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Being Aphrodite

Aphrodite Uranus

Hesiod associates her birth with the very act of the creation of the world itself. It happened when Uranus (Heaven) and his wife Gaia (Earth) split up. Uranus refused to allow his children to emerge into the light, and thus furious Gaia conspired with her son Cronus and one night whilst she was embracing Uranus, Cronus sprang up and castrated his dad, and threw his genitals into the sea. Heaven and Earth were now separated and the world was created in the space between them.

His genitals began to gather a white foam, and over time this foam mix grew into a maiden. A maiden (as Botticelli famously painted her) standing naked, on a giant scallop shell, being helped along by the gentle breezes of the Zephyrs to the shores of her birth place; the enchanting place of majestic rocks, rising white cliffs and turquoise waters that we know today as Petra Tou Romiou. There, the “Horai” were waiting for her … dancing and singing … praising and adorning her with golden robes and sparkling jewels… preparing her for Mount Olympus where she was to meet the gods for the first time.

“Aphro” means foam, and hence she was named Aphrodite. Through the creation story she was distinguished as goddess of pure and spiritual love, Aphrodite Urania. It is said that she fertilized the earth… wherever she stepped, flowers and grass sprang up and the air smelled as sweet as spring… Today one indeed sees how the island is touched her spirit of gentleness, beauty and love. The wings of a dove, the poppies, myrtle and the fragrant rose: these are all sacred to the goddess.

Particularly from January and peaking in May; one can truly feel the aura of “the green island” as it was known in the past. On the way from ‘her rock” towards the direction of Paphos, the carpets of greenery and the spring flowers provide for a convenient setting as one arrives at the turn to Kouklia village… The village once called Paphos… and home to one of the most celebrated temples of the ancient world… The Temple of Aphrodite.

Aphrodite Pandemon

In Homer’s Iliad, Aphrodite was born from the union of Zeus with the Titan goddess Dione. This incarnation is referred to as Aphrodite Pandemos and is associated with physical satisfaction. it is said that she inspired the first man and woman to desire each other… and procreate so that humanity would continue to exist.

Well, imagine her arrival at Olympos, imagine Angelina… (or Paris Hilton, whoever is more your style) stepping out of the shower and into your board room in seriously sheer lingerie, then multiply that feeling by a hundred times and realise that she isn’t an actress and you aren’t dreaming, rather she is a love goddess that was born to tantalize your deepest fantasies and your every desire. When she arrived all the gods were up (on their feet, that is). The gods were stunned at her beauty and all of them wanted her. Zeus could sense the trouble knocking on heaven’s door… and quickly married her off to the least likely… his son, the god of craft…Hephaestus (meaning volcano).

Hephaestus was so happy that he wove for his new wife a golden girdle (belt) which made her even more irresistible (imagine that). He was so ugly that when he was born his own mother (Hera) threw him off Olympus. Well, she wasn’t happy with the arranged marriage to an ugly cripple, besides, he also used to work late! It is no wonder it wasn’t long before she had an affair, with none other, than his brother Ares, the God of war. One day Helios (the Sun) saw the lovers in bed and told Hephaestus; who eventually trapped them in the act. He called all the gods to humiliate them. Of course, all the male gods were there! (After all, what an opportunity to see her naked).

The Fertility Goddess

Indeed there is much to be said about “The Blonde goddess of love who indulges in her amorous whims”… for this is how she was described in mythology…. but her existence depicts a far more significant goddess; a sacred and ancient-old divinity whose origins are linked to the worshipping of the powers of life itself… her presence is evident in Cyprus long before she arrived as Aphrodite… The love Goddess is depicted throughout antiquity… she has evolved and bares her testimony in many different forms, legends, places and names.

“Lemba Lady” is 5000 years old; She is a semi-squatting (possibly birth giving) female with broad hips and arms outstretched. She is one of a number of female figurines carved in stone that were found at the archeological sites of Kissonerga and Lemba, in Paphos. Images more than likely testifying to a maternal and reproductive goddess who is linked to the earth… an earth goddess… of procreation, birth and fertility. Today one can immerse oneself into those times, at the recreated Chalcolithic village of Lemba,

Through time and domination of Cyprus we find her cult at several of the kingdoms of Cyprus; as the Egyptian Hathor, the Assyro-Babylonian Ishtar, and the Syro-Palestinian Astarte. Astarte, for example, who was worshipped by the Phoenicians at her sanctuary in Kition in Larnaca, reflected the peaceful Phoenician society in which she was the heart of the community. The people referred to her simply as “Our Lady”.  Cypriots now turned to flat, plank-shaped terra-cotta images of females with incised facial features and geometric decoration, many with pierced ears, headdresses and necklaces. We begin to see a more indulgent goddess. Most archaeologists agree that the deity Aphrodite originated as Ishtar, the goddess of sexuality from the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia. Her legend eventually wove its way westward into Syria and Palestine, where she was known as Astarte, and then, with the arrival of the Greeks in Cyprus in 1200 BC, as Aphrodite.

The Greeks believed their gods to be a lot like humans, able to have children, have feelings, and live their lives the way humans did everyday. The “all new and improved” gods of Olympia had finally arrived in Cyprus. They were always shown with beautiful and powerful human bodies; each god was in charge of a different aspect of life. They were heroic, wise, loving and also represented essential crafts. Many temples were built in their honour. Each city was usually a patron to a particular god and ceremonies were performed and gifts were distributed to their shrines. Her Images from the Archaic and early Classical periods (800-300 BC) are clothed and formal. From the fourth century BC the nude was finally introduced, expressing the female form, her beauty, her grace and her sexuality…

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