Thursday, November 5, 2009

So long, Aphrodite

From the moment a boy hits puberty, nay, long before that at a subconscious level, he is at the mercy of Aphrodite. Biology has left him sometimes trapped in a cycle of sex, lust, and love that can be almost crippling for those who cannot differentiate between these. Coming to know Aphrodite is something we all do, Hellenistos or not, yet the subtleties of Aphrodite are something we don’t ever come to understand because our culture places such an unrealistic expectation on Love.

Love, you see, is something our culture has mythologized and made almost magical. The cure all for many who spend their lives in a desperate search for “the one” and hope to find that perfect lover who will complete them. Big mistake.

But our culture also conflates love and sex, as if the two only happened together and any time they happen without each other we are taught that we are committing a sin. This too as a very unhealthy ideal our culture feeds us.

But worst of all is how lust, which is different from both sex and love, has been so pushed down all of our throats in highly contradictory ways. Lust, you see, is not really about sex. Lust is an emotion of desire. It is the overwhelming desire for something one does not possess, or someone one has seen and desires to have contact with.

These differences, and how they connect to each other in varied ways, give us the continuum of emotion that we associate with sexual intercourse, and these can be as sublime as love and as low as hate, yet they all lead to the same inevitable end, the union of people in the act of worship to the goddess of love.

But we all know that all of these, while they cannot exist in a vacuum, can be acted upon without the others. I can love a man and make love with him, and be enraptured by the emotional links that can form when emotion and sex combine. But it is also possible for me to have rough romping sex with someone whose name I do not even know, and the experience can be just as passionate, just as intense as the other, and in the act of “worship” the goddess is just as much there as she is in the other.

But emotions are always present. You have to kinda like the person, or at least have a deep sense of physical attraction to him, in order to have a good sexual experience, but emotions are spontaneous things, and they will come when they will, at her instigation, and when they do they can be a dangerous thing. Our emotions can quickly turn to darkness and self destruction, and jealousy, that green eyed monster, is seldom far from the whole sex/love complex.

But I am not a jealous person. It is perhaps one of the few things about myself that I think about and feel a sense of pride in. I feel that any person I love and loves me, is a wholly independent person, he doesn’t complete me, he doesn’t make me whole, he is a person, I am a person, and I respect that enough to think that I should have no say in how that person feels or acts, that he is free to be who he wishes to be without my interference. Sure, if there are decisions to be made that affect us both I feel I need to be consulted, but as individuals, we have to be ourselves and live life to the fullest both together and apart.

And I have never been one to feel a sense of sexual jealousy either. I know it sounds strange, but when I am in a monogamous relationship I am fiercely loyal, and if I am in an open relationship, I remain loyal to the emotion of the relationship but am perfectly willing to be a total slut. This is the Eros and Aphrodite complex in me.

Eros, in my theological view, is not the God of love, he is the god of attractions. From gravity to the subtle attractions between people, and this includes purely sexual attractions. And because I see this difference in my theological view I also see it in my life, or perhaps because I see this distinction in life I also see it in my theology, and that gives me the ability to distinguish between the carnal needs of men and the emotions that bind us. So I can have an open relationship with someone who, like me, loves to indulge in sex and remain completely non plussed.

For this reason, sex cannot be used as a weapon against me. If you are with me and decide to have an affair to get back at me for something, you have only bothered yourself, because you having sex with another will not bother me. What will bother me is your dishonesty. If we have entered into a monogamous relationship, I can promise you that I will never cheat on you, and if I feel that our relationship is one that is not good for me, I will end it before I seek out a new partner. I expect you to do the same. Don’t profess to want a monogamous relationship and then cheat. That I will not have. Let’s talk about it and decide whether to end it or open it up, but don’t cheat on me. That dishonesty will end the relationship instantly.

I have come to see this as Aphrodite the Warrior and Protector. She has given me a clear sense of what I will and will not accept in my lovers, and as a result she is protecting me, and the fierceness with which I stand by these ideals is her Warrior aspect coming to me.

All of these things have come as a long process of learning to understand my inner self, and Aphrodite has instructed me on how to do this not by hitting me over the head with a frying pan, but by simply showing me a mirror and forcing me to look at it and cry.

It is not a difficult thing to think about one’s inner self, but it is an excruciatingly painful experience if you look into that mirror and are honest with yourself. As Goddess of Emotion, Aphrodite seeks to help you understand what you feel, even if it hurts, and as Goddess of Love, she wants you to come to love what you see in that mirror, changing yourself if necessary, in an honest manner. Don’t turn away from the parts of you that suck, embrace them and then use what else you see to change it. Come to an inner balance, because that inner balance, that purposeful merging of your emotions into a cohesive whole that is you is what self love is about. In fact, that is love in its most powerful aspect. The all encompassing and pervasive love that so many religions in the world seek to understand. To love oneself, thus giving you the ability to share that love with others, is the love that Christians speak of, the Moslems say they feel from Allah, that Hindus seek in meditation, and that is the promise of Nirvana.

Aphrodite Ourania, the heavenly, is that love. She is that force that forces us to love, to lust, to desire and then to see those things and seek to understand them in an inner balancing act that leads to inner peace. And I thank her for teaching me these things in these long years gone by, and for pointing them out to me again in these last few months that I have spent with her.

Blessed be Aphrodite
Heavenly Queen of Love
Bless my heart with your presence
Now and forever more.

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