Honey–the flower essence produced by bees from plants–was also consecrated to the goddess of love, and according to Ovid was an aphrodisiac. Aphrodite loved not only the flowers’ scents, but also their resinous incense. … Ancient sources reveal that the goddess of love was especially fond of myrtle, Chinese cinnamon, oriental frankincense, rockrose (resin of the shrub Cistus ladaniferus), myrrh, wild rose, madonna lily (Lilium candidum), and the mellifluous anise. Ancient priestesses were bedecked with scented flowers, and fragrance gardens planted at their sanctuaries. Incense burned continually at their altars. Those who visited their holy abodes strolled through an intoxicating atmosphere of scents and fragrances, a “sweet Aphrodisian breeze”–perfumes are the stuff of enchantment. Fragrances were viewed as the natural message of the great goddess of love. Just as a flower sends forth its scent into the summer air, the perfume of Her Vulva was considered the “sweetest” fragrance in the entire Universe.–Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling, The Encyclopedia of Aphrodisiacs.
Aphrodite Antheia, Aphrodite of the Flowers, Queen of the Summer Season that is now slowly but surely fading here in New England. Fading? Yet some of Her flowers still have special colors to reveal to those with eyes to see and a heart to cherish.
Many of Her names and attributes are recounted by poet Geoffrey Grigson in one of my favorite volumes, The Goddess of Love (1976). Her irresistible Power is Sovereign of that implacable force through which every species that lives upon the bosom of Earth is perpetuated. Her dance, as Her incomparable feet move fleetingly over waves and graves, is the dance of Ecstasy, Terror, Knowledge, Revelation, and Oblivion.
Aphrodite Peitho, She Who Persuades. Aphrodite Epistophia, She Who Moves Our Hearts. Aphrodite Psithyros, She Who Whispers the secrets a lover longs to hear from the lips of the courted beloved. Aphrodite Philommeides, Lover of Laughter (or Lover of Hard-ons, depending upon the spelling). Immortally seductive Aphrodite Parakyptousa: Aphrodite the Side-Glancer, sloe-eyed and saucy. Aphrodite Baiotis, of the bewitching little ears that are like the shells tumbling merrily ashore in the foam of the Cypriote surf. Aphrodite Kallipygos, She of the Sublime Derriere. And Aphrodite Machinitis, the Schemer, the Contriver. None may elude Her Net.
Aphrodite Nympha, of the Bridal Bower. Aphrodite Thalamon, Queen of the wedding suite. Aphrodite Charidotes, Bringer of the Supreme Joy which lovers share at the moment of climax. Aphrodite Hetaira, Paragon among Courtesans.
Aphrodite Androphonos, Slayer of Men, for what is love’s fruit but the little death. Aphrodite Paregoros, the Comfortess. Aphrodite Ambologera, who forestalls old age with Her Splendour.
Aphrodite Akraia, of the High Place, for there was a Shrine to Her that looked out over plunging cliffs to the wine-dark sea that crashed against black rocks far below. The rocks churned the raging sea into aquamarine strangeness. High, very High, in the exaltation She brings to every fibre of our being. That is the special gift of Aphrodite. Her hot flames burn away all pretense. Her ravishing breath brings even the haughty to that low place where Wisdom may be found.
Kythereia, in the salt tang of the breeze born bracingly over your holy waves, again and again I recall the Splendour with which you adorn my heart and the feasting with which you anoint my loins. Aphrodite, sweet Goddess, may your blessings be bestowed upon all who read my words and rejoice at the renewed Mystery of Your Beauty. Evoe!