Showing posts with label Aphrodite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aphrodite. Show all posts

Monday, February 14, 2022

I Knew She Was Real That Day

I hadn't had much luck with women by that point in my life, either because they didn't like me or I was too stupid in my youth to recognize the signals (and we can only thank the oppressive social norms of modern society for that). By 2005, I had only been with two women in my life, and one I didn't even sleep with. One might could say it wasn't even an actual relationship because she was not loyal to me at all, in any way. But by that year, a change had also entered my life. I first discovered the Greek Gods as a religion. I did not know all of the Gods or even how to practice Hellenism, but I knew of and felt connections with the Olympians. Aphrodite was one of my closest (and still is).

While I hadn't had a successful romantic life, I knew Aphrodite was the Goddess not only of love but sex and beauty, and it was for the latter two attributes that I decided to pray to Her. My request was simple: make me more attractive to the opposite sex. Each time I prayed for that, I would notice women looking at me more when I was out in public. Aphrodite possibly enhanced my beauty, or perhaps I was beautiful all along and the Goddess helped people notice me more. After my connection with Aphrodite, my romantic and sexual encounters only became more frequent. In 2009, I met the love of my life who would become my wife (I am still married to her to this day). From the first day She blessed me, I knew Aphrodite was real.

Valentine's Day, the day of love, makes me think back onto those early days when the Greek Gods first showed their wonderful selves to me. I don't think Aphrodite cared that I wasn't actually a Hellenist at that time. I was Hellenic in my heart, and She cultivated that into the pious man I am today.

In the Goodness of Aphrodite,

Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

All That Is The Goddess Of Love

On July 4th, we celebrated one of my favorite ancient Greek festivals known as Aphrodisia (the Athenian festival of Aphrodite, the Goddess of love and sex). I thought my temple and I had a wonderful ceremony and celebration. If you want to view the rite on video, click here.

Depending on where you went in the ancient Greek world, you might get a different view of Aphrodite. In some places She was viewed as a Goddess more of marital sex, whereas in others, She was the Goddess of love, sex, beauty and pleasure universally, whether it occurred in marriage or not. I view Her as the latter, but also believe She plays an important role in marriages as well, because even between spouses, physical satisfaction is important to happiness and strength in a relationship. My wife and I have never lost our passion for one another, even after being together for 10 years at this point. We are as crazy about each other today as we were then. This has remained a core strength in our union and I thank Aphrodite for that.

But I took time this month after the festival to think about all that Aphrodite encompasses in this world and human life. The ancient Greeks had 6 different kinds of love, which is one reason I think ancient Greek religion is so brilliant, because it understands the reality of the Universe. There is, of course, Eros, who is the God of erotic sexual passion. Literally, He entails the basic carnal instinct of humans, the lust that we all have for one another. It's our natural and basic self, the enjoyment of sex. Second comes Philia, which is the love that binds together strong friendships. This can be both sexual and non-sexual, but normally refers to the general concept of good and close friends. Third is Ludus, playful love. This is the love between youths. Fourth is Agape, meaning universal love. Agape encompasses literally the love of the human race, what you might call humanitarianism. Fifth is Pragma, meaning enduring love between lifelong partners or spouses. My wife and I who have been together for a decade and still have the same passion and dedication for one another, would certainly be a state of Pragma. Last, but not least, there is Philautia, meaning the love of self. On the surface, it might sound arrogant, but only if used in the wrong way. It is important to love yourself in a positive manner. Self-loathing is not a healthy state for anyone. To be secure, confident and happy in your life and the things that are part of it, is good Philautia.

In my view, while there are obviously different Beings and forces of love, Aphrodite is the Supreme Ruler or Leader of them all. She's always been a Goddess particularly close to me in life. I remember way back in the day, around 2005 or 2006 when I first started exploring Greek Polytheism, I would pray to Her for success in attracting a female partner. Often times, I would have better encounters with women afterwards. When I told my mom, she said, "Maybe you should pray to Her more often."

Since I officially became Hellenic, I have looked at Aphrodite in the broader perspective of Her Divinity. As the Goddess of love, I think that means all of it. Whether it be love between best friends, or sexual partners. Whether it be the love of life or that of your fellow human being. I also can't help but imagine how wonderful the world would be if we all adopted the ancient Greek ideals of love in our lives. What if we all sincerely loved ourselves and one another?

In the Goodness of Aphrodite,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Aphrodite's Stronghold Against Christianity

As the 4th Century CE rolled on, the rising Christian State, led by the power of Rome, was stopping at nothing to persecute the Polytheists out of existence. The old religion(s) under the Christian Emperor Theodosius I, had been outlawed, and in 393 CE, he finally banned even the Olympic Games of Greece. Of course, the persecution didn't begin with Theodosius and it wouldn't end with him either. But it would have appeared that the "massive state pressure" concerning the Christian State that Walter Burkert talks about in his book Greek Religion, was finally taking hold in its mission to force everyone into the new religion.

However, according to recent archaeological finds, it appears as if the worship of the Greek Gods, namely Aphrodite, set up a stronghold in Thessaloniki through the 4th Century, a region in the far north of the Greek mainland. By 306 CE, Christianity had already found its way into Thessaloniki, but there were apparently Greeks who refused it until the end. During the excavation of the metro, workers came across thousands of artifacts from the time period, most notably statues of Aphrodite, giving testament to the enduring worship of Her during this highly hostile, anti-Pagan time. Devotion to Her was as strong as the love and sexual desire itself over which She rules and gives to humanity. She was, without a doubt, one of the most hated Goddesses among the Christians, because She represented sexuality and freedom of the body. Christianity knew it could not gain control over the masses without shackling the basic human makeup. Aphrodite was a dire threat to the very core of their objective. 

These finds are not only significant because of their history, but because it seems to show that, despite what the modern Church says, not everyone willingly accepted Christianity. Some people, probably most of the population, resisted it. There would have been absolutely no other reason for Christians to make laws forcing people to give it up. So today, we should also draw an inspired spirit as we look at the remains of undying devotion to the Gods, and carry it on into tomorrow and the days and years to come as we move to restore the traditional identities of humanity. No matter how hard, hopeless or hostile things get, let us never give up our beliefs, our love, our devotion.

To read more details about this recent story, check out the website of my friend and fellow Hellenist, Baring The Aegis.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Aphrodite ~ Her Real Character

Even as far back as ancient Greece, there were people who feared the power of Aphrodite. Of course, that's a bit misleading because the Greeks feared the powers of all Gods, not just Her. To act as though Aphrodite was the only One who sometimes caused men to cower is simply untrue. All of the Gods were both loved and feared. But love and sex were, and still are, extremely powerful forces, and when something takes possession of us, even if it's part of our natural state, we can sometimes find ourselves afraid and therefore think of it as terrible or mischievous. However, in reality, Aphrodite is not a Goddess who does bad things, no God is. She was worshiped and celebrated all over the ancient Greek world. Even though Her dominant epithets may have slightly differed from region to region, She was still the same Goddess. For example, to some, Her sphere of sexuality may have been more geared toward marital unions, while others viewed Her as present in sexual activity in general. There can be no doubt that Her realm gives life to us all. Without sexual union, humans would go extinct. We don't often think about it, especially if we have achieved great success in life, but the basic intercourse of sexuality is the reason we are even here in the first place, and therefore it's something to love and celebrate. 

Although, despite the fact that She was so widely loved and served by so many, modern authors of ancient Greek history, at times, take the liberty to portray Her as a force that the Greeks resented and preferably wanted nothing to do with, one that was dreaded most of all. But as Socrates said in the Dialogue of Theaetetus, it is not possible for a God to wish for wickedness upon mankind. It's also important to remember that there was no dogmatic belief system in ancient Athens. The Greeks were more so concerned with practice, instead of the personal beliefs of each person. Therefore, what one Athenian believed about a God, could be different than what another believes about them. Just because they write those beliefs down, no matter how famous the author, doesn't necessarily mean there's a universal consensus. In fact, it's probably a safe bet that we have lost most of the things that were written down in ancient Greece.

The ancient Greeks were certainly people who were far more sexually free and accepting of the wonderful things about sexuality than the later Christians who took over the West, and although places like ancient Athens in the Classical Period are routinely portrayed as sexist and fearful of the female, their religious devotion does not seem to coincide with that image. After all, the men dedicated the City to a Goddess (Athena), and did so in place of a male God (Poseidon). On the Acropolis, the holiest of holy places for Athens, which was a City dominated by men, there stood a shrine to Aphrodite and Her son Eros, the God of love. One of the most well known festivals held in Her honor in Athens was called Aphrodisia, and is the first festival of the Athenian new year. Her most famously known devotee from ancient times is Sappho, another female, who was elevated to the rank of the 10th Muse. And Aphrodite Herself was known to the Athenians as Heavenly, Averter of Unlawful Desire, and Common to All People.

In the book Greek Religion by Walter Burkert, the section on Aphrodite is very clear on Her purpose and Divinity.

"Aphrodite's sphere of activity is immediately and sensibly apparent; the joyous consummation of sexuality" (Burkert, 152).

Notice he says, "joyous," not fearful or resentful. There was a time in human history when sex was a way to connect with the Divine, instead of something to be thought of as lowly, impure, or sinful. It didn't keep us from Deity, it brought them to us. And it sometimes seems that the more and more ancient culture and philosophy progressed, the more the Gods were viewed and understood as Bringers of good things, and not Beings to make you fear your humanity or the world. As it was said, I believe by the philosopher Sallustius, The Gods are always good, and never harmful. We would therefore be led to believe that something which is the contrary has not been sent by the Gods.

This progression in theology, and the various ways to connect with the Gods was, of course, interrupted by the Christian take over, and early Christians sometimes used their own interpretation to revise ancient perceptions and beliefs, and when they did this, it was not a flattering view. If there was one thing they hated more than the Pagans, it was sexual freedom exercised by a woman, and Aphrodite, being a sexually strong and independent female Divinity, would have no doubt gotten the worst end of male dominated, Christian supremacist wrath.

Of course, it would be highly dishonest to act as though all ancient Greek men were trusting of women. It would also be dishonest to suggest that every Greek culture was sexually identical, when women in Sparta held more power than women in Athens. And there has never been, in the world's history, a society of matriarchy, and no one's denying that. But I think that, as human beings, no matter our gender, we sometimes fear those of the opposite. Men have feared women because they worry about seduction, temptation, or manipulation, and women have feared men because they worry about misogyny in its many forms. This has sometimes led us to demonize one another, but I think that if we come to terms with the fact that male and female are both blessed beings, we will lose the grip of fear and distrust on our minds.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Work Cited: Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1985.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Learning From The Greek Gods: Aphrodite

Most certainly, Aphrodite's name is as common to people as Her epithet of Pandemos. She's the great Olympian Goddess of love; who rules the realm of beauty, sexuality, pleasure, lust, and the life that it can and does bring. Born of the sea off the coast of Kypros through the remains of Ouranos, She existed before the rise of Olympos, which technically makes Her the first Olympian. While She is the Goddess of wonderful and joyous sexuality in general, She is also involved in the sexuality of marital unions and relationships themselves. She encompasses sexuality itself, whether it be married, unmarried, or simply friends with benefits. The joy, passion, eroticism, excitement and loveliness of sex is all Her. She is also a Goddess who prevents unscrupulousness, which means She is also not a Goddess without standards. Stories about Her are also rooted in a love and affection for humanity, such as with the tale of Pygmalion, the sculptor who created a statue of his ideal woman, and was turned into a real person by Aphrodite as an answer to his prayer to find true love. He named this woman Galatea, and they both lived happily ever after.

So what can we as adults learn from Aphrodite? Firstly, we should realize and accept the fact that sex is a part of nature and the human makeup. Our sexuality should not be something to be ashamed of, for it is blessed, not damned. Nothing which brings so much pleasure, happiness, satisfaction, and life can be anything other than a Divine blessing. Sex is Godly. It is not Her desire that we put ourselves in sexual misery, or fight against our natural states and instincts. She wants us to enjoy life, and therefore it's alright to be sexual, to enjoy it, and to be attractive and attracted to others. Science has proven time and again that a regular sex life is healthy for the mind and body, and of course it is, because it comes from heaven. Now does that mean we should sleep with everyone we meet? No, because as I said earlier, Aphrodite is also a Goddess of standards, and those are partially found in being safe and healthy with your sexuality. But within those bounds, sex is immensely healthy and beneficial to us as human beings. That's not simply my own personal belief, but scientific fact. 

I think Aphrodite also encompasses love for ourselves. In other words, She doesn't want us to be self-loathing, but to love ourselves in that we realize we are loved and worthy human beings. I also think She wants us to spread love itself to others, in that we treat our fellow human being with compassion and care, not coldness and hatred. We are loved by ourselves if no one else among mortals, and we should help others realize that they are loved as well through our actions. I learn many great things from Aphrodite as Her devotee, two of the most important being that sex is natural and good, and that we are not living in a universe where there's no love. It's abundant.

In the Goodness of The Dodekatheon,
Chris.

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