“The world of gods and spirits is truly 'nothing but' the collective unconscious inside me.” ~Carl Jung, On 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead, CW 11; Page 857.
Summary: It is not easy to make an honest attempt to find words for the ineffable. Like unashamed Aphrodite, this essay hopes to titillate, to provoke, to promise even more than it may deliver. The naked mysteries and hidden charms of existence are concealed and revealed.
We will flirt with ideas, but won't cover all of her aspects, exploits, or relationships. We may even mix metaphors, or skip promiscuously from subject to subject like a restless dreamer. We all have a keen grasp of the obvious when it comes to love goddess myths and basic psychology. Culture is part of our nature.
Hopefully, each reader -- anyone who has had or lost a love, or is a devotee of the goddess – will find their own revelations arising within from the unconscious. A psychological approach to Aphrodite as image-making capacity attends and tends passionately to both psyche and logos.
Image and words are the interplay of sensation, intuition, thinking, and feeling. Born into Chronos, our 2 million year old soul longs for Kairos, spirit's time -- the opportune or crucial moment for significant change. Every moment is an opportunity if we tend and attend to it.
Aphrodite, the divine Beloved, is the unseen third being that informs every relationship, every devotion. We suggest an archetypal sense of her in the world at large, beyond our libidinous cravings. Tending the heart is minding the soul. Imaginal figures invite us to share the wisdom of our own inner landscapes, dreams, intuitive callings, visions, feelings, and events.
Ritual action expresses that relationship with wisdom greater than our conscious mind leading to a larger view of self and world. But technique is not soul. Aphrodite’s mystique is her sacred presence in the ordinary, inherent beauty apprehended as soul.
But the creative and poetic power of language is also a natural feature of reality. Imagination and language transform the soul through Mystery. All the functions of the psyche converge in fantasy, in imagination. We are all equally prone to the seductions of our own inner images, thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
"Love "bears all things" and "endures all things'* (i Cor. 13:7). These words say all there is to be said; nothing can be added to them. For we are in the deepest sense the victims and the instruments of cosmogonic ‘love.’" -Carl Jung; Memories Dreams and Reflections; Page 354
"Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights. But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart's knowledge." –Gibran
"The union of man and woman is like the mating of Heaven and Earth. It is because of their correct mating that Heaven and Earth lust forever. Humans have lost this secret and have therefore become mortal. By knowing it the Path to Immortality is opened." -Shang-Ku-San-Tai.
We experience our own imaginal essence through the power of love and other structures of human experience, the archai. The power of Aphrodite is an expression of the divine whose trans-sensory organ of perception is imagination. Raw nature, fertile chaos, lies at the heart of the psyche -- the wild energies of creation.Love is a path for consciously realized life.Imaginal love plays a central role in human life that softens the heart.
Whether activated or dormant, the vital principle still living in our substance and essence, re-enchants the world. There is more to life than just matter. The unconscious modifies the conscious. The invisible force of animation is an immense force of nature -- metaphysical, biological, and phenomenological resonance.
We call such awesome emotional intensity a numinous experience. We are aroused by the power, presence, or realization of a divinity -- an uncanny, mighty spirit, a tremendous mystery. True imagination embodies the divine wisdom of the soul through percepts, affect, and concepts. Aphrodite is our image making capacity.
Only when the soul enters the material cosmos is there need to honor its generative power, to make a relationship with the divine through that particular worldview. Aphrodite is a living system, the cycle of life and love, complexes of experiences in which we participate, where duality is expressed as the sublimated quest of alliance.
The light in nature is the divine in the world. Myth, the interplay of cosmic principles, and memory are the basis of our relationships. The root of existence is matter and spirit, including that of Aphrodite --the deep nature of reality and experience, veiling and revealing its divinity.
The image freely gives itself, inviting sustained attention. We can watch our soul when we embrace the image. When the emerging god-image remains unconscious and unintegrated, it expresses as archetypal opposites instead of unpolarized consciousness.
All archetypes bring more than one archetypal pattern with them -- positive and negative, concealed and revealed, healthy and destructive.Fantasy precedes the symbol which flowers spontaneously in the soul and is more potent and descriptive than fantasy. Such fields of potential have forceful intentionality and complete autonomy. We are all aware of the slings and arrows love exerts beyond the sentimental moments through all the seasons of the heart.
Rather than us coming to the gods, it is more they who come to us.We are called by her when the soul is called by love of the phenomenal image.This is also an integrative, deep imagery-based approach to therapy.Our deepest impulses of the soul take on a divine shape, mythical configurations.We see by means of dynamic patterns, forms and textures.
The invisible -- the unseen aspect of our existence -- is revealed through visible images and shapes.We just need sensitivity to the image to contact the hidden depths of the soul. We don't need to interpret or understand the uncanny and irrational for them to work on us, independent of our thinking.Psychic development leads toward self-understanding. The mystery is not knowledge but experience.
To worship her is a world affirming theurgy that invokes the world soul. By working on and through us, the goddess manifests as the living spirit of creation and divine consciousness in matter. Only by living soul's embodied experience, embodied agonies, and experiential knowing can we determine if the suffering is worth the trajectory.
Our breath is our mantra. The primary relationship of our soul is with the soul of the world, the divine spark in every cell of creation. By bridging the opposites, soul weaves cosmos into existence.The mystery of turning lead into gold is a revelation of the hidden light within the darkness of matter.
Primordial Images Aphrodite is the basis of formative aspects of the unconscious, the spiritual seed of creation, the relativity of psychological processes, peak experiences, and libidinal transference. She is the radiant emptiness beyond our self-image and worldview, beyond our sense and sensory projections. Soul illuminates the body.
In the cleavage between creation and redemption is the breath of the anima mundi, the macrocosmic world-pervading element of space itself.Remembering to breathe grounds us from the spinning mind, in which we can lose ourselves.She unites the whole mindbody with universe.The numinous appears as the sacredness of creative acts.
As all archetypes, she is aggressive, possessive, and very jealous. All compulsions are pressures of the archetype, but we don't like to dis-identify from it, even when it is harming our humaness. Such force overwhelms the ego, possesses the ego from unconscious wish to manifest behavior. We are subjected to fragmentation and reshaping. In her liminal space we abandon our previous identities.
But we need to honor it, without identifying with it or being inflated by its numinosity. The strongest religious experience happens in crisis. Without containment the numinous annihilates the ego and structural field with unconscious associative attachments.
Aphrodite's siren call is seductive, enormously tempting and powerful, filling us with energy, vision, and a sense of meaning. Feeling wonderful, it is hard to simply feel ordinary again. If you don't honor it, because of primitive grandiosity you think you are it -- a god[dess]. This thing is unconscious within us, and we try to find somebody to embody and hold that significant energy for us.
Thinking you are it, you act it out, it is destructive for yourself and others. She is a natural phenomena, therefore amoral, so we are charged with the issue of ethics in relation to her, because a potent or creative person is either a dangerous person or a potentially great server. Jung suggests that when you "do with conviction the next and most necessary thing, you are always doing something meaningful and intended by fate."
Aphrodite's name is one of many we give to the voice and vision of the unconscious which can reunite us through transformation with the unconscious source of our creativity and our divine source, however we conceive it -- the variety of forms through which we realize the self.
Relating to an image is like relating to an entity. If we create a space, unconscious content manifest as personifications open to dialogue and exploration.They come when they want to come but are explicitly anchored in our lives in some way.
Vision is perceived by intense concentration on the background of consciousness.We try to grasp its significance to us, apart from the tyranny of the literal. We seek the affirming glow of a love story. We concoct our narrative, but is it fiction, romance, or wisdom literature? It include the irrationals: synchronicity, beauty, truth, grief, and love.
Until then, we practice the Art of longing. We have a longing for belonging. We are cut off from our ancestral voices and relationships in the technological society. Thus, we don't know who we are and where we come from, much less where we are going. The cliche is 'the heart wants what it wants.' Some things are best seen through the eyes of those we love.
Typically, in a midlife crisis we go looking for a special or magical person, a fantasy of the transformation process. In our Dark Night, we experience fear, anxiety and in some cases panic, as we lose sight of our purpose, our goals and a bright future. We may feel abandoned, helpless and depressed; our self-compassion suffers. We naturally seek the known or unknown person that embodies rebirth for us, yearning for their love.
Aphrodite is about relationships, being related, not just to a family or partner, but to the depths, to the calling that wounds and names us, to the Soul of the World.Soul is in and of the world in both the open and attentive broken heart which allows the gods to penetrate through our wounds. Truth grows organically from deep roots in the body, through investigating the secret language of nature and our own nature.
We break up, we break down, and sometimes break out. Soul is heard through the symptom if we listen carefully, acknowledge, and recognize it, in our blind instinct, fascinations, projections, and participation mystique with the herd. To be conscious in the present is to be solitary.
Social containers keep us undifferentiated, unable to break up into individual personalities.Jung cautions that participation mystique with the herd is submersion in a common unconsciousness. "Every step forward means tearing oneself loose from the maternal womb of unconsciousness in which the mass of men dwells."
Existentially, Aphrodite has always been with us unconsciously, in our ongoing fantasies, native connectivity and kindness. We sometimes notice her myth playing through our life giving it 'reality.'But rapture and ecstasy are passive states that happen to us, that come over us.
Rainer Maria Rilke suggested, “Let everything happen to you — beauty and terror. Just keep going, no feeling is final.” Intensity moves us from need to want to desire to consuming passion.We can get lost in our relationships, in our psychic gaps, with groups and individuals.Identified with the group in participation mystique, a relic of the primordial unconscious state of mystical connection, we cannot distinguish ourselves from it.We feel whole because we 'belong,' but we aren't.
The powers of life and death always speak mythologically, connecting the ideal and the ordinary. Love fertilizes the psyche. They help us to not ‘lose heart’ in a rapidly-changing overwhelming world. As the Delphic Oracle said, “Called or uncalled, the god is present.” Our task is to grasp this psychic process, and embrace it with our thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition as our paths of orientation.Thinking and sensation are complimented by the intuition and feeling of our spiritual nature.
We are born naked and go down to the grave stripped of personality with a bare soul or psyche. Aphrodite was goddess of love to both the living and departed souls. In her more archaic form as Hathor, she also had a heavenly and underworld form, and made a descent to the underworld like Inanna. The primeval goddess helped women give birth. She welcomed the dead to the next life and helped the dead to be reborn. Hathor renews the cosmos, even the unseen depths of the unconscious.
From the field of mythological expressions, Aphrodite mobilizes and mediates universal motifs or repetitive images and nature's creative response. Our image of the world is our worldview, or mental model of reality - a philosophy or conception of the world. Such presuppositions condition our outlook and ground how we perceive life in the cosmos.
Deeper understanding of existence is the heart our knowledge. Worldview exerts a crucial influence on our thinking and behavior. This set of beliefs about Reality grounds our way of perceiving, thinking, knowing, and doing. It is the basis of our cosmology, metaphysics, teleology, epistemology, theology, and anthropology -- even our love life.
Through a union of our physical and psychological aspects, psyche mirrors both with anthropomorphic qualities. We project a body on the goddess, a haunting otherness, that corresponds with our own constitution. We perceive it with the senses and a self-conscious psyche, reflecting the god we imagine.
Our grasp of the psyche, vital psychic phenomena, and the unknown darkness that surrounds us is limited. But we know god-images exist, in general and in particular. In much the same way, we may never know who our human partners really are, but we have a relationship, including all sorts of unknown factors and projections. We have experiences with imagination, substance, and body.
Myth reveals our divine life. The gods still reign within. Living figures confront us autonomously. Libido is the creative power of our own soul, bringing forth the useful and the harmful. Love's opposite is the power shadow -- power vs. love, or pleasure in hurting.
A psychological fact, Aphrodite grips us when we ‘fall into temptation,’ or love falls on us from above, determining our destiny, (amor fati). The shadow of Aphrodite appears as conquest-oriented seduction, love and sex addiction, an inability to say no to passion, or being totally destroyed when a lover leaves.
Love is ambiguous: it can be terrible, even self-destructive or self-realizing. Rather than speak of being in love, the ancients claimed they were hit or possessed by a god. The archaic love relationship is a Marriage with God. Sex becomes love of the divine, (amor Dei). The transpersonal is symbolized by the King and Queen, god and goddess.
The unconscious merges with the physiological body, including joy, stress, pain, and symptoms. Even love penetrates us as an ailment – we are “lovesick” with or without it. We sometimes fear it is beyond our human capacity to endure. We yearn for the very source of yearning. If we yearn for, or even if we imagine we have ‘lost’ Aphrodite, certain conditions can bring her back in full force.
Our subtle body is personal anima, which echoes the transpersonal Anima Mundi, or Aphrodite, the breath soul that causes and bridges the gap between mind and physical body. She is everything that breathes or is breathed. She is our philosophical potential. The body of the world and its psyche reflect the goddess we imagine. Jung quotes an alchemical text that says, “The mind should learn compassionate love for the body.” (Jung-Ostrowski, p. 25)
What we call spirit is the living body seen from within, and body is its outer manifestation. Spirit and body are really functional psychic modalities. Body as psyche is an expression of interiority. We give body to our thoughts by speaking or expressive arts, so we can share them by making them perceptual in the ordinary world.
Only the living body contains the intelligent secret of life, but the anatomical body doesn’t really inform us about the nature of matter. The body has its own psychological condition and consciousness.
We thrive by maintaining a conscious relationship to the body, where the rights of the body and spirit are equivalent. Archetypes and bodily functions follow universal instinctive patterns. They can be reduced in shame to “mere” instincts, or overvalued as gods in a grandiose or addictive way, rather than at human scale – a human representation.
The opposites are united in the soul through primordial experience of the outer world and inherent divinity. Though we don’t know how, we experience them as numinous events. Aphrodite is a biological, instinctual, and elemental “model,” mediating between human consciousness and the primordial numinous experience. But sometimes we are fooled by our own interpretations, instead of simply being aware of immediate experience.We have to follow a rather uncertain path.
We encounter her spellbinding personal aspects and transformative collective aspects that move us from one state of consciousness to another, and another. Myths and their cosmic dramas shape and reshape us and the beliefs that influence our behavior. The ordinary body is transformed into the eternally enduring body, at least symbolically or metaphorically.
The earthly Aphrodite of ‘ordinary’ love is suspended between our ascents to her cosmic nature and chthonic (material) descents. Our animal soul leads us down into the depths of our body, our instinct symbolized as Aphrodite’s familiars, which include the serpent, a symbol of kundalini.
Her highest truths spring from the roots of the body, or our psychic experience of the body as shown in dreams. But we tear this experience of body and spirit apart with the mind, separating them with concepts. We only know a small part of our psyche like we have limited awareness of our internal physiology.
We have centers of consciousness in our head, heart, and abdomen which we experience as our psychic image of the body. Body, soul, and mind are one, but we parse them into categories.
Their reunification is rebirth, the hermaphrodite, the stone, the golden flower. So, the ‘reborn body’ is spirit at the same time – the glorified body that unites spiritual and material principles. An eternal or subtle body at least symbolically ensures the continuity of our detached consciousness, but represents our future potential – our unknown and as-yet-unrealized potential.
Mind is related to body (matter) as body is to earth. We must return to our body for true individuation. The psychophysical self embodies our past as memory. The body is our subconscious memory and mirror of our experience. The indestructible body is the integrated personality, the refined psyche filled with inherent light.
Notions of gods are the first of all myths, vital psychic phenomena symbolizing the powers of the unconscious. We may not know what a god or archetype ‘is,’ but we can ‘know’ them and interact with that image spiritually, and experience it psychologically, and metaphorically. It may be essentially unknowable, but is intense and compelling. For some, primordial experience of the source means the sanctuary and refuge of the deity, only present in direct experience.
Our experience of love and loss changes our beliefs about it and the pain we can experience from attachments, as well as lessons we learn from it. Some open us to reconciliation and renewal. Our particular life solutions lie only along our particular life path or trajectory. Without general solutions, problems are answered only through our individuality.
The instinctive drive overtakes and consumes our personality. Sexual passion has been deified, divinized, or even feared as evil and demonic because of its overwhelming nature. In the real world sex often isn't associated with love, even when respectful or consensual. Many experiences can awaken us to a shock-receiving capacity.
We passion bearers find out who we are through our difficulties, life passages, and turning points. We break open to our impediments and destinies. The unconscious comes to life in all of its awful glory. An inner impulse motivates us, especially at critical times. Visions spring from the unconscious as spontaneous phenomena; so does a new sense of wonder.
Love is our main motive power and shapes our lives -- in dream, or vision, or passionate encounter. Nature and beauty have a divine origin beyond common love. The unmediated vision is instantaneous experience. As for psychic life, we join mystery to mystery to create a portrait of a Mystery. We borrow and distort images from our actual experience that surge up from the mists of the past.
The mysteries of life are hidden between the opposites, including fullness and emptiness. Consciousness is born of suffering when we are shaken by naked truths that will not be comforted. In failure we find that there are driving forces. We're here for deeper life experience that funds our compassion, rapport, and empathy with weight and importance.
Affect, another word for god, forms and shapes us with unconscious determinants. The divine impresses our inner experience. High-level networks of control make decisions long before they enter awareness. Our body and behavioral patterns carry our stories, our symbolic life of depth and meaning. Images reveal complex relationships, tensions, and interconnections. Something huge has shifted.
Ritual, fusing desire and action for effective change, helps us connect with and transform inner polarities. Living with depth from the unconscious beings brings a pervasive sense of the sacred. The task of generativity after midlife is opening liminal space for personal and collective evolution and cosmic consciousness. Whatever soul touches becomes numinous. Gibran invites us to touch it with our fingers as "the naked body of your dreams."
The mythic world we forget in daylight comes to us in dreams.No one can faithfully paint a dream, because felt-sense is perhaps the biggest part of it. The inner experience gives rise unconsciously to its expression. Beauty and soul run into fable and personification, the metaphorical and lyrical perspective. Psychic elements rearrange themselves into images which have effects. They are immanent in natural law and active in phenomena associated with the supernatural and spiritual. Fantasy and imagination merge and interpenetrate. Ideas and facts merge in interpretation of events, images, and networks of learning. We integrate and embody Aphrodite, affirming her presence as the sacred psyche.
Love reveals our essential nature as the presence of the sacred. Phenomena are revealed in patterns. When she transports us, desire becomes self-revelation, a supernatural dynamic that multiplies the forces of life, mirrored in the ancient love goddesses. When we identify with her, soul is multiplied. We are chosen by something greater than ourselves. We now understand gods are archaic psychic processes within ourselves, autonomous psychic entities. Soul is the form-giving principle of the body and outer life.
Aphrodite is an archetypal field of eroticism. We wonder what hit us; we are flooded with emotion. The goddess captivates our imagination. She breaks us open to love and loss. The awe-inspiring force of desire and sex, the unconscious drive, has played a role in religion, magic, mysticism, occultism, and symbolism. She is the creative wellspring of art.
This is the breath of life. Aphrodite means the literal exchange of radiant life-force with the environment. When we breathe in unison we create rapport and impact. She ‘wells up’ from our depths as the water of life.
The fountain inside us wants to open up and pour out the living waters from the sacred ground of divine darkness. Immanence is an existential reality - immersion in the uncreated light -- at least phenomenologically and psychologically, if not religiously. Creative spirit transmutes darkness to light. But the body is the present moment – here and now, aesthetically alive to the world.
If we don’t reduce it to psychological common sense but stick to the phenomenology, we see what animates from there. We still use mythological symbols and metaphors such as ‘illumination.’ Affects motivate us and form images. Psyche reflects timeless and spaceless perceptions, reverberations beyond the immediate. Our whole psychobiology interacts with the transpersonal – the timeless world of the seemingly eternal.
Primordial human desires are not mainly concerned with possibility, but with desirability, and energy beyond striving. We discover what we have to give the world and what the world has to give to us beyond seduction and 'bedroom eyes'. Beauty matters, but is proverbially more than skin deep. Thus, we refine our character.
Like truth and goodness, beauty helps us see the world of here and now with more meaning. Beauty dawns on us, shines on us from ordinary things, and connects us with the sacred. The real appears transfigured in the light of the ideal. Timeless moments, such as dappled sunlight, an awesome vista, recalling the face of a loved one, suddenly make life worth living.
We imagine the heart as the basis of emotional life. We grasp the world not only through the senses, but through the unconscious psychic substrate. The divine is a dynamic bond inside waiting to be found and redeem us.
In our deepest core feelings we are most vulnerable to pain, momentary unbalance, and divine frenzy. When the unconscious is activated through love it coincides in an uncanny way with objective events. Coincidence with meaning is always there, but it lights up.
Aphrodite is a soul-guide and her myth is therapeutic. The eternal mother and source of all creation is the generative spirit -- root and ground of every soul and fountain of heaven and earth. She is with us on the threshold of life's greatest decisions.
Aphrodite is the living psyche which means soul, in the psychological, but not religious sense. Soul is existential unity of the self. It has no extension but it has interiority where we face the deep core of emptiness. It is therefore not simply about 'getting horizontal', but the verticality of connecting to the heights and depths of knowledge and passion. Our inner nature and greater Nature is a psychic reflection of the whole world.
Soul has a certain awareness, a non-ordinary perceptual framework, that includes our nonphysical aspects. Consciousness, wisdom, mind, thought, clairvoyance, feeling, intuition, and will seem distinct from the physical body. But real ideas and imagination have blood in them. Soul is our feelings -- our embodied emotional and moral nature, our hidden most private thoughts and feelings, even embedded memories – our worldview.
It isn't what you look at, but what you see with the Art of Seeing. We are rewarded with the blessing of transparency and deepened insight into the world and the soul. Goethe said, "Everyone sees what he carries in his heart." William Blake said, "Without unceasing Practice nothing can be done: Practice is Art. If you leave off you are lost." (Appendix to 'The Prophetic Books')
Conceptual analysis of romantic love can be rather dry, with cliche or predictable tropes. Hollywood institutionalized it. This deity of love and sexual lust can be from a ruling pantheon or a mortal considered a ‘goddess of love.’ Male love gods are included in this trope. It is called "Love Goddess" rather than "Love Deity" because females are much more common.
We all have a keen grasp of the obvious when it comes to love goddess myths and basic psychology. Culture is part of our nature. Hopefully, we come to recognize dormant associations from the depths to restore the bond with cosmos that enfolds humanity with a universal sense of meaning.
We apply abstract associations between patterns to create meaningful connections. Universe and consciousness are inseparably linked. The cosmos is mirrored in our physicality and the psyche, soul, or unconscious. The subconscious creates, always there, always functioning as the foundation of our being. Memories are the ancestors of our creativity. The creative impulse is rooted deep in the psyche beyond our conscious reach.
How have your attitudes toward sexuality changed over different periods in your life? Consider your first time, love at first sight, addictive, illicit and forbidden love, rejection and lost love, vanities, romantic idealism and follies, sexual fantasies, inner partners, devotional and exploitive relationships. Escapism, inspiration, and all forms of artistic creativity can be associated with the generative power of luminescent Aphrodite.
Aphrodite is born of the primal serpent of the energy ocean that spans time and space. A cosmic principle, Love is the ultimate symbol of a continuous process of participatory transformation, which can be glorious, painful, irreversible, and essential. Energies associated with the deity change our outlook, perceptions and feelings through communion with the intimate otherness of the world. The world becomes a more enlivened place.
Call her what you will – Venus, Aphrodite, Cybele, Inanna, Ishtar, Asherah, Shekinah, Astarte, Cybele, Hathor, Bhavani, Shakti, Freya, Erzuli, Ochun (Black Aphrodite), or any other goddesses of love mysteries. Her nature and stories are so paradoxical, it is a challenge to believe them all at once, but such is the domain of faith.
Aphrodite easily captures our devotion with her allure and delightful boons. Devotion to the divine, in whatever form or non-form we care to imagine, is the unveiling of soul. She is the light of the soul – unsuppressed being. In her, soul and body are one.
Love transports our souls into the mythic dimension where it renews or destroys depending on our fate. The sensational realm of the Love Goddess is the immediate experience that veils our subconscious relationship to our own unconscious sexuality and power motives.
We all worship Aphrodite informally. We devote ourselves to her arts in an effort to attract and thrive with the love we all naturally need. She is the goddess of mutual desire and emotional experience with others (friendship, understanding, soul connection, rapport, empathy), and consummation of relationships.
Aphrodite conveys a sense of immortality through the oceanic bliss of love and the sensation of timelessness when we are swept away in the thundering surf of desire and orgasm. When spirit as source energy and matter as form are in balance, the body becomes the living "Temple of the Spirit." A sense of immortality deepens the sacred dimension of life. Soul’s immortality is sensed in direct experience of non-spatial, non-temporal, nonlocal, non-ordinary reality.
By honoring the sensual self, the metaphysical nature of surrender to the erotic impulse is experientially revealed as a glimpse of nondual reality. The non-dual Heart is radiating as all creation, and blessing all creation, and singing this while embracing eternity. God meets Goddess, Emptiness and Form, Wisdom and Compassion, Agape and Eros, Ascent and Descent -- perfectly and blissfully united.
This is the Way of Devotion, with all of its illusions, projections, hopes, and dreams. The same feeling strikes lovers and spiritual devotees (Bhakti yoga). In intimate relations, both parties are utterly changed by such encounters.
The nature of Beauty is an immediate self-revelation of things as they are: unity, line, rhythm, tension, elegance. Aesthetic arrest stops us in our tracks in communion with the inner and outer mysteries of the soul.
We should not lose sight of the fact that a big part of our sexuality takes place in our dreams, from which we can draw inspiration and self-knowledge otherwise hidden. We don’t have to act out all facets of our sexuality. Our dreams and imagination inform us as much as real life.
The felt-sense of form and beauty is instinctual. In the union of body, soul, and spirit, the lead of the psychosexual self is transmuted or transubstantiated into the gold of a life lived from the higher Self, self-actualization, or an intentional life.
The depth dimension of mutual attraction is a poetic and aesthetic act, a celebratory rite, and a marriage of matter and spirit in an experience of wholeness. Aesthetic response is an essential emotional aspect of alchemy.
Enptiness and fullness flow together in words and images. This flowstate is lyrical, epic, and dramatic. Aesthetic signification is one thing, but the deep emotional impact of aesthetic arrest -- being suspended for a thrilling moment in the eternal -- stops us in our tracks in a radiant instant of self-realization or immortal beauty.
We don’t need to support that phenomenon with any theory, jargon or interpretation. Sex is an inherently healing practice that promotes well-being. It embraces rapport, reverie, and rebirth, an unobservable psychic process beyond sense perception.
Breath of Life
Aphrodite is the hot, moist breath of the soul, the deep breath of life. Awareness rests in the sensations of breath, the rapture of being alive, transcending thought. In love, she is every breath we take (inhalation and exhalation and the gap between), every heartbeat, and the polarities of psyche. Whether in awe of Nature or in aesthetic arrest, we gasp in wonder that takes our breath away.
Aphrodite is air become rising breath -- the very "breath of life." And words are made of nothing but breath -- living psyche. The Word is the creative act, including the language of our instincts. Only that living breath connects us to the fact of all existence.
Mistress of the Labyrinth, Aphrodite-Ariadne, (goddess of paths, wine, snakes, passion, and fertility) symbolizes vast convoluted mazes of entangled memories and transgenerational relationships. The monster at the center of the maze is a symbol of animal desire, carnal needs, and fleshly pursuits. The hero conquers and transcends it.
This serpentine path represents a soul journey to our own center and back again to the world with that sacred connection. On our individual path we overcome our own obstacles and expose our own illusions.
The Heart of the Matter
Aphrodite informs the heart of the journey. Our loyalty and devotion is the strength of the bond to Aphrodite -- respect for what is sacred in our relationships with the gods, a feminine gnosis, and eroticism. Participatory wisdom suggests bringing the sacred back into the material realm. The aspirant balances the four psychic elements of instinctual awareness -- earth, air, fire, and water.
In every meaningful way, the body is the subconscious mind, with the heart as its 'brain.' We honor the captivating Aphrodite when we imagine the world as our lover, with naked awareness, rapt attention, and self-revelation. Such contact with an enlivened sense of immediacy is a mind-body-spirit approach to personal transformation. We honor Aphrodite when we honor the World Soul.
We consciously worship her when we adore our beloved, making the conjugal bed an altar. In fact, it alters everything. The wisdom of the Tree of Knowledge is that sexuality isn’t just in the gonads, but permeates every cell and atom of our bodies.
Aphrodite is an attitude or style of consciousness and behavior through which we fulfill legitimate psychophysical needs. She not only engenders but enlarges life with the mystical splendor of love. In some poetic sense, our very atoms and molecules, as well as the galaxies, are held together by the attractive force of love.
In the symbolic life, we re-experience the death-and-rebirth process, over and over again, just as we experience the ‘petit mort’ (“little death”) of orgasm and renewal in our sexual lives. Imagination uses belief, thought, and visualization to impact the physical or biological root. We are hers when we devotedly pursue the inner images, thoughts, feelings, impulses, and urges.
Aphrodite's myth remains contemporary and aspirational -- a psychosexual satori. The eternal nature of the divine reminds us that transcendence cannot be put on a timeline of temporal concreteness.
The unconscious nucleus of meaning of the eternal archetype remains “unborn” but her specific meaning and form, imagery and affects permeate us. If Aphrodite is eternal, eros is an event of specific temporality. Perhaps in a faithless world, the transitory and temporal hold the only redemptive power possible.
From Cybele to Symbol
There is a long list of obvious divine attributions backed by great literature as well as personal and collective experience. Aphrodite inspires a compelling, subjective state. Euripides called love the "breathes (or blasts) of Aphrodite." She seeks intimacy, touching the most private aspects of our lives. Aphrodite is linked with many lovers in different myths.
Aphrodite's symbol is the ankh-cross, symbol of the millions of years of life to come. The inexhaustible essence of the life force is a key of life that represents physical and immortal life and death, male and female balance, art knowledge wisdom, reproduction, and sexual union. Her cosmology is that all life is connected with an interwoven animating energy, naked fullness, and loving receptivity.
Her sensuality is an irresistible blend of image, imagination, and happy or painful memory of the senses -- the lapse of memory or precise memory of a smell, a touch, a look, a feeling. Under the spell of temptation we tend to 'forget who we are.' We say, even 'misery loves company.' In committed relationships, we conspire to build a single mutual body with mutual memories and mutual field of perception.
Beauty is transporting. Aphrodite is the mysterious, awe-inspiring something that comes over us when we are overcome. Lust incites intoxication, chaos, and destruction beyond that of love. To be, we must be perceived, mirrored back to ourselves by the immediate intimacy of others.
Psyche mirrors matter. What is Above mirrors that which is down Below. When we look out at Nature happening, it is us -- no longer left outside, but embodied self-reflexivity -- embodying the symbolic mirror of Aphrodite.
An ensouled world mirrors our own love, death, sorrow, happiness and much more. We see through the surface of a world that needs mirroring. We don't need to burden images with too many meaningful ideas as much as let them live and breath through us. Her meaning is form itself, here and now. Essence shines through appearance -- the divinity of form in shape itself.
Soul reveals itself spontaneously and irrationally. It amplifies our understanding of observed phenomena. A flow of ideas arises from the image. We develop a dark-adapted eye for the unexpected or less apparent. A narrative emerges from finding hidden value in the depths.
Each reader -- anyone who has had or lost a love -- finds their own revelations arising within. Such notions spark memories, yearning, and feelings. It isn't what you look at, but what you see with the Art of Seeing -- a perceptual framework.
Aphrodite is a numinous hypnotic reality that can spontaneously influence us consciously and unconsciously at the physical, emotional, mental and mythic level. It is a fusion -- mouth to mouth, heart to heart, body in body and soul in soul. Primordial wisdom tells us that mankind can participate in the sacred during physical sexual union.
The way of the couple, mutual affection, unites not only physical and material lives in partnership, but sensation, emotional intimacy, and aesthetic tastes. Sharing intellectual interests, enrichment, and spiritual discoveries unite the lovers who grow together with one another on all planes of aspiration.
We can imagine Aphrodite much more broadly as the relativity of all psychological phenomena and symbolic imagination. Psyche and soma are joined by the bridge of imagination. In the phenomenological view, symbols emerge from human engagement with the social and material environment just as psychic life emerges from embodied action in the world.
Soulwork is the art of living soulfully and fully embodied, consciously aware of the depth dimension and its interaction with our body, emotions, mind, and spirituality. Through myth we participate in our own transcendence. Aphrodite's way is a soul-centered, open-hearted way of being. The dreamy nature of love is symbolically retained in her fluidity, meter, and rhyme.
She is the extroverted world of sense and sensuality and the immanent world of imagination. Stimulating the imagination is erotic. We carefully take hold of our experiences with enough passion and loyalty to hang onto and continue them through the multidimensional layers of meaning Aphrodite imposes on reality.
A sense of meeting in the imagination arises, revealing the dual structure of individuality, otherwise unknowable. This mighty source of psychic energy fuels imagination to create a field of inner freedom and curatorial narrative. Narratives, both personal and collective, arise from the desire to have life display coherence, integrity, fullness, disclosure, and closure.
Aphrodite is an embodiment of the non-rational and psychological union of opposites wherein the lovers are annihilated. Her form is ecstatic, reconciling. Opposite principles are brought together by desire. A similar union of opposites, the alchemist and soror mystica, is the goal of alchemy -- deep union with the divine and feminine principle that opens our senses and reconnects us with the body. This is the spirituality of earth, life, and the present moment.
Images can ignite angelic and carnal pleasure in us as much or more than any mortal human. A 'Venus in Fur' evokes the paradox of refined animality, perhaps dangerous, sly, even deranged. Ideally, we see Aphrodite's beauty in every thing, person and event in the world. It is there, whether we refine our perceptions to see it or not. We cannot blind ourselves to her continuous revelation -- nature's unfurling dance of the seven veils.
Through the mystique of the non-rational, we cultivate life through acts of love. She renews awareness of the importance of a certain kind of sexual ritual and liminal transformative space where the unconscious manifests and opposites reconcile. With cooperation and mutuality between the sexes, each act becomes one of gender reunion, rather than power and domination from either side. The ‘hermaphrodite’ is born.
As a cosmic factor, she is the very essence of existence. But as a complex and paradoxical goddess, she also wounds the heart and soul. She may be the great brightness of the dawning light as inner gold. Only the awakened are truly immortal.
But she is also the material opaqueness of darkness, instincts, feelings, and raw emotions. Emotions are repetitive thoughts packed with intensity. She symbolizes the spiritual and physical duality of humanity, and all the frightening prospects of love gone wrong -- devastation, disconsolation, and despondency, even revenge of the raging heart. She can be as repulsive as beautiful. Spiritual love counters the unbridled power of attraction.
When the irresistible desire for union takes precedence, Aphrodite is there. The drive – the living Presence -- may be sexual, but the impulses and non-rational urges can be psychological and even spiritual. Intercourse is her epiphany, and the more planes of mind, heart, and spirit that are penetrated, the fuller the ravishment of union. Such feelings can exalt even mundane sex.
The heart wants what it wants and actively and spontaneously initiates interaction. We do it and may objectively watch ourselves in that flow of passion at the same time, in awe and wonder at its power over our rational being. It makes us think and do things we never would otherwise. It is not without reason that we call it ‘falling’ in love. Whatever gods have been in charge of our attitudes and lives are toppled when Aphrodite is in ascendance.
Living & Dying
We hide ourselves in the joys and horrors of experience, in the borderlands of time between the eternities, in pathos, obligations, and reverence, in the necessary polarity of opposites of paradoxical experience, in the deepest desires of our hearts. Our own transcendent mystery of human existence is solved or dissolved in naked awareness.
We question natural process itself about the underlying nature of ultimate reality. We are immersed in the sweetness and pleasure born of the soul beyond the suffering, even in self-transcending experience -- thrilled with the joy of life and death -- the seal of the promise of eternal love as the instantaneous transformation of One to None.
Aphrodite impacts us personally, intimately, in her common, chthonic and heavenly forms. Her "common love" seeks fulfillment in the human sphere. She is the hidden meaning in our suffering.
This is the way of élan vital, biological truth, and embodied awareness or body awareness -- the psychophysical basis of love, psychic integration of symbolism, and spiritual union.
Her many facets are core aspects of the Great Mother, the most ancient Earth Goddess -- the primordial mother also of mind and consciousness. She is the memory of ancient oaths at the beginning of time. Womb mysteries and wisdom of the body are rhythmic ways. She governs the alternating cycles of the cosmos.
Death makes life possible. Facing mortality inspires us to live more fully. Perhaps we learn to live from the dead and dying. Burial rites are among the oldest ceremonies of mankind. Consciousness arises at the beginning of life and sinks back into the cosmic maternal womb at death. Unconscious psyche and matter are one. Beauty, mystery, and healing potential are related.
Aphrodite is an effusive essence diffused through all nature. She was originally an androgynous goddess, so applies equally to men and women as a psychic force of great dynamic power, initiation, and transformation. Transcendent celestial Self is a force of psychic and material imagination that makes us more real, more alive.
But if we become utterly materialistic, responding only to desires of the body's appetites, we lose our dignity and sense of meaning in life. Soul qualities are essential -- numerous distinct faculties. The imaginative world of the soul has an objective existence that governs physical desire and genuine love independent of our individual egos.
We can love human beings, but we can also love wisdom and the love of wisdom that unites us with our source, from perception to reflection. The beauty that arises awakens love, reflecting heavenly beauty. Aphrodite procreates such beauty through the sensory world of images in the human relations of bodies, and spiritual hermeneutics uncovering the hidden or naked side of reality.
She is also infinite potential, the possibility of bringing creative ideas to birth, to manifestation. In the deepest sense, she is the universal wave function, the unmanifest ground of our being, spacetime and the radiant light of virtual photon fluctuation, which underlies all matter and manifestation.
Aphrodite is a liminal goddess. The beginning and end of each love is a crossroads. Boundaries are thin at cross roads, where the unlikely occurs and the unworldly cross over. Magic has more power in liminal spaces, thresholds and gateways to other worlds. Liminality occurs at boundary times, where two opposing ideals meet, such as sunrise or sunset, "magic hour," where day turns into night, or when "opposites attract."
We only know creative force through direct experience. We feel empty without the dynamic of opposites that love engenders and perpetuates. It brings grace to ourselves and everything that surrounds us -- a paradigm of implicit social interaction.
Even fifty shades of Aphrodite are not enough to describe her sparkling facets and perceptual shifts. She is a luminous enigma of unbound life and love. Like life, love has its rewards -- the euphoria of peak experiences, exaltation, or rebirth. Dangers real and imagined include heartbreaking disappointment, disillusionment, wounding, fragmentation, dissociation, grief, and loss.
Jung suggests we are steeped in a world created by psyche, the all-pervasive meaning. We are partly empirical and partly transcendental -- a glorious body with natural instincts, appropriate reactions, realistic insights, creative impulses, etc. Our bodies are filled with energy that streams through us with the warmth that flows in our veins, bringing light to the internal darkness.
The unconscious is the living psyche and remains archaic. We tend to convert physical events into psychic processes in unconscious fantasies and metaphors such as 'desire springs up from the depths'. Lovers find the beauty in one another through an enlightened sex life with transparency and presence. We have immediate knowledge only of psychic existence, psychic images of instincts. We are 'touched' in the deepest emotional sense, connecting through the heart.
Aphrodite is an autonomous relater. Independent but open, she carries our story as body language, shared feelings, and sensations. Relationships can be incandescent and joyfully fated or tragic and torturous. She ignites a tremendous amount of libidinous energy in us.
The greater the tension, the greater is the potential. Great energy springs from a corresponding dynamic tension between opposites. No experience is lived in vain. She makes it a richer experience -- a transformation that is not an identity from social institutions or civilizations but from a deeper realm.
Her glories, follies, and pathology have paradoxical internal and external effects on our cosmos (worldview), environment and being in conscious and unconscious personal, social, and spiritual dimensions. Everything 'out there' is us; the whole body is psyche -- what it does, how it moves, how we feel.
The first stage of love is psychic. Aphrodite mirrors all experiences, including our potential immortality, back to our own consciousness. We "polish the mirror of the heart" with daily practice.
But a glimpse of the deeper self of another does not insure longterm compatibility in lifestyle, values, or personality. We may let them carry our unlived life potential and avoid that self-development. The world is a waiting lover. The romantic search for the beloved is spiritual longing for divine communion.
In Plato's Phaedrus, Socrates says: “Every lover is fain that his beloved should be of a nature like to his own god...his every act is aimed at bringing the beloved to be like unto himself and unto the god of their worship."
Aphrodite represents the soul of beauty -- luminous, incorruptible, and radiant -- the holy grail of life. Love itself is a kind of "knowing," soulful engagement with the world. Consciousness proceeds from symbiotic, to magical, to mythical, to rational, to transpersonal growth. Adult relationship only emerges at the rational, not archaic stages.
Like our subject Aphrodite, mythical figures are eternal metaphors of the imagination, the dynamics of psychic reality. She links our matter to our soul. We can approach her theistically, psychologically, anthropologically, and experientially. She may be peaceful and joyous or very exciting, intense, even destructive and otherworldly.
In her more exalted form, the anima is raised from a temptress to a psychopomp, a wisdom figure who inspires and leads us into experiences and awareness. We can catch the unconscious contents that well up from the depths of ourselves. Metaphors make connections in the mythical realm of all fantasies and desires. Myth has the power to revolutionize our vision with mythic reflection.
We all know the cliches: love is a journey, a flower, a fire, a garden, a tree, a pilgrimage, a light, a magician, a dream, a sickness, an addiction, an ocean, a time machine, a jewel, an art, or a game. But there is so much more than rising or falling in love in the depths of the mytheme, including forming a relationship with something greater than your self.
We understand psyche as the main and unique condition of existence, as immediate knowledge and image. The subconscious shapes our reality. Jung approached soul as a living self-existing entity. Energy as form is subtle matter in continuous creation. Our internal model of perceived reality is rooted in the wonder of life and our soulful experience of love.
Love originates in immediate experiences. Emotions and will interact with spirit and body. We receive love differently. The couple is a reciprocal body and neurological feedback system. 'Knowledge' is visceral awareness and awareness of the nervous system. Sexual and relational synchronization increases with cooperative interaction in a unified field.
Love is a poetics of depth -- a way of experiencing the ineffable through relationship. It is an experience of the mystery dimension in everyday reality that carries us through the course of life. A poetic revelation of the eternal mystery of our own being becomes luminous through self-revelation between the polarities of impenetrable objectivity and consuming subjectivity.
We realize our own identity with that light of eternity by shifting our focus between the phenomenal and the transcendent. Eternity is pictured as radiance. The radiance of the mythic world comes shining through. As we approach the soul we touch on the heart, again and again. We wander through the world with our human heart.
Longing, connectivity, and erotic charge lie at the heart of all our interactions -- the mysteries and shadow of love. Regression in love is often necessary for naive, receptive consciousness. Consciousness of what is happening is a redeeming principle. The mystic path is also love's compulsion.
Soul is a vehicle to the heart's destination. The heart glows. Vision becomes clear as we look into the heart, but our vision of the world isn't the truth of all things. We intuit our way along, groping and grasping. You can't argue with a fantasy, or belief, or even the cultural ideology of love. Even ideas and theories are prayers of the heart. Imagination is the heart's organ of knowledge.
Where is the Real Life in My Life?
We live both inwardly and outwardly. Dealing with the unconscious is a question of life. The juxtaposition of visible and invisible engenders and informs life and energetic awareness. Myth is embodied in godforms, indigenous inhabitants of psyche.
Aphrodite is prominent among them. Love, beyond romanticism, is an essential part of our essence -- the source of living waters. Love brings a train of amplified archetypal effects in its wake. Revelation of spiritual contact with the divine makes us carriers of living water.
Spiritual transcendence is independent of matter and physical laws. Transcendent primordial consciousness is beyond self-awareness and sentience. It transcends everything material.
But the spiritual world permeates the transcendent and the mundane. There are interdependent unconscious neural, phenomenological, and cognitive levels of embodiment within our heightened sense of immanence of primordial originating energy.
We don't have to try to transcend, counteract, or even define eternal and immutable elements. Mind is not separate from lived bodily experience. It is naturally more than our conceptual or narrative experience, including transcendence narratives. Our sense of transcendence arises out of and is held in check by awareness of immanence.
Psychological creativity develops in immanence. As much a work of art as a myth, the ambiguous mythic paradigm includes doubt and knowingness, We have optimistic faith to create illuminating reflections in time and space, new mythic systems of meaning with a relevant sense of aesthetics, greater depth and sublimity.
A sexualizing structure imposes polarity in pursuit of union. We are suspended in a web of polarities --form and matter, the one and the many, eternity and time, soul and spirit, freedom and fate, instinct and intellect, risk and safety, love and hate. Revisioned myths have their own narratives, liturgies, hymns, ceremonies, scriptures, and deities, deployed as an artist paints a scene or a poem.
The spirit of life dwells in the secret chambers of the heart. It is irrational, nonlinear, and entangled. Literal time disappears inside the mind. When time stops, love is the only thing we feel.
Through the embodiment of archetypes, we participate in a timeless experience of universal mythic motifs, such as the Mirror of Heaven, cosmo-eroticism, or the timeless moment. The Kabbalists characterize the cosmos as nothing but the infinite emanations of love. Everything exists only because of love. The soul and personal love descend from the supernal source. Devotion is yearning of the soul.
There are no consistent level-independent truths. Natural, underlying divisions are based on distinctions in mental, emotional and behavioral states of different instinctive drives. Even embodied truth is not absolute, objective truth, nor does it need to be. But it allows us self-reflection, the reflexive aesthetic quality of any event.
It is the heart that recognizes our core experiences and issues -- how we create ourselves, how we transform ourselves, how we become what we become. The heart responds to the senses. The truths of the heart are elemental.
We intuit universal principles. Cosmic myths mean universal forms of truth accessible to all. We know the truth of clarity without the senses in our bones. The heart awakens, trembles, pounds, and leaps.
We need to speak of embodiment not as buzzword, branded therapy practice, or empty cliche in our work with the psychophysical self, dreams, events, and memories. We need to know it outside of the therapeutic or quasi-spiritual context in the deeply lived reality -- purposeful meaningful living and the intimacy of each particular event.
Shared Vision; Shared Bodies
The heart perceives the face of intimacy, breathing in portraits in naked time. In a real sense, each breath is an inspiration and orgasm of life, and each exhalation mirrors the dissolution of death. Ecstatic exchange of breath with the beloved and world melts away all cares and falsities in profound communion between cosmic and human being.
Our consciousness is an eye that sees. Ritual structures our healing and worldview. We develop an eye for the unseen. Beauty! The soul possesses it and has an aesthetic nature. Aesthetic beauty is self-evident, automatically drawing our interest and attention. Divine self-revelation evokes our rapt fascination. Plato called it, "the very sensibility of the cosmos."
We light up, captivated by desire, enthusiasm, and compulsive projections when we engage an image, person, or inner figure. Transcendent beauty -- the power of love and the wonders of natural environment -- lifts us and inspires us to heroic aspirations. Beauty pulls us toward it, toward life potential. Beauty is visual truth. Simple truth needs no explanation.
We are enthralled, spellbound, captivated, riveted, gripped, mesmerized, enchanted, entranced, bewitched. Beauty is a profound visual lift. If we lose the rhythm and beauty of the world we naturally seek lesser substitutes. Sometimes we don't even know what we've lost.
No bodily function is without intrinsic significance and no psychological phenomena happen without being embodied. Noticing is sustained subtle attention. As we reinvent and expand our notions of embodiment, we resurrect soul, our psychophysical capacity for change and renewal, for heart as psychic center.
Soul is our spiritual body. Aphrodite is energetic awareness of embodied holistic psychophysical flow – a dynamic influx from above or experiential ascent to the source of beauty. She is an immediate experience of the divine in relationship with the generative psychic-emotional-physical wound, and the path of individuation. When we access the level of fuller potential, we are more creative, intelligent and aware in every aspect of life. We reoccupy the heart of the world.
Soul coalesces in the fountain of wisdom and process-driven art. Images are there whether we deny, reject or acknowledge their revelations. Psychic events have a telos or integral aspect. We sense their purpose is therapeutic. Imagination bridges body and soul -- the material beating heart and the imaginal heart.
What we perceive with all our senses leaves an impression on the body. Aesthetics is a way of perceiving, a way of seeing. Perception makes art as much as the object being looked at, a serious examination of the nature of existence and comprehension of compressed potentiality.
Looking or seeing through events and things to their imaginal image is not a method, but a way of living. Subjective perspectives deepen vision, reflection, rhetoric, values, and ideas.
Aphrodite’s vision becomes our vision -- a way of “seeing through” the veneer of everyday reality to deeper driving forces in a conscious way. We notice nature at work, stirring up our life like the waves of some vast ocean and casting us wet and naked on the beach of a Terra Incognita, an unknown world in which we have lost our bearings. Love can break over us like a tsunami, with wave upon wave of uncontrollable emotions.
The unconscious expresses itself in the emergent mythopoetic function, a glimpse into the transcendent dimension. Libido, the generalized life instinct, is spiritualized by the numinous energy of the living myth, by intention, thought, and desire.
Naturally Arising Light.
Visionary power forms beauty in the language of images, as if from our own hearts and the yearning of the soul. The imaginative capacity to observe ourselves lies in the medium of immediacy. We are always arrested on the edge of passing, of death and the beauty of the power of life.
In creative flow, the heart integrates body, mind, and soul in coherent patterns. It calms your mind and opens your intuition, which is key to meeting life’s challenges with grace. What arises in the heart conditions our feelings and philosophy. Falling in love stimulates our imagination, and that makes us fall more deeply in love.
The Perceptive Heart
The beautiful image may not be pretty but is coherent and meaningful. Even then we often interpret them incorrectly and misstep to learn a tough love lesson. We may or may not recognize our thoughts of love concerning our real needs vs. fantasy-driven behaviors.
Symbols are grasped by the power of the heart. They bridge our instinctual and spiritual nature. In their undifferentiated forms they are good/bad, salvation/doom, health/sickness. A symbol stands for a partially unknown psychological reality. They help us navigate the unconscious and unify our subjective experience.
The phenomenological level of symbols and images can be brought into consciousness with presence, but the unconscious cognitive remains below awareness in kinesthetic, sensory, motor, visceral, and mental processing.
There is no single unified metaphysics. The level of complexity determines the level of insight. We assume the task of ‘form-giver’ and careful observer of these images and impulses ‘from the deep.’ They are translated into the metaphorical terms of daily life. So we look toward our existential ground state, which is primordial awareness devoid of all archetypal and conceptual notions and experience. Direct experience is being attentive to what is right now -- the heart of beauty.
Aphrodite is with us when our creative gifts shine. What is beautiful within us rises to the surface. Soul welcomes the penetration and fertilization of the spirit.
Given or chosen, this is the resource at our disposal in reality. We come into being as observers only through our attention and complex metaphorical-conceptual systems. Daily thought is mostly metaphorical. We understand metaphor from our embodied experiences.
Enlivened metaphor is embodied. The body can be the source domain to describe other things, or it can be the target described by other things or processes. Body metaphors, concrete and abstract, can relate to feelings or emotions.
Consciousness of archetypes extends the limitations of our observations and knowledge base. We can think of them as psychological templates which are amplified or suppressed by the contextual features of environment.
This is the looking-glass of the soul, our imaginal interface with the divine and the laws of form. We may find our soul in desire, but not in objects of desire. When we are in touch with soul we are in touch with spirit, sacred presence.
Conceptual metaphors can be restrictive. If we relate to archetypes in a known or cliche way as consciousness frames with pedestrian values, the results are also conceptually obvious and probably ineffective for transformation and healing. It's like trying to read dream symbols by rote with a dream dictionary. We may 'get it' conceptually, but not experientially as creative expansion.
How do we conceive the world? That is our generative question. This dynamic representation reflects our worldview and conditions the appearance of the whole. We design our world to foster a certain sort of mind or consciousness and try to meet its archetypal and existential challenges. The transformation of mental states is the emergence of the symbol from the primary distinctions.
Archetypes represent potential adaptations from the collective wisdom of humanity, the wisdom only life can teach. Our personal relationship with them differentiates our specific response. Highly general, such certain kinds of intelligence are roughly equivalent in a wide variety of circumstances.
We cannot realize it all, all of the time, so certain autonomous and selected pathways emerge to help us solve existential problems -- breakthroughs in consciousness. Archetypes are bounded resource systems upon which we can call just as the ancients did for support.
We can only approach our authentic life of personality through dialogue in a process-oriented perspective -- a relationship between mind and body, grounded in flesh and our unique environment.
Venus Aphrodite is a polarized goddess of both love and death. Life, love and death bound the cyclic female principle and blood mysteries. Isis is identified with Aphrodite. Her myths are the Genesis of genitalia. They include bisexual and male forms of divinity -- Aphrodite's phallic form. She is inherent in the bodies of men and their penetrating power and compulsions. The first plows of the earth were made of her metal copper.
Aphrodite animates and quickens matter with imagination -- the thought, the language, the sight, and the intelligence of the heart. All experiences act as symbols. Like Aphrodite, the feminine
Aphrodite is a soul figure, a soul guide, a breath spirit, "breathing room," between the conscious ego and the instinctual unconscious ground. Although the terms soul and spirit are sometimes used interchangeably, soul may denote a more worldly and less transcendent aspect of a person. But Aphrodite Urania is a transcendent goddess.
She represents a personal not a spatial relationship that substantiates and vivifies us with consummation in the imaginal. She is perfect thought, primordial awareness, or concept-free meditation -- the throb of absolute reality, universal consciousness, the depths of human spiritual potential.
Soul and the divine are united by the symbolic image in the imagination where the spiritual world has an objective reality. Imagination is a divine body that lives within us all in primordial images and the visionary events of the soul. It creates a sympathetic life, open to beauty, ecstasy, and transcendence.
Engaging in mythic tasks challenges us to discover and deepen self-understanding and reclaim the imaginal, not virtues but virtualities. Oppositional tendencies integrate in ambiguity and paradox. Integration includes co-existence with others, the world, and the archetypal world of metaphorical, rather than sensible or literal, reality.
We don't believe anything we haven't acquainted ourselves with, be it love of light or darkness. We only understand divine matters by assimilating ourselves to that order of being, through the spiritual body or celestial earth. The old link is a romance of the soil, soul, and society.
The strength of our soul is our own mythological being, animating our own inner voice and transcendent potential. The mythical world of the old gods is not the product of poetry; mankind is the product of the gods, as shown in our lines of ancestral descent.
Love can be a path for a consciously realized life. Service is a big component of love. Aphrodite's nature links us to all living beings with a bond of love and a heart-centered myth, rooted in embodied love, compassion, and passion. Heavenly and common Aphrodite shares the goal of union. She unites the immanent and transcendent in a sacred marriage.
Creative imagination lives within the interior consciousness of the heart, transforming the visible into the invisible. Artistic sensibility is symbolic. We can immerse ourselves in the living arts. Art even deepens spiritual traditions.
Meaning emanates from the real world as well as works of art if we listen to our calling, or vocation. Artistic sensibility reconciles us with love of the arts, supplying us with what we love. The arts feed us. It is a pleasure to create beauty and knowledge.
Artistic or symbolic sensitivity is the ability to feel empathy, the meanings emanating from the works of art and the real world. We can connect with it by listening, vision, attention, imagination, or 'soul making' -- trusting the transformative power of images.
Artistic sensibility is a deeply therapeutic process for artists and for the environment. Soul welcomes the mysterious if we immerse ourselves in that dark mystery. Images are apprehended by a deep intuitive sense of transcendent principles governing and emanating throughout creation.
The life of the soul cannot emerge in merely finite relationships. Alchemical lovers have the same transforming powers as the phosphorescent fire that warms the alchemical athanor.
Dreams are a way to moisten the soul in the pools of images and feeling, dissolving problems, and changing moods. Spirits of the water and instinctive feminine magic can appear as daemonic archetypal energy, denizens of darkness: mermaids, melusines, woody nymphs, succubus or harlots.
We can invoke Aphrodite privately, with friends, or a lover. We can be voyeurs or active participants. Love is a substantive soul to soul connection, passions, hopes, wishes, and dreams. Sex (animal urges), love, and romance are one of our main ways of mythologizing practical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life.
Love makes an average man feel beautiful and intelligent. We can understand our lives and instincts more deeply through archetypes and their phenomenology, including the love and suffering of eros and pathos -- "lovesickness."
The churning ocean of the unfathomable unconscious eventually gave birth to the foam-born Aphrodite. The emergent goddess is the morning light rising from the seething sea -- the golden dawn of consciousness -- the Light of Glory.
Consciousness is symbolized as "water," but it is also mind stuff. This is the water of life. Cosmic Consciousness is inherent within you, since you and the universe are one. Emergence is a psychological property, not a metaphysical absolute. Complexity arises from primordial Chaos.
Psyche is an immense ocean of archaic consciousness, the mother of biological evolution. She is the light of the soul and mythological world who illuminates our personal world. She is the imperishable body of the eternal feminine. We 'know' one another.
Her gnosis, cxperience-based knowledge and wisdom, is revelation of our origin, recognition of who and what we are through conscience, an inner voice, or gut feeling. Gnosis is considered a heart science -- conscious experience of the truth, experiential understanding or comprehension of the way existence works.
A geyser of psychic life arises from the tumultuous ocean of the psyche -- the light of the free spirit's passion. Nothing makes us fantasize more and find pleasure in that incandescent life. The living myth pulsates and pumps through the throbbing heart of our existence, from the visceral drum-beat yet beyond the material world.
Looking deeper we can find Aphrodite ensouled and enlivened everywhere beauty abounds.
She is in our aesthetic perceptions, in our creative efforts and flow. She is in the re-enchanted world at large as Anima Mundi. She is the bare facts of sensory data and her expanded levels of reality. Love is also a philosopher, a lover of beauty and wisdom.
Aphrodite's Romantic Aesthetic
A sense of meeting in the imagination arises, revealing the dual structure of individuality, otherwise unknowable. This mighty source of psychic energy fuels imagination to create a field of inner freedom and curatorial narrative.
As with each archetypal meeting, we are subjected to it, consumed by it, or integrate it to the limited extent we can. We are each a primal body-self vulnerable to the shocks and enticements of the world and our needs. Being mostly body, the self remains just as vulnerable to the world -- spontaneous and visceral.
Wild hunger impairs reason and choice. In obsession life may not be perfect, but it remains vital and lively. We overestimate our autonomy. In our 'bright awareness' we oversimplify ourselves as coherent, solid, and articulate in our self-reports.
What sounds grand may be hubristic, immature, uprooted, or willful. We can be enthralled or bound by our own self-image, manipulating or forcing gratification. Beauty devastates or elevates, ravages or ravishes, engulfs in psychological addiction or enlightens.
The personifications of Aphrodite are a many-headed sexual infinity sign expressing the essence of her divine nature. They aesthetically objectify our life's changes. Love has permanent poetic value and marks our passages. Recognizing and mirroring one another takes place in the dim regions of the body's self-consciousness. We unconsciously mimic and orchestrate muscular, glandular, and vascular changes in one another.
Narratives, both personal and collective, arise from the desire to have life display temporal representatives of nature's constants in the imagistic world. High and low narrative situations are rooted in archetypal, imagistic, and symbolic field coherence, integrity, fullness, disclosure, and closure. Things fit in a natural story line. Self-arising images have stable configurations and issues with specific properties. It helps us better appreciate our discreteness and wholeness.
Can we be kind, generous, and loving without being foolish? Our human heart, mind, spirit, and soul emerge through the same process that created all of life, encouraging us to supersede our limitations.
Unknown to ourselves, love can consume us in vortices of unconscious repetitions of earlier trauma, competition, or jealousy and other patterns in psyche, or holes in the heart from loss and decay. This may always be part of our lives, consistencies in behavior and involuntary moments. Body flows with the motion of the world. Creative excitement dissolves boundaries.
Like unashamed, unabashed Aphrodite, this essay seeks to titillate, to provoke, to promise even more than it may deliver of the mysteries and hidden charms of existence. Soul includes our nonphysical aspects: consciousness, wisdom mind, clairvoyance, thought, feeling, and will, seemingly distinct from the physical body. It is our feelings: our emotional and moral nature, our hidden most private thoughts and feelings. Aphrodite is a soul-guide and her myth is therapeutic.
We imagine the heart as the basis of emotional life. This source and center is where the deepest and sincerest feelings are located and we are most vulnerable to pain, momentary unbalance, and divine frenzy.
Energies associated with the deity change our outlook, perceptions and feelings through communion with intimate otherness of the world.
The Universal Medicine
Love is a psychedelic state, effecting rebirth -- a new form, rejuvenation, immersion in the creative energy flow. Instinctual attraction dissolves the ego and liquifies consciousness in a new incarnation of spirit. Something in us dies if we don't periodically resonate with wild rejuvenating nature and meaningful ecstatic involvement.
Rebirth typically opens us to the transpersonal domain with its virtually infinite creativity, but not without the implied dissolution, death itself from which that rebirth is coming. Being in the physical-symbolic means internally and externally hearing the breath of the spirit in dialogue with the soul, with the anima mundi.
This powerful archetypal theme is initiatory in character. The process of rebirth is the mythic enactment of "the one story," whose pattern is found in every narrative. Beneath the differences, the meaning -- having to do with the loss and recovery of identity -- does not change. The descent, including 'falling in love' and subsequent ascent, means going deep into the consciousness journey and emerging transformed.