Friday, 19 November 2010

Symposium of the Hetaerae

Tomorrow is the full moon and (in accordance with the Cult of Aphrodite Asteria's festivals) it will also be the festival Symposium of the Hetaerae where sacred courtesans revel with men (although I'm guessing the courtesans could be men as well as women and that the revelling could happen with women as well as men).  I understand from Laurelei's book that this festival is based on one found in the Athenian calendar and her group choose to celebrate at the November full moon to move out of the time of mourning of the previous two festivals.  

This festival comes on the heels of another interesting conversation that arose on the Thiasos Aphrodite list this past week where someone asked if it was possible for someone to be monogamous and still be a Priestess of Aphrodite.  The question had been put to her and she had her own thoughts but was interested to hear the thoughts of others.

The answers, for the most part, were a resounding yes - it's quite possible to be monogamous and serve Aphrodite, although there were a few well thought out points why it may not.  Still, there were those who do follow the path of a sacred courtesan and/or are polyamorous and feel quite strongly that these are not lifestyle choices but integral parts of their spiritual path and service to Aphrodite.  In the end, of course, there is no right or wrong answer to this question, only what is right for us. 

I've made it no secret here that the path of the sacred courtesan/prostitute/insert-term-of-choice is not for me although I honour that others feel called to it.  I am in a loving marriage and completely monogamous.  I have no problem reconciling that with my service to Aphrodite.  I see my path with Aphrodite as one of beauty and love and honouring Her in all Her aspects, known and unknown.  Where there is love, I can only see Aphrodite smiling down upon that love.  I share a very deep and passionate love with my husband, so I have no problem reconciling our monogamy with my service to the Golden One.  I feel She rather approves.  

Still, others will recall that I spoke about my own feelings regarding sex and service to the Goddess in my previous posts about the Goddess Conference this year.  I've been meaning to write further about my experiences at the Conference which tie in with this subject.  Perhaps it is time to do so now.  

My last post about the conference can be found here: for those who have not read it previously.  

The following day after my friend Jacqui's talk, I did a workshop with Barbara Meiklejohn-Free called "Past Life Perspective".  It was the fourth day of the Conference and this day was focused on Sacred Love.  There were many wonderful workshops available that afternoon but I felt quite called to do Barbara's workshop so I signed up for that at registration.  

It was quite good for me in many ways.  Past life kind of fascinates me, I suppose because I've yet to have any kind of strong vision that put any kind of past life into perspective for me.  I've had feelings that I may have had certain past life experiences, but nothing to ever really back that up.  And me being a sceptic at times, I sometimes question the validity of past lives and their existence anyway.  What do we really know and how can we prove it?  Despite any scepticism, I still feel that I'd love to do a past life regression anyway just to see if I can prove myself right or wrong.  

Well, in comes Barbara who has a way of cutting straight to the point.  I like that about her.  She gave me quite a paradigm shift on the concept of past lives by pointing out to us that we should look at the things we're drawn to.  What types of things do we like, what we don't like.  According to Barbara, these things are indicative of the type of past lives we've had.  That made sense to me and I began to think about the things I feel drawn to, my likes and dislikes and how those may indicate the type of past lives I may have had.  

We did a short journeying, which, at this point, I can't quite remember what the purpose was.  We were opening ourselves up to a symbol of our past lives I think it was.  It's important to say that I've long felt that I may have been a black woman who lived in the deep south probably somewhere in the 1800's and that she was likely a slave or used to be a slave and may have been freed at some point.  I've often felt very drawn to the plight of the slaves during those years and I feel very drawn to the South.  I love Southern cooking and I have a strange love of gospel music, especially really old gospel music, like the Negro spirituals type.  Given what Barbara was saying, it seemed this feeling I had may be right.  

During this journey for a symbol, I can't remember all what Barbara had us doing.  I seem to remember her talking us to a cave with walls of pictures and such and swirly things and I can't remember what all.  Whenever I do a guided meditation or journey I tend to go off and do whatever my mind decides it wants to do.  I don't remember it very precisely, but what happened was I saw the face of a black woman, the one who I think I may have been.  It was entirely unexpected but the vision of her came out of the darkness and there she was smiling at me.  She wore these little round glasses and I felt certain that her glasses were my symbol.  Following the journey, we queued up to have our symbols painted on us somewhere.  I had a pair of glasses painted on my arm.  It should be noted that I just so happened to be wearing my own glasses that day.  Coincidence?  Ha!  Read on!

After we all had our symbols painted on us, Barbara asked us to think about where we would go if we could go anywhere in the world.  She also asked us to think about where we wouldn't go as well.  Both choices would speak of past lives.  For me, if I could go anywhere it would be Cyprus and Greece.  No surprise probably!  We broke up into groups based on where we wanted to go.  The group for Greece and Cyprus was actually quite small.  There were only 5 of us, I think it was.   All of us women.  And thus another journey began....

I honestly can't remember how Barbara started us on the journey, only that she and a couple others were drumming quite loudly.  I had a vision of being in Cyprus in a temple of Aphrodite and that I was a sacred prostitute.  I was having sex with someone but I wasn't enjoying it and I was feeling quite put off by it all, but then something in the vision changed, like really bad editing in a film and I went from not enjoying the sex to REALLY enjoying the sex and having this quite orgasmic vision and feeling it in my heart and in my body.  

Well....I wasn't expecting that!  When the journey ended, Barbara wanted us to all get up and dance.  And everyone in my little group sat there and watched while others got up and stomped and danced about.  I felt like I was just coming down off of a fantastic session of love making.  Dancing wasn't on my agenda.  I couldn't say for the others what it was.  

After dancing we shared about our visions with each other in our groups.  To cut a long story short (too late!), all but one of us had very similar visions.  We had all been sacred prostitutes, in the temple of the Goddess and were somehow experiencing sexual love in our visions and we all had had these sort of intense orgasms going on in them.  We all had a bit of a giggle but more than anything it was a, "Wow, how amazing is that?!?!"  

Our symbols were to tie in to our visions and for me, I felt that the glasses represented me not seeing clearly.  I've chosen not to see or reconcile within me what I once was in a past life.  The sceptic in me still doesn't want to believe any of this, but it's kind of hard not to give credence to the way everything fell into place.  So I choose to believe that yes, once upon a time, in a past life, I served Aphrodite in Her temple as a sacred courtesan/prostitute.  It was once my path and I realised I had to finally look at that part of my own past life history and acknowledge it and accept it.  With the previous day's revelation that I needed to examine my views about sacred sexuality more closely, it all made sense.  

When I came home after the Conference, I spent a little time looking at sites about sacred sexuality.  I am still of the conclusion that the path of the sacred courtesan/prostitute is not for me but I am able to look at it from a new perspective and with greater acceptance and understanding than what I had before.  I prefer the term sacred lover and I am a sacred lover to one only and he is also my sacred lover and only to me.  In my priestess work though, although full on sexual intercourse is not involved, I accept that I do feel compelled sometimes to offer physical affection in the form of a hug, a caress, a back rub, stroking one's hair - and that this is expressing the Goddess' love and affection through this form of sacred touch.  

So tomorrow, although I won't be taking part in a proper symposium, I may well have my own little symposium with my husband where we eat, drink, talk, laugh, touch and, if the mood takes us, make love.  

Today, I light a candle, burn incense and sing a song to Aphrodite.  

Enjoy today and tomorrow's full moon!

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