Chapter 20 – Initiation!
Sappho stole away from the dormitory well after everyone else had gone to bed. The ritual had ended and would be discussed the next morning, allowing everyone sufficient time to encounter the delectable Aphrodite in her dreams. As Sappho had re-dressed herself in dark robes with a dark veil wrapped around her hair and arms, she wondered about the encounter she was about to have with the golden Goddess in the silver moonlight.
The path was easy to see in the pale light of the changing orb. Sappho saw nobody else as she walked, a fact for which she was most grateful since she wasn’t entirely certain how to explain herself. She was out of the thiasos’s residence when she should have been asleep inside it, and, though such action wasn’t expressly forbidden, she feared it wouldn’t be met with approval. She planned on hiding in the shadows with her veil drawn around her if she saw any Priestesses on her path. This was unnecessary, though she did hide a time or two as a precaution when her nerves got the better of her and she thought she heard a noise on the path.
She saw the grove ahead, its apple blossoms glowing in the pale, silver light. The late night had a chill that hadn’t set in during the mirror ritual. Sappho was thankful she had worn the veil. It was a comfort to pull the fabric around her shoulders and arms to keep the chill at bay. She hoped she wouldn’t be too cold, but somehow she figured that wouldn’t be a problem tonight. She thought of Aphrodite, the heat of her breath on her neck, and the way her body responded reassured her that she would certainly be kept warm enough. As long as she thought about Aphrodite, she would be as hot as if she stood near a bonfire.
The little twisted apple trees clustered together in the darkness, their white blossoms quivering in the breeze. There was an opening in the trees that revealed a walkway leading into the heart of the grove. Before she stepped onto the grove’s path, she looked to the left, to the south where the temple sat. A little flame was flickering from an oil lamp on the altar, the fire of Hestia that was never extinguished within the temple. From somewhere inside, a Priestess moved, disrupting the play of light and shadows on the wall.
Sappho took a few steps into the grove and turned her gaze toward its center, the place she had set as her goal. She thought she saw the glow of flames from within the midst of the trees and a figure moving there as well. Was Aphrodite there awaiting her? Was someone else using the grove for some tryst this night? With great curiosity, and great trepidation, she wrapped herself more securely in her veil and moved as stealthily as she could manage toward the tiny flickers of flame.
She smelled a sweet perfume, as of incense, but she saw no smoke. She did, however, see the distinct figure of a woman just beyond the trees in front of her. She heard the singing of a delightful song, and as she watched and listened she was sure she watched Aphrodite. This time She had dark hair that was unbound and hanging to Her waist in thick curls. She turned and faced Sappho through the trees. Sappho was shocked. Aphrodite looked like her!
She spoke directly to Sappho through the camouflage of night and veil and tree. “This grove has always been a favorite of Mine. I have always been here. When the men and women living nearby felt how sacred this grove was, merely because it had My favor, they began having rites here. They marked the entrance with stones and made a simple stone altar for Me. They offered Me their love, their sex, and their first fruits in this grove long before they built the temple. I gave My blessing to the temple and all else that was built on these grounds because of My love for these trees and the devotion of the people who have come here so long.”
As Aphrodite spoke, Sappho moved into the clearing at the heart of the grove. There was a thick carpet of grass and soft beds of moss. Wild roses grew here, shaded by the apple branches. Sappho saw twinkling lights from within those branches, but she couldn’t comprehend their source. She saw no flame. The lights reminded her of stars, and she wondered if Aphrodite had taken some from heaven and bewitched them to hang here.
When she was in close proximity to the Goddess, she was even more stunned to see what she would have sworn was her own face. Aphrodite looked like her, except this was an ideal vision of herself imbued with all the grace and charm of immortal Kypria. This countenance, so much like her own, had no flaw, no scar, no harshness of any sort, and it almost glowed with the power of Olympos.
“May I ask a question?” Sappho inquired politely. Her insides fluttered at being this close to an immortal – a Goddess who had commanded her presence and a performance. Aphrodite nodded. “I know you may have any appearance you wish, but why would you choose mine? I’m no great beauty. There are several other girls of my own age in the thiasos who are far more fair than I. Why not look like them?”
“Perhaps at some other time, I shall. But do not discount your own beauty. Your face, your voice, your spirit are all pleasing to Me,” the Goddess said simply. “You are touched by My beauty and My love. You dishonor Me by not recognizing My gifts to you.”
“I wish to honor You,” Sappho said sincerely.
“There are many ways you may honor Me,” said the Goddess. “There are countless ways to serve Me.”
“How would You best like for Me to honor and serve You, Lady?” Sappho asked.
“Cultivate your beauty. Tend to it as you would tend to a rose garden,” Aphrodite said. “This is the simplest task. See yourself as beautiful, and all who meet you will feel My mark upon you.”
Aphrodite was silent, and Sappho feared for a moment that the Goddess wanted nothing more from her. “Is this all?” she asked.
“No,” she smiled wryly. “You are likely, someday, to wish my requests of you were so simple. You may also serve Me by honoring the love you find in others. You, Sappho, have a great capacity to love, and men and women alike will be drawn to you. Share your love and theirs, always honoring whatever vows you make.”
“What vows will I make?” Sappho asked, desperately hoping that she would take the temple vows and become a Priestess here. She had wanted that since the night she came to Hiera. She held her breath in anticipation of Aphrodite’s response. She hoped to be called immediately into service, but she braced herself for rejection.
“Your vows are always made of your own accord,” said the Goddess. “No mortal man or woman can force you to make a vow against your will, though they can take your like if you refuse. Such as this has and will always continue to happen. I am immortal, though, and I say you are mine. Vow or none, I will always come to you, and I will demand your service when it suits Me.”
Sappho fell to her knees before the Kyprian beauty and kissed the hem of Her robes. “I am Yours.” She wept tears of joy. “What service would You ask of me tonight?”
“Your song,” Aphrodite gently demanded as she lowered Herself onto a mossy cushion.
“I have not written it all,” Sappho admitted, ashamed and fearful of the Goddess’ anger.
“You vowed to sing Me the best song you could write whenever I should call for it,” Aphrodite reminded her. “I call for it now.”
“As you wish,” said Sappho, and she picked up the lyre that was next to her on the ground, awaiting discovery. Sappho sat on the grass before Aphrodite and began to play the instrument. She’d pluck a pretty melody between the lines, while constantly looking into the eyes of the Goddess.
“Shimmering-throned immortal Aphrodite,
Daughter of Zeus, Enchantress, I implore thee!
“Thou hast come, leaving thy father’s golden dominions…
“With chariot yoked to thy fleet-winged coursers,
Fluttering swift pinions over earth’s darkness,
And bringing thee through the infinite, gliding
Downwards from heaven.
“I yearn and I seek your face and your favor.”
By the time she ended, Sappho was exhilarated, titillated, enthralled. The presence of the Goddess of Love was having a bodily effect upon the girl. The power of the inspiration behind her impromptu song moved her as it moved through her. She felt as though she hadn’t been at all responsible for the beauty and arousal of her lyrics. Instead, she felt as though she had channeled some other power and had merely given it voice as it flowed through her.
Aphrodite held her gaze throughout the song. She smiled sweetly as the girl made her offering, the fulfillment of her first vow. Aphrodite accepted this offering graciously, as if it had been the sweetest libation or most precious jewel the girl owned.
Aphrodite continued to compel Sappho’s eyes. She leaned back on Her bed of moss and soft grass for a moment. Then she sat forward and beckoned Sappho closer. The girl happily obeyed and came nearer to the Goddess, feeling the soft carpet under her knees.
“What gift are you willing to give me now?” enticed Aphrodite.
“Any that you wish,” whispered Sappho.
Aphrodite swept a curling tendril away from Sappho’s face. The girl thrilled at the touch of the Goddess. The reaction of arousal at the contact was far more intense than any she had felt with Atthis or as a result of her own hands. She couldn’t have denied Aphrodite any request, and she wouldn’t have wanted to. “Give me yourself,” Aphrodite requested.
Sappho had a moment of clarity, as if Aphrodite had released her momentarily from a spell so that this choice would be entirely her own. With every part of her soul, she knew her response. “I am entirely yours, now and hereafter,” she pledged.
“I will hold you to this vow,” Aphrodite said as She pulled Sappho’s face to Her own and kissed her, tenderly at first but with growing intensity. Sappho was overwhelmed by the ecstasy of their embrace. She felt the world reel around her and the stars spin wildly out of control over her. She let herself sink into the delirium of a choice that has been made and the wild ardor of being taken by the Goddess.
She knew that she made love to Aphrodite – that every touch was an act of tenderness and devotion and lust that brought dizzying and explosive climax ever closer. She could feel and smell and taste the body of the Goddess. She drank Her in and became intoxicated. She could hear Her moans, gasps, sighs, and laughter – all the sounds of pleasure – and knew there was no sweeter music in the universe. She saw the face, the breasts, the curly hair between Her alabaster thighs and knew that no statue could ever show the true beauty of Aphrodite. Surely, Sappho thought, she is most beautiful as She is now – giving and receiving pleasure in the arms of one who is completely devoted to Her.
The two became a tangle of hair and legs and torsos, their hands and mouths continually searching for and finding each other. The pleasure, to Sappho, seemed as if it would last an eternity. She had no other thought in her mind but to enjoy and be enjoyed by Aphrodite, bordering on climax until the stars faded and fell from the heavens. Sappho felt as though she had the stamina to remain intermeshed with Kypris until her very life was ended. And when she knew orgasm was about to take her, it felt like a little death, indeed – such sweet release into oblivion, such cramping desire to sustain it, such remorse that all was ending.
Sappho sang again.
“Then in my bosom my heart wildly flutters,
And, when on thee I gaze never so little,
Bereft am I of all power of utterance,
My tongue is useless.
“There rushes at once through my flesh tingling fire,
My eyes are deprived of all power of vision,
My ears hear nothing but sounds of winds roaring,
And all is blackness.
“Down courses in streams the sweat of emotion,
A dread trembling o’erwhelms me, paler am I
Than dried grass in autumn, and in my madness
Dead I seem almost.”
They panted and smiled, stretched like cats on the mossy ground. They kissed and petted each other until they were content to be still, and Sappho felt the world around her become substantial again.
Aphrodite whispered in her ear, “You will be trained now as a Priestess – my Priestess.” She reached her slender finger down to the secret places Sappho had just explored and touched the moisture there. Sappho wondered if they were going to find heaven together again. Aphrodite smiled as she made an invisible mark on Sappho’s brow. “Now you are anointed by me.”