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There may be a tendency among neo-pagans to look upon the polytheistic past as a golden age. This tendency seems to be especially strong among those who wish to rediscover Aphrodite. If her title---goddess of love and beauty---is an indication of her real nature, her reemergence in the modern era should substantially increase our happiness. But I would like to caution the would-be devotee of the goddess of love that love is not known to bring happiness. Both the love of Aphrodite and her antagonist Jesus are inextricably bound up with their passions---and the word “passion”, as we ought to know, means “suffering”.

The naive modern pagan might be tempted to disregard the unpleasant habit of Aphrodite to curse those who offend her. In her anger myths Aphrodite seems to behave more like a subconscious complex in a Freudian case study than a real person. Each of the myths involves a denial of natural sexual desire, a refusal to worship the goddess, or a simple neglect of her worship. There are more than 20 such myths, which are listed here: http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/AphroditeWrath.html. The curse of the goddess typically devastates the life of a helpless man or woman.

After approximately 2,000 years of Christianity in Europe and countries with a European heritage (e.g. the United States) the neo-pagan longs for Aphrodite’s return in order that sexual freedom might be restored and given a sacramental or sacred quality. It was not so in ancient times before Christian chastity became normative. It would not be inaccurate to say that humanity was a slave to its sexual desires before religion brought us freedom at the cost of a new slavery. Now, in the 21st century, torn between allegiance to nature (Aphrodite) and spirit (God), where is our freedom?

Whichever we choose, freedom will be found in the love that is natural to us and spontaneous. We will then be able to say that we are slaves to love---and that is the least onerous of enslavements. True freedom awaits us in a transcendental state like moksha or Nirvana.

Below: The Aphrodite type. A hot temper typically accompanies the seduction.

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