Aphrodite: Goddess of Aphrodisiacs (Part I)
Updated: Jun 3
"Aphrodite is the Goddess of every aspect of love between humans, from the most carnal to the most tender. She celebrates the pleasures of sex and teaches the principles of making love as a sacred act requiring the full hearted conjoining of masculine and feminine energies." -Francis Melville, author of, "Love Potions and Charms".
Pearls of Aphrodite, Painting By Herbert James Draper, Public Domain
The word aphrodisiac comes from aphrodisiakos which has it's roots in aphrodisia, meaning sexual pleasures. The word is derived from Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and sexual pleasure.
Aphrodite reigns over the realms of the divine union of the masculine and feminine. She is the supreme Goddess of love, sex and eroticism.
Aphrodite's origins are ancient. Previous to her alleged creation myth in Paphos, on the South-Western Coast of Cyprus, she was worshipped in Babylonia as far back as 539 BCE as the Goddess Ishtar.
The Goddess of divine sensuality's archetype are embodied by many other Goddesses throughout history. In Rome, she is worshipped in her almost identical, but much more sexually subdued form as Venus. Aphrodite is primarily depicted in the nude in poses which show that she is proud of her sacred feminine form. The Roman version of the vuluptuous Aphrodite known as Venus, on the other hand, seems much more reserved about her sensuality and naked form.
The conservative version of Venus became popular during the rise of the Roman Empire, a brutal time in history when many free thinking women were accused of witchcraft, demonized, tortured and murdered.
During this dark time, the Italian Aphrodite, known as Venus, was depicted hiding her yoni, the entrance to the holy temple of her body, with one hand and attempting to hide her breasts with the her other hand. Here, She poses in a much more conservative way as opposed to Aphrodite's poses which were more welcoming, unashamed and flirtatious.
Other Goddesses of Love and sensuality who are archetypally similar to Aphrodite, include the Hindu Goddess of Tantra Shakti, the African Goddess of sensuality Oshun, the Summerian Goddess of feminine splendour Inanna and the Chinese Goddess of Love Quan Yin. The Phoenicians and Hebrews anointed the shrines of the Goddesses of divine sexual love known as Anath or Astarte.
Above painting by By Alexandre Cabanel - anagoria, Public Domain
"Here the most magnificent, most charming Goddess escaped from the foam. Fragrant herbs shot forth from under her flying feet. This garlanded one who slipped from the foam. Gods and humans, they named her Aphrodite, 'she who was nourished by the foam." -Homer, author of "The Iliad".
One of the Greek myths about Aphrodite tells a sexy magical tale of Aphrodite's birth. In this particular myth, the beautiful, voluptuous Aphrodite emerges from the ocean on a vulva like scallop shell, surrounded by foam. She is born a fully grown, completely naked, infinitely desirable and naturally erotic Goddess, who's divine mission is to heal the strife between the masculine and feminine here on planet earth through love and divine union.
In fact, her conception is the direct result of a fight between the masculine and feminine depicted in a struggle between the God of the Heavens ,Chronos, and the Goddess of Mother Earth, Gaia. One particular myth describes how the heavenly God Chronos was castrated. His lingam fell into the sea, the Gaian Goddesses womb, impregnating her. Out from the Earth Mother's oceanic womb emerged a scallop shell carrying the beautiful sensuous Virginal Goddess of love, Aphrodite, in all her splendour.
Aphrodite the "Virgin"
Virgin is a word that has been used, over the ages, to instil shame in all women who enter into the act of lovemaking outside of wedlock or to make women feel somehow their innocence has been robbed after having sex for the first time. It should come as no surprise this word has been demonized and twisted to mean something entirely different than it's original interpretation.
Above painting by Robert Fowler, Public Domain
Aphrodite was once worshipped as a Virginal Goddess, but she was not a virgin according to the modern definition of the word Virgin. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines virgin as; "A person who has not had sexual intercourse." But, Aphrodite enjoyed the company of a variety of lovers in her mythology.
In pre Christian times, the word Virgin was defined as "a woman who belonged to no man", but completely and entirely to herself. She is not viewed as a feminine version of another God. The Virgin Goddess was one with herself, and like nature, she existed beyond man-made laws. She was the embodiment of the fully empowered feminine in her raw and wild form.
My prayer is for all women (and those who identify as women) to release any shame they feel associated with sexual pleasures or with the loss of their virginity, as no one can take our innocence from us.
It is our birthright to view ourselves as pure and sacred, whether we have had sex or not. I believe, we have the opportunity to reclaim our virginity, in reclaiming the original definition of the word. Like Aphrodite, as Virgins we are Sovereign and whole unto ourselves and this remains the same whether we choose to have several sexual partners or just one partner.
I also feel that men and those who identify as men have the right to reclaim their virginity as well, if they feel called to do so, as do people who do not identify with any specific gender. All humans, regardless of their sexual preference and how they choose to identify themselves have the right to feel good about themselves and to own their purity and their divinity whether or not they have had sex. Sex is a sacred act that we may choose to engage in, but doing so does not change who we are. Together, we can help shift the perception of sex back to a more positive one.
Aphrodite and her Sacred Prostitutes:
"The sacred prostitute turns back toward the stranger, she removes her saffron robe and gestures to him to stand before the image of Venus... the gentle touch of her embrace sparks a fiery response, he feels the quickening of his body. He is keenly aware of the passion within this votary of the Goddess of Love and fertility, and is fulfilled." -Nancy-Qualla Corbett, author of "The Sacred Prostitute".
"The Nymphs" Painting by William Adolphe Bougeureau