Sex, romance and love have as much a common ground as they are different. They have a common ground because all three of them fall, so the speak, under the law of attraction. This law of attraction has been enounced and elucidated by Alice Bailey in many of her books of esoteric philosophy. There ‘law’ and ‘attraction’ are written with a capital letter. This may seem a little unusual in first instance. However once a scope of the range of this law as it is presented in the aforementioned books is gained, it is not difficult to understand why such a spelling is chosen. In that presentation the law is namely given its fields of activity from the lowest and the smallest to the highest and the largest. Its range stretches out from the microcosm all the way up to the macrocosm. In this contemplation however our scope will stay only limited to the field where the law of attraction has its activity in human sex, romance and love. Because it is asserted here that sex, romance and love are ruled by the law of attraction. We find this assertion acknowledged in Bailey’s books. In one of them, namely in Esoteric Psychology, Volume I, sex and love are together explicitly placed under this law.1 That romance is also placed under this law is a sensible thing to consider, but can also be deduced from one of the many remarkable statements made in another book of the same author; A Treatise on Cosmic Fire. For under one of the subsidiary laws of the law of attraction, namely the law of chemical affinity, is spoken about the romance of the elements.2 Now in this contemplation we are mainly interested in sex, romance and love where they refer to humanity. However it is likely that Bailey expressed herself somewhat metaphorically when writing about ‘the romance of the elements’, deriving the metaphoric expression from human romance. And if taken literally it only testifies that romance should also be taken as a form of attraction. So sex, romance and love may all three be considered to be placed under and ruled by the law of attraction. Thus the thesis here reads: ‘sex, romance and love are types of attraction’.
Now it has been a subject of ponderings whether it are opposites that attract or similes. The answer that can be given is; ‘both’. As has been thematized in another contemplation do those opposites attract that belong to the same primal unity.3 So the attraction is between similes for as far as the opposites in question belong to the same primal unity, and the attraction is between opposites for as far as they are different poles. Attraction is always attraction between different poles. And different poles always are of the same type, because otherwise they would not be different poles to each other. A female dove will not be attracted to a male crow, just as a male crow will not be attracted to a female dove. The dove and the crow may be of different sexes but they are not of the same type, are thus not rooted in the same primal unity and are thus not different poles to each other. Exactly this thought is also made clear in the myth that is told by Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium.4 Aristophanes speaks of three primal unities; a male, a female and an androgynous primal unity. After those unities have been cut into dualities there are three different types of polarities and thus three different types of attraction. Those are the attraction between men (rooted in the male primal unity), the attraction between women (rooted in the female primal unity) and the attraction between men and women (rooted in the androgynous primal unity). We may not attest the details of this myth, but we do attest the thought that it conveys. Namely the thought that attraction only occurs between different poles of the same type.
Now the triplicate subject of our present contemplation regards sex, romance and love. We have given these three a common ground when placing them under the law of attraction. However the three are not only one but also three, and thus different. They are one for as far as all three of them can be considered as types of attraction, but they are different for as far as all three of them can be considered as different types of attraction. And different types of attraction imply different sets of poles as we have seen. ‘Sex’ indicates the type of attraction that may exist between physical bodies. ‘Romance’ indicates the attraction that may exist between personalities. And ‘love’ indicates the attraction that may exist between souls. In this contemplation we use the word ‘soul’ mainly to indicate a human transcendence of body and personality. So ‘love’ indicates the attraction that may exist beyond bodies and personalities.
Now this typification may seem to be in need of refinement. ‘Friendship’, for instance, may just like ‘romance’ also refer to an attraction that may exist between personalities. And in homosexuality, to give another example, the supposed opposite physical poles do not seem to be present. Both examples are correct for as far as they explicate a need for refinements. However such refinements will not be given in this contemplation. Here, following the larger lines, we only set out to thematise sex, romance and love as different types of attraction. Another contemplation may meet the need for refinements.
For a further explication of the differences between the above mentioned types of attraction a few of the most important god(desse)s of attraction in the Western tradition may be elucidated. One of the older among these regards the Greek goddess Aphrodite. She appears both in Homer’s as in Hesiod’s works. In Hesiod’s Theogony she is born in a rather unusual way. Kronos, child of Uranus and Gaia, dismembered with a sickle his father’s genitals and threw them in the sea. A foam rose up after some time, and from this foam (‘foam’ in Greek is ‘aphros’)5 Aphrodite was born.6 Homer however declares Aphrodite as a daughter born from Zeus and the ocean nymph Dione.7 Thus sometimes a distinction is made between two Aphrodites. This distinction is often held in line with Pausanias’s speech in Plato’s Symposium where the first Aphrodite is related to a more sacral love, and the latter is related to a more profane love.8 Despite Pausanias’s speech however Aphrodite is generally considered to be a goddess of physical beauty, sexuality, marriage and fertility. This can be deduced easily from those myths in which she appears. Always do in those myths beauty, enticement and lust occur in one way or the other. Sometimes she is herself part of a lustful play, and at other times she is luring others into acts of passion. Such is the case for instance in the myth of Paris and Helen. Hera, Athena and Aphrodite engaged in a quarrel about who of them was the most beautiful goddess. Zeus did not settle the quarrel himself, but let the most handsome mortal man, Paris, decide. All three goddesses tried to bribe Paris. Hera offered him kingship over Asia Minor, Athena tempted him with wisdom and greatness in battle and Aphrodite lured him with the hand of the most beautiful woman, which was Helen. Paris eventually fell for the latter offer and proclaimed Aphrodite to be the most beautiful goddess.9 Where in this case Aphrodite lures thus someone else into the temptations of passion, there she gives in to the same temptations herself in other cases. Exemplary here is the myth of Adonis. Beautiful Adonis, himself a child born out of a dishonorable intervention by Aphrodite on Myrrha and her father Theias, became the subject of a fight between Aphrodite and the goddess of the underworld Persephone. Both desired Adonis and wanted to keep him for themselves. Eventually Zeus decided that Adonis should stay one third of the year with Persephone, one third of the year with Aphrodite, and on one third of the year he could decide himself where to stay (choosing of course the beautiful Aphrodite).10 In the myth Adonis gets killed by a wild boar, and some tales say that the boar was a manifestation of Aphrodite’s husband Hephaestus, or perhaps of her lover Ares. Because Aphrodite had many extramarital lovers of whom she bared numerous children.
One child that was born out of the passionate love between Aphrodite and Ares is Eros.11 Other and earlier tales, such as that of Hesiod, say differently. But whatever be the case or the tale; Eros is always a close companion to Aphrodite.12 This is already so from his earliest mentions in Hesiod's Theogony.13 In this legacy is Eros not yet depicted as being born from Aphrodite and Ares, but is he mentioned as the third god coming to manifestation (Chaos and Gaia being the first two). He is described as the most beautiful among the immortal gods and as overpowering the mind and the thoughtful counsel of all gods and humans.14 Homer does not yet depict Eros as a personified god, but the word ‘eros’ does occur to refer to sexual desire.15 Thus Eros, as a close companion to Aphrodite, is also very closely related with the principles that Aphrodite personifies. Often Eros executes Aphrodite’s plans by shooting his arrows that arouse lust in whomever gets hit by them.
Now it should be noted that cultures, myths and gods are not isolated in time and space and that they are constantly influenced and changed by those dimensions. The Greek Aphrodite, for instance, is said to have probably been evolved from the Assyrian / Babylonian goddess Ishtar and the Semetic goddess Astare.16 And as gods often have roots, so do they many times have sprouts as well. This is also the case with Eros. The Eros as mentioned for the first time in Hesiod's Theogony evolves even during the Greek period. But he sprouts, so to speak, also up into the Roman period. There he becomes known as Cupid or Amor.17 (Aphrodite also extends her legacy into Roman culture and myth and becomes worshipped as the goddess Venus).18
Now about Cupid a myth is told that is, as we shall see later, very important in the context of our present contemplation. It concerns the myth about Cupid and Psyche as it is told in Lucius Apuleius’s work ‘Metamorphosis’ (also known as ‘The Golden Ass’).19 Psyche was the most beautiful of three royal daughters. So beautiful was she that people started to worship her as Venus. This outraged Venus, and she ordered her son, Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with the most hideous person. Catching sight of Psyche, Cupid however fell in love with her himself. He asked Apollo to order the king to leave Psyche on a mountaintop to be wed to a terrible serpent. The king obeyed reluctantly, and after leaving Psyche, Zephyrus (the West wind) gently brought her to a beautiful palace in a hidden, green valley. Voices told her that every wish would be fulfilled. At the palace Cupid would visit Psyche, but always in the dark between dusk and dawn. She was not allowed to see her bridegroom. After the request of the (in the meantime pregnant) Psyche was granted that her sisters could visit her at the palace, the sisters became very jealous and convinced Psyche that she should find out who visited her. After all; it might just as well be the terrible serpent. Thus one night, when her bridegroom was sleeping, Psyche silently lighted a lamp to look who her bridegroom might be. On seeing that it was beautiful Cupid she wanted to kiss him, but oil from the lamp dripped on his shoulder. Cupid, angered by Psyche’s disobedience, left Psyche. Psyche then went on a quest to find her lost lover again and was brought after a series of happening to the dwelling place of Venus. Venus sent Psyche to fulfill several difficult tasks. Psyche had to sort out a heap of mixed types of grains, get a piece of golden wool from dangerous sheep and get a jar of dark water from the river that fed the stream of the underworld. She succeeded but also needed to bring in a box some of the beauty of Proserpina (in Greek ‘Persephone’; the goddess of the underworld). She got instructions from a tower how to go about and was warned not to look into the box after it got filled by Proserpina. However Psyche, again, could not control her curiosity and took a peek. The box did not contain Proserpina’s beauty but the sleep of the dark night of the underworld, which caught Psyche. Now Cupid came to her rescue and put the sleep back into the box so Psyche could finish her task. After that Cupid asked Jupiter (in Greek ‘Zeus’) to ratify his marriage with Psyche, which he did.20
So what may these gods and myths tell us about sex, romance and love as different types of attraction? Taking a look at the descriptions of Aphrodite and studying the myths wherein she appears it is not difficult to see how she may be seen as the personification of sexual attraction, of the attraction between physical bodies. She is of an unmatched physical beauty herself, and wherever she appears lust and passion bloom. Further she is an unfaithful wife and engages in numerous sexual relationships. The personification is clear.
Less clear, but perhaps therefore of peculiar interest, is the role that Eros plays in our line of contemplation. For more than Aphrodite is Eros an evolving god. He starts out in a very close relationship with Aphrodite, personifying almost the same principles as does the latter. Of some significance may be that often Eros is the executor of Aphrodite’s plans. This would give Aphrodite a more potential and Eros a more kinetic mode of attraction between physical bodies. However where Aphrodite stays in general the same in her personification, there does Eros evolve into Cupid or Amor. Evolving thus, Eros, now Cupid, loses some of his close affinity with Aphrodite, now Venus. This can be concluded from the above summarized myth of Cupid and Psyche. Cupid, falling in love with Psyche on his mission, is not anymore in one line with Venus’s plans. Cupid’s desire to marry Psyche makes him draw his own plans, even against those of Venus. Of great significance here is the eventual marriage of Cupid with Psyche. Eros evolves from being Aphrodite’s close companion to the identity of Cupid, being Psyche’s companion. Now Psyche’s name is not arbitrary. ‘Psyche’ in ancient Greece and Rome does not have the same connotation as it does in present times. In those old European cultures it is mostly used to refer to the human soul.21 So when considering body and soul as two poles, Eros-Amor-Cupid stretches himself from the one pole to the other. He is the intermediate faculty. Now the thesis that the personality is the intermediate faculty between the physical body and the soul cannot be contemplated right here but might sound already plausible in itself. So taking this thesis here as a plausible presupposition we can see how Eros-Amor-Cupid as a god of attraction personifies the intermediate type of attraction, the attraction between personalities; romance. Interestingly is such an intermediacy of Eros-Amor-Cupid also explicated by Socrates in Plato’s Symposium when he cites Diotima. There Eros is described as standing between god and mortal.22 ‘God’ here may be taken as referring to the attraction between souls and ‘mortal’ to the attraction between physical bodies. And Eros(-Amor-Cupid), as intermediate between the two, thus personifies the attraction between personalities.
So what about the third type of attraction, the attraction between souls; love? Given the above line of contemplation it might easily come to mind that it is Psyche who can be regarded as personification of this type of attraction. However this is not the case, simply because Psyche is not a goddess of attraction. She appears in the described myth, but does not become a goddess worshipped for personifying love. We mentioned earlier that in this contemplation we use the word ‘soul’ mainly to indicate a human transcendence of body and personality and that we use the word ‘love’ thus to indicate the attraction that may exist beyond bodies and personalities. Now with Psyche failing to personify this type of attraction we may ask: ‘Is there in line with the above contemplation a god or goddess to be found that is worshipped as the personification of love?’ In fact there is. And the case is that he can be considered as the most famous of all. He appears amidst the Greek-Roman pantheon of gods and goddesses, but has himself Abrahamic roots. The pre-eminent god of love of our reference concerns of course Jesus Christ. The story of Jesus has primarily come to us through The New Testament, which basically appears to be a compilation of narratives and letters from some of Jesus’ close companions. In the standard American translation of this work the word ‘love’, as such or as contained in other therefrom derived words (such as ‘beloved’), appears no less than 361 times.23 To elucidate the entirety of his life would disbalance our contemplation. However what can be explicated is that his birth, his life and his death are all marked by the theme of love. His birth is thus marked because God, out of love for humanity, gave his only son (Jesus Christ) to the world to bestow on people the opportunity for eternal life.24 So the prime reason for Christ’s existence as Jesus is love. A love that is shown by giving people the opportunity for eternal life. However in order that this great gift can be bestowed on people Jesus needs to die. Taking on himself the sins of humanity,25 he cleared these by undergoing the crucifixion that led to his death.26 So the reason of Jesus’ birth is his death, and the prime reason of both is God’s love for humanity. Against this most primal background the happenings in Jesus’ life seem to become only secondary. However his life is still very much worth mentioning because it can be considered as a testimony of love. A love of which he also testifies in his teaching. His primal message to humanity is to love God and to love each other’s neighbors.27 Now to come back to our subject of contemplation it is clear that the love of which Jesus speaks and which he personifies is not related to an attraction between bodies or to an attraction between personalities. It concerns an attraction that may exist beyond bodies and personalities, it concerns love.
For the clarification and a further explication of the differences between sex, romance and love as different types of attraction we have discussed four god(desse)s of attraction; Aphrodite, Eros, Amor-Cupid and Jesus Christ. Aphrodite was depicted as a goddess of sex and Jesus Christ as a god of love. Eros-Amor-Cupid was depicted as an intermediate and evolving god. He stretches himself from Aphrodite to Psyche and was described as a god of romance. With considering the evolution of Eros to Amor-Cupid we already have taken a piece of history in account. Now when we extend our contemplation along such historical lines we shall discover an acknowledgement of what is contemplated up till now regarding sex, love and the intermediate romance. Aphrodite, having herself more ancient roots, as mentioned earlier, is already worshipped from the earliest of Greek times.28 With that she is among the above mentioned god(desse)s the oldest that is worshipped. Because Eros, also an old Greek god, is not widely worshipped in the older days of Greek civilization.29 Only in the Hellenistic period (commonly taken as the period between 323 B.C. and 31 or 30 B.C.)30 does Eros become a commonly worshipped god. There he evolves from a handsome young man to the winged putto we know so well.31 This image is adopted by Roman culture and mythology. There, as we have seen, Eros becomes Amor or Cupid. The Greek period came to a definite end with the battle at Actium at 31 B.C. In this battle the Romans defeated for once and for all the Greeks by which the first were able to conquer Egypt and gain full control over the Mediterranean.32 However the Romans in their religion and mythology also adopted much from Greece’s legacy,33 and the late Eros being adapted as Amor or Cupid is just one of the countless examples. Now around the same time another important happening took place. Only a couple of years after the battle at Actium a new god with Abrahamic roots was born: Jesus Christ. Held to be born at (or around)34 the year 0 and to be brought to death a little more than 30 years later, a cult around him originated, developed and spread. Eventually Christianity, the name that is used to refer to this cult, would come to replace the Roman religion, eventually even enthroning itself in the city of Rome. Thus around the same time where the death of Greek religion and the dominance of Roman religion was confirmed at Actium, there the seed of the death of the latter was already sown in Bethlehem. However still 300 years would the Roman religion remain dominant and would Christians be persecuted. The turnabout came in the 4th century A.D. when the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity.35 Later historical events need not be mentioned in this contemplation.
Now in this very short outline of history we can notice that the earlier mentioned god(desse)s of attraction take the same places in history as the places which they take in their personification of types of attraction. Taking Aphrodite as our point of reference we see that Eros starts out as her close companion also in history. He has not yet obtained a place of his own in the pantheon of worshipped gods and goddesses. In course of time however he separated himself from Aphrodite, gaining the status of a widely worshipped god. But for this to happen he needed to evolve towards his identity of Amor-Cupid. As Amor-Cupid he has left the Greek period behind and has entered the Roman period. This is where he flourishes. However his worship loses itself again in the rising worship of Jesus Christ in a later Roman period. Eventually the Roman period would also come to an end, paving the way for a full Christian period. Thus Eros-Amor-Cupid stretches himself out from the early Greek period where he is lost in Aphrodite’s worship up to the Christian period where he is lost in the worship of Jesus. This fully in line with the earlier findings where the same god(desse)s were contemplated in the context of their personification of types of attraction.
Remarkably all of the above is confirmed again when a contemplation along etymological lines takes place. The names of the mentioned god(desse)s of attraction still find their use in contemporary Western languages. We shall restrict ourselves here to the English language. Aphrodite has been explicated as the goddess of sex and the attraction that may exist between physical bodies. Her name and the meaning that it contains are preserved until the present day in the word ‘aphrodisiac’. ‘Aphrodisiac’ as an adjective means ‘venereal’.36 ‘Venereal’ in its turn is given the meaning of pertaining to, associated or connected with, sexual desire or intercourse. With that we thus find an etymological acknowledgement of the idea of Aphrodite as a personification of sex. The circle closes when we see that ‘venereal’ is rooted in the name that Aphrodite is given in Roman mythology, namely ‘Venus’.37
Eros, the close companion to Aphrodite, can be found in words like ‘erotic’ and ‘eroticism’. Both of these words refer in one way or the other to sexual desire,38 thus acknowledging Eros’s close companionship with Aphrodite. With Eros evolving into Amor-Cupid we also find an etymological acknowledgement of Amor-Cupid as a personification of romance, of the attraction that may exist between personalities. ‘Amour’, unquestionably rooted in ‘Amor’, may refer to love, affection and friendship, but more dominantly to tender affections and love towards one of the opposite sex.39 Cupid is less commonly found in English words, but resounds in the word ‘cupidity’ which refers to an ardent desire or inordinate longing or lust.40 However this does not explicitly refer to a sexual longing or desire. If an etymology from the English language would be taken as leading, then Cupid should probably be placed between Eros and Amor. Interesting here is also the fact that Amor-Cupid originates in Roman culture and mythology. The name ‘Roman’ that denotes this culture which brought forth Amor-Cupid is evidently present in the term ‘romance’.
Where Jesus Christ is concerned we won’t find many references in the present English language from which can be deduced that he personifies love. This is probably so because, despite the secularization, Christianity is still a very actual and alive religion. Words in which the name ‘Christ’ occur bear in most cases still a direct reference to the Christian religion and faith. Probably however in future times, in times where Christianity has disappeared already for a longer time, shall we find in the usage of words that contain the name ‘Christ’ clearer reverberations of love, shall we find clearer reverberations of the attraction that may exist between souls, that may exist beyond physical bodies and personalities.