Monday, 18 May 2015

Journey to Aphrodite

About 2 years ago I was ordained within the Fellowship of Isis and in this I was asked to dedicate to 3 Goddess names. I chose Nut easily, having played a strong role in my life over the recent years. I chose the Great Mother, who is all things and the all encompassing source of life. And then finally, who else would I choose?

I had an overwhelming urge to dedicate to Aphrodite. Never before had I ever considered Her a possibility. I'd never really done a ceremony to Her, apart from a dedication for a friend. I'd never prayed to Her. I'd never read up about Her myths. I was nothing like Her. Beautiful, confident, unashamed, naked, wild, sexual, sensual, ecstatic, erotic joy! Me? I was a young student, devoted to a selfish and unpassionate man-child, head in her books, T-total, pj's and a disney movie kinda girl.

I had a Madonna and Whore complex, where deep down I was fascinated by the world of sexuality, and inspired by the gorgeous role models dancing their burlesque, and living as Goddesses on earth. I would talk about sex with friends whenever the chance arose and I idealised love through rose-tinted glasses to the point where I deluded myself. But one thing I now know, is that Love, Sexuality and Beauty have always been at the core of my being. Even when I returned home and just wanted to sleep and avoid persistent unloving demands.

But Aphrodite somehow snuck in there. Somehow, and I can't even remember the thought process, but she made herself known and I just had to choose her. I didn't know why. It didn't make sense. And for a time nothing much came of it - that I knew of. Life continued. My love life did not seem to swell with desire and devotion, but she had other plans at that time. She knows what she is doing and does it in her own time.
Less than a year later I sat before an altar to Rhiannon (Avalon's Goddess of Love). I looked into Her eyes, upon her bare breasts and beautiful red hair, and I felt a connection. I sat in front of her, and others looked towards me; they saw two women, of the Lover age, both with long red hair and they knew. I said to the Priestess beside me, 'But I'm nothing like Her?' And she responded suggesting, 'Maybe you have not found the right man to awaken that in you, yet?' I did not like this. I was with the man I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. I loved him with all my heart. How could he not be the right one?
*
From that moment Rhiannon/Aphrodite took Her hold on me. I knew immediately that it was Her I was devoted to. I'd searched for a Matron Goddess for years, and thought many times that I had found them. But none like this. You just KNOW when you find Her. And you can only find Her, when you find Yourself. Sitting in front of Her image, I saw myself. I found us.  

In May 2014 I underwent my Rite of Passage into womanhood and in doing this, I also re-dedicated to Her. I noticed that my libido did increase after that - but I strictly know that this was an internal libido and not one inspired by the aforementioned lover. But I praised myself for it, as it was the only thing I was good for to him and I desperately saught his approval.

My heart was devestated by November which I do not want to discuss in detail to avoid the negativity that it storms around me when I think of it. It was cruel, unexpected and wrong. I clung to the Dark Mother. I cried like a banshee. And Aphrodite stood back, patiently, understanding, knowing. For under the guise of a black robe, blood stained hands, and the cawing of crows, Aphrodite stood there.

It comes to now, when I reflect on how much has changed, that I realise what has happened here. I have been through tremendous amounts of pain and suffering in this. And I have had to release previous opinions, ideas, and beliefs. I have been shattered and broken to the core and have had to rebuild and rediscover myself. And so much has changed.
*
In these 6 months, I look in the mirror and I see myself. I see Her. Because I no longer have to deny my Lillith, the other side to my Eve. I am a dual creature. I am not straight forward and 2D. I have two sides of myself. And for years one side was suffocated and denied - and I remember the exact moment that that happened, 8 years ago... From that moment I had someone to impress, I had to be virtuous, well behaved, middle class, tidy and well educated. I was expected to be the Madonna, perfect housewife and innocent, but then the Whore was demanded at other times, and unsurprisingly when the Whore is denied and shamed it's rather hard to just pull it out of the hat at the click of a finger!

But She is released. Lillith has escaped and after a few months of running riot, the Two Sisters have balanced out. Neither side of my being is rejected anymore and I am unashamed.

Oh Aphrodite, what have you done here?

It was last night in the shower - as usual - that Her voice trailed in and I realised, like a brick hitting water: After dedicating to Aphrodite, I offered myself up to Her. I would have to become Her - or more accurately realise that I was Her. And not just any lover would do. For the lover who I lay with would also be expected to lie with Aphrodite Herself. Now, friends who know the situation - do you really think that he was up to that challenge? I think we can safely conclude in the negative.

Aphrodite requires devotion, and genuine unconditional love. She requires true friendship and someone with affection and sensitivity. She requires a lover who LOVES when he/she loves, in her mutual, beautiful, electric rites of pleasure. So, from the moment I truely looked Her/Myself in the eye and it was decided. The process would begin where she would put everything in place, like a game board, for me to navigate and lead me to where I am now. Every obstacle, every attack, every wound, every kiss - everything! - was deliberately placed.

Now I still may not like it. I may still be in pain and angry and sad. But this is what you get, when you dedicate to the Goddess of Love. No wonder many ancient cultures saw the Goddess of Love as the Goddess of War or a warrioress!

A golden rule which She told me at the very beginning of this drama, was that with a Daughter or Son of Aphrodite, if you are lucky enough to fall in mutual love with them, then you damn well better love them intensely, passionately, and unconditionally.

Daughters and Sons of Aphrodite hurt horrendously and suffer greatly at heartbreak. But they love intensely and beyond measure. So as usual, we make a deal - that if we can love this strongly, and enjoy love this much, then we must take the risk of that pain. I now know that the love I had for this person was not to be credited to his outstanding personal character. I know that the love I had for this person is a positive reflection of myself, of my ability to love in such a strong way, unconditionally.

Rather than coming away from this with low self esteem and personal regret, I actually feel better about myself than I ever have before. Seeing how much love I am capable of, and knowing that I would never do to others the unkindness that was done to me, confirms my self-worth. I look at those two people and I feel ashamed of them: that they could do such a cruel thing, and that they spat on the beauty of devoted, loyal, trusting love. But I, myself will never do this. Actually in all this hurt, I love the Goddess of Love so much more, instead of resenting Her.

So Aphrodite, please release these bonds that tie me down. Please set my heart free. Please end my pain.

But I THANK YOU FOR IT.


Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Madonna and the Whore

I am guilty of living in the Madonna-Whore complex.

One day I can be looking with great longing and admiration at the pious veiled woman of the Mosques, the devoted wife and mother, and the idealised image of the medieval maiden, of Lady Guinevere, and - stripping away the thought of any oppression and unrealistic expectations of women - I see women of kindness, devout faith, dignity, self-respect and regality. I see a face of the Goddess that has been called Maria, Kwan Yin and Sophia... I admire them and feel like they could represent my potential to be the best person I could be.

Another day I can be looking with great longing and admiration at the confident and expressive belly dancers at the Haflas, the suggestive burlesque dancers of film and stage, the image of the bare-breasted huntress of the woodlands and blood-stained warrioress of the battlefield. I see women of power, bravery, an unapologetic understanding of their beings. I see a face of the Goddess that has been called Aphrodite, Morgana and Ishtar... I admire them and feel like they could represent my potential to be the strongest person I could be.

I am torn between the desire to be pious, 'pure' and kind, and being strong, natural and powerful. (When we I say 'natural' I mean sexual - understanding ones natural, sexual-instinctive being.) One is no better than the other. And being one does not discount you from being the other at the same time.

I've found it strange that I am drawn to the more wild, sexual Goddesses like Aphrodite, Freya, Hathor, Shakti and Asherah. Surely they are nothing like me? Sensible, organised, ordered, shy and modest... How could I ever be like golden Aphrodite, who in sculptures we see, makes no real attempt to cover her nudity, who makes no apologies for her form and open sexual nature. Perhaps I was better suited to more conservative religions...

Statue of 'Capitoline Venus'

If I look properly at myself I can see that I am gentle, emotional, 'physically modest' by western standards, 'well-behaved' and romantically loyal. But I am also someone's lover, a belly dancer, defensive and driven. I could be called Madonna and Whore. And because of this, I am neither. I am not a 'perfect maiden-wife' to be placed on an angelic pedestal beside Lady Maria. I am also not Oholah and Oholibah, the bible condemned prostitutes, looked down upon and considered defiled...

I'm a woman. And I'm breaking out of these barriers that try to push us into either path. I am breaking out of these barriers that encourage the pious woman to envy her lusty sister, or the lusty woman to sneer at her pious sister.

I also encourage men to break their barriers too, with their expectation to become the Alpha Male of sexual prowess, physical strength and numbed emotional state...

Inspired from a post by:
http://aphroditerises.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/madonnas-and-whores-and-double-standard/

Sunday, 12 January 2014

When did I meet Her?


I've been reading Kathy Jones' 'The Ancient British Goddess' and soaking up some Goddess love this week. Books such as this and 'Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess', also by Kathy Jones, and 'Walking an Ancient Path', by Karen Tate have opened Goddess Spirituality up to me. I haven't read many books on the sole topic of Goddess and so I have realised that the Goddess path is relatively new to me.
The first part of this post is my own thought processes about how my path began. The second part is directly relevant to this particular topic.

Not knowing what to search for

As a child I had the natural wonder of the world, a belief in faeries, a vivid imagination and a very real sense of innate power within and connection without. But this flame seemed to retreat into my subconscious as I entered secondary school and the pressures of teen life set in. 
Mental maturity gradually emerged, in conjunction with my initiation into sexuality, and as a deep questioning in the nature of suffering grew I searched for answers in religion. I imagined the Priests of the church as wisemen with the love of God that could conquer any pain. But as the webs of fate worked, my attention was instead directed to the mysterious, romantic practices of Pagans.
And so I started to tread upon the Pagan path in November 2007. The path was dusty and broad, with many things far away from me. I had a friend to keep me company as I travelled, and whilst it was refreshing and inspiring, it was very much like throwing myself in at the deep end of a blinding new world with a labyrinth of routes to take. (And when I decide to do something, I simply must go in head first!) I'd never been fully involved in religion before and so was happy to memorise set rituals and correspondences of non-traditional Wicca. Being told what to do was a comfort, especially when what I was told seemed to make logical sense too. 
When asked by Rebecca Cody, a director of a teenage documentary on witches, what was it that drew me to Paganism and Witchcraft, the answer was at the tip of my consciousness. I felt foolish to answer, 'There is something romantic, alluring, exciting and beautiful about it all, but I can't place it.' What is it about the stone circles, sacred fires, watery cauldrons and beautiful icons that really convinced and gripped me? I didn't feel that other religions would reply in such a fanciful and indirect way. Had I missed something? Was I just following a rebellious and alternative path as an imaginative teenager?
I feel that whilst my heart grew, my knowledge and experiences didn't fill up to their potential. As a teenager I had a lot of other distractions and little time to read pagan related books. Shortly after participating in the teen documentary (a few years after starting my path) I turned 18 and could meet with other Pagans. From here I began to open up. The flame of wonder was rekindled and realised, and began to grow. Nevertheless it was at a slow pace, compared to the mad rush of the first years.
But I wanted to learn so much! Over the year I had covered the surface of a number of topics that interested me, but none in any true depth (apart from the religion of ancient Egypt, which I have gone on to study more at University). In my youtube videos I had originally tried to ask questions, interact with others and share new things I learnt. I did not know it all and I still don't. Today I still make videos on new things I learn and I never claim to be an expert; I just enjoy sharing the twists and turns of my path and new realisations that I enjoy.
So where am I now?
When I began my path, as I said, I learnt many things that books told me. I just accepted them. I came to be very confused about the 'Choice' of how to percieve deity. What did I believe? Was deity Male and Female, and all others an aspect of them? Were there many Gods and Goddesses? Was it something else? I had no idea; how could we ever know this? I had never conciously experienced Goddess or God. I had learnt the actions of casting a circle, what to say, the directions ect... I had learnt names and associations of deities and I could recite them in 'invocation'. I never had a clear and direct experience, and I believe this is because whilst my mind was alive with these ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and practices, my heart, the little flame, was still a waiting seedling.

She steps forward

After four years of my path the seed was still waiting. I'd have thought from the realisation of becoming Pagan the seed would start to grow. Instead I feel that it was awakened, like it had been awake in childhood, but it was waiting to be nurtured and grow. For even with the new information, practices and beliefs, heartfelt spiritual stimulation can still be lacking. As a child I had fallen from the mother tree as a seed, and come secondary school I was gathered up to be planted later on. Four years after starting my journey I have arrived in the fertile soil.
I find that the key part of approaching Goddess Spirituality is becoming conscious of it. It is true that She has been with you from the very beginning. She was there when my mother gave birth to me, when as a child I danced in the garden, when my body became that of a 'woman', when I cried, when I fought back, when I fell in love. She was there where I recited Her names and epithets but I didn't yet know how to FEEL them. She was there when I cast a circle holding onto the book of instructions but I didn't yet know how to FEEL the energy. So even though I didn't quite know Her yet, She held the torch as I walked the Labyrinth. As I walked the Sprialled Path. 
At the end of the aforementioned book, 'The Ancient British Goddess', women recite their own stories of finding Goddess and so today I wondered how I actually found Her. After all the journeying, when did I find the soil of Her body and nestle in?
I decided to train as a Priestess of the Fellowship of Isis in 2011 and completed this in 2013. I don't even know if at the moment I decided this I had quite realised why. Something told me I wanted to be Her Priestess, and that I wanted to know Her. And the feeling grew. I remember in 2012 I began to undergo some spiritual confusion as I explored Islam at my University. In the end I realised that no matter the religious doubt over polytheism, ritual actions and the like found in contemporary Paganism (we all get this religious doubt now and again), the one constant love and belief was Goddess. I could never bring myself to question Her existence. The absolute belief in the Life of Nature and the Life of the Goddess was unshakable, even if occasionally a monotheistic God sat on the other side of the wall.
This caught me by surprise. I didn't realise how much I believed in Her. I hadn't spent hours devoted to her rituals and prayers each week, or day, or undergone numerous meditations with Her, and offered copious offerings... Just as I had tried to learn the surface of many Pagan related topics, I learnt the surface of information about the Goddess... and yet She had a pillar-like presence in my heart. I knew that even if I did theorectically (and I mean theorectically, not in definite consideration) decide to don the hijab and touch my head to the ground for the five daily prayers of Father God, Goddess was damn well going to sit on Her throne beside Him, naked, shining, golden hair flowing and sceptre in hand. And I somehow did not feel that God hated Her like patriarchal religion say he did.

Well, well... It seemed that She had entered my heart without me knowing and didn't intend to leave. In 2013 I underwent a year of transformation. Hard personal lessons had to be learnt, bad habits understood and shifted, intentions reaffirmed, love realised. Previous body and sexual shame had to be eradicated; understanding and love of the self meant that I could love and understand others better. This perhaps sounds a little chiche, but this is what needed to happen. I was turning 21, preparing to enter the adult world, accepting and understanding the mechanics of life. As my body woke up to the initiations of womanhood, so did my mind and love of the Goddess. This seed has fallen from the mother tree and is now germinating for her life ahead.

Seeing the Priest/esses of Avalon in Glastonbury, reading about them, and the Priest/esses of the Fellowship of Isis has really been an inspiration for how to proceed. This January I have confirmed in myself that the path of the Goddess is the way I need to go. Previously when I had tried to explain what it was that drew me to Paganism, I found it hard to explain: As above, ''There is something romantic, alluring, exciting and beautiful about it all, but I can't place it.' What is it about the stone circles, sacred fires, watery cauldrons and beautiful icons that really convinced and gripped me?" The answer is Goddess
Romantic
Alluring
Exciting
Beautiful
Her bones are the standing stones and her memory whispers on the wind of our ancestral sites. The sacred fires burn in thanks for the gifts She gives. The watery cauldrons invite us to look into the depths of her mysterious womb. The beautiful icons are our way of reaching out and expressing the feelings that She gives us. And so on. Every joy that I feel in my path can go back to Her.

And whilst She sits on Her throne and encourages me to do the same, God sits beside Her and beside me. It is through remembering God (after a number of years protesting against patriarchal religion and what I insisted was a spirit-less method of control) that I remembered Goddess, for Who She truly was and how important She is to me. Every year is an initiation into new life experiences and insights, and we cannot predict what lies ahead, our path is ever changing, our journey through the Labyrinth taking many routes. 


Thursday, 9 January 2014

My Coptic Church Experience


On the 6th January I had the pleasure of attending a Coptic Christmas service (Coptic meaning 'Egyptian'). We travelled to a Coptic Church especially for this event. I definitely felt very 'other' as I travelled with the Coptic Christians and attended the overall event, but people were very friendly and happy to introduce themselves.

Upon entering the church I saw an entrance lobby, with two arches, one leading to the high altar, the other to the congregation. Beautiful smelling incense wafted around me, and as we were late arriving the sound of loud rhythmic male voices vibrated through the room, accompanied by the clang of cymbals and triangles. 

I took my place in the stalls by myself and looked eagerly to the front. The altar could only be seen through a small wooden archway, leading to a sense of mystery about the rites being enacted. Men and boys sang in front of the arch, all wearing white robes with red sashes. Above the arch that stood behind them was wooden panels decorated with twelve icons, and two larger ones depicting Mary and Jesus. Looking around the room were further icons, gold candelabras and a shrine to the Virgin Mary containing relics (I longed to approach it throughout the whole ceremony).

As the men sang I could spy the lead clergymen through the archway to the high altar, enacting rites over a white cloth covering something, holding up a cross, and holding up what appeared to be a gold Bible. The men and women of the congregation sat separately, the men on the left and women on the right; some of the women wore white veils over their hair, and some wore all white clothes. Perhaps the wearing of white clothes is a survival from ancient Egyptian practices. With regards to the veil I found the following purpose summarised from Corinthians: "The spiritual meaning behind it is to cover human glory in the presence of Gods." (A woman's external glory is in her hair.)

I did wonder why it was only men up there singing and enacting the rites. One man mentioned that whilst he was unsure, he believed it was due to menstrual impurity in women, a concept argued to have existed in ancient Egypt also; however I did wonder why this then discounted young girls from singing, if young boys could. A woman told me that men were given this duty from God, and women were given other duties.

The service contained much of this singing, with few breaks for short liturgical readings on the theme of the nativity. What I found greatly interesting was how it appeared to be a blend of a Catholic Church and a Muslim Mosque. With all of the iconography, bible readings, crosses and Jesus references, the readings and some songs were sang in the characteristic arabic/muslim 'singing' that they use when reciting the holy Quran. Please pardon my ignorance on what this is called! A screen showed the lyrics and readings to the congregation in English, Ancient Coptic, and Arabic. It was unlike anything I'd seen before in a Church. I found it fascinating!

At the end one of the lead clergymen shared a message about Christ, about how he came down to us not born in a palace, with fine linens, warmth and food, but in a dirty stable with an unmarried mother. He was a very spiritual and friendly looking man. To end the service some Copts from Zambia sang a beautiful song accompanied by a woman playing a large drum.

Upon leaving the church the friendly looking clergyman thanked me for coming with a warm smile and then complimented a woman's baby daughter by saying she looked like a young Ankhesenamun, which I liked! 

It was a very different experience from other churches that I have visited. Despite being a three hour long service (!) I'd consider going again to soak in the spirituality and love of the place.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Stonehenge - Winter Solstice 2013


To celebrate my 21st birthday, and of course the winter solstice, myself and some friends travelled down to Stonehenge! I had never been before and it was an experience I absolutely had to have.
 
I have heard from numerous friends disappointed reviews about the summer solstice celebrations and the overcrowding, sometimes disrespectful and ignorant behaviours that can occur there; however I have also heard very positive reviews, for example from The Four Queens (on Youtube) and my friend Mel. I am rather introverted and dislike large crowds so the summer celebrations may not be suited to me, and I chose the winter one with fewer people.
 
We waited with the crowd (possibly only 1000 people?) for access to be opened up and then walked down the path to the stones. I had worried that people would charge towards them (anxiety over crowds kicking in) but people respectfully walked slowly towards them in an orderly fashion. I felt anticipation building as I approached the stones. I was in awe of them as I grew closer and it seemed to be silent all around, people quietly approaching, and taking photos. It was dark still but the stones could be seen.
 
They were both larger and smaller than I had expected. The circle wasn't as big as I thought it would be (though the full crowd may have caused that view), but the stones were huge! The circle and its stones are absolutely beautiful!! I cannot express this enough, they are stunning!
 
I couldn't hear or see the Druid ritual taking place so I walked around the circle and took some photos. I really was just in awe. I didn't take part in any ritual, meditate or touch the stones, but I still could sense the energy of the place.

At one point there was some drumming going on and the sound bounced off of the stones and into the earth. When I closed my eyes I could feel it rising from my feet into my soul and it was like the pulse of the past.

Now, my experience of them will NOT be the same as other peoples; I got a distinctive feeling of absence from the stones - not absence of power(!), but absence of something... Stones like at Avebury, I felt were still very alive and in the present, but I felt that Stonehenge was almost asleep - certainly still pulsing with power, but something was hidden from us. The sense of 'hiding' seems to be the best word for such a feeling... The memory of what happened there in Prehistory is still hazy and for the most part uncertain and maybe it was the deep mystery I was feeling, combined with an awareness of the presence of all those people (1000 is still a lot!). I guess I felt that they were almost invaded and exposed, like skeletons in a museum, beaming power but seeking privacy? This is just my feeling of it. I don't mean to suggest the celebrants and ritualists were unwanted by the stones! I don't really know what to make of this feeling, yet.
 
There is something about Stonehenge that still draws people in their thousands every year; people who seek a spiritual connection, people who enjoy culture and history, and people who don't know why they want to visit but know that they want to! There were some party-seekers of the non-sacred sort, with little understanding (or maybe appreciation?) of the sites sacredness, and there were many people standing on the fallen stones with their cameras, just seeking to absorb the famous solstice experience. But most people were there with respect and awe and friendly greetings. The rain probably helped keep numbers down too, to individuals who really wanted to be there.
 
Unfortunately though, the rainy sky prevented the sunrise from being seen, which I had very much wished to see. Nevertheless the spirit of the place still resonated in the earth, air and stones. I really feel like I needed more time there, and that a part of myself didn't quite return with me. I'd be delighted (as I'm sure many would be!) to go back there one day with privately booked access to the stones (I'd rather not pay £15 to enter though...). Maybe that opportunity will come to me one day, and then I will speak to the stones personally.
 
What a stunningly beautiful place it is! It have definitely left an impression on me and has left its imprint in my heart.
 
A video record of the experience: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxOm9ljhm44

Monday, 5 August 2013

My Goddesses

As aforementioned I am now dedicated to the Goddess in Her names of Nut, Aphrodite, and the Great Mother and here I would like to talk a bit about them.

Nut

By Kath Morgan

Nut is a Goddess who has been in my life for the longest amount of time and so is the primary name of Goddess that I work with. She is the star and sky Goddess of the Egyptian pantheon, consort of the earth God Geb and mother to The Five: Osiris, Horus (the Elder), Seth, Isis and Nephthys. She is a Goddess of many qualities and I feel She has been simplified or neglected in recent years; She did not have any temples of Her own in Egypt and little evidence remains to suggest that She had Her own cult worship. What does remain is images on coffin lids and religious documents, passages in the Pyramid Texts and a beautiful zodiac on the Hathor Temple ceiling at Dendera. It is clear that despite a lack of of cult, Nut played a key role in the cosmos and was one of those deities in the pantheon's that was ever present. She did not need Her own temple because She could be seen every night in the starry sky. 
She was the Goddess of the sky, who stretched protectively over the Earth,  who held every soul in the stars, gave birth to the Sun each day and held up the moon; the Gods sailed through Her body each day and night and She stood between the ordered world on Earth and the chaos of the Nun beyond. This makes Her not just a 'simplistic sky Goddess', but a Great Mother, the Creatrix who moves the Sun through its cycle allowing life to exist on Earth; she is a Goddess of motherhood and birth, giving birth to the Sun each day and being the mother of more offspring than any other Egyptian Goddess (The Five); she is a Goddess of death and rebirth, swallowing the Sun each night and holding the souls of the dead within Her body; She is the water bearer, wearing the pot hieroglyph upon Her head and pouring life giving waters upon us; the Milky Way was seen as Her form stretching over us and the Nile was seen as a reflection of this... Nut is a Goddess who stands for unity and connection to all things, from the smallest cell to the vastest galaxy in space. She stretches Herself over everyone on Earth, shining Her light on us all, in the day time and at night, constantly watching. She does not discriminate between people and animals; we are all beneath Her light.
This is who Nut is to me.

Aphrodite

Primordial Fire, by Myself

Aphrodite is a Goddess who has come to me only recently. I discovered Her love whilst attending a talk by Jane Meredith at Witchfest International 2012. She lead us through a meditation in Aphrodite's temple, looking into three mirrors into Her mysteries... I cried during this meditation and felt truly touched by Her love. Again Aphrodite has been a much simplified Goddess, perceived as a beautiful slim, white woman reigning over sexual love and 'typical' Western beauty.
Whilst She does indeed manifest as a beautiful slim, white woman and reigns over sexual love, She also reaches far further. To me, in the meditation She revealed Herself in the Venus of Willendorf abundant figure. She was a full-bodied primitive woman exuding beauty, fertility and life! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in the Western world society and the media has created an unrealistic and damaging view of what beauty is. Few of us are seen as beautiful and the ones that are, only are when smothered in makeup and photoshopped - we cannot look like these women in magazines and film because not even they look like that! Real women, and men for that matter, are vastly varied in shapes and sizes! Some of us have full bellies and thighs, freckles, curly hair, black skin, no hair, wide hips, slim figures... Aphrodite's eyes see only beauty in us all - and we need to see through Her eyes; if only we did, then we would find it hard to criticise the beauty that She gave us. 
Aphrodite wasn't always depicted in the Classical form that the Greeks and Romans portrayed Her; in Her Anatolian origins She was portrayed with many breasts upon Her chest to represent Her life giving power. As a Goddess of love and sexuality She is also a Goddess of the fertility and abundance that comes from that. She is a Goddess of all forms of love too: Love between a romantic couple (of any sexual preference), love between parents and children, family, friends, pets and their owners. She manifests in that feeling of love - when you feel that lift in your heart, that bliss, you are filled with Aphrodite's essence.
There is no way that I couldn't feel drawn to Her! She is just such a beautiful, loving, and inspiring Goddess, again reigning over many aspects of life.

The Great Mother

Tellus on the Ara Pacis (Rome)

I dedicated to the Great Mother, of whom can indeed be seen as the Universal Goddess Herself; I decided to focus on the Goddesses' Mother aspect, as opposed to Her many other aspects (Maiden and Crone for example). The Great Mother Herself can have many names and be found in many cultures, which is why I felt drawn to Her. She has been recognised by humanity for millenia, from the origins of our material culture, expressed in the primitive Venus figurines found worldwide. She is Magna Mater, Gaia, Tellus, 'Venus', Maria... Specifically I honour Her in Her earthly manifestation in the mounds of earth, mountains, farms, and fertile places. She is the mother who holds Her hand out to us in our time of need, no matter who we are. She shares many qualities with my other Goddesses, Nut and Aphrodite, reigning over Life and Death, love, sexuality and fertility. I am drawn to such Goddesses it seems... The Great Mother transcends cultural boundaries and can link me to any place. I can stand on a hilltop and call Her name, I can anoint Durga's statue at a Hindu festival, I can pray to Maria in the Church. Mother is a part of us all, even in the religions that choose to ignore Her and place Father in Her place; those people have mothers and even if they choose not to acknowledge their mother's divinity, She is still there to offer Her unconditional affection, and stern guidance if needs be.

*

Together these Goddesses help to form my path. My partner pointed out to me that I had chosen Goddesses that together reign over Earth, Sea and Sky, Maiden, Mother Crone, and three parts of the year. They do so fluidly and can merge into all aspects in their own right but broadly speaking they can stand for these aspects:
Nut is the sky and rules over the winter part of the year, taking on a Crone (/Sovereign) role in Her chthonic aspect.
Aphrodite is the Sea and rules over the blossoming part of the year, as a Maiden (/Lover) growing to fullness and experiencing the variants of love.
The Great Mother is the Earth and rules over the time of harvesting as the Mother, giving birth to the bounty of the year.

In addition to these three there is an additional stone on my altar to represent any other Name of the Goddess that comes to me at different times. One particular one has stood out to me, one who actually represents fire... But this Goddess for some reason at this time wishes for me to keep our relationship private. It is a personal, blossoming relationship with this Goddess of whom I never expected to draw me to Her. I'm excited to see where this new relationship goes.
I would also like to address the God briefly in this post. I believe that the Divine comes to us in the best way that we will understand, with all our cultural and social conditioning to consider. The Divine comes to me in the form of the Feminine face of God. I believe that the Divine is both masculine, feminine, neither and both. I believe that God is equal with Goddess and both are absolutely necessary in existence. But, I do connect to the Feminine greatly and so She plays a greater role in the practice of my path - in rituals, prayers, devotions ect... In my heart the God - Osiris - stirs a great love within me. Osiris plays a silent by ever watchful role in my life; I feel that He is content with my devotion to the Feminine because He knows that He lies within my heart. I shall do a post about Him in the future too.

Video of Primordial Aphrodite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T82pYTiEi8