"How beautiful/handsome does a priest/ess of Aphrodite need to be?" This question has be chewing on me for a while. In fact, there are times when I've felt inhibited in expressing my connection to Our Lady of Perpetual Goregeousness because I didn't feel like I lived up to societal standards of beauty. I was afraid that, by putting myself out there as one of Her daughters, I'd be opening myself up to adolescent-style criticism. I could practically hear voices coming back to me from junior high school taunts telling me how ugly I was.
Yup. I was one of the many girls who was told (repeatedly) by peers that I was ugly, and that label both stung and STUCK. I can look back on it with 20 years of distance and see it for what it was -- insecure kids trying to make themselves feel better by tormenting another insecure kid. But I've never fully shaken it off. There are still times when I feel like the awkward pre-teen -- except now I feel like an awkward 30-something.
To be honest, fair and accurate, I know that I am not a wholly unattractive person. I've known plenty of folks who have sincerely believed me to be "beautiful." And, in moments of joy and contentment, I can see it, too.
My own issues, though, have led me to ask the question I posed above. If we serve the Goddess of Beauty (among other assets), do we ourselves need to be beautiful?
I think, fundamentally, the answer is "yes," but there are caveats. My experience, thus far, with the men and women I’ve known in Her service is that they are beautiful, but not always in conventional ways. We may be oddly shaped or have a quirky feature or two, but there is an underlying beauty to us all. There is a light, a glow, an aura – a certain unnamable something that lends us an attractiveness to which others respond. And I know what it is … it is the touch of Aphrodite.
It is Her mark. Her anointing.
Through us, She shows the world that true Beauty comes in may forms, many colors, many sizes, and many degrees of experience. She takes many forms and faces by working through us, and we see and experience our own Divine Beauty in a way that nourishes and heals and inspires – not just ourselves, but those close to us. By extension, this same touch reaches what my friend Michael Manor refers to as “ever-widening circles.”
It is our task, then, not to strive to meet the demands of the marketplace by reworking ourselves into the image of conventional beauty. Instead, we need to recognize and honor the light that She shines through us so that it radiates clearly into our worlds. That light reflects, after all, and we may be unwittingly accomplishing the very important work of helping others to see the light and beauty that they carry.