Aphrodite and Dionysus
Linda: Lack of or a low sexual desire is the most common sexual challenge, about which physicians hear numerous complaints. Doctors and psychotherapists call this Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). This syndrome is defined as a lack of desire for sexual activity and an absence of sexual fantasies, accompanied by distress about having low desire. In many cases, low libido happens for no apparent physical reason to people who are perfectly healthy. And it happens to people who have a good relationship with their spouse.
The National Health and Social Life Survey with The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago conducted a survey in 1992. They studied 3,400 adults between the ages of 18 and 59 years that were English speaking men and women residing in the United States. Of this group, they found that 32 percent of women and 15 percent of men lacked sexual interest for several months within the last year. That’s a lot of sexually inactive and sexually deprived people.
Fatigue, poor communication, birth control pills, menopause, family problems and stress, aging, depression, anxiety, and past trauma are the common areas of investigation to see where the root of the problem lies. Of course it is important to have regular medical check-ups with your physician. But the vast majority of these low desire individuals are perfectly healthy, with no medical cause for their low desire rates. There are other areas that also need attention, like making sexual pleasure a high priority and giving it the time and attention that it deserves. If you will remember back to the definition in the first paragraph, you will notice “absence of sexual fantasies.” People are not using their imaginations to set a context for their desired pleasure to unfold.
Instead of worrying about low sex drive, if we want to perk it up, we can stop waiting for a prescription for a magic pill to restore our libido, we can become proactive to harness the powers of our imagination. Since the most erogenous zone is the one between our ears, our splendid imagination, we can bring images to mind that will stimulate an erotic mood. For thousands of years, the archetypal images of Aphrodite and Dionysus have been spirit guides to those who want to unleash their erotic potential. Invoking their presence and calling out to them for assistance may be just the ticket.
Getting to know these characters will bring out the wild erotic man and woman that has been repressed by society’s need to control our natural instincts. Without a strong intention, we can lose our connection to the instinctual world of our libido. We don’t have to quake in fear of getting so wild that we are out of control that we do things that are completely out of character. We do have choice and influence over how much erotic energy we unleash. A little experimentation around bringing these two powerful figures into our lives will often bring the heat right up. Why not get to know them better?
The ancient Greeks considered desire as a gift from the gods. How do you like that one for a sex positive attitude? A visit from Aphrodite or Dionysus was held in highest regard. When a relationship has lost some of it’s vibrancy, we can perk up the energy and give it an infusion of sparkle if we invoke the presence of Aphrodite and Dionysus. These two are archetypes that live in all of us. They are more prominent and highly developed in some people, but we all have them as part of our psychological structure. It is important to know these parts of us and to give them room to express themselves. Historically, they have been persecuted, particularly by religious organizations that see them as dangerous characters, Aphrodite as the promiscuous temptress and whore, and Dionysus as the wildly out of control reveler and sex maniac. But harnessing the passion and power of these two, without letting them run amok, will add vibrancy to our romantic partnerships.
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love and beauty. The Romans called her Venus. She has the reputation of being the most beautiful of all the goddesses, with golden hair, flashing eyes, soft skin and lovely breasts. Unlike the other goddesses, she was free to choose her mate. She had numerous lovers, both gods and mortal men. Eros was one of her sons. The Aphrodite archetype is symbolic of sensuality, sexuality, procreativity, and co-creativity. A strong instinctual archetype in the moments when two people are falling in love, she is present in full force, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. Her sex appeal is a highly charged, charismatic, magnetic force drawing others to her. When falling in love, the atmosphere is magic, enchanted, and infatuation is running high. The senses are so completely open so that our hearing, taste, touch, and smell are intensified. She is happy to surrender to her sexual instincts and give herself to passionate, wild abandon.
Intense romance is her favorite pastime, which can lead to procreativity in the form of a literal child, or metaphorically in the creative process. As a result of her passionate involvement, participates in many dynamic, creative projects, and is a force for change. She sets goals and responsibilities aside, and is spontaneous, fully present in the moment, flirtatious, enjoying her body, giving herself to pleasure and play. It is Aphrodite who finds the child-care so that there can be romantic getaways. The women who are in touch with their inner Aphrodite are not necessarily beautiful, but they are comfortable with their own sensuality and sexuality, which draws and charms their partners.
Dionysus is the Greek god of wine, wildness, and love. He is the god of ecstasy, close to both nature and women. To the Romans he was known as Bacchus. Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele, a mortal. When Zeus’s wife Hera heard of the child by her husband by another woman, she wanted to kill both the child and his mother. Hera succeeded in killing Semele, but Dionysus was taken to his mother’s sister and brother-in-law, hidden, and brought up as a girl to protect him from the wrath of Hera. He was surrounded as a child by foster moths and nursemaids. Having lived as a female, he knew women quite well, preferring their company and understanding women’s experience. In Greek mythology, Dionysus is the only god who rescues and restores, instead of dominating women.
Dionysus was a traveler, and wherever he went he planted and taught the cultivation of grape vines. His following was primarily women who were drawn to leave their ordinary lives to revel in nature and touch the ecstatic. His followers met with him in the mountains, to worship by entering into ecstatic states enhanced by dancing to highly emotional, frenzied music and wine, leaving the rational behind. He was a mystic, and encouraged that which is irrational and dreamy in his followers. He, like Aphrodite is emotional, intense, sensual and sexual. He is vibrantly youthful no matter what his age.
When a man contacts his inner Dionysus, he is in touch with his intensity of feeling, his spontaneity, and is penetrated by enlivening music, uplifted by the beauty of nature, and opens himself fully to merge with his lover. He also knows how to treat her as a precious and valued person, and together they journey to land of ecstatic lovemaking.
The power of intention will assist us to invoke the presence of Aphrodite and Dionysus. We can help the process along if we commit ourselves to step outside of our usual roles. We may go away to a different environment, wear unusual clothing, drink a bit of wine, and participate in a sensual dance. If we set a context and make sure that these archetypes know that they are welcome, they will arrive. The part of a woman who is identified with Aphrodite and the part of a man who is identified with Dionysus bursts with a lust for life. Her seductive nature makes her man feel attractive, special, and sexy.
We can also lay down the boundaries that work for us, so that the lusty energy stays within the bounds that are consistent with our value system. Their erotic nature can be contained inside reasonable boundaries so that there is no harm done. The erotic spark of these two archetypes travels back and forth, enlivening our relationship. Both are willing to risk for love. We could use these fine models to learn how to revel more. It’s fun, and will bring vitality to our lives. Invoking the presence of Aphrodite and Dionysus will expand the experimentation, playfulness, pleasure and joy that sex can bring to a relationship. Do you dare to find out if it will work for you?
Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.
Praise for Happily Ever After:
“Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” – Arielle Ford, author of Turn You Mate into Your Soulmate
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Bloom, L. (2017). Aphrodite and Dionysus. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationship-skills/2016/12/1731/