Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Interesting Things

I spent some time this morning searching Google Blogs for other blogs on Aphrodite.  Of course, after yesterday's Kylie news, I had to sift through several pages of blog posts about her new Aphrodite album (including my own found on page 4 of the search results!) before I found anything concerning Aphrodite as Goddess.  But I did find a couple interesting things which I share here.

First, the art of Edward Kwong who has done a couple sketches entitled Aphrodite Ourania - http://blog.edkwong.com/2010/04/aphrodite-ourania.html

I quite like his second drawing which is somewhat ornate and very beautiful.  His art, generally, is quite nice and worth a peek through.

Secondly, the House of Ecstasy are, according to this, doing a film titled Priestesses of Aphrodite.  My curiosity is peaked because they are, in essence, Pagans making erotic films that combine sex, sexuality, sensuality, Goddess and magick.  The clip of their first film looked interesting (and is definitely not work safe nor safe for kiddies under 18 to watch should you decide to go watch it) but not interesting enough for me to want to buy it and watch it in full.  

I am a bit concerned at the comment in their blog that Priestesses of Aphrodite "will have more straight-out sex" than their previous film.  That leads me to think that Goddess, ritual and magick will either be played down or missed out entirely, and if that is the case I would be disappointed.  

On the other hand, the blurb on their Facebook states:

"I'm pleased to say that we are in pre-production for our next film "Priestesses of Aphrodite" starring three luscious priestesses and a keeper of the temple. It will be a celebration of divine feminie sexuality. Will keep you posted as things develop."

So it's once again a case of "watch this space".  I'm kind of into the idea of an erotic film dedicated to Aphrodite, so I am following House of Ecstasy's updates on their new film.  


Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Kylie

I've just read the news that Kylie Minogue is releasing a new disc this July titled Aphrodite.  The first single is called "All the Lovers" (to be released in June) and there's a teaser video on her website and YouTube.

If the blip that's on the teaser video is a strong indication of what the song and the album are like, I'm not sure I like it, but I reserve judgement until I hear them in full.

I'm just not sure how I feel about the album title.  Half of me is pleased as punch to see that Aphrodite is being honoured this way.  I'm also well aware that with Kylie's fame and millions of minions, it may well lead to many of them seeking out Aphrodite and getting to know Her more, which means all Her priestesses and devotees may find a bit more traffic on their blogs and websites. (Edited to add - Just had a side thought that the opposite will be that many Kylie fans will "litter" the WWW by creating new Kylie fan sites using the Aphrodite name, which will of course have nothing to do with Aphrodite as a Goddess and thus make life difficult for those doing searches for sites on Aphrodite.  Of course, I could be wrong.)

The other half of me is sceptical and isn't sure why this record is being called Aphrodite.  Is it really a homage to our beloved Aphrodite or is Kylie guilty of hubris by putting herself on the same level as Aphrodite?  Hmmm.....

Definite case of "watch this space".  I'm tentatively excited.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Epithets for Aphrodite

I thought I'd share some epithets for the Lady I hadn't come across elsewhere.
Akraia-Goddess of Promontories
Einalia-Marine Goddess
Egcheios-Goddess with the Spear
Aphroditos-The male Aphrodite
Eleemon-The Compassionate Goddess
Chrysostephanos-The Goddess with the Golden Crown
Kourotrophos-Patroness of Infants

These are from the sign outside her baths at Paphos in Greece

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Ariadne's Thread

I'm cross posting this from my Avalon Blessings blog because I feel it important to honour Shekhinah's role as a Priestess of Aphrodite.  The work she did to bring back awareness of Aphrodite, not only as a goddess of love, but as a mother goddess of all, is still so very important to those of us who journey with Aphrodite. We can look to Shekhinah's work with Aphrodite as a guiding light on our own paths.

Ariadne's Thread

At least a year or more ago I bought the book Ariadne's Thread: A Workbook of Goddess Magic by Shekhinah Mountainwater as a Dianic/Goddess focused community I was then a part of intended to go through it together as a book study.  Unfortunately, the study fizzled fairly quickly after we started and the book remained on my shelf ever since.  I decided to pick it up again and read it feeling inspired to do so.  I'm glad I did!  

This book was originally published in 1991 just before the Internet became a public/nationwide thing and most people owned a personal computer.  It's clear in reading it that it was because she makes references to teaching through correspondence and provides many addresses for publishers, authors, shops, etc. but no links.  (My copy came from a 5th printing in 1999 but the material had not been updated and I don't know that it ever was).  

Shekhinah wrote from a feminist activist point of view, having been one of the first wave of women in the 60's and 70's to publicly stand up for equality for women and to embrace Goddess centred spirituality.  At the time she wrote the book, she had been teaching about Goddess for over 15 years.  The fact that quite a lot of this teaching took place via correspondence, i.e., when it wasn't as easy as doing it over the Internet, I think, shows how committed she was to teaching and reaching out to others.  Running a correspondence course in such a fashion could not have been entirely easy!

Ariadne's Thread, when done as a course, takes the student reader through the labyrinth of the Goddess over the course of 13 moon cycles and weaves an eclectic Goddess focused tradition of witchcraft.  Shekhinah drew upon goddesses mostly from the Greeks, Romans and Celts and also seemed to draw upon the influences of Wicca in practice (although her tradition was by no means Wiccan).  At the centre of it all is Aphrodite, to whom Shekhinah was a dedicated priestess.  

At first, I found the layout of the book a bit strange.  Things that I, personally, would have thought were important to teach right off, she didn't touch on until much later.  For example, she does not teach about the eight festivals of the Wheel of the Year until chapter 8 (or Cycle 8), instead focusing on teaching about the three faces of Goddess, the moon and other basics.  However, as I read on, I realised that the layout does work and is a good format for teaching those who are completely new to Goddess spirituality.  No doubt, the way in which this course was taught was a result of a lot of trial and error on Shekhinah's part.  

There were many things I liked about this book.  It's full of wonderful ritual ideas, chants, poetry, stories and above all Shekhinah's experience and wisdom.  It seeks to empower women in their lives and spirituality.  It teaches us about love, healing and connection with other women.  

However, there were a couple things I found difficult about this book.  The first was the constant reference to the way a patriarchal focused society and religion has denigrated Goddess and women for thousands of years, changing myths and facts to their own ends.  I completely honour this and agree.  

On the other hand, it was difficult to read through pages of what sometimes seemed her diatribes about the way women and Goddess have been wronged. I think at the time this was probably very important as women generally were still learning this and needed to become aware that change was needed.  However, Goddess spirituality has grown by leaps and bounds since then and knowledge and understanding of the problems which stem from a patriarchal/hierarchal society are more well known, even outside of Goddess spirituality.

That is not to say that a feminist/activist perspective is no longer needed or that such views should be sugar coated.  It is needed, especially as feminism these days is often viewed as "extreme" and many women are now openly shunning the term "feminist".  But I can't help but feel that the way Shekhinah presented some of her views and teachings are precisely why many now view feminism in a negative light given the very strong way in which she puts hers views across.  Still, despite my difficulty, I had/have a great deal of admiration and respect for her pioneering ways and spirit.  Thanks to women like Shekhinah we have come a long way although it's clear there is still much work to be done.

The other thing which concerned me is her suggestion, in a chapter/cycle devoted to Aphrodite, that women should be physically intimate with one another.  Shekhinah mentions being a lesbian and how in ancient times women loving women was not uncommon.  Fair enough, but I felt her suggestion might be misconstrued as being a suggestion that women should turn away from men on an intimate/sexual level.  I don't believe this is her point but is suggesting that women being intimate or even sexual with other women can be very powerful and healing which in turn leads to empowerment of women and women's groups.  

This is a wonderful book/course and it's clear that it came along at a time when books like hers were desperately needed to teach and guide women into new ways of thinking, celebrating themselves, Goddess and the world around them.  I love that Shekhinah encouraged other women to teach this course or to come together in groups to learn together.  I was also very touched by her wisdom at the end of the book when she talks about teaching, priestessing and the trials and errors she has gone through in holding groups of her own.  She provided great insight into the future when she talked about having a Goddess ministry and how as the decades go on, many more will seek to learn and become priestesses and teachers.  How right she was!

As many know, Shekhinah died in August 2007 from cancer.  This book is therefore not only a very good book for seekers of the Goddess path, but also an important legacy left by Shekhinah to the Goddess movement as a whole.  In addition, Shekhinah also left her website http://www.shekhinah.net/ which is now being maintained by her son and the Council for the Protection of Shekhinah Mountainwater's Legacy.  Her site contains many of her other writings and poems which were left "as is" from when Shekhinah was alive.  The Council have done wonderful work to preserve Shekhinah's other work and are still offering her other book on Women's Runes and a new CD of her music.  A DVD of her last interview, recorded about a month before she died, is also now available.  

Friday, 9 April 2010

Venus and Adonis



One of Aphrodite's mortal loves.



Courtesy of:
http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Adonis.html

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Support Pagan Authors....and Readers

Cross posted from Avalon Blessings

This post is inspired by the following:-

The Ethicist - E-Book Dodge - A NY Times Magazine article by Randy Cohen about the effects "windowing" is having on the book buying market.
Writer Beware: Questionable Ethics? - A response to Mr. Cohen's article by Victoria Strauss.
Haikujaguar: A Three Micahs Interlude - M. C. A. Hogarth's response to Ms. Strauss' response which provides a different perspective.

For those who don't wish to read all three articles, the gist is:-

A book buyer wrote to Mr. Cohen with her dilemma - she wanted to buy an e-version of Stephen King's new book but one wasn't available. She bought the hard back but then downloaded a pirated copy because she wanted to put it on her e-reader to take with her on a long journey. Mr. Cohen's position was that although the buyer did do something technically illegal, ethically she did what she felt she had to do in the circumstances and should not be crucified for it. He then went on to discuss what publishers call "windowing", i.e., they withhold the release of e-book versions to encourage sales of the hard back versions so that they make more money. Ms. Strauss' position was that the buyer was wrong to download a pirated version even though she bought the hard back version. Ms. Hogarth says that when it comes to piracy that authors are immediately attacking their readers rather than putting blame where it needs to be - with the publishers who are doing their utmost to milk the buyers by forcing them to choose either to buy the hard back version or penalising them by making them wait for a paperback or e-version. She believes that authors need to remember their readers and use this situation to their advantage by taking their publishers to task for not offering books in the a way that will benefit all.

It reminded me of a conversation I briefly had with one of my daughter's friends last week. I've recently purchased several e-books from Asteria Books; Laurelei Black having coming out with a couple new books and I also bought one of her older books. My daughter's friend mentioned I could probably download a copy for free.

But I said I wouldn't do that. Why? Leaving the legal and ethical arguments to the side for a moment, I wouldn't because Pagan authors, like Laurelei Black, deserve the financial support. They deserve to be paid for their work, especially because the work they're doing isn't in high demand anyway. As much as it would be lovely, we're not likely to see these books at the top of the NY Times Best Seller's List. Therefore these authors are not likely to be earning a great living from their book sales alone. For this reason, I would not download a pirated copy of Laurelei's books or any other Pagan author's book.

It seems that if someone writes a book, it is expected that they are doing well financially from the sales of it. Knowing a lot of writers, I know this isn't necessarily so. Some do ok and earn a comfortable living off of their book sales. More power to them. But it isn't always so. There's no guarantee that once a book is published it will sell or sell well and selling books is as competitive a market as anything else out there. This can be especially true when it comes to writing in such a specialised area as Paganism which breaks down even further into very specialised topics. Therefore, I reckon it's much more difficult for an author to achieve sales, let alone sales that will earn them a decent living.

On the other hand, it does seem to me that publishers need to get with the program a bit. With e-readers becoming ever more popular, it seems it was inevitable that the book selling industry would encounter similar issues to those of the music industry. In Pagan book publishing, pretty much all books put out are paperbacks. So there isn't this "windowing" going on with making people wait for a book to go into paperback. So why not offer e-versions right away too?

As far as I can tell, Asteria Books is an exception and not a rule. I could not find any Pagan publishers who gave the option of buying an e-version of a book directly from them (if there are others - please direct me!). Even Amazon, who brought us Kindle, does not appear to have e-books readily available unless you have a Kindle (and even then their selection appears limited).

I like e-books for the following considerations:-

1. I'm technically unemployed. Priestess work has not yet yielded me much of an income. Money is tight. I appreciate the opportunity to purchase books at a lower cost.

2. We are a family of four living in a one bedroom flat. Space is very tight. I have limited space for books. E-books mean I don't have to be concerned about lack of space (except for maybe on my hard drive).

3. Purchasing a physical copy of a book brings the price up because of postage costs. In the case of Laurelei's books, they weren't all readily available on Amazon UK either, which would have meant ordering a hard copy would rack up not only postage but air miles and increase my carbon footprint. Ordering an e-book version by passed all of that and I got the added bonus of getting the books a whole lot faster.

I don't buy a lot of books because I don't have loads of money to, nor the space to keep them. I can't afford an e-reader because they are, at the moment, cost prohibitive, not just to me but to quite a lot of people. So does this mean that I, and others like me, should be completely cast out of the book buying market? I'd like to think not but it does appear that publishers, and even some authors, think so since neither are taking steps to ensure that their books can reach a wider market by making them readily available in this newer way.

I reckon as time goes on and e-readers get more popular the price will come down to a more feasible-for-me level and I will likely buy one. That may not be for a few years. In the meantime, I shall support Pagan authors when I am able to because I believe they deserve to be. I hope one day that Pagan publishers and major booksellers will begin supporting the people buying the books by making e-versions more readily available. The demand is there and increasing.