Echo & Narcissus


Welcome to Mythic Deviant.
I’m Sea Gabriel and today Narcissus and Echo.
This is a Greek myth that most of you have probably heard of.
In this myth, there is a young woman named Echo.
We know that, and she has an encounter with Hera in the forest where she lives.
And maybe it’s because Echo is an enormous gossip and she just
really likes spreading words.
Or maybe it’s because Echo has a thing for Zeus either because she
likes him or because she fears him that leads her to cover for him.
Or maybe she’s just an innocent girl who happens to be in the forest in any
event, Hera arrives and talks with that.
And while the two of them are having a chat.
Zeus is around the corner having an affair with one of Echo’s friends.
And when Hera finds out, she condemns Echo to no longer be able
to use her own voice to only be permitted, to repeat after others.
So Echo begins to wander in the forest, sad and alone, unable to talk with others
and into the forest wanders Narcissus.
Narcissus was born to an nymph and his mother, the nymph took him to
see an Oracle when he was born.
The Oracle said that Narcissus, this would live a long, healthy, happy life.
As long as he never set eyes upon himself, this was a challenge.
Putting his mother did her best.
And Narcissus became very popular.
Everyone loved him because he was so beautiful and many, many a young
man fell madly for Narcissus and pursued him, but he rejected them all.
He wanted nothing to do with them.
He was only interested in young men as a good Greek man at the time.
Women were for procreation.
They were not for love.
So when he had rejected one particular young man that young man was devastated,
he had cared so deeply about Narcissus.
He had made up all the reasons that he and Narcissus were perfect for one another.
He dreamt of the way they would run off to.
He dreamt to the life that they would lead in twined in each other.
And so when he was dumped, he went to the gods, particularly Nemesis the goddess of
revenge, and he asked that Narcissus never be able to love, never find a true deep
committed love the way that he would have been with Narcissus in his imagination.
So when Narcissus enters this forest, he has pretty much at ease with himself,
but he does not know that he is in peril and he happens upon a water, probably
a lake or a pond, and he sees his reflection and he sees how beautiful.
And he shouts out.
“I love you” and Echo hears him and she agrees.
He is hot and she is so lonely.
So she shouts out in return “I love you”.
And he looks up and he says, “who are you?”
And she says, “who are you?”
And he says, “where are you?”
And she says, “where are you?”
and in time they find each other.
But when he sees her, he is appalled.
She is a young woman.
He wants nothing to do with her.
He says, “what are you doing?
I can’t stand you.
Get out of my sight, get away from me”.
And she is devastated.
So she moves out to the outer edge of his life and she just continues to watch
him, stalking him quietly, as she slowly disappears losing, what remained of her
voice and becoming only that quiet Echo disintegrating into the mountain itself.
He on the other hand, goes back to the lake because he has found his
beauty, his true love there, he looks into the water and he cannot believe
how attentive and attractive and fantastic the youth within it is.
So he reaches down to kiss him and it gets wet, but he likes this.
Clearly, he is playing hard to get.
So he reaches down again to kiss him.
And this time he falls in and he thinks this is a ridiculous game.
He loves it .In the past, all the boys wanted him, but now he has found someone
who is staying away and that is appealing.
So he continues to love this youth.
He continues to wish to be with that, like this youth.
And he talks to himself in the lake day in and day out until he too
begins to fade, he cannot be requited.
He cannot find his way into the life.
Of that, which he loves, he wants to be intimate as time goes on, but he can’t.
Eventually he realizes through trial and error that he will never be able
to touch that youth, that he will never be able to hug that youth.
And he is devastated.
He can neither go on without him nor acquire him.
So, whether he takes his own life intentionally or unintentionally,
or simply stays there fading away until he can no longer continue.
We don’t know.
It depends on your telling, but in any event, his inability to attain
himself is what destroys him.
And this is a very interesting story to me.
First it’s tragic.
It’s a story in which neither of our heroes, Narcissus nor Echo
makes it around the hero’s journey.
They both die at the three quarter mark because they are both looking for a rescue
from without, rather than from within.
They both need to find themselves within themselves.
But they don’t, they just keep looking outside of themselves.
Echo and Narcissus are both waiting for a Narcissus who frankly doesn’t exist.
He’s only a dream of a person.
He is an exterior without much of an interior.
Not because he couldn’t have one, but because he doesn’t know to look there.
They are both trying to see each other from outside of themselves.
Instead of from inside of themselves, they are both judging themselves
through the eyes of others instead of through their own eyes.
Even though Narcissus is a little confused as to how that happens,
they both think that they are powerless.
Even while they both use their power against themselves.
So how do we have the courage to find our own power within us, instead of
looking for it to be at least validated, if not discovered by those around us,
how do we have the courage to take off alone into our own interiors?
In order to find the ways that we can show up and truly be intimate and truly
be vulnerable instead of just falling for the surface tendencies for the
way we look or the way we talk or the way people would prefer, we look or we
talk or the way people discourage, the way we look or the way we talk, how do
we have the courage to be ourselves.
Without asking the world to validate it.
Especially knowing that getting along with others is important.
How do we walk the line between creating intimacy and authentic way
and creating a world in which we are nothing more than an elaborate mask.
Thank you so much for joining me this week.