“Aphrodite Melainis (Μελαινις)” is a name of Nyx, not necessarily Aphrodite Herself. I’ve found no relevant mythology or surviving anecdotes that clearly link Aphrodite with nighttime and / or lunar aspects. Thespian warriors had shields bearing a crescent moon, in honour of the mother of Eros, Whom Thespians honours since their pre-history if you think Herodotus can be trusted. Aphrodite was a later import to Boeotia, and while blemding deities was no uncommon thing to the Hellenes, looking at what survives of mythology that is clearly traceable to Boiotia, especially Thespiae in specific, there’s no indication that adopting Aphrodite as Eros’ mother was very widespread in Boeotia, even in cases where Their cults became linked in the region.
Ergo, “Aphrodite Melainis” is a euphemistic name for Nyx. Think like how Hades is occasionally regarded as “Zeus of the Underworld”.
I’ve been tossing this around in my head for a while, but was given the OK to put it to print early this evening (it’s still evening for me!) when a luna moth landed on my shoulder on the smoking deck at the bar. Wish I had a picture, but she was there, looked at me, and then left.
It certainly does seem an intriguing coincidence that Kyprus is the location of the oldest known example of feline domestication, is the birthplace of Aphrodite (and Adonis), and cats —in modern Western symbolism (with the most likely known source being Egypt’s fertility goddess, Baast)— tend to represent sexuality —typically feminine sexuality.
You notice how the URL for this section of the Pagan Newswire Collective has the word “nature” in it? Of course. It’s specifically for nature-based pagan religious and spiritual discussions and ideas. I would bet that the majority of people who think of “nature” are thinking of open areas that have a minimum of human impact, where the signs of humanity are reduced or even almost entirely eradicated. And I feel that’s a grave shortcoming in our perceptions.
I want to share with you one of my very favorite quotes. It’s a statement by Richard Nelson, quoted in The Sacred Earth: Writers on Nature and Spirit, edited by Jason Gardner (emphasis mine):
It’s dangerous to think of ourselves as loathsome creatures or as perversions in the natural world. We need to see ourselves as having a rightful place. We take pictures of all kinds of natural scenes and often we try to avoid having a human being in them…In our society, we force ourselves into a greater and greater distance from the natural world by creating parks and wilderness areas where our only role is to go in and look. And we call this loving it. We lavish tremendous concern and care on scenery but we ignore the ravaging of environments from which our lives are drawn.
This is a perfect image of how we have separated ourselves from the rest of nature. Not separating ourselves from nature, but separating ourselves from the rest of nature.
So much of that post is quote-worthy, and I just don’t have the space to do it, so GO! READ! NOW!
…but if you want any evidence that everything I listed here is true, then look no further than the comments from readers. On the good side, it does seem to cut about 50/50 (though in part for myself, but still a reassuring percentage with self removed), but there are still some of the nastiest, most hateful, prejudiced, and frankly uneducated comments are from those who extol the assumed “purity” of the pastoral existence. No such thing from any-one who has voiced communing with the city.
For those who could not discern some of the finer nuances of Lupa’s first post, she made a more recent follow-up, which (to those who’ve read neither) may also lay to rest most gut reactions made in bias against the concept of the city as an ecosystem and the urban divine. Keep in mind, there is FAR more to read than just this quote:
–Telling urban dwellers that they’re bad people for living in cities, or that they can’t be as good a bunch of environmentalists as rural people, or otherwise playing who’s superior to whom, is counterproductive. Insulting someone or insinuating that you’re better than they are is a great way to alienate them. Not a good idea with potential allies. If you assume that cities are full of people who are self-centered, materialistic, corrupted, etc. then you’ve already started on the path to alienating them. Same thing with assuming all rural areas are full of nothing but small-minded hyper-conservative bigots. And so forth.
Adonis looked up at her, his dark green eyes inquisitive. She knew he wanted to hear the story. She was certain he had heard it before, but she knew he liked to hear her tell it.
“Yeah. It is all Aphrodite’s fault. My mother had made it quite clear that I was never to be married off like some commoner. She wanted me to be elevated to the very pinnacle of the Greek pantheon – an eternal virgin like Hestia, Athena and Artemis.” Adonis smiled a little and so Persephone responded, “you better believe I’m glad that didn’t happen!
The Barking Shaman shares his photo gallery. Here’s a taste of one of my favourites from the “Manmade” section —and that abandoned theatre he shot is seriously full of nymphai:
(clicking the photo should direct you straight to the gallery in question —I tested it to make sure!)
Fuck it, if you haven’t read those posts by now, I’m not going to subject you to them. Too many people just fucking angered me, and I’m stepping AWAY.
Just in case you were curious:
I spent most of this last week on my humanoid meat-based housemate’s computer, because my motherboard and/or CPU died, though technically, I got the replacement of the ones I got a little over a year ago at this time for the same damned problem used, so it’s not that surprising. My hard-drive was still intact, so yay, but the computer is now less-functional to my needs (like music, as in making it) than I’ve had in a whole year now. I’m finding myself waffling between making up for slow progress last year with the garden or basically replacing what I need to on the computer to get it back to where I need it to be. I will keep you posted.
Your New Old Word For the Week:
Macrography: n, from Greek makros (long or large) and graphein (to write): abnormally large handwriting, sometimes indicating a nervous disorder. Jules is pretty obnoxious, so his macrography doesn’t surprise me in the least.
“The dancer’s body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul.
The true dance is an expression of serenity;
it is controlled by the profound rhythm of inner emotion.
Emotion does not reach the moment of frenzy out of a spurt of action;
it broods first, it sleeps like the life in the seed,
and it unfolds with a gentle slowness.
The Greeks understood the continuing beauty of a movement
that mounted, that spread, that ended with a promise of rebirth.” Isadora Duncan
I’ve been fascinated with the 1920s since I was a little kid and delighted in the occasional Chaplin film on cable, so it’s not at all surprising that I’d come across the career of Isadora Duncan.
Duncan is regarded as the creator of Modern Dance (though in dance communities, this is sometimes hotly debated). While Modern Dance performances are clearly similar to ballet in some ways, the Modern Dance movement in the early 1900s was born from a distaste that many dancers had with what they perceived as a rigidity and “unnatural movement” in classical ballet. While there are now several schools of Modern Dance, Duncan’s dance was based on the dance depicted in ancient Hellenic pottery, sculpture, Graeco-Roman mosaics and neo-Classical Renaissance art and sculpture.
If we seek the real source of the dance, if we go to nature, we find that the dance of the future is the dance of the past, the dance of eternity, and has been and always will be the same… The movement of waves, of winds, of the earth is ever the same lasting harmony.” Isadora Duncan
Though she did have formal teachers giving her a background in classical dance, she ultimately rejected much of this training for improvisation and a sort of Neo-Pagan Romanticism. She once famously proclaimed that the Goddess Aphrodite Herself taught Ms Duncan in the art of dance on the beaches of California.
Her parents were once wealthy, but became rather poor shortly after Isadora’s birth, when her father lost his bank; her parents later divorced when she was seven-years-old. The experience of growing up impoverished, she and her mother and sister giving music and dance lessons to support the family, likely bred her Communist ideals, which would later lead her to defect to Russia. In spite of gaining Russian citizenship, she lived her last years in France, as well as a significant portion of her life prior.
“There are likewise three kinds of dancers: first, those who consider dancing as a sort of gymnastic drill, made up of impersonal and graceful arabesques; second, those who, by concentrating their minds, lead the body into the rhythm of a desired emotion, expressing a remembered feeling or experience. And finally, there are those who convert the body into a luminous fluidity, surrendering it to the inspiration of the soul.” ~Isadora Duncan
Despite being clearly a subversive influence on the world of artistic dance, she never completely fit in with Bohemian crowds, but her free-spiritedness and natural draw to shake up convention kept her from truly assimilating into high society. In some respects, her nature could be seen as Dionysian.
Though posthumously, she’s been idealised by some as a sort of radical femme-inist of the school of “sisters doin’ for themselves” because her dance schools were famously all-girl, early on she sought to include boys amongst her pupils of dance and philosophy, but ultimately, it was financiers who made the decision for her single-sex education in dance, and men trained in a lineage that can be traced back to Isadora Duncan herself, while increasing in number, are still rare; I know of only one male dancer to have ever been directly taught by Duncan herself. While examinations of her personal life definitely show many feminist sympathies (and also a bisexual with at least one noteworthy and passionate affair with another woman), she refrained from identifying her socio-political ideaologies as anything more than Communist, Socialist, or Marxist, which is easily argued to be inherently feminist, if not explicitly, much less radically so. The ultimate downfall of her schools, though, was her idealism; even her school in Moscow at a time of the early days of Russia’s totalitarian form of Communism suffered financially because the state had not yet made a suitable provision for the arts that could keep the school afloat, and Duncan was so firm in her belief that commercial performances cheapened the artistry she taught students to value, that she’d just as soon close a school left in the charge of a star pupil than tolerate her students performing on a commercial stage. In honour of her value of art over money, Duncan legacy dance troupes are largely non-profit.
Love is an illusion; it is the world’s greatest mistake. I ought to know for I’ve been loved as no other woman of my time has been loved. -Isadora Duncan
Her style of dance she always stressed to be very natural in its approach to the movements of the body, and improv is a major element to Duncan’s style of modern dance (though the choreography is often surprisingly intricate). Emotion and the expression of through the whole body with dance is another defining characteristic of Duncan’s style. Unlike ballet, which tends to place greater value on women dancers who are especially light-weight, and often with an unspoken mantra of “the lighter the better”, Duncan dance values any body that can move with the natural grace and convey the emotions integral to a piece; though this often means fans of ballet and some other dance regard Duncan dancers as “fat” and “out-of-shape”, the inherent athleticism in Duncan dance illustrate that Duncan dance not only keeps one in good physical condition, but also that the movements celebrate all shapes and sizes of graceful. Typically performing in bare feet, hops, skips, leaps, and arm movements tend to be regarded as the most basic elements of Duncan dancing, and Grecian-inspired dance costume is clearly preferred by Duncan herself, and those continuing to dance in her lineage.
The only surviving / known film taken of her dancing is not only extremely short, but clearly gives more attention to Isadora’s costume adjustment than her dance, which is shown as little more than a few hops. The circumstances under which this film was shot, I do not know; it’s likely that it was an experiment taken by a friend, or perhaps setting up the equipment took so long she had become tired. This is certainly not representative of the great dancer that shook up the art world and caused a sensation in the Early Twentieth. For more representitive video, there is no shortage of video of dancers of the Isadora Duncan legacy.
Interestingly, for all of Duncan’s glorifications of the Greeks, Aphrodite, Eros, the Moisai, the Khairetes, and all her applause for the wisdom of the Greeks and the inherent natural beauty of her reconstructed Greco-Roman dance, the music she selected, and that is still popular with dancers of the Duncan legacy, is movements by Romantic composers, and often music not written with dance performances in mind. This rather odd choice, all things considered, still lends to a graceful and beautiful interpretation of the music, I can’t help but wish to see Duncan dance performed with reconstructed Greco-Roman music.
Off the stage, Duncan was a flamboyant character, being practically immune to the typical ill effects of scandal, and a well-regarded eccentric. She rejected Christianity for Classical and Neitzchian philosophy, eagerly entertained Romantic Neo-Pagan imagery of her own character, and often read tarot cards for friends, strangers, and herself. Still, for all her fabulous life, it was marked with great tragedy; her marriages ended bitterly, her children died in a tragic automobile accident, her own life cut short when her excessively long scarf she regarded as something of a trademark wrapped around the axle of her Amilcar, choking her, then snapping her neck, then nearly dragging her body down the street just as her lover realised what was wrong. She died at fifty, but not before leaving an indelible impression on not only dance, but all of the arts (having inspired painters and sculptors).
According to Hesiod’s Theogony, she was born when Cronus cut off genitals of Uranus and threw them into the sea, and from the sea foam (aphros) arose Aphrodite.
In myth, Venus-Aphrodite was born of sea-foam. Roman theology presents Venus as the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life.
If the goddess was born from sea foam, why has she belly button?
Σύμφωνα με τη Θεογονία του Ησίοδου, που γεννήθηκε όταν ο Κρόνος κόψει τα γεννητικά όργανα του Ουρανού και τα πέταξε στη θάλασσα, και από τον αφρό της θάλασσας (aphros) γεννήθηκε η Αφροδίτη.
Στο μύθο, την Αφροδίτη γεννήθηκε από τη θάλασσα-αφρού. Ρωμαϊκή θεολογία παρουσιάζει την Αφροδίτη, όπως το αποδίδει, υδαρής θηλυκής αρχής, που είναι απαραίτητες για την παραγωγή και την ισορροπία της ζωής.
Αν η θεά γεννήθηκε από αφρό της θάλασσας, Γιατί είναι ο ομφαλός?
Cute video (and the description posted with it) that was sent to me in a comment by “laura noname”. Love it! Personally, I’ve always kind of wondered this, myself, as while this certainly isn’t the only mythology of Aphrodite’s birth, it’s certainly the most prevailing and popular version.