Eros by Angela Voss
Kosmos Osterreich, vol. 23 (unpaginated).
How do we interpret the word ‘erotic’ in our contemporary society? It usually conveys a sexual allure, a physical attraction, a suggestion of passion and exoticisim. But do we connect it with spirituality, or a sense of divinity? Not usually. In our secular world the sacred is not accessible through sex. We have separated human sexuality from religious experience, yet surely everyone can testify to the tremendous emotional power of the “longing for the beloved” and probably most have sensed what feels like an
immeasurable distance between the ideal of love, the perfect beauty, and the person sitting next to them at breakfast.
How then to bridge that gulf, to see the world of nature and human beings as reflections of divinity, to understand passion and longing as a movement of the soul that may go much further than physical desire, yet which also may endow that desire with the potential for spiritual transformation? We must return to the ancient Greeks, who saw Eros as a divine being of awesome power, a “mighty daemon”. His raw, ruthless influence over the hearts of men demanded taming, the force of erotic love and attraction
needed directing towards creativity and intellectual understanding lest it wreak havoc with civilised norms of behaviour. The Greeks also knew how to give Eros his due, in the orgiastic rituals of Dionysus, but it was Plato who was the first to suggest that the
experience of falling in love, the ‘madness’ that ensued from passionate erotic longing for the beloved, might in fact be the first stage of the soul seeking to free itself from the bonds of its earthly existence and begin its journey back to union with its divine source.