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.

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