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The Many Faces of Aphrodite: Her Associations and Symbols

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Written by: Tina Caro

Aphrodite is one of the most popular deities in magic and divination, but why? Let’s learn all we need to know about this ancient goddess and her powers.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Aphrodite, a central figure in Greek mythology, is the goddess of love, beauty, desire, and fertility.

She is renowned for her extraordinary beauty and is born from the sea foam near Cyprus.

Aphrodite represents various aspects of love, from romantic and physical attraction to familial bonds.

Her symbols include the dove, myrtle, rose, and seashell.

Aphrodite’s influence extends to matters of beauty, aesthetics, and art, making her a captivating and enduring deity in Greek mythology.

Who is Aphrodite?

In Greek mythology, she was a presence that aroused reverence because she caused mortals and gods to fall in love and conceive a new life: she represented passion, she was irresistible, the erotic attraction, the strong sexual instinct that she first lived naturally in the present. It inspired poetry, persuasive words and represented the power of transformation and the creation of love.

Epithet/TitleDescription
Aphrodite UraniaRepresents spiritual love and celestial beauty.
Aphrodite PandemosSymbolizes earthly, sensual love and desire.
Aphrodite OuraniaAssociated with divine and transcendent love.
Aphrodite EuploiaRepresents good sailing and safe voyages.
Aphrodite PhilommeidesRefers to her laughter-loving and playful nature.
Table 1: Epithets and Titles of Aphrodite

She was the Goddess who had the most sexual stories, while maintaining independence from men and the ability to focus on what was meaningful to her and do what she liked.

At the same time, she experienced the bond, the commitment, the marriage, with men and divinities, as well as the Vulnerable Goddesses (Hera, Demeter, Persephone, who in the bond with men were victims) and was a mother, without ever becoming dependent or suffering for a man.

The_Pearls_of_Aphrodite,_1907
Herbert James Draper, The Pearls of Aphrodite, 1907

The Aphrodite archetype determines the pleasure certain women feel for love, beauty, sensuality, and sexuality. It is the archetype of a woman who crosses all the dimensions of her existence with participation, never with dependence or suffering as a victim, nor identifying herself in the role of wife or mother, but living on her own passions, for men, ideas, children, projects, remaining centered on herself.

The myth of Aphrodite: myths and origins

According to some, it is a cult of oriental derivation, for others instead of Phoenician derivation. In any case, it was Hellenized by Homer in the Odyssey, a poem in which it is written that it is originally from Paphos, on the island of Cyprus.

The goddess Aphrodite was one of the Greek pantheon’s most important and revered goddesses; many temples, cults, and religious celebrations were dedicated to her. In poems and in the different versions of myths, she often presents herself as a vain, passionate goddess, aware of her own beauty, sensual and easy to anger and revenge, especially towards those who claim to tear her lovers away, or even want to share them.

The goddess, which the Romans renamed Venus, was according to Homer daughter of Zeus and of the nymph Dione, daughter of Uranus and Gaea in turn. According to Hesiod, however, the goddess was born from the foam of the sea fertilized by the genitals of Uranus, which Cronus had emasculated in his rebellion.

The image of the birth of the goddess is in a spring environment, where nature blossoms and everything blossoms and is reborn together with the arrival of the goddess, seen as a bearer of fertility, is present in many works, including De Rerum Natura by the Latin poet Tito Lucretius Caro, as well as in the famous painting by Botticelli, the Birth of Venus.

Depicts the goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as a fully grown woman, arriving at the sea-shore. The seashell she stands on was a symbol in classical antiquity for a woman’s vulva. Thought to be based in part on the Venus de’ Medici, an ancient Greek marble sculpture of Aphrodite. Sandro Botticelli, circa 1485

In fact, in the representations, the nature that surrounds her is luxuriant and pure, uncontaminated and perfect, while the goddess is of a beauty that only the most beautiful of goddesses could have: an ethereal face, long blond curls that run all over her back, and an expression of seraphic and celestial sweetness. Many plants were sacred to Aphrodite, such as the rose, the myrtle and the poppy, and various animals, such as the hare, the dove, the dolphin, the swan and the sparrow (as regards the latter, it is necessary to mention the ‘Ode to Aphrodite by Sappho, an invocation similar to a religious hymn, in which the goddess descends to earth on a winged chariot drawn by sparrows and other birds, to alleviate the amorous sufferings of the poetess of Lesbos).

In the Homeric poems, the presence of Aphrodite is often remarked. In the Iliad, she has the role of defending her son Aeneas, a Trojan, generated with Anchises (Priam’s cousin). Therefore, in the war, she is on the side of the Trojans. However, it also highlights the fact that she is not at all devoted to war: in fact in battle, while trying to protect her son, she is wounded by the fearsome Greek hero Diomede, and although she is then treated by the doctor of the gods, Peone, Zeus scolds her.

The Feast of Bacchus (Sine Cerere et Baccho friget Venus). By Jan Bruegel and Jan van Balen, circa 1640

Even before the beginning of the Trojan War, however, its role in the myth of the judgment of Paris must be mentioned: in fact, it was she who was chosen as the most beautiful goddess, in competition with Hera and Athena.

In return, Aphrodite gave Paris the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen, wife of Atreus Menelaus; furthermore, in the third book of the Iliad, the goddess protects, in addition to her son, Paris. In the Odyssey, however, she is presented as the wife of the deformed god Hephaestus, and the lover of Ares, with whom she is caught in the act by her husband.

The cult of Aphrodite was very serious: it was celebrated with periodic feasts, as Plutarch tells us, moreover the goddess was also celebrated in the feasts in honor of Poseidon. Among the numerous epithets and titles referring to the goddess, we mention the most common: Cipride, or Ciprigna, in reference to the Hesiodic myth of her birth; Ambologera (“who never gets old”), Citerèa, Virgo, Aurea, Celeste, Signora.

There are also countless lovers, and the corresponding children of Aphrodite. The most relevant are: Adonis, with whom she had Priapus, Anchises, with whom she had Aeneas, Ares, with whom she had Eros, Deimos, Anteros and Phobos, then Dionysus, with whom she had Chariti, Hermes, with whom she had Eunomia, Poseidon, with whom she had Rodo, and Pygmalion, with whom she had Paphos.

The legend of Aphrodite

Everyone agrees that Aphrodite emerged naked from the foam of the sea, on the beach of Paphos in Cyprus.

According to one legend, this rock is the site of the birth of the goddess Aphrodite, perhaps owing to the foaming waters around the rock fragments, and for this reason it is known as Aphrodite’s Rock.

Some think that Zeus gave birth to her in Dione (the lady of the oak whose oracle the father of the gods took possession of) and that she was the daughter of the ocean and of the sea goddess Thetis, or of Air and Earth. But most scholars believe that it was born from the waves fertilized by Uranus after Cronus (one of the Titans, corresponding to Saturn) threw its testicles into the sea: Hesiod’s Theogony describes that “the genitals were dragged by the sea for a long period and white foam arose from immortal flesh; inside it, a girl grew up who became Aphrodite ”.

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When the divine blood fell on the sea, the water began to boil, and on a shell pushed by Zephyrus, Venus emerged in all its splendor. Near the shore, the Hours, daughters of Thetis played, and when they saw the goddess, they ran towards her to cover her with veils and braid her blond hair with flower crowns. Zeus, fascinated, immediately welcomed her to Olympus as an adopted daughter, arousing the wrath of the other goddesses.

Riding on a shell, Aphrodite first reached the island of Kythera, a trading center from which her cult spread throughout Greece; later, thinking that the island was too small to contain its beauty, she crossed the Peloponnese and ended up establishing his residence in Paphos, on the island of Cyprus, where the main seat of her cult has always been located.

There, every spring, her priestesses bathed in the sea and emerged as virgins. On a gem found in the Idea cave, we see the Cretan goddess engraved blowing into a shell, with a sea animal next to the altar: the hedgehog and the cuttlefish were sacred to her. It is also said that the flowers bloom where Aphrodite sets her feet and that the goddess flies in the air accompanied by flocks of sparrows and doves.

What is Aphrodite a goddess of?

Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty, but also of fertility, love, and procreation.

How do you know that Aphrodite is calling you?

  • When you feel beautiful, magnetic, charming.
  • When you are in love with all things.
  • When you are in the senses and in the sensoriality. When you are not judgmental, but simply in contact with what you are doing.
  • When your body lights up with passion and you make love completely possessed by Aphrodite.
  • When you allow yourself to fully enjoy every sensory experience: when you pet your cat, when you are in contact with the scent of the earth, or stamp your feet on the ground running in the woods after the rain, when you wear a linen suit, or walk fingers on silk.
  • When you allow yourself to receive, expanding the welcome space.
  • When you are in the body and not in the mind.

Best ways to connect with Aphrodite

Connecting with Aphrodite is not hard, but you need to make mindful committed gestures to let her feel you are truly present in the moment and open to connect with her.

Casting beauty spells and performing beauty, love and sex rituals

Simply by focusing on these aspects of your life and using magic to attract, boost or change them for the better, you are going to connect with Aphrodite an let her be part of your journey of discovery, love, and beauty.

Connecting with your femininity

If you feel a bit low and not in tune with your feminine energy, you should take a few steps to reconnect with this important part of yourself, of your life. Spend some time focusing on what you want, live your sexuality from a place of openness and don’t hold yourself back when it comes to love, sex and connecting with your body.

Invite her to your love readings

If you are into divination and you want to ask tarot cards, pendulums, or runes questions about your love life, yourself, or anything else related to your emotional state you can invite her to join the reading so she will be your guide and she will support you during the readings.

Also read:
Elder Futhark Runes for Love [& How to Use Them]
Here’s How to Ask Pendulum Questions About Relationships

How do you honor Aphrodite?

What are Aphrodite’s favorite offerings?

In ancient times, animals were sacrificed in the name of Aphrodite, especially those animals considered sacred to her like doves, sea urchins, tortoises and more. Their sacrifice was used to cleanse and purify temples with their blood but then this practice was abandoned. You can go for other offerings to honor Aphrodite in an easy but also cruelty-free way!

You can offer:

  • Sea water (as she was born there)
  • Sea salt (as it’s linked to the sea)
  • A rose (the symbol of love)
  • A pink quartz (all about feminine energy and love)
  • A shell (as that was her very first home, like the womb of a mother)
  • A beauty or love sigil or a sigil dedicated to her
  • An image of those animals sacred to her

Prayer for Aphrodite

“Sweet Aphrodite,
Goddess of beauty, love and all things beautiful
Let your light shine on me
Let your beauty coming alive into me
I want to become one with you
I want to let my true feminine energy spread all over
So be it.”

What are Aphrodite’s symbols?

Aphrodite’s tree is myrtle; her birds are a pigeon, a swan, and a sparrow. She is always accompanied by the three Graces, Aglea (Slendore), Efrosine (Mirto) and Talia (Good humor), who are the personifications of charm and beauty in nature and human life.

Best books about Aphrodite

Aphrodite: The Origins and History of the Greek Goddess of Love by Andrew Scott and Charles River Editors

You can buy it on Amazon US and Amazon UK

To know it all about Aphrodite and her story and myth, this is the book you need to read. It’s a great journey to explore ancient traditions, scripts and legends behind the goddess of beauty.

Pagan Portals – Aphrodite: Encountering the Goddess of Love & Beauty & Initiation by Irisanya Moon

You can buy it on Amazon US and Amazon UK

This book is very interesting to full immerse into all the way we know to connect with Aphrodite and get started with some craft to honor her and celebrate her in the name of beauty, love and passion.

Venus and Aphrodite: A Biography of Desire by Bettany Hughes

You can buy it on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Bettany Hughes wants to share with us the deep connection between these two ancient fascinating myths, Venus and Aphrodite. She explores these myths from the very beginning to the modern days for a complete excursus about these icons.

My favorite ritual with Aphrodite

This Aphrodite ritual is amazing to connect with your beauty and practice some self-love to connect with Aphrodite and her energy.

Ingredients

  • Kajal
  • Mirror

The kajal makes the gaze magnetic. You will need the mirror to look yourself in the eye once you have your makeup on.

How to perform it

Draw a line on the upper eyelid and then below the eye. You will thus be able to look into the focus of your own gaze.

Looking into the eyes of those in front of you and losing yourself in their gaze, letting you go completely, is a gesture of such power that it cannot help but make you think about how easy it is to fall in love with someone’s eyes. However, we are not usually inclined to do so.

We are not used to truly meeting the eyes of others. Our eyes always escape.

Meeting the eyes of another person, of a child, of a man, of a woman, causes a very strong inner movement. Look yourself in the eye. How does it make you feel?

When you look into your eyes, you recognize yourself and the fire inside you lights up. The passion that lives in you is revived.

Your inner presence is reactivated.

Your eye becomes magnetic because it rediscovers itself alive.

Take a few seconds to put the kajal around the eyes.

Get the mirror.

Turn on music that creates the right atmosphere for this profound encounter with yourself.

Now fix your gaze on the beauty of your eyes.

Looking at you will let you know who you really are and you will discover amazing things.

This very powerful ritual will allow you to know and recognize your sacred beauty.

You will not be ashamed of it anymore. You will be aware of this and this will give you great joy and a strong sense of satisfaction. You will lose yourself in the beauty of the colors of the iris, in the small but intense chromatic differences, in the reflections of color, in the shades in an iridescent whole.

Lose yourself in the beauty of your eyes. Lose yourself in your beauty. Take your time.

Then slowly come back here. Now say out loud:

Aphrodite let my beauty shine. I am ready. I am open. I become one with you.

Also read:
7 Powerful Beauty Spells That Actually Work [Made For Everyone]

Aphrodite artwork

Often Aphrodite is displayed while in a shell into the sea as it was her throne. The sea is all around her and her beauty is undeniable. She is surrounded by flying white doves, a symbol of peace and purity and her body is wrapped in a see-through tunic.

By: Danielle Nicole

In classic artworks, she was displayed together with other female deities, 3 goddesses, who were there as a representation of the human values we need to rely on to live a happy positive life.

If you want to attract love and beauty into your life don’t forget I can help you with my spellcasting service!

Dawn’s Thoughts on Aphrodite

Aphrodite is the ancient Greek Goddess of love, beauty, sexual ecstasy, consuming passion of all sorts, fertility, the marriage bed, romantic love, protective love, desire, and vengeance for lovers scorned or deceived.

At her simplest, Aphrodite is the Greek Goddess of love, physical beauty, desire, sexual rapture, and fertility. She is also a sea Goddess, and patroness of sailors, a war Goddess, and the Goddess of all passions, not just lustful ones. She had important cults in Crete, Cyprus, Corinth, and Sicily and was generally worshiped throughout much of Greece. The center of her cult was Cythera and her priestesses offered their favors to the faithful as a form of communion with the Goddess.

She is also credited with starting the Trojan War by encouraging the affair between Helen and Paris and she is said to have participated actively on the side of Troy, even sustaining a wound in battle.

Aphrodite is often depicted as being selfish and vain, but she also loves fiercely and protectively. To scorn her gifts means eventual punishment and she will often respond to aid in the revenge of a woman scorned.

But the passion of Aphrodite isn’t limited to the realm of love and passion as the common man thinks of it. It’s significant that the two most long-term lovers of the Goddess of Passion are Hephaestus, God of Invention and Ares, God of War.

The Birth of Aphrodite

According to the Hesiod’s Theogony, Cronus, son of Gaia and Uranus, castrated his father and threw his genitals into the sea. Aphrodite then rose from the sea foam near Paphos. In this version, she was attended by Eros and Himeros when she stepped forth from the sea, but other stories say she was their mother.

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According to Homer’s Iliad, Aphrodite was the child of Zeus and Dione. (However, Dione means “Goddess” and could have referred to any divine female entity. In fact, Aphrodite was often referred to herself as Dione.)

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Other stories say she is the daughter of Thalassa and Zeus.

Plato decided she was two Goddesses: Urania, daughter of Uranus, the Goddess of pure love, and Pandemos, daughter of Zeus and Dione, Goddess of “common” love.

Lovers and Offspring

She was married to Hephaestus (though he’d rather have been with Athene) as Zeus feared this great beauty if left single would be the cause of strife on Olympus, but she bore him no children. In fact, she didn’t seem very interested in him at all though he adored her and showered her with gifts, including a girdle that made the wearer irresistible to men.

To Ares, God of War, she bore Harmonia, Deimos, and Phobos. In some stories, she also bore Eros, Himeros, and Anteros to Him, but other stories say that Eros existed before any of the other Gods save Gaia Herself and Chaos. Hephaestus once forged an unbreakable net of chains to catch her in bed with Ares and brought the other Gods together to mock them, but they just envied Ares! He wasn’t going to release them, but Poseidon talked him into it.

By Hermes, she bore Hermaphroditus, Eunomia, Peitho, Rhodos, and Tyche.

To Dionysus, she bore the Charites; Aglaea, Euphrosyne and Thalia, Hymenaios, and Priapus.

After she bragged that she was the most powerful of the Gods because she had caused them all to chase mortals and she herself had never done so, Zeus caused her to fall in love with the shepherd Anchises and to him she bore the Trojan hero Aeneas, an ancestor of Rome.

She also loved Adonis (translates to “My Lord”) with the same ferocity bordering on madness that she had inspired in his mother, Myrrha (or Smyrna), for his grandfather and father, Theias. In fact, he was perhaps her greatest love.

To Adonis, she bore Beroe, but Adonis was gored by a bull (or boar) while out hunting, even though she had warned him not to go. She flew to his rescue, but too late, she arrived just in time to hear his dying breath. Persephone also adored this handsome boy and would not give in to Aphrodite’s pleas to return him from the underworld. Zeus intervened and ordered each Goddess to have him for half the year.

Women in Byblos would ceremonially mourn Adonis at harvest time (?) and (according to James Frazier whose scholarship is admittedly questionable) a spring ritual consisted of casting a figure of Adonis into the ocean as a sacrifice symbolic of that of the plants that would be harvested for food.

Aphrodite also bore Eryx to the mortal Butes.

Accolades

Acidalia, Anadyomene (She who emerges), Cytherea, Despina, Kypris, Pandemos, Urania

Associations

She has been associated with Ishtar, Astarte, Hathor, Turan, and Venus.

The energy of Aphrodite is the fire, the passion, the spark that is the beginning of all mortal creation. It is every passion, every worldly obsession, everything that we pursue thoughtlessly and tirelessly until it is gained, achieved or completed.

It is not just the desire for the touch of another human, but also the desire to create the finest piece of art, the passion behind the concerto, the drive that makes a dream come true.

Every new thing that comes into existence, whether it be a new baby, human or animal, or a fantastic new invention or a brilliant new idea, begins with the spark of desire that is Aphrodite- And it is the ferocity of passion fueled by this desire that also makes her a War Goddess.

Symbols

  • Scepter, 
  • dolphins, 
  • doves, 
  • swans, 
  • sparrows, 
  • pomegranates, 
  • apples
  • myrtle, 
  • rose,
  • lime trees.

Festivals

The Festival Aphrodesia was celebrated in February throughout Greece, especially in Athens and Corinth.

It was celebrated by the sacrifice of doves, dancing and athletic games. Women may also have cut off their hair as a sacrifice to Aphrodite.

About
Tina Caro

Tina Caro is a witch with more than 10 years of experience, a yogi, an astrologer, and a passionate supporter of all things holistic! She’s also an owner of the website Magickal Spot where she discusses a variety of her favorite topics.

Magickal Spot has helped thousands of readers worldwide, and she’s personally worked with hundreds of clients and helped them manifest desires to have a happier and more abundant life.

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