Monday, February 4, 2008

"Beauty" Required?

"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.


L.B. said...

It's so ironic how so many priests or priestesses of Aphrodite I meet that are either terribly modest about their physical looks, completely self effacing or modest or even suffer from low self esteem.

I've always wondered if that's the burden that we choose to carry when we answer her call. Hmmm.

Laurelei said...

I think it may be. But in a sense, it is a denial of what She has given us -- a renouncing of Her blessings. I think that a better path is to see, accept and give modest praise.

Then again, a big part of the problem may be that we are so damaged by a world that desires bueaty, but then delights in marring it, that we can't see real beauty for what it is.

Wraith said...

I would say that a person should be beautiful, but that beauty can be cultivated by a kind and compassionate view, an example of this is the Dalai Lama.

But then I think from the point of view of beauty cultivated via being kind, everyone should and can be beautiful in that way.

Persephone said...

I know this is an older post to be commenting on years later, but I just started reading this blog and I would like to comment here anyway.

I, too, was told all growing up that I was so ugly I was considered a "double bagger." And this has stuck with me no matter how many people tell me I am beautiful or attractive.

This post has helped me see things a little differently. I will try thinking of this on those days when my self esteem is particularly low, that Aphrodite chose me for a reason.

Laurelei said...

Thank you for commenting, Persephone, and thank you for being true to your calling/path despite the damage to your self-image that was imposed upon you by your peers. It is a testament to your strength and love, my dear. And to your deepest, truest beauty -- Her favor within you.

The Lady Marianne said...

I only recently started reading your blog, but nonetheless. That is a wonderful post. I find that when people envision a priestess of Aphrodite (albeit I am not one myself but let's say I'm a fan), one thinks of a vain beautiful woman, et cetera. What people should realize is that there are many forms of beauty. There are times when it is the inner beauty that shines brighter than the outer beauty. It is the light in the soul...the sparkle in the eyes. One can say there are all sorts of "beauty" but the only beauty that pervades every aspect is the inner beauty...the warmth...the kindness. I've found more beauty in an average woman who is so imbued with love, and sometimes never found any in some of the aesthetic and cold models that walk the run ways. Although not all of them are bad, because they are not. It's is so much more than skin deep. Anyway, that is a profound post.