SHRINE LIBRARY CAVELET #2
(Article: Dancing With Aphrodite, continued from the Shrine Library, entrance)
...a rebuilding of the pure traditions of Aphrodite and correlate Goddesses of cultures around the world, such as Oshun of Africa, Yemaya of South America, Shakti of India, Inanna of Sumeria, Ishtar of Babylonia, Isis of Egypt, Asherah of the ancient Hebrews, Olwyn or Rhiannon of Wales. As in ancient times, let us have temples of love, where priestesses who serve Aphrodite can provide rituals, counsel, thealagical understanding, healing, spells, and blessings for lovers.
As a practitioner of the rites of Aphrodite, I am pulled by Her on many levels. She has slowly revealed Herself to me over the years, appearing as a storm of passion, a fountain of inspiration, a soar of exaltation, a flame of ecstasy, a cauldron of transformation, a dazzle of enchantment, a song of exquisite beauty. Gradually my identity as Her priestess has coalesced as She has busily kept whispering in my ear, tapping on my shoulder, pulling on my heart strings, and dropping many hints that I am hers.
I still don't understand Her, but then who can know the totality of Love's mysteries? I have encountered her as sweet Maiden, ecstatic Mother and terrifying Crone; the beauty and the passion, and the death of these. I have seen Her gentle and I've seen Her fierce; immensely creative, devastatingly destructive. I am devoted to Her, and so continue to seek Her rituals and rites of passage, Her traditions and liturgies, and Her spells of love and healing.
The amazing thing is to discover how political She is. For only in a society/culture that is truly free can Aphrodite function in all Her magnificence.
free society will have its day
We get glimpses of Her in present-day patriarchy. Occasional films, poems, stories or images of sacredly sensual love appear. Love of this depth occasionally still happens in our lives...for some of us. Yet in many cases She comes tragically linked to suffering, abuse, abandonment, rejection, power inequities, illness, rape, pornography, commercialism, and violent death. Is this simply the natural forces of Aphrodite acting as Crone? Or has our loss of Her caused us to experience Her in twisted ways? I believe our hearts are broken by these violations. Like all the other mysteries of Womb and Blood, Aphrodite's mysteries of sexual passion are exploited, denied, and ultimately cursed.
We become great cynics. "I will never open my heart again," we declare. "Love is just another addiction." "A ploy of the system to victimize women and keep them down." "Love is blind." "An illusion." "Co-dependency, a trap." "Love spells don't really work." And indeed, all these things become true, the more we believe of them, and the less we remember an older, different way. We learn the arts of loveless "casual sex," packaged and perfumed for the marketplace. We become incapable of commitment or intimacy, and therefore, ecstasy. Aphrodite is trapped in the hands of the dancing master, made to teach Her daughters his arts of selling sex, separating sex from love, molding our bodies to his specifications, enacting his fantasies, and competing among ourselves for his favors and attentions. Instead of the Great Rite, he tells us to name our loving "doing it." Thus with the power of Naming, he annihilates Her with a blow.
Meanwhile, the sex wars rage on. AIDS is killing us off. Rapes occur around the clock. Homophobia lurks. Relationships are minefields of emotional disaster. Pro-life and pro-choice are locked in combat. Media is fraught with images of sexual sadism. One recalls George Orwell's classic story, 1984. in which is described a world where the ultimate crime was to love. Loneliness rules. We forget the beauty, goodness and sacredness of true love. We lose the vision of lives lived in creative passion, inspired motivation. We settle for survival and the dollar bill, and "safer" forms of love: agape or universal love, familial love, or friendship. Not that these kinds of love are to be dismissed- far from it. Love comes in many forms, and all are necessary and sacred. But passionate sexual love is Aphrodite's gift to us, and profoundly necessary to our well-being.
As an archetype, Aphrodite provides the images we need for a healing alternative to today's distortions. She links the sexual with the divine, the ecstatic with soul, the body with spirit. Instead of pornographic images She offers the scent of roses, the depth of the wave, the radiance of human form. Instead of rape She offers lovemaking as a holy rite. Instead of sexploitation She offers nurturance, intimacy, abundance, and pleasure. Instead of sexual sadism She offers healing and spiritual transformation. Instead of leaving us to find our loves by luck or chance, she offers magic, ritual, and karmic connection.
I am resolved to the struggle. I defy the forces of lovelessness. I cry out for the powers of magic, gentleness, tenderness, passion, compassion and creativity. With all my bungling, I am determined to keep casting love spells, and keep learning Her mysteries. I wear my open heart proudly for all to see. It is a revolution of heart.
When I was young, thin and heterosexual, I had many lovers, and didn't know much about love spells. I experienced some of the most beautiful and joyous sharings I have known, and was devoted to my passions. But not all my lovers treated me well, and in retrospect I wish I had known some good reliable magic to help keep my heart safe and bring an appropriate lover.
As I have aged, gained weight, become a mother, a lesbian, witch, feminist and full time priestess, the stream of loves has dwindled. And so it was natural for me to turn to magic, and to start learning how to cast spells for love.