Monday, June 29, 2009

Aphrodite in Myth: Mother of the Erotes

In my persona; gnosis, my personal idea of what the Gods are, there are actually only a few Gods. That numbers around 24, but I never say that that is the absolute truth, because no man can ever truly know the absolute truth about, well, almost anything.

In my personal pantheon, there is a clear distinction between Eros, the primordial God that brings things together, like gravity, and the Eros of later myth who is better known among the English speaking world as Cupid. Further, the mythos also gives us the Erotes, plural of Eros, who are like little angelic Cupids that do the bidding of their mother and give mankind things like Love, Jealousy, Hatred, etc.

Cupid Eros and the Erotes are, to me, simply angelic aspects of the Goddess Aphrodite herself, as are most of her mythic children. The Erotes are kind of special, though, because like Venus, the Roman Aphrodite, the little Cupids have made their way into the modern world in many ways. Many of the Christian representations of angelic figures like Cherubs are clearly based on them, and in many ways, the modern idea of “God is Love” would render this aspect of the Christian God as Aphrodite herself. But that is a discussion for some other time.

The Cherubic Erotes are mischievous little creatures, and are often depicted as infants, with that lack of propriety, that lack of sense, and that lacking a sense of consequence that children of that age would have. They are like the most primal aspects of Aphrodite, sheer unfiltered emotion, and that is something we are all familiar with, because like these little Erotes, emotion comes and plays havoc with us and then goes upon its merry way.

The little Erotes are Aphrodite as she manifests in all of our little emotions, the vast complexity of which make us all what we are.

The Erotes are emotion. Not just what we human beings generate and feel, but that which is manifest in the cosmos itself. Thoughts and emotions are spontaneous in us, and often we ask ourselves where do they come from? I believe we humans generate them ourselves, but the very existence of emotion is due to the manifestation in our universe of the power of Aphrodite.

Emotion is also chaotic. Spontaneity is, by its very nature, a chaotic process, one which is inherent to our universe from the most base to the most expansive of its aspects, and as such I have to wonder if this does not make Aphrodite herself part of the primordial (basic) functions of the cosmos.

That would seem an easy enough question to answer, after all, aren’t all Gods part of the basic function of the cosmos? Yes, but I am talking about the Primordial aspects of the cosmos, the elemental structure of the universe. If Eros’ power is manifest in gravity, and Ge’s in matter, then might not Aphrodite’s be manifest in chaos? Might her power not be part of what we call quantum uncertainty?

Just a question for you to ponder.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Aphrodite in Myth: Mother of Fear and Panic

It must seem odd to those who do not know her, that Aphrodite’s children include two rather odd characters in the mythos. Sons of Ares and Aphrodite are Deimos (Fear) and Phobos (Panic) and considering she is the goddess of love, it must seem odd.

But is it, really? Aren’t all emotions part of a spectrum, like the colors of the rainbow are to light, and if so, then are not fear and terror part of that emotional spectrum (Sorry Green Lantern) and are they not part of love as surely as lust and harmony are?

Of course, because love is filled with fear, loathing, insecurity, terror at its loss, and a slew of other negative manifestations and reactions to its presence. Love can be harmful and it can be great, a blessing and a curse, and her mythos does not hide this from us.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Interlude: My Lampontas

I think I mentioned before that this year my Lampontas celebration (Celebration of Helios light bringer) would coincide with the Columbus Gay Pride celebration in Columbus Ohio, and I want to say that that festival, and my private prayers in the morning, and my more carnal celebrations in honor of Aphrodite, went better than I expected, but not as well as they could have.

The day began around 4 in the morning with a rise to business and when the sun rose, an offering to Helios. I then took the Greyhound out to Columbus where we joined the Pride Parade in progress. It was a wild parade, not like the rather sedate one here in Dayton (Which is still a small and growing Pride festival). I went with a friend of mine, which may have been a mistake on my part because while I love him to death, a loner like me has a hard time letting loose with friends around in those kinds of situations. But, at the least I had someone to talk to, which is always welcome.

Other than this, I had a few issues with the nature of these festivals, the commercializing, advertising, etc, sometimes overwhelm the spirit of the festival. That said, though, the stages were two, and they seemed to be divided into two categories. One, official announcements, awards, and performers, which were all quite good, and the other seemed local performers, like flag bands, drag shows (Queen and King) and other similar things.

We walked through the festival, stopping to drink, sit in the shade, etc., and we enjoyed the scenery, which included a lot of barely covered human flesh. My compatriot was rather taken aback by the titties on display, but I figure what the hell, what’s good for the gander is good for the goose, right?

I only saw or ran into a couple of friends from Dayton. Dayton’s gay community is much more closeted and disinterested than Columbus’, it is almost as if they just believe in one thing, themselves.

I suppose it goes with progress that people think things like Pride are not necessary, and part of the symptoms of a conservative society that so many gays hang on to the “it’s nobodies business” attitude that makes them see exhibitions of homosexuality in all its diversity, from geeks to freaks, as something that should be quashed.

Zeus was kind, the weather was hot, but hardly humid, and a steady breeze that kept us all cool the whole day.

I ended up going to Flex, a bathhouse, and yes, I know how to protect myself, and there indulged my slutty side. I make no apologies for that, I was a total slut, and I liked it (steal that lyric, Katie) and I was rewarded by Aphrodite with a sense of calm and a few rockin’ orgasms (mine and those of my partners, can I hear an amen?) and even came home with a couple of phone numbers.

Not bad for a fat ugly guy like me. :)

I have, of course, left out a lot of detail, but that’s to be expected. I have to keep some things private, after all.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

To Aphrodite: I Give Myself Over

I give myself over.
To you, and only you.
No mortal man can exude your power.
No mortal man can please me like you do.
No mortal man has tried.
You have never touched me.
Not with finger, nor hands, nor lips.
But you have brought me to ecstasy.
Ecstasy that consumes me from within.

I give myself over.
To you because I love you.
No mortal man can compare.
No mortal man can reassure me.
No mortal man has tried.
You who dwell in splendor and glory.
Loving laughter and the games of passion.
You have reached into the depths of my soul.
And brought me to a new understanding.

I give myself over.
To you and only you.
No mortal man can hinder this.
No mortal man will replace you.
No mortal man has tried.
Not with simple pleasures of the flesh.
Nor with the rush of orgasm.
But love, the simplest feeling of all.
You have brought me to my knees.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Aphrodite in Myth: Mother of Harmony

The Goddess Aphrodite loved Ares, God of War, Soldiers, Protector and Fighter. That these two would be so intimately linked would seem odd to many, while others would immediately get it. A man of Ares’ violent work and nature would require a mate that could calm him, love him, pleasure him and make him feel that the battlefield was far away. But we all know that is a kind of fa├žade. That the war in the home can be just as vicious as that on the battle fields.

But, interestingly enough, what Aphrodite produce in their love are some interesting figures in the mythos. Deimos, the personification of fear. Phobos, the personification of dread or terror. And the subject of my piece today, Harmonia, personification of Harmony.

All three of these, in my personaly theological view, are aspects of both Aphrodite and Ares. That Haromny is an aspect of the power of Aphrodite seems obvious, just as the same can be said of Phobos and Deimos being aspects of Ares, but Ares, for all his war and fighting, is a god of soldiers, and soldiers fight to defend and conquer for the betterment of their families, their nations, and themselves. They help defend their nation that it may enjoy harmony.

That Deimos and Phobos are also aspects of Aphrodite seems odd to some people, but Love is an emotion that inspires in us all fear, loathing, terror, dread. These are like the obstacles that love places before us as we strive to find it, or as we struggle to make sense of it. Harmonia, the goddess of Harmony, is the clue we are given to the truth of love.

Harmony is born in a relationship in which love and the many negative aspects of its power come into play among people who are willing to hear each other out. She is the aspect of Aphrodite that encourages us to remain and try to make a relationship work. But Harmony is about more than love relationships. It is about every relationship. The relationship between a husband and wife, a parent and child, a child and a grandparent, friends, lovers, the clients of whores, and the man and his pet. It is about the relationship of man to nation, nation to man, society and nature, nature and will, and the relationships between the Sun and the Earth. It is the relationship between every thing with every other thing, and how any number of things must come to a harmonious coexistence in order to continue to exist.

It is sometimes hard for us to remember that all things can be explained by physics, and that physics is itself but a number based explanation of how the Gods affect the world. All things must exist in harmony, and our challenge as thinking creatures is to recognize the many things in our lives and then find a way to make them work in harmony as we remember that within harmony, as within so many things, are two distinct forces trying to fight their way out, forces of divine origin we call Love and War, Aphrodite and Ares.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Aphrodite in Myth: Lover of Men

Aphrodite is a slut. It is a bad word in our current vernacular, and it indicates a woman of low moral character and standing in society, but let us take a look at this aspect of her and what it means to us today, what it means to our ideals in Western society and why the word slut should be stricken from our vocabularies as an insult.

Men and women have, since the beginning of our written history, been treated very differently in society. This is especially true in two aspects of life. The first is self determination. Women have more often than not been treated as property. They were told what to do by parents, lovers, husbands, and even their own male children once they’d grown to adulthood. Women have rarely been able to exercise the kind of freedom to make their own choices that they have in the Western World today, but even in our world, women are still saddled with unfair stereotypes of what a woman should be. These stereotypes often make women the slaves of fashion that force them to become almost caricatures sometimes and it hurts us as a society.

The second, of course, is sex. Because men lack the ability to know, with 100% certainty, if the children the women carry are theirs, they have a built in insecurity. Perhaps in a world where bloodlines did not mean much it wouldn’t matter, we would all simply have sex, bare children, and we would all take care of them, but the world doesn’t work like that, and it isn’t merely a human sociological issue, it is very much an evolutionary trait. Lions kill the offspring of their lionesses to insure only their own offspring are brought to adulthood. The bee hive has only one queen, and only she is allowed to produce offspring (in a female dominated species it works the other way around) but we human beings are more than just animals. Sure, our very society is based squarely in evolutionary principals that are almost exclusively dominated by the need to reproduce and survive as a species, but as thinking creatures, we also have the ability to stop our mistreatment of parts of our society. And certainly we have the ability to stop the mistreatment of our mothers, sisters, and daughters.

Why should a woman be labelled a slut because she likes sex? Why should she not seek it out with whomever she wants?

To buck this trend in society the Greeks found Aphrodite most willing as a subject, and no other Goddess can be said to have been as flagrant in her disregard for the male dominated hierarchy as she was.

Eros causes Aphrodite to fall in love with Ares, but Zeus has other plans, and marries her off to Hephaestos. She goes along with the marriage, as in Greek society a woman hardly had much choice, especially a woman of high birth (as was often the case all the way through history with royal families) but she refuses to allow herself to be caged, and she will not allow her love for Ares to go unexpressed, so she has a lurid affair with him behind Hephaestos’ back. She is, of course, discovered, and Hephaestos traps them both in a fine net and exposes them to the Gods that they might be shamed along with him. He refuses her, and Zeus dissolves their marriage.

Aphrodite is now free to be with Ares, but she is not just with Ares. She bares children to him, and to other Gods and mortals alike, and in this Goddess, in this aspect of her we see the power of emotion made to hold sway, but further, the power of will to say “I love who I choose to love, and nothing you do can change that” and that was not the message the Greeks intended with this myth. On the contrary, the myth is made to illustrate the untrustworthiness of women. Their shameful behavior, but on;y if one reads it with only the male perspective in mind.

Aphrodite loves men. She can’t get enough of them, but she is also dangerous to them, because men are so easily swayed by beauty, and by men I mean mortal kind, for women too are swayed by beauty, just as she was by the beauty of Ares, who hides his dangerous aspect behind a gloriously beautiful and alluring figure.

So, as a lover of men myself, i must take this myth with that grain of salt we are all told to carry with us. Beauty and lust are great, but they can lead us down the wrong path, not because sex and beauty are wrong, but because we often hurt each other in relation to it. We too often discount each others feelings and use words like “slut” and “whore” to hurt the ones we most want to make love to.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lampontas

This year, the celebration I do of Lampontas will be among my fellow Fags, Queers, and Homos in the city of Columbus Ohio, because Lampontas falls on the same weekend as the Gay Pride Festival in Columbus.

What is Lampontas?

A few years ago I decided to start up something called Heliogenna, which is celebrated along with the Winter Solstice, to counter that, out of a sense of balance, I also decided to put Lampontas (Festival of the Sun) in the Summer, along with the Summer Solstice. The idea for Heliogenna came from hearing that during Christmas season in Greece, many arcaeo-Hellenists say Kala Iliouyenna, referring to the birth of the Sun rather than the birth of the Christ.

So in Summer the festival to Helios Lampontas (Helios the Shining One) and rather than some of the more sombre and thanksgiving type observances I do for Heliogenna, I choose to celebrate the shining sun with fun, with praise, song, and this year, with gay laughter and debauchery.

Unlike something like the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, or some of the Pride Parades in NY of old (The parade and festival in NY have become rather gentrified of late, more about commercialism than about any real political message or celebration of our gayness) the Festival in Columbus is a rather family oriented thing. Lots of gay and lesbian parents and their kids, lots of Christian protestors (spreading their message of hate that Jesus apparently taught) and really more of an eagerness to just be out and about and show the city, and the state as this is the Capital, that we are not hiding and won’t be pushed back into our closets.

So, there will be music, food, alcohol, and after, when the festival breaks down for the evening and people wander off into clubs, bars, and private parties, there will be all manner of playful celebration of our gay masculinity and lesbian femininity, and among these all, I will take some time in the day and night to light incense and say thanks to the Lord of the Light of Day.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Aphrodite in Myth: Her birth...

Like most Gods, the myths of Aphrodite are often conflicting and even contradictory. The reason for this is simple, different people experience the goddess differently, and they interpret what they experience as they are able or willing.

The tales of Aphrodite’s birth were, no doubt, many, but the two most notable ones are the birth of Aphrodite from the sea foam, and her birth as the daughter of Zeus and Dione. Venus, the Aphrodite of the Romans, was also said to be daughter of Ouranos (Caelus) and Hemera (Dies) which are the primordial aspects of Sky and the light of Day (in my world view these are aspects of Zeus, the sky, and Helios, the sun or Eos, the light of morning)

Relating to the birth myths of the Gods is difficult for me. Tales of divine birth are often lacking in love, lacking in familial emotion, rather the Gods seem to almost always be born almost completely formed and capable, which to me says that the Gods are eternal and whole, but their manifestations into the human psyche must, because of our inability to truly comprehend eternity, come as a result of a birth or a beginning.

The myth of Aphrodite that I prefer, and which best fits into my theological view, is that of her birth from the sea foam. But that birth is also the culmination of a very violent act in the mythos, part of the beginning of a new era for the Gods, a new era in the evolution of the cosmos.

As the story goes, Ge created Ouranos, or gave birth to him without benefit of marriage to be her spouse. The word often used is Lord, but in my view no one is Ge’s Lord. They lived in peace for long eons, the world taking form, and then Ouranos and Ge began to produce the gods we would come to call Titans. The Titans are called that because of their size, but also because of their power, which was broad and earth shattering. In essence, the Titans made the cosmos itself tremble.

But Ouranos was a jealous God, and he refused to let these beings be born into the cosmos. Just as he had risen out from the earth, so too would they in order to be born, for the Earth was their mother. Ge trembled and bore her burden, but was pained by what Ouranos had done, and then she spoke to her children. She went to all her children, and of the males she asked for aid, but of them, only Kronos was brave enough to face his father. It would be a shameful deed, but one that must be done if the world was to change.

As always, Ouranos would come to Ge at night fall, his dark veil falling over the earth. As he came to her to bed her once again, he was attacked by Kronos, and in this he used the sickle Ge had provided to sever him from Ge forever. He took Ouranos’ balls, his potency, his manhood, and flung it into the Pontus (Which was the primordial sea, child of Ge) with this the Titans were able to emerge into the world, and with them the world would change forever.

In the Pontus, however, the genitals of Ouranos floated, and about them was a foam formed which drifted about until it came close to the island of Kypros (one of Aphrodite’s many titles is Kyprogenes) where she was met by the Horai (the hours or seasons) and upon setting foot on the island, grass grew below her feet.

The holy island of Cyprus is her birthplace.

I am reminded by this myth that the motions of the Gods are often easily traced by their myths. We find in this region that the Eastern goddess Astarte was very much like Aphrodite, another interpretation of her, who married the vegetation god Adonis, who Aphrodite would also become linked later. But I am also reminded that, in ancient times, and sometimes even in our own times and culture, sex and procreation can be a vicious cycle of violence for many.

Her birth, however, is one of purity, in spite of the violence that preceded it, and the Goddess herself is born pure of the sea foam and upon reaching the land, which is Ge, after all, her gift, and Ge’s reaction, is one of joy. Love was now in the world, and it wasn’t just an animal attraction, as might be inferred from Eros the primordial, but one that was giving and tender and which one could take joy in.

That Love would also lead to violence later seems far off here. The acts of Ouranos and Kronos were not based in love, even Ouranos’ marriage to Ge seems a forced one, after all Ge birthed him to be her spouse, he had no choice in the matter, and here is another echo of something long gone. An echo of a time when a mother chose the spouse of her son, no questions asked, no dissent allowed, and how man took that power away, castrating forever that man who would allow such a thing only to turn around and do it to women.

Myth is, if nothing else, about the echos of reality through time.