Instead of honoring the various Christian martyrs named St. Valentine on this date, and the accompanying undercurrent of love as doom, that permeates Western culture, I propose that we celebrate what we REALLY want this day to be about: the divine, the human, the erotic, joyful, triumphant realms of Love!
Therefore, as in years past, I hereby reclaim this holiday in the Name of beautiful Aphrodite!
Often known as “The Golden One,” She is worshiped with gifts and ornaments of gold, which, like Her eternal youth and beauty, never tarnishes. Doves and lovebirds are also often associated with Her because of their gentle natures. She is a Goddess of flowers, as well.
There are many incarnations of this Goddess of Love and Physical Beauty. Her power transcends culture and time. She is known as “Aphrodite Marina,” “Maiden of the Sea,” “Aphrodite Urania,” and simply the “Goddess of Love.” Her Roman identity is Venus.
Although one of the most widely recognized of the Greek Goddesses, She almost certainly did not originate in Greece, but was a Mother Goddess that came from the sea traders of the eastern Mediterranean. Some scholars believe that Aphrodite is a version of the older Goddess, Astarte.
However, of the Triple Goddess aspects, She is not generally thought of as a Mother Goddess (although she bore many children), but embodies the Maiden Goddess. Bear in mind that the Maiden is not usually an untouched virgin, but instead, is free of ties to marriage or relationship, and is not dependent on a lover or husband for Her power, identity, or security.
Aphrodite is well known for her love affairs, which were numerous, fertile, and rather spectacular. Her most notable lovers were the Gods Aries, Dionysius, Hermes, Poseidon, and the mortal, Adonis.
Although Aphrodite is beautiful, and beloved by all the Gods and Goddesses of Olympus (no small feat in itself!), She is no wimp. She is very serious about honoring the gifts of love and sexuality, and can be harsh against those who thwart the natural flow in all living beings. To punish Glaucus for refusing to let his mares breed, She caused the mares to throw him from his chariot during a race, after which they ate him. She does not mess around!
As coach and inspirational teacher Vered Neta points out, “Aphrodite’s abilities were not simply a tool for creating petty loves. They were in fact a real instrument of power, which could affect all beings.”
She writes, “Aphrodite shows and teaches us how powerful our love can be. She can be a role model for us, that beyond anything else, love can become a powerful force in our lives and not some weak element as we see it in today’s songs and culture, where being in love is losing our power.”
When love is allowed to flow freely from our hearts, desire and sexuality are no longer confused with powerlessness, sin, violence or shame. Sadly, this is not yet the case in our culture.
But it can be! Instead of a day filled with popular culture’s underlying messages of loneliness, grief, failure, conflicted sexuality, and lack of fulfillment, let us instead celebrate the more natural, rightful gifts of powerful Aphrodite, Whose mission is to exalt the loving desires of both mortal and immortal alike.
Let us rejoice as we obey Her demands — that we fully honor as good and blessed the erotic forces within ourselves and all of life.