When you have only two pennies left in the world,
buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.
~ Chinese proverb
As in past years, on this day that has been named for a Christian martyr, I encourage you to instead celebrate in the name of the Goddess of Love and Beauty, Aphrodite.
You may recall on Sunday I wrote that Aphrodite embodies many of the qualities of the Maiden aspect of the Great Goddess. Not only does She teach us to revere our sacred sexuality, but She instructs that beauty is equally necessary for us, if we are to thrive. Equal to the sex drive! Imagine that!
Do you consider beauty as a necessity for balance and health? As today’s quote indicates, some of the world’s oldest and most successful cultures, such as those of the Chinese, have since ancient times revered and prioritized beauty. The Japanese, too, are admired for their emphasis on aesthetics in every aspect of life.
Some say that the capacity to perceive beauty is a measure of emotional and spiritual intelligence. In his acclaimed book, Speaking of Beauty, New York University professor Denis Donoghue has written that a central problem in our society is that the modern world has splintered the ancient affinity among the values of beauty, truth and goodness.
“I’d like a constellation of values in which each would be recognized with the autonomy it has,” Donoghue said in a recent interview. “I hate to see all values reduced to political or religious values, as we’ve seen happening lately.”
An artist collective called the Bird Tribes notes, “Not so long ago the terms Art, Magic, and The Great Work were synonymous. As we approach the zero point it is only the visions of Beauty that can lead us on.”
Our very survival may depend on to what extent our species honors beauty. Native American author Luther Standing Bear once wrote, “For one man, the world was full of beauty; for the other, it was a place of sin and ugliness to be endured until he went to another world.”
Therein lies the dilemma, at this turning of the age. It seems to me that we must recognize and reject the messages that have spawned a culture of fear, domination, and separation.
As we encourage and embrace the healing of such views, a new way becomes clear to us. Some traditions call this the Beauty Path. The Beauty Path is the path of love and leads us home. It is certainly blessed by Aphrodite. All other paths lead us astray.
Although he may have never known Aphrodite, Iroquois Tadodaho Leon Shenandoah resonated with Her message. He wrote, “Sooner or later, we will all remember to do the duties we were instructed to do. Sooner is better than later. Later brings the suffering that will cause us to remember the Creator. The decision as to when it will be is always up to each person.
“In the end everybody will be doing the same thing, and that is remembering. I’m going to always be following the Instructions now. You can wait to give thanks, if you want to. Not me! I know the pain the waiting causes. Nobody knows what specific suffering someone will have to go through that will bring them back to remembering.”
Others have described it this way: “To walk the Beauty Path is to learn to relate to the Beauty within everything, even when the Beauty is veiled from our senses, even when the Beauty is hidden from our mind’s eye. When we have cultivated the Beauty of our own hearts, and come to know Beauty’s secret ways, then we may know that She is truly present everywhere.”
Beauty is not the physical appearance you are born with (or purchase). Beauty is not a description. The Beauty that Aphrodite rules is born in action. It describes a way of living.
For the sake of your own Divine nature, and the blessings of Aphrodite, I hope you will celebrate today by finding ways to act on behalf of Beauty in the small and large areas of your life.
Notice the beauty that calls to you this day – the sky, the trees, the smiles of loved ones, the sweet delights of your physical body, including how you adorn yourself. Change what is not beautiful — don’t ignore the litter left in your path. As a sacred act of worship, pick it up and dispose of it.
Release the possessions that do not give you aesthetic pleasure. Turn off the soul-searing images and sounds of violence, cynicism, and hatred that fill our news and entertainment.
Develop and cherish what gives your senses true pleasure. Choose inspiring poetry and music; choose sunshine, starlight, simplicity, laughter. Make the intentional cultivation of beauty a part of every hour and every day, and soon you will find there is very little room left over for anxiety, stress, or fear.
In this way, we honor and are blessed by the Goddess of Love and Beauty. Happy Aphrodite’s Day!