International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
The 17th December is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. In the UK and throughout the world, sex workers are continually subjected to physical and emotional abuse which often goes unreported because of the criminalisation of the work they do.
Let us call upon the spirit of Goddess and join together to share our poems, stories and songs in a candle light vigil to remember those who have died at the hands of those who were violent against them and to send our love and strength to those who are still suffering that they may find a way out of violent situations to places of safety.
The cost of the event is free, however, money donations will be accepted to be donate to the following organisations:-
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.
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.
The beautiful bountiful fruit of Aphrodite, the pomegranate, has come into my life a lot recently.
Firstly, I've failed to mention here that the lovely Laurelei Black has bestowed upon me the gift of being a moderator on her Thiasos Aphrodite email list. I was honoured she asked me and, as I often say, a privilege to be of service to our Lady in this way.
There's been some discussion on the list this past week that originated with someone posting about this commercial advert for POM Wonderul pomegranate juice and asking what people thought. It's devolved into a discussion about how Aphrodite appears to us in a physical sense, which is always an interesting conversation to have as there are so many different ways She is viewed!
Of course, with the power of suggestion of the advert I got a taste for some pomegranate juice. I went out in the early evening to attend my local women's Moon Lodge and thought I'd pick up some pomegranate juice, but alas, none was found. But Aphrodite smiled on me as someone else came to the Moon Lodge and brought pomegranate juice! Ah synchronicity and the blessings of the Lady! Therefore, my thirst was satiated.
Pomegranates have been turning up in the shops as well since they are now in season. It is amazing to me how the pomegranate has been a symbol in so many cultures and pantheons throughout the world. Of course, with Aphrodite, it is said that She brought the pomegranate to Cyprus and pomegranate trees were planted in the gardens of Her temples. The pomegranate was said to be a symbol of a woman's fertility as well as the consummation of marriage. What makes this even more interesting to me is that it's also said that it was the pomegranate that Eve picked from the tree and offered to Adam. Perhaps this was Eve actually offering Adam her virginity and wanting to consummate their marriage?
But there also seems to be a death symbology to the pomegranate as well as it was six seeds of the pomegranate that Persophone ate which had been given to Her by Hades. Why Hades would have or offer pomegranate is a mystery to me. I've not made any attempt to read up on it. Was He offering it as a symbol of His love and desire for his wife? We all know from the story that He used the pomegranate seeds to trick Persophone into staying with him, but why pomegranate? Things that make me go, "Hmmm...." It seems there is some symbolism with death and the underworld where pomegranates are concerned.
Today is Aphrodite's monthly festival today in accordance with the Athenian calendar of 4 days past the new moon. In keeping with the idea of sacrifice, I decided I would sacrifice pomegranates to Aphrodite today in gratitude for the love and abundance which She bestows upon me and my family. The interesting thing is that I had bought two as they were buy-one-get-one-free at the shop. When I bought them yesterday I remember thinking, "One for Aphrodite and one for me!"
Then this morning I had a bit of a re-think about this. I wasn't really sacrificing if I didn't give both of them to Her. But of course in thinking about the pomegranate sitting on my altar, the whole forbidden fruit syndrome came up. I was hungry and I wanted one and hunger does strange things to one's thought processes sometimes. Maybe I'd have a bit and then give the rest to Aphrodite.
But sacrifice means you're surrendering something completely to your Divine. I realised this. So this morning I lit Aphrodite's Flame, lit the usual rose scented incense that I do for Her, and I cut each in half and sacrificed both pomegranates to Her as well as my desire for them, thanking Her for all She gives to me, to my family and asking that She continue to bless us over the coming month as She sees fit. This afternoon, I shall take them outside and give them to the ground. Tomorrow, I will probably imbibe in some pomegranate juice!
In gratitude I give these fruits to You
For all You bestow
It's Aphrodite's day once again. Beautiful Friday! How so many adore thee!
My Friday devotions are very simple - light Aphrodite's flame and burn incense in offering and honour of Her. Sometimes I do more, but if I do nothing else, I do this.
I've been teaching an online Goddess study group where we recently talked about daily practices. I'm a big proponent of keeping things simple. People are busy enough with their day-to-day commitments that they don't always have the time to do something elaborate or complex. It doesn't have to be. Setting up an altar and lighting a candle and burning incense in offering is enough. It's simple and allows us for a moment to focus our minds and hearts on Goddess. If you can do more then great! Go for it! If you can't, then you can do these simple things and it's just as spiritually placed and effective.
I have a special rose scented incense that I like that I burn only on Fridays and on any other of Aphrodite's festivals (monthly and annual). Tanisha very kindly sent me a candle that she made especially for me, so lately I've been burning that in offering to Aphrodite. Today I also cleaned my altar and re-arranged it.
For this week's flower, I share with you a video of a song that's really hot in the UK right now. If you're not in the UK and you're curious about what we're listening to, well this is it. It's number 1 on the pop charts here right now (or so it was last I knew). If you're in the UK, you're probably sick of hearing it! :D I like it. It's a catchy tune.
There's been a lot of speculation about who this song is about. I don't really care. What I hear when I listen to the lyrics is someone talking about how her love walked with her through a dark time and how she does not want to be parted from him/her. Because there's talk of darkness and death in the lyrics, it feels very Epitymbria to me. So here it is - Promise This by Cheryl Cole. Enjoy and have a beautiful weekend filled with love!