This is the second post in a series on the Modern Pagan Worship of Aphrodite. Read Part One here!
Where Do We Worship Aphrodite?
Sadly, most modern Pagans do not have a designated place of worship, much less an entire temple dedicated to Aphrodite (though that is the dream!) I believe that an important part of the modern Pagan religions is that we are flexible – we can worship anywhere! We carry our connection to the Divine within us, and it is not tied to any particular place.
Still, existing as corporeal beings, we must have a place to worship, even if we can set up a sacred space pretty much anywhere. The ingredients for Where to Worship consist of: you, your community, your mental space, your emotional space, and your physical space.
You are the first and most important ingredient to Where You Worship. Your rituals always take place where you are, and you have to be present physically, mentally, and spiritually. You have to decide what kind of worship works for you, because you are where it all starts.
If you practice in a group (some of the time, all of the time, or even just sporadically), your community is vital. Though you may only share some of your spiritual time with them, surround yourself with a supportive community. Even if you just occasionally get together to talk about your solitary practices, community is important. It makes us feel like a part of something larger. It makes the hard times easier, and you have someone with which to celebrate the good times.
Community is also essential when you are trying to deepen your spiritual practice. When you are venturing into uncharted territory, having friends to share those experiences with helps to keep you grounded. You can learn from each other, and give each other a reality check if needed.
Working in a group can also give you some important validation. If everyone in the group saw something or felt something during a shared ritual, you know that it’s not just you. Our over-rationalizing culture encourages us to “explain away” our spiritual experiences. If you have others witness the same thing, you can’t just say “it was a trick of the light.”
Personally, I believe one of the main purposes of religion is to draw us together as people – to encourage us to be more compassionate, and to support and nurture each other. I know not everyone has the luxury of a local in-person community, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still connect with others. There might be a group in the next town over, or an online forum you can join. Even just reading a book puts you in community with the author and the others who have read the same book. There are many different ways to experience community – find what works best for you.
Your Mental Space
Your mental space is an indispensable part of Where You Worship. It’s where a lot of the magick happens. Your mental space is where you visualize and meditate. Being able to clear your mind and focus on something are essential parts of a Pagan spiritual practice. This happens in your mental space. You can also do an entire ritual mentally! It’s more difficult and it takes a lot of practice, but it can be done. This is a good alternative when restrictions on your physical space may not allow you to worship in the way that you’d like.
Your Emotional Space
Awareness of your emotional space is a necessary part of Pagan worship. Our prayers are not sterile verses recited from rote memory. Ours is a passionate religion. Feeling what you feel is a crucial part of authenticity and how we exist in the world. Feelings are natural and healthy – It is only when we get stuck in them that they begin to cause a problem.
It’s always good to do an emotional inventory before you step into ritual or worship. I’ve read some Pagan authors who say you should never enter a circle angry or otherwise emotionally distraught. I couldn’t disagree more. When we are distressed is when we need religion and spirituality the most. Now, there is something to be said for not doing magick while experiencing some strong emotions (like not making the rash decision to hex the family member that made you angry), but emotions are one of our biggest sources of power for both magick and connection to the Divine.
You have to know what you are feeling before you can decide what to do with it. Awareness of your emotions helps you make an educated decision about entering sacred space and how that will inform your worship in that moment. You can ask the Divine for help in letting go of anger. You can ask for self-compassion when you are experiencing depression or anxiety. You can offer up your joy as a celebration of the Divine.
Aphrodite is inherently a Goddess of emotions – and She is the Goddess of the most powerful emotion of all: Love. Whenever I am experiencing a powerful emotion, I call on Her – to celebrate, to ease worry, or to help me move through whatever I am feeling. If you do this consciously and with reverence, it can be an extremely poignant act. What better form of worship is there than offering your ecstacy to the Goddess of Love?
Your Physical Space
Though it may seem like the logical place to start, I actually put the physical space of worship as the last ingredient. Everything else is a prerequisite. Certainly, there are aspects of your physical space that can help with any or all of the above, but before you break out the fancy tools and the incense, you need to make sure all the other aspects are in place. They can be enhanced by your space, but they can’t originate from your space.
My sacred spaces for Aphrodite have many different elements. As a Goddess of beauty, She is particularly fond of decadent altar arrangements and anything that raises the vibration of a space. As a Goddess of pleasure, all that entices the senses is welcome.
On my altar at home, I have four different pictures of Aphrodite as channeling each of the four elements: A picture of Her dripping in golden clothes and jewelry while holding an opulent rose for Earth, a painting of Her with flowing robes flanked by swans for Air, a picture of Her dancing naked, clothed in only golden jewelry for Fire, and a scene of Her bathing in a grotto for Water. I love looking at my altar and being able to see all these different aspects of Aphrodite.
The correspondences that I work with for Her also fall in those same elemental categories.
For Earth: Rose quartz is a favorite, in many forms – candle holders, wands, palmstones, or carved hearts. Rose anything, really, is a wonderful addition – essential oil, rosewater, cut flowers, incense, rose petals, you name it. For Air, I’ve also found the scents of jasmine and gardenia to be connected to Her, though I most frequently use rosewater. For Fire, I use beeswax candles. Not only are they a gorgeous golden color, but they also smell divine! For Water, I’ve found freshwater or saltwater will work.
Your physical space also includes what you wear (if anything!) during ritual. Something you feel comfortable and sexy in is always appreciated, as is the vulnerability of being nude. Your tools are a part of this as well – your wand and athame, any bowls for offerings, or other structural elements of your altar or space. It all comes together to enhance your spiritual experience.
How Do We Worship Aphrodite?
There are as many ways to worship Aphrodite as there are ways to love – an infinite number! Your worship may look very different than mine, and that’s okay! What is important is that however you worship works for you and for Her.
I’ve spoken some about different ways that I worship Aphrodite in my Devotions to Aphrodite posts: ecstatic dance, pole dancing, and conscious eating. There are also so many other posts I haven’t written yet on song, creative artwork, reading, decorating, celebrating, lovemaking, and countless others. And those are just the everyday activities! For ritual there are even more ways (see my Self-Compassion Ritual, June Full Rose Moon – Fighting Fear with Love, and July Full Moon – Celebrating the Blessings of Love). And, of course, the spiritual growth and transformation along the way (Adventures of a Struggling New Empath, Lessons in Faith, Trials by Fire, Spiritual Growing Pains, and Divine Surrender).
For me, worship of Aphrodite doesn’t have a definitive start or end – it’s an ever-evolving, continuous process of discovery about myself, my spirituality, and Her. I learn new things every day. Most of the time they are small, but they add up. Where I am now is drastically different than where I started my journey. It’s been beautiful. It’s been unbelievably difficult. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.