On the Road in Virginia: Looking for Gleb Botkin

Home of Gleb Botkin in the late 1960s. Photo by Chas S. Clifton
The house in Charlottesville, Va., where the Botkin familiy lived in the 1960s, also the final location of the Church of Aphrodite.

Gleb Botkin’s Church of Aphrodite lasted from the 1930s to 1969. (He formally incorporated it in 1939, but I don’t know just when it started.)

The church was more Goddess-monotheistic than polytheistic:

Aphrodite, the flower-faced, the sweetly smiling, the laughter-loving Goddess of Love and Beauty, is the self-existent, eternal and Only Supreme Deity, Creator and Mother of the cosmos, the Universal Cause, the Universal Mind, the Source of all life and all positive and creative forces of nature, the Fountainhead of all happiness and joy.

But Botkin rejected such formulas as “love thy neighbor as thyself” and the “so-called Golden Rule,” arguing instead that love requires “two mutually responsive poles.”

Some of the argument he makes in his thealogical book In Search of Reality could justify polyamory as well, although I don’t know if he applied it in that way.

Some of the Charlottesville Pagans still want an historical marker on the house. I don’t know who lives there now — when we stopped by, no one was at home but the cat.

Botkin, his wife, Nadine, and his daughter, Marina Botkin Schweitzer, are buried just outside Charlottesville, where his marker describes him as the Reverand [sic] Gleb Botkin and includes the astrological symbol of Venus.
The Church of Aphrodite, meanwhile, had both a personal and a literary connection with the California Pagan group Feraferia and hence to the broader Pagan revival of the late 20th century.