by the ancient Greeks as the first element of the primordial creative cause, the element that binds and attracts spirit and matter together.
The Two Aspects of Eros
Greek philosophers saw the spirit of Dionysus penetrating the whole of nature and binding together the two aspects of Eros, the penetration and blending energy of matter with its counterpart and complement, spirit. Esoterically, Eros is the leading force within a seeker that takes him away from a level of duality to a level of unity and wholeness. Furthermore, Eros is the key to transforming psychic vibratory rates. He does that by placing a seeker on his axial center, the neutral and timeless zone within his conscious self. This level of being brings about the integration of ego with soul. Hence, Eros is the god or essence that gives us the possibility of letting go of the past and living in the present moment, embracing spontaneously everything within and without our reach.
Eros allows us to see everything as part of our own nature. He also shows us how to transmute carnal and unconscious attractions and desires of all kinds, and how to re-direct and reintegrate their energies back into the center of pure love and wisdom. This inner process must be conscious, because the ego and psyche must harmonize and unite before being invited to enter into the higher realms, where the qualities and gifts of Eros are awakened. On that level of achievement and realization, the seeker receives more gifts from Eros who directs him towards his own invisible and sacred Center of Pure Being, not really a "place" at all, but more a level of being and attunement. This is a level of consciousness where the essence of pure love and beauty manifest themselves through ordinary consciousness and can be said to be a part of the undivided unique consciousness of the whole of creation.
In Symposium, Plato expounded that Eros had two aspects, one physical the other intellectual, i.e., wisdom. He knew that they had to harmonize and blend so as to transform ordinary men into heroes. According to Empedocles, "Aphrodite is Eros himself," the immortal force that unites and harmoniously blends together all the elements in nature, the "bringer" and "giver" of life. He also said, "the path to knowledge can be achieved only through Eros himself. The energy represented by Eros brings about a balance between pleasure, delight and gnosis, and this harmonious and enthusiastic search for gnosis comes not so much from the answers one receives but more from the search itself."
Hence the quest goes on forever, since pleasure and gnosis go hand-in-hand and cannot be separated. Eros questions everything because he loves wisdom and is, therefore, the living source at the center of Greek philosophy. So Eros teaches the Greeks how to become free and fearless in the face of the unknown. He invites them to follow the path of knowledge and apply the sacred principles of freedom and equality, qualities that belong to Eros’ mother, Aphrodite, whom Empedocles identifies with Eros for, without the freedom and courage to explore our inner nature with imagination and intuition, we remain unconscious prisoners of conventional ideas, routines and vicious circles. Hence, Eros is himself the "mixer of the seeds and sperms" in creation, the primal cause, the bringer of life in the womb of nature. Eros’s gift to the seeker, therefore, is the transmuting energy of pure love, which is synonymous with the Logos.
The oldest mythology of Homer does not mention Eros. Apparently Eros was not born out of a popular tradition but he is the creation of an abstract philosophical conception.
In Greek esoteric philosophy, the Eros of theogonia took part in the creation of life itself. Eros pulls the sexes together and rules over all living creatures through the need for procreation and, for that reason, we see Plato, Sophocles, Eurepides, etc., praise his irresistible influence along with his mother, Aphrodite, as they both give life and rebirth.
Phanes - Eros
An interesting picture shows us orphic firstborn god Phanes Protogonus, known also as Eros, Pan and Phanes-Jupiter who sprang from the primeval egg. In the picture, he seems to be emerging in flames from the sundered halves of Phanes’ egg, above his head and below his feet. The symbolism also includes solar rays and a lunar crescent behind his head and shoulders; masks of ram, lion and goat on his torso; thunderbolt and staff in his hands (the attributes of Serapis), while around him are the familiar circle of the zodiac and the square of the winds. The inscription "Felix Pater" and an erased female name suggests a Mithraic environment, thereby identifying this picture also as Aion.
Major Arcana: Tarot Card 6 — Lover/ Eros
Tarot card 6 is the Lover, representing an inner process. It portrays Eros, the universal power of union and love, the agent that brings a new level of consciousness to the seeker, and of "being alive" in the world. Eros is shown pointing his arrow towards the seeker’s crown chakra, meaning that the seeker is in a higher initiation that will unite the two opposites and paradoxical sides within himself, and blend them on his axial level. In that axial inner space within his being, the soul reveals itself to the seeker in many subtle ways. The gifts of Eros are many and they manifest in the ever-fleeting present as sudden bursts of enlightenment and intuition that are part of a transcendent primordial knowledge that gradually unfolds in his life.
I personally interpret this card as representing a high level of initiation that corresponds to a baptism of fire, or the awakening in a seeker of a higher level of the abstract mind that remains a grace and a sacred mystery. Receiving the "wound" of the arrow of Eros illuminates the ego, or the limited mind of a seeker, and opens it up to receive higher truth, from where it unites itself with the source of the primordial tradition. The conscious choice of the seeker to enter a new dimension of being comes after his spiritual transformation and rebirth when the arrow of Eros opens his crown chakra, and from that opening, spiritual love pours down and inundates the psyche of the seeker who, from that moment on, transforms from being a lover of self to a lover of God.
Furthermore, the color red on this card represents the color of spirit and the green, the color of life. Hence Eros brings about conscious spiritual transformation in a seeker, unfolding in him higher levels of consciousness. Later on, Eros appears as a cruel, playful child who torments gods and mortals alike, giving them more sorrow and misery than harmony and joy. Cupid aims his arrow directly at the human heart, piercing it, but we should look at this as purifying, as awakening and introducing the spiritual element into the nature of psyche itself. It also teaches us how to escape the entrapment of the lower energies
Eros as seen In the Kabbalah
The imagery of love, or eros, is crucial for a discussion of Shekinah. Eros implies a yearning for unity, harmony, and completion. Shekinah is the aspect which receives an impulse from its masculine counterpart, Yesod, and engages in the creative activity of harmonization. It is a mystical marriage bringing balance to the world. This marriage is God’s call to Himself in a transfiguration of His harmony in love. One important principle in Zoharic thought is man’s role in maintaining the Sephirotic balance. What is found in heaven is found in transfigured parallel in the world. The actions of man affect Sephirotic harmony, balance, and wholeness. In following Torah, one influences one’s Sephirotic counterparts, thereby helping to keep the divine realms in harmony.