Monday, October 5, 2009

The dove as symbol of Aphrodite.

When Christianity grew into a church, and then into a conquering theocratic empire, they did so through the assimilation of the symbols and customs of the people they conquered and forced to take their religion as their own. In many ways, the Christianity that started in the lands of the Levant and grew to power in Greece ended up bearing little resemblance to the religion that emerged as the Orthodox Catholic Church of Rome, as by then centuries had passed and the customs of the Greeks and Romans, including much of their religious and cultic practice and belief, had colored the rituals and practices of the Christians. One of these was the symbol of Venus/Aphrodite, the dove, as a symbol of Divine Love.

During a great deal of history, the goddess of love stood much maligned, if still much loved, as a goddess of the pornographic, the purely sexual, the base, yet underlying all those things there remained an aspect of the goddess that held true, that she was also a goddess of the people, Pandemos the Greeks would say, or Genetrix to the Romans. This view of the Lady of Love as a goddess of the people is also a recognition of her aspects as Ourania, the Heavenly, and part of that was the recognition of Aphrodite as the goddess of divine love, of the subtler, higher functions of love. Those feelings that inspire sacrifice and the power to merge your wants and needs with another are powerful, and when the Christians merged her with their God, making him the source of all love, while conveniently stripping him of all the sexual, sensual, and erotic aspects of the goddess, they also merged the symbol of the dove, symbol of purity, of the purity of love, with his divine attributes.

But that symbol is one we too sometimes forget, that idea that Aphrodite is a goddess that gifts mankind with the capacity to love and love deeply. Aphrodite Ourania is a goddess who loves us, and we easily forget that because her aspect as Porne is so much fun, so divinely playful, and so overtly prevalent in our society.

But the dove is not a symbol of the romanticized love we see in Hollywood movies, that odd little paradigm we still teach our girls to buy into hook, line, and sinker that oh so often leads to disaster and codependency, rather this is a symbol of a much more subtle power that we all possess. The capacity to sense, deep inside ourselves, what is right and what is wrong based on our capacity to love.

You see, this capacity to feel love as it embraces other feelings, like empathy, fear, anger, rage, compassion, is a guiding principle in how we form our moral values, and it is something that has been perverted by the church to force people into a fear filled puritanism that I find disgusting. It is time we, all of us who worship love in her true form, as a distinct power in the cosmos, to take back our symbol. It is time we took back the dove and the purity of love it symbolizes from those who have perverted it into a means to control the masses with fear.

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