As a worshipper of Eros, I encounter a fair number of real-life characters, some directly, some indirectly. Possibly the most famous of these is Dr Susan Block; she’s obsessed with bonobos and has created something known as Eros Day, a holiday celebrated on whatever day of a calendar year that a vaguely phallic planetoid in the asteroid belt named 433 Eros by astronomers happens to be closest to Earth –usually late in January. I don’t think she’s pagan in the anthropological sense of “polytheist”, and she might only be pagan in the broadest, loosest modern sense —I’m really not sure; if she is, she keeps her practises and even religion a rather personal matter outside of her very public Eros Day celebrations. This doesn’t matter to me any more than it matters to Dionysians that the most “pagan” thing about Jim Morrison was a for-shits-and-giggles hand-fasting he had with a woman whose grip on reality is… tenuous, on a good day —while some may argue that possibly is rather Dionysian, it also says nothing about what he actually believed. This doesn’t matter though, because I do believe that the gods lead us down certain paths whether we believe in Them or not. So do Dr. Block’s religious beliefs matter? I say no. She describes her philosophy as “ethical hedonism”, and it very closely resembles some of the post-Kyreniac Hedonist schools, and she’s also a syndicated columnist who’s written sex columns for several weekly papers and magazines.
Her fascination with bonobo chimps is, too, a philosophical pursuit; according to her, it was Bonobo chimps that inspired her Ethical Hedonism. In her observances, bonobo chimps resolve disputes and frustrations with each-other sexually, suggesting that if we’d all just learn to either fuck away, or at least masturbate away our anger, there would be a reduction in violence; her belief is that our species is as violent as it is amongst itself because of learned sexual repressions that we can and should free ourselves from. I’m not in complete agreement with that, but I can definitely applaud her efforts and see that in at least some people repression leads to frustration, then to anger, then to violence, and so letting go of that will lead some individuals to be less-violent or even non-violent; even leading psychiatrists tend to agree that repressing one’s sexuality can eventually lead to violence in some people.
In the Helios solar system (this would be ours) in the Gregorian year of 1898, there was an object in the asteroid belt discovered and now known as 433 Eros, and it’s the second-largest Near-Earth Asteroid after 1036 Ganymed. It’s also one of the closest, is a “Mars-crosser” (meaning its orbit crosses that of Mars periodically) and in as few as two million years, may become an Earth-crosser. It belongs to the Amor group of asteroids, and unlike 1036 Ganymed, is not occasionally considered a “minor planet”.
“Offcially”, 433 Eros is “peanut shaped”, but seriously now? No, seriously: That thing is phallic.
NASA has sent the NEAR Shoemaker probe to Eros twice, in an effort to learn more about the formation of the solar system, and it’s the first asteroid to be orbited by a probe. Every eighty-one years (the next occurrence will be in 2056), 433 Eros is close enough to Earth to have a magnitude of +7.0 (its typical magnitude is +8.1), appearing to stop and giving it a brighter appearance than any other NEA, excepting 4 Vesta. It’s also noteworthy that 433 Eros never goes retrograde.
The reason I bring these two up is because on the date that 433 Eros is nearest Earth, usually in late January (this year 31 January), Dr Susan Block has designated that date as “Eros Day”, and hosts a party celebrating love and pleasure. Of course, perusing her site, she seems to have set a fixed date for the celebration for 19 January, which doesn’t make much sense to me, but then again, I’m sure she has her reasons.
It’s also of note that this year, 433 Eros is closest to Earth on 31 January, which has been esteemed by Ekklesía Antínoou as Dies Natalis Sancti of Derek Jarman.