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!
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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.