Once upon a time, there was a beautiful lady called Cassandra who was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, the God of Light. This was a very dubious gift, to be sure, for when Cassandra refused Apollo’s romantic advances, he cursed her in a fit of anger: From this time forward no-one would listen to her prophecies nor heed her warnings.
What a tortuous state of affairs for poor Cassandra: Knowing the future but never being heard. Some gift!
Do you ever feel like a Cassandra in your life? Do you sometimes feel like you possess the gift of intuition, farsightedness, or vision? Are you highly sensitive to what’s coming, but no-one seems to listen or care?
This famous Greek story is really about two forms of knowing: The rational intellect versus intuitive insight, the left brain versus the right brain, the head versus the gut, conscious knowing versus unconscious sensing, the ego personality versus soul guidance.
Someone once told me I knew when to move camp. This has been true at times, but not always. Sometimes I haven’t listened to my inner Cassandra and have been caught out by events. Other times, I’ve had a knowing about when to pick up my water-gourd and fire-stick and move on, sensing a change coming best avoided.
Many of us have inexplicable prophetic knowings from time to time: We just know when to move or where to go to avoid trouble. We heed the signs.
All Things Change: Death and Rebirth
Cassandra is excellent at seeing the writing on the wall and intuitively knows when change is coming or when there’s trouble ahead. I think of her as an advance messenger of Kali—the Goddess of Death and Rebirth. Cassandra’s job is to sound the alarm: CHANGE! BIG TIME! MAYBE DEATH!
But having been cursed by Apollo, Cassandra’s warnings fall on deaf ears.
Falling on Deaf Ears
Cassandra’s problem is that no-one listens. This also happened to Goddess Sophia, whom humans egotistically ignored, causing Sophia to flounce off in a huff, taking her wisdom with her. It’s enough to make a Goddess tear her hair out.
It seems we humans are good at ignoring our intuitive rumblings, or even the SHOUTS of our Inner Goddess. My sister once said to me, “Whenever I don’t listen to that small voice inside, I always end up paying for it.
How often do we ignore our intuitive voice within? The curse of Apollo is upon us all in that way.
How to Care for Your Inner Cassandra
Learn to Hold One’s Counsel: Just because we see something in the future, it doesn’t mean it’s helpful to mention it to others: TIMING is everything. It’s often wiser to hold one’s counsel until the exact moment when that information is needed. Otherwise, it tends to be wasted wisdom—pearls before, and all that.
When I was in my teens (in a bygone era) my mother once said I was acting like a Prophet of Doom. True, my environmental sensibilities about Planet Earth had peaked early and my Teen Cassandra was driving her, and others, crazy. No one listened. I quickly learned that “being right” doesn’t help. You can be as right as you like, but if other people don’t want to know, that’s that: You’re out of luck, dear Cassandra.
Practice Wu Wei—The Ancient Art of Non-Doing: Wu-Wei is a spiritual practice from Ancient Taoism that is about knowing when NOT to act—when to actively DO NOTHING. Sometimes it’s best to let the chips fall where they may and allow consequences to take their course. But a Cassandra type will tend to agitate for action; begging, pleading, admonishing. That’s why the Cassandra Complex has been associated with hysteria and emotionalism.
Cassandra could benefit from practicing Wi Wei now and then and just allow things to come to pass: Cause and effect, karmic comeuppance, natural consequences. Just because you SEE what’s coming, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. (Rescuers, please take note.)
Focus on Your Own Direction: Use your Future Sight to guide your own life, not other people’s. Actions speak louder than words anyway—people watch what others do more than they listen to them. This makes sense if we realise that 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. It’s what people DO, not what they SAY, that makes the biggest impact. Follow your inner messages and see where they lead you.
Temper Your Fear of the Future: Cassandra wants to share her warnings only because she cares. She wants to point out the storm clouds gathering on the horizon, to sound the alarm about a suspicious line of smoke on the other side of the mountain, to warn others about an advancing neighbouring tribe.
The future, however, is a complex mesh of factors yet to unfold. Even though we feel as if we know what’s coming, it’s wise to remember the Butterfly Effect: Something tiny can alter the future and change the outcome, even for prophetic geniuses like Cassandra.
Believing you know what’s coming is best tempered by a healthy dose of detachment, by a “let’s wait and see” attitude. Predictions are notoriously unreliable, and insisting upon what’s going to happen usually leads to self-sabotage, if not self-fulfilling prophecies.
Learn to Soothe Your Inner Cassandra: Cassandra feels a duty of care, which can tip her into panicky predictions. This doesn’t empower anyone, especially Cassandra. It’s helpful to remind one’s inner Cassandra that she ISN’T responsible for the future of the world. Maybe things will turn out okay? One never knows. Better to stay calm and follow one’s own intuition when the time is right.
Accept That People Don’t Listen: Many people don’t want to listen until they really have to—they have other things on their mind. Cassandra needs to not take this personally, otherwise, she’s destined to suffer from feeling unheard, ignored, and frustrated.
Of course, people not listening is vexing—Apollo certainly knew what he was doing there. But more importantly than being heard by others is listening to ourselves. Trying to save or awaken others is often an exercise in futility, which poor Cassandra discovered soon enough. It’s time for Cassandra to wise up.
Communicate Your Message Differently: Cassandra might try expressing her messages not as horrible warnings but as something inspired. She might use art, stories, witty slogans or satire to convey her messages, communicating in ways that bypasses the rational intellect—this is the key. It’s possible Apollo didn’t think of everything.
Cassandra’s Lessons To Us
Cassandra is the dishonoured prophetess and rejected oracle. I appreciate her plight: There is something inherently frustrating about watching destiny unfold and not being able to say, “I told you so.”
We need to LISTEN to our inner messages, but without becoming captured or enslaved by them. While we might see worrying trends developing, one never knows for sure how, when, or if things will happen, let alone whom they’ll affect. As a wise sage once said, “It all depends.”
In focusing on future problems, we often miss the gifts of daily life, taking the weight of the world upon our own shoulders. Instead of viewing the future as a field of possibilities, the future becomes a personal cross to bear.
For Cassandra, the future is often a drama fraught with disasters. Perhaps she is right. But I prefer to support lovely Cassandra to transform her frightening visions into creative power and smart choices for herself.
The gift of prophecy is improved by an attitude of hope, a belief in things working out, and a healthy dose of detachment. Otherwise, poor Cassandra may feel disinclined to get out of bed in the morning and become the Prophet of Doom. And as we all know, prophets are rarely recognised in their own land. Apollo has seen to that.
If you relate to the Cassandra story or feel called to be a Future Messenger, remember to enjoy daily life. Become a performance artist, a novelist, a bird watcher, as well as an oracle. For when it comes to the future, one never knows; there is always the Wild Card, the unexpected, and the butterfly wing.
(Artwork of Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan: 1985-1919)