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Posted Under Paganism & Witchcraft

5 Lessons About Self-Love from Aphrodite

Aphrodite in Her Grotto

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.

  1. Your Reflection Is Your Ally
    Aphrodite is commonly depicted in art with a mirror in her hand. Some historians believe it wasn't about vanity, and instead, it's more about her being able to recognize the transcendent beauty within, or that which is beyond the surface.

    To practice this, look at your reflection as if you're seeing a magical spirit or a beloved friend or family member. Try to anticipate looking at your reflection and enjoying what you'll see. This magical act can spark so much compassion and self-love no matter what condition you're in because you show up as love to yourself.

  2. You Are Sovereign
    Aphrodite is in charge of herself. No one else holds sway over her. She doesn't obey any of the other gods or goddesses. Her myths show her as an independent being, both in her actions and her words. Even when she is married to Hephaestus, she beds Ares. She decided whom she would love and when, and she did as she pleased.

    While that example may conflict with your ethics and agreements, there's a deeper meaning to the myth: autonomy is important. All too often, we give our power away to other people. While I don't advocate breaking promises, you can practice being in your power and doing what feels right for you.

  3. Enjoy Yourself
    Aphrodite wants us to find pleasure and joy in all kinds of things. One of her epithets (or names) was Philomides, the lover of smiles and laughter. This makes it clear that she's more complex than just a goddess of love and sex, as some people believe. Think about what makes you laugh. Who makes you smile? What gives you pleasure? Seek these experiences out and enjoy them with as much gusto as possible. Savor every bite in a dish of ice cream. Take a moment to watch the sparkling sunlight on the surface of a lake. Enjoy the earthy feeling of dancing to your favorite music. Smell a flower and find pleasure in the bloom and the fragrance.

    Try to find Aphrodite's expansive love every day. The more you take pleasure in life, the more you'll find her, even when you aren't looking for her. After practicing this for a while, you'll build a reserve of this pleasurable energy within you and carry it with you wherever you go.

  4. Loving Yourself May Help You Find External Love
    Self-love teaches us that we are lovable. When we give and receive deep love from ourselves, we learn to receive it from others. Recently, a couple told me their story about attending my Self-Love Ritual with Aphrodite at Starwood. They had both been at the festival for a few days when they attended the ritual. They had likely passed by each other several times; however, it wasn't until after the ritual that they first saw one another. They discovered that they had been in the same circles for decades, but they had never met. Apparently, it wasn't time for them to meet yet! It wasn't until they chose to love themselves unconditionally, as they were, that they found a deep, unconditional love outside of themselves.

  5. You Can Always Regain Your Lost Power
    Your power is never lost forever. We may not have control over everything in our lives, and we might find ourselves experiencing moments of powerlessness. However, what was lost can be recovered. Whenever Aphrodite wanted to regain her power and autonomy, she bathed in the waters where she was born. The sea water cleansed her, made her whole again, and gave her the strength to do whatever she wanted.

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.

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About Astrea Taylor

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 and Intuitive Witchcraft. She has a bachelor’s degree in science from ...

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