Aphrodite Anaduomenê is an oft-forgotten aspect of this wonderful goddess. It is not an aspect that is hostile to the interpretation of her as borne of Zeus and Dione, too—it exists separately from the question of her parentage, curving away from such questions with all the speed and skill of the winged divine.
The sea has always represented mystery. It is the Unknown – even more than our sprawling fields or city streets at night, when the amber light of the streetlights or of the lanterns held high can stave away the darkness. The sea cannot be pushed back, cannot be made anything other than well and truly Other. It ebbs and flows, rising and falling—it can crash down in a tangle of shimmering fury, or it can lap languidly against the shore.
Does this not describe Aphrodite, too? Even removed from her oceanic aspects, one cannot deny that this description also fits the goddess of beauty, love, sex and human nature. She might sun herself in summer-light with the Kharites, but she also dances in the winter months with the Erinyes. She is often shown, in art both Ancient and modern, without clothes; suggesting at her open nature, at her willingness to Reveal herself to all whom ask. But so many look only at the surface—at the beauty of the skin—that they do not look beyond, to the mysteries concealed in her veins and behind her smiling eyes.
Aphrodite Anaduomenê, rising from the sea, is the goddess of the otherworldly Unknown. She is a tantalising link between this world—that which is known and can be both experienced and perceived by the human senses—and the world of the gods, which is beyond our limited mortal perception. She, as well as few of her fellows (such as Hermes, the lord of the liminal spaces), represent the Journey, both between this world and the gods’, and in one’s own life.
In life, you cannot know everything that will happen – just as we can only ever guess at what truly occurs within the ocean. Even with our machines and all our modernity, we can never know what truly lurks at the depths of All That There Is. To find out that would be to discover the forgotten Links, to unearth the true depths of human consciousness and to reveal the shadows that linger in every mortal soul.
She rises from the sea to bring this knowledge in her wake. To open oneself to the ecstatic mysteries of Aphrodite is to open oneself to those of Life itself. Beauty, grace and pleasure are masks she wears, and so are grief, pain and loss. One must accept and even embrace each of Aphrodite’s masks to understand the depths of this ancient, sea-rising goddess—and she rises from the sea, the mystery of the Unknown, to help facilitate just this in her suppliants.