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The Birth of Joy: A Holiday Tale as Old as Time

Once upon a time, there was a princess named Mind with a great thirst for knowledge and a deep desire to be loved. Alas, she was cursed by her own prettiness.

One by one, her sisters married, but men were intimidated by Mind's beauty, and women were jealous of her.

As a righteous babe once sang,

and god help you if you are an ugly girl
course too pretty is also your doom
cause everyone harbors a secret hatred
for the prettiest girl in the room

The people celebrated and spited Mind's beauty so much that the Goddess Lust herself became jealous of their attentions and cursed the princess. She ordered her son, the Body God, to prick her with one of his arrows of infatuation and make her fall in love with a monster.

An oracle passed the divine message to Mind's family: that she would wed a hideous beast and must climb the highest mountain to meet her fate. But Mind did not despair along with her parents. She welcomed the love of a monster husband who would end her loneliness.

When she reached the mountain's summit, the West Wind took her in his arms and carried her away to a hidden cave full of terrible things. And Body met her there in the dark and reached for his divine prick--oh!--and accidentally pierced his own finger as he gazed upon her, and his passion for her grew stronger than his loyalty to his own mother, and he took her in his arms and carried her away on his white-feathered wings to hide her in his secret palace of love.

Mind lived in the divine palace for weeks as though in a dream. Invisible servants tended to her every need, and every night, her mysterious husband came to her in the dark with soft words and caresses. She reveled in heavenly pleasures, satisfied in all ways except in her curiosity--her husband never allowed her to see him in the light. He loved that she loved him for his words and deeds and not for his heavenly body. And he coveted the innocence of his grateful sex captive.

Mind began to miss her sisters and innocently believed that they must miss her, too. So she asked her husband to let them visit her, and he consented. He arranged for the young women to be flown to his palace on the West Wind but hid himself during their visit.

Mind's sisters were amazed and envious at the splendor of the divine palace. When they learned that they would not be able to meet their host, and that even Mind had never seen him with her own eyes, they insisted that the mysterious husband must be the monster prophesied by the oracle. "He will kill and eat you," they warned, "if you do not slay him in his sleep!"

Mind was devastated by her sisters' warning, but she could not deny that their story made more sense than her blind trust in a man who only came to her in the dark. The night her sisters left, Soul waited for her husband to fall asleep, and then she took up an oil lamp and a dagger and crept to his side.

The pool of lamplight revealed, instead of a monster, the sexiest man she had ever seen, lying upon the folded wings of an angel. She leaned down to kiss him and accidentally spilled a drop of hot oil on his shoulder. He woke, shouting in pain and rage, and he cursed his wife for faltering in her trust. He beat his wings and flew away.

He left her there, pregnant and alone.

His mother found him and took him into her care.

The Goddess Lust was furious with her son for disobeying her and falling in love with her enemy. But because Mind carried her grandchild, the goddess could not do away with her easily.

The goddess agreed to release her son only if Mind could complete three seemingly impossible tasks. And because Mind was a thoughtful girl who had always been kind to animals, the creatures of the earth and sky conspired to help her complete the first two.

The final task was to journey to the underworld and borrow the Secret of Beauty from Persephone. Mind had to follow a series of bizarre instructions to enter the underworld and come out alive again, but as she had a sharp mind and admirable focus, she succeeded--and emerged with the Secret of Beauty in a box in her hands.

Mind's mind could not, however, cease to inquire what might be inside the box, so she stole a quick peek inside--and of course, it was sleep inside the box. Mind fainted gracefully, and Body, who watched from above, broke free of his mother's power and rushed down to awaken his wife with true love's kiss.

He apologized to her for hiding his identity and then abandoning her to his mother's vengeance. Mind allowed him to make it up to her by taking her to heaven and giving her ambrosia, the food of the gods, which gave her butterfly wings and immortality.

All the goddesses and gods of the heavens celebrated the divine wedding of Mind and Body, and in time, a winged child was born to them who brought hope to the heavens and the earth, the little goddess Joy.

The ancient Cupid and Psyche myth is a predecessor of many folk and fairy tales, including Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. There have been many stories told throughout time about babies of divine birth bringing hope in dark times, and this one is my favorite.

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