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Mighty Myth Month: All you need is Love. And a clamshell. And some cherubs. And a stylist.

Goddess of Love: Aphrodite
Goddess of Love: Aphrodite

Aphrodite (Greek) or Venus (Roman) is the goddess of love. But…not the personification of ‘motherly’ love, or the “I ‘heart’ (fill in the blank) love” but lovey-love. K-I-S-S-I-N-G SITTING IN A TREE kind of love. Aphrodite (aff-fro-dye-tee) is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. She is made from sea foam and lip gloss. She embodies beauty, romantic love, and the epitome of femininity.

Well, she IS all that and a bag of chips, girlfriend. If she was characterized by a modern representation, not just any vapid female celebrity with a toy-sized dog in her purse would suffice. Those would just be wannabes. The real Venuses are very powerful in their allure, appeal, and knee-buckling abilities on mortal men.

In mythology, she is married to Hephaistos, the lame blacksmith of the gods, but it’s a marriage of convenience, not of love. She cheats on her lumpy little husband constantly with the likes of Ares, she starts the Trojan War, and is a mean mother-in-law. She is one who of the original evil “mother” figures, apples and all.

Once upon a time, around 1250 BC, toward the end of the Bronze Age in Greece, three goddesses were having an argument (said the Greeks). The goddesses Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera were arguing about which one of them was the most beautiful. They agreed to choose a human man and let him decide. More or less at random, the goddesses picked Paris, the youngest son of King Priam of Troy, to be their judge.

Each of the goddesses offered Paris a bribe to get him to vote for her. Athena offered him wisdom. Hera offered him power. But Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman in the world, and Paris voted for her.

What would one expect if a young man is given those items for choices? Of course he’s going to think with his heart, and not his brain! Paris, that punk, didn’t want power or smarts–he wants the girl! Duh! Aphrodite is no slouch–she knew exactly what she was doing.

And if starting the Trojan War wasn’t bad enough, she is really not a very nice person. A young girl named Psyche (psyche means ‘soul’) is so beautiful, so enchanting, the people in her father’s kingdom stop paying homage to Aphrodite/Venus, and start worshipping her. Venus is so angry, she sends her son, Eros (Cupid) to hurt her. Well, he falls in love with Psyche. Mumsy is most displeased. Curses, threats, and a lot of damage happens before the dysfunctional family is repaired. However, this tale gave us the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” “Snow White,” and other tales of love with the motif of ‘mistaken identity’ or ‘proof of trust and faith.’ Oh, and there might be a worm in that apple.

Psyche! Just sneeking a peek...

From these deities we get the words: aphrodisiac (love potions), erotic, and cupidity, and others.

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Fire good. (Or Saturn, Snow White, and Baby New Year share a Yule Log.)

Feeling mighty low...
Feeling mighty low...

I have a hemispheric bias. I understand my northern hemisphere, its traditions, and its quirks. We northerners personify the dark days.When I see an image of Chronos/Saturn using one of his children as a midnight snack, it’s a metaphoric munchie , and innately I understand its cultural roots and the darkness of December–it’s time eating our lives.

It is near logical to me that people, in their complete and “advanced darkness” (thanks, Spongebob) would make finding out when the darkest day of the year would be a really…big…deal. Time to cut down some evergreen branches and put another log on the fire. Heck, sacrifice a young maiden if you need to, it’s dark! We want light! Sun, come back! Come back, sun!! I can set my Stonehenge to it.

And how do I connect Saturn to Snow White? When the Queen, with one tenuous hold on her youth and beauty, all due to the subjective whims of a rhyming mirror, decides that the ebony-haired beauty, with nary a grey hair or wrinkle,  is encroaching on her territory, well, then, Snow’s heart is the price she must pay! What is it with older folks symbolically ‘eating’ the young? Hey, dude, I can buy an i-Pod too – so what if I break a hip trying to dance to it?

Enter Baby New Year. Crackling. Colicky. Cranky. Abandoned by old man Saturn, this kid grows up all over again on his own, to learn the same lessons, to touch the burning stove again, and stick the proverbial fork in the proverbial light socket repeatedly. No wonder why we never learn anything, really.


Both Chronos/Saturn and the Queen should have a chat, compare notes. Getting older isn’t all that bad, is it? Reminiscing on past triumphs and errors–it’s as someone said: “It all works out okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” I can’t think of a more paradoxically optimistic/pessimistic quote as that one.

The sun will come out tomorrow.

 National Geographic Winter Solstice 2009 Link

The Writer’s Almanac Winter Solstice Link (December 21, 2009)

In the northern hemisphere, today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest night. It’s officially the first day of winter. It’s officially the first day of winter and one of the oldest known holidays in human history. Anthropologists believe that solstice celebrations go back at least 30,000 years, before humans even began farming on a large scale. Many of the most ancient stone structures made by human beings were designed to pinpoint the precise date of the solstice. The stone circles of Stonehenge were arranged to receive the first rays of midwinter sun.

Science World