To Aphrodite Philomedes

Laughter-Loving Goddess,  I sing to you in these dark times so that I may know you, and that you may shine forth to me and to all who suffer.

I pray for laughter!

I pray that I may feel full belly laughs that shake my body and make me writhe and snort until my face is wet with tears.

May the core of my being ache from laughing.  May I laugh so hard that I cannot hide it.

May I become so close to you that I do your work by bringing laughter to others.

May I be vulnerable enough, strong enough and safe enough to be foolish, so that I may bring forth ripples, peals, and chortles through silly speech, and goofy actions.

May I seek your favor by sharing a smile with a stranger.

I pray that everyone may have their hearts and bodies opened to rejoicing, even if for only the briefest of moments.

Even in pain there is joy. May we all seek beautiful, healing laughter, and know that it is good, right and balancing for the world and for us.

May your light pour forth from my eyes once again.

Venus as a Boy/Boi

Bjork’s Venus as a Boy

Venus as a Boy. I love that song, it just oozes hot yummy sex. Go treat yourself and have a listen.  It’s ok, I’ll wait right here…

The dude in that song is clearly confident, aesthetically driven, and a fine lover of women. Maybe you’ve known someone like him, I’ve been lucky to, but the song isn’t about a man inspired by Venus, it is really about a woman who has been touched by the Goddess through the touch of a man. He “sets off the beauty in her”. How awesome is that?

As I’ve noted before, Aphrodite is generally portrayed as the highest of High Femmes. Although I admit to being a bit of a power femme myself (I’m just drawn that way), I find that I really do not want to keep her there. Sure, it can be useful for me to see her and work with her that way sometimes (like when I’m adding to my sacred boot collection), but since I want to see her in All, I quite enjoy it when she shows up in other forms.  I feel with the right lens, we can see her float effortlessly along the gender spectrum.

I have several different friends on the masculine end of the spectrum who show me her male face. One dear friend is simply devoted to Beauty. Not only are he and his partner just gorgeous specimens of humanity, but almost every act in which he is engaged serves to bring beauty to the world and to foster aesthetic sensibilities whether he is engaged in his art, being gracious to guests, or in the loving creation of his home.  He is also kind, warm and laughs easily and carelessly, as does Aphrodite Philomedes, “Laughter Loving Aphrodite”.  I also am fortunate to be in the company of a number of breathtaking Beau Brummels and bon vivants who love to dress well (this is a trend of which I am quite approving), drink well, and who cultivate hospitality. These men don’t have altars to Aphrodite in their homes, they are not “officially” dedicated to her as deity but they are doing her work by being her face in the world.  And when I am in their company I am blessed by her. And I have certainly seen and known woman identified beautiful butch Aphrodites who have made my heart flutter.

I think it’s essential in knowing a deity to be able to free them of their gender restraints as we might also want to be freed from them.  How butch can this Goddess get for us? How oiled, sweaty and calloused? How leather clad? How many different ways do you see Aphrodite?  Who touches you as the Goddess, and how do you honor that? If you identify more strongly on the masculine end of the spectrum, how do you wear her and be her?

First thoughts on desire

Wanting.  Wanting so bad I can taste it. I want to run my finger down the back of her neck.  I want that corner office, the one with the view of the bridge. I want to walk a little bit further tomorrow than I did today. I want to stop feeling so angry. I want to do the very best I can. I want to help people.

Aphrodite is desire. When people first come to her, they frequently come in a state of wanting, usually wanting love, touch, another, sometimes someone specific, sometimes just the opportunity for encounter. Aphrodite is she who inspires insane lust, the kind that keeps you up at night, making you not able to eat, or think. In fact, when the ancients prayed to her it was frequently so that she would lift them out of the fog of crazy mad love so that they could love well and clearly.

Yes, she is that kind of desire, but she is also desire itself. She is the primal flare that inspires you to reach for the divine, to BE the divine.  In Plato’s Symposium, the speech of the priestess Diotima reflects on the idea of love (in this instance named as Eros, but as he is the attendant of Aphrodite and the tale is set partially on her birthday there may well be a nod to syncretism here) as being first the erotic experience of physical beauty which transforms into an experience and contemplation of the divine.   She notes that the Vision of Beauty combined with virtue is the highest state humanity can achieve. The ultimate Beauty is Knowledge.  Obviously, this is a very simplistic take on the philosophy here.  There are multiple interpretations of Diotima’s speech, and so much more to be said.

By the time this gets to Ficino in the Renaissance, we see a cycle of Love outpouring from the Source back to the Source through human desire.  Since humans are already of the source, our desire is what motivates us to get back to that state of divinity. Ficino, too, focuses on beauty as being the outward reflection of the divine, and the cultivation of beauty as being the instance of its manifestation.  It is desire which draws us to beauty, and which makes us want to transform into beauty itself—to become Gods. The transformation is ultimately inspired by the wanting.

Overall, this is a recharacterization and redirection of the physical impulse to love.  In the Platonic and later Renaissance framework, there is a suggestion that the act of physical love must be transcended to draw attention to “higher” concerns of the divine, but I personally think it’s useful to abandon that rather unhelpful judgment.  It is that primal sense of wanting that we generally experience in the body that leads us to action.  Aphrodite is not normally popularly associated with the realm of magick, but I find this is one of her mysteries. She is the spark of lust that comes before the idea, the desire that drives the idea into manifestation. She is the engine of transformation that makes us do magic.

“Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may. Would that be an ignoble life?”  Diotima, The Symposium, trans. Benjamin Jowett

And of course, we are well empowered to change the world when we are fully acknowledging and awake to the beautiful Gods within.

And if you want to praise the legacy of Diotima, please check out and support Pantheon Foundation’s Diotima Prize campaign for Pagans in seminary.

It’s All Prayer

The past month has been really hard for a lot of people, and a lot of my friends are mourning losses, enduring conflict and battling hardship.  My mother has been sick for many years and now she is facing the potential amputation of one of her lower legs.  This is hard stuff, time consuming and draining.  As you might imagine, it has brought up a lot of difficult issues for me and also for my family. I am old enough now to know that self care under these conditions is vital, yet I still get tired, irritable and I notice that some of my patterns have shifted.  I am finding it a challenge to be the chipper beacon of compassion and delight that I want to be (I know that’s only the voice of my own warped expectations). She’s always there, but some days I have to dig a little harder.

But something that has given me a great amount of joy and emotional relief over the past few weeks is house decorating and playing in the garden. I love my home, and I feel a great creative surge when I get to make it pretty. It also has the effect of engaging my senses and keeping me distracted in the best of ways.  I get to revel in color, shape and texture, I can strategize where things should go, and what the next step in the ever evolving project of my home will be.  And at the end of the day I have the satisfaction of seeing a job well done.

I am happiest when my spiritual practice is integrated into my life, when I get to experience the sacred in all things and when every act is the simple, unconscious flow of devotion.  For me, the decorating of my home is cultivating beauty and joy, and that is how I live my relationship with Aphrodite.  My entire home thus becomes a temple built in her honor.

How do you live with your Gods? What seemingly mundane activities do you do which are a direct manifestation of their influence and speak to your dedication to doing their work? What does this sort of integrated practice look like to you?