Monday, July 27, 2009

Seeking Guidance...

        Today I am praying for some guidance. Of course, this whole blog is actually about my search for guidance, but when it comes to Aphrodite, guidance can be a tricky thing. If you think about it, when you ask a deity like Athena for guidance, you are asking for strength, strategy, and the wisdom to use both. That seems straight forward. When you ask a deity like Apollo for guidance, you are asking for health and the where with all to be a healthy person, inside and out, which includes artistic expression as a form of psychological health. Straight forward.

        But, when you ask Aphrodite, you are asking for a broad spectrum of things that are all part of Emotion, Love, and the physical expression of those emotions which are so often sexual or sensual in nature that it is often hard to decide when something you are feeling is the manifestation of her guidance or a manifestation of your own emotional illnesses.

        We all feel emotion all the time, it is part of what we are, and Aphrodite, more than any other deity, is the force of nature that is that rampant and chaotic thing we call our inner emotional selves. But when you seek her guidance, when you seek for her to send you onto a particular path, how do you know which parts of what you are feeling are her guidance and which are just your own random emotions and thoughts? So as I try to ask for a particular path to walk on, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed here.

        So, what exactly is it I am asking for?

        I have not been in a relationship of any kind for a couple of years here. After I broke it off with Jim, I let a year or so go by before trying to get another relationship going, which was with a very nice but somewhat troubled man named Todd, and that did not end well. It did not end well because he was troubled by depression, something I have struggled with in my life, but he was not willing to talk about it. And after I told him I was definitely falling for him, he seemed to fall deeper into depression and I simply decided that I could not be his psychiatrist and decided to end it before I let myself fall into a trap of co-dependence.

        I always try to leave time between any kind of romantic relationship. I don't like to jump from one boyfriend to the next, I think it cheapens the idea of a relationship if they are so easily replaced. But I also feel that I am at a point right now where I will not be placing my expectations or bitterness about my last relationship on a new one, so I am hoping to find her guidance in this. I want her to guide me to someone I can spend time with and be happy with. Forever? I don't know, that might be a bit much to place on any relationship, but certainly someone I can try to make that happen with.

Now to decipher all the feelings and thoughts that come with that state of mind....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shame or embarrassment?

So, what is it I actually feel with regard to a lot of my own sexual and emotional past? Is it shame, embarrassment, or simply a sense of propriety? I have been forced to ask myself this as I pondered the things I wrote in the last couple of entries.

On the one hand, I tend to be fairly open with my friends, and with you all, about much of what I like and what I sometimes do, while some things simply remain hidden away in me because I either feel embarrassed or perhaps because I feel that some things should just be private out of a sense of propriety. Others I hold on to out of a sense that I want them to be all mine and sharing them would somehow cheapen them.

Now, all of these seem perfectly normal, right? We all reveal somethings and hide others as a matter f course. We have public and private matters in our lives, but mine are a bit conflicting and often don’t make sense.

On the one hand, I am perfectly willing to tell you that I love to indulge in sex. Sex with a lover, or with a group, in totally random and anonymous forms as well as in loving unions between myself and someone I feel utterly attracted to. Yet if I do make love to someone I am really utterly and madly attracted to, meaning I could definitely fall in love, odds are you will get no details. I am perfectly willing to tell you how many cocks I played with one weekend, but if it was one with a man I was falling for, you would not know it.

I often ask myself why that is, and pondering such things with Aphrodite I have been forced to confront this.

I am perfectly willing to discuss romance as an outdated and often detrimental concept, yet yearn for a man to treat me that way. I long for it, yet I am not sure if I am capable of it myself. Not because I do not know what romantic behavior is, but because I feel almost like a phony when I try to put it on. Aphrodite might say if you don’t feel it, don’t fake it, but as a matter of propriety shouldn’t one want to put on these airs of romance for someone if there is genuine attraction there?

I am being forced to confront this conflict in myself.

Why do I feel a sense of embarrassment at emotion? Is it just the way we men are, or were, raised? Are we forced to hide too much emotion? And when we do show it, how much is too much? After all, I sometimes see some of these emo fashion victims crying about their favorite Idol being voted off and I want to slap them.

Yes, in confronting these things I hear the logical answer, if you don’t feel it don’t fake it, but don’t others require some expression in order to gauge your state of being and to understand you? After all, they can’t read minds anymore than I can.

Aphrodite is forcing me to face these things, to ask these questions of myself.

Monday, July 13, 2009

So why do I bring up shame now?

I will open up a bit here, I was brought up a Pentecostal, and part of me maintains a level of shame or embarrassment at certain things that that particular religious sect set in place. I was also brought up Puertorican and American, and often that has set up a conflict of ideas in my own mind with regard to certain things.

The idea that there was something other than “God” out there was always part of my life, since my own maternal grandfather was a believer in Santeria, something that we were not allowed to explore for ourselves, but which was never hidden from us. But the Pentecostal Church was a big can of nuts, and not the crunchy salty honey kind, the weird jumping around fomenting hatred kind, and I rejected it quite early in my life, even if I never understood on an intellectual level why.

As a gay man, I have also felt the enforcement of society’s hatred toward me because my sexual proclivities and emotional requirements are different from the mainstream. I have often rebelled against what I must have subconsciously perceived as the demands of a society that has always been very hypocritical about sex by doing things that I sometimes think on and feel shame about. Yet, if I think about my own personal beliefs on freedom of all kinds, I wonder why my own mind seems to fight with me on the issue of shame for those things.

I did, after all, grow up with a knowledge of disease that generations before me were not given because of society’s unwillingness to discuss sex, and so I have been responsible while at the same time being a wanton slut (a word I don’t actually believe in, but which describes how society might label me if I were a woman, for example) so as a man, an adult, I must not allow myself to feel shame to the point that I will not discuss these things, because when we allow that to happen to ourselves we also shut down our stream of knowledge and wisdom.

But there is still a sense of shame that my upbringing and culture have imposed upon me, programmed me with and made me feel.

This time I am spending with Aphrodite is forcing me to look at these things in my own mind and heart, and I hope that I can find the means by which I can reprogram myself so as not to feel shame at something so simple and natural, but to feel understanding of my own behaviors, those which have been natural and enjoyable and those which have been self destructive so that I might learn from them.

Shameless Aphrodite

Shame. It’s one of the most useful of all emotions if what you want to do is belittle, crush, manipulate, and control people. People who feel shame will do a lot of ridiculous things to cover that shame, and sometimes, the same we feel is justified. A rapist should feel shame. A thief should feel shame. A murderer should feel shame. But, should a woman feel shame at her breasts and hide them her whole life? Should a gay man feel shame and live in a closet his whole life? Should men and women feel such shame at the act of sex that they often refuse to talk about it or hear about it to such an extent that they are not educated about things, like Sexually Transmitted Diseases, that can save their lives?

No, and it is a shameful thing indeed that for thousands of years now, the Abrahamic Religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) have made it a point to establish moral codes that do very little to truly reinforce good behavior while castigating people for perfectly normal behavior like sex, love, and the free expression of emotion and physical affection.

These religions have all changed and evolved over time, but they retain these ideas of orthodox behavior, a kind of Borg-like conformism that I find entirely offensive. We love you, as long as you are just like us. We want peace on Earth, and that will happen as soon as we make all of you just like us. Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us.

But we see in Aphrodite something of a spark of hope. You see, Aphrodite broke the conventions of society. Women were supposed to be quiet, demure, not seen, she was bold, flirtatious, and open for all to see. Women were to marry and have children to whomever her father chose, she married and then fell for a man she wanted, regardless of what her father and society said. She did not feel shame at being caught, in fact, she was gorgeous in her captivity and even her detractors wanted her.

That is not to say that Aphrodite does not respect and expect propriety, but rather that she wants us to feel what we feel and be honest about it. She wants us to enjoy sex, to fall in love, to express our joys and sadness and not feel shame at it. She is not shameless, she transcends shame.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I like sex, a lot!

I am a man, after all, and I love sex. But allow me to share something which I have mentioned before, and that is that for me sex is not really a physically pleasurable event the same way others seem to explain it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it tremendously, but I think maybe I must be a bit different from most people when it comes to the physical sensations of sex. I don’t know why it is, but the intense physical sensation others describe are not something I feel, and therefore those are things I sometimes have trouble relating to.

However, sex is about more than just how your winky feels when you stick it somewhere. It is about an entire experiential event. About the meeting of eyes, the first kiss in the throws of arousal, the feel of a nipple under the palm of your hand, the warmth of a body, and the sounds, scents, and feelings, emotionally/psychologically speaking.

It is this aspect of sex that I love, and often enough, being the man ho that I am, those are things I experience with men I barely know, if I know them at all. (No worries, I am a ho, but a careful ho)

I am intensely attracted to the sexual arousal, the foreplay, and the inner turmoil of sex. And what do I mean by inner turmoil? I mean those feelings that arise from pondering your partners as you have sex. Is he loving this? Am I pleasing him? Are we enjoying this equally? Am I really into this guy, or am I just satisfying some urge?

Thought doesn’t end with sex, and all through sex, just as while I try to sleep, while I work, etc., I am thinking, and those thoughts are often highly disconnected to the actual experience at hand. What time is it? What kind of soap does he use? Etc. And these thoughts often bother me. Our romanticized view of love and sex makes it hard to know, often, what is actually natural during the act of sex, or love making, and we often beat each other up for things that are simply natural but which our society obfuscates in flowery language and crappy lyrics to bad love songs.

If I am enjoying a sexual encounter with a man, and a the current level of my toothpaste tube comes to mind spontaneously, then I simply have to laugh at that and move on, because sometimes Aphrodite just likes to toss wrenches in the works to see if we are paying attention.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Aphrodite The Lover

Perhaps the one aspect of Aphrodite I have indulged in the most is that of a sexual goddess. Aphrodite’s most oft depicted aspect is that of Goddess of Lust and Sexuality, and that may be because her impulsive chaotic influence in the cosmos filters down to us by way of our own physical impulses. These include emotions like love, compassion, and joy, but also lust, the one emotion we men struggle with more than any other.

I have said it before, lust and love are not separate emotions. They are both connected to a deep need for companionship and closeness with other human beings. It is part of what makes us want to be with a man or woman, be it for a long term relationship that blossoms into fully developed love, or a couple of nights of orgasmic bliss. It is all part of the continuum we call love. We human beings are enraptured by sex, it is part of what we are at a most fundamental level because it is part of the way life works. It is part of the fundamental nature of life itself, yet we men are particularly prone to the influence of lust because our society has always allowed us to indulge it. We have society’s permission to be sexual far more than women do. Yet even at a biological level, we men seem to struggle with lust far more than women do because we are geared toward the propagation of our genes, not only with a female, but with many females so that our children possess a vast variety of genes that can help guarantee their success in the wild world.

But allow me to say, that we men also suffer from another issue, we are also more detached from lust and love than women are, and in that sense, I think we miss something. Lust is a beautiful thing, it can bring about some fantastic sex, but maybe if we could better engage with our partners, even if only for that short time we are sexually engaged, we might have a better understanding of the reasoning, on a psychological level, for our actions with regard to lust so that we might better enjoy what we have, and maybe learn to make better judgements in how we pursue these adventures in sex.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am a strong proponent of free love, free sexuality, free sex. I do not believe in the horribly hurtful sex hating puritanism that the Abrahamic religions seem to espouse, but I am mindful of the fact that the Gods require us to examine what we do so we are not going over into harmful territories. Like the maxims says, Αρχε σεαυτου, Control Yourself, and Μηδεν αγαν, Nothing to Excess, and this must include our indulgence of even our fundamental natures.

Aphrodite’s influence on us requires that we see her as a Goddess of Sex, and that we recognize her power as we engage in that most sacred yet base of activities. If we are to honor her, we must learn to be good at sex, whether we be a passive or active partner. We must learn to be considerate of our lovers, be they those we love or those we simply meet in a bathhouse. Remember them as people, not simply sexual organs.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Aphrodite as a form of chaos.

In my last post I asked the question, might not Aphrodite’s power be made manifest in chaos?

To clarify something, when I say chaos here, I am talking about the modern scientific principle of uncertainty. A principle which plays a major part in modern science, but which most people, myself included, would have a hard time wrapping their heads around. After all, the universe, in spite of all its immense complexity, seems to work so beautifully, like a well maintained clockworks, but the truth is that underlying all of that is chaos.

In her cosmic aspect, one could extrapolate that a goddess that causes such chaos in our hearts, such turmoil, such pain, might also be a chaotic force that underlies all the beautiful workings of the cosmos. a chaos without which all that magnificent beauty could not happen.

The Greeks also had a concept of Chaos, one which is spoken of only briefly in the creation myths of the Gods, and in that case, the word Chaos actually means gap. Like the Northern concept of the Ginnungagap. This is not Aphrodite, this is not love, this is simply the primordial state of the universe as pure potential, from which all things would emerge. In essence, they were describing the empty cosmos, or perhaps even the singularity from which the cosmos erupted.

But the forces of chaos, and the forces of this powerful being who is made manifest by it, are all around us in every aspect of our lives, and we try, harder and harder, to impose order on it only to be rebuked by her. She smaks us down, forcing us to face that which scares us the most, that we are not in control of everything, that emotion and thought come, like the wild winds, and often topple us like old trailers in the path of a mighty tornado.

If Aphrodite is not, like her brother Dionysos, part of that dynamic of chaos, I don’t think I can ever truly understand her.