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.