Setting the Stage
In the modern world, we view gods of the Old World as mythology and of little relevance to us today. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss their relevance. The ancient gods represented archetypes—universal and timeless patterns of human thought and dreams. Sifting through literature describing the gods of the world, it is fascinating to see how gods with similar traits existed in cultures that no contact with one another. Yet, these people in faraway and disconnected lands projected similar patterns of thoughts and dreams that were reflected in their gods. These patterns of thought, these archetypes, are part of our collective consciousness and humanity. The time of those gods has passed, but the archetypes remain in our thoughts and soul.
As I sift through my past and dreams in search of deeper understanding, I am increasingly confronted with the reality of archetypes. Knowingly or not, they have influenced my life and assuredly those of others. Our draw to them is instinctual and flows from our soul. In Romantic Love: Hearts of Fire, I explore the dangerous projection of divine love we place on others. This often ends a repeating cycle of extreme highs followed by crushing despair in a never ending quest for Romantic Love as the highest form of love. In Shadows, I explore role Carl Jung’s psychological concepts around shadow and psyche and the struggles we all face to merge our darkness and light into Self. In a future post, Dawn of Understanding, I will have some fun with Batman around how our personality types (Jungian-based classifications) and psyche influence our connection to superheroes (modern-day mythology) and what it says about us as individuals.
One could build an entire blog around archetypes or individual archetype. My goal here though is more limited and seeks to only recognize that archetypes exist, appreciate their influence, and understand what it means in our relationships.
Hestia vs. Aphrodite
Hestia is thought of as the goddess of the hearth (symbolic of home’s center and public center of gathering) and family. Interestingly, despite her being the center of the home she is identified as being a virgin (perhaps to discourage her sexualization). In contrast, Aphrodite is the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. Aphrodite is highly sexualized.
It is the nature of our soul to flow towards infinite perfection. A woman can aspire towards Hestia OR Aphrodite and feel content to the degree she feels she is succeeding. If a woman’s aspirations flow towards both Hestia AND Aphrodite, she experiences cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual holding two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time. A woman cannot be highly sexual and non-sexual. A woman cannot, as a steady state of being, exist simultaneously as both Hestia and Aphrodite. Of course, there is a happy middle ground for her. She can flow between these archetypes. At times, she can dial up her Hestia. At other times, she can dial up her Aphrodite.
If only life were so simple. A man also has a preference for Hestia or Aphrodite as his ideal. A man may dream of and crave Hestia as his anchor and center of his home. He dreams of a wife that is a wonderful homemaker and mother to his children. He doesn’t see her in an intimate, passionate way and finds comfort in her not having these desires. She is above such base desires and is placed upon a pedestal of purity. This is the idea behind Courtly Love which is a form of Romantic Love without physical intimacy. For the sake of brevity, I think we can all recognize that some men (not all) also have desires for Aphrodite, the sexual and eroticized goddess. I also suspect many men want Hestia AND Aphrodite. However, we can’t have both in their infinite and perfect forms. Like women, man’s desire for both leads to cognitive dissonance and damaged relationships.
In Seven Forms of Love I explored three elements (passion, commitment, and intimacy) that intermingle to create seven forms of love with consummate love being the highest order. Aphrodite can give us Infatuation, Romantic Love, or Fantasy Love. Hestia can provide for Friendship Love, Empty Love, or Companionate Love. It seems that what we need is a combination of Hestia and Aphrodite to reach Consummate Love–the highest form of love.
From a man’s perspective, we need to understand this very clearly. I need Hestia and Aphrodite. But, I can’t expect them to exist simultaneously in their divine, infinite perfection in a woman. They are conflicting states of perfection. I need to be more forgiving when a woman isn’t Aphrodite when I want her to be. I need to support her efforts to channel her Hestia as well and acknowledge this as equally important to her and us as men. She is fighting her own struggle for balance. There are also men that overvalue a woman’s Hestia and discourage her Aphrodite. We want to deny our lover’s sexuality and denounce it as wild and bestial desires. Like us, we must acknowledge women are also sexual beings with needs too. The true story I will share about Yumi is one example where a husband denies his wife’s need for passion and intimacy and how she handles this denial.
Women should understand that men do appreciate Hestia even if we aren’t aware of it or seemingly take it for granted. While it may seem that men only want sex, the Hestian archetype calls to us too. When we don’t express our gratitude, approach us with grace about it. Remind us why it is important to you and the value you receive from it. It fulfills a goddess in you that isn’t sexual but one that is equally important. We love you and want you to feel appreciated. We are just block heads sometimes and need a gentle nudge. We also want and even need your Aphrodite. Don’t treat your passion and intimacy as a “gift” or reward to us. That is treating us like a child. Passion and intimacy is a gift we share with one another.
I once had a female friend that was separated and heading towards divorce. She said, “Well, I guess I better get back to the gym and get tight again.” I recall feeling very deflated by her comment. She felt like she needed to workout to look and feel more beautiful and sexy. She was now willing to put in the work to look her best for a man she hasn’t even met yet. Yet, for the man that had once loved and married her, feeling and being sexy hadn’t been important enough. Now though, she was all about channeling her Aphrodite. Similarly, I know plenty of guys going through divorce that have said the same thing as they joke and rub their beer belly. We can do better for each other and ourselves in so many ways and on so many levels.
Hestia? Aphrodite? Please, each of you take my hand and lead me across the bridge from Romantic Love to Consummate Love. Along the way, perhaps we can stop to bake some blueberry muffins and have a hot threesome…
This post is inspired by a comment a great love once made to me.
It was so good to talk tonight as we examined the depths of our innermost thoughts, dreams, and desires. I loved the flow of our conversation and hope it wasn’t too heavy. I’m not an inexperienced woman…just not fulfilled in the right way. I AM A SEXUAL GODDESS and I want to BE a sexual goddess! I want to be your Aphrodite and Hestia together as one. Thank you for allowing me to fulfill the calling of my inner goddesses – I love you, Michael! ~ Sienna
At the time, I didn’t fully appreciate the richness of what she was saying. Despite this, my reply still holds up pretty well in the context of this Hestia vs. Aphrodite post.
Sweet love, you have my complete and undivided attention. I understand where you are coming from and REALLY enjoyed our conversation too. I like when we go deep exploring the past and the future. You know, there is something special about sharing fantasies and experiencing them together for the first time with such shared innocence and wonder. Sienna, nothing turns me on more than the thought of you tapping into, releasing, and BEING the sexual goddess you are meant to be. Any desire you have, I am here to explore it with you…no judgment…only love and the desire to please you in every way and on every level. I want to be that man for you…today and always. ~ Michael