Updated: Jan 12
She is the essence and embodiment of Love and Beauty. The universal symbol for femaleness, is an adaption of the shape of her mirror. Her name, Aphrodite; rings as one of the most well known Goddesses in history. She is the original morning and evening star who lent her Roman name to the brightest and hottest planet in out solar system, Venus. Typically described as the Goddess of Love and Beauty but she is also a Goddess of the Ocean and the Heavens.
Aphrodite might be one of the most popular Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon, however her origins do not begin in Greece. The cult of the Love Goddess begins in Mesopotamia; you know, where the first civilization began. In the north, her name was Ishtar, in the south it was Inanna and in Egypt, her name was Astarte. Historians are torn between who came first and who assimilated into who, but it is commonly agreed upon that they did (assimilate) enough that their names and a lot of symbols are shared between the Goddesses. Her earliest descriptions show her in the form of a mermaid, as Atargatis, the Phoenician Goddess of the Ocean, Fertility and Love. As the trade for goods began to expand West from Mesopotamia, so did the people and their spiritual beliefs. When the Middle East meets Greece, Astarte becomes Aphrodite, and her fins turn to feet.
The Greek version: She was born from a castrated penis. Okay, let me give you some context… the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus (sky god) and threw the severed genitals into the Sea. Now, that was a very magical penis because once it hit the water it turned to sea-foam and from a scallop shell emerged Aphrodite, adorned in pearls, barely dressed and instantly the baddest bitch in Mount Olympus. Now, she didn’t emerge immediately, Aphrodite was said to be carried to the island of Cyprus by the wind Zephyr in a scallop shell. There, the Horae dressed and adorned her with jewelry and enchanting perfume before they presented her to the Gods. She is one of the most important deities in Cyprus, born of the Sea and Sky. This is why Aphrodite is not only a Goddess of Beauty, but of the Ocean and Heavens as well.
The Middle East Version: The Syrian story of the birth of Astarte says the goddess was born from an egg carried to the banks of the River Euphrates by a fish. Similar to how Aphrodite sprung from a scallop shell the way a pearl would. "Astarte" was first recorded around 1478 BC but the Cult of the Goddess was already established by then. Another form of the Goddess Astarte was Atargatis, the Fertility and Love Goddess of the Phoenicians who had the form of a mermaid.
Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful
Aphrodite was said to have a very charming and loving nature. She may be the fairest one of all, but she was adored by all, men, women and Gods. She was said to be vengeful only when her beauty was challenged. There are tons of stories about the Love Goddess punishing those who did not admire her with respect.
Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?
There is a story that she was furious with a King who did not appreciate her beauty, so while he was in a Chariot race she drove his horses mad and killed him…. welp. Another story tells of how she (pretty much) tortured Psyche, a mortal woman who was rumored to be more beautiful that the Love Goddess herself. People began to worship HER over Venus... well you can imagine, that did not sit well with the Love Goddess. To keep it short and sweet; Venus sends her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a monster. Well, Cupid sees Psyche and HE falls in love with her. So in order to PROVE that this "mere mortal girl" was deserving of her Son, a God, Venus put Psyche through numerous tasks. One of them being to sort out a huge pile of seeds (mixed wheat, barley, poppy seed, chickpeas, lentils, and beans) into separate heaps by dawn. The story is too long to tell here, but its worth the read if you enjoy mythological drama. Read it Here.
Affairs of the Heart
Once Aphrodite was officially “presented” to the Gods, Zeus (aka Hera, his wife forced him, because let be honest, she was kind of a hater) immediately knew Aphrodite would disrupt the peace among the Gods, so being a good commander in chief, he arranges her to marry old ass, ugly ass, crippled ass Hephaestus, the Blacksmith God. Though he treated the Goddess well, creating beautiful pieces of jewelry for her and a dove drawn chariot, he was not the one Aphrodite truly loved. Like the Orisha Oshun, Aphrodite have many lovers because... well why not?
Aphrodite and Ares / Venus and Mars
Her first Love was Ares, the God of War. Which makes sense. You know, the whole love and war thing. Anyways, they had a few children together, the most well known one being Cupid (see photo to the right). Ares was her main man, her favorite lover. It seems as though everyone knew about this affair except her husband. And when he finally found out, he captured both of them in a magical web, and paraded them around Mount Olympus in front of the Gods and Goddesses, as punishment. Though it was embarrassing, that did not stop the two lovers from continuing on their love affair throughout time.
Venus and Adonis
(And no, we we don't mean Drake’s baby.)
Adonis was young, gentle, and a very handsome mortal man. He was like Will Smith, EVERYBODY loved him. Flowers sprang up under his feet, and bees and butterflies fluttered around him, birds sang to this motherfucker, he was like the male Snow White. When he went out hunting in the forest with his hounds, Venus, used to follow him at a distance, keeping within the shadows. Mars (aka Ares), the cruel war-god, hated all beautiful things and especially hated Adonis, seeing his girl was obsessed with him and all. So one day he sends a wild boar to attack Adonis. Venus, hearing his cries runs to her lover Adonis who is wounded and dying. It is said that as she ran through the forest with her bare feet, every drop of blood that fell from the Goddess's foot turned white roses red. When she bent over to him, every tear that fell from her eye and touched the ground turned into anemones, the Greek word for wildflower. Every drop of blood that fell from the wound of Adonis became a red rose. There is a very similar story of Inanna losing her beloved mortal hunter who was killed by her brother/lover. Yeah, another time for that one.
The Graces; the original Groupie
Last month we talked about the Goddess Girl Group. This Love Goddess had her own GGG and they were The Graces. Sometimes called the Charities, they were attendants to the Goddess. They were the personifications of beauty, charm and grace. The Graces/Charities, would bathe the Goddess with heavenly oil that immersed her with an enchanting fragrance. They clothed her in bright beautiful clothing and adorned her in jewels.
Aphrodite is a Love Goddess but few recognize that she is also a Goddess of the Ocean. Pearls, shells and aquamarine crystals are all symbols that represent this Goddess born of Sea-foam. Her colors are pale greens, blues, silver, gold, red and pink. She is said to ride on dolphins and her chariot is carried by doves. Many of the typical symbols of Love evolved from the Great Goddess Aphrodite herself.
Lotion Potion #9
As a Love Goddess, she assisted mortals and the Gods in finding love and had multiple tools that aided in her seductive ways. Oshun has her honey pot and handkerchiefs around her waist; while Venus has love potions and a magic girdle (belt). Her magical belt was called “cestus” and was said to provoke desire and passion in anyone who looked at it.
The Pearl is associated with her birth, since it too is an offspring of the sea and the shell. Aphrodite's “pearly gate” was symbolic for leading to her sexual paradise, the Yoni. This would be another example of how a symbol of the Goddess would later be Christianized to mean something else. It was said that pearls were formed by the merging of water and moonlight.
The morning and evening star is none other than the Planet Venus. It gets its name from it appearing as the first "star" in the sky when the Sun is setting and the last "star" in the sky when the Sun has risen. The popular nursery rhyme "star bright, star light" originated from a sacred practice where young maidens who worshiped the Goddess, would wish upon Venus to find good husbands.
The Golden Apple was given to Aphrodite as a gift from Paris of Troy. Also known as " The apple of Discord," the myth tells of a golden apple that was thrown into a banquet of the gods by Eris, the goddess of Discord. She was feeling bitter about not being invited to the feast so she decides to shake things up a bit. The the apple had "for the fairest" written on it and when it was thrown, the goddesses (hating ass) Hera, (virgin ass) Athena and (conceited ass) Aphrodite all claimed it. Zeus was asked to mediate but he knew damn well not to pick sides on this matter so he lead them fuck boy Paris, the Prince of Troy. Athena promised him victory in war, Hera promised him she’d make him the King of all men. Aphrodite, promised him the (second) baddest bitch in town, Helen of Sparta. Now if you saw the movie Troy, you saw that Paris was a wack ass warrior, definitely not King material and so it is no surprise he choose Helen. Well that decision is what began the chain of events that led to the Trojan War (according to mythology). Good Job Paris!
To invoke your inner Aphrodite is to invoke your divine feminine at her most luxurious full self. Aphrodite doesn’t take baths, she is bathed by the Graces. Now, we may not all be so lucky to have a group of ladies or men to bathe and dress us, but we can certainly invoke her by bathing ourselves like a Goddess. Create a small altar to petition the Goddess with candles, crystals and scents that represent her, and enjoy your Goddess Bath experience.
Scents that represent Aphrodite are rose, vanilla, musk as well as anything that smells like the sea.
Candles candles candles! Can turn an ordinary bath into a super luxurious experience. Sea salt is a perfect addition to your bath.
Crystals that represent the Goddess are aquamarine, aventurine, opal, pearls, rose quartz and a piece of Himalayan salt rock would be perfect additions to get your Love and Ocean Goddess vibes on.
Bath yourself. Throw on some Sade, pour a glass of wine, and ease in to you Goddess Bath. When you are finished with your bath, put on your favorite lotion. Put it on with intention. As you lotion yourself, think of affirmations that you want to sink into your soul, that way your skin absorbs the lotion.
I am divine.
I am beautiful.
I am a Goddess.
I am worth all of the beautiful things my hear desires.
Dress yourself with something new/clean and makes you feel like a Mother Fucking Goddess.
Adorn yourself with jewelry. There is a famous Coco Chanel quote that goes "before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take 1 thing off" in reference to accessories and jewelry. Well, Aphrodite says, look in the mirror and add more!
Food for thought:
Aphrodite has always been MY Goddess. From the time I can remember, I knew my original first name was Aphrodite. My mom had told me how she wanted to name me that because, I would be born in October and as a Libra, we are ruled by the planet Venus. However, for a few reasons she was talked out of it and instead, named me Amanda, after a princess on a soap opera from the 80s. Which now, with that information should be to no ones surprise why I can be so dramatic. But the origins of my name? Means, "she who must be loved or lovable." The concept of "love" has followed me from the womb. As a love Goddess, Aphrodite can be likened to the Orisha Oshun; beautiful, charming and enchanting. As an Ocean Goddess, she is Yemaya, Queen and Mother of the Ocean. Who is often pictured with mirror in hand, emerging from the Ocean in pearls. Yemaya is said to be very vain and enjoys jewelry, perfume and flowers as offerings to her, just like Aphrodite. Her symbols and colors are closely related to the Orisha who mothers all Water and life itself. One of the most popular forms Yemaya takes is the mermaid, and if you know me personally, then you already know how I feel about mermaids. As i began to dive deeper into the symbols that have been special to me, I have learned that is the way the Universe speaks to you. The Universe will give you passions, give you love for things that speak to your soul. It is our choice to discover what those things mean.
So I ask you, to think about something that has forever been special to you, whether it be a deity, a symbol, a character or even a place; and look it up. Google the symbolism. Have you always loved butterflies? But like REALLY loved them that everyone no associates butterflies with you? Research the symbolism. Take a look at multiple cultures and beliefs. I bet you will find a message that is for you, that only you will understand why you have always been attracted to that "thing".
Marcovich, M. (1996). From Ishtar to Aphrodite. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 30(2), 43-59. doi:10.2307/3333191
Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan, PhD, 2014
Moon Magick by D.J. Conway, 2017
The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects by Barbra G. Walker, 1988
The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker, 1983
Written by: Amanda Sanchez