Beginning with Aphrodite
Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, is an archetype. She is an idea, a force, an underlying energy that weaves through our conscious and unconscious life across time and culture. Just as any other god or goddess archetype, her energy can be "invoked" consciously in our life.
The culture in the West has not embraced her in all her aspects, thus repressing her "darker" side. However, the archetypes exist outside our current moral belief systems, beyond our mental constructs, comfort level, or comprehension.
Forces such as desire, lust, and obsession are all part of Aphrodite's power. Rather than suppress or deny them, she requires they be acknowledged as part of Love. Our responsibility is to understand where they fit in the web of Life. As with any force, when repressed or diverted, pressure builds and will erupt unless the pressure is released somehow. This is the dark side of sex we see in our society.
This is not to suggest that morality, decorum and values should be discarded to embrace Aphrodite. Rather, that her fullness should be seen and understood. Then, we can identify when she arises in our lives and in the world, and make choices that honor her energy and our own souls.
Thus, I am called by my own soul, by Aphrodite even, to paint her fully. To bring to awareness the many faces of Love she embodies, to educate.
Depth psychology as a discipline seeks to explore the fullness of the psyche and human experience, both light and dark, and so there are writers in the field who have explored the whole spectrum of Aphrodite's nature.
Chistine Downing writes,
Aphrodite is the goddess of all erotic love, all sensual pleasure, all delight in beauty. Though far more than a goddess of sexuality, she is that. She blesses all lovemaking that is dedicated to mutual enjoyment (rather than to domination of another or procreation)- whether marital or adulterous, heterosexual or homosexual, between men or between women.
Aphrodite represents the ripe self-suffiency of a female sexuality that is itself being directed towards others. There are no accounts of Aphrodite losing her virginity, being initiated into sexuality by another, for it is fully her own. Yet she is herself in turning towards others; she represents the free giving and receiving and returning of love. She gives herself spontaneously but in response to her own desire; she cannot be possessed by another.
Myths and Mysteries of Same Sex Love, Christine Downing
This is a goddess who is completely sovereign and yet fully in relationship simultaneously. There is much to be learned in this type of loving. It is a different paradigm than we are accustomed to, and all the more reason to explore it.
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