Princess and a Serpent

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Once there was a beautiful princess who was admired and feared by all because she seemed to be too independent. Her name was Psyche.

    Desperate his daughter would wind up a spinster, her father appealed to the god Apollo, who decided to solve the problem: She was to go alone, in mourning dress, to the top of a mountain. Before dawn, a serpent would come to marry her.
   The father did what Apollo ordered, and to the top of the mountain she went. Terrified and freeing cold, she went to sleep, certain she would die. However, the next day she awoke in a beautiful palace, having been turned into a queen. Each night her husband came to meet her, but he demanded she obey one single condition: to fully trust in him and never see his face.

     After a few months together, she was in love with him, whose name was Eros. She loved their conversations, found great pleasure in their lovemaking, and was treated with all the respect she deserved. At the same time, she feared being married to a horrible serpent.
     One day, no longer able to control her curiosity, she waited for her husband to fall asleep, gently moved the sheet aside, and with the light of a candle saw the face of a man of incredible beauty. But light awakened him, and realizing his wife had not been able to be true to his only request, Eros disappeared.

    Each time I recall this myth, I wonder: Are we never to be able to see the true face of love? And I understand what the Greeks meant by this: Love is an act of faith and its face should always be covered in mystery. Every moment should be lived with the feeling and emotion because if we try to decipher it and understand it, the magic disappears. We follow its winding and luminous paths, we let ourselves go to the highest peak or the deepest seas, but we trust in the hand that leads us. if we do not allow ourselves to be frightened, we will always awaken in a palace; if we fear the steps that will be required by love and want it to reveal everything to us, the result is that we will be left with nothing.


—Manuscript from The Spy by Paulo Coelho


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