Πανδημος: Aphrodite the Red

I often see reconstructionists of various tribe advocating a political persuasion that’s neo-conservative or outright Fascist (for the record, though, I’m not counting “radical traditionalism” as either, since the bare bones of that philosophy is social and can easily be applied to just about any political creed1). While the most discussed interpretation of Aphrodite Pandemos, “Aphrodite of All People”, is that of one in contrast to Aphrodite Urania, “Heavenly Aphrodite”, with implications (if not outright statements) that the Divine and the Material are two sides of a coin, always separate faces, never intermingling. I say this is a false dichotomy, for if the Heavenly does not regularly insert itself into the material, then what right do human beings even have to worship deities in the ancient way? Why don’t Hellenists just disregard the material world as so irreparably wicked that we must prostrate ourselves before bitter Deities and beg Their salvation? This is where I tend to see Platonism as “like Christianity, only not”, cos it lends itself too well to that sort of “logic”, and as a priest of Eros, I see no real separation between the Divine and the Material, it’s all interwoven together in the great tapestry, so positing a dichotomous Aphrodite Pandemos/Urania will ultimately fall apart because of a third side called reality, and then you realise that reality isn’t sided like a coin or a die, but faceted, like a crystal or cut gemstone.

But I don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, either, and I see another interpretation of Aphrodite of All People: She is the uniter, the community organiser, charismatic leader, and the radical. She’s the Populist, not the Individualist, and so is very easily at home with Socialism, Democracy, and other Populist parties — including Right Wing Populism.

The Πανδημος/Pandemos epithet is also shared with Eros, and so I suppose it would be hard to find a dedicated Aphroditian who is also a dedicated Libertarian, if not impossible. These are unselfish deities with Their gifts, and so the appeal of individualism and elitism would not lend easily to Their lessons. Though not exactly in a pro-Marxist light, populism and anti-aristocracy themes were prominent in the founding of The Church of Aphrodite.


1: And for the record, I don’t identify as RadTrad, either, oh no, I’m far too much of a modernist, but I’m just saying that after careful examination from the outside for the last few years, I’ve been able to see that philosophy for what it is: a benign far-fringe social movement endorsed by some decent people, and some not so much. As a Derek Jarman fan, I’d encountered the term long before I was aware that it had anything to do with modern polytheist movements, though he’d never personally self-applied the term. In fact, I find it bizarre that critics and fans of Jarman apply the term to him at all, since while I suppose his penchant for re-claiming history is certainly “radical”, and one could argue that his clear British identity is “traditional”, his family had a holiday property in the Mediterranean, growing up, and he also identified with the Mediterranean, and his methods of reclaiming history and tradition was anything but traditional. He was a complex hodge-podge of traditional and modernist, if anything.

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4 thoughts on “Πανδημος: Aphrodite the Red

  1. Pingback: Weekly roundup of interesting links « The House of Vines

  2. I’m not sure that I understand what you are saying about Plato, Ruadhan, so I won’t try to respond directly to it, for fear of misrepresenting you. But what I do know is that the “otherworldly” variety of Platonism is not to be found in the actual writings of Plato, unless these are mishandled very badly. For Plato, the physical world is alive, intelligent, ensouled, divine, and beautiful.

    The greatest potential source of confusion on this point is probably the Phaedo, but the thing to remember here is that the attitude toward death described here by Socrates is not that of an ascetic, which Socrates never was, but rather that of a warrior. Socrates went through rigorous training as a young man and served in three separate military campaigns as a hoplite (one of these lasting three full years). He made a name for himself due to his bravery, his phyisical endurance, and, most of all, his composure in the heat of battle and even in the midst of a disastrous retreat. These are not legendary exploits, but rather historical events that we can be as sure of as anything that happened over 24 centuries ago. It is true that Socrates was able to face death as if it meant nothing, but this was not some special virtue reserved to philosophers, but rather was expected of all male citizens of any Hellenic city-state.  Also, it was literally the case that no one could enter Plato’s Akademy without passing beneath the gaze of Eros, who stood guard at the front gate.

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    • While true that I haven’t actually read Plato or much else of Platonism since my teens, I’m not sure how to regard your apparent assumption that I haven’t retained much.  As much as I appreciate the history lesson here, I’m sure you can appreciate the fact that just because one has read and understood a bit of Platonism doesn’t necessarily mean one is going to find it a good fit to one’s own spiritual journey — after all, just because not *all* ways one can take from Hong Kong will lead to London doesn’t mean there aren’t a hundred perfectly good ways to reach London from Hong Kong.

      Your journey has a ticket on the Platonism trolley; mine does not.  I get what I get from Platonism because it’s simply not part of my journey, and I will continue to read it in a way that you find disagreement with not because I lack comprehension skills (my expertise in reading is rather laudable, to be quite honest), but because my fibres are woven in such a way to find Platonism utterly disagreeable to my fate — and the bits I don’t find so are few enough to be chalked up to the age-old analogy of a stopped analogue watch, and such bits are seldom, if ever, unique to Platonism.

      Yes, I understand the importance of Eros in Socratic philosophy, but as I know Socratic Eros, I know this to be a bit different from the Eros I’ve come to know — might even bet on Them being different entities who simply share a certain amount of overlap.  I don’t need Platonism to maintain cult to the heart of Thespiai, even if some of their insight might be occasionally useful.

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  3. Pingback: Round-up of Interesting Links « Temple of Athena the Savior

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