Names: Aphrodite (Greek), Venus (Roman), Inanna (Sumerian), Ishtar (Akkadian), Astarte (West Semitic)
Asteroids: Aphrodite (#1388), Venus (planet), Innanen (#3497), Ishtar (#7088), Astarte (#672)
Mythology: Goddess of fertility, sexuality, love, beauty, pleasure, passion, prosperity, and procreation. Sometimes seen as a warrior goddess (especially ancient versions) and the patron goddess of prostitutes. Wife of the god of fire, blacksmiths and metalworking, Hephaestus. Lover of Ares, Hermes, Adonis, and Dionysus, among others.
Light Expression: Loving and open-hearted. Independent, strong, and savvy. Ability to see the beauty in all things. Natural creativity and artistic talents. Healthy and flowing expression of passion, pleasure, and sensuality. Empowered sexuality. Conscious and responsible use of powers of attraction. Healthy relationship to physical appearance and beauty. Body positive.
Shadow Expression: Marriage without love or passion. Excessive flirtation and infidelity. Repressed sexual nature. Withholding love and/or sex. Insensitive to romantic partners and in matters of the heart. Inability to see beyond appearances. Using powers of attraction to manipulate others. Vain, conceited, and fickle. Fixation on impossible ideals surrounding beauty and physical perfection.
Exploration: Asteroid Aphrodite is named after the Greek goddess of sexuality, love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation (Roman, Venus). In mythology, Aphrodite is born from the sea foam produced by Uranus’ genitals after he is overthrown and castrated by his son, Cronus (Roman, Saturn). In other words, Uranus’ ruling power is stripped from him when his sexual power is “cut off,” and Aphrodite, the goddess of sexuality, is then born from this castration and disempowerment of the reigning male god. According to certain tellings of the myth, Zeus became jealous and suspicious of Aphrodite’s supreme beauty and power of attraction, so he arranged a marriage between her and the notoriously unattractive god of fire, blacksmiths and metalworking, Hephaestus. In Greek mythology, marriage often seemed to be used as a device to prevent a female goddess from becoming too powerful; particularly non-virgin goddesses, who had the power of sex at their disposal. In this way, Aphrodite’s arranged marriage may have been a tactic to prevent her from becoming a threat to Zeus’ reign. Despite her arranged marriage, Aphrodite continued to act as a free agent, and had countless lovers attributed to her, including the god of war, Ares (Mars), among others. She was thus portrayed as vain, for not being sexually attracted to Hephaestus, and her extramarital affairs were used to show her insensitivity, fickleness, and cruelty. Aphrodite ultimately became the poster child for the abuse and misuse of female sexuality and “womanly wiles.”
In other tellings of her myth, Zeus marries Aphrodite off to prevent the gods fighting for her hand and causing a war. Female attraction and sexuality was often considered a root cause of Greek feuds and was therefore painted as dangerous and disruptive to civilization and collective peace when unbridled. Therefore, Zeus arranging a marriage for Aphrodite to a “safe” husband could have been used as a fable to encourage fathers to arrange marriages for their daughters once they reached sexual maturity or began attracting suitors. One myth that highlights the danger of female sexuality is the Judgement of Paris which led to the epic Trojan War. In this myth, a great wedding is being held and all of the deities from Mount Olympus are invited except for Eris, the goddess of strife and discord. In response to her exclusion, Eris tosses a golden apple into the wedding, with the inscription “for the fairest.” This sparks a competition among Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena who all desire to be the fairest, so they bring the matter before Zeus. Not wanting to favor one of the goddesses, Zeus puts the choice into the hands of Paris, a Trojan prince, so the goddesses begin bribing Paris with gifts in order to win him over. Ultimately, Aphrodite promises Paris marriage to the most beautiful woman on earth – Helen (who was already married to King Menelaus of Sparta) – in exchange for the apple, and Paris agrees, thus kicking off a chain of events that sparks the Trojan War. We can see multiples levels of the “danger” of female attractiveness and sexuality through this Greek myth: the competition started by attractiveness, the use of feminine attraction to win the competition, and the prospect of a woman’s hand at the center of the war. With myths like this, it’s certainly not surprising that female attractiveness and sexuality was, and continues to be, seen as such a threat to harmony and order.
It’s also worth noting the goddesses that came before Aphrodite and inspired her cult in ancient Greece: Inanna, Ishtar, and Astarte. These goddesses shared may qualities with Aphrodite, but were often free and unmarried and seen not only as goddesses of love and sexuality, but also as courageous warrior goddesses. In some ways, Aphrodite’s ongoing affair with Ares (Mars), the god of war, hints at these earlier versions. But rather than the concepts of “love” and “war” being fragmented into separate deities (one feminine and one masculine), they were embodied in one supreme goddess. In this way, love and war may have been seen as two sides to the same coin rather than separate and opposite qualities.
In astrology, the attributes associated with Aphrodite’s asteroid(s) are linked to these mythological and historical underpinnings. Those who have her asteroid(s) prominently placed in their birth chart may value beauty, love, pleasure, and physical attractiveness. They may have a refined aesthetic and be highly creative and/or artistic. They could also be inclined to professions that center around beauty, such as fashion, interior design, modeling, fine art, dance, graphic design, photography, or aesthetics. Aphrodite natives may also find that their sexuality is highly important to them. If they are able to express their sexuality in an open and empowered way, these natives have the unique gift of being able to see the supreme beauty of love and procreation and, therefore, the beauty in all living things. If their sexuality is repressed, they may fear their sexual nature and hide their physical attraction away from the world. The repressed Aphrodite archetype may also manipulate or otherwise control their physical appearance, either in an attempt to achieve unrealistic ideals of beauty and attraction OR to prevent others from recognizing their attractiveness out of fear of negative consequences. In either case, repressed Aphrodite can lead to unhealthy body image issues, and may project their distorted fears and ideals onto others. To heal a repressed Aphrodite archetype, sexual embodiment healing modalities can be highly supportive.
To find out if Aphrodite’s myth is prominent in your astrological birth chart and psyche, see if she is making any major aspects (e.g. conjunction or opposition) to your luminaries (e.g. the Sun and Moon), planets (e.g. Venus, Jupiter, etc.), angles (e.g. Ascendent, Midheaven), the Moon’s Nodes, OR to any significant dwarf planets (e.g. Ceres: #1) or asteroids (e.g. Juno: #3) in your natal (birth) chart. It’s also helpful to look at Aphrodite’s sign, house, and other planetary aspects to better understand how she shows up in your personality, subconscious, and life experience. If Aphrodite is not significant in your chart, but you feel liker her myth is prominent for you, try looking up the planet Venus – the Roman version of Aphrodite – to see if it plays a larger part. If not, you may be experiencing Aphrodite, or Venus, by progression, transit (personal or collective), solar arc, or in your solar return chart. Whatever you find astrologically, if you feel Aphrodite’s presence in your life, it’s time to work with her myth, meditate on her light and shadow attributes, and see what she is hoping to awaken in you.
If you would like some guidance and support in understanding the Aphrodite archetype, or other goddess archetypes, in your astrological chart and personal experience, feel free to reach out to me and we can do a goddess astrology reading, mentorship meeting, or archetypal coaching session to further explore her purpose in your life.