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 Aphrodite, the Beauteous, born of sea-foam at dawn;
By her ardent persuasion, the hearts are all won.

CHAPTER III: THE EMPRESS

 APHRODITE

Aphrodite is the well-known goddess of love, beauty and seductive power.  She is the pure erotic impulse, pure libido, pure imagination, fertility, fruitfulness.  The Hollywood love-goddess is a modern icon of her eternal power.  She inherently possesses the qualities of grace, charm, and desire.  She is a goddess of passion as well as pleasure, sensuality, affection and sensitivity.  She can manifest as artistic and aesthetic inspiration, the desire to give birth to something remarkable.

There are pleasures and dangers in her enchanting attentions.  Aphrodite inspires a compelling, subjective state.  Euripides called love the "breathes (or blasts) of Aphrodite."  She seeks intimacy, touching the most private aspects of our lives.

Aphrodite is linked with many lovers in different myths.  In one version of her life, Aphrodite was married to Ares.  So we see that when we are well acquainted with the Ares principle of physicality, we have an encounter with the sensuous energy she represents.  In another myth, Aphrodite is said to be the wife of the lame smith Hephaistos.  In this story of adultery, Ares is her paramour of choice.

Aphrodite derives her warmth from a golden, sunlit type of sexuality.  She has the greatest degree of solar qualities in her personality; whereas the other goddesses have greater lunar consciousness.

This solar affinity does not, however, mean that she possesses a superior style of consciousness where self-awareness is concerned.  In fact, she can tend to drift into situations with an aplomb only possible through reckless disregard for the future.  Aphrodite can be the source of envy arising from a pulsating desire for life and love.

The origin of Aphrodite is a peculiar image for the Goddess of Love, since she stems from the violent castration of Uranus by Cronos.  Her birth from the severed genitals of Uranus symbolizes genetically the relationship of this goddess to her father, and by extension with all men.  She is the embodiment of both his cynicism and his phallic sexual imperative.  She is the drive personified in an alluring image.

Sexual desire and amorous pleasure function as aphrodisiacs which lead to fulfillment through union of male and female.  Aphrodite is an embodiment of the union of opposites wherein the lovers are annihilated.  Venus is a binding force, which may appear as a voluntary involvement or with the strength and dynamism of possession.

The paradox of Aphrodite is that she is a loving and passionate wife, but always leaves open the possibility of exploring numerous relationships with gods and mortals.  She is always friendly and intimate, except to those who would usurp her position.  In her, both love and power drives are embodied in a single goddess.

PHYSICAL FORM

Aphrodite is physically embodied in sex organs, orgasm, and aphrodisiacs (See THE MAGICKAL AND RITUAL USE OF APHRODISIACS, Miller).  Finding the god in a disease, she expresses through the aptly named venereal diseases, those sexually transmitted afflictions.

Her major motivation is the non-rational procreative urge.  It functions through the glands on an instinctual level, producing pulsating physical desire.  She herself can become possessed by the passion she arouses in others.  She can even take over the behavior patterns of other Olympian gods, most of whom aren't immune to her charms.

But in her desire and longing she can be persuasive, deceitful, or conniving.  She is always the potential lover of anyone she befriends.  Aphrodite is considered a very assertive, active goddess, constantly mobile and advancing.  But when she can't make immediate, personal contact with the object of her desire, the emotions of longing or yearning for the absent beloved are part of her emotional affect.  When we are love-sick, she has inspired it.

She inspires not only passion, but also hate, rivalry, vanity, and jealousy.  These perils of Aphrodite, the results of unfulfilled desires, show the ambiguity of her gifts.  When Aphrodite manifests as emotional assertion, there is a compulsion to act out her dynamic will in daily life.

She is a multi-faceted goddess intimately linked with life (procreation), love (passion), and death (longing for the departed lover).  She is associated with nakedness, special costumes, the artful use of cosmetics and other aids which come under the heading of "the arts of love."  These include courtship and lovemaking.

By personifying a transcendent image of the seduction of mortals by a goddess, Aphrodite mediates feelings of immortality to the human from the divine.  This is the oceanic experience of timelessness in orgasm.

She joins nature and culture by using love as an artform.  Her well-practiced skills are continually complemented by her attitudes, sentiments, and moral values.  She promotes an aesthetic lifestyle which declares boldly that we should take our fill of love, where and with whomever we desire.  Of course, if we do, we had better be ready to suffer the consequences.

Good sex and good foods have always paired well together, whether a sumptuous banquet, or merely a delicious tray of fresh fruits and nuts.  The art of kissing probably stems from mouth-to-mouth feeding.  Even in current studies, sexual responsiveness in women is possitively and significantly correlated with their general positive attitude toward food and eating.  Like sex, you should take time together when eat, slowly, relaxing and not rushing things.  It takes a full 20 minutes after a meal is through for the body to realize it is full.

To ritualize a meal is to lend grace and style to the action of eating.  It is a way of organizing the experience for the greatest satisfaction of all the senses; presentation of the food is important to the eyes as well as palate.  Soft music will help slow us down and fill our auditory sense.  Of course, too much food can make us feel bloated and we need to digest before rushing into sexual activity.  Some people prefer fasting for a time before ritual sex.

Emotional symptoms that affect our attitudes and energy in bed may be part of a metabolic problem and may be curable through simple dietary measures.  The anxiety reaction, most common of the "bedroom problems," occurs when the medulla part of the adrenal glands responds to emotional stress by pumping out adrenaline, which in turn raises blood sugar to get the body ready for action -- but sometimes it overdoes it, increasing blood pressure and heart rate.  The body releases adrenaline to help you cope.

An outpouring of adrenaline is the body's corrective mechanism for falling blood sugar.  Many people get panic attacks for no apparent reasons, and this may be caused by low blood sugar.  You may get cranky before you get panic attacks.  Such a reaction is hypoglycemic.  General health influences sexual health.  The condition of our nerves, blood, arteries, heart, muscle tone, and digestion can greatly determine our abilities in bed.  Sexuality is not just in the gonads.  It permeates every cell in our bodies.

On a very practical level, Aphrodite is embodied in aphrodisiacs and their effects.  The quest for some pill or potion that guarantees better sex or more intense orgasms is as old as mankind's experience of sex.  Whether these prescriptions work or not is often a mute point.  Since much of our sexuality is psychological in nature, even the promise of enhanced performance may work wonders.

An aphrodisiac might have a variety of effects on either male or female participants.  Some of these include producing erection in the male, stimulation of the genitals or nervous system, relaxing inhibitions, augmenting physical energy, strengthening the sex glands, or preventing premature ejaculation.

Aphrodisiacs can either increase sexual appetite or ability in the user.  They affect the organs and the sex glands.  Some may act as placebos, since the the primary erotic organ is the brain.  Whatever increases pleasure is an aphrodisiac, including nerve stimulants.  They have been used by priests, priestesses, and sorcerers since antiquity to instill love and stir up lust, along with traditional love potions.  Some real aphrodisiacs and tonics include yohimbe, kava kava root, saw palmetto, ginseng, fo-ti-tieng, black American willow bark, cactus flowers, damiana, and guarana seeds.

Aphrodite is a goddess not only of fertility, but also of a fertile imagination.  There is no sexual organ more important than the human mind.  There is no physical and mental experience more ecstatic and blissful than a complete sexual union between two loving partners.

There are no anaphrodisiacs, dampeners, or desexualizers worse than ignorance, fear, or anxiety regarding the quality and effectiveness of one's sexual performance.  The greatest sexual tonic for us is physical and psychological health so that we can spontaneously respond with depth.  Sex is not mere lust, even if lust is sex.  It transcends the two major animal functions and enters the realm of the cultural and spiritual, promoting feelings of love, consideration, and solicitude.

The Ritual of Charisma:  If you want to be able to walk up and talk to strangers try something like this method:

To start with recognize that you can prepare for this ritual but YOU CAN ONLY COMPLETE THIS RITUAL IN PUBLIC. You can prepare for the ritual by imagining and rehearsing  it in your mind (and you'll probably get some results) but preparing is not the same as doing.

First, stand with your eyes closed and make your statement of intent.  "It is my will to meet, talk and engage with ( X Number of ) people/men/women for the successful completion of this operation." Then, begin the Breath of Fire, breathing very quickly from the belly with the stomach moving in as you exhale and out as you inhale.

While doing this imagine a sacred sphere of glowing yellow that surrounds you and extends out from you. Bring forth all feelings of warmth, charm, like-ability and friendliness to everything within or near this circle.  Imagine a crowd of people, perhaps off to the side or in front of you, that automatically feel warmth, kindness and magnatism toward you and you feel that toward them.  This is your sacred circle that you will work within and it will be carried with you through this ritual. Imagine anyone within its influence will turn likable and you will like them.  Remember, to be interesting, be interested.

Optional: If you like, you can invoke a very amiable god figure like Aphrodite, Apollo, Zeus or even Pan. Do this by imagining the god form and all it's/his/her positive qualities are moving through you. If you don't want to invoke a deity then you can invoke a person real or imagined who has the qualities you want, such as invoking or identifying with the Spirit of James Bond when it comes to talking to women.

Head out into public. Treat each action of meeting, greeting, welcoming and talking as a sacred act that must be done with massive friendliness. Let the energy of the yellow sphere influence them and you. Keep focused on the intent of the ritual, namely, meeting and talking with people.  When you've completed the ritual banish it with laughter. It'll be hilarious if you really think about it.

Occupations and preoccupations of Aphrodite include:

 

beauty queen
bunny
centerfold
cheerleader
courtesan
dominatrix
designer
entertainer
escort
flight attendant
geisha

gynecologist
hairdresser
interior decorator
mistress
model
movie star
playboy
plastic surgeon
prostitute
public relations
swinger

EMOTIONAL IMAGE

Surely it must have been on one of these shores so filled with grace and frolicsomeness that the miraculous transformation of beast into man took place.  It must have been on such a Greek strand that Astarte of the multitudinous sowlike breasts cast anchor from Asia Minor and the Greeks, receiving the barbaric and coarsely carved wooden statue, cleansed it of its bestiality, left it with only the human breasts, and gave it a human body full of nobility.  From Asia Minor, the Greeks took the primitive instinct, orgiastic intoxication, the bestial shout--Astarte.  They transubstantiated the instinct into love, the bite into kisses, the orgy into religious worship, the shout into the lover's endearment.  Astarte they transformed into Aphrodite.

                                                          --Nikos Kazantzakis, REPORT TO GRECO

Aphrodite is an enchanting sexual fantasy.  Her allurement is nearly universal.  She is the appeal behind erotica.  The present-day Aphroditic woman is easily recognized.  A stereotypical form is the Hollywood sex goddess who stimulates the desires and imaginations of millions.  This is the very image entertainers such as Madonna, J-Lo, and Angelina Jolie have come to exemplify.  She is the fantasy-lover of any whose imagination she stimulates.

This is the type of allure and beauty which produced classic romances--the Queen of Sheba, Delilah, Cleopatra, and Helen of Troy embodied many of Aphrodite's qualities.  Helen made the egotistical error of feeling superior to the divine archetypal Queen who made her pay for her vanity.

Aphrodite's libido or energy should be recognized as a dynamism and domain that is not to be challenged competitively.  She brings life's mystery with her, and mortals can never possess her fully.  Comparison of Psyche's beauty in the tale of Amour and Psyche initiated her cycle of trials and tribulation, by which Aphrodite sought to destroy her for her pride.

The Aphroditic woman of today is characterized in Jungian literature as a hetaira (Latin for she-wolf), or companion to man.  She appeals to him generally through reflecting his personal anima, or unique idea of his "perfect woman."  This attraction includes seduction, flattery, and inspiration.

She awakens a man's perception of latent talents, most of which he will never have the capacity to develop, since his energy is bound up in pleasing her.  She embodies the dual capacity to delight and lead astray.  She can awaken not only desire, but also resignation and despair.  She appeals to him consciously and subconsciously.  She can be a physical, intellectual, or spiritual companion simultaneously.

With little or no regard for the future, her perception of time is discontinuous.  So is ours, under her influence, as lovers we feel "suspended in time."  Therefore, each moment must be experienced anew, irrespective of past commitments or consequences.  Duration is not valued as highly as the intensity of immediate experience.  Importance is attached to experiencing intensity of sensation and gratification.  The sense of search and urgency for freedom compel Aphrodite to new affairs.

The hetaira seeks unity, but brings disruption when it arises in us.  She is no respecter of roles.  We see her in the student who falls for the teacher and vice versa.  She intrudes in the consulting room of all professionals.  She forces her attentions on the married person, and makes employer fall for employee.  She seeks friendship, if not overt sexual contact with members of the opposite sex.  This alone can be disruptive to a formerly self-sufficient couple.

When a person is dominated by this impulse for sexual desire and union, we usually call them playboys or playgirls (when older, dirty old man or woman).These male or female Don Juans are typically high flyers.  They are impulsive, energetic, enthusiastic, and suggestible.  They seem to lead an exciting, free life, spontaneously realizing their whims.

Changing from partner to partner, these people play a terrible price by eternal role-playing to the companion of the moment.  They can't form real relationships of any duration because they are in love with their own shape-shifting projections.  Life has no continuity, rather the person is always soaring off hither and yon to fulfill yet another fantasy of ideal romance.

Because we are "spacey" under this influence, we transmit a quality of timelessness which fascinates by challenging our borders and limitations.  Many innovative artists are of this archetypal dominant.  They live close to the archetypal domain of the subconscious and may have mystical tendencies.  They are adventurous explorers, and seek the "rush" of dangerous situations.

Those with this drive toward "fatal attractions" eventually come to recognize the compulsive quality of their elan vital.  Then they become guilt-ridden and have shame and anxiety for their promiscuous behavior.  This results in depression, or desperation because of the inner weakness of an impulsive borderline personality disorder.  What they need is to stop trying to live in the realm of total possibilities, accept some boundaries and commit themselves to something or someone.

Another pattern of loving is represented by Aphrodite's kindred, the enchantress Circe.  She is a hetaira, or she-wolf, or colloquially "a bitch."  Her style uses the powerfully divine love sorcery.  Unfortunately this means she compels or manipulates others into loving her for her own selfish ends.

In a direct, balanced love encounter, both power and love are balanced.  Circe disturbsthe balance with love magic, which is her way of arousing love through power, rather than the spontaneous awakening of love which has power over both of the pair.  Circe is thus a predator.  She is imaged as continually circling on the perimeter of the human world.  From her borderline world she can transform mortals, just as Persephone transforms them, through a death-like regression to an ugly, animalistic creature, full of violence and dark passion.  She is the ultimate "fatal attraction."

The ancient Babylonians had a ritual of sacred prostitution where each woman was required to serve as a temple harlot once in her life.  Through this service she received the highest honor and no social reproach.  Through this impersonal sexual act, she submitted to her instinct, and renewed her virginity in the sense of being one-in-herself.

She recognized her psychological virginity and received the revelation of love as distinct from desire.  Each woman required personal experience of this phenomenon in order to be redeemed.  Some people might be pursuing contact with these life-giving symbols today, through both profane and sacred channels.

The ritual of Aphrodite has moved from single's bars to the health club, to wherever safe or unsafe sex can be found.  When one was in the ancient temple, those who came to be renewed by Aphrodite's sacred prostitutes were frequently the dregs of the sexual pool; those who were impotent or could find no one else for themselves.  Acceptance of sex with someone based solely on availability has an archetypal background.

Those with strong Artemis qualities can balance out with an intensification of the Aphrodite principle and vice versa.  She does not always require unrestricted sexuality.  Internally, it indicates a profound relationship to that which has beauty, an aesthetic appreciation of the highest order.  Externally, it means extending ourselves toward the object of our desire with love and abandon--following our "Bliss."  Aphrodite not only engenders, but enlarges life.

Rapport is an empathetic or sympathetic relation or connection with another.  It is experiencing the world through the same portal as the person you're communicating with.  Rapport doesn't require understanding.  Sharing rapport is like jumping inside another's nervous system and suddenly understanding the way they make sense of reality.  Rapport is the ability to bond instantly with others.   In rapport like attracts like.  Rapport reverses the axiom that opposites attract.

When the initial challenge of opposite attraction wears off, we're left with someone who thinks, acts and behaves unlike what we consider the norm.  Consequently, that means someone who will mostly be out of sync or rapport with us.  Look no further for the cause of broken relationships.

If you are involved with someone and a good part of the time you don't understand each other, you are out of rapport.  And if you are out of rapport, the chances of your relationship surviving are slim to none.  In fact, the duration of your relationship may be a testament to your persistence and grim intention.  If you happen to fall in love with a person with whom you have no rapport, you are in a no-win situation, destined for failure.

If you want to love someone who see things differently, or you want to sell yourself or your ideas to those whose maps of the territory are not in alignment with yours, you will have to do something you never consciously did before.  That is, create rapport with them by being like them.  People have rapport with others because of the reflection of themselves they perceive.

When we "fit" well with someone we are more at ease than with someone who is incongruent with us.  We must relearn our communications strategies so that we relate to others in a manner that fits their map of the world.  That is what rapport is all about, (Brooks, 1989).  Rapport is the foundation of successful, unencumbered communication.  It is essential to being an understanding and empathetic partner and an exciting and satisfying lover.

Empathy in tantra occurs through the immediate 'pairing' or 'coupling' of the bodies of self and other in action.  Through our mirror neurons we are paired in the biological depth of empathy, at the level of passive association of living bodies of self and other in embodied action.  At the level of intentionality and conscious mood-matching and emulation and participation mystique we participate consciously in the tantric process.

The empathic grasping of another as animated by his or her own fields of sensation has been called 'sensual empathy' or 'sensing in.'  It is a natural ability in all great lovers.  The wider one's ability to sense-in pleasure the greater become the number of possibilities for fulfillment.

Emotions are our value feelings.  We experience emotion only in regard to that which matters.  Emotions mark importance, meaning.  It is emotion or value feeling that makes one experientially aware of one's personal self, the depths of the 'I' from which emotions arise.  Emotions, as value feelings, make possible the evaluation of oneself and the world.  Emotions anchor us to the here and now.  The ability to perceive how a situation affects the well being of all and react appropriately, meaningfully is the basic emotional faculty of empathy and the basis of morality.  Values transcend personal concerns.

Keywords for Aphrodite and her effects include:

affair
affection
alluring
amorous
attraction
ardor
betrayal
beauty queen
caress
charm
courtship
copper
deceit
door
dove
Don Juan
elegance
erotic
embrace
enchanting
fantasy
glamour
graceful
hedonistic
herpes
homewrecker

imagination
indulgent
harmony
growth
kind
longing
love goddess
luminous
mirror
nourishing
passion
permissive
polyamorous
promiscuity
provocative
ravish
rose
rapture
sensual
sexy
spring
swan
seduction
spring fever
talent
queenly

INTELLECTUAL IDEA

On the positive side Aphrodite is romantic or courtly love; on the negative side addictive love or co-dependence.  These are not only patterns of behavior, but also concepts based in our belief systems and their mythic backgrounds.

Some might find the concept of romantic love the most emotional of issues, not an intellectual idea.  Nevertheless, romantic love is a notion which builds certain expectations and follows certain patterns.  Romantic love began with the medieval Troubadours and their tradition of courtly love.  It has so permeated our culture that it is seen as one of the most desirable forms of possession by an archetypal power--that of being "in love."  This is the same type of love which we say "is blind."

This is the type of love that places the beloved "on a pedestal" through the projection of our own anima or animus.  When we project this element of ourselves onto another, we experience an exaggerated adulation of the beloved with a blind eye toward their negative or shadow side.  They become our all, and our attitude toward them has a syrupy glamour.

Call them what you will (Heloise and Abelard, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Iseult) the "star-crossed lovers" is one recurrent theme of the goddess.  They are always with us in literature, movies, and real life.

She is golden or fair, and he is her ideal image of masculinity.  They share the fantasy of romantic love, reinforcing the delusion of specialness.  Paradoxically in this specialness we live out one of the most common patterns from the repertoire of mankind.

Courtly love idealizes the beloved in a semi-divine manner.  We make our significant other a demigod.  The lovers virtually worship one another.  They yearn for one another when parted, and fate seems to separate them invariably.

These notions of courtly love as the ideal of fulfillment in human life still pervade our culture and produces tragic consequences in daily life.  When we project our anima oranimus onto mere mortals, our inflated expectations are shattered.  This results in despondency, grave disappointment, disillusionment from romantic fantasies, and sometimes divorce court.

The tragedy of romantic love is that it is a hindrance to mature love.  The projections of idealized romanticism are based on one's inner life, and prevent us from truly knowing our partners.  Also, romantic love tends to try to perpetuate itself "when the thrill is gone," by moving from partner to partner.

The Greeks realized that no single partner could contain the power of anima or animus indefinitely.  That is why they saw the divine archetypal power of love as a goddess of great force and beauty.

The great stories of literature which concern this type of romantic love usually involve a complication which keeps the lovers apart, much to their dismay.  By this mechanism they are prevented from really knowing one another in depth.  The fantasy images grows in strength through reverie and yearning for the beloved.  There is no concrete experience to contradict the idealized image.  So the projection remains always "out there" and is never seen as fascination with an aspect of oneself.

The concept of "soul mates" is an everyday belief concerning fated or romantic love.  Every soul is complete and whole in its own potentiality.  There may be no true soul mates, except in the sense that those to whom we may readily attach our projections seem to "fit the bill."  No partner can live up to the lofty conception of the projected anima or animus.  This higher aspect of the soul should be given due consideration and attention for itself.

Romantic love has an escapist quality and is strongly addictive, much like a drug.  It may temporarily feel good while dulling our awareness and severely limiting our potential.  Love is an exciting, intensely pleasurable stimulation which we seek intently.  It can become an artificial, self-contained experience when activities, other friendships, and growth potential are sacrificed for its momentary bliss.

Unless we are prepared to deal with our personal weaknesses directly, love may become a negative emotional involvement which can never satisfy our psychological insecurity.  It results in rejection, deprivation, and dissolution, even possible suicide.  If constant exposure to a person is necessary to make life bearable, there can be no real romance, because of the constant threat of withdrawl.

Addictive lovers use others as objects of their gratification.  They seek to possess people only to fulfill their neurotic need.  Love is the opposite of this misuse of attachment.  It is based on the desire to grow and expand and for the beloved to do the same.

Addictive lovers are not secure in the belief in their own value.  They derive self-esteem from the lover's inflated view of them.  Addictive lovers aren't necessarily improved by their relationship and tend to drag one another down.  They can be toxic for one another, yet be compulsively attached.

They reject other meaningful relationships in sacrifice to the beloved.  They retreat from the world into a fantasyland.  They are possessive and jealous of each other's outside interests.  They rarely remain friends once they split up and the enchantment is lifted.

Addictive lovers may have successive or simultaneous affairs, which are never satisfying enough.  As with drug use, an addictive lover may develop a tolerance to the beloved, and seek excitement elsewhere.  The constant craving is never satisfied,because it is a dissatisfaction with our own inner self.  Love is used a temporary escape from feelings of inadequacy.

Some relationships reinforce neurotic patterns in one another through forming a consensus of two, "just us against the world."  This mutual brainwashing, or folly of two, is a mutual illusion which can confirm any fantasy, while inner fortitude remains unchallenged.

Breaking free of these neurotic patterns is as hard as kicking undesirable habits, and requires conscious attention and continual work.  It requires a sense of self esteem, joy and competence, getting involved meaningfully with other people in an unselfish manner.

Aphrodite is also the passion in committed love, and also represents mature love.  It is a form of psychological grounding, which reshapes our motivations, and teaches new methods of coping with disappointment in life.  When we can find true satisfaction in wider life context, we needn't substitute one kind of compulsive relationship for another.  We can meet others realistic expectations and make reasonable demands as responsible, reliable adults.

Addictive love compels us to deny our past in favor of an unknown ecstatic fantasy fulfillment.  Mature love is grounded in the here and now, and lacks the neurotic compulsive quality.  True love compromises, endures, comforts, satisfies, relaxes, is consistent, and unselfish.  True love is a value system which places the highest priority on mutual feelings of respect, responsibility, and follow-through.  A lover must first know their deep self and be honest about inner feelings.

Aphrodite has a place in Hera's realm of marriage as the highest moment for husband and wife--the pleasure of love.  Hera partakes of Aphrodite's enchanting tricks for the celebration or consummation of her wedding.  When Aphrodite rises our of the sea we are transported to a transparent, bright and pure dimension.  The opposites are dissolved into unity.

The paradox of the Goddess of Love is that she originates from the castrated member of Uranus, which also engenders the revengeful, vindictive Furies.  Nevertheless, she represents the mystical splendor of love, the most celebrated yet least understood of emotions.

Like Hermes, the Hermaphrodite, Aphrodite can exhibit a bisexual aspect; then she is considered a god-goddess.  She embodies the golden purity of male-female wholeness emerging from the union of opposite but complementary halves.  Her primal magic is an enchanting deception which contains eternity in its depths if not in its duration.  Her touch is warm and genuine, nurturing like the rays of the sun.

As modern people, we recognize the old Greek spirit most easily when we are captivated by love, for then we surely believe in personal deities.  As we become entirely obsessed with a passionate desire for the physical presence of our beloved, we feel like a powerful force holds us in thrall.

Love is a unique emotion which transcends the needs of security and gratification, becoming an end in itself.  We all need love.  Love expands us in unpredictable directions and can puff us up to unpredictable proportions.  Mature love is an exchange of energies, a giving and receiving which is not necessarily a 50-50 proposition.

We can experience the warm feelings of love even at a distance far removed from the object of our affection.  Visualization of the beloved, thoughts of endearment, or the loved-one's name all evoke pleasant sensations, and arouse yearning.  This is also the principle of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love.  The lover yearns to search out the beloved.  The goal is participation, proximity, belonging, and finally union in which the emotion of love is experienced intensely.

Mature love has three major aspects: 1) it outwardly directed from lover to beloved; 2) it is inwardly directed in that the attraction emitted by the lover is reciprocated from the beloved; and, 3) it is reflexive in that "being in love" is an inner psychic experience which has value for the individual lover in his own personal growth cycle and well-being.

he offspring of love is joy, which is experienced as that sense of well-being flooding the body and soul.  There is an increase in energy and spirit, making life's burdens easier to bear.  It prompts feelings of adequacy and capability, without inflating the ego.  Joy has the capacity to expand into the psychic spheres of others.

But, alas, all love relationships are not so immediately rewarding, even if they are compelling or compulsive.  Aphrodite, herself, was involved with many Gods and mortals in varied and convoluted relationships.  Hers is a complicated group of myths involving at various time, Area, Uranus, Poseidon, Hera, Artemis, Athena, Eros and Psyche, and Priapus.  She could be ardent as with Ares, unfaithful as with Hephaistos, or jealous as with Psyche and Helen of Troy.

Love is not limited solely to human purposes, but is an archetypal dynamism of its own.  It is not an end in itself, but a means to return our souls to the mythic dimension.  It also brings that mythic dimension into daily life.  We can experience our own imaginal essence through the power of live.  It is one style of emotional fantasy or divine madness.

Through love we learn to weather the bad and the good times.  We come to accept the beloved for their real nature, both positive and negative.  We must also accept the possibility of being wrong, and accepting that, and admitting it.  We must learn how to accept freely what is given by the other, and reciprocate in an appropriate manner.  This requires discrimination, keeping expectations realistic, and disappointment at a minimum.  True love is not so blind, just acceptant.

Further reading on Aphrodite may be found in the following:

THE MEANING OF APHRODITE, Paul Friedrich
GODDESSES OF THE SUN AND MOON, Karl Kerenyi
GODDESSES IN EVERY WOMAN, Jean Shinoda Bolen
THE WAY OF ALL WOMEN, M. Esther Harding
AMOUR AND PSYCHE, Erich Neumann
WE!, Robert Johnson
THE MOON AND THE VIRGIN, Nor Hall
THE GODDESS, Christine Downing
LOVE AND ADDICTION, Stanton Peele
THE CHEMISTRY OF LOVE, Michael Liebowitz
SEXUAL PRACTICES, Edgar Gregersen

SPIRITUAL MYTH

Sacred sexuality:  The overwhelming nature of sexual passion has caused it to be deified or divinized or alternatively feared as evil and demonic.  It may seem odd that the same physiological act can raise us to the heights of spiritual exaltation or plunge us into guilt-ridden misery.  The awe-inspiring force of desire and sex has played a role in religion, magic, mysticism, occultism, symbolism, and the whole spectrum of human psychobiological interaction with the transpersonal.  Creation myths are often about divine couplings, and cyclic fertility rites dramatically reenact this original creative act.

In magical theory the opposites which exist at the universal level also exist in us as microcosms or miniature copies of the universe.  Each of us as human beings contains all the opposites, symbolized as male and female, sun and moon, conscious and unconscious.  In balancing and reconciling these opposites we achieve a higher unity.  In marked contrast to the general religious suppression of Eros, tantra does this by glorifying our erotic and sexual nature.

Sexuality is a sacred ritual of union through the sensual and ecstatic celebration of differences.  It is the life force.  Through the sexual act we seemingly transcend our isolation and physical boundaries, share in a greater reality. We discover, if only momentarily, that the Other seems to become part of oneself.  Hence, the erotic language of mystics describing the apprehension of ultimate Unity, the promised reward God offers the righteous.

If this search for the Beloved is the major sexual goal, and if it can be gained only partially and fleetingly with a human partner, then it is quite natural to think of the lasting and blissful union of the soul with God in sexual terms, as many mystics have done.  This concept of the soul's union with God as a sexual union is paralleled in the romantic ideal of love with a human partner as an act of worship.  The overwhelming nature of desire leads us to experience it as a supernatural force.  The soul abides in the heart of the flesh.  In the ecstasy of sexual union we rise to the supernatural level, are possessed by a male or female deity, and mingle with the divine.  Orgasm corresponds to the soul's ecstasy possessed by God.

Tantra is a path of maximally arousing or filling up the senses creating a true voluptuousness through poetry, imagination, eroticism, sexuality, trance, hallucination and exaltation.  By honoring the sensual self, the metaphysical nature of surrender to the erotic impulse is experientially revealed.

How can we escape from the prison of self-obsession?  Real love is quite different from desire, infatuation, lust, or concepts of romance.  Real love means self-transcendence through mutuality and reciprocation, service to self, others, and world.

Ultimately, the refinement of sacred sexuality practices is an artistic expression, a form of creativity, even private performance art.  It is a celebration of life and an end in itself.   You might think the practice of Tantra requires a lot of preparation and props, but ultimately it only requires you to bring your naked authenticity to the process and be spontaneous.  Enjoy the virtual experience of being Shiva/Shakti.  Learn the virtues of erotic education, of sacred sexuality and how to create that atmosphere and inner focus.

There are both Eastern (Tantra, Taoism, Persian) and Western (Goddess worship, Alchemy, Courtly Love, Sex Magick) traditions around sacred sexuality.  Eastern enlightenment comes in many varieties of spiritual experience and practice.  They all express the pursuit of the One, or the One through the infinitely Many forms of existence, which are actually only different forms of sacred Emptiness.  Tantra presents the ultimate Nondual reality as the sexual embrace of God and Goddess, of Shiva and Shakti, of Emptiness and Form.

Neither Ascent (Transcendence) nor Descent (Immanence) is final, ultimate or priveledged: like yin and yang, dominance and submission, they generate and depend on each other.  They find their own true being by dying into the other, only to awaken together, conjoined in Bliss.  Lovers become the entire Cosmos, finding that eternity is wildly in love with the production of time. The non-dual Heart is radiating as all creation, and blessing all creation, and singing this embrace through eternity.  When we experience this in our own awareness, this union is the Nondual vision.  God and Goddess, Emptiness and Form, Wisdom and Compassion, Agape and Eros, Ascent and Descent -- perfectly and blissfully united.

The God of the Ascenders is otherworldly, usually monastic, ascetic, seeking to flee the Many and find the One.  It is purely transcendental, and pessimistic about finding happiness in this world, shunning time in favor of eternity.  Ascension is generally a via negativa, dampening the senses and strictly channeling internal perceptions through emptying, devotion, or concentration.

In the other approach practioners of Descending find the divine embrace through the Many.  It is in love with the visible, sensible God, and sometimes Goddess.  It is a God of pure embodiment, of pure immanence, fascinated with diversity, and finds its glory in the celebration of diversity.  Great variety is the goal of this God.  It celebrates the senses, and the body, and sexuality, and earth.  It is creation-centered spirituality where All is divine.  Emptiness and form are not-two.  Emptiness is the immanent ground of all Form.

Tantra is perhaps the oldest form of Eastern alchemy.  According to tantric philosophy the whole universe is built up of and pervaded by basic forces which are in intimate and intricate union.  These forces, named Shiva and Shakti, are personified as male and female deities.  Of this divine pair, Shiva is the subordinate one, for it is the Female Principle that ultimately underlies all manifestation.  There is a tantric saying, "Shiva without Shakti is a corpse."

The core experience of Tantra is revelation of its sexual secrets.  Sexual union symbolizes the quintessence of the elements.  Sacred sex reveals eternal truth and transcendence.  It is a way of redemption -- union of the personal self with the transpersonal Self.  The Diamond Body is the crystallization or stabilization of the archetype of the universal Self as a permanent part of the individual psyche.

Tantra is a philosophy, a science, an art, and a way of life in which sexual energy is consciously and creatively utilized.  The hidden potency of the sexual act is the blueprint or seed of all creatvity. When we understand the practical teachings of Tantra, a whole new perspective and experience of life opens.  Tantra is a process that fosters the holistic harmonization of the male and female elements of our psychobiological self, ameliorating the war of the sexes.  Through rapport and empathy we come to understand the Other.  Empathy needs a face!  Devotion needs a face.

Psychologically, there is a harmonization of the inner-mate archetypes of Anima and Animus, soul-figures which function as guides to deeper regions of the psyche.  They lead to wholeness, integration, self-actualization.  In Jungian psychology a man's inner feminine self is termed anima or soul; a woman's masculine component is called animus or spirit.  Their merging creates a psychological and spiritual androgyny, another expression of wholeness.

Western forms of Tantra include a series of Sex Magick rituals designed to bring the individual to self-realization.  The central aim of Western magic is to attain or stabilize the emergence of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, or the daemon, one's true spiritual identity.  This implies drawing closer to the consciousness of one's authentic individuality, in contradistinction to the active conscious personality.  We can achieve a form of sacred marriage with the inner mate, known in alchemy as the coniunctio.  This union produces a Magickal Child that symbolizes our potential for realization of the Higher Self, self-actualization.

These western alchemical goals and procedures paralleled Eastern alchemy, with its concern for the elixer of immortality and the extraction of spirit from matter and its liberation through meditation.  Chinese alchemy is a mixture of alchemy, kundalini and tantric yoga.  Its secret is the great creation of a golden fetus which represents the seed of enlightenment.

The Chinese view is that every individual possesses a central core that is an aspect of the universal Tao.  In the Tao, the principles of opposites yin and yang are united.  Spirit and soul together make up the personality and vie for supremacy.  The goal of Chinese alchemy is to free the spirit from its entanglements with instinctive drives and emotions by providing a place in the human body where the primal spirit may crystallize and gestate.  The beginning of creativity is called prenatal, (undivided yin-yang).

Personal spirit is joined with transpersonal spirit and soul then reunited.  The product of this union is called the Golden Flower or the Elixer of Life, literally Golden Ball or Golden Pill, which ensures the survival of the individual after the death of the body.  "Circulation of the Light" refers to repetitive cyclical mixing of spirit (psychic) and soul (physical) energies, of the the positive and negative principles, to create the "yellow bud" or "mysterious pearl."

Through a coniunctio, inner copulation of positive and negative "crystallization" occurs as the appearance of inner light, white like moonlight.  In the next step, the resulting light is reddish yellow.  The union of the two lights produces the immortal seed.  Golden light within the white light between the eyebrows means primal spirit is forming the immortal fetus and the Elixer of Immortality.  The primal spirit emerges from the fetus and leaps into the "great emptiness" through the gate at the top of the head, forming an indestructible Diamond Body.  In sex magick, the same is known as the Babe in the Abyss (of the Transcendent Imagination).

In magical theory a sexual working will not succeed if the aspirant is swept away in the thundering surf of desire and orgasm.  When partners are in balance, neither strives for pleasure independently of the other.  Mastering the force we have aroused, we can direct it at an objective, such as enhacing integrity, clarity, and wisdom.  The element of pleasure is secondary; any idea of shame is banished.  It is a means to the goal -- sacramental significance, not the goal itself.

In Virtual Tantra,  there's no Reality, only perceptions of flowing process-- and refined perceptions can enhance the ecstatic state for unique expressions of self-fulfillment and spiritual experience.  All attitudes and thoughts are psychobiological events, and a shift to the tantric perspective allows you to enter the virtual realm of sacred sexuality, to break down barriers between the ordinary and the extraordinary, to embrace the Divine.

The acts of the lovers mirror the primordial creation and subsequent fecundity.  In desiring his opposite, the Supreme Being impregnates Nature.  The attraction of the two principles for each other engenders all life.  Neither asleep nor awake the spirit is set free by perfect exhaustion of the body.  Through tantric sex a twilight state is produced.   Then there is a dramatic paradoxical shift from sympathetic arousal to the afterglow of parasympathetic tranquility. This "calmed violence" is the essence of the Real.

Coniunctio is an alchemical term symbolizing the unification of opposites, like yin and yang unite in the Tao.  When the opposites to be united are the masculine consciousness and the feminine unconsciousness, embodied symbolically as lovers, the union is termed the Royal Marriage.  This royal marriage of the Alchemist and his Soror Mystica, the King and Queen, sun and moon energies is a transcendent symbol of the self and embodies psychic totality, or wholeness.  Caresses are a way to wisdom.

This psychosexual energy is the principle element behind contemporary magic.  It is known as kundalini, or the serpent power.  Sex is the single strongest intensive, euphoric, even hallucinatory natural emotion alterant available, channeling the sexual energy into a mystical process of self-development.  It is the foundation of Tantra.

The spectrum of tantric practices includes not only sexual trance, but physical culture, breath control, superconcentration, mental and spiritual discipline, and the mystic arts.  Much like Western magic, tantra employs candles, incense, bells,  magical wands and chalices, spells, magic circles or mandalas, bodily postures, occult gestures, symbolical designs, and words of power.  These are employed to enhance and bring bodily functions under the control of the will and exert a subtle inner alchemy.  There is a hermetic distillation of a quintessence from the bodily fluids which reinvigorates the physical body.

Tantra works within the natural cycle of ergotropic and trophotropic processes, governed by the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.  They mediate cycles of arousal and calm, and are therefore implicated in a variety of mystical experiences and also disorders which display states of hyperarousal and hypoarousal.  They are mediated by the neurotransmiters noradrenalin and serotonin.  The interhemispheric balancing mediates the harmonization of the left and right hemispheres of the brainmind.  They mediate fight-flight responses, and pain-pleasure cycles.  They can be chemically related to cycles of inflation, desire, acting out, guilt, remorse, high wellbeing, self-acceptance, and self-esteem.  At their extremes, meditative and exalted states reflect as psychological and physiological paradox.

An even deeper, more therapeutic level of rapport available to lovers is a shamanic state we can call co-consciousness.  Through it, you can blend your sacred energies, your soul energies, by mixing your energy fields in the sexual sacrament.  We've seen how hypnotic realities -- spontaneous and induced -- influence us consciously and unconsciously at the physical, emotional and mental or mythic level.

Co-consciousness, the shared virtuality of the journey process, is a telepathic rapport wherein both participantís alpha and theta brainwaves become synchronized or entrained, in essence, into a single holographic biofield.  Co-consciousness might be measured via the observation of spontaneously shared, matching or resonating brainwave frequencies.  It is very likely to be present in lovers after mutually satisfying sexual experience, in the "afterglow" or reverie period.

Western, Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist alchemy have made extensive use of the sexual act as a means of personal transformation, culminating in a celebratory Royal Marriage with the Cosmos.  Like the Taoists, Western alchemists have always worked with a female partner, the Soror Mystica, mystical sister or wife, who is the living embodiment of the Feminine.  The Great Work can not be done without her.

CULTURAL COUNTERPARTS

Venus (Roman)
Hathoor (Egyptian)
Astarte (Phoenician)
Ishtar (Babylonian)
Freya (Nordic)
Lalita (Hindu)
Xochipilli, Tlazolteotl (Mexican)

DIALOGUE WITH APHRODITE

We all experience the personal aspects of Aphrodite as love and lust, and all forms of sensual pleasure.  Neither men, women, nor the gods were immune to the charms of this goddess.  In women she appears as the irresistibly attractive "other woman," mistress, flirt, or gold-digger.  She creates the Don Juan type of personality.  More positively she manifests in the deep physical and spiritual love between spouses, and in the perfect host or hostess, socially.

In projection, she appears as that other whom we find irresistibly attractive and sexy, despite social sanctions against such feelings.  Through invasion or possession, we become that magnetic personality.  Those who act out her promiscuity expose themselves to the dangers of various venereal diseases, including aids, legacy of the sexual revolution.

By ceasing to identify exclusively with this archetype, we can dialogue with her in active imagination.  She can inform us of the subconscious aspects of our relationship to our own sexuality.  Aphrodite is one of the most active and pleasantly aggressive of the goddesses, so she is easier to connect with than a remote goddess, like Artemis.

When anima is projected in the physical world, she appears in three stages of development: 1) naive or elementary, 2) manipulative flirt, 3) conscious or inspirational.  Aphrodite corresponds with the sophisticated manipulator, she uses her sexuality to get what she wants--that is her script and game.  She is no innocent thing,unaware of the devastation her charm can wreak.  She knows what she has and uses it to her advantage at every chance.  She is dark, full-blooded and passionate.

When we are unconsciously identified with her we are controlled by her unconscious power motives.  Someone may lure us into an enchantment by being very charming at first.  Perhaps the aim is immediate sensual gratification, or worse, aiming to disrupt a marriage.  This type then uses seeming indifference to make themselves more desirable.  They use wiles and tricks to attract another's attention, gifts, and strokes.  They deliberately exploit the anima/animus projections of another onto themselves, using it for personal advantage.  This is the motivation of the flirt.

In an egotistical identification with Aphrodite, a person becomes a lady-killer or man-killer, the stud, sex kitten, gigolo, whore, or other role-bound image.  The strength of the identification depends on what others archetypes are at work in the soul.

For example, a strong Hera aspect would constantly be urging toward marriage rather than remaining as mistress or philanderer; Athena would caution consideration of the implications on career of promiscuous behavior or reputation; Artemis would move us to be more modest and pious if not chaste.  On a more pragmatic level, Artemis might say that to steal another's man violates the sisterhood all women share.

Considering the various aspects and manifestations of Aphrodite, think back over all the ways she has entered your life over the years, creating pleasure or leaving a trail of pain.  Remember your sexual awakening, first love, your rivals, attention-getting gambits.  Consider what areas of your life are in disharmony with her principles, or where you may have identified with her too exclusively.  Consider how your attitudes toward sexuality may have changed over different periods in your life.

Sitting quietly in a dimly lit room with your journal open, visualize any of the familiar images of Aphrodite or Venus from sculpture and paintings of the masters.  Alternatively, she may take a modern form as an admired actress or actor whom you think is irresistible, but this mortal form could never carry all of the archetypal potencies, so it is best to work toward visualizing a traditional forms.  You may also use a Tarot card such as THE EMPRESS, which corresponds with her.

Greet her and begin discussing those questions that are unresolved regarding your physical and aesthetic passions.  Then let her speak about any subconscious patterns she may know about you.  Be careful--she may try to seduce you or use her wiles in any number of ways.  She will guard any attention you shower on her jealously, unless your inform her about certain aspects of your mortal life.  Let her know your human limitations and your ethical standards within which she must learn to operate.  She is passion personified.

APHRODITE IN YOUR LIFE

 1. What were your emotional reactions to your first sexual experience?

 2. Have you ever fallen in love-at-first-sight?  Did the other reciprocate?  How long did this feeling last?  Did it develop into mature, realistic love?

 3. Have you ever been addicted to any sensual pleasures?

 4. Have you ever felt insecure about your looks or attractiveness and been compulsively driven to prove that you were sexy or desirable ?  What effect did this have on those around you?

 5. Were you ever the "other woman" or "other man"?  How did you feel about it?

 6. If you have ever ben "dumped" by a lover for another, what qualities of the goddess did that other embody that you weren't manifesting with your partner?

 7. Is there a "lost love" for whom you still yearn or feel nostalgia?

 8. Are you considered vain person by friends or foes?  How much time and money do you spend keeping yourself attractive?  Are you frequently before the mirror, primping and fussing?  Do you worry about the physical results of aging?

 9. Is courtship or romance an extremely important aspect of love to you.  What types of situations do you consider romantic?

 10. Describe your romantic ideal: age, style of dress, behavior, education, income bracket, etc.

 11.  How many times a day do you become conscious of your sexual fantasies?  Do you dream about sex frequently?  Describe a recent sexual fantasy or dream.

 12. How do you feel about pre-marital and extra-marital sex?  Have you felt differently about this at other times, depending on your evolving morals or whether you were married or single at the time?  Do you feel different about sexual standardsfor yourself and others?

 13. Have you ever had a strong physical attraction for another who was socially forbidden to you--a teacher, doctor, employer, psychotherapist, etc.?

 14. Have you ever had to learn how to sublimate sexual feelings into a more platonic type of relationship?  or toward a higher ideal than personal desire?

 15. Have you experienced the excitement of illicit or secret sexual relations?  Were you addicted to this intense feeling of potential danger?  What events brought the situation into the light of scrutiny by others?

 16. Do you feel guilty over past sexual encounters or experience shame for past sexual adventures you might now consider immoral or ill-advised?

 17. What is the balance between power motives and devotional love in your current relationships?  Do you try to manipulate your lover(s)?

 18. Do you use affairs or sexual fantasies to escape from the pressures of other aspects of life which seek your immediate attention for your development?

19. How are your mothering and nurturing qualities qualities being used right now?  What creative prpjects are  growing and developing?  What are you attracting to you?  Who is inspiring and nurturing you?  How are you indulging your senses?

NEXT:  ATHENA


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File Created: 3/17/02
Last Updated: 7/20/02