In accordance with the Athenian calendar, the 4th day after every new moon is the Festival of Aphrodite. This makes tomorrow Her festival day.
I usually celebrate the festival days the same way I do her weekly dates in that I light a candle and incense, meditate and say prayers to Her, sometimes offerings; very often I will take a ceremonial bath or shower, using special soaps and shampoos and "annointing" myself with rose scented lotion after.
However, I've been re-thinking this as I re-read Laurelei Black's Cult of Aphrodite in which Laurelei states that the festival days are days to make offerings of a sacrificial nature suggesting one should put some thought into what to sacrifice as it should be something meaningful to you.
I have no problem with this and like the idea of ritually sacrificing. I do think the idea of sacrificing can seem daunting because it carries the notion that one is giving up something. That maybe true, but if my dictionary is correct, to sacrifice is to make something sacred or holy (if you prefer).
That said though, I do then often wonder what I do with what I've sacrificed. Do I burn it? Bury it? Give it away? What? I suppose it would depend on the nature of what I've sacrificed and where I was doing it. If I had some really expensive wine that I coveted and poured some over an outdoors altar stone in sacrifice to Aphrodite, then it would kind of be a non-issue.
But Laurelei suggests other tangible things like jewellery or make up or other physical objects which we hold dear. Fair enough, but then what do we do with these? I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable burying my lipstick in the ground knowing it's plastic case will probably never decompose or at least not any time soon and if I put it in my recycling, would that somehow cheapen the sacrifice? I suppose I could dig the lipstick out of the plastic tube and bury that and recycle the tube but frankly - what a mess! So sacrifice definitely takes some thought and I shall have to think about what sacrifice I will make tomorrow.
In the meantime, I propose the following ritual, based upon Laurelei's suggested ritual in Cult of Aphrodite:-
Prepare your ritual space in whatever way you choose to include candles, incense and a bowl or plate for your offering.
Take a ritual bath or shower in whatever way seems appropriate to you and dress in preparation (or go naked if you prefer - sometimes I do).
Take a moment to ground, centre and focus on your purpose in this ritual. And when you are ready, call upon Aphrodite:-
"I call upon You, Aphrodite, Anadyomene, Pontia, Beautiful Lady of the Sea, Ourania of the Heavens and the Stars, Pandemos of sensuality and sexuality, to be here in the place, to be in my heart, to receive these offerings I make in Your honour. Come with Your all encompassing love and emotion, come with Your beauty and Your passion. Bring the blessings of Your talismans, Your comb, Your Mirror, Your shells and pearls. Bring Your totem animals, the graceful swan, the starfish, the water serpents, the mermaids, the dove. Be with me here in this rite as I honour You on this Your day. Hail and welcome Aphrodite!
"Gracious Golden Lady, I am grateful for the blessings You bestow upon me each day; the love in my heart, the bounty of the Earth, the clean clear water I drink, the beauty of the land, sea and sky. Thank You for passion, joy and pleasure both physical and emotional. Thank You for family and the love I receive from others. For all the gifts You shower upon me, I thank You."
Make your offering to Aphrodite. "Lady, I give to You.....(insert what ever words you find appropriate) in gratitude and in honour of Your presence in my life."
How you choose to dispose of your sacrifical offering, I leave to your imagination. If it can be easily and safely burned, then burn it and scatter the ashes, if it's food or something more solid, perhaps bury it, if it's liquid, perhaps take it outside and water a special tree or plant or even use it to water your house plants.
I like incorporating music, poetry and/or dance so I suggest at this stage reciting a poem to Aphrodite or singing a song and/or dancing.
When you feel ready, ground your energy. In such situations, I like to ground by going into a pose of surrender in front of my altar.
Then give thanks to Aphrodite for the blessing of Her presence asking Her to stay if She will but go if She must. Hail and farewell Aphrodite!
A word of note - I did focus a lot on Aphrodite's water aspect because at the moment, I am still in the season of the Summer Solstice in the Avalonian Wheel where I am honouring the element of water. Feel free to change the wording to suit you and use epithets which are meaningful and relevant for you. And yes, some of my wording may seem very Wiccan flavoured. Go with what works for you. This is just an idea of what I will do tomorrow and you are, of course, free to change it to suit you or use Laurelei's very good ritual in her book or even make up something that is completely your own. Either way, I hope you enjoy tomorrow's festival day and wish you a deep and meaningful experience with Aphrodite.