Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aphrodite and Jalaja Bonheim

"Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love "
Leonard Cohen, "Dance Me To The End Of Love"
A friend in Portland is facilitating a ritual performance with masks, and I was a bit amused to learn that the mask of Aphrodite had been chosen by 3 women to invoke, and then each had withdrawn.   In my experience, one does not aspect a Goddess lightly!  When I last heard, they were still seeking a priestess to dance the mask.  I think invoking the energies of Aphrodite especially is no small task!  As I write I  remember a performance in 2001 in which the mask was danced by a beautiful woman with black silk gloves, to the music of "Dance Me To The End Of Love".

Aphrodite was "born from the sea", and without writing about the many sources of the mythic Aphrodite, it seems fitting that the Goddess of love should have her power and source in the vast depths of the ocean.  I also have to say that, considering the blog entry that preceeds this one, I believe Aphrodite........Eros.........is very wounded in our world, and I don't need to go very far to demonstrate my claim.  

 "Today, I would describe a priestess as a woman who lives in two worlds at once, who perceives earthly life against the backdrop of a vast, timeless, reality."
Allow me below to introduce one of my personal Heroines,  Jalaja Bonheim, a psychologist, temple dancer, and creator of the Institute for Circle Work in Ithaca, New York who has devoted much of her life to healing that wound.  She is the author of Aphrodite's Daughters: Women's Sexual Stories and the Journey of the Soul.  After spending her childhood in Austria and Germany, Jalaja studied classical temple dance in India before coming to the United States in 1982. She is the author of three other books as well, which were inspired by her passion for integrating sexuality and spirituality in our world, and empowering women.                                                                                                                            
"I think that every woman should have the opportunity, at some point in her life, to set down her sexual baggage among people who respect and support her, and to unpack it with them.  Our isolation has reinforced the assumption that nobody shares our feelings, or cares about our story, or wants to know.  But our individual baggage is never just ours alone.  Rather it belongs to the collective.  Other women have their own piece to carry.  The time has come to speak of what we know.  In the Temple we now sit in silence, a circle of priestesses.  One by one, each of us has stepped forward to make her offering.  Each one has given her gift, revealing through her story a beauty that made us catch our breath, a courage that renewed our own.  Around us we sense the spirits of many others - mothers and grandmothers, lovers and husbands, teachers and guides, the spirits of the ancestors and the spirits of those who are yet to come."

(from Aphrodite's Daughters)


Please allow me to take off my shoes,
this faux marble pose 
this modern, pragmatic mask.
Permit me my ruin.

Let us not consider this therapy
 or revolution
do not ask me to give you space
let us not discuss those who came before
and those who might follow.
Let us not talk of past lives.

I have fallen on hard times.
If you come to my temple
 just let me make for you an ocean.

Half seen in the darkness
your body, a mystery
true, tangible, radiant,
lined with the rings of your life.

You are beautiful,
beautiful to be a man.

Darling, even in this era, I will not believe
that love is disposable,
that sex is safe
that lovers are trains, rolling past each other
to some certain station 

  I remember,
  I almost remember my river source

My skin forms the word anew,
     enter me
     as if
    you were coming home

             Lauren Raine (1999)


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Is that The Lovers card one of your paintings? And that first mask is powerful!

Lauren Raine said...

Thanks! Yes, from my (never published) "Rainbow Bridge Tarot"........the first mask is the Aphrodite mask, danced at a performance in 2001 by a wonderful dancer.

cstoehr said...
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