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Goddess Archetype - Aphrodite

A brief psychological overview of Aphrodite

Aphrodite - possesses an extroverted temperament and focuses on relationship/love--she represents goddess of love (boundless eros) --her primary concerns/interests are mature, adult relationships, romance, sexuality, beauty and the arts. One account of Aphrodite’s birth states that she rose up from the foam on the ocean as a naked and fully developed beautiful woman; and she rode on a scallop shell.


Aphrodite’s origins, in fact, pre-date the ancient Greeks. She is said to be older than Time. An even more ancient deity exhibiting more aspects than love and beauty, she can also be recognized as Astarte or Ishtar. Her origins were Babylonian/Sumerian. Her domain embraced all of nature: vegetable, animal as well as human. Among her powers were associated with fertility and growth/harvesting of crops, war, descent to the underworld, birth/life/love/death and fate. She was also worshiped as sacred ‘prostitute’.


Aphrodite represents the uniting of feminine and masculine energies--through sexual union.


This goddess includes autonomy similar to ‘virgin’ goddesses yet also includes aspects of the ‘vulnerable’ goddess such as relationship-oriented. Her consciousness is both focused--directed, goal-oriented and diffuse--receptive, taking in the relationship between things. Aphrodite does not suffer, however, as did the ‘vulnerable’ goddesses. Although she is known for her numerous sexual liaisons, she is not bound by any man. However, unlike Athena, Artemis and Hestia--‘virgin’ goddesses--Aphrodite did give birth to children. Unlike the ‘vulnerable’ goddesses--Demeter, Persephone and Hera--Aphrodite was never a victim of a man’s unwanted passion for her; the desires were mutual. Unlike her ‘virgin’ sisters, she values emotional experiences with others more than she desires more solitary goals. Although an independent figure in her own right, this independence does not preclude emotional involvement with others. On the other hand, she is not attracted to permanent relational bonds like her ‘vulnerable’ sisters.


Aphrodite type woman admires potently masculine men and their capacity for success and combativeness. Her arena of interaction is in the boudoir or the salon. She feels comfortable with multiple relationships or extramarital affairs. She is attracted to creative men and engages with them as their inspirer. She is said to be attracted to the Son/Lover, as her romantic interests were a generation younger than she--those of the sons of her godly peers.

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The ancient Olympian Goddesses -
a deeper look

Aphrodite - represents the feminine archetype of relationship and love. She is adored for her beauty, her gentle manner and her amorous adventures. She has been experienced by men as fascinatingly exotic, a seductress. Her influence is of civilizing ‘man’kind through her gifts of art, culture, and in particular, her disarming manner of relating. Aphrodite’s divine gift to us is Eros, her divine son, also known as Cupid (Amor). Aphrodite’s gift of loving relationship has the power to melt defenses, leaving her lover disarmed and open--allowing the magic of eros to flow between them.


Mythological history:Most scholars recognize Aphrodite’s ancient ancestors from the Sumerian goddess, Ishtar, circa 3000-1800 B.C.E. much earlier than the Greek myths. In Greek myth, Aphrodite’s father is the ancient Sky God, Uranus, who came before the Greek gods of Olympus. At this period, priestesses served her in temples of love by making love with men as ritual offering. Eros and procreation were considered holy. Any child born to the priestesses in these encounters would belong to the temple of the goddess.


  • Greek mythology accounts that Aphrodite was born from the severed genitals of the Sky Father--an inescapable connection to male sexuality. It was Cronos (Roman god, Saturn--‘Time’) who severed and threw his father’s genitals into the ocean. Although born as a result of a seemingly violent act, white foam spread as sperm and mixing with the sea -- from which Aphrodite emerged--as a fully-grown goddess standing on a scallop shell.
  • Aphrodite’s choices of men for lovers were the second-generation Olympian gods, in other words, the sons of her peers
  • Aphrodite, although she did have one husband, also engaged in numerous love affairs. She had a long-term passionate affair with Ares, God of War, with whom she bore several children. She also had other lovers--gods as well as mortals-- with some of whom she bore children.
  • Aphrodite’s transformative power--Love - transforming the ordinary, the mundane into something beautiful and special through Love.
  • Aphrodite was known to become angry and cast revenge when mortals refused to honor the Goddess of Love or her sacred rites.
  • She appears to have no mother. She is considered older than all the Olympian gods/goddesses.

Today, our culture has lost touch with the mosaic qualities brought by Aphrodite. Obsessed merely with her physical charms, as a culture, the feminine image activates only one aspect this goddess--we are fixated on romance, sexual pleasure, erotic images, pornography, fashion/glamour - as is clearly witnessed in daily life. We have lost touch with Aphrodite’s sacred dimensions.


Psychologically, Aphrodite belongs to the category of ‘virgin’ goddess in that she does not suffer at the hand of any man. Furthermore, although she is relationship-oriented, she possesses the quality of autonomy unlike her ‘vulnerable’ goddess sisters. Her consciousness is both focused and diffuse.

  • To the Romans Aphrodite was known as Venus.
  • Aphrodite woman exhibits an ease of expressing warmth, charm, natural ability to relate with others due to her friendly extraverted interest in people.
  • Aphrodite woman is more interested in relationship, love, and loving than marriage or mothering - less interested in settling down because she sees life as a relational adventure.
  • She can distract a man from his task and direction as a result of her seductive enchantment.
  • Aphrodite woman is attracted to numerous, serial love affairs during her life.
  • She is civilized, sensual - attracted to cocktail parties, clean linen (rather than camping).
  • Social life and social activities/connections are very important to Aphrodite woman.
  • She is comfortable with her body & expressing her sexuality - casual, adventurous attitude toward sex
  • She is connected with sex drive and passion, some Aphrodite women can find themselves with unwanted pregnancies as they react in the passions of the moment.
  • She is keenly sensual, loving all that arouses her senses: perfumes, flowers, clothing that feels good on her skin, beautiful combinations of colors, fine food and drink, caressing touch.
  • Aphrodite woman may learn early in life to place high regard for her ‘lovely mask’ as she repeatedly experiences men’s attraction focused primarily on her outer ‘goods’.
  • Aphrodite types may be drawn to modeling, show business, public relations work, hostessing, cosmetology, the arts, interior or fashion design.
  • Aphrodite types, expressing the more unconscious aspects of this archetype, may fall into affairs with married (often older) men, especially when she is younger.
  • Aphrodite type gives herself up to the intense passion of Love--living fully in and for the moment, despite the price
  • A more keenly developed Aphrodite woman is able to offer a man both erotic as well as intellectual/emotional companionship.
  • Aphrodite woman desires relationship with heart
  • Keenly developed Aphrodite women have the capacity to ‘disarm’ men, teaching them through the powers of Eros, the way to their own heart.
  • Aphrodite women, more keenly developed, have the capacity to bring out a man’s feelings and creativity as well as to expand his capacity for intimate relating.
  • Creative force is a deeper aspect of Aphrodite archetype--promoting a creative force in a woman influencing her involvement in one creative project after another.
  • In later life a mature Aphrodite may be drawn to powerful men (for reasons different from Hera’s). Her gift is that of enhancing their sense of masculinity and in return he provides her entrance, with him, into places of glamorous appeal (the goddess, Aphrodite’s liaison with Ares, the god of war--Venus & Mars in Roman myth).


  • Challenges facing Aphrodite:
    • Her natural instinct of living in the ‘moment’ impedes her considering the consequences of her urges and passions--she may overspend, over indulge, forget about one commitment when wrapped up in the immediacy of another situation
    • Aphrodite types will need to learn balance between emotional priorities and practical considerations.
    • Finding herself, frequently, in the lovers’ triangle as the ‘other woman’
    • The clash between her personal passion for love and sensuality vs. the collective values requiring a woman to be married and settled - a challenge for her naturally polygamous spirit
    • Aphrodite women may buy into the social mores of ‘beauty’ as the only valuable aspect of her gift and subsequently neglect the all-encompassing aspects of her intellectual and emotional gifts of companionship and creative inspiration
    • Our culture has lost all perspective on Aphrodite and her divine gift of Love to humanity.
      • Aphrodite woman’s task is that of bringing civility, refinement and Love into the world around her
      • Regaining her self-respect by regaining access to her body--not as an image of ‘slender’ proportions/perfection (glamour girl), rather as a flesh-and-blood sensual woman of value in her own right--in her ability to connect with heart


  • Aphrodite’s dark side: the seductress, ‘femme fatale’


  • Aphrodite’s wound: Patriarchy, threatened by her ‘power’ over men, have attempted in every way to restrict, confine, label and demote her from her Queenly position. Furthermore, Aphrodite and Demeter were not allowed to co-mingle in the patriarchal order (in other words, whore and wife had to be kept separate). Aphrodite also experiences alienation from the other goddesses.
    • Media exploitation of Aphrodite’s sacred image--and the resulting schizophrenic urges to both deny [censorship] sensual beauty & pleasure while crudely lusting [graphically degrading pornography], alienation from the body, and a deep fear of intimacy [virtual- reality sex on the internet/telephone sex]
    • As a result of advertising, mainstream women feel incapable of ‘measuring up’ to the image of feminine beauty; while men compare the appearance of the available woman in their midst to the suggested glamorized image of beauty sold to them by the media
    • The psychological consequences of denying Aphrodite any real place in the culture lead to: vilifying her image and then substituting the Virgin Mary for worship; replacing the ‘flesh-and-blood’ woman who possesses a body with the worship of a ‘Virgin’ mother, cut off from physical love; paranoia of witches and subsequent, systematic massacring of mature, independent, autonomous women followed, as a result


  • Aphrodite’s gifts:
    • Her ability to be both sexual and a spiritual guide & confidante to her partner; ability to bring civility, refinement and Love into the world arouond her through her value of relationship and deep caring.
    • Her compassionate nature.
    • Her ability to inspire with eros and creativity--ecstatic, mystical gifts of love and pleasure.


  • Aphrodite’s personality
    • As a child & adolescent:
      • Charming, girlishly feminine, innocently coy and flirtatious
      • Unconsciously expressed sensuality apparent to adults
      • Loves being the center of attention, a ‘little ham’
      • Likes playing dress-up, trouncing around in mommy’s high heels, jewelry & scarves
      • Has a boyfriend at school, but differently than Hera, Aphrodite loves the attention
      • As an adolescent she is emerging as sensual, sexually precocious, very social girl
      • Casual attitude toward sex and curiosity about her body
      • She possesses a busy social calendar
      • Dresses sexy and provocatively--instinctively sexual--‘at home’ in her body
      • Young Aphrodite may be attracted to older, more experienced men


    • As an adult woman:
      • Aphrodite expresses qualities of warmth, extroversion, she is relational--bringing people together.
      • She is sensual, at ease in her body and with her sexuality.
      • She loves Love, she loves the masculine aspect, she loves the Arts and things creative.
      • She is attracted to the Warrior archetype (Mars) whose birth is a generation after hers.
      • As a mother she may love to indulge her children, dressing them up, exposing her children to cultural events, giving them treats.


  • Historic females embodying the Aphrodite archetype: Egyptian Cleopatra; screen actresses: Clara Bow; Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna

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