Wednesday, 25 August 2010

She Is...

I may be repeating myself, but as some of you are aware, I've been blogging about my experience with this year's Glastonbury Goddess Conference on my Avalon Blessings blog.  Today I posted Part IV of the series.  For those who don't want to read the whole post, I'll quote the relevant bit that I want to address more here:-

"The third talk was by Jacqui Woodward-Smith, a Priestess of Avalon very dear to me as she was really my first teacher on this path.  She has been the main facilitator of the Tribe of Avalon for many years and an inspiration to me.  Her talk was entitled Living Blodeuwedd and she talked about how the story of her own life thus far resonated a lot with the story of Blodeuwedd.  And through Jacqui's talk, I began to really make some connections within myself about certain things regarding my own sexuality and wounds of love.  She proved once again to be a teacher and inspiration to me and I shall share more about those connections in my Aphrodite's Flowers blog as those sharings will be more appropriate there."

Jacqui's talk inspired a lot in me.  One thing she said that really resonated was, "I love the Lady of Avalon but Blodeuwedd is my soul."

My heart really skipped a beat at this because something rose up in me and said, "Yes!"

I knew exactly how she felt.  I love the Lady of Avalon with all my heart.  There is no question that I am Her priestess and in service to Her.  But Aphrodite is my soul.  I'm grateful to Jacqui for putting it so eloquently and giving me a way to say it so eloquently myself.  

I've long felt that Aphrodite put Her stamp on me from the time I was born.  I talked about this in my post "My Journey with Aphrodite".  There was a party going on in the 7th house of Libra the day I was born and Venus, Herself, was hostess.  Looking back on my childhood and teenage years, I can see how Aphrodite was there for me even when I didn't know it.  No matter what path I take, they all lead to Her and She is always there.  Sometimes She makes Her presence known in obvious ways and other times She sits back and gently guides from the shadows, but She is always there in my soul and the very essence of my being.

As Jacqui spoke, I began to also make some other connections about my own wounding in my sexuality and my views.  I began to really see how in my past it was only when I could incite admiration and desire in men that I felt powerful and yet it also scared me.  I would be befuddled when I'd do absolutely nothing and yet guys would, *ahem*, react to me.   I'd close myself off with the attitude of, "You can look but you can't have me."  

As I looked at all of this, I began to wonder why it was that I sought power over men in this way and yet was so afraid of men at the same time.  Of course, powering over was a way to control my own fear but where did this fear come from?  It was all such a strange issue of control and power exchange.  

These days I don't seek any kind of male attention save for my husband's and I certainly have matured enough that I know and understand that powering over is wrong.  I know there are people who still think I'm attractive, beautiful even, and I feel flattered that they do.  But I still don't believe it myself and as I've gained loads of weight in the past 8 years, I feel I've done the ultimate in turning away any kind of admiration or attention by making myself UNattractive.  

I also began to think about the path of the Sacred Prostitute.  I've said many times I honour the path of the Qadishtu but it is not a path for me.  I still feel that way, but I began to realise that maybe I was looking down my nose at it more than I was honouring it.  I admit that there is something about it that makes me cringe a bit on the inside.  Ok, so some of that may be societal conditioning, but what else might be causing me to have problems with this?  Something seemed amiss in my thinking about it.   Am I homogenizing Aphrodite too much by not honouring Her Sacred Sexual aspect enough?  And if so, how can I rectify that for myself? 

Jacqui's talk inspired in me the need to examine or re-examine these two areas of my own sexuality and thinking.  I would eventually gain further perspective on this during the Conference (another post will be needed for that!) but more reading, meditating, consideration, whatever is needed to full understand and heal these parts of myself and my path.  I've not had a chance to really sit with any of this since I've returned home from the Conference but hope to very soon when the kids go back to school!  In the meantime, this is kind of an "open processing" and if you feel compelled to share something which may aid my processing and integrating, I am open to the wisdom of others on this.  

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Vinalia Rustica

Vinalia Rustica is not an Aphrodite festival I was ever familiar with until I read Laurelei Black's book, "Cult of Aphrodite".  In her book, she explains that Vinalia Rustica was actually a festival that honoured Venus and the establishment of her oldest temple (although it's not clear to me where this temple was). 

No doubt because Venus is simply the Roman equivalent to Aphrodite, Laurelei suggests adopting this festival and utilising it as a day to establish our own temples, shrines, altars, etc.  

Being the curious sort, I did a Google search on Vinalia Rustica.  Atlhough I believe Laurelei is far more well read on the subject than I will ever be, it was clear from what I found that there's a bit more to this festival than just the establishment of Venus' temple.  

Firstly, I noticed some sites proclaim this festival is celebrated on the 19th.  Some said it was the 18th.  My questions are: why either day particularly and what difference does it make?  I'm inclined toward the suggestion that the 18th is the day of this festival for no other reason than this is what I originally read and it feels right but I actually don't think there's any harm in celebrating on the 19th either if that winds up being the day someone chooses.

Secondly, the name, Vinalia Rustica, suggests this is a festival of the vine.  One site suggests the name means "Rural Festival of the Vine".  I could not find a translator that would translate the name but with "vin" and "rustic" both seeming quite obvious and recognisable words, I believe there is definitely something about wine and vegetation going on here! :) 

It was also clear from my reading that there are, in fact, two Vinalia festivals, i.e., Vinalia Urbana (or priora) celebrated some time in either late April or on the 1st of May (again, some disagreement about the actual dates) and then Vinalia Rustica (or altera) celebrated on or about the 18th of August.  

What I found was that these festivals actually originally honoured Jupiter.  Some sites suggested that Vinalia Urbana was when the wine casks from the previous season's harvests were opened and libations given to Jupiter and that Vinalia Rustica is when the season's grape harvests were celebrated and sealed into the casks to ferment over the winter until next year.  It was also said that on Vinalia Rustica, a lamb was sacrificed to Jupiter and His priest would break off the first grapes from the vine.   It was also suggested that Vinalia Urbana was a sacred day for Venus' prostitutes who would honour Her that day and that Vinalia Rustica honoured Aphrodite as Goddess of the garden and vegetation.  On one site in particular, it also mentions a third festival simply called Vinalia and suggests that this is when the new season's first wines were tasted to ensure they were fementing properly and libations were given to Bacchus to ensure that the fermentation process continued properly.  Indeed, a search for Vinalia on its own yielded results showing many modern day Vinalia celebrations going on not only in Italy but all over Europe.  

So how did Venus figure in to all of this?  Why inaugurate a temple to Her on this particular day?  

For me, it appears as a glaring affirmation of Venus, and thus Aphrodite, as a Goddess of the land.  It seems to me the only reason the ancients would have dedicated Her temple on this day is because it is a day already sacred to Her because She is a Goddess of the garden, vegetation, the harvest.  To back this up, apparently the Roman poet Ovid referred to Venus as a Goddess of the garden and wine (although I've never read Ovid, something I should remedy, so I'm taking this in faith as truth).  Could I be way off base here?  I accept I might be, but this makes sense to me.

As I read, I also made further connection in that this is like the Roman version of Lammas.  Instead of celebrating the first harvested grain and the baking of bread, we're celebrating the first harvested of grapes and the making of wine.

Creative license much?  Why yes, thank you.  Again, this makes sense to me and feels right.

So I suggest that today is not only a good day for establishing temples, shrines, altars, etc. but also a good day to celebrate Venus/Aphrodite as the Goddess of the Garden and Wine.  Let us establish our temples/shrines/altars to Her or clean and re-decorate our existing ones and make libations of wine to Her in gratitude for the harvest of the land and the manifestation of abundance in our lives, before raising a chalice of wine to our own lips in gratitude.

Have a wonderful day celebrating our Lady!  Hail and bide well in Your temple, Aphrodite!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday the 13th!

It's a one, two, three punch today as it's Friday the 13th, it's Aphrodite's day and also Her monthly festival day.  So far I've spent the morning reflecting and writing more about my Goddess Conference experience.  For today, I thought I'd share a wee bit that I left out on my other blog.

I just posted on Avalon Blessings about the second day of the Conference and mentioned a talk by Jane Meredith called "Aphrodite's Mirrors".  I was actually inwardly amused by the title of Jane's talk as originally Tanisha and I considered the name Aphrodite's Mirrors for this blog.  When I first created the blog, I called it Aphrodite's Mirrors, but we decided we liked Aphrodite's Flowers better hence it was changed.  Still, had to smile to myself at the synchronicity!

Anyway, Jane's talk focused on seeing ourselves as the embodiment of Goddess. Jane talked about how Aphrodite's beauty didn't necessarily stem completely from physical beauty but self love, self confidence and self esteem and how we are all born with the essence of the Goddess and God within us.  She also mentioned how Aphrodite's beauty also comes from Her connection with others and read part of the Charge of the Star Goddess by Starhawk.

Jane went on to challenge the audience asking, "Do we reflect Aphrodite's love and beauty?".  It was a question to ponder.  She led us through a short guided meditation where we entered a temple and found three doors.  Behind each door was a mirror, each one showing us something different.  The first mirror reflected you as your see yourself.  The second reflected you at one with Goddess.  The third reflected you as Goddess sees you.  At the end Jane proclaimed, "We reflect Her beauty.  Are you willing to be a mirror for Aphrodite?"  We were asked to stand if we were.  I stood as did I think everyone in the audience.

My notes on this talk were short and sketchy (this was pretty much the only talk where I took any notes) but I think the main idea is conveyed.  So for today's weekly/monthly devotion to Aphrodite, I suggest the following ritual to honour Her or to perhaps include it in whatever ritual you might be doing today:-

Prepare your altar/ritual space in whatever way you choose.

Take a ritual bath or shower and thereafter anoint yourself with a special oil, rose water, perfume, lotion, or whatever you may wish to use.  Dress in whatever way feels appropriate (either with a ritual robe or go naked if you prefer).

Come before your altar and light a candle and incense to honour Aphrodite.  Sit or lie down.  Ground and centre yourself.  Close your eyes and proceed to imagine yourself in Aphrodite's Temple.  Find the doors to the three different mirrors.  Look at your reflection in each one.  Notice any difference in the way you appear in each mirror and how you feel when looking at yourself.

When you are ready, come back to the room and stand before your altar.  Call Aphrodite into your heart using whatever words or epithets seem appropriate for you.  Ask Her to be at one with you and bring forth in you the qualities which you need.  When you can feel Her in your heart say, "Hail and welcome into my heart, Aphrodite."

Stand in front of a mirror (full length if you have one) and read out the Charge of the Star Goddess:-

Hear the words of the Star Goddess, The dust of whose feet
Are the hosts of the Heavens,
And whose body encircles the universe.

"I who am the beauty of the Green Earth,
And the White Moon among the Stars,
and the Mystery of the Waters,
I call upon your soul to arise and come to Me.
For I am the Soul of Nature
That gives life to the Universe.
From Me all things proceed
And to Me all things must return.
Beloved of the Gods and Men,
Whose innermost Divine Self
Shall be enfolded in the rapture of the Infinite.
Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices,
for behold!
All acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.
Let there be beauty and strength,
Power and compassion, honor and humility,
Mirth and reverence within you all.
And you who wish to seek Me,
Know that your seeking and yearning
Gains you nothing until you know the Mystery -
That if that which you seek,
You do not find within yourself
You will never find it without.
For behold!
I have been with you from the Beginning,
and I am that which is attained at the End of Desire."

As you finish, see Goddess shine through you as you gaze in the mirror.

When you are ready, give thanks to Goddess and close your rite.

Have a beautiful Hemera Aphrodites and a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Back From The Mists...Sort Of

When last we left our Aphrodite loving priestess, she was preparing for her journey to Glastonbury to attend the Goddess Conference.

Well, if you've been following my other blog or follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know by now that I've been back for over a week.  Sorry I've been MIA.  I've been doing a series of posts on my Avalon Blessings blog about my conference experience.

I definitely had some Aphrodite experiences while I was there, not the least of which was dressing up as Aphrodite for the Gorgeous Goddess Gala on the Saturday night!  I intend to share some of those experiences on this blog as I go along with my updates.  Most likely they will be excerpts from the full postings and perhaps any further thoughts I might have.

I appreciate everyone's patience while I'm focusing on my Avalon Blessings blog.  If you would like to read about my Conference experience over there, please do!  Link!  In the meantime, a belated Friday's Flower - Kellianna's song Aphrodite and Pan.