What is Hetaira?
'Hetaira' is a Greek word that means 'companion'. It is the name given to the Female Archetype of the Lover. As such, it is motivated by pure unconditional love, with no idea of an exchange. Archetypes are energies beyond human capability: no one can realize an archetype fully, but they can 'visit' and help us to be more than our usual limited selves. They are like lenses through which we can see and be God's love, in different forms. In the past few thousand years, the female archetypes and energies have been "thrown down in the gutter and trampled on", as Robert Bly put it. There is and has been a very deep distrust of and malevolence toward all things female for a long time. Anything that is openly to do with Love is particularly maligned as being dangerous. How can the energy of love and the power that created each one of us be dangerous?
Because of this extremely warped perspective, which underlies all of most societies so completely as to be unconscious, I decided to offer this description of Hetaira, which is long lost and not understood, but is an essential part of all human beings. If you find something here disturbing, ask yourself why.
Butterfly is the symbol of Hetaira. Every woman has one: it's built in.
|Hetaira "Wordle" - I made this on Wordle.net|
I will be describing the personality traits found in everyone to varying degrees that are to do with Hetaira. In most people, the traces are very faint, but other people are strongly oriented toward these tendencies. They might be aware and not show them, or be unconscious about it and also very obvious.
In my experience in the US culture, although the tendencies are visible, I don't know of a societal place for Hetaira - companion / Lover - in a pure form. The organized religions are particularly hostile to it, but I have to ask again: why is love wrong? Perhaps there are Hetaira people elsewhere, but I am speaking to my society. The word is used in other parts of the world as a slang term to mean 'prostitute' or "loose woman", but as an aspect of God, obviously that is not what Hetaira is.
Hetairas are good at anything one-to-one: listening, conversing, appreciating, counselling, some aspects of caring but different from Mother, or Nurse. Massage is a good example. Anyone who is lonely would naturally be drawn to a person with Hetaira tendencies, who would naturally extend themselves to help. It would be just like a magnet and iron. Hetaira creates a field of Love around herself, and it draws anyone in need. Hetaira wants to help, care, understand, support. Not for herself, not to get or gain anything, not for return or pay, but to express the love that is in everyone.
As Love, Hetaira cannot go against her society or culture. To do something that creates conflict would not be loving. This is part of the reason that it has mostly disappeared: how to manifest when its very presence is misunderstood and feared? So, Hetaira will not undermine relationships, marriages, or anything that helps people. Why then is it seen so negatively? The very wrongs that people attribute to Hetaira are impossible. But humans with Hetaira traits are not perfect: if someone does not disclose that they are married, she cannot read your mind. (But, she might have a pretty clear intuitive feeling about that.)
Negative tendencies and faults
People with Hetaira traits can show some negative facets: manipulativeness, inappropriately sexual, callous, over the top... This is no different from any other archetype or personality aspect. What is negative in this case is not to do with Hetaira, but with the individual person who expresses these faults. Unconditional Love has no failings. But, who can be that?
Hetaira often naturally expresses the ability to sing, dance, recite, perform, touch, cook, be creative, verbal, focused on one-to-one situations, caring, empathetic, and has insight in to people. Might also be good with children, but not like a mother. Can be good with animals, as a naturally warm, caring being. As a carer, she would be happy to bathe someone, for their enjoyment, but not so much to be a Nurse to someone. However, a companion could devote themselves to one person for a lifetime. Think about that. A person with strong Hetaira energy can marry and be devoted. It is easily possible, but both people would need to understand, and the Hetaira's unique needs would have to be accommodated well, or that person would wither.
She or He?
As we are made in God's image, "male and female God made them", these traits can appear in both males and females, and are certainly latent in everyone. The incredible violence launched against Gay men is evidence of the general distrust of female energies. A man with strong Hetaira traits is no more likely to be homosexual than anyone else. I am a man, I am Hetaira in essence, but not attracted to men at all. The two things are simply not connected. But, any man showing stereotypically female - anything - is very likely to be thought of as Gay. So, disconnect the two in your mind.
Who is Hetaira now?
Most of the people with obvious Hetaira traits are to be found in the field of Entertainment: historically TV and movies, and more recently in music, which is much more visible through videos and the Internet than it used to be. Mae West is a good example: consider the famous quotes by her: overtly sexual in some cases, but oriented toward one-to-one relationships, even if they are transitory ones. Yet still she has dignity and insists on being treated with respect. What she says is not wrong, it just doesn't fit well into a puritanical culture. But those cultures are not very loving, open or helpful, so who is at fault here? Did Jesus reject the Hetaira people that he encountered? What did he say to them and why? If they were going against their culture, that is all that anyone can say, not that being of love for people - even in a very personal way - is somehow wrong. So watch the line between intention and practice. To me, someone who thinks about murdering someone is worse than someone who actually kills someone through carelessness.
A more recent example is Lady Gaga. Few people probably understand her as Hetaira, because they have no context or knowledge of it. That is why I am writing: this ignorance is harmful to the culture and is a sin against Love. Think of Jesus again. The only people he condemned are those who were closed-minded. Don't be closed-minded on this. Lady Gaga says things in her songs that indicate that she sees life in terms of relationships, and also that she is willing to take risks and is probably somewhat naive. Well, she's only 24, so that's understandable. I prefer that to a person who has already given up on everyone. In the song "Monster", she becomes fascinated by someone that she can see is in some way 'evil'. But in the song, she wails in the background, "could I love him?" This is the essence of Hetaira: to love everyone. Not that we wish to bring destruction on oneself, but at least to ask, is there a way?
How is this wrong? To try to find something in everyone to love? To use the transforming power of Love to help someone go from being 'evil' to good? If you love only those who are safe and love you back, do not even the hypocrites do this? To love someone who is dangerous is to really give of yourself. Just, don't be stupid about it, please. "Why should you destroy yourself?" (Ecclesiastes)
Listen to her songs, and learn in them the point of view of a person who sees relationships and Love as the highest value, the only thing worth working towards. If you really listen, you can chide, but not condemn. The bottom line is that Hetaira is a set of tendencies, and everyone has varying tendencies, no one has them all, or has only the 'proper' ones, or is always right. "Surely no one does only good and never sins." So allow for differences. There are people out there for whom only relationships really matter. You can't browbeat them into caring about philosophy or the stock market, and you shouldn't, because they do not "insist on their own way" with you. Of anyone, a Hetaira person is the least likely to try to convince you of anything, they will just roll with whatever you present and what you want from them, as long as it is loving. I have learned this from my own experience, as how I have always been, even long before I had any knowledge of Hetaira. It is true, and it is real. "All knowledge begins and ends with the self." If you don't believe me, believe what you find in your heart.
If you see yourself in this description, or someone that you know, seek out information and help. I wish I could point you toward a library of knowledge about this facet of personality, but I haven't found it yet. The one clue that I had was in the book "Relating", by Liz Greene. It is about Astrology, which doesn't much interest me, and it only has a few paragraphs about Hetaira. But it woke me from my ignorance. Seek and ye shall find. The truth shall set you free. Good Luck!
(Please see the two update Posts on the Home page dated Nov 15 2011.)