Aphrodite, Paganism, Ritual

Unexpectedly Aphrodite

I like to think I’ve gotten used to Aphrodite showing up in unexpected ways. I’ve written multiple posts on this blog about how my experience of Her doesn’t usually match the lore, and doesn’t jive with the frilly, superficial way She is often portrayed in modern Paganism. I no longer assume that She will fit into any mold that we humans prescribe for Her. And yet, there are still times when She surprises me.

One of these times was fairly recently, a little after Beltane. As a devotional act of self-care, I decided to take a sea salt bath in Her honor. It had been far too long since I had taken a luxurious bath, and I was in need of some deep energetic cleansing. Though 2021 has definitely been better than 2020, it has still been a somewhat turbulent year for me so far. Most of it has been good, but even good stress is still stress. So, I blocked off some time one weekend evening to retreat into my tub and recharge.

I envisioned it to be a relaxing bath – a gentle release of stress followed by being surrounded with soft, loving energy. That was not what happened. Even though this experience was not remotely what I expected, it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

I drew a deep, warm bath and poured in a generous portion of sea salt. I ringed the tub with beeswax candles, which provided a warm golden light in the darkness of the early night. I gathered several rose quartz crystals – one large palmstone and several smaller ones – to submerse in the bath with me. I slowly sunk in the heated water, letting my muscles relax one by one as I lowered myself into the bath. I dedicated a final candle to Her, lit it, and invoked Her through song.

My voice cracked as I sang, unaccustomed to talking very much since the pandemic started, let alone singing the musically challenging song that I composed for Aphrodite several years ago (that tested my range and lung capacity even then). It didn’t matter. I felt the energy and feeling vibrate through me all the same. My heart was in it, and that was what was important. 

I arranged the rose quartz crystals around me in the water at the bottom of the tub, encircling me with their energy. I placed the large palmstone on my sternum, right over my heart chakra. I closed my eyes, took several deep breaths, and sunk deeper into the water, prepared to listen.

I met Her in the space between. Not entirely here, and not entirely There. I was still in my bath, but also not. I couldn’t tell you what I did mentally in that psychic space versus what I did with my physical body in real life. It didn’t matter. The experience transcended both, and what happened in one realm might as well have happened in the other.

I saw Aphrodite as I often did – radiant and softly glowing, with Her features shifting every so often because She has been many things to many people throughout time and all forms are beautiful. I sat next to Her, wherever we were, and She took my hands. I felt Her warmth radiate through me, as I have many times before, but in this moment it was a stark contrast to what She said next:

“What are you afraid of?”

I looked up, a little puzzled, as this was not a question I had anticipated, and gave Her my answer.

“What are you afraid of?” She repeated.

I responded again, with a little more detail.

“What are you afraid of?” She asked again.

As I searched deeper, my heart cracked open and it all came pouring out. 

“What are you afraid of?” She insisted, holding my hands a little tighter.

Then the sobs came, racked with the pent up fear and anxiety I had been carrying around for months, and even years.

“What are you afraid of?”

The tears came freely, and I told Her everything, even those things I never wanted to speak out loud.

The interrogation ceased, and She let me cry for a while, Her steady grip firm, yet gentle on my hands. When the tears slowed, She placed Her hands on my shoulders, and moved one hand up to lift my chin so that I could not look away from Her eyes. She held my gaze as She said,

“Let go of your fear.”

Her gaze was hypnotic. I could not look away, even if I had tried. She released the hand that was holding up my chin to rest on my other shoulder. My head did not move.

“Let go of your fear,” She repeated.

I gave a weak little nod.

“Let go of your fear,” She said, giving my shoulders a gentle squeeze.

I knew She expected me to speak.

“I – I release my fears,” I said, the lingering sobs still hitching in my throat.

“Let go of your fear,” She said, gripping my shoulders a little tighter, Her voice rising in intensity.

“I release my fears,” I said, a little more firmly this time.

“Again,” She commanded.

“I release my fears,” I said, the tears drying on my face and my voice steadying.

“Again,” She said, a little louder.

“I release my fears,” I said confidently.

“Again.” Her gaze and Her voice had become almost piercing now.

“I release my fears!” I almost shouted.

“Again,” She said, leveling her eyes at me.

“I release my fears!” I yelled, proclaiming for the worlds to hear.

A smile played at Her lips.

“Now believe it,” She said, placing Her fingertips on my heart. At Her touch, I felt the knot of anxiety that had been loosening, breaking, and cracking open this whole time fully unravel. The nervous energy dispersed, and I was left with a calm breath of fresh air. 

I nodded to Her, unable to speak, and no words seemed adequate.

With that, I felt a gentle tug calling me back from that in-between place. I dropped back into my physical body, feeling the warm bathwater on my skin, inhaling the scent of beeswax candles.

“Thank you,” I whispered, as I sunk a little deeper into the water. 

Thank you.

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