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For millennia, humans have looked toward the night sky for insight into the human condition. This influence is captured in the voguish phrase, “As above, so below.” Each constellation, planet, and celestial body was assigned a story and accompanying lesson that offered insight into our everyday existence.
We are reminded of that blurring between mythology and astrology each year when the Lyrid meteor shower scatters “shooting stars” across the night sky between April 16 and 25. Originating in the Lyra constellation and visible from anywhere on the planet, the meteor shower is worth experiencing for the nighttime spectacle alone. Although it’s equally valuable for its accompanying myth and moral takeaway that offer timeless insights on love and life.
RELATED: How to Watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower
The Myth Behind the Lyra Constellation
The Lyra constellation has been described in writings dating back more than 2,700 years. Its creation story, retold throughout the centuries, centers around the mythic poet and musician, Orpheus.
As the story goes, mortals and deities alike were drawn when he played the lyre, and even rocks and trees would lean toward him and dance. The nymph Eurydice was similarly compelled and Orpheus, in turn, was taken by her beauty. They fell madly in love with one another, although their happiness came to a halt shortly after their wedding when Eurydice was bitten by a serpent and killed by its poison.
Overwhelmed by grief, Orpheus ventured into the underworld with his lyre. He played music so impassioned, even the gods were swayed to sympathy and relented, allowing Orpheus to bring Eurydice back to the land of living. They issued one condition: Orpheus must walk ahead and not look back until they had left the underworld.
The reunited lovers retraced Orpheus’ trail out of the depths and had almost ascended when Orpheus, who was the first to emerge from the shadows, instinctively turned toward Eurydice to share his relief. She was instantaneously taken from him.
The rest of Orpheus’s days were spent mourning her loss. His music, once so lyrical, turned dark and melancholy. Consumed by the memory of Eurydice, he remained a recluse and made no effort toward pleasure or life.
When Orpheus eventually died and was reunited with her, the gods hung his lyre in the northern night sky as a reminder of his talents and as a testament to his eternal devotion to Eurydice.
What the Lyra Constellation Myth Can Teach Us About Love
Most interpretations of the Orpheus and Eurydice story tell it through the lens of ancient Greek culture and its emphasis on duty and vengeful deities. But what happens when we look at the Lyra constellation creation story through a contemporary lens? What can it teach, or remind us, about love? A lot, it turns out.
Love Demands Bravery
The unconditional love Orpheus felt for Eurydice emboldened him to risk his life to save hers. True, sometimes bravery takes the shape of such grand gestures. Although bravery more frequently happens in everyday ways. When you catch your tendency to prove yourself “right” in a situation and confront your less-than-desirable behaviors, that takes a measure of bravery. Love compels you to do so, because otherwise, your reluctance to understand and change your ways comes at the expense of the other person.
Any meaningful act of bravery draws on vulnerability. That has been the focal point of years of study by researcher and author Brené Brown. Vulnerability can look like sharing all parts of yourself. It can be saying the thing even when you feel scared or awkward. It can be facing your insecurities and finding acceptance within yourself so that your partner can simply love you rather than constantly validate you.
These acts of bravery that resemble selflessness and compassion can be likened to the concept of karma yoga, the yoga of selfless action for the good of ourselves, others, and the relationship.
Love Asks Us to Trust
It’s been suggested that Orpheus turning toward Eurydice before they escaped the underworld exhibited a lack of trust as to whether she was following him in their ascent. If our relationships lack trust, they lack everything.
Humans are fallible. We inevitably frustrate and disappoint our loved ones and vice versa. So along with trust comes a certain measure of forgiveness. Yet it’s not always our partners who are the problem. Sometimes it’s our own thoughts that are the tricksters. When we slip into a downward spiral of fears and mistrust of our partner, it’s essential to ask whether our imagined scenarios align with what we know to be true of that person?
Or is it possible that our thoughts, fueled by fear, are fiction? Often these silent and imagined accusations arise from our own insecurities. When we fail to resolve this within ourselves, then our behavior inevitably starts to reflect our distrustful thoughts. That’s when relationships erode.
If we believe that person to be capable of intentionally or maliciously behaving in that manner or otherwise taking advantage of our trust, then there’s some other contemplating that needs to take place.
Love Demands Surrender
There’s another component of trust reflected in the myth. Prior to losing Eurydice a second time, Orpheus accomplished the seemingly unthinkable and convinced the gods to reverse Eurydice’s death. He wasn’t attached to his own outcome when he traversed the underworld. And that’s precisely why he was able to sway fate. He trusted something larger than himself or his agenda.
He trusted love itself.
Trust in the benevolence of something larger than ourselves relies on an element of surrender. This can be considered a physical manifestation of ishvara pranidhana, the Sanskrit term for surrendering our ego and will to something akin to divine orchestration.
Surrender walks alongside nonattachment. This ability to be fully present to whatever happens in the moment is a practice, one that’s referred to as aparigraha in Sanskrit and considered a basic tenet of Buddhism. And it is essential in love.
Love is a Force Beyond Measure
Orpheus’s downward spiral following the second loss of Eurydice reminds us that unconditional love—even the fictional sort—is a force beyond measure. When love is lost, there is devastation in the aftermath.
Yet despite the ravages of grief, we still love. It is what humans are fundamentally designed to do.
So when you look toward the Lyra constellation and discern the outline of Orpheus’s lyre or witness the shooting stars around it, take a moment and consider the strength and beauty and frailty of love.
About Our Contributor
Sierra Vandervort is a writer, yogi, and music lover living in the Pacific Northwest. She writes and teaches all about connection: connection to the body, to nature, and to the universal love that holds us together. Sierra’s global community network, The Local Mystic, helps women deepen their spiritual studies, romanticize their lives, and build a community of like-minded souls. She loves to guide them to their witchy side by helping them embrace the confidence and abundance they deserve! For free yoga and witchy wisdom, find Sierra at thelocalmystic.com, on Instagram @thelocalmystic, and on YouTube.