Hello everyone, I hope the New Moon was sweet to you. It was some heavy energy, for sure, but I kind of just laid a bit low and rode it out. I do love a nice New Moon ritual and big intentions, but I was very literally called to basically sit this one out and keep it low-key. And so I did, and it was nice. But I’m feeling energized and energetic which is usually so unlike me around the New Moon, so I guess the rest paid off, right? Right!

Today’s email comes from a witch called Tracey:


Dear Eli,


First I’d like to thank you for your podcast. I’ve been listening on my harried commutes to and from work and love your style and kindness as you share your wisdom.


I’m new to witchcraft. I’m still figuring things out. I have been using essential oils and working with crystals for a few years now. I have a question/concern about some crystals I recently purchased. I have been advised by those further along the path to be cautious regarding how they were harvested. I didn’t think to ask that of the shopkeepers who are artisans. I don’t want to bring bad energy into my home and hate the thought that these precious items I held and were drawn to may have been handled poorly or irresponsibly. Is there anything I can do to offer them love and perhaps guard against any negativity related to how they came to be in the shop before I selected them and brought them home?


Obviously, in a perfect world, we would all use the most responsibly, sustainably sourced materials for our work. We absolutely want to support businesses that do the most to ensure that they’re harvesting these materials in a way that respects the earth and the people and animals who live in these areas.


With that said, this information isn’t always available to us, and sometimes, we’re going to inadvertently get our hands on something that doesn’t have the most ethical origins. I almost liken it to getting a dog and then finding out it came from a puppy mill. Obviously, none of us wants to encourage or support those kinds of practices, but if, after the fact, I do find out that this is where my dog came from, I’m still gonna keep him. I’m still going to love him and treat him well and he’s still going to be a member of the family. He may have had a rough start, but he and I are going to create our own relationship and start a new story together. And the next time I get a dog, I’m going to know to be more diligent in finding out where he came from.


We can do the same with oils, crystals, plants, and so forth. Whenever possible, we should do our best to make sure these materials come from responsible companies. When we don’t have access to that information, we can do our best to make these materials feel loved and appreciated and welcome. Cleanse them with smoke or salt, charge them with intention, speak to them, handle them, get to know them, and really we should do this with all the crystals and oils we use, regardless of where they came from. It’s just polite. And it also ensures that when we use them in our workings, we will be attuned and work together smoothly.


So please don’t stress out about where your oils and crystals came from, they’re going to work beautifully in your spells and there won’t be anything to worry about. Thank you for the email, and if you have a question or concern, my email address is eli@middleagedwitch.com


Today we are going to talk about the goddess Aphrodite. She is so many things, so we are going to begin by giving a little bit of her background, and then we are going to talk about her different correspondences, issues, intents, and how we might reach out to her and work with her in our own practices. So let’s begin with a little bit of her biography and I think it may surprise a lot of people that Aphrodite isn’t as one-dimensional as she may sometimes seem.


Aphrodite, ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty, and also identified with Venus by the Romans. So any time we speak of Venus, we are really speaking of Aphrodite; for our purposes, these names are interchangeable. Aphrodite was widely worshiped as a goddess of the sea and of seafaring; she was also honored as a goddess of war, especially at Sparta, Thebes, and Cyprus. However, she was known primarily as a goddess of love and fertility and even occasionally presided over marriage. Greek prostitutes considered Aphrodite their patron


Some scholars believe Aphrodite’s worship came to Greece from the East; many of her attributes recall the ancient Middle Eastern goddesses Ishtar and Astarte. According to her Greek lore, she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione. In Book VIII of the Odyssey, Aphrodite was mated to Hephaestus, although it was not a very good match, and she consequently spent her time philandering with the handsome god of war, Ares (by whom she became the mother of Harmonia, the warrior twins Phobos and Deimos, and Eros, the god of love).


Aphrodite also had many mortal lovers as well, the most important were the Trojan shepherd Anchises, by whom she became the mother of Aeneas, and the handsome youth Adonis. Now, Adonis was killed by a boar while hunting and was lamented by women at the festival of Adonia. The reason I mentioned this is that the cult of Adonis had very strong underworld themes, and consequently Aphrodite was also frequently connected with the dead.


Aphrodite’s close association with Eros, the Graces, and the Seasons emphasized her role as a promoter of fertility (you may recall that she came up during last week’s Fertility Magick episode). She was honored by the Roman poet Lucretius as Genetrix, which is the Latin term for the creative element in the world. Her epithets Urania (meaning Heavenly Dweller) and Pandemos (meaning Of All the People) were taken by the philosopher Plato to refer to intellectual and common love. 


But there is another side to Ms. Aphrodite that we don’t really get to see too much, and I must say, one of my favorite aspects about her is that she is kind of a shit-disturber. Like, she loves to stir the pot. And maybe that goes against what we think it should mean to be a goddess of love and beauty, but we are all creatures of dichotomy, even the gods. And when you cross a goddess of love and beauty, you’d better be ready for the burn. 


There are a lot of myths and legends surrounding Aphrodite, and they’re all amazing and when we inspect them a little more closely, we see quite clearly that Aphrodite is not the one to fuck with. Perhaps my favorite example of this is the way that Aphrodite played the long game with the King of Sparta. So buckle up, babies, this little bedtime story does not end with happily ever after. The King of Sparta, a man called Menelaus, promised to sacrifice a herd of his best cattle to Aphrodite, in return for winning the contest for Helen of Troy’s hand in marriage. Aphrodite accepted, and saw to it that Menelaus successfully won the contest. But this man, this absolute fool, did not keep his word. And the goddess plotted her revenge.


Some time later, Aphrodite was in a beauty contest. Three goddesses, Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena were competing to win a precious golden apple that had “to the fairest” written across it. These goddesses chose a young shepherd and prince called Paris to be the judge. When Paris chose Aphrodite as the fairest and made her the winner, she rewarded him with Helen of Troy, Menelaus’ wife, as a lover.


Aphrodite used her son Eros (also known as Cupid) to fire his magical arrows of love into the heart of Helen so that she would elope with Paris when he came to Sparta. When the two lovers escaped to Paris’ hometown of Troy, Menelaus brought the entire nation of Greece to fight in the Trojan Wars. The Trojans and Greeks battled for more than a decade and many souls were sent to Hades. Menelaus lost his wife and he lost scores of his countrymen.


The obvious moral of the story is this: when you make a promise to a deity, you better goddamn keep it. The goddess giveth, and the goddess damn well taketh away. But the real surprise message is that Aphrodite is much more than simply the goddess of love and beauty. She will absolutely do her part to help support your happily ever after, but remember your deal. Because she will also scheme, plot, and wreak her vengeance. She instigated the Trojan War because she was spurned. She made a deal, she kept her end, and when she was not given her due, she came down like a nuclear bomb the likes of which would have most certainly made Hekate or the Morrigan proud.


In witchcraft circles, a lot of the more fearsome goddesses get the lion’s share of our attention, and this is awesome and this is not a criticism, simply an observation. But Aphrodite is so much more than she typically gets credit for. This is a goddess who can be relied upon in matters of love, beauty, relationships, sex, I mean for god’s sake, her name is  literally the root of the word aphrodisiac. But that ain’t all there is to her. So let’s talk a little about all of her correspondences, and also how we can approach her for assistance, or how we can recognize that she is trying to get our attention.


And this is something that I would not typically share, because for all I share here on this podcast, I am actually a really private person, but Aphrodite was trying to get my attention for quite some time. The synchronicities were out of control and when I finally got it, like the light above my head finally switched on, it made sense. She has been with me ever since. She has a place of honor on my altar and she receives regular tributes. And if I’m honest, this episode is a tribute, too. I hope that Aphrodite understands and appreciates my efforts here to shed some much-needed light on not only who she is, but how she operates and how effortlessly she walks the fine line between all of the different aspects of who she is. 


So, let’s get into those aspects, shall we? We have covered love. And that’s all kinds of love, romantic love, marriage, familial love, sexuality,sex magick, passion, attraction, desire, pleasure, marriage, fertility, childbirth, beauty, youth, renewal, not to mention revenge, the afterlife and something that I think bears underlining, goals. Aphrodite is a goal-oriented goddess and she appreciates a well-laid plan along with the moxie to follow through. Aphrodite appreciates force of character.


And so with all of that knowledge, if we decided we wanted to approach her for assistance with a particular spell, or just with an especially difficult time in our lives, maybe relating to love or marriage or fertility or loss or death, and so on, let us now talk about the different herbs, plants, and symbols that she is associated with. Remember when we are making space for her on an altar, or working a candle spell or making a mojo bag or whatever the case may be, that we can use these elements to honor her and to invite her to add her magick to our magick, to create something divine and powerful and really really special.


Herbs, flowers, and plants associated with the goddess include apple, marjoram, daisy, violet, hazel, walnut, cinnamon, myrrh, palm, and myrtle. Salt is an excellent tribute, as Aphrodite was born from the sea. This is also why pearls are especially sacred to her. She is also associated with copper and that’s because copper rules so many of the same intentions, there’s so much overlap between them. And I actually keep a little copper dish on her altar with flowers and salt.


Once again, if we feel like we are being called to work with her, or even if we’re audacious enough to approach her unbidden, we should begin by learning what we can about her, familiarizing ourselves with her history and her lore and her symbolism. And it’s so rich, and I’ve barely scratched the surface today. She is so layered and complex and such a woman. Loving and nurturing and scornful and proud, and it’s a blessing and an honor to feel as though I have her on my side. That she is rooting for me, that she is invested in my life and my relationships. 


And so, we can make that altar space for her that we spoke of, and we can meditate with her. Light some candles, invoke her name, invite her to come and share space with us. Ask her what messages she would like to share, and then pay attention to any impressions or visions that we receive. Watch for synchronicities and imagery that would be significant to her, like doves and dolphins and the number one, and do this regularly enough that it begins to feel natural. Do it enough that we begin to hear her and to feel her.


I know we kind of barrelled through all this info, like we always do, but as a reminder there will be a written transcript of this episode on the website, middleagedwitch.com, so you can always read through it if I’ve gone too fast or you want to make a note. So, I hope that this has been helpful and interesting and I hope I have done Ms. Aphrodite proud. We will talk again next week. My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch Podcast.


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