Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kharisma: A Sense of Grace (Podcast)

I'm trying out something new here, dear ones.

Several months ago, I was required to create a podcast for a class I was taking. I made one about the Graces. It is intended to be a part of a series of audio materials for the Lykeion of the Red Doves, a self-paced training program for men in women in service to Aphrodite. The Lykeion is (or rather, will be) associated with the Temple of Aphrodite project that I began work on last spring.

The Lykeion is ready yet, but the podcast has been collecting dust for months, which saddens me. So, I thought I would share it, get some feedback and see how it goes.

Kharisma podacast

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Voting for Pandemos

Today is Election Day in the US. I know (and am thrilled) that this blog has a high international readership, so please believe me when I say that this post will not become laboriously encumbered with US politics. Rather, I'd like to take a brief moment to talk about Aphrodite in her role as Pandemos.

The epithet PANDHMOS means "common to all people." In his Symposium, Plato interpreted this guise of Aphrodite as a vulgar, common-place Aphrodite due to her associations with the flesh; whereas OUPANIA, or "heavenly" Aphrodite was above such mundane, physical matters. Truthfully, the reverse was probably true. Aphrodite Ourania is the  oldest known epithet of Aphrodite, the one that most clearly links her with her eastern predecessors whose worship was so intimately linked with sexuality, fertility and cult prostitution. Aphrodite Pandemos, who was honored in Athens, Cos and only a few other locals, was very distinctly associated with abstracts ideals dealing with the city/state.

Aphrodite Pandemos was honored in the Athenian agora so that, according to many scholars, the assemblies who met there to discuss the issues of the city would remember their love for Athens and each other and act in kind. She was a particular patroness of Athenian magistrates, who made sacrifices and inscriptions to her, asking for her guidance in the performance of their duties.

I voted today and prayed to Aphrodite Pandemos that the men and women who take office based on today's results will serve their cities, counties, states and nation from a place of love for the people and place that they represent.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Backlogged but Happy

Hear my pledge, Zeus and my most beloved Kypris, that I WILL get back on track with the portions of my life that are not directly related to school!

Okay, so my last post was about how I was looking forward to starting the first of the work toward my MA in Religious Studies. I am solidly past mid-term in my first semester, and I think I am finally finding my feet. Returning to campus when you've been away for 13 years is a ticklish business. Trust me.

And I LOVE, love, LoVe it, but I have been out of commission for nearly everything else that I am supposed to be doing. No freelance work, no social time, very little exercise (except for the outrageous amounts of walking that happen on this huge and hilly campus). I've even completely let the publication of the Agon Literary Review slide -- after we had such wonderful submissions, too!

I have hope, though. Yay! My carrel is full of delicious books in the library (which is where I'm sitting now, actually. It's one of my new happy places.) I have a to-do list for all of my non-school projects, and I am going to start today. In fact, this blog entry is my first task. (Check!) Next: recruiting a co-moderator for the Thiasos Aphrodite yahoo group -- someone who will spur on some discussions and such.

More than that, though, I know that we at Asteria Books need to get the Agon Literary Review in publishable form. We owe it to our contributors, and I know that the community will be delighted to read their submissions regrading "The Beauty of Hellenismos."

I'll post soon about some of the research I am doing. I am very excited about it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Aphrodite at Indiana University

I will happily admit that I am a proud alumna of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and that all of my notions about the campus and town are heavily skewed. I see the entire landscape through rosy lenses, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

It wasn't until I was showing my beloved Glaux around campus, though, that I noticed that Aphrodite had made her beautiful mark on my alma mater long before I ever arrived there. In fact, I'm persuaded now to see the campus and town as places sacred to her, honored as she is by the local residents. (Even the very name of the town -- Bloomington -- calls to mind her flowery and garden epithets.)

The first picture was taken in the hotel lobby of the Indiana Memorial Union. I was on the Board of Directors for the IMU in 1996, during my undergrad career, and I can boast for the school that ours is the world's largest student union all under one roof. This replica of the Aphrodite of Melos (Venus di Milo) is larger than life and stands in the crook of the stairs, surrounded by plants and backed by the university's beloved former chancellor, Herman B. Wells.

This next set of pictures shows the sculptural fountain at the heart of campus. Named "Showalter Fountain" in honor of the donor who funded it, this is a depiction of the Birth of Aphrodite. She is surrounded by fish, and the circle of this particular sanctuary is bounded by the Auditorium, the Lilly Library and Museum of Art.

I'm taking classes again through IU in preparation for my MA & PhD in Religious Studies. My application to the program is due by the end of this semester, and I pray almost non-stop to my beloved Kypris to see me accepted. I intend to study once more on this campus that I love, surrounded by images of her, as I research and write about the Lady of Love. What better place could I have chosen?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

2010 Asteria Agon Winners

Oh, 'tis the summer of being perpetually a half-step behind. =) We have reviewed the entries for the Asteria Books Agon, and we have conclusively determined the winners in each category for which we had submissions.

First, though, we would like to thank all of the entrants who participated by sharing their work with us and with the greater Hellenic Polytheist community. This contest was an opportunity to cross some of the boundaries that we often feel within our community and look at what it is that draws us to Hellenismos. In this case, each contestant shared his or her vision of the "Beauty of Hellenismos," and we believe that we see within the collective works a very rounded picture of what makes this religion beautiful indeed.

1st place -- "The Anatomy of Beauty" by Lesley Madytinou
2nd place -- "Hellenismos is Beautiful" by Sannion
3rd place -- "Demeter in Winter" by Suzanne Thackston

1st place -- "A Beautiful Death" by Lesley Madytinou

Short Story
1st place -- "Out of His Body" by Robert Davis

1st place -- "My First Goddess" by Robert Davis
2nd place -- "Deus Rusticum" by Ruby Sara

1st place -- Untitled photograph by Ted Garvin

Each of our 1st Place winners will receive free entrance to the Midwest Hellenic Fest (a three-day Hellenismos-focused festival retreat). This year, all our entrants will receive hard copies of The Agon Literary Review 2010 compilation.

Our Top 3 Agon Entrants will receive cash prizes as an honorarium of their work. These awards aren't hefty, but they are heartfelt laurels. May the fair-haired Muses continue to smile upon you all!

Top 3 Entries:
1st place overall -- "A Beautiful Death" by Lesley Madytinou
2nd place overall --  "The Anatomy of Beauty" by Lesley Madytinou
3rd place overall -- "Hellenismos is Beautiful" by Sannion

We'll be posting excerpts soon, and the full compilation (available in both print and e-book formats) will be available within the week.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vinalia Rustica

Today is the day on which I celebrate the Vinalia Rustica, a holiday celebrated in Rome as the establishment of the first temple of Venus. Elle Hull, on the Aphrodite's Flowers blog, provides a lovely discussion of the significance of this day.

Having just spent a significant amount of time tending to a very garden-state shrine in honor of our lady, I rather agree with her conclusions that Aphrodite has deep and abiding connections to the land. Gardens in particular. In fact, Ginette Paris discusses this aspect of Aphrodite at some length in her book Pagan Meditations in a section in which she discusses the many guises of Aphrodite of the Gardens. This is an Aphrodite of cultivated beauty that springs from the green growing wildness of the land.

As such, I can see the connection inherent between Bacchus and Venus, Dionysos and Aphrodite. Elle talks about the name Vinalia Rustica. Why a celebration venerating the vine and Aphrodite? A good question! And one I don't have a solid answer for, but only gut reactions. These two are mates in several ways, as Aphrodite is mated with other lovers. And the wine of Dionysos offers an ecstasy and pleasure that is related, I think, to the beauty and pleasure and love of Aphrodite.

I'm the kind of person that often likes having more questions than answers, and I'm glad to have these questions today as I celebrate my lady.

May her blessings be upon all of us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sweating for Akidalia

Last Friday evening, Glaux and I headed to Our Haven for some retreat time. She had some serious inner work that she wanted to contemplate, and I had some serious physical plane work that needed tending. (Well, my inner work was going to happen while I did physical toil, so I got a double-header.) Specifically, I absolutely HAD to pull weeds from Aphrodite's shrine and re-set the arbor that we had put in place for her. (It had fallen in the wind and storms, mainly because it needed to be affixed more permanently to the land.)

Glaux and I are among a smallish group of people that I would call "stewards" of Our Haven. Our spouse, Iron Dragon, is definitely on that list, as well. In fact, there is hardly a structure, a standing stone or any major project that he wasn't involved in building/placing. Minimal though that stewardship core is, I had anticipated more help in keeping the weeds out of the Great Rite Spiral in which Aphrodite's shrine sits. But ... people are busy, and the folks who live on the land are over-extended in all their maintenance duties. So, my beloved space looked like this after just two months of my time away.

I could practically hear Aphrodite admonishing me that she is not Aphrodite of Jungle or the Lady of Weeds. Gardens are great, and some wild spaces can be nice from time to time. But this was ridiculous. At least her roses were thriving. Can you see the little pinpoints of scarlet that she seems to be gazing upon?

So I tended what was supposed to be her garden. There are Chinese hedgerows planted in a large spiral that encompass the entire space. They were overgrown to the point that nobody but someone very familiar with the space could mow it for fear of running over the smaller of those hedges. My first task, then, was to unbury the boundary hedges. Then, I focused on the shrine surrounding the Goddess. I pulled weeds for seven hours the first night, but I made progress. And Glaux took pictures when she joined me later in the evening. =)

Venus was riding toward the horizon and the sky was dark when I stopped for the night, but I got up early enough the next morning to see that shining morning star at its zenith, and I went back to pulling weeds, dancing in my lady's garden, and getting the arbor back in place. (The posts are in deep and surrounded in concrete this time. It isn't going anywhere.) The work was hot and long, though, and I sweated more than I ever have before. I found that I was useless at manipulating the post-hole diggers. (Too short, I am.) So I made better use of them by pairing them with my umbrella as a shady refuge while I dug the post holes by hand.

When enough of the weeds we cleared out, one of the Elders of Our Haven (Manelqua) came to my rescue -- riding his trusty lawn tractor and making quick business of the remainder of the weeds. I poured a libation of strawberry mead.

There is more work yet to be done. I'll be out to visit and do maintenance weeding about every two weeks between now and October. Then, I think Iron Dragon, Glaux and I will be putting down some ground cloth and more mulch. (Just the hedgerows have mulch right now.) I'd like to see more flowers. There are irises in the spring, planted by a sister-priestess. they bloomed for the first time this year and were stunning. But I was thinking maybe some day lilies to add bright summery color. And I *think* we have some morning glories that are weaving themselves in among the more established hedges -- particularly right behind the altar.

In any case, it is beautiful, and I thank the foam-born Kyprian who delights in her bath, for giving me the chance to get sweaty and dirty as I worked and danced in her garden.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Agon Extension


We at Asteria Books were naughty adjudicators of our first Agon. We got swamped in June and forgot to remind folks to submit their entries before July 1. Though we know it wasn't strictly required, we just felt like it was the fair thing to do. So, in fairness, we are giving interested participants an extension. We will accept entries through August 1.

All other details remain the same.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Babalon Rising Festival

I am very happy to say that I am one of the organizers for the Babalon Rising Pan-Thelemic Festival. Thelema, for those who don't know already, is a Greek-derived word that means Will. Specifically, Thelemites are interested in discovering and acting in accordance with their True Will. (This doesn't mean doing what one merely wants or desires, but it is really about being in touch with one's higher nature and working in accordance with Universal Will.)

Though there are several magickal and religious orders within the Thelema, Babalon Rising prides itself on being "Pan-Thelemic" -- a place for All Wills (or all paths of Will). We have several branches of the OTO, Golden Dawn, Neo-Paganism, Sacred Sexuality and even  Hellenic Polytheism who attend, present, and generally play very nicely together for the four days of classes, rituals, discussions and celebrations in the woods of Southern Indiana.

I have presented at the festival since 2008, offering attendees various Aphrodisian encounters. This year, though the timing isn't strictly in accord with the HMEPA calendar, I am leading an Aphrodisia ritual -- the version included in Cult of Aphrodite. (I feel okay in offering the Aphrodisia at a different time than would have been traditional in Athens considering that several other poleis had their own Aphrodisia rites according to their local calendars.)

Since 2009, my part in helping with Babalon Rising has been in scheduling presenters for sacred sexuality and sex magick topics. This year, we have an entire secondary track dedicated to these topics, and we have several amazing presenters.

Mike and Lissa Manor of the Temple of Venus Erycina will be leading workshops on channeling and erotic shadow work. David and Amanda Torrey and the courtesans of Temple Terra Incognita will present several workshops, including discussions of sacred prostitution in today's reality, working with Deities and other beings, and the impact of chaos magick. Lady Lyn will lead a Sacred Touch Ceremony -- a Babalon Rising staple ritual which has been led in the past by its originator, Mike Manor, and by myself -- and she will discuss working with energy in sacred sex work. Maegdlyn Morris will lead a Polyamory discussion, and she will host a Bacchanalia in conjunction with her Babalon Finishing School. And our keynote speaker, Jason Augustus Newcomb, will discuss sex magick for long-term couples.

Last year, my beloved Glaux and I literally stormed the field with a our thyrsoi and wine bottles as the first thunderstorm of summer rolled through -- giving us the chance to run and roar with maenads and satyrs in celebration of the Bromiad (in honor of Dionysos Thunderer).

If you are a magickal practitioner, I cannot begin to stress enough the amazingness of this festival. There are rituals everyday -- both scheduled and impromptu. The classes and workshops are first-rate. If you are at all sensitive to energy, you will feel it as soon as you come through the gate, for indeed the entire festival is a magickal working for those who are open to it.

If you are not a magickal practitioner, there is still so much for you. Many of the rituals are celebratory in nature. And the classes are just so informative!

And the bonfires! Louis Martinie of the New Orleans Voodoo Temple drums practically all night (and will be leading a drum blessing this year). The drummers, the dancers, the fire-spinners, the firetenders all work the alchemy of the fire from sundown until sunrise every night.

I'd love to meet some of you there! The festival runs from June 10 through the 13, and we give you free days on the 9th and 14th for set-up/tear-down. Check out the website for registration information, schedule and directions!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Erotic Awakening Interview

A few nights ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to talk with Dan and dawn on the Erotic Awakening podcast. We chatted about my experience as a priestess of Aphrodite, sacred sexuality, my book Cult of Aphrodite and about the Babalon Rising Festival at which I'll be presenting from June 10-13.

Check it out at

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hemera Aphrodites

Today, on Aphrodite's honored day within the week, I give Her thanks and praise for allowing me to stand witness at a beautiful wedding at the end of the Beltaine weekend at Our Haven.

A couple who were already legally married wished to exchange spiritual vows before the Gods. The couple are Pagan/Wiccan, and wanted a handfasting -- specifically with the blessings of Aphrodite and Pan. Though I practice Hellenismos for myself, I am actually quite happy to officiate a Pagan handfasting (and am ordained to perform legal marriages). I was and will always be a 3rd Degree HPS within a certain witchcraft tradition, and I am happy to put that training and knowledge into the service of Aphrodite Gameli.

As it happens, a long-standing friend of mine (and devotee of Pan) was also there, and we officiated together. Glaux and my sweet, sweet bunny also had important roles. Glaux called the quarters and was the lepus-bearer. The lepus himself, sacred to both Eros and Aphrodite, chose mainly to stand at the bride's feet and offer the couple his fecundity.

Thank you, Nikki and Mike, for letting me bear witness to your love and vows. And thank you, Aphrodite, for continuing to bless me with such amazing testaments to your power.

Aphrodite Shrine Becoming a Reality

This may be one of my last "planning" posts in regards to the Aphrodite shrine that I am helping care for. I believe that I now have most (if not all) of the money together to bring all of the elements together.

We already have the beautiful rock shrine base.

I'd already decided on a lovely replica of the Medici Venus:

And now we've selected the actual arbor:

and the species of climbing roses (Blaze):

It's going to be so lovely once it's all completed. I'm so happy that I have access to land where this is possible.

All of these pieces will be in place by June 9. That is the set-up day for the Babalon Rising festival at Our Haven, and the shrine must be in order by then.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Exegete of Aphrodite for Neokoroi

I am really happy to announce in this space that my friends and peers at Neokoroi have given me the opportunity to serve in an official capacity as an "Exegete of Aphrodite." :: happy dance ::

Here is the description of an exegete within Neokoroi (copied directly from the this page):

The term exegetai (plural) was used throughout ancient Greece to refer to religious specialists. They gave advice about carrying out cultus to different gods and interpreted religious laws and customs. They also offered legal guidance to other people upon request, sometimes in law cases (particularily in ancient Athens).

Here at Neokoroi, we have a tried and tested group of religious advisors, well educated in the cultus of our gods. We do not call these exegetai "priests" because in Hellenic times, priesthood was tied to a specific temple or cult, and could be an hereditary or purchased position.

Within our organization, the exegete (singular) advises on the practices related to a specific god, or of Hellenic ritual in general. Those who wish to take on this role must be willing to be available to anyone who needs them, within reason. This includes the Hellenic pagan community beyond Neokoroi, potentially.

An exegete is NOT, however, a personal counselor or mouthpiece for the god. They are simply knowledgeable individuals who offer advice on how to recognize and interpret the actions of their deity, information on how to conduct rituals, and so forth. But always, they are simply an individual, someone whose opinion is to be respected because of their experience and contributions - but not an authority in the sense that they are above questioning and critique.

I am so pleased to serve both Aphrodite and my community in this capacity, and I have been thrilled already to talk with some members about questions relating to Aphrodite.

Khairete Neokoroi! And hail sweet Kypris!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Humble Offerings

Despite the generosity (and I might even say "grandeur") of the offerings to Aphrodite that have recently passed through my hands, I will admit that most of my own offerings are "humble." As a priestess, other devotees have given me the charge of delivering their votives or sacrifices to Kypris, and I have stood as witness in the temple while others have made their offerings directly. On four occasions, now, I have been able to offer Her a book that I wrote in Her honor. But mainly, I make devotional offerings from myself, and they are modest, according to my means.

Like many of you, I offer incense, flowers, jewelry. I offer the poetry I have written for Her. I offer some small treasure that I think will further beautify Her shrine.

All the Gods enjoy our sacrifices. My own experience, though, tells me that Aphrodite gets pleasure and joy from even our most humble gifts.

She surrounds Herself with grace, charm, joy, beauty, and laughter. She is a doting mother and lover who delights in giving and receiving gifts. I imagine our modest offerings to the Goddess are very much akin to a child's gifts to his mother, as a matter of fact. Oh, and how my heart sings when my own little "Eros" brings me a dandelion because it's pretty and yellow! Or my sweet "Harmonia" has drawn me a picture!

I'm never ashamed when sweet smoke is my usual Friday gift. I know She loves it and is delighted that I gave Her pleasure through scent.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I had a wonderful Aphrodisian experience last night with a friend I am making online. "Chryseis" is a devotee of  golden Aphrodite, and we had a very loving and connected moment -- the first of what I am sure will be many. By many standards, the conversation could be termed "innocent." Though we discussed and even played out (online) a very titillating and taboo fantasy, the conversation never went so far as to mention body parts below the neck. (Isn't it amazing how erotic the simplest things can be, if we let them?)

The only manner in which I have received money for Aphrodisian work in the past has been through the sale of my books. However, sweet Chryseis made a very generous donation to the Goddess through me. Interestingly, I see this as a turning point for me -- the point at which the term "Sacred Prostitute" really has literal meaning for me.

Don't get me wrong. I claimed the title with pride before now, and I think deservedly so. I have worked with devotees in an erotic capacity in the past, and I have been one of the "qadishtu" presenters at the Babalon Rising festival for the last few years. I've just never sought (nor received) any direct donations to the work of Aphrodite, as I do it, from those with whom I've worked.

Chryseis' generous and loving donation is going to make possible the addition of a statue of Aphrodite at Our Haven, the sacred/festival land that I help care for. Specifically, I am going to put a replica of the Venus of Medici at the Aphrodite Shrine near the Great Rite altar.

And in posting about Chryseis' generosity to my facebook profile today, another Aphrodisian has decided to donate money for flowers to go to the site as well.

I am honored and moved right now beyond rational thought. I am so pleased to be one of the priestess of Aphrodite and to help with her work in the world. Each priestess and actively-honoring devotee that I have come to know has a beauty and grace of spirit that is stunning.

Thank you, Chryseis and Ellen!

My praise and love to Aphrodite!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bummer -- No Parthenon Trip This Week

The trip to the Parthenon in Nashville that Glaux and I were going to take on Saturday is going to happen on another date. I'm disappointed, but we simply don't have the funds to make the trip right now. Because of our recent move, our work and pay were slow-going. But Glaux is now at the library here in town, and I'm back in that freelance writing routine. We're hoping that book sales will also propel our Parthenon plans, but the first portion of *that* money has already been promised to Aphrodite for a statue at Our Haven. (There is a shrine there for her, and it needs an icon.)

So, we'll be setting the Parthenon Take Two date soon. Look for details to meet us there!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cult of Aphrodite: Festivals and Rites of the Golden One

It's here. It's here. It's here!

This is the much-anticipated new book -- the one that is FULL of rituals. Yes, indeedy-do. Cult of Aphrodite: Festivals and Rites of the Golden One.

After writing Aphrodite's Priestess, I got such positive feedback. The only quasi-negative? People wanted more rituals. Aphrodite's Priestess gave them two (very nice rituals, I might add), but they wanted more. Specifically, they wanted rituals with historical roots.

So, I dug back into my research (and did even more research), and this book is the result.

You'll be able to get it from Asteria Books in pdf format in the next few days.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hemera Aphrodites

This is also the 4th day of the new lunar month, which is Aphrodite's day each month. So, this is an especially auspicious time to do something loving and beautiful.

Joe, Natalie and I are headed down to Our Haven later, and I will be cleaning up the Sanctuary of Venus Erycina, established on the land by my good friends Lissa and Mike Manor. Mount Eryx was a place that once housed a Temple of Aphrodite, later a Temple of Venus, and it became a place of interesting syncretism for many religions -- Greek, Roman, Phoenician, Carthiginian. There, they all worshiped the Goddess of Love and Beauty.

My own little statue of Aphrodite has stood as a votive offering in the clearing at the Sanctuary of Venus Erycina at Our Haven since last year's festival season. I'm going to clean it up tomorrow and paint it, as part of my monthly devotions to Her. This is the first time since Winter Solstice that I will have been on the land.

I plan on making plenty of libations and other offerings, and I will take pictures of the statue.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

To Dionysos (a poem)

Hail, Dionysos, twice-born God of the vine!
Bromios, thundering One,
I have been your priestess and lover,
Swept up and swirled away in the ecstatic rites
Of wine and rut.
And you bless me, Dionysos,
by sending your maddening men
To intoxicate my poor brain
With their rakish grins
Smooth skin stretched taught over chests and arms,
Velvety ribs that need the embrace
Of my thighs.
They haunt my thoughts, my dreams.
They are the drunken, wine-drenched hallucinations
That rage and rumble in my bed.
I lose myself in them,
Your priests,
And I find you.
Hail, Dionsyos!

My first relationship with any God was with Dionysos. John H. Wells, who has written some fine articles and led some amazing rituals in honor of the twice-born God, invited me to the Rites of Dionysus, led by the Clan of the Laughing Dragon at a store called Raven's Flight in North Hollywood in 1999. It was the first one that he led, and it was a pivotal moment for me. Absolutely defining. Liberating and enlightening, as only Dionysos can be. I would actually say that Aphrodite came to me through and after this experience, and the larger religion of Hellenismos and the other Olympians, Pan and the nymphs after through and after Her. But, I digress.

Glaux recently posted about Dionysos, too. Specifically about the combination of Aphrodite and Dionysos. They do seem to go together, don't they? Oh, I am so much an Aphrodisian woman, but there is no denying the maenaed in me. And every single person I have been seriously attracted to has been touched by Dionysos. Gods, they get me every time. Sexy, brooding. Yum.

I am struck by their combined power for both pleasure and grief. Combine sex and wine, for instance. Oh, yes, please combine sex and wine!!! Head-spinning, sheet-soaking, bed-breaking ecstasy. Sign me up!

Then there's there equally powerful (and orgiastic) combination of grief and madness that both Theoi embody. Aphrodite grieves for Adonis, and she has several epithets that indicate her mourning process (Of the Tombs, Black). Dionysos also is known for the madness brought on by grief, loss, and too much drink. Their combination here can be powerful and purging, allowing us to work through traumatic loss which is necessary in order to regain our sense of joy and pleasure. They can guide us through some of the most gut-wrenching of human experiences in order to enjoy the most elating of them.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

...As If I'm Someone That You Love

I came across an interesting tool a few weeks ago in O Magazine. It was a set of flashcards for couples -- things you could interject into an argument simply by holding up a sign. The one that struck me was, "Speak to me as if I'm someone that you love."

Wow. I mean really. Wow.

The card got stuck in my head. It flashes at me all the time. I hear the words echoing in there in the voices of all the people that I love, and I feel that pang that tells me that I haven't always spoken to them "as if I loved them" when we're fighting.

Lesson the first was for me as an individual. Love the people you love, even when you disagree. Even when you're angry. Love them, and make sure it's still obvious.

Lesson the second was buried a little deeper, and it was for the greater Hellenic community.

Aphrodite Pandemos was honored in the agora. Why is that? Why was the Goddess of Love, Beauty, Sexuality, and Fecundity revered in the marketplace? Well, it was the place where public debates took place. It was the place where heated discussions could boil over, but her presence was there to remind people to have love and compassion for each other. Perhaps she was that reminder for the ancients to speak to each other as if they loved each other.

Parthenon Pilgrimage

Glaux and I decided a few months ago to take a trip to the Parthenon in Nashville. A few of our online Hellenic friends are thinking of making the pilgrimage, too, and I wanted absolutely anyone reading this blog to know about it so that you could potentially make the choice to join us.

We've set Saturday, April 10th as our definite date for this trip. It closes at 4:30, and we will be there by noon.

Glaux has dark brown hair. I have blond hair. We'll both be wearing dresses and have flowers in our hair.

Give one or the other of us a shout if you are planning on coming and want to meet up with us. We'd love to see some of our friends there!
to write to me

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Midwest Hellenic Fest -- 2011 Dates


Well, folks, Glaux and I have task one completed for the Midwest Hellenic Fest. We have a date and venue confirmed.

Mark your calendars for May 27-29, 2011. That's Memorial Day Weekend, which is a great time of year for camping in southern Indiana.

Our location is in French Lick, Indiana at Our Haven Nature Sanctuary. Believe me when I tell you that you will LOVE this venue.

Our next steps:
1. Contact potential presenters. (We have several in mind.)
2. Enlist a couple of potential organizers/coordinators to help with the planning process.

How might you get involved?

Well, are you an author, speaker, musician or ritualist who would be interested in presenting? Would you or your group like to volunteer to set up a temple/shrine to one of The Twelve for the duration of the fest? Do you want to be responsible for an area of programming? Do you have another idea to share? Contact us with your thoughts.

We'll have a website up and running soon. For now, check here for updates.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Crown of Violets, vol. 1

Crown of Violets, the devotional chapbook compiled by Temple of Aphrodite Asteria, is now available for purchase. For just $7, you can order your own hard copy of this collection of poetry, photography and art. Not a bad deal to have so many poems, hymns, images and the like readily on hand.

For millennia, the Goddess of Love has been the subject of poetry, painting, prose and sculpture. This devotional chapbook is a vault of offerings for Aphrodite.

E-book format coming soon through Asteria Books.

Agon Literary Review 2010

Ο Αγώνας
The Agon Literary Review

An agon is a competition, a challenge, a contest. An agon was a part of a poetic or dramatic performance. It was a verbal sparring between characters in comedy. It was an athletic competition or race.

In 2010, Asteria Books is initiating its first literary agon for the Hellenic community. Beginning this year, we will sponsor an annual literary contest for the entire Hellenic community. Each annual competition will be formulated around a theme or central question that each writer/artist will address according to his/her vision.

2010 Theme
“The Beauty of Hellenismos”

Submission categories will include:

• Essay
• Memoir
• Short Story
• Poetry
• Flash Fiction
• Photography
• Fine Art

Top Prizes Include:
• free entrance to the Midwest Hellenic Fest (a three-day Hellenismos-focused festival retreat) for each category winner
• cash prizes for the top 3 overall submissions

Furthermore, category runners-up will receive:
• hard copies of The Agon Literary Review 2010 compilation

Additional prizes may be announced prior to the close of the submission period.

• Each entrant may submit only one (1) piece of writing/art per category.
• Entrants may submit pieces to multiple categories, if they choose.
• Each category will be judged separately, making it possible to rank as a finalist or winner in more than one area.
• Judges may not submit work to the contest.
• The submissions of the 3 finalists in each contest category will be included in the compilation.
• Entrants retain their individual copyright to any material submitted to the contest
• Submission of material to this contest provides The Agon Literary Review and Asteria Books with the right to publish said material in electronic and print formats both in the annual compilation and for promotional purposes on the Asteria Books website
• No compensation other than the listed prizes will be made in exchange for material
• Textual submissions must be made in Word format
• Photography and fine art submissions must be made in JPG format with a quality of at least 300 dpi
• Submission deadline is June 30, 2010. Winners and finalists will be announced July 7, 2010.

Send all submissions to

The Judgment (from Temple of Beauty)

Helen loved Menelaos like no other. History and myth haven’t told that portion of my sister’s story well. For Helen, the Spartan queen, her strong war-king was a far greater prize than a pretty shepherd.

I won’t lie to you, gentle guest, and say she didn’t love the pretty shepherd, too. Paris was charming, and he endeared himself to Helen of Sparta. The Gods make their plans, and Aphrodite always knew that Helen would make the journey across the sea to Troy. Even before that dreadful contest.

You’ve heard the tale of that golden apple and the appointment of Paris as judge, I’m sure. No? Oh, my friend, the world believes the story starts here, so let me share the briefest telling of that tale.

At a certain marriage feast, all the Gods of Olympos were invited. All but Eris, for who would willingly welcome Strife into their marriage? And yet, who could keep her out? And so she came, but the gift she brought was conflict, cleverly concealed. She rolled in a golden apple engraved with a single word. “Kallisti.” It means “for the fairest.” Aphrodite, with the grace of a dove, bent to lift it, knowing she was the fairest of gods and men. Hera, queen of the Olympians, recognized the apple as being stolen from her own evening orchard and strutted with a peacock’s beauty to claim the prize, while grey-eyed Athene, stunning in her wisdom, swooped in to forestall the fray.

Paris was chosen to settle the dispute that erupted between the three goddesses. Paris, a Trojan prince. Paris, a handsome and romantic youth. Paris, a shepherd whose city was favored of old by lovely Aphrodite.

Each goddess appealed to the young prince with the greatest reward she could offer the young man. Hera, in all her royal authority, came to him first. “I can make you a king like there has never been among men before. Your father is a majestic man, but your reign, young prince, will span boundaries no mortal has yet dared to reach and bring you riches beyond imagining. Kingship will be yours, if you give the apple to me.” She left him with a light in his eyes and a desire for power he hadn’t known could stir within his heart.

Happily considering her offer, Paris was approached by solemn Athene. He saw the warning in her eyes, like storm clouds building over a troubled sea. “That apple is no trifle or trinket, Paris. By giving it into my care, you would show wisdom beyond other men. Wisdom far beyond your few mortal years. I can turn that wisdom into the makings of legend and lore. I am the mentor of heroes, Paris. Your name will be sung for generations beyond count as a great hero, if you give the apple and your fate into my care.”

Paris protectively cradled the apple and tucked it out of sight, feeling the weight of Athene’s words as she left him to ponder this newest option.

Aphrodite spoke directly to the shepherd’s heart when she came to win his favor. “The apple’s intended owner is clear enough, sweet boy. It is marked ‘for the fairest,’ and that is me.” She blushed sweetly and continued, “Is it a boast if I say this of myself?”

Paris considered both the words and the image of the goddess before him and said, “It is not a boast, for all the poets and philosophers hail the beauty of golden Aphrodite.”

“There is a mortal woman whose beauty the poets sing, too, sweet Paris,” Aphrodite continued. “Helen of Sparta is a woman in whose face and form my own beauty shines. In exchange for the apple that bears my epithet, lovely Paris, I will give you the greatest love the world has ever known. You will be beloved of the most beautiful woman in the world, and poets and philosophers will tell your tale until the gods turn their shining faces from the world and men have sung their last songs.”

And so, my friend, Love won the contest. Yes, Love, the sweet beguiler and mother of persuasion was more potent than promises of kingship and glory. Royalty and valor, men dream of, it is true. But it is love that pushes men into battle to defend family and country and love that sees them safely home. Love compels mothers to give all for the safety and happiness of their babes. Love binds together the hands of friends and the hearts of tribes in peace and in war. For there is no power on earth more compelling than love.

Bad Blogger. No biscuit!

I've been a little remiss in attending to my blogging duties of late. My apologies, dear ones.

While I may be slacking in my online devotions, my real-time devotions to Aphrodite Most Beautiful have been multiplying. That's the up-side.

Now, my lovely girlfriend has been keeping up with her blog at Glaux's Nest. She is a devotee of Athena, and a good deal of her writing deals with Athenian worship and Hellenismos in general. I suggest you check her out.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Midwest Hellenic Fest

Glaux (my gf) and I are interested in starting a festival/conference/campout for the Hellenic community. This comes from a place of, "We want to attend this festival, but it doesn't exist yet." Not being ones to just sit and sigh about that, we are willing to put our many years of festival and event coordination experience into play to make the thing exist.

We are members (and resident caretakers) of Our Haven Nature Sanctuary in Southern Indiana, a 175-acre piece of land dedicated to "all positive paths." We practically live there in the summer, and we know beyond a doubt that we can secure a date for the 2011 season.

Glaux and I are both organizers for one of the major festivals that happens at Our Haven and for one of the smaller, newer ones. I was a Coordinator with Indy Pagan Pride Day for years, and I was heavily involved with the largest student programming board on Indiana University's campus as an undergrad. My point: we have oodles of event planning experience. We know how to put together a festival successfully.

We are both newer to Hellenismos, in particular, but not to the Gods or even all of the practices. Our experience, though, is that one doesn't have to be an expert to plan an event. You bring in the experts to teach the workshops, lead the rituals, host the discussions, etc. Planners only plan.

Our vision is to host a pan-Hellenic festival -- one in which both the Traditionalist and the Innovator are welcome. Sounds radical and scary, I know. But we've seen amazing results from our pan-thelemic festival -- Babalon Rising. There, magickal groups who've been in-fighting for a century camp right next to each other for a week, attend the same classes and rituals, speak civilly to each other for a change, and manage to learn and grow.

A Midwestern location offers some benefits. Namely, it is centrally located for US-based Hellenics. And Our Haven offers some great facilities: hot showers, on-site food vendor, a lighted and covered pavilion, a central fire pit, a spacious main field with lots of fire rings, a children's play area, and several shrines to the Gods.

This would be in the summer. Perhaps to coincide with the Hellenic New Year? It would be an opportunity to present basic and advanced concepts, meet in person with folks we know only from teh Intrawebs, honor the Gods together as members of a larger community, see and experience ritual concepts, discuss and debate in authentic and real-time conversations.

Firstly, are there folks out there who would be interested in attending this type of festival? And, secondly, are there experienced, knowledgeable people reading this who would be interested in joining Glaux and I on the planning committee? We're thinking a committee of five or so to start (including us).

Feel free to e-mail me personally, too.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wrestling with Terms: Hellenismos or Hellenic Polytheism?

I have been struggling to define or label the religion that I practice (in regards to the specifically Greek path that I walk). Where my Witchcraft practices are concerned, I am clear. (Traditional Craft -- Robert Cochrane style.) But I keep that very separate from my Aphrodisian practice. And my Aphrodisian practice has blossomed into a relationship with many more of the Olympians than I had ever thought it would. Dionysos, Athena, Ares, Hephaestos, Hermes, Pan, Hestia. Non-Olympians, too -- Persephone, the Muses, the Graces.

Furthermore, I strive to work with and honor these Deities in a Hellenic manner. I've researched ritual practices, from ancient to contemporary, and I use them instead of the Craeft or Neo-Pagan structures that I originally used.

But what is it called? Is it Hellenismos? Is it Hellenic Polytheism? Or is it something else entirely?

I shy away from adopting the term Hellenismos, and the following is a bit of my recent reflection on why that is:

There is a lot of history to choose from, and a wide variety of city-states. Practices *and* beliefs evolve with time, distance and usage...

My research on Aphrodite alone (which has been fairly extensive) shows that she was worshiped in widely divergent ways in different parts of the Greek world. Her worship in Paphos doesn't look a lot like her worship in Athens or even Corinth. There are festivals to her that are called by the same name, but that are practiced entirely differently depending on locale. She has epithets, attributes and myths that seem local and unique to certain venues. Foreign influences made their marks right from the beginning.

Place and time, even within Hellas, alter both practice and belief.

... But I have the sense that "Hellenismos" is both a "rigid and exclusive" (see note below) term that perhaps might be rooted in a specific time and place within Greek history that cannot, therefore, also include other times or places within the larger scope of Greek history.

Re: "rigid and exclusive." I know that many people use these words with a high degree of negative connotation. I do not. I simply pose them here as being opposite to "flexible" and "inclusive." Hellenismos does not seem inclusive, and I don't think it should necessarily strive to be so.

Though I understand that the term "Hellenic Polytheist" is also debated, I think it has the flexibility and inclusiveness to apply to me. The noun fits. (I worship multiple Deities.) The adjective fits. (Those Deities are from the Hellenic pantheon, and I strive to work with them in a Hellenic way.) Therefore, the term fits -- for me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Menelaus-Helen-Paris= Ares-Aphrodite-Ankhises???

I just wrote this in the forums, but I want to pose this idea (and its questions) to several sets of folks. Please forgive the cross-posting, my loves....

I have a thought/idea that I would like to explore in fiction, and I want to get some input from folks who are well-studied in such things.

Let me preface this by saying that I am a historical fiction writer, and I am primarily concerned with the Universal Truth that underlies a story -- and a little less concerned with the absolute historical truth.

I also ought to confess that I harbor some resentment toward Homer. I feel that he has done some disservice to Aphrodite (and others) in his codifying of the myths. She, in particular, had been a foreign goddess -- and an old one, at that -- with a fairly well delineated set of traits. He stripped her of her war-like aspects and demoted her by re-creating her birth story.

I wrote the following in my writing journal tonight...

“She loved Menelaus like no other. History and myth haven’t told that portion of my sister’s story well. For Helen, the Spartan queen, her strong war-king was a far greater prize than a pretty shepherd. Paris was her duty, as the golden goddess of love made clear, and Helen loved him as much as her body would allow. Her heart, though, had been wedded to the towering, thundering, iron-hardened warrior who swept across the sea to reclaim his beloved queen.

“If she was Aphrodite made flesh, he was Ares.”

I’ve written Sappho as a priestess of Aphrodite, and now it is Helen’s turn. She was the queen of war-like Sparta, a city-state that honored the goddess of love equally as a goddess of war. This comes truer to Aphrodite’s original nature, born to the Hellenes by the sea-faring Phonecians who knew her as Astarte and Ashteroth. To the Sumerians, she was Ishtar, a lady of love and war whose myth includes an important romance with a shepherd.

Aphrodite’s dual nature was split in Hellenic myth. She longed to be reunited with her war-self, always taking risks to connect with war-like Ares. The pastoral affair was kept, though, in the tale of the goddess and her own Trojan shepherd.

That’s fantastic! I’ve never read anywhere that the love triangle underpinning the Trojan War (Menelaus-Helen-Paris) was a shadow image of the love triangle that the Greeks made of the original Ishtar/Tammuz myth (Ares-Aphrodite-Ankhises). In the Homeric version, Ishtar is separated into Aphrodite and Ares (Love and War). But the story wasn’t originally a conflict. From this basic conflict, though, the Trojan War springs – with Aphrodite’s own war-like nature and her need to support and nurture the agricultural elements featured center-stage.

Maybe someone else has written about this. I need to see if I can find a treatment on this concept.

My questions to you learned folk:

Have you seen this concept elsewhere? (If so, where? Sources, please, so I can follow up with my own research.)

Does it ring true? (It certainly did for me, but I think that is obvious.)