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Climbing Olympus: Aphrodite

September 14, 2011

 

Aphrodite

Identity: Olympian Goddess of Love

Descriptive archetype: Beautiful, fair-haired, seductive woman.

Nature: Extrovert

Polarity emphasis: Anima

Symbols: A girdle or sash. A dove.

The Greek Myth

Although Homer describes Aphrodite as the daughter of Zeus and Dione, the more popular view was that she was conceived in the foam of the ocean from the seed of Uranus dropped therein at the time of his castration. She was the classical beautiful woman, fair-haired, blue-eyed, and voluptuous; Jung’s ‘Eve’, the archetypal temptress and sex symbol, capable of arousing passionate desires in anyone in whom it pleased her to do so.

With the exception of Athene, Artemis and Hestia, all gods, heroes and mortals yielded to her power, although occasionally she received a dose of her own medicine, as with the Anchises episode in which, as a punishment for distracting his divine mind, Zeus caused the goddess to fall blindly in love with a moral man, the shepherd Anchises. After a blissful night spent together Aphrodite appeared to Anchises in all her divine splendour. Being fully aware that any man who has lain with an immortal goddess would be stricken with premature old age, the shepherd was filled with terror. But Aphrodite reassured him and promised him a godlike son, asking him only that the name of the child’s mother should never be revealed.

Aphrodite also possessed practical domestic skills, but it was decreed on Olympus that she should not make use of them as her talents were better employed in the arts of love!  The goddess of love had her own retinue, Eros and the Graces. The former was said to be her son, possibly by her husband Hephaestus, or by Ares, or even by Zeus. General opinion, however, tends to view Eros as epitomizing the erotic principle.

The Graces, who were three in number, were portrayed as beautiful young women who served the goddess, attending to her toilette and adorning her for special occasions. Aphrodite’s most famous attribute was her girdle.

Upright Meanings

Sensuality. Generosity. Passion. Pure love. Partnerships and deep relationships of all kinds. Protection against force. Sacrificial love. Theatricality. Warmth. Friendliness.

Reversed Meanings

Unbridled passion. Personal gratification of sexual desires without consideration for others. Exhibitionism. Exploitation of sex or the emotions for personal gain or specific ends. Sychophancy.

[Extract from Olympus: An experiment in self-discovery by Murry Hope, The Aquarian Press 1991]

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