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Priest of Love

Last Friday, May 17th, in the presence of thirty witnesses at the temple in my city, I made my oaths to serve as a priest of Aphrodite.  It has been a long and interesting journey from disinterest to a passionate mystical love with the Golden Goddess.  It started almost six years ago when sitting down with an Ifa priest who was doing a reading for me and spoke of Oshun’s influence in my life.  He said if I am not interested in initiating in Ifa that perhaps I should strongly consider serving Aphrodite who shares many similar qualities.   And so I set up a small altar to her.   I grew up on Xena and had seen Aphrodite portrayed as ditzy, shallow and immature.  However as I moved past these inaccuracies I found a profound, deep, and cosmic goddess.  I found her place in nature...as that which brings together in the animals for procreation, but she was also beauty...beauty that was profound as the dove, but also beauty in the common as the sparrow.  She is found even what is considered u…

Temple of Love

Come to the Temple of Love!All are welcome here.  Male and Female,Gay and Straight,Black and White, Old and YoungFor all are Lovers hereDrinking from the chalice of Love Herself!We dance, sing, and cry in Her Presence. In our dancing, we encircle the LoverEven as She encircles us.  Here Lover and Beloved become one and the same.   We become Aphrodite And She, us. And we walk away, changed.

Aphrodite, the Warrior

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Aphrodite is well known as a goddess of love, desire, and sexuality, and that she is.  However often today, she is portrayed as only being a goddess of sex, love, and self-love and never going any deeper.  In my previous post, I explored Aphrodite's epithets relating her to death and the grave, something of which is almost never spoken.

 Now I want to explore a few other epithets:

Aphrodite Androphonos – Killer of Men
Aphrodite Areia - of Ares, Warlike
Aphrodite Enoplios – Bearing Weapons
Aphrodite Summakhia - Ally in War
Aphrodite Hoplismena - Armed
Aphrodite played a part in the Trojan War, by promising Paris the most beautiful woman on earth if he votes her (Aphrodite) the most beautiful as opposed to Hera and Athena.  He does and the most beautiful woman happens to be Helen of Troy and she is already married.  Long story short, there is a point where she is on the battlefield fighting men and gods.  
There is another myth about Aphrodite driving Ares' chariot into battle an…

Aphrodite, the Digger of Graves

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When Adonis was killed by a jealous Ares, Aphrodite held him as he died.   His blood became flowers.  Aphrodite understands loss.  She understands grief.  Sometimes I wonder if that is why she called me.  Did the loss of my beloved after sixteen years, and the journey out of grief into a healthy sense of self, catch her attention?

One of the epithets of Aphrodite is Aphrodite Tumborukhos, the digger of graves... joins with those who have lost someone they loved.   She weeps with them.  I imagine her grieving over those who died of AIDS-related complexes, and those killed for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transexual.  She grieves with every mother who has lost a child.  She mourns with every lover who has lost their beloved.  Every child who has lost their parent.
Another epithet is Aprhodite Epitymbia -- She Who is Around the Tombs. A mourner, a wailing woman. It is said that she TAUGHT us to grieve, her loss for Adonis was so passionate and deep.  As my friend and fellow priestess …

My Little Shrine

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Aphrodite Compared to Other Goddesses

Hyginus, in his Fabulae, identifies Aphrodite with the Roman goddess Venus; the Souda identifies her with the Syrian Astarte; Herodotus, in his Histories, identifies her with the Assyrian Mylitta, the Persian Mitra, the Skythian Argimpasa and, finally, with the Egyptian Hathor. Other writers too draw comparisons between Aphrodite and these foreign goddesses; and she has also been associated with the Norse Freyja, the Armenian Anaitis and the Armenian Astghik.

Venus is associated principally with love, beauty and fertility; also motherhood and domesticity. She is identified with the Roman Cloacina, goddess of sewers and sexual intercourse in marriage; with the Etruscan Turan, goddess of love and vitality (who is constantly paired with her young lover Atunis—or Adonis) as well as egg-laying birds; with the Roman Murcia, goddess of sloth; with the Roman Libitina, goddess of death, corpses and funerals; with the Assyrian and Babylonian Ishtar, the goddess of sexuality, fertility, love, war…
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A Priest of Aphrodite

I am not Wiccan.  However, I do have an appreciation for it.  It was through Wicca that I entered the Pagan Community and its practices still have an influence on my worldview and practices. It was through the Reclaiming Tradition that I first encountered the idea of goddesses, and where I first began to love the Goddess.  I had learned some had Goddesses or Gods who had called them and with whom they had a special devotion.

Now here we are 25+ years later, and I am going to be anointed a priest of the goddess, Aphrodite.  I guess my calling happened very naturally.  I had no blinding visions, nor episodic dreams that let me know I was called to serve the goddess Her.   In fact, I don't think I ever would have considered being devoted Her, based on media images of her.  I remember episodes of Xena where Aphrodite was shallow, a self-centered bimbo, and just not interesting.    However as I healed the pain of the past and embraced my sexual orientation and coupled with that of lear…

Why Aphrodite?

I did not initially seek her.  I saw how she was conveyed in the media.  I remembered watching episodes of Xena in which Aphrodite was portrayed as a selfish bimbo when I was younger.  However, the media had it wrong.  She is much deeper than all that. 

My partner of sixteen years died six years ago this month.  I had been with him since my early twenties.  When he died, I had no idea who I was without him.  I honestly did not know myself, nor did I have any sense of self-love or self-worth. 

It was Aphrodite that came to me and taught me to start by finding beauty in the little simple things.  Things other people might perceive as mundane.  To be thankful for their beauty.  Then to look at me...what parts of myself did I like?  I liked to read.  I enjoyed books.  I had a keen mind.  I learned a healthy sense of pride in my mind.  Then slowly over time, I began to explore other parts of myself. I looked at my habits, parts of myself I did not love and explored why.  I made very natura…

Aphrodite as Love

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Aphrodite is Love

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Epithets of Aphrodite

Epithets of Aphrodite

Aligena – Sea Born Ambologera – She Who Postpones Old Age Anaduomene – Rising from the Sea Androphonos – Killer of Men Anosia – Unholy Apostrophia – She Who Turns Herself Away Areia – of Ares Basilis – Queen Eleemon – Merciful Enoplios – Bearing Weapons Epipontia – On the Sea Epitragidia – She Upon the Buck Epitumbidia – She Upon the Graves Euplois – Fair Sailing Genetullis – Genetrix Heteira – Courtesan Kallipugos – of the Beautiful Buttocks Kallisti – the Fairest Khruse – Golden Kupris – Cyprian Kuprogenes – Cyprus-born Kuthereia – Kytherean Melainis – Black Morpho – Shapely Ourania – Heavenly Pandemos – of All People Pasiphaessa – the Far-Shining Pelagia – of the Sea Philomeides – Laughter-Loving Porne – Fleshy; Prostitute Skotia – Dark Summakhia – Ally in War Tumborukhos – Gravedigger

Aphrodite: Goddess of Passion, Life and ... Death?

One thing that I adore about Aphrodite is that she is so much more than perceived on the surface of things.  She is not just the goddess of love, or beauty, or sex, or women: she is all of those things and many more besides. She is described as having two natures—Aphrodite Ourania, Aphrodite the‘heavenly,’ the goddess who brings together the entire cosmos who is utterly tied together with it.  She is also called Aphrodite Pandemos, ‘Aphrodite the lover of all people,’ the goddess who is portrayed as the pleasure goddess of sex, desire, and even marriage.
However, she is not only these things. She is also the mother of all of the loves; including Eros, who is both one of the oldest gods and the force of Creation, and the bittersweet boy-god who delights in playing with the hearts of others with his arrows: one of sharp and gold and the other blunt of lead. It is not incorrect to call her a goddess of love, but she is much more than just that. She is not a simple daimona, with just a si…

The Pagan in Me Honors the Pagan in You

I think I am a heretic.  I also think I am okay with it.  I have read, studied with, and had many discussions with those who fall under the big tent of Paganism who are reconstructionists.  Yet, I am not one.  So many of them are thoughtful, educated, devoted people.  Devoted to their communities and devoted to their gods.  It is beautiful.  However, I also recognize the limitations of reconstructionism in many cases.  Missing lore, missing details on issues of "theology", ritual etc, or the only sources being from outsiders to the traditions.  Pieces are painstakingly put together, but like a puzzle with missing pieces, they either leave gaps or are filled in with suppositions, educated guesses and the like.

Truthfully, I am okay with that for them, but it is not for me.  While I work hard to understand the history of my gods, the past offerings, devotions, mythology and such, I also realize that I am a modern man.  As a modern Pagan, adaptations are made.  As a devotee of …

A Litany for Aphrodite

From the book Devotion: Prayers to the Gods of the Greeks by Hearthstone


A Litany for Aphrodite
Aphrodite Aligena! Sea-Born Aphrodite, who arose from foam upon the waves.  Aphrodite Aligena, we praise you! We honor you!
Aphrodite Kuprogenes! Aphrodite of Cyprus, yours is that fair isle--Cyprian you are called. Aphrodite Kuprogenes, we praise you! We honor you!
Aphrodite Pelagia! Aphrodite of the Sea, whose soft embrace we feel in warm waters. Aphrodite Pelagia, we praise you! We honor you!
Aphrodite Euplois! Aphrodite Fair-Sailing, friend and guardian of sailors and seafarers. Aphrodite Euplois, we praise you! We honor you!
Aphrodite Khruse! Golden Aphrodite, fairer by far than all the treasures of the earth. Aphrodite Khruse, we praise you! We honor you!
Aphrodite Pasiphaessa! Aphrodite the Far-Shining, whose beauty would light the moonless night. Aphrodite Pasiphaessa, we praise you! We honor you!
Aphrodite Philomeides! Laughter-Loving Aphrodite, bringer of joy, mirth, and all sweet pleasures. Aphrodite …

Priesthood of Aphrodite

I am not Wiccan.  However, I do have an appreciation for it.  It was through Wicca that I entered the Pagan Community and its practices still have an influence on my worldview and practices. It was through the Reclaiming Tradition that I first encountered the idea of goddesses, and where I first began to love the Goddess.  I had learned some had Goddesses or Gods who had called them and with whom they had a special devotion.

Now here we are 25+ years later, and I am going to be anointed a priest of the goddess, Aphrodite.  I guess my calling happened very naturally.  I had no blinding visions, nor episodic dreams that let me know I was called to serve the goddess Her.   In fact, I don't think I ever would have considered being devoted Her, based on media images of her.  I remember episodes of Xena where Aphrodite was shallow, a self-centered bimbo, and just not interesting.    However as I healed the pain of the past and embraced my sexual orientation and coupled with that of lear…

Goddess of Love

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Sappho's Prayer to Aphrodite

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Iridescent-throned Aphrodite, deathlessChild of Zeus, wile-weaver, I now implore you,Don't--I beg you, Lady--with pains and tormentsCrush down my spirit,But before if ever you've heard my pleadingsThen return, as once when you left your father'sGolden house; you yoked to your shining car yourWing-whirring sparrows;Skimming down the paths of the sky's bright etherOn they brought you over the earth's black bosom,Swiftly--then you stood with a sudden brilliance,Goddess, before me;Deathless face alight with your smile, you asked meWhat I suffered, who was my cause of anguish,What would ease the pain of my frantic mind, andWhy had I called youTo my side: "And whom should Persuasion summonHere, to soothe the sting of your passion this time?Who is now abusing you, Sappho? Who isTreating you cruelly?Now she runs away, but she'll soon pursue you;Gifts she now rejects--soon enough she'll give them;Now she doesn't love you, but soon her heart willBurn, though…

The Origins of Aphrodite

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One of the earliest Greek poets, Hesiod,  tells the oldest origin story of Aphrodite:  A couple of generations prior to Zeus, Uranos reigned with his wife Gaia.   Uranos despised his children as they were seen as threats to his power.  So he hid them in the depths of the earth, until Gaia, created a plan with her son Cronus. 

Devotion

A Christian friend asked me if I prayed and if so, how I pray.  Realizing there are so few books actually on Animism and even fewer from a practitioner viewpoint I thought I might share how I personally "pray". 

I begin by honoring my most ancient ancestors, the primal elements from which we all came: what many in big-tent Paganism attribute as the earth, the air, the fire, and the water.  These primal ancestors I depend on for life.  I then honor my physical ancestors and ask for their help and guidance.

Next, I honor the spirit of place, those nature spirits with whom I co-exist as part of the land where my home resides.   I pledge to seek to constantly dwell in harmony with them.   I know that offending the spirits of place is a recipe for chaos and unrest in the home and life. 

I then honor the spirit of my city and the surrounding land then those "big" spirits of many lands that we might call gods, particularly those with whom I have developed a relationship. …

My Animist Beginnings

Animism has always fascinated me.   Even before I knew the word for it, I was one.   I remember as a pre-teen visiting a small canyon behind our property in rural Oklahoma.  It was one of my favorite places to spend time.  It was home to bugs, scorpions, spiders, cacti, and snakes.  But at the bottom, there was a little grove of trees, not very large.  I made a shrine there.  I even called it a shrine.  In this space, I remember feeling such peace.   I would leave tiny offerings to the trees and space there.  Other times I would stand on the edge of the canyon and slightly lean into the strong winds and bask in a strong feeling of joy and peace as I said thank you to the winds.   I remember my sadness and anger upon coming down to my small grove and finding someone had torn up the offerings, scattered things and left garbage all around.  Sadly, I never returned. 

A Worldview

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A friend once asked me to describe the spiritual world as I experience it as an Animist.  As we were enjoying a walk in a park, I pointed to a nearby oak tree.  This oak tree has roots, bark, leaves, acorns and so much more that we don't even see that make it this particular oak tree.  This oak tree has a life, a way of feeding itself and a life span.  To me this life, that scientists understand only a little bit about, is sacred.  This oak tree is a type of person to me.  Not a human person but an oak person.  And like my body is made up of more than just the big parts, it is also made up of mini "eco-systems" of cells, bacteria, and other things, each with their own function and life, often very different than mine....so too does nature.    Some of it with which I, as an animist, can develop a type of relationship or communion.   This tree is a type of spirit of nature in my worldview.  It could also be part of a slightly larger natural system such as a grove of trees…

Loss and Finding Oneself

The past several months have been unique, to say the least. I walked away from my relationship with my partner.  The relationship had become one in which neither of us were happy and both of us were finding ways to emotionally and mentally check out with each other.   Additionally, the small Pagan community I had served in for several years disbanded.  There was no drama involved other than our numbers were small and members spread out by distance no longer felt the need to come together weekly.  I also suspect that much like my relationship with my partner...real needs were not being met.  The icing on the cake was the group I helped found when living in another town over 20 years ago ceased to be.   The co-founder was moving away and no one was willing to step forward to lead. 

Loss and change is not easy for anyone, myself included.  In the final months of our local communities meetings, some of us experienced breakthroughs in our spiritual practice and personal gnosis of the faces…