Tristan and isolde painting Rogelio

Romantic love means a path to initiation

Romantic love means a path to initiation, which leads through suffering and enlightenment.

“Romantic love,” as described by the myth, is a mistake according to Robert A. Johnson―in fact it is the Occidental mistake par excellence. The levels of the anima on the one hand and of ego-awareness on the other are confused in that an attempt is made to live out at the earthly level the anima, which is not of this world. In that case, it is only in death that this duality can be made a unity, one whole.

Romantic Love

When we are in love―and this only happens in the West―it is as if we were in a magical chamber of mirrors. The mirrors are like the projections of our self. They reflect our own image ad infinitum and nothing else. In this infinity, and thus in this eternity, we are no longer of this world, though still caught in our earthly existence. (Françoise Saint-Onge)

When two mirrors look at one another,
then Satan plays his favorite trick
and opens here in his way
The perspective into the infinite.
―Walter Benjamin

This “tortured reflection of the divine kingdom” in romantic love, which holds one captive acts like a drug, creates happiness, makes one drunk with a happiness that is not of this world and therefore unbearable.

Romantic love
This is why Tristan, after the three years in the forest, feeds his passion by repeated journeys to Isolde, and Isolde on her part, keeps this cosmic, intensive drama alive, which makes possible her admission into the enchanted garden.
My suffering is different from everything;
Because it is comfort and joy to me;
My suffering is what I wish for, And my pain is my sanity!
I cannot understand why I complain,
For my suffering comes to me because I desire it.
It is my own wish that turns into my suffering I get so much joy from this wish,
That I suffer quite comfortably,
And so much gladness from my pain,
That I am sick with joy.
―Chrétien de Troyes (1145)

The two mirrors

We have the two mirrors that open the view into the infinite. It can never lead to the goal of wholeness. It is a diabolic circle. Romantic love can only find fulfillment in death.
There are, however, people who consciously take the road of romantic love, the way of delusion in the eyes of the world. Because of their creative drive, they go through the purifying fire.
They are the artists. They experience their anima not in the earthly life with a man or a woman of flesh and blood, but in their dreams and their work. The work of art is their symbolic death. The art is for them the third point of the triangle, the sacred, the synthesis. Found in “Traumvorstellung Liebe―Der Irrtum des Abendlandes“, by Robert A. Johnson.


Sparing no effort or time,
Fascinated, you venture out flying,
And searching for the fire of the heavens,
Butterfly, you are burning your wings.
“And as long as you do not understand This: “Die and become!”
You are but an obscure guest On this dark earth.
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