Aphrodite. Goddess of love, sex, beauty, adornment. Goddess of union, both civic and corporeal, in both love and war. Golden divine watcher over sailors and prostitutes, patron of judges, our Lady of joy and laughter who unites sea and sky. She is desire herself, she who encircles all, she who was All before the beginning and for whom ending has no relevance.
I dedicated myself to Aphrodite while walking alone on a beach 25 years ago, but the relationship began long before that, and had roots in my childhood love of Greek mythology. The picture of Aphrodite you see to the left of this post from the beautiful D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths was so compelling to me as a young girl, I drew it over and over for years, wearing my colored pencils to the nub. Initially, the relationship had a strong elemental quality. Being a water sign and having spent my life near large bodies of water, she symbolized a higher expression of the divinity of water which I saw as so central to my well being. But that’s not all: I was compelled to love and to know love. When I was much younger I didn’t really have the sorts of romantic relationships that people in their teens and young adulthood did. I wanted them, but I didn’t know how to get them. Although not partnering as a young adult was certainly the best decision, I felt like something in me was broken and unlovable, and I wanted to work with her to try to gain insight into something I didn’t feel like I understood all that well. I didn’t want to work with her because it was an area that came easily to me. I work with her still because Love is hard.
Over those 25 years, my relationship with Aphrodite has changed enormously and grown in unexpected ways. I am in my mid-life, and have beautiful, strong, loving partnerships and rich, deep friendships all over the world. I love and am loved. My Aphrodite focus now is on compassion, grace, justice, and experiencing and embodying the joy that is in the co creation of every moment. This requires fierce dedication and awareness because, let’s be honest, people are crappy and grumpy, and the world is violent and unjust. To fight that every day is still the Hard Work, and I don’t always even come close to getting it right. My practice informs every breath and every smile, and worship happens through dance, touch, healthy choices, a kind e-mail, watering a plant, and activism. There is no within and without.
Doing in depth deity practice requires a great deal of commitment to introspection and internal work. Aphrodite is, well, seductive, and she has a dark side. She leads people to narcissism, compulsion, sex addiction, eating disorders. She can look like the emptiness inside that needs to be filled by the constant adoration of others, perfectionist tendencies, compulsive shopping, dangerous sex, and vanity. She can wreck marriages and careers. I have seen many turn to her in pain, only to become a wrecking ball, as they believe that they are doing the work of Aphrodite. They are not. Knowing yourself, knowing what motivates you and taking responsibility for your actions is key to a sustained relationship with any deity as well as any person. Also, as with relationships with all beings, knowing that as you change and grow, so will that relationship.
This blog will reflect my years of work with Aphrodite and the twists and turns of that amazing relationship. Some pieces might be more accessible for new comers to this path, some might be more useful to people who have been doing focused deity work for some time. My practice is contemplative, reflective and embodied, and some aspects of my approach might be considered…unusual. I identify as a Chaote, so for me the idea of trying to recreate “authentic” historical Aphrodite worship makes no sense and is of little interest. However, learning about the cultic practices for Aphrodite through the ages is of great interest to me in that it can give me cool ritual technology and touchstones for understanding and contemplation that are fantastic, but this blog will really be focused on a living relationship in the 21st century that is based in creativity and revelation. I expect I will be sharing other things from time to time not related to Aphrodite, but perhaps other areas of thought or practice, because hey, I have a blog, right?
Next time I will start to address how I understand deity. It probably isn’t what you would imagine. This well is pretty deep, in fact it just keeps going…
Welcome to this brand new effort. Lovely to have you here.
What a remarkable project! It is such a pleasure to read this eloquent, moving introduction to your work.
My own relationship with Aphrodite has been neglected in recent years since suddenly and unexpectedly becoming a wife and mother. So I will be especially eager to learn from your journey, hoping to find ways to get back into right relationship with her. Thank you for sharing here.