Virtually no other goddess brings to mind the feminine qualities of love and beauty like Aphrodite. She is a Greek goddess who is actually a later incarnation of the Great Mother, goddess of fertility, and all that is. She is an archetype harkening back to Neolithic times and beyond.
All of the little rounded mother goddess figures that are dug up in Europe and Asia are called Venuses, such as the Venus of Willendorf, the Venus of Lespugue, Venus of Dolni, etc. That is because they all represent this most ancient form of the sacred feminine, the Great Goddess. Venus is her more modern Roman counterpart, but does not hold the deep connection to love for earth and all its creatures, the association with the full moon and fertility, that the Great Mother does.
The word “Aphrodite” means born from the sea foam, the ocean, or womb of the Great Mother. She is said to have come ashore near the island of Cyprus. Some say Aphrodite came from the stars, but her myth always describes her as rising out of the ocean or stepping foot onto land from the sea. And in this way we can see how she might be seen to give birth to herself, just as we can give birth to ourselves by seeing ourselves in a new way.
There are several artist images showing her looking into the mirror. This underlines the theme of the goddess reflecting ourselves. As we see the goddess of love and beauty in the form of Aphrodite, we see our own love and beauty and all its possibilities reflected back to us.
Perhaps by seeing ourselves in this way, through the lens of the divine feminine, with new eyes, so to speak, we are reborn in beautiful, feminine form in our own eyes, loving every part of ourselves. Where we once saw flaws and imperfections, we now see we are just right. There is a quote by the actress, Alfrie Woodard, that speaks to this. She said, “ Everybody has a part of their body that she doesn’t like, but I’ve stopped complaining about mine because I don’t want to critique nature’s handiwork...My job is simply to allow the light to shine out of the masterpiece.”
We must learn to love ourselves. We must learn to accept our messy lives, our mistakes, our bumps and lumps, our doubts and fears, so that we can transform them with love. Aphrodite is said to be an alchemical goddess, due to her abilities to change us from the inside out. When we can love our own imperfections, we can love another’s, bringing about more tolerance and acceptance, important ingredients in the alchemy of love. When we stop judging ourselves, we will stop judging others. When we no longer feel the need to criticize ourselves, we will no longer feel the need to criticize others.
Aphrodite shows us the way by allowing us to see that every form of beauty has its flaws and that perfection is an illusion, a soul-killing exercise in futility. If we accept, even love our flaws, our quirks, our “perfect imperfections,” we redefine beauty by including ourselves, our humanness, in the definition.
So we must learn radical self-care. We must learn to love ourselves first for only then are we able to love another wholly and completely. That doesn’t mean we become selfish narcissists. It means we start with us. When we fill ourselves with love, it overflows onto others. Too many of us as women walk around empty, depleted, always giving, giving, giving to others, and forgetting to give to ourselves. We’ve forgotten to fill the well. And we must start with feeling deserving. That’s where Aphrodite comes in.
While there are many ways to look at Aphrodite as an archetype, I choose to see her as a Great Mother goddess, who can help us learn to love ourselves, to see our own beauty, and to take better care of ourselves. Every good mother believes her child deserves love. Aphrodite sure believed she deserved to have love and pleasure and she saw to it that others did, too. We need to make a practice of this. That is why I created a new chapter on Aphrodite: to provide suggestions and ideas for bringing out more of our sensual nature, to find ourselves through creativity, to learn to engage with life more, and ultimately to love and care for ourselves.