Reading Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy (as is possible to do with Donald Tyson’s scrupulous edition issued by Llewellyn, the first that the volume has been printed in its entirety since the 1600s) is very interesting, as Agrippa not only compiles the Esoteric Knowledge of medieval Magick-Use for his readers: he arranges it into a coherent expression of The Occult Philosophy, or that particular mind-set (familiar to all of us) necessary for a Magickal World-view. Devotedly faithful to his Classical and Ancient World sources, Agrippa undertakes one of the first efforts in Western Culture to catalog the Pagan practices of the antique past: as in Chapter XIV “Of the Gods of the Gentiles, and the Souls of the Celestial Bodies, and what Places were Consecrated in Times Past, and to what Deities.”
“The philosophers have maintained, as we have showed before, that the heavens and stars are divine animals, and their souls intellectual, participating of the divine mind.” (p. 490) These Souls are not confined to bodies (as ours are) but rather, “will be where they will”, and they “rejoice in the vision of God.” “Therefore they [Pagans of the Ancient World] often called the souls of this kind, gods, and appointed divine honors for them, and dedicated prayers and sacrifices to them, and did worship them with divine worship.” Starting off with a section upon Deuteronomy and Genesis and covering Jeremiah’s description of the “Queen of Heaven” [which "unnamed goddess," Tyson explains helpfully in his Notes (p. 492), is conjectured to have been Mesopotamian Ishtar], further defined by Agrippa as the “power by which the heaven is governed, viz. the Soul of the World”- Agrippa goes on to note all the places of which he is aware, where Pagan sites of worship were, and which Deities were worshipped where. For instance, the rather long list goes on to observe that the “Assyrians first of all introduced the worship of Venus,” before listing all other places of Venus [Aphrodite's] veneration; the Scythians, we are told, worshipped the “Moon” at Mount Taurus “under the name of Diana” (Agrippa is somewhat influenced by Latin interpretations of Deities). He explains that in Ephesus, She “had a most stately temple,” and refers to Her Iphigenian and Orestian worship in Mycena (admirably discussed in one of Mr. Tyson’s literally innumerable and highly valuable Notes [p. 495]).
The point of it all comes down to where Agrippa records that the Catenian people “are reported to have worshipped the Moon under the masculine sex”: a reference, according to Tyson (Notes, p. 495), to the “bearded Aphrodite of Cyprus,” called Aphroditos by Aristophanes, and according to Philochorus, a Male-Female Divinity identified with the Moon, at Whose sacrifices women and men exchanged clothing. Tyson asserts that Aphroditos is the Same as the later Hermaphroditus, “Aphrodite in the shape of a Herm,” or phallic-shaped structure. In later mythology, we are told, Hermaphroditus came to be be considered the Son of Aphrodite and Hermes.
A bearded Aphrodite- a Male version of the Female Goddess- called Aphroditos, worshipped in cross-dressing rites at Cyprus, and identified with the Moon: what’s not to love about Paganism?