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30 Days of Devotion: Aphrodite 18/30

18) How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (Historical or UPG)

Herself or her opinions of others? How about both.

Aphrodite is the High Lady of the House of Woman- which is a title I totally just made up.  She’s all the immense power- both subtle and gross- of the feminine everything. There is no doubt as to her femininity. And she really enjoys men. Like, a lot. She’s also got that little side story about a poet-priestess named Sappho which should make us all think that she cares more about love than the form of the individuals in love.

The only incidents in myth (and there are several) in which Aphrodite punishes anyone are those in which someone has scorned her gifts of love and beauty. The type of love or beauty is never clarified. She loves us. All of us. Indiscriminately. Unless we harbor hatred or deny the reality of love.

Aphrodite is totally and unapologetically a woman, and she stands on the side of love.

30 Days of Devotion: Aphrodite 17/30

17) How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?

Haven’t we already answered this one? Eh, whatever. I can do it again.

While I generally hold that different deities are different deities, I’m less sure in some specific cases. I don’t think there is a single hard rule that separates them or that combines them. In the case of Aphrodite, it is very easy to argue that she is also Astarte, which would quite easily also make her Innana, since that link was commonly accepted some time back. However, despite the fact that Aphrodite and Freyja oversee most of the same things, I don’t think they are the same. (although it’s certainly not impossible and I won’t know until I’m dead and possibly can ask them/her/it/hir/fnord.)

Now we leave the realm of things that can be argued (but not concluded) based on extant stories and enter the realm of Imbrium’s Complete and Total UPG.

Aphrodite got along better with the Reaper than she does with Loki, which seems odd to me but… that’s the impression I get. I feel like they would have some common ground but… nope. That’s not to say that they are antagonistic. They are very professional and cool with one another. At least, that’s how it seems from my perspective. Aphrodite and the Reaper seemed to get on very well. They had this odd kind of mutual understanding that ran so deep it didn’t need words and if I chose to meditate on it I would probably come up in either utter confusion or gibbering terror.

Also, the nameless land spirit in the farm seems to really like her.

Remembering Atrocity

I don’t normally pay much attention to WND as a news source as they tend to trip over all of the “Jesus or else” propaganda they’ve got lying around. This time, however, I think they got it right. Take a look.

http://www.wnd.com/2015/04/the-armenian-genocide-and-my-grandmothers-secret/

30 Days of Devotion: Aphrodite 16/30

16) How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?

Since Aphrodite’s cultural origins are up for debate, this is a difficult question to answer. If she is purely Greek then she actually pushes the boundaries of their society quite a bit. The idea of a woman with that much power would have been frightening to most of the men who actually ran things and wrote the histories. Our philosophical giants of forebears were misogynistic assholes, let’s not forget. And yet here is Aphrodite, whose power determines the fate of the species. Here is Aphrodite who, for love, started the great war between gods and men. Here is Aphrodite who herself drives War’s chariot into battle. Zeus assigned her a nice safe marriage that seemed politically well advised. Beauty and Craftsmanship should have been a perfect match. But she didn’t stay within the confines of her assigned role. She is found most often with the destructive counter to her own creative Passion. She is found reveling with the god of wine and madness in the wild hills.

She won’t stay put. I don’t think she matches that well at all.

Yet if she is indeed the Syrian goddess Astarte come to Greece, which seems quite plausible given the similarity between their mythologies and modes of worship, then she matches quite well. She is a goddess of power, whether that be the power of sexuality itself, that biological imperative that winds through our bodies and minds, of subtle persuasion, of violent war, of the ways of magic, or of the mighty ancestors. She makes a lot more sense in that context.

Why, then, go to Greece?

I’m sure she had her reasons.

30 Days of Devotion: Aphrodite 15/30

15) What mundane practices are associated with this deity?

As a person notoriously not interested in being what any modern marketing strategy would consider beautiful, I will have to settle for conjecture for some parts of this answer.

I do believe that Aphrodite is connected to the industries surrounding beauty products, fashion, music and perhaps even marketing itself. What I believe she thinks about their reprehensible strategies I have already discussed. However, there is no reason to think that she has anything at all against humans wanting to be beautiful. Cosmetics are ancient, even if our current formulae are modern. I don’t use many so I’m not sure how qualified I am to speak on this part of daily life. I love my hair gel though. Don’t know if that counts or not. How else does one acquire sexy spiky short hair without hair gel? And talented cutters of hair? I mean really.

I think that Aphrodite’s influence on our daily lives starts well before make-up hits skin. I think that every time we choose to keep ourselves clean, wash our faces, trim our nails, cut our hair, even eat healthy food- we are doing something of which she approves. I think every time we remind ourselves (and even more importantly, each other!) that we are beautiful, we do something of which she approves. Beauty is a constant process, after all, and it starts with health and self -esteem.

Don’t forget, however, that Aphrodite has other aspects. She is also “Warlike” and “Bringer of Victory” therefor I conclude that fitness of mind and body are probably also very important. It’s hard to win any battles- physical or otherwise- if your brain or bod are out of shape. I think she wishes I would get my increasingly overweight butt back to the gym. (I am self-aware enough to admit that I am probably the heaviest now that I have ever been. I’m still not what most would consider ‘fat’ but I am starting to feel like I’ve gone past what is healthy for me. Time to pay a lot more attention and get a handle on this before it gets out of control.)

I think also that Aphrodite Urania is very present when we involve ourselves in service projects of any kind. I willingly involved myself with the still-forming Interfaith Council in St Mary’s County because I believe that it is the right action to take. I believe that Aphrodite Urania- the Heavenly Aphrodite- approves. This is, of course, only my opinion based on my own understanding of this face of this goddess.

While I’ve never been part of overseas shipping of goods. it is a major part of our modern globalized lives. I recall that there were many temples in southern Greece to Aphrodite of the Harbor and of Deep Water.

She’s everywhere.

She’s in everyone.

I really don’t think that you could go through your day and not encounter something which matters to Aphrodite. Did you take a shower this morning? Style your hair or face? Tell a joke with friends? Go to the gym? Purchase something shipped from overseas? Do something nice simply because it was nice?

She was there.

30 Days of Devotion: Aphrodite 14/30

14) How has devotion to this deity changed in modern times?

Well, we don’t generally see animal sacrifice or ritualized sex anymore except in very specific circumstances. There are no temples heaped with the votive offerings of devotees over generations. We seem to fear her darker aspects as a whole idea.

And yet…

One of the first attempts at a Pagan organization was done in Aphrodite’s name.

I know one person who offers particular attention to her before they go fishing. It’s not sacrifices in the harbor for safe journey but it’s something.

I do know of a group that offers particular attention to her during their spring festival. It’s no city-wide holiday, but it’s something.

I think the same could be said for many of the old gods. There are  few here and there who really are trying to work out ways of honoring them in the 21st Century. It’s not easy.

30 Days of Devotion: Aphrodite 13/30

13) What modern issues are close to this deity’s heart?

Everything that follows is my own personal opinion based on what I believe to be interaction with this goddess.

It is my belief that Aphrodite is concerned with some of the trends she sees around the world that have to do with degradation and exploitation of beauty. Where forests are destroyed for timber or accusations fly about he-said she-said who knows what happened but someone said the ‘r’ word and now a career is over or perhaps when seas are overfished until we’re processing alewives for the gods’ sakes… I mean really have you ever actually seen one of these bony little fish that we’re hauling in now because the big ones are almost gone?

Her influence is wide and deep and profound. Wetlands are places where her sacred elements blend under the sky to create intensely fertile ground. We’ve poisoned them. Humans interact with one another on many levels and she rules to some degree over all of them but when we forget how to have conversation and forget how to flirt without being creepy because we can’t put the fucking phones down long enough… she notices alright.

She notices all of it.

And she doesn’t like it.

There is an idea running around that the impending disaster of our times (which may be ecological, economic or nuclear at this rate, whothefuck knows…) is the product of an excess of Adversarial or Trickster energy in the world. I call bullshit on that theory right now. First, I don’t think we need help from any entity to destroy ourselves, but that’s beside the point. It won’t just be the Adversaries and Tricksters of the pantheons laughing. The Loves and Beauties of the world have more than enough reason to watch us burn.

We have, in a very real sense, squandered her gifts. There are enough examples in mythology of her punishing those who squander or scorn her power that we should probably be afraid.

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