The Greeks worshiped many different aspects of Aphrodite, two of them being Aphrodite Urania and Aphrodite Pandemos. Aphrodite Urania represented spiritual love, whereas Aphrodite Pandemos represented physical lust. Plato, in the Symposium, provides his own personal interpretation of Aphrodite’s dual aspects, seeing Aphrodite Urania as stronger, more intelligent, and spiritual, while on the other and seeing Aphrodite Pandemos as representing mere physical satisfaction of sexual urges.
(As a side note, in Plato’s logic, Aphrodite Urania inspires the homosexual relationship between the male lover and his beloved, while Aphrodite Pandemos inspires heterosexual love and leads to procreation. On the subject, I would like to clarify dominant Greek thought on the topic of homosexuality, as it was not gay male paradise as it is commonly depicted in much of modern thought. Sexual relationships between an older and younger male were very common, and even socially institutionalized in the practice of pederasty. This relationship consisted of the older male providing education and initiating the younger male into Greek society. In exchange, the younger male would provide sexual favours for the older male. Once the younger male reached adulthood, the relationship was dissolved. Men who fell in love with one another and continued their relationships with other adult men were socially stigmatized by mainstream society. For this reason, we have arguments of the superiority of homosexual love over heterosexual love.)
Many Filyanis, like myself, gravitate toward Aphrodite Urania. As expressed on A Chapel of Our Mother God:
The Orphics, preserving a more ancient tradition than that understood by the classical world as a whole, saw Venus/Aphrodite not as a goddess who rules over carnal love but rather as the cosmogonic goddess who gives the irresistible urge to the Aethyr to create forms out of the substance of the Earth.
However, unlike other Filyanis, I choose to not completely ignore the more “profane” aspects of love in the form of Aphrodite Pandemos. Procreation is possible only through sexual love. Ideally, spiritual love and sexual love are harmoniously intertwined, although sadly in our society, sex and sexuality are degraded, seen as “dirty”, and relegated to the lowly position of just another product in our consumerist, materialistic society. My hangups with sexuality stem from the way it is treated and presented in our society and in our media.
I will use an incident that occurred yesterday as an example. A friend of mine asked my opinion of a scantily clad Virgin Mary tattoo idea. Of course, to Filyanis and myself included, the Virgin Mary is held as the epitome of purity and modesty. As I hold the image of the Virgin Mary sacred in that regard, I personally don’t care much for such depictions of Her.
The Virgin Mary is only one of many of Her names and aspects, and for me (and people who honour Her from other faiths, such as Catholics) She is a very maternal aspect of the Divine. Take your mother for instance. To your maternal grandparents, she is their child, to your father, she is his wife/lover, to you she is a mother, and to others she may be something entirely different. As a child, would you like to see your mother presented in a sexual manner? Most children would say not. As her lover, seeing her in a sexual manner is a normal aspect of the relationship. There are many images of Goddesses who I relate to as Janyati who are in various states of undress, and even entirely nude. In my own personal worship, if I use nude images of Goddesses such as Aphrodite in my devotions, I tend to judge the image’s quality by its tastefulness, intention, and appropriateness for use in a religious setting. This can be obviously assessed in many cases, such as this:
Neither image was originally intended for worship purposes, per se (Cabaret’s painting being from Christian times, and the Second Life image being an avatar from a collection of Olympic deities) and both images display nudity, but the tastefulness and appropriateness of the first image in comparison to the second in a religious setting is rather apparent.
As we humans have many complex aspects to our personalities and psyche, so does Dea, with Her infinitely greater personality.