It’s winter, a bleak stillness stares back at me from the window of my little home in the woods. There’s not much actually happening outside and the harsh ennui of the long, darkened days is whittling at my nerves like a gopher gnawing on a sapling’s roots. Every so often, the Apollo in His brilliant sun-chariot will come bursting through the puffy clouds and make His presence known for a few, brief moments. Just enough time to remind me that I’m still alive and not sleeping off the long frosty months like every ash, oak, and maple that surrounds my little rural abode.
Over the years, I’ve discovered varied methods to help fight the seasonal depression which occurs during this time and hits me on every level of being. Often, I’m huddled up with my Kindle or a real paper book in hand, studying about some form of Magick or another. The joy of crafting and making my own ritual tools and oils has also served as a form of escape from the dreary Northern Wisconsin days. It’s not enough though, and I find myself craving a spicier substance than the porridge I’ve set out for my house spirits.
As a Pagan, I cherish turning to the Gods for inspiration. As an eclectic Witch, I have a wide-range of deities to choose from as I am not limited to a single pantheon. When I want to deal with the range of my human emotions and work on my own fallacies, I almost always turn to the Greek Gods for assistance. Domineering, foolish, arrogant, compassionate, trusting, naive, angry, and unbelievably blissful, the Gods and Goddesses of the Greek Pantheon are undoubtedly the most relatable entities for me. These Deities are fortunate enough to have a lot of surviving lore so that we can better understand Them and what interactions with Them can be like when we work with these Gods. Whether you’re reading the classic Edith Hamilton’s Mythology or ensnared by the epic poetry of Homer, you get a pretty detailed mural of some dazzling beings.
Funnily enough, the deity that jumped out at me recently was the Goddess Aphrodite. I had recently obtained a statue of Her at a local thrift store and instantly felt very attracted to the sacred figure. It isn’t just the physical beauty of the Goddess of Love that intrigues me so, it’s the whole concept of a woman who represents such a dangerous emotion for myself. Over the years, I’ve learned to shut out love because of past abuse and my own mistakes in relationships. There were a few times during the darkest days of my depression that I was ashamed of myself for loving so completely and blindly. In the comfort of friends and Tribe, I had no real reason for this delusion.
I felt like I was at a giant party and everyone was having such a wonderful time around me. Almost always on my guard, I had a wall between myself and others. I made jokes, people laughed, and on the outside I was the picture of the court jester. Laughing outside, crying on the inside. Inwardly, I felt like I was being strangled by this crippling fear of relationships. In this celebration of human life, I was the one carrying around a lead balloon and I felt completely alone in the process. I knew that inside I had great love to give people and that I even had people around me that I could finally trust, yet I had this terrible fear of time repeating itself and leaving me crushed again.
Normally I work with Kali, Oya, or The Morrigan when I’m working on my ego and perception of the world. A different outcome required a different viewpoint from a new Goddess. I had a calling recently and I decided to act on that intuition to call upon a God I wouldn’t normally. It was an act that benefited me. That’s when working with Aphrodite and building a relationship with this deity really began to help me see events and interactions with folks more authentically. It came in the form of dreams, conversations with people in the waking world, and even some moments of Satori during some time working on Clergy matters. Aphrodite kept reminding me that much like the cycle of the seasons, everything in love and relationships rises and falls. I had been hurt, yes, and I had also been adored by others.
I was craving love and comfort the way a person with anemia can sometimes develop pica. I couldn’t find that love in other people, so I turned to more destructive methods of trying to fill the void. I knew, by watching and interacting with others that I wasn’t alone in this struggle of trust and communication. Almost every situation I had witnessed where some one fell apart because of a relationship boiled down to the same thing. It was the same way I felt about myself when my own relationships had dissolved before my eyes like a mirage in the desert. Failure is how I saw myself and how I began to define myself and before long, I actually believed it.
Aphrodite reminded me that the Goddess of Love is more than just lustful encounters and the tragic romances of star-crossed lovers. A Goddess born of sea-foam and rose-colored vision was one that could imbue folks with a more modern need, a sense of self-love. I look deeply into the eyes of the icon that I have chosen to represent Her, and I have to dig deep within myself to find authentic words that cover the scope of what this Goddess is now and how desperately She is needed in this world. I give thought to my circumstances with a little less darkness and begin to feel like a Warrior of Love. Some one who can forgo the callousness and cynicism that develop with age and still freely adore those around me without fear of recourse.
How I work with Aphrodite
When working with Aphrodite for self-love, get yourself a hand mirror or stand in front of a mirror you have set aside for spiritual work. Make sure to clean the surface of the mirror well, and spritz it with a little rose-water or lightly anoint the corners of the mirror with a favorite essential oil. I prefer rose scents, although you may substitute a scent that makes you think of romance and affection. I light pink and red candles and set down little shells to represent Her emergence from the sea. I also offer up a small bowl of chocolates and other candies that I enjoy. I find that dark-chocolate covered cherries work very nicely and can be obtained cheaply from the local retailers.
Now, instead of just going on with your work, take some time to focus on yourself. Make sure you are well-bathed, groomed, and dressed in clothes that make you feel wonderful. Put on some make-up, some cologne, or whatever jewelry makes you feel special. The most important step, however, is what you look like on the inside. Spend a little meditative time focused on your desires for yourself, your ambitions, and also think about what you bring to the table. If you can’t think of anything special about yourself, it’s a good time to reflect on what you can do to make yourself more purposeful in your daily life.
Get a good clear image in your mind before you begin to call upon Aphrodite. She strikes me as the kind of Goddess who wants those who work with Her to have a clear image of their intent before considering to aid them in their work. Goddesses are busy women, so this is par the course when working with deities and developing relationships with Them.
After a bit of smudging of the area and myself, I call quarters and begin my work:
Hail the Queen of Love, Beauty, and Fertility!
Hail to Venus, born of the shells and foam of the lusty oceans!
I call to You, Aphrodite, to aide me in my workings.
I have need of love for myself,
acceptance of my victories and failures alike,
I work to forgive myself for past traumas,
for the mistakes made in ignorance,
I work now with Your blessing on a new life,
One filled with Your revelry, and passion for the next breath,
I call to You, of coral-lips and sapphire eyes, to guide me through this next passage,
as I dive deep into the unknown waters,
to discover the hidden treasures locked within my heart,
and yet unknown to my mind,
Please make Your presence and direction clear in my life,
as I honor You, oh Goddess of mirth, seduction, and ecstasy.
SO MOTE IT BE!
And with that, the work is done. The sun is a little brighter, color around me are a little more vibrant and the scent of the candles I’ve blown out still tingles in my nose. I’ve made my intentions clear to Aphrodite and I set out to find more about who I am. I look for signs everywhere and carefully write down my dreams. Intuitions and meditations are my guide in this new adventure.
If you’ve had any interactions with Aphrodite or questions about my UPG, please let me know in the comments or on Face Book! Thank you for your time, Shining Quill.