Goddess of Love, Goddess of War, Queen of Beauty, Mother to All
We've heard of her in stories of love and war. We've seen her in paintings of beautiful women, naked in the foaming waters. We may have heard her in our hearts when we're lovesick, in the whisper of a rose, the buzz of a bee. But who is Aphrodite? Is she the Goddess of Love and War? Of Lust and Fertility? Is she a mother? A jealous lover? Or is she something more? Something beautiful and dangerous, revered and scorned, ancient and holy.
The Ancient Feminine
One of the oldest Goddesses we have a name for is Inanna, Sumerian Goddess of Love, Sex, and War. In different parts of the fertile crescent she had different names: Ishtar, Astarte, Asherah. Her influence stretched from present day Iraq, Syria, Israel all the way to the island of Cypress, where Aphrodite was said to emerge from the ocean, fully formed.
She was known as the Queen of Heaven, Daughter of the Moon, even the keeper of Lunar mysteries. The ancient feminine principle of this Great Goddess was the core of the ancient spirituality the Sumerians, Anatolians, and Canaanites practiced. This Goddess, Inanna-Ishtar, (later Aphrodite-Venus) was the first known Goddess of the Holy Land.
As the Queen of Heaven and Fertility Goddess, Inanna-Aphrodite was the Great Mother Goddess. She held the creative power of women. Her journey through wild feminine darkness gives her the wisdom to protect and nourish life. She holds the power of creation in her womb.
Keeper of Feminine Wisdom
The patriarchy would like us to think of Venus or Aphrodite as vain, ruled by lust, and jealous of other women. This is because they want us to think that wisdom can only be acquired from their institutions, books, and laws, that it is in poor taste to view yourself as beautiful, and that women are in competition with each other. Dulling down Aphrodite was a part of the most terrible scheme of all to separate our sensuality, pleasure, and beauty from our wisdom, holiness, and love. This split is seen in Lilith and Eve, the Whore and Madonna complex, Mary Magdalene the Prostitute vs. Mary the Mother. It is seen in the severing of our thinking mind from our feeling bodies, holding our rational and "masculine" consciousness above our "feminine" bodies.
Inanna-Aphrodite holds the codes of Feminine Wisdom. She teaches us that true Feminine Wisdom is found in the body. This wisdom is the swirl of our wombs as we move through our menstrual cycles, it is the way our bodies know how to bleed and birth and let go, this wisdom is how we are hard wired to experience happiness, relaxation, and psychedelic awakenings through out yonis, it is our intuition, our love, and the things that turn us on. This wisdom cannot be found in books or studies. It can only be found in women. Innate to our beings, our breath, our blood.
Feminine Wisdom cannot be abolished, replaced, or forgotten. It is woven into our ancestral lineage, protected by the women who remember. This wisdom knows how to alchemize heart break, how to awaken our wombs, and how to find God in our yonis.
The ancient archetype of Inanna-Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, Sex, and War holds the true wisdom of the female body. This is why her priestesses initiated others in the act of sacred sex, why Lilith (wild priestess of Inanna) was exiled, and why the patriarchy tried to tell us these Goddesses were not wise. The institutions of patriarchy cannot exist if all women remember the wisdom of their bodies.
But how do we feel this wisdom? How do we learn this wisdom? How do we know this wisdom? How do we embody this wisdom?
First, we LOVE ourselves.
I mean, deeply, and truly LOVE ourselves. We love ourselves even when old patterns pop up, we love our bodies even when we experience physical or emotional discomfort, we learn to hold ourselves with love, we learn to send love to the parts of ourselves we secretly dislike, until we feel at home in our female bodies. We love ourselves whole.
Wholeness of Womanhood
The concept of wholeness feels close to Aphrodite. As a keeper of Feminine Wisdom, she holds both the Dark and Light Feminine. She is sexy and nurturing, a mother and a lover. Aphrodite in her totality embodies ALL the parts of womanhood. She reminds us that we don't need to separate our eroticism from our divinity, love, or motherhood. I like to think of her as the energy of Ovulation. The Mother, the Lover, and the Queen.
Aphrodite emerged from the ocean as a complete and radiant woman. She didn't grow from being a child, she showed up in the world as a grown woman. The artwork that depicts her often shows her curves and her innate feminine beauty. She is fertile. She embodies the sexiness, the nurturance, and the warrior energy of Ovulation. This is a woman in Her power.
Ovulation is the full moon, the fullness of woman. We are full of vitality and love in Ovulation and when we embody the Aphrodite archetype. Aphrodite holds the sexuality, beauty, and heart opening love that we find in the Ovulatory phase, but she is also a Goddess of War. She serves as a reminder that the Feminine hold a destructive power within them. When we ovulate, our egg bursts forth from our ovary, destroying a little piece of membrane. So even when we are fully in the energy of life, there is destruction within us. Owning your inner darkness and inner light will allow you to come to wholeness within yourself. It makes you accept ALL the parts of yourself: your curves, your bones, your blood, your kindness, your jealousy, your anger, your creativity, your love.
Aphrodite tells us that our wholeness is innate. Womanhood is innate. Your body doesn't need to be changed, cut up, or made smaller. You are whole and complete as a woman exactly as you are. Be soft, seductive, compassionate, and fierce all at the same time. You are an embodied woman. You can be anything, do anything, wear anything, and your wholeness as a woman will remain true.
Aphrodite reminds us that Queens lead troops into battle. She reminds us that Mothers are the greatest warriors of all and that to be a true Lover means fighting for love. Her energy can be harnessed by standing up for what you believe in and by showing up from a place of love and wholeness even in the face of adversity.
Of Love & War
Why are these Goddesses of Love also the Goddesses of War? Is it because they knew to truly love is to be a warrior? That you have to be brave to love? That choosing love in your heart, over everything else is, perhaps, the bravest thing you can do? That to love something is to fight for it?
Is it because they revered the female form? Women who bleed without death. Warriors incarnate. When Aphrodite took her first steps on land roses bloomed on Earth like drops of blood on the ground. Inanna journeyed through the Seven Gates of the (Womb) Underworld to become Queen of Heaven. These are Goddesses of woman's body. Of the cycles of the womb, the heaven and hell, the life and death that exist inside our bodies.
Perhaps they are Goddesses of War because they are protectors of women, of the female body. Because they knew that we would need warriors on our side in this fight against the patriarchal oppression of the female body.
Perhaps to incarnate as a woman is to incarnate as a warrior, as a rebel, as a Goddess.
We have the prayers of Inanna-Aphrodite in our bodies. Our bodies are the prayer and the answers to our prayers. The keepers of our wholeness, our womanhood, our wisdom.
We move through the world as the embodiments of love, eroticism, power, and the divine.
We move from our hearts, our wombs, our yonis.
And we too walk our Earth as Goddesses of Love and War.
Aphrodite is a nourished woman. She nourishes her beauty, her body, her sexuality, and her divinity. (She is a Goddess, after all!) Being a Goddess of Love and War, being able to consistently rise up as an embodied woman, means that you need to nourish yourself first. At a first look, nourishment might look like what you're eating and how much exercise and sleep you're getting. But true nourishment goes far deeper. True female nourishment comes from time with other women, a deep connection to our sensuality, listening to our bodies and their cyclical rhythms, and honoring the power of our sexuality.
Join me this September in Nourished, an intimate group mentorship container for women. We will go deep into full body nourishment for the female body and soul, explore sacred sexuality and tantra, do practices to increase the pleasure and safety in your body, and come together in sisterhood to empower ourselves and each other.