I first came to know Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, by accident. Several years ago, at a pagan witch charity auction, I bid on a statue of Gaia, the Greek goddess of the earth. Although I couldn't see the statue clearly from my seat, my intuition told me I needed it to further my spiritual practice. I was thrilled to cast the winning bid.
When I received the statue, I turned it over in my hands, confused. The lithe figure covered in vines didn't look like Gaia at all (at least, not to me). The feminine figure was seductive and light on her feet compared to the peaceful, heavy energy I associated with Gaia. The statue looked more like Aphrodite.
For a moment, I wondered why my intuition had told me to bid on it. However, I put that to rest. I knew from experience that my intuition was usually accurate even if things weren't immediately clear.
I didn't know much about Aphrodite, so I researched. I read articles written by modern devotees, and I read books about her myth and culture. The more I read, the more I found to love. Aphrodite is an ancient goddess that predates the Greek pantheon. Most scholars believe she's a combination of Ishtar, Astarte, and a Cyprian goddess. She's generally associated with love, beauty, sensuality, sexuality, sovereignty, and sometimes war. In more recent years, she has been increasingly associated with self-love and body positivity.
I'll never forget what happened the first time I called upon Aphrodite in a ritual. After a few months of study, I said her name, and immediately, I felt a burst of unconditional love strike my heart. It receded, only to be followed by another swell of love that was even greater than the first. And then another. Waves of love emanated from my west altar, where Aphrodite's statue stood smiling at me. The sensations were as palpable as if I were standing neck-high on a beach with real waves crashing into my chest. The force pushed me back onto the couch, where I sat stunned for several minutes as I accepted this immense gift.
It would be an understatement to say that the experience surprised me. I had rarely felt that kind of energy from a deity, even from those I had called upon for several years. My experience was so powerful that I repeated it and refined it. Eventually, I offered a version of it at festivals, which I call the Self-Love Ritual with Aphrodite.
I've learned a lot about self-love from her after offering this ritual at numerous locations and continuing to engage with her. This article has the most important lessons about self-love that I've learned from her. They come from myths, art, correspondences, historical cultural practices, and my experiences leading the Self-Love Ritual.
I hope this article inspired you to bring more self-love into your life. Aphrodite is a generous goddess, and she loves everyone.
If you're interested in learning more about Aphrodite, check out my new book Modern Witchcraft with the Greek Gods, which I co-wrote with Jason Mankey. It has stories about her mythology, cultural history, origins, and evolutions. I wrote several magical practices you can do with her, including a variation of the Self-Love Ritual with Aphrodite that you can do in the privacy of your home. There are also two passages from modern devotees of her. For more information, check out the book here.
Astrea Taylor is an eclectic pagan witch with over two and a half decades of experience in the witching world. She's the author of Air Magic, Intuitive Witchcraft, Inspiring Creativity Through Magick, and co-author of Modern ...