Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Mirror of Aphrodite

As the most stunning of all female creatures in the cosmos, one can imagine that the mythic Aphrodite would be a rather vain creature. How could she not be with every man in the cosmos falling over his feet to have at her. But, does Aphrodite want us to be vain? Is that fact that Aphrodite is mythically portrayed as vain mean that that should be an emulated behavior in humans? Should man steal things because Hermes is mythologically portrayed as a thief by stealing the herds of the Apollo?

I have always wondered at what point do we human beings see the mythological portrayals of the gods as encouraging behavior or warning against behavior. But, when it comes to Aphrodite’s vanity, I have to wonder what it is that she is actually looking at in that mirror? Is she looking at herself and being overly proud of her appearance, or is she looking at herself and acknowledging a truth? That she is the most beauteous of all women. Is it truly vanity to acknowledge your own beauty?

Aphrodite would seem to be saying “Take a look at yourself and acknowledge what you are, do not hide behind false modesty, which is itself a form of vanity.”

For those of us who are beauty challenged, though, what should we be seeing in that mirror?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Girdle of Aphrodite

In our myths, the goddess known as Aphrodite bears a girdle which, for all intents and purposes, is an instrument of magic. That magic is the allure of the sexuality and sensuality of women, not just their beauty, but some other quality that when properly exercised and displayed, can turn a man from warrior into a slave.

This we see partly in the myth in which Hera, wishing to seduce her husband asks Aphrodite to borrow that girdle so that she may become irresistible. But the goddess also goes to great lengths to prepare for the seduction, she bathes and scents her body, she makes of her clothing, her face, her hair the most she can, making herself beautiful, and yet beyond this she asks for the girdle.

One can rightly state that the girdle of the goddess is not so much an instrument of magic, but a symbol of the magic of the inner beauty certain people seem to possess. That, beautiful as Hera was, and how could a goddess not be beautiful, she also desired that quality that Aphrodite possessed to make men weep at the very sight of her.

Beauty, you see, is both external and fleeting. Time, work, and the mishaps of mortality all conspire to take what outer beauty we may possess from us, but deep within here is a bubbling beauty that so few of us ever try to tap into, and I have to admit, I rarely admit I possess, though others point out to me that I seem to have a quality about me, the way I walk, stand, talk. These are all, in spite of the fact that I am not very attractive on the outside, made me, often enough, a hit with the guys.

But the girdle of Aphrodite is also about something else, not just the exuding of sexuality from within, but the ability to carry oneself with a dignity that has nothing to do with sex. It is a dignity earned through a life of learning, experiencing, and dealing with all life has to offer, good or bad, and knowing that one can handle it. Call it confidence, perhaps, or pride, but it is a quality that the goddess lends us all, a quality born of our love for ourselves, even when we don’t recognize it as such.

In the myth, the goddess Hera does not disrobe to make herself alluring to Zeus, rather she dresses herself. The naked body is just that, a naked body, and after you have seen a few, not all that alluring anymore. Sure, when we are aroused, the sight of the naked form brings us to passion, but as a means to provoke that passion, that lust, that desire, is not a body clothed in a way that teases us, that presents us with a mystery, or allusions to things that may happen better? Is not that stud dressed in leather enough to make you hard? Is not that woman, gorgeous gown that accentuates her femininity while keeping you from seeing it all the more erotic? Is not the girdle that final piece of that puzzle, that mystery, that hidden treasure within that makes us want to touch each other, love each other, and fuck like wild animals?

The power of Aphrodite was never in that girdle, but in the way the girdle was worn, and in he way we accept the gifts of the Goddess of Love.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The coming season

Autumn comes, and with it the days of mourning for our dear goddess Demeter. Tomorrow, when the season comes, I will be running through a mantra in hopes of calling to myself her divine force into my consciousness.

But in these meditations I am doing, and the focus on Aphrodite which seems to be running forth indefinitely into the future, I am being forced to confront myself at a basic level, a level of which Aphrodite is divine warden. That emotional turmoil within me, which is within all of us, is also, or has been too often on display for all to see, and that is unacceptable to me.

It is not that I need to be a closed off person, I am far too closed off as a person, but that my control of my own emotions has too often lead me astray even as parts of me which were gentle and kind were kept hidden within me.

Yes, I am saying that I have been way crazy in my life, and anyone who has followed my words in the various discussion groups connected to both Hellenism and to homosexuality can tell you that I have been someone people have had to worry about in the past.

But thanks to the Gods, this idea I had to focus my meditations on a single deity at a time on a guided path that would lead me from Hestia, though the Olympian Gods and back to Hestia again has had a most positive effect on me. I have become a much more stable person, much better at conveying my ideas to others around me, and with the help of Aphrodite now, I am hoping to get a grip on my internal self so that maybe I can turn myself inside out.


I mean that I want to take that gentle, caring person who is inside and hidden away out of fear of, what, rejection?, and relaese him so that he can affect change in myself and the people around me while I take that too often tumultuous, mercurial, and even a little scary me and learn to quell him and put him in his proper place in my own mind and heart, hidden away from those who do not need to see it.

More than any other, Aphrodite is forcing me to really look at myself and acknowledge how far I still have to go, and by doing so to find the right ways to deal with the emotion and fear that has guided me through too much of my life.

So, because getting these things out in the open is so often the best way to bring them to light and deal with them, I will try to explain some of them here.

• Exasperation: I am so easily exasperated with people because they do not have the means to explain to me what it is they want from me. It is hard for me because I am so often bewildered by the way people say one thing but mean another. I am a fairly observant person, but not when it comes to what people are thinking, and I wish people were a little more honest about what they want or need. But, I need to learn how to ask the right questions.
• Fear: OK, so, the way i talk and write I often seem rather fearless, but the truth is that tat covers up an inherent fear that I hold inside, a fear that I am never right, never smart enough, never good enough, and always inferior to the people around me while at the same time I know that I am usually smarter than most of the people I know. Why is this? Why should I have this feeling of physical inferiority while holding onto a feeling of intellectual superiority? I know I am not inferior or superior to anyone, not at the basic level, yet I am holding on to these fears that I am which causes me to hold myself back out of fear that people will see my inferiority.
• Desire: I have touched on this one before, that I have an inner life filled with sexual and physical desires that I rarely share with people I know because I think they will not understand, but also because I still have in me a touch of the puritan that is part of the general American psychological make up.
• Physical Self Loathing: I am fat. I do not have to be, I don’t buy into the BS that it is some kind of disease, I am fat because I eat more than I should and do not exercise to compensate for that, but I think I am coming to terms with the fact that I am fat for a reason, that part of me loathes me so much that it desires to destroy me through this. How I come to terms with this part of me is something I will have to figure out as I go, but in the meantime, I am going to have to do something about the physical manifestation of this self loathing, the over eating, and figure out its source as I go.
• Intolerance: I admit that I am rather willing to accept anyone, as long as they show me the respect I feel I deserve, but I do know that I have certain intolerant ideas and feelings inside of me that need watched, because I am fearful that they could lead me down a wrong path.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sacred spaces and me.

I often think about the common conception of Aphrodite as a sex goddess, and I am also reminded of the dichotomous ide of Aphrodite having prostitutes raise money for the temple, a dichotomy because the Greeks themselves had ideas about the miasma of sex and how it affected sacred spaces. To have sex in a sacred precinct was considered a big no no, yet what of the Orgia of Dionysos or the Prostitutes of the Eastern temples of Aphrodite.

It is, and this is simply my opinion, that the conflation of the Eastern form Astarte and the Cypriot Aphrodite that lead to the prostitutes of the temple, yet the prostitution would not have been allowed in the temple itself, rather around it. In whorehouses, gardens, etc. that would have been owned by the temple, but which the Greeks would not really see as sacred ground.

I am forced to look into myself and consider this because we, of course, are not ancient Greeks. We live in a completely different culture that considers things like prostitution and even sex itself as bad, sinful, and even dirty. Is Aphrodite offended by our puritanism, or does she see it as helpful as a way to maintain a proper respect for her sacred spaces? Am I to take a good look at my both puritanical and extremely liberated ideas about sex and find a way to meld them into a state in which they can become part of the sacred space itself?

Several years ago, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to be initiated into a cult. It was an all male cult of the Celtic type, invoking the gods in a Celtic form, and involving several levels of initiation, many of the deeper levels of which he could not speak of to the uninitiated. What he described to me, however, was an ecstatic form of sexual worship that I could easily identify with the orgia of Dionysus (the ecstatic release of the mind free to act our sexually) and the erotic passions aroused by Aphrodite and Eros. Yet I found myself declining the offer, even though I am very much intrigued by things such as group sex (which I do participate in with care). Why did I do that?

I had always used the excuse that I try not to ever participate in rites that are not Hellenic in nature, but was I afraid of something else? Was I in a place, emotionally, that would not have allowed me to accept the sacredness of sex?

Questions that arise as I move forth in my meditations on Aphrodite, and which I find myself too often hard pressed to answer.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Little did I know

Little did I know
I would think of you so much
That your leaving us so soon would affect me so much

Little did I know
That the world would be a little darker
That the mention of your name would make me misty

Little did I know
That not knowing you very well was a mistake
That I would never have the chance to rectify

Little did I know
That growing older was about sadness
That the pain of loss was my fellow traveller on the path of life

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Breaking from lust...

As a way to honor the Goddess Demeter, I am attempting to take a break from lust, and I have found it far harder than I thought. Lust, you see, is part of every day life for most men. Not being a woman, I can’t really speak for them, but as a man I can tell you that it is true what they say about how men think about sex, lusting in their hearts.

To our Christian majority culture, this is seen as a bad thing, but to me it is a constant source of amusement. The weird ideas that come to me as I walk down the street or ride my bike to work, or go shopping, are funny, and sometimes really hot. This is not an all consuming kind of thing, mind you, but rather the normal way in which I see the world. Life is about sex, believe it or not, almost everything we do, from children to jobs to our consumerism, have to do with sex at some primal level, and that is Aphrodite’s domain for sure.

This month, which I consider holy to Demeter and Persephone, the Two Goddesses of Eleusis, and while I know the Mysteries themselves have never really been discovered, I take it upon myself to honor these two deities during this time. One of the things I do is try to abstain from sexual activity, and this year I have been trying to notice and stop my mind from wandering in that direction, and that is just not very easy at all.

To that end, however, I am going to try and take this month to focus on aspects of Aphrodite as Ourania rather than Porne, and focus on her more emotional, soft, and those aspects of the goddess that do not specifically focus on our sexuality and desires. My time with Aphrodite does not seem to be ending any time soon. This goddess has a lot she wants me to think about, and because I see her power as so all pervasive in my life, I see now that understanding how I relate to Aphrodite will inform all I learn about myself and the other gods as I proceed.