TEMPLE OF VENUS: HOW TO WORK WITH GODDESS VENUS

Sexual healing, and access to your abundance mindset. Elyssa Jakim introduces a new monthly column devoted to the Goddess Venus…

Portrait: Keith Barraclough

In the summer of 2015, the Numinous and I teamed up to create an interactive art installation and event space called the Temple of Venus. As an altar to the goddess Venus the installation served as a healing space: the events at the Temple were a way to address our questions and questings regarding love, sexuality, beauty, money and everything else Venus touches. So why did we choose Venus? Who is she? How might the goddess inspire and impact your life? How are you already an embodiment of Venus? All questions I want to answer with this column!

Six months after creating the temple, Venus has not stopped working with and guiding me. And so this is a space for me to share some Venetian wisdom each month, to help get our juicy, abundant, sexual, prosperous selves truly flowing.

Venus is the Roman goddess of love, beauty, sexuality, abundance, desire, fertility, and finances. She is known as Aphrodite in Greek mythology. Astrologically, the planet Venus (don’t you love when your goddess is also a planet?) rules relationships. So, for example, if you’re born with Venus in Scorpio, your way of being with and relating to people is imbued with the energy of a fiercely loyal and passionate Scorpio.

Artist: Katerina Alivizatou

Goddess Venus teaches us to be accepting of all facets of our womanhood and sexuality. In fact, one of the qualities that separate Venus from the Aphrodite myth, is that Venus was also the goddess of prostitutes. She allows for sexuality to be fluid, to exist in a space without judgment. In her brilliant book, Ecstasy is Necessary: A Practical Guide, celebrated tantra teacher Barbara Carrellas offers the reader a “sexual permission slip” or a series of permissive statements about how one can choose to regard sex.

A particularly strong one is: “I give myself permission to talk about sex as a safe, sane, and consensual act that brings health and pleasure to the world.” Venus celebrates this perspective. I find Venus to be a powerful goddess for sexual healing because she shows us that sex is beautiful. She shows us that sex is a gift of pleasure from the Divine, and she helps us tap into that pleasure.

When preparing for a ceremony in the temple with Lyndsey Harrington and Kat Hunt of Moon Church, we decided to invoke the goddess Venus and tune into her energy in order to decide how to best serve her with our ritual. We were flooded with her essence: it felt orgasmic and ecstatic, yummy and beautiful. She told us that she loved milk, honey, pearls, gold, kisses, and roses. And Kat said that she felt it showed that as well as the goddess Venus, the other Greek and Roman gods and goddesses are waiting for us connect with them.

This message was eye-opening to me. I realized that in much of my goddess worship and ceremony, I had never thought of the Greek and Roman goddesses as vital, present, divine forces waiting to help us. I’d worked with the Divine Mother Mary and Kwan Yin before but never with a Greco-Roman goddess directly. What I’ve since learned is that Venus is so ready to bestow her love and magic and beauty upon those who are willing to invoke her with an open heart. And that she can help you tap into your sexual and goddess essence and your sense of worthiness in such deep ways.

In fact, Venus is a symbol of the divine feminine (and remember we use the Venus symbol “♀” to mean “female”). Venus was born of the water, and water is a sublimely gorgeous metaphor for the female principal. Water receives, it takes in. It is abundance, it is creation, it is sensitive, it is psychic, it is adaptable. As women, as birthers, we are able to tap into the deep waters of creation and imagination.

Water is our element, and the goddess Venus reminds us to claim all of its gifts. In working with her directly, we learn how to be better receivers, better lovers, and better mothers to ourselves and others. And the planet Venus has a twin flame: it is the planet Earth. May this column honor the waters of Earth and the fires of our twin planet to create cosmic balance and upliftment for all.

Up next month: A Venus-inspired meditation for calling in your soulmate.

TURNED ON: ME AND MORGAN LE FAY

Who was Morgan Le Fay? Ellie Burrows gets up close and personal with an everyday Goddess. Portrait: Mikal Marie Evans

Ellie Burrows shot by Mikal Marie Evans

Morgan Le Fay is sweating me.

I recently bought a The Goddess Oracle Deck & Book Set, and I’ve gotten into the habit of pulling a card each morning. And the strangest thing has been happening.

No matter how much I shuffle, I get Morgan. And the last time a friend was over, she showed up for her, too. The Goddess obviously has something to tell me.

I didn’t really know much about Morgan Le Fay, except that references to her can be found throughout the Arthurian legends, that she’s supposedly a fairy (neé fay), and the main character in a book called The Mists of Avalon that’s been sitting on my shelf, unread, for no less than five years.

In July, prior to her recurring role in my morning routine, I went to Glastonbury, her home turf. I put my feet in the Chalice Well and Gardens, and did not hear her siren song. I felt zero connection to her. I always thought Kali, Kwan Yin, and Artemis are more my jam anyway.

According to my deck, Morgan Le Fay is there to help us honor our own rhythms and show us that we are the master and mistress of our own clock when it comes to eating, sleeping, exercising, and making love. Since my routine is pretty on point (what up, black tea, Body By Simone, 8+ hours of sleep per night), it felt like this was about something else entirely. So I decided to do some digging. And that’s when I began to hear Morgan’s song.

In books, Morgan Le Fay is a healer, a heroine, a seductress, or sorceress. Her realm of expertise lies beyond the concrete (unlike my beloveds, listed above). Morgan is a bit harder to pin down, and often considered controversial. Her influence is consistently twisted and turned in service of a story.

So it looks like Morgan and I do have some things in common; my essence too can be twisted and turned in service of stories.

Observe:

Ellie the Healer: In 2008, Ellie was diagnosed with a permanent pain condition in her lady parts. Through ecstatic breathwork, deep relaxation, emotional exploration, copious amounts of sleep, a cleaner diet, and routine exercise, she healed herself and now is fully functioning down there and everywhere.

Ellie the Heroine: An average student at an intense high school, Ellie decided to get her shit together and ended up graduating magna cum laude from Northwestern University. She had a moderately successful career in the film business, before heading off into the sunset to explore the world as a spiritual tourist and pursue her dream career as a writer. She often uses the monomyth aka the hero’s journey in her personal essays, in service of helping herself, and others, evolve.

Ellie the Seductress: Ellie often uses her words and body to attract and send messages. She is warm-hearted and vulgar-mouthed. She likes putting pictures of herself online that show off her body by Simone. She’s uses extreme amounts of eye contact and takes an inordinate amount of pleasure in distracting people from their work in favor of more hedonistic pursuits.

Ellie the Sorceress: Ellie believes anyone can talk to the Universe and that it will talk back. She often makes decisions based on astrology, and consults psychics, tarot card readers, and mediums when necessary. She relies heavily on her intuition and ardently believes in the existence of the soul. She claims to have had visions of things before they happened. Kind of like Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl.

In addition to the above, I can also identify with the loving sister, nagging girlfriend, super-down hook up, naïve millennial, fearless adventurer, or reclusive homebody. For as long as I can remember, I have tried to define my person using personas, casting myself as characters in various stories as a means of figuring myself out. Humanity is really hard to make sense of, and that’s why we’re busy telling so many stories in the first place. And we all know where stories are generated: solely in the mind.

That thing in our chest – it’s a place of confusion. The heart knows no classification, no characters, no story. It knows nothing – but it feels everything. That’s why someone who “follows his/her heart” is someone who we would call “free.” Free from the judgment, free from stories.

I think Morgan wasn’t a Goddess at all. I think she was an actual human being, and that’s why she’s hard to identify with and her role and influence greatly debated. Morgan will never be just one thing. Neither will I. And so I choose to see her as a real woman, suspended between mind and heart, trying to make it work in Medieval Times. I can so relate; bubonic plagues and lack of electricity aside, Millennial Times has its challenges, too.

Okay Morgan, message received. Drop the stories. Drop the personas. My everyday Goddess deck just wants me to be an everyday woman. An everyday human.

Nota Bene:
For more on archetypes see Katy Perry’s Elle cover story.
For more on “real” women: See Maggie Gyllenhaal’s acceptance speech at this year’s Golden Globes.

TURNED ON: MY LOVER, MY ALTAR

In this month’s column on sex and spirituality, I’m showing my lover the same reverence as my altar says Ellie Burrows.

I have altared the way I see my partner.

A couple of weeks ago, Business Insider published an article titled Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down to Two Basic Traits. Numerous people posted it on their Facebook pages and at least ten people, men and women, forwarded the article to me. In it, the journalist showed how from The Gottman’s 1986 and 1990 studies of relationship “Masters” and “Disasters” to Shelly Gable’s 2006 study on the importance of the “active constructive response,” kindness and generosity emerge as the two most important components in a successful relationship.

If you’re a living, breathing human being, then this finding should make complete sense to you. But you also know that living, breathing human beings screw those two up all the time.

Every day I see couples treat each other poorly. They desecrate and decimate, creating a cloud of dysfunction. They drop the f-bomb when the other one fails to flag an available cab, hate on each other’s families, roll their eyes when their lover orders the wrong dish, or stomp their feet when they forget a simple task. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to lean over to the table next to me and tell the arguing couple to cut their losses, walk away, and start over again.

In relationships, I’ve also been guilty of some of the above (especially the f-bomb part). I can be cruel just like anyone else. There have been moments where I’ve brought out the worst in my partner and vice versa. But I don’t grow in a hostile environment and neither do my partners, so over the last couple of years, I’ve made a conscious effort to weed out my bad behavior. And when I read that article, I found myself nodding and agreeing as if I had done the research and written it myself.

Science and spirituality have a complicated relationship (some say no relationship at all). But to me, loving someone is a spiritual practice – and now it seems the science just proves my point. In practice I’ve made it simple: I approach my beloved as if they are an altar.

These days, I choose to see my partner as a symbol, an emblem of love, opposed to love itself. My partner is a physical representation of love in the same way a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha is a physical representation of enlightenment. Love itself is infinite and eternal and cannot be contained by a physical body. But the way I treat that symbol or body, that somebody, is indicative of my level of reverence for the love between us. And like any devoted believer, I try to always approach my man altar, that constant reminder of the love consciousness, with humility, generosity and respect.

Altars are traditionally a place for sacrifice, and offerings used to be kind of messy – a slaughtered goat, perhaps. With this in mind, I’ve always found it particularly funny that we say we’re “leading someone to the altar” when talking about marriage. But dead animals and divorce rates aside, contemporary offerings come in the form of candles, money, incense, or prayer.

Ellie’s altar: “An act of devotion to the consciousness I’m seeking”

I have a beautiful altar in my house where Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion, resides among treasures from my different spiritual journeys: a stick I picked up from the Tor in Glastonbury, mala beads from Bhutan, an ancient fertility Goddess necklace from my Auntie, a hamsa from Israel, and minerals ranging from clear quartz to emerald. When I’m having trouble writing or sorting through something, I often sit in front of it. I light some incense, quiet my thoughts, and deepen my breath. I concentrate on these meaningful symbols and connect to them as an act of devotion to the consciousness I’m seeking.

And echoing this practice, concentrating on your partner, regularly connecting to the way you treat them is act of devotion to the kind of love you are seeking. I cannot imagine anything more generous in a partnership than offering up your best self. An act of generosity, that also shows your appreciation. The writer of the Business Insider piece states that successful couples: “are scanning the social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully.”

Respect. Purpose. I like those words. They are words of reverence. Of course, sometimes shit gets hard and we say and do things we don’t mean. And just last night (the night before this article was due), I slipped. I found myself in a heated conversation in which I said something I shouldn’t have. It wasn’t respectful, and I didn’t do it on purpose. I was totally offering up my worst self. But the misstep was perfectly timed, as was the dream I just woke up from. I was kneeling at the feet of a beloved, heart full of love, repeating an important three-word mantra that we all know well.

And this morning, knowing I need to be generous, I also know exactly what I’m going to offer up to my altar:

“I. AM. SORRY.”

Read more from Ellie Burrows at Ellieburrows.com