By Amber C. Snider
Here we uncover the origins and mysteries of cross-pantheon Gods and Goddess from around the world.
Aphrodite (aka Venus in the Roman tradition) has long been the muse of artists, creators, and of course lovers for thousands of years. Her most famous artistic depiction comes from the master sculptor Alexandros of Antioch circa 150 BCE, in the ancient Greek sculpture known around the world as Venus de Milo. The 2170 year old marble statue is currently displayed at the Louvre in Paris and depicts the half-clothed goddess in a sensual form that speaks to the Greeks' ideal of beauty. Perhaps the other most famous depiction of the Goddess comes from Sandro Botticelli's masterpiece The Birth of Venus, which hints at her origin story. The Renaissance painting shows her emerging from the sea with a shell under her feet as her long hair coyly (yet barely) covers her slender body. The wind God Zephyr blows air on her from the left, while the Goddess of Spring stands to her right with a cloak in hand ready to cover her naked form.
Aphrodite's mythological origins aren't all happiness, joy, and beauty though –– in fact, one origin tale is actually pretty gruesome. In ancient Greek mythology, Gaia and Uranus has a Titan son named Cronus. Cronus, with the help of his mother Gaia, rebelled against his father Uranus and castrated him, flinging his severed testicles into the ocean. His sperm made the sea bubble and froth and from those foamy waters, Aphrodite emerged as a fully-formed Goddess. Another story dated shortly after (commonly attributed to Homer), says the Goddess was born from the ocean nymph Dione and Zeus.
Aphrodite took on several lovers, although she was married to Hera's lamed son Hephaestus, an Olympian God associated with fire, craftsmanship, metalwork. Talented and strong though he was, he was considered ugly due to his clubfoot, and the Goddess of Love found herself in the arms of Ares (the God of War), with whom she had many children. However, one of her most famous love affairs was with the beautiful yet tragic mortal Adonis.
Her passionate love affair with the moral Adonis began somewhat (well, very) strangely. Adonis' mother gave birth to him just moments before she was turned into a myrrh tree by the Gods. Spotting the infant and recognizing him as beautiful, Aphrodite wanted to keep him for herself, so she locked him away in a chest and handed him over to the Queen of the Dead, Persephone, for safe keeping –– or presumably until he became of age. During that time, the Goddess of the Underworld also fell in love with Adonis and refused to give him back. Zeus had to get involved and eventually a deal was struck: Adonis would spent part of the year in the Underworld with Persephone, part of the year with Aphrodite, and he could choose who to be with during the remaining four months of each year. Naturally, he chose the Goddess of Love during his free time and they spent several years wrapped in longing together, hunting, and roaming forests.
However, tragedy soon came lurking. During a hunting expedition, Adonis was killed by a wild boar. Running to her fallen lover, she pricked her foot on a white rose and her blood stained the flower to a crimson, red hue. The red rose, said to be the first of its kind in the world, came to symbolize passionate love and also Aphrodite's grief at the loss of her beautiful lover.
Today, even thousands of years later, Aphrodite is still revered, worshipped, and called upon in spellwork. She's associated with copper, the dove, pink (sometimes blue), the day Friday, and the number five. Modern witches invoke her energy for love and beauty spells, as well as self-love rituals. At Enchantments, there are several potions and candles dedicated to this Goddess energy, including Aphrodite Love Drawing Oil and Incense, Venus Incense and Oil (a shop favorite), Aphrodite Love Bath, the Goddess of Love Oil and Incense, and the Venus Candle and the Empress candle. Many of the shop's love-oriented candles are dressed with various oils inspired by the Goddess.
Beauty and self-love rituals are often dedicated to and inspired by Aphrodite. One way to honor the Goddess is to create an altar using a statue or image of her, seashells, blue or pink crystals, rose petals, hand-carved pink, white, or blue candles, and rose-scented oils. Spellwork involving love is best timed on a Friday and Venus also governs two zodiac signs, Libra and Taurus. Ritual baths that invoke sensuality (or simply as part of a self-care routine) can include sea salt, a few drops of Enchantments' love oils, and dried or fresh rose petals.
For more on our God and Goddess series, check out this story on the Goddess of the Crossroads, Sorcery, and the Moon.
By Amber C. Snider
Straight from the mind of tarot reader and Cosmopolitan contributor Sarah Potter, a dreamy new deck for the modern era appears.
Sarah Potter is all about sharing the magic with others. The Cosmo Deck, her latest collaboration with Cosmopolitan magazine, has a chic, psychedelic, and playful energy that puts a new spin on classic archetypes. It’s refreshing to see the women's magazine, which was first published in 1886, openly embrace astrology, witchcraft and magic, but especially so for tapping veterans like Potter to help. A long-time patron of the Enchantments shop and seasoned color magic practitioner, Potter has been working with the tarot since she was 12 years old, which is also around the same time she started reading Cosmo magazine. It feels serendipitous then for her to helm the deck’s guidebook.
The deck's imagery takes the layered symbolism found in the original tarot and translates it into intuitive, accessible images filled with faces, diamonds, astrological charts, and of course, the glittering night sky. Wands and rods have been transformed into keys, while swords have been converted into pens (because is there anything more powerful?). “I wanted it to be approachable and accessible without being dumbed down, and to honor the tarot as a tool for intuition,” she says. “Magic is special and otherworldly, but it’s also something that can be accessible and smart. I believe that tarot is for everyone,” she says.
Condensing all the varied meanings of the cards into a small guidebook is no easy feat, especially when each card has so many layers. And yet, that’s exactly what she did, using language that feels like getting advice from a best friend. “Tarot was such a big part of slumber parties growing up and I wanted the deck to be like another friend who’s joining the party, offering another perspective, and reminding you that you already know what to do. But sometimes you need that extra confirmation,” she says. “So I thought: How can I embody that energy and put it into this deck?”
Potter says she began the writing process by going back to the time when she picked up her first tarot deck as a teenager. “I was searching for answers and a better understanding of myself and the world around me. And also, I’m not gonna lie, I always wanted to know who had a crush on me and figured tarot could help me navigate love, too!” she adds. We’ve all combed through tarot spreads seeking love advice, but the tarot tends to reveal things we already know deep down, making it a powerful tool for intuition, as well as for divination. “Tarot has always helped me throughout my whole life,” says Potter. “Especially when I needed a reminder of my own inner wisdom.”
Potter loves the outcome of the visuals, which were created by the Art Department at Cosmo: “It’s dreamy, and ethereal, and evocative –– and it’s inclusive. Not every tarot deck is for everyone, but I hope you can find something that you can relate to in it,” she adds. “[I hope] it truly invites anyone who’s using it to spark their imagination and to look at the cards in a new way.” The cards include colored borders (which you can add your own meaning to), providing both a nice frame and offer a connection to the suits of the Minor Arcana.
When the deck first arrived, I was particularly intrigued with the swapping of the wands/rods for keys, a symbol I thought translated well in this new context. Potter cites the wands as symbolic of our passions and inspirations: “Having the key emblematic of this energy is about unlocking something, whether it’s personal secrets or wisdom. It’s a very active energy. Take the key and try the different locks to see what opens,” she says. The choice of diamonds also feels apropos for the deck: “I think of diamonds as clarity and I turn to my tarot deck because I’m seeking clarity. And it adds a sense of luxury that’s chic and opulent. It feels special.”
The knowledge we can take away from a spread normally brings clarity –– which is ultimately empowering. And Potter agrees: “What we don’t know is so much scarier, or the infinite possibilities of the unknown. I think we can often be our own worst enemies the way we can overthink things. I like to think of tarot as more soothing and clarifying. It can be brutal, but at the same time, I find it a loving energy and a gentle quality in the way it delivers.”
In many ways, this deck feels like just the beginning for Sarah Potter and more decks to come. As for the future, she remains characteristically optimistic: “I don’t know what I’m going to tap into next!”
You can purchase The Cosmo Deck: The Ultimate Deck and Guidebook at the Enchantments shop or online. To read more about Sarah Potter and color magic, check out this story.