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
Just like sex was demonized, prostitution was also diabolized and was once considered a sacred rite.
Aphrodite is also known as the Goddess of the prostitutes. Sacred prostitution rituals were performed in the temples of the Sumerian Goddess Inanna, the Akkadian Goddess Ishtar and the Temple of the Lady of Euphesus, who is associated with the Greek Goddess Artemis.
The most widely known temple prostitutes were the Priestesses of Aphrodite, who practiced their sensual, devotional acts to the Goddess in her tempe on the Island of Cyprus in Corinth, Greece.
Aphrodite's ravishing sacred prostitutes embodied the Goddess and made love to the strangers who visited the temples of the Goddess in order to share the energetic love of the Goddess with them. The expression of divine feminine love is a healing force and brought profound healing to the person who was blessed to be given this initiation. This sacred act also offered the recipient an opportunity to worship the Goddess Aphrodite through her sensual, enchanting Priestess mediums. And, in turn, the Priestesses were able to help fulfill their Goddess Aphrodite's mission of uniting the energies of the masculine and the feminine through the experience of the union of body and spirit which occurs as a gift in the sacred ritual of lovemaking.
"O young damsels who receive strangers and give them hospitality, Priestesses of the Goddess Pitho in the rich Corinth, it is you who, in causing the incense to burn before the image of Venus and in inviting the Mother of Love, often merit for us her celestial aid and procure for us the sweet moments which we taste on the luxurious couches where is gathered the delicate fruit of beauty." -B.F. Goldberg, author of "The Sacred Fire: The Story of Sex and Religion"
Aphrodite's Magical Belt of Aphrodisiacs:
"All magic was contained therein: All love and yearning for love and talk of love, which have so often robbed reasonable men of their senses." -Orphic Ode
"Cupid unfastening the belt of Venus", Painting by Joshua Reynolds, Public Domain
Aphrodite possessed a shaman's medicine bag, fit for a Love Goddess which was in the form of a magical belt she adorned herself with around her lovely hips. This enchanting belt was said to contain potent medicines for lovemaking and magic. These love potions became known as aphrodisiacs, a word derived from Aphrodite.
Sine antiquity, aphrodisiacs have been used in fertility rituals throughout a variety of different cultures. Often, the Goddesses of love were honoured in these rituals. Almost all aphrodisiacs have inebriating or entheogenic qualities. These blissful medicines can alter the consciousness and open the hearts of those who ingest them, enabling those who partake of them to connect with the God or Goddess within. It is for this reason that aphrodisiac sacraments were ingested during mystical lovemaking rituals where the goal was to connect with one's God or Goddess within in order to channel their own divinity into their lovemaking sessions.. Aphrodisiacs were also used in ancient ceremonies honouring the Goddess and the fertility of Mother Earth.
Please Note: In Part II of this article I go in depth about the various aphrodisiacs associated with Aphrodite. Please stay tuned...
Lovemaking: A natural pass-time enjoyed by all walks of life!
"Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it, let's do it, let's fall in love." -Cole Porter
Aphrodisiacs are an erotic love offering from Mother Nature. Both love and sensuality are very natural expressions which can be seen in humans and also reflected in nature. When we tune into this we can experience the entire universe as one great big orgasm.
Mother Earth is sexy and this is poetically demonstrated in the Goddess Gaia, who is the personification of Mother Earth in all her glory. Mother Earth can be seen as a sensual Love Goddess, who's earthly fertile body blossoms beneath the masculine rays of the sun which penetrate her and impregnate her causing her seeds to burst through her ripe soil and her seductive flowers to unfold their delicate petals and blossom in complete and utter surrender to the permeating rays of the hot sun.
Aphrodisiacs as Tantric Tools:
"In Tantrism, many aphrodisiacs are viewed as foods for the kundalini serpent and are thought to affect both the serpent, which reposes in the body, and the chakras." -Christian Ratsch, author of"Plants of Love"
Tantric image from Cave, Dunhuang Yuan Dynasty, (Public Domain)
Tantric teachings, who's roots run deep within the Buddhist and Hindu cultures, teach us that, as humans, we carry seven energy centers, referred to as chakras. These energy centers span from the root chakra, located at the base of the genitals to the crown chakra, located at the top of the head. This serpentine line that follows the spine and extends beyond the crown chakra above our heads is known as the kundalini serpent.
Our chakras can be activated through a variety of spiritual tools or practices such as yoga, dance, aphrodisiacs and tantric or any variety of sexual union, where true union is achieved. The flow of energy that our chakras produce can help a human awaken their dormant kundalini energy and set them on their path toward enlightenment.
Aphrodisiacs and their potential to bring balance to an unbalanced world:
Aphrodisiacs are psychotropic botanical substances which effect the sexual facets of the brain and the physical aspects of sexuality enabling our erotic creativity to emerge in celebration of the divine union of the masculine and the feminine.
"Springtime" By Pierre Auguste Cot, Art Renewal Center, Public Domain
We all carry masculine and feminine polarities and the term masculine and feminine refer specifically to these energetic polarities rather than to a specific gender. Most people carry a primarily masculine or a primarily feminine essence and are naturally attracted to their opposite energetic equivalent. We even see this occur in relationships between the same gender where one person is embodying a more masculine role and the other a more feminine one. There are also, as previously mentioned in this article, some people who choose not to identify with a specific gender. I believe we all have the right to choose what feels aligned for us and to exercise our freedom of choice so long as we are not hurting ourselves or anyone else in the process.
In order for the divine union of the sacred masculine and feminine energies to occur these polar opposites must be able to be expressed without inhibition. This is where aphrodisiacs can be of beneficial. These magical botanicals have the potential to assist in breaking down barriers and freeing us from internal inhibitions. This in turn allows us to express our raw core essence in any given moment. Of course, it is important to recognize that all humans may experience divine union with another being, regardless of their sexual nature, preferences or gender specific or non gender specific identification. When one wants to experience union through sexual means aphrodisiacs can be a true blessing.
We live in a day and age where most humans are cut off from the energy of the sacred feminine and sacred masculine within. We live now, in what Terence McKenna poetically named "The dominator culture: a male patriarchal world which is founded upon domination." It is important to recognize that males and even patriarchy itself are not to blame for the present "dominator culture" we now find ourselves faced with. Rather, it is the fact that for centuries, patriarchal constructs have been the predominant ruling entities around the globe. The lack of feminine energy has thrown things out of balance in our world and has allowed the suppression of all things feminine, which includes the suppression of nature to continue.
Floor mosaic in Umbria, Italy, ca. 200 – 250 AD. depicting Uranus, Gaia and their 4 children representing the 4 seasons Public domain.
"The domination of women and the domination of nature are fundamentally connected. In other words, violence against Mother Earth came to be intertwined with an emerging urge to subdue and control women." -Cathleen McGuire and Colleen McGuire, authors of "Ecofeminist Visions"
Due to the loss of respect for and the suppression of the divine feminine on our planet, we have lost our connection to the Earth as our eternal Mother. If we do not find our way home to her, our planet and everything living upon it will continue spiralling toward oblivion at the present alarming rate we are now experiencing.
On the other hand, I believe if we are able to bring the sacred feminine back into balance with the sacred masculine that exists within us all, the Goddess within will show us the way back home to our loving connection with our Mother Earth.
It is in these bonding moments that we realize we are inseparable from Mother Earth. She is a part of us and we are a part of her. Once we reestablish our connection to our Gaian mother, we remember how important it is that we begin to truly live in a balanced and harmonious way with the planet and one another again. We now live in a crucial time for all of humanity and the fate of the world literally rests in the palms of our collective hands
Fortunately, we are experiencing a Gaian renaissance on our planet and more and more people are seeking to protect the planet and preserve her for future generations to come. This important shift in humanity is resulting in a deeper collective reverence for Mother Earth. We are seeing an explosion and resurgence for Mother Earth of the medicinal and sacramental use of plants among humans again as a result.
Aphrodisiacs; An Offering of Love:
Above Image: Shakti Botanicals Logo
"When love is aroused through pharmacological means, it can unfold it's healing powers much more precisely and successfully. When the heart chakra has been opened with pharmacological or meditative techniques, a never-ending fountain of unconditional love issues forth that enables a person to experience unity with the universe and with this, enjoy profound sensations of harmony and happiness." -Christian Ratsch, Plants of Love