This is an encore post from past years with a few pertinent updates. In the name of blessed Aphrodite, let us reclaim this day of love in the true spirit of celebration, honoring the divine gift of all love. All pleasure. Consensual unions only, of every kind. Warmest merriments and blessings to you! ~ Beth
Do you not see how mighty is the Goddess Aphrodite?
She sows and gives that love from which all we upon this earth are born.
~ Empedocles ca. 490-430 BCE
Felicitations and good wishes to all, on this most ancient day of Love!
Yes, I know. The over-culture calls it Valentine’s Day. But you see, I’ve been campaigning to reconsider whether we really want to align this day with a bunch of obscure martyred Christian priests named St. Valentine.
Instead of a day that is steeped in our culture’s fascination with death, consumerism, conflicted sexuality, and tragic love, I prefer to celebrate the gifts of powerful Aphrodite, whose focus is on the life-affirming joy, sanctity, and pleasure of the erotic.
The Parentalia, an eight-day Roman festival honoring dead ancestors, was celebrated at this time. All temples were closed, no marriages took place, and government officials did not show their rank. People visited the graves of their parents and other relatives, bringing offerings of milk, wine, honey, oil, and spring water.
Sunset tonight is the time that would have begun the portion of the Parentalia called the Lupercal. This is a day of fertility dedicated to Juno-Lupa, the Goddess in the guise of Mother She-wolf. Women’s pleas for children were granted by Her, which may be be linked to the origins of Valentine’s Day.
The custom of sending love notes may have originated from the practice of casting lots to draw the names of partners during these celebrations. (Later the Church tried to abolish this practice, suggesting that the names of saints be substituted, but unsurprisingly, it did not catch on).
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), according to some interpretations of the Celtic calendar, today is also the holy day when Arianrhod was ordered to step over the magical truth-discerning wand of Her uncle, Math, to prove Her virginity.
Some Neo-Pagans also celebrate this day as the wedding between Danu, Mother of the Land and Cernnunos, God of Nature and the cycles of Life.
History of the Love Goddess
There are many incarnations of this great Olympian Goddess of pleasure, joy, beauty, love, and procreation. 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 probably did not originate in Greece, but was originally an aspect of the 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.
Of course, Aphrodite is well known for Her love affairs, which were numerous and rather spectacular, and resulted in many offspring, including Her son, Eros. Her most notable lovers were the Gods Ares, Dionysius, Hermes, Poseidon, and the mortal, Adonis.
However, She was not generally thought of as a Mother Goddess by the Greeks. Instead, She was a very important representative of the Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess.
Remember, though, that the Maiden is not usually an untouched virgin, and Venus Aphrodite is an obvious example. Instead, this term refers to the fact that She is free of ties to marriage or relationship, and is not dependent on a lover or husband for Her power, identity, or security.
The Golden One
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. Moral of the story: do not trifle with Aphrodite!
Often known as “The Golden One,” She is worshiped with gifts and ornaments of gold, which, like Her eternal youth and beauty, never tarnish. Doves, snow geese, and lovebirds are also often associated with Her because of their gentle natures. She is a Goddess of flowers, as well.
The echoes of this day for honoring love and the choosing of partners have remained in folk customs and celebrations for thousands of years now, such as those in the Middle Ages, when people believed that birds chose their mates on this day.
In honor of the marriage of the birds, and for the favor of Aphrodite, you might wish to set out special treats for the birds on this day. Or join the annual, international Great Backyard Bird Count. Of course, any other ways you may wish to celebrate this day are only limited to your imagination!
Thou Art Love
Today especially, rejecting the grim subtexts of the Valentine martyrs, and instead, embracing the messages of mighty Aphrodite, I ask you join me in the One Billion Rising revolution.
Like most women, I have endured the bigotry and profanity heaped on girls and women, considered normal and acceptable in our society.
Like one out of every three women around the globe, I, too, have suffered gender violence and rape. In other words, one billion women and girls treated with hatred and violence because of our sex.
In the name of Aphrodite, I say this:
Women’s bodies are holy. Our bodies belong only to us. We are not commodities. Our sexuality is a divine gift and we share it only when and with whom we please.
We are sacred and the entrenched culture of tolerance for violence, misogyny, intimidation, and exploitation must change.
Are you listening, fellas?
I suggest that we fight back, not by fighting, but by obeying Aphrodite’s directive that we recognize as good and blessed the erotic forces within ourselves and all of life.
Strut your stuff, whatever your gender may be, and be glad of your sacred sexuality!
Live as if the Love in you matters; for all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals. Blessings on Aphrodite’s Day.