Posts Tagged ‘Venus’

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Dawn’s Light

January 16, 2010

Her name flows
Like honey or wine
From the lips of
Lovers and babes alike.

Her call hums
Through the veins
Of humans everywhere,
Men, women and children.

Her dance asks
To be freed from
The confines of the skin;
To live and love as if alive.

Her name spills now
From the eager throats
Of her doves, and is echoed
In dawn’s light by all that lives.

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Twin Gods

November 30, 2009

Crisp autumn leaves drift down, flowing through the
Winter-tinted streams of silvery air.
Hares, lovers’ gifts, lift their heads and dart out
Across fields, leaving the lightest snow-tracks.

The twin gods, life and death, walk hand-in-hand.

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The Songs of Bilitis: III. Epigrams in the Isle of Cyprus

November 26, 2009

Hymn to Astarte

Mother inexhaustible and incorruptible, creatures, born the first, engendered by thyself and by thyself conceived, issue of thyself alone and seeking joy within thyself, Astarte!

Oh! perpetually fertilized, virgin and nurse of all that is, chaste and lascivious, pure and revelling, ineffable, nocturnal, sweet, breather of fire, foam of the sea!

Thou who accordest grace in secret, thou who unitest, thou who lovest, thou who seizest with furious desire the multiplied races of savage beasts and couplest the sexes in the wood.

Oh, irresistible Astarte! hear me, take me, possess me, oh, Moon! and thirteen times each year draw from my womb the sweet libation of my blood!

The Sea of Kypris

I had crouched on the edge of the highest promontory. The sea was black as a field of violets. And the Milky Way was gushing from the great supernal breast.

About me a thousand Maenads slept in the torn-up flowers. Long grasses mingled with their flowing hair. And now the sun was born from the eastern waters.

These the same waves and these the self-same shores that saw one day the white body of Aphrodite rising. . . I suddenly hid my eyes in my hands.

For I had seen the water trembling with a thousand little lips of light: the pure sex, or it may have been the smile of Kypris Philommeïdes.

The Priestesses of Astarte

Astarte’s priestesses engage in love at the rising of the moon; then they arise and bathe themselves in a great basin with a silver rim.

With crook’d fingers they comb their tangled locks, and their purple-tinted hands twined in their jet-black curls are like so many coral-branches in a dark and running sea.

They never pluck their deltas, for the goddess’s triangle marks their bellies as a temple; but they tint themselves with paint-brush, and heavily scent themselves.

Astarte’s priestesses engage in love at the setting of the moon, then in a tent where bums a high gold lamp they stretch themselves at random.

The Mysteries

In the thrice mysterious hall where men have never entered, we have fêted you, Astarte of the Night. Mother of the World, Well-Spring of the life of all the Gods!

I shall reveal a portion of the rite, but no more of it than is permissible. About a crowned Phallos, a hundred-twenty women swayed and cried. The initiates were dressed as men, the others in the split tunic.

The fumes of perfumes and the smoke of torches floated fog-like in and out among us all. I wept my scorching tears. All, at the feet of Berbeia, we threw ourselves, extended on our backs.

Then, when the Religious Act was consummated, and when into the Holy Triangle the purpled phallos had been plunged anew, the mysteries began; but I shall say no more.

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Aphrodite and Mirrors

October 12, 2009

Over the years, many people have thought that the connection between Aphrodite and mirrors is the goddess’ due to pride – or, worse, to vanity. This has simultaneously evolved with the impression of her as a weak, fragile god who has no desire that is not sexual in nature. The mirror becomes, under this impression, merely a way in which she can satisfy her need to witness her beauty. However, this idea creates far too human an impression of something divine, otherworldly—it creates human explanations for the actions of the gods, as though expecting the gods to abide by our moral rules of conduct. The gods, though, do not abide by our rules: they abide by their own social order, something that is at once incredibly alien and familiar to us.

The mirror is an often-seen attribute of Aphrodite; it is as linked to her as Dionysos’ wine or Zeus’ thunderbolts. The mirror is a key part in unlocking exactly who Aphrodite is – as the myths told in Ancient Greece are oftentimes man-made, even if they may be divinely inspired.

The astrological symbol for the planet Venus—named for the Roman’s goddess of love, Venus, who was often identified with the Greek Aphrodite—is the same symbol as that used for the biological female: a circle with a small cross beneath. In alchemy, the Venus symbol also stands for the metal copper, and this provides an interesting link between copper, females and mirrors – in antiquity, polished copper or bronze was used in mirrors. The Venus symbol is also thought to represent the very mirror of Venus or Aphrodite: therefore the connection between Aphrodite and mirrors becomes ever more pronounced.

In times both modern and ancient, the mirror is implicitly connected to beauty and the imagination – all of which are connected to Aphrodite. The Roman writer Apuleius makes the connection between Venus-Aphrodite and mirrors: ‘Bands of Tritoni sported here and there on the waters, one softly blowing on his echoing shell, another fending off with silk parasol the heat of the hostile sun, a third holding a mirror before his mistress’s face, while others, yoked in pairs to her chariot, swam below.’ (Apuleius, The Golden Ass 4.31.) Here both the Triton-drawn chariot and silk parasol have symbolic connections – the first identifying her as a goddess intimately linked to the sea, who can control the sometimes-vicious Tritoni, and the second linking her to the delicacy of love, which blossoms or fades beneath her influence, here shown as the ‘hostile sun.’

Further symbolism of the mirror shows a connection to secrets—both the hiding and revealing of them, as linking to Aphrodite’s epithets Kythereia (as ‘she has keuthomenon [love hidden] within herself’ – Suidas s.v. Kythereia) and Kypris (as ‘she furnishes kuoporis [pregnancy]’ – Suidas s.v. Kypris)—and, as such, to the intense, secret-shattering aspects of light. This links back to the planet Venus, which in Ancient Greece was ruled by two gods, one of which was named Eôsphoros (bringer of dawn) or Phôsphoros (bringer of light); identifying Aphrodite’s sacred planet, Venus, as a bringer of light. This, in turn, is further confirmed by her epithets Dia (divine, shining) and Khryseê (golden).

The mirror also, in turn, symbolises revelation and truth: the mirror often shows the face, and the eyes, as shown in the painting Venus At Her Mirror or Rokeby Venus of Venus-Aphrodite by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez, in which the goddess gazes into the mirror with only her face revealed. The eyes, in turn, are the paths to truth: they are the “window to the soul”, or, ever-more interestingly, the “mirror of the soul.” Aphrodite, in gazing into the mirror, is therefore not merely enjoying the sight of her own beauty, but is acknowledging the truth of all that resides within her – for, as Aphrodite Ourania, she is that which keeps together the entire kosmos and continues the survival of all.

In conclusion, then, Aphrodite’s mirror is not merely a symbol of pride or vanity, but rather of the truth of survival – sometimes harsh, sometimes gentle. It symbolises the truth of the human body, the imagination of humans and gods, and the nature and prolonged existence of all that there is and ever was.

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The Nature of Deimos and Phobos

October 6, 2009

It is human nature to be fascinated by that which horrifies and repulses us. We watch films and television programs for their graphic scenes – the mangled bodies, the dead children and the utter madness. When we drive past a horrific car crash, we slow down to see the destruction. Some among us enjoy watching animals chew off their own body-parts in order to escape the traps we set for no reason but to sate our sadistic amusements. The majority of us will, at one time or another, have hurt somebody, stolen something, lied to somebody – and some among us have even killed somebody. We are, due to our very natures, sinful creatures; and that is all that sets us apart from the ‘lower’ animals. They do not sin, or set out to sin. We try to strive for virtue, and in the process we get exactly the opposite.

This is the nature of Deimos and Phobos, the gods of terror and panic, respectively. They are the sons of Aphrodite, the Olympian goddess of love, beauty, sensuality, pleasure, feminity and women, and Ares, the Olympian god of courage, battle, war, blood, masculinity and men. Deimos and Phobos inspire the blurring of their parents’ domains – they are the pleasure derived in pain, the love of war, and the stirring and spilling of blood.

In his Dionysiaca, Nonnus describes a scene in which Aphrodite and her Erotes—the winged gods of love in all its forms—, accompanied by Deimos and Phobos, sack a city. The scene is spine-tingling: Aphrodite is usually described as a soft, gentle, smiling goddess, rather than a goddess of war, and thus to see her in the company of such ‘awful’ gods as Deimos and Phobos is unnerving. “Kypris [Aphrodite] wore a gleaming helmet, when Peitho shook a brazen spear and turned into Pallas Athena to stand by Minor in the fray . . . when the bridal swarm of unwarlike Erotes shot their arrows in battle; I know how tender Pothos sacked a city, when the Kydonian trumpet blared against Nisos of Megara and his people, when brazen Ares shrank back for very shame, when he saw his Phobos and his Deimos supporting the Erotes, when he beheld Aphrodite holding the buckler and Pothos casting the lance, while daintyrobe Eros wrought a fairhair victory against the fighting men in arms.” (Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25.150ff.) This scene further blurs the line between Love and War; and, interestingly, it is not Aphrodite who is shamed to see the fighting, but Ares. This suggests that while Ares’ warfare has little to do with love—and therefore he is shamed by the war for such—Deimos and Phobos care not for the cause, but only for the outcome: war, war, war.

Aeschylus describes how war-oaths are sworn not by Athene, or by the usual gods of oaths—Styx and Horkos—but by Ares, Enyo (Ares’ sister and the goddess of war) and Phobos: “Seven warriors, fierce regiment-commanders, slaughtered a bull over a black shield, and then touching the bull’s gore with their hands they swore an oath by Ares, by Enyo and by Phobos who delights in blood, that either they will level the city and sack the Kadmeans’ town by force, or will in death smear this soil with their blood.” (Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 41ff.) This passage hints at how warriors viewed Phobos, at least – as a god that you want on your side, rather than as on your enemy’s team.

The Roman author Valerius Flaccus, in the Argonautica, also deeply identifies Aphrodite’s (Venus’) crueller aspects with the nature of her son Phobos (Fear): “Venus herself whirling a pine-torch in spires of flame piles gloom on gloom and girt for the fray sweeps down to quivering Lemnos; storm, lightning and peals are her escort from heaven; the pomp of her father’s thunder lends her glory. Then through the terror-stricken air again and again she makes a strange cry ring, whereat all Athos first did shudder, and then the sea and the wide Thracian mere, aye, and every mother in her bed; and children at the breast grew chilled. Straightway Fear and insensate Strife from her Getic lair, dark-browed Anger with pale cheeks, Treachery, Frenzy and towering above the rest Death, her cruel hands bared, come hastening up at the first sound of the Martian consort’s pealing voice that gave the signal.”(Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2.200ff.)

A passage in Hesiod’s Theogony identifies Deimos and Phobos as gods of disorder, of chaos: “Also Kytherea [Aphrodite] bare to Ares the shield-piercer Phobos and Deimos, terrible gods who drive in disorder the close ranks of men in numbing war, with the help of Ares, sacker of towns.” (Hesiod, Theogony 933ff.) This, then, leads on to furthering their link to their mother, Aphrodite – as a goddess of the human body and of beauty, she is also goddess of the chaos of expression—particularly in art—and, also, she is furthered as a ‘chaos-god’ by her very nature as a goddess of love: for what is love if not chaotic?

As gods of war, terror, panic, fear and chaos—and representing the fear of losing war, or of losing someone in war, by their nature as sons of Aphrodite and Ares—Deimos and Phobos become more than mere sons and attendants of Ares; they become terrifying in their own right. And yet they do not strike without need – they are both merciless and merciful, for the myths do not speak of their attacking without reason. They exist in the chaos of humanity – in the beating of the heart; in the blood streaming through veins and, when spilled, over skin; and in the madness of the human mind. They bring about the fascination with the awful, with the hideous. They are the patrons of ‘circus freaks’, as well as warriors and fear-inspiring fighters; they are the gods of disfigurement and the revulsion it can cause; they are the gods of horror, of fear, and of everything you’ve ever wished does not exist.

But if they are treated well, and shown proper respect, they are not necessarily awful. Their natures do not change, but their aims may – and if Deimos and Phobos stand beside you, in any and every matter, then they are not standing against you. If they are against you, then they are the voice in the back of your mind, stirring in delicious terror over the consequences your actions may be; if they are beside you, they lend their strength unto you to do what you must, regardless of how selfish your reasons might be.

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Aphrodite-Ananke and Creation

September 27, 2009

When you hear the name ‘Aphrodite,’ it is highly likely that you immediately understand who it is one is speaking of – after all, Aphrodite (and the Roman goddess that she was identified with, Venus) is a popular figure even outside of Hellenic Polytheistic circles. However, unless you have delved quite deeply into the Greek mythologies, it is unlikely that you will know who ‘Ananke’ is. She is not a mainstream goddess; she is not Olympian nor an attendant of such, but rather she is one of the gods—the Protogenos or primeval gods—who are principally responsible for the creation of the cosmos and everything within it.

Simply put, Ananke is the god of compulsion, necessity and inevitability. She was born the sister-mate of the Protogenos Khronos, king of time—who is deeply identified with Aion, the Protogenos lord of eternity—and from their embrace Phanes first begun. Phanes, the primeval god of creation and generation, equated with Hesiod’s Elder Eros and the more well-known (and oft-called ‘younger’) Eros, god of love and the son of Aphrodite.

In my personal view of How The Kosmos Came To Be—based on a mix of classical sources—in the beginning, and for unknowable eons, all that existed was Khaos; the deep mists of the void. Khaos existed, and nothing else: she did not breathe, she did not think, she did not live. And yet stirring in her misty womb—perhaps over hundreds of thousands of years; perhaps for even longer—were the Protogenos gods Ananke and Khronos-Aion. Nature, of course, abhors a vacuum; and so it was the eternal pull of inevitability that pulsed together in the barely-there body of Khaos until, finally, the moment arose and Ananke and Khronos-Aion were born, tangled together.

From Khronos-Aion and Ananke’s violent, and yet utterly sexless, embrace, Phanes’ egg was produced; it grew in Ananke’s womb until the time came for it to emerge. And yet there was, truly, no way for the egg to emerge: there was yet no Phanes, no Protogenos pull to reproduce – and so they could not, did not, reproduce. It was only when Phanes hatched from his egg, deep in Ananke’s body, that they became truly, sexually formed: and at that moment, Ananke was torn apart by the immense pressure of generation, life, sex – the immense pressure that was Phanes. Thus, now, Ananke’s divinity rested with Khronos’ still, but she was utterly formless—more so, even, than Khaos.

Phanes’ arrival—his necessary arrival—into the kosmos kicked everything into action. The other Protogenos offspring that had been stirring within Khaos were instantly born – Erebos, Nyx, Tartaros and Gaia; darkness, night, the stormy pit beneath the earth and the earth itself, respectively. Phanes pulsed, everywhere: the Protogenos gods crashed together and life exploded in the far-reaching darkness of the kosmos.

Gaia, with only Phanes’ massively sexual influence and no tangible partner, produced children such as Ouranos, the heavens, whom shortly thereafter became the father, with Gaia, of the twelve Titanes. The Titanes were led by Kronos, god of destructive time, and the bi-gendered god Agdistis, who would later be castrated and become the goddess Rhea-Kybele. However, not all was as perfectly peaceful as it may sound: and the first war between the gods was not long in arriving.

After the Titanes’ births, Ouranos and Gaia continued to come together—he descended nightly to lie with her—and they produced more children, the Hekatonkheires (six hundred-handed and fifty-headed gigantes). The Hekatonkheires were so awful and terrifying to look upon that, after the birth of the first, Ouranos took it upon himself to force each back into Gaia’s womb. This caused her immense pain, and she eventually went to her Titane sons to ask them for their help. Only Kronos agreed to help.

Kronos, as is rather well known, ambushed Ouranos as he descended to lie with Gaia, and castrated him. The severed genitals of the god landed in the sea, mixing with Thalassa’s Protogenos sea-womb – and Aphrodite began to take shape. Over the course of the hundreds of years during which Aphrodite was formed, Agdistis became Rhea-Kybele, Rhea and Kronos’ Olympian children were born, Kronos swallowed all of the Olympians but Zeus, and Zeus, when old and powerful enough, waged war with the Titanes and won the reign of the kosmos.

As such, this time was not yet right for Aphrodite: the Moirai spun the threads of violence, hate and pain, and there was then no opening for a god such as Aphrodite who encompassed both spectrums of emotions and bodily states; the good (such as love, piety and friendship) and the awful (war, torture and death). And as she was growing—slowly and steadily, in the womb of deep Thalassa—the divine essence of Ananke remained torn apart. That essence resonated with Aphrodite’s own: for both are gods of compulsion, of necessity, of want and need and inevitability, and both longed for completion – Aphrodite for the wars to cease and to be born, lovely and whole, and Ananke to return to her mate Khronos-Aion, who continued to turn the heavens without her.

It was inevitable, in and of itself, that Ananke’s loose divinity would be attracted to Aphrodite’s. They drew steadily closer—Ananke filtered through Thalassa’s womb and delighted in the contact with a fellow yearning divine—until, in a burst of what truly could only be described as fate, their essences merged together. Ananke ceased to exist; Aphrodite alone never truly existed. They became one: Aphrodite-Ananke, the Protogenos, Titane and even Olympian goddess of the necessity of procreation, the compulsion of love, and the inevitability of beauty in a world created by such gods as these.

The war between the Olympians and the Titanes ended shortly after, and the time came for Aphrodite-Ananke to, slowly, be born. At this time, Phanes’ influence was still everywhere, pushing at anything and everything to create, create, create; and it was here that ‘Aphrodite’ and ‘Eros’ first met, as she was being born and he was there to urge her on (and yet he was her own child: for he was the son of Ananke and Khronos, and her essence was now so wound with Ananke’s that it would have been impossible—truly, truly impossible—to separate them; they had totally become one).

From the very first, Aphrodite-Ananke and Phanes connected. As the resonance between Aphrodite and Ananke had occurred, it occurred now between Phanes and Aphrodite-Ananke – but the end result was much different. Instead of their essences merging, Phanes wrapped himself around the child-goddess and all but suffocated her in his embrace. From this, a seed of divinity flickered in Aphrodite-Ananke’s womb—a connection—and Phanes poured his entire divinity into Aphrodite-Ananke in a tidal wave that shook the childhood from her essence and brought about, simultaneously, the rapid development of the child, or rather the children, within her womb.

She gave birth to Phanes immediately: he was now born again as Phanes-Eros, Phanes-Himeros and Phanes-Pothos – the gods of love, desire and passion. By the time that she finally reached the shore of Cyprus, Zeus immediately met her and ordered that she join the Olympian gods, perhaps recognising the Protogenos stir in her eyes and smiles, and she, in turn, asked Nerites to join her. He refused, and refused again the wings she would offer him, and the first instance of her wrath against a wrongdoer of love occurred; she turned him into a shellfish, and gave the wings to her Erotes, instead.

And, thus, Aphrodite-Ananke became known as simply Aphrodite, and her sons not as Phanes-Eros, Phanes-Himeros and Phanes-Pothos, but simply Eros, Himeros and Pothos. It is these words that even I most commonly use, due to ease, but the deity I refer to each time is the same: ‘Aphrodite’ is the mixture of the essences of Aphrodite and Ananke; ‘Eros’ is Phanes reborn as Eros; ‘Himeros’ is, likewise, Phanes-Himeros; and, finally, ‘Pothos’ is Phanes-Pothos.

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Aphrodite: Goddess of Death

August 25, 2009

Aphrodite is perhaps best described as a goddess of life, for she presides over so many aspects of it. She is not just love, or beauty, or sex, or women: she is all of those things and many more besides. She is at once removed from humanity—Aphrodite Ourania, ‘heavenly,’ the goddess who mixes the cosmos with a golden smile—and utterly tied together with it – Aphrodite Pandemos, ‘lover of all people,’ the goddess who is often portrayed as nothing more than a divine prostitute.

But she is more than that, too. She is the mother of all of the loves; including Eros, who is both one of the oldest gods and the force of Creation, and the bittersweet boy-god who delights in playing with the hearts of others. One would not be wrong to call her a goddess of love, but she is beyond just that. She is not a simple daimona, with just a single thing in her domain; she is an Olympian goddess who has control over the heavens, the earth and the sea – and even the Underworld.

At first glance, it isn’t easy to see how Aphrodite is linked to death. She is a goddess who makes bodies warm and hearts beat, who fuses together atoms and breathes life into the lungs of babes. But as she is a goddess of life, so she is a goddess of death.

Mourning—pining for one who is cold and dead and no longer in your arms—falls into her domain. And, thus, she is a goddess of mourning; and of despair and suicide. She is that which drives lovers together; and she is the all-consuming rage that drives one to crimes of passion. She is not cold and dead like the shades, but she does not need to be. She ties them to the Underworld and keeps their smoky, hazy selves in vaguely human form. She is often the root of their death, and she is that which causes their loved ones to sob and rage at their funerals.

She is a goddess, then, of the transition between life and death. She could be adequately described as a goddess of passion—after all, love and hate are barely different; it is apathy that is the true opposite of them, and thus it is apathy that she has no control over—but still, that is not all she is.

Pausanias, in his Description of Greece, describes a temple in Mantineia as dedicated to Aphrodite Symmakhia; ‘ally (in love).’ He also describes a temple in Argos, that is dedicated to Aphrodite as ‘the bringer of victory’, or Nikêphoros. In Sparta, he describes a temple of Aphrodite Areia, ‘warlike.’ Korinthos has a temple of Aphrodite Hôplismenê ‘armed,’ and a temple of Aphrodite Melainis, or ‘the black.’

She is described as having Ares, the Olympian god of War, as a consort. What they have in common, one can infer, is that both are gods of passion. His is darker, hers brighter – or so some would think. But love causes as much death as war; and patriotism, or the all-consuming love of one’s country, which drives so many to the battlefields, falls under her domain. She is the mother of Deimos and Phobos—the gods of terror and panic, respectively—as well as Harmonia, the goddess of harmony in both love and war. Thus Aphrodite gains connotations as a goddess of war; she is a goddess of the passion of the battlefield, of mourning the dead and, also, of survival.

Hyginus, in his Fabulae, identifies Aphrodite with the Roman goddess Venus; the Souda identifies her with the Syrian Astarte; Herodotus, in his Histories, identifies her with the Assyrian Mylitta, the Persian Mitra, the Skythian Argimpasa and, finally, with the Egyptian Hathor. Other writers too draw comparisons between Aphrodite and these foreign goddesses; and she has also been associated with the Norse Freyja, the Armenian Anaitis and the Armenian Astghik.

Venus is associated principally with love, beauty and fertility; also motherhood and domesticity. She is identified with the Roman Cloacina, goddess of sewers and sexual intercourse in marriage; with the Etruscan Turan, goddess of love and vitality (who is constantly paired with her young lover Atunis—or Adonis) as well as egg-laying birds; with the Roman Murcia, goddess of sloth; with the Roman Libitina, goddess of death, corpses and funerals; with the Assyrian and Babylonian Ishtar, the goddess of sexuality, fertility, love, war and sex; and, finally, with the Sumerian Inanna, goddess of sexual love, fertility, childbirth, rain and storms.

Astarte is the goddess of fertility, sexuality and war. She is associated with Juno, the Roman equivalent of the Greek Hera; with the Syrian Atargatis, goddess of generation, fertility, useful applications, the protection of water, the earth, destiny and social and religious life; and with the Phoenician Tanit, a virginal lunar-goddess of war, the heavens, mothers, nurses and fertility.

Mylitta, or Ninlil, is the goddess of the air, the south wind and mothers. Mitra is the goddess of treaties, agreements, promises, oaths and alliance, of fortified city walls, borders and contract, of piety and friendship, of the sun and light. Argimpasa is the goddess of fire, water, love, fury, fertility and the seasons. Anaitis is the goddess of fertility, maidens, wisdom and healing. Astghik is the goddess of fertility, love, the light of the sky, love, maidenly beauty, water sources, springs and the moon; and she has been identified with the Assyrian/Babylonian Ishtar.

Hathor is the goddess of feminine love, motherhood, joy, the dead, music, dance, foreign lands, fertility, childbirth, beauty, eternity, life, inebriety, women, wives, mothers, the sky and nature. She is associated with the Egyptian Bat, goddess of the cosmos, and the Egyptian Sekhmet, protector of pharaohs and goddess of hunters, deserts, war, dread, the sun, death, destruction, disease, healing and blood.

Freyja is the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, childbirth, jewellery, treasure and the seasons; and she is also associated with war, death, prophecy, magic and wealth. She is identified with the Norse goddesses Frigg (goddess of prophecy, women, marriage, love and childbirth) and Gefjun (goddess of ploughing, virginity, fertility, prosperity and happiness) and the seer Gullveig.

Aphrodite, then, is a goddess of love and hate, of life and death, of sex and war, of creation and procreation, of marriage and prostitution, of beauty and of pleasure; and that is merely under the name of ‘Aphrodite’. When you take into account her identifications with foreign deities, she becomes the goddess of love, hate, life, death, sex, beauty, fertility, war, pleasure, dance, childbirth, treasure, the seasons, prophecy, wealth, magic, women, marriage, virginity, the earth’s fertility, happiness, music, eternity, and so on.

She is a goddess of the earth, as Aphrodite Pandemos (lover of all people); she is a goddess of the sky, as Aphrodite Ourania (divine); she is a goddess of the sea, as Aphrodite Aphrogenês (foam-born); and she is a goddess of the Underworld, as Aphrodite Tumborukhos (gravedigger). She is a goddess of the night or darkness—as Aphrodite Skotia (dark)—and, also, a goddess of the day or light, as Aphrodite Khryseê (golden). She is a goddess of love and of war—she is Aphrodite Pandemos and Aphrodite Androphonos (killer of men).

It is impossible—and impractical—to consider Aphrodite in just a single light, either as a goddess of life or death. In order to fully comprehend who Aphrodite is, you have to understand that she is a goddess of balance, of blurring, but definite, lines. She is a goddess who hides her true, dark face behind the mask that humankind has created for her – but she is still that goddess. She is still Aphrodite, and that is all that one truly needs to know.