We would venture to say she’s the most famous goddess in the world. The Greek Queen of Love and Lust. Aphrodite. But don’t mistake her for a love-struck fool. She’s so much more than what meets the eyes and ears. And just like with any other ancient entity, she embodies the paradox of creation and destruction, of love and war. Just like any lover, she can build you up…or break you down. And therein lies her true beauty. Here we meet Aphrodite Goddess of love and learn how to work with her in our own spiritual practice and lives.
When I began researching the origins of Aphrodite Goddess of Love, a few things were immediately made clear. One, that she isn’t JUST a goddess of love but a complex entity like all the others. And two, she may not originally be Greek in origin but likely comes from the Near East. From Phoenician and Assyrian belief. Essentially, Aphrodite’s origins are mysterious and also fascinating. This particular deity was not what I expected, and yet I should have known she’d have more sides to her than what is typically illustrated in the mainstream. As do any and all of the deities I’ve written about and/or connected with.
Now, on to her origins, according to scholars. Many historians today believe Aphrodite is actually a derivation of one or more of the following Mesopotamian goddesses: Ishtar, Inanna, Astarte. When I asked Aphrodite to reveal to me what she wants you all to know, she said “yes, I am born from the sea to the Greeks. But this is more than myth. This is because people from my original land brought me to the shores of Greece by way of the sea. Therefore, to many, I am born of the sea – from the foam and waves.” The myths say Aphrodite first landed her feet on the shores of Cyprus and when she did so, flowers and lush green grass sprang up from under her beautiful feet.
There is some debate on where Aphrodite’s name actually comes from and what it means. However, many agree it means “risen from the sea” and “bright”. Depending on the myth, Aphrodite has no parents or was born of the semen from Ouranus (heaven’s) genitals that were cast into the sea. The idea is that his semen created seafoam and hence Aphrodite was born of the sea and sky. Others say she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione (a goddess of oracular abilities). Myth says she is married to the god of smithing, Hephaestus, yet has numerous love affairs. But, as we’ll soon see, she is much more than just a “goddess of love and lust” as we are led to believe.
Most of us hear the name Aphrodite and we automatically think of her lusty, romantic aspect. This is often what is portrayed in the myths too. For example, in the story of Aphrodite and Ares, she has a passionate love affair with the god of war. But when her husband Hephaestus finds out how madly in love his wife is with Ares, he devises a method of ensnaring them in the act. A net of golden threads catches Ares and Aphrodite one night while they are making love, and Hephaestus invites all of the gods to see the two in their shame. What’s odd here is that the gods were okay with love affairs, they just weren’t okay with monogamous love affairs. So the idea of Ares and Aphrodite being in love and not just having intercourse was out of the realm of morality, apparently. Which made Aphrodite and Ares look bad in the gods’ eyes.
In yet another myth featuring Aphrodite, she’s fallen in love again. But this time with the human Adonis. Some say this was her strongest love affair of all and she loved Adonis so desperately that she gave up living like a goddess just to be with him. She hunted with him in the woods and acted as Artemis just to be near her beloved mortal. Sadly, one day Adonis is killed by a wild boar that he hunted. Some sources theorize this was actually Ares in shapeshifted form, while others believe the beast was sent by the goddess Artemis to avenge a death. From this love and death comes the first red rose and first anemone.
These myths paint the picture of Aphrodite Goddess of love being very much concerned with romance and passionate love. However, I believe we’ve lost many of the aspects of this complex goddess over time. Why? Because if we read the epithets of Aphrodite, we see many other aspects of her personality come to light. For example:
We can see from her names she wasn’t just about love and lust, but had a fierce, warlike side to her as well as a motherly side. Aphrodite Goddess of Love was also a spirit of death and shapeshifting, as well. It seems as though her warlike side was suppressed after her migration to the Greek pantheon. This is evident in the Iliad, when she’s ordered off the battlefield. We often forget the gods are just as complex as human beings.
By now I’m sure you know Aphrodite will almost always manifest as a beautiful woman. She is the goddess of beauty, love and seduction, after all. But here’s the thing, she also appears in shifted forms from time to time (i.e. her epithet she-wolf). In addition, some say she appears as a mermaid or a woman coming out of a shell. When she’s on land, she rides on the back of a buck, while at sea on a dolphin, and while in the air on the back of a swan or goose. When Aphrodite is being pulled in her golden chariot, two turtledoves pull her to and fro.
As to what she’s wearing, Aphrodite is typically depicted in white or celestial robes. Sometimes half-nude and wearing a golden crown. In addition, golden earrings and flowers in her hair and at her feet. She also wears a golden girdle (belt) that has magical powers to enchant anyone except Athena, Artemis and Hestia who are immune. According to Judika Illes in Encyclopedia of Spirits, Aphrodite frequently wears a hat called a polos hat which is a cylindrical crown worn by goddesses in the Near East. Another nod to her true origins in Phoenicia, Anatolia, etc.
Many pagans and witches work with Aphrodite in modern times. Every one of them may say she called to them in an unique way. But here’s some ways you might recognize her call:
|Dolphin||Anemone||Acts of love||Copper||Peitho|
First, it needs to be said that Aphrodite isn’t your typical deity and definitely isn’t a “fluffy” deity. Please be aware that many practitioners who work with her claim she can indeed be a “jealous” god. She loves attention and love from her devotees, which means regular offerings and communication. Her devotees claim she is a loving, generous goddess but that love can quickly be thwarted if she is wronged. If you don’t plan to be dedicated to Aphrodite, it might be best to wait until a time when you can be devoted to her. We’re not telling you what to do, just merely passing on the information so you can make an informed decision.
One of the best ways to begin a relationship with any god or goddess is to read about them. What myths are they featured in? What folklore? Can you find information online about Aphrodite and from her devotees on how to work with her? Also consider watching any documentaries on Greek mythology and ancient religion. Research Inanna and Ishtar, as Aphrodite is a derivation of these Eastern deities.
You’ll want to set up a luxurious, clean altar space for Aphrodite. She enjoys the finer things in life, so give her a beautiful place. Altar cloth can be any of her favorite colors: red, white, gold, black, copper, pink, or yellow. Candles of white and red are appropriate, as is incense made from her sacred plants (see in correspondences above). A cup or chalice filled with wine or fresh water is perfect for Aphrodite. This deity also enjoys perfume and jewelry (of course). Keep her space clean and if you give fresh flowers, make sure to replenish them or remove the dead ones.
Some of Aphrodite’s sacred plants can be grown easily in a garden or even in pots. Try growing red roses, hyacinth or jasmine. If you tend to a vegetable garden, she likes lettuce. Or if you happen to have an apple tree, apples are another favorite.
Aphrodisia is the ancient festival of Aphrodite that was celebrated on the island of Cyprus. A ritual in which offerings of flowers and incense were given to Aphrodite took place during the day, and a beautiful procession at night. Her image, along with her companion Peitho, were paraded around and worshiped by the people. Aphrodisia is celebrated between the third week of July and third week of August, or on Midsummer, respectively. You can also honor her on Friday, the fourth of each month, on February 14th (feast of Eros), and on the New or Dark Moons.
At Aphrodite’s rituals, it’s said that her devotees and priestesses bathed in the ocean as a method of purification in her honor. Visit the ocean. Go out one morning and submerge yourself in the ocean. Let the salt and water cleanse you of all negative energy. Then thank Aphrodite and bless her name. Aphrodite is of the sea, after all. Any magick you do seaside will be amplified if you invoke Aphrodite there including spells, sabbats, and rituals of all kinds.
Yes, Aphrodite is a shapeshifter. She shifts into any animal she wants. That’s why she’s the she-wolf. If you’re working with Aphrodite and want to learn to shapeshift, she will be your guide in the Otherworld.
Since Aphrodite is a goddess of love and passion, she can also be invoked when learning and casting sex magick. This can be with another individual (or multiple) or with yourself. Ask for her assistance and she will gladly take up residence in your bedroom. Just don’t be surprised if she gets a little…pushy. She’s just excited by these things. After all, some of her favorite people are sex workers!
This is one goddess you don’t want to invoke along with many others. Specifically, never invoke her alongside of Artemis or Athena. And don’t set her up on the same altar or give them offerings at the same time. They do NOT get along with Aphrodite.
Have you struggled with self confidence and self esteem your entire life? Aphrodite might be in your life to teach you self-worship and real self-love. This is seriously an aspect of life that I was missing until recently and now that I spend time truly adoring myself, my body, mind, and heart, I’ve never been happier imor felt more fulfilled. There’s nothing wrong with loving yourself – your whole self. And Aphrodite will show you how.
One of the easiest ways to connect with a goddess like Aphrodite is through divination. Divination offers us a line of communication sort of like a telephone. Purchase a card deck to speak to Aphrodite. Or make a seashell divination set. Reading patterns in sand, ocean waves, and clouds are also a great way to receive her messages.
Doves, swans, geese, deer, and honeybees are all sacred to the beautiful goddess Aphrodite. Consider working with these animals in any way you can – be it physical or spiritual. If you can keep bees, do it! If you can volunteer your time or money to a local bird rescue, this is a great way to honor her. Keep figurines or representations of her sacred animals on your altar.
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