“FOR THE APHRODITIC WOMAN, HER SPIRITUAL LIFE, OR, AS JUNG WOULD SAY, HER ‘INDIVIDUATION,’ MIGHT BE LINKED TO HER SEXUAL LIFE. FOR THIS TYPE OF WOMAN, SEXUAL ENCOUNTER IS THE MOST PROFOUND OF HUMAN EXPERIENCES, A REVELATION OF HER OWN DEPTHS. IT IS THEREFORE NOT ONLY A SOURCE OF JOY BUT ALSO A PATH OF INNER KNOWLEDGE.” - GINETTE PARIS, ”APHRODITE’S DAUGHTERS” BY JALAJA BONHEIM
The idea that beauty was an inside-out job used to feel foreign to me. I thought feeling feminine meant getting a blow out, putting on makeup, or new clothes. I relied on men to make me feel feminine through dating or attention. I competed in beauty pageants thinking my value relied upon the opinion of others that I was beautiful. There is an anger in my now about how I participated in this false version of what it means to feminine...and that too is beauty.
“The world will say they will love you if you are beautiful--but the truth is you are beautiful because you are loved." - Ann Voskamp
It's different now, I feel beauty and the feminine oozing out of me all the time. I feel like a lover in the truest sense of the word--a lover of people, of life, of the divine, and of Earth. Like the quote at the top of this page, my life has been measured by men and people I have loved and lost. My phases of time related to the joy I feel to love people, the pain of separation, and my healing and returning to wholeness. My success in life constantly measured by the health of my relationships and my vow to be the one who loves more. I blow kisses to strangers (men and women) as a display of my care and love. My daily prayer is of spirit and Earth to penetrate my being and impregnate me with divine will. My daily practice to feel the playfulness of love without the pressure to control or understand it. I yearn to be the best lover I can be, by surrendering to love over and over again.
Lover comes from Proto-Indo-European leubh- meaning "desire, love, care." And that is what a lover does best, he/she desires intimacy, joy, and experience and cares deeply for others. The lover wants to be in relationship with people and be surrounded by beauty, while doing work they love. She adores all the expressions of love whether platonic, romantic, deep friendship, soul connections, and empathetic understanding. The lover's greatest fear is being alone, unwanted, or unloved. Of course the lover is non-gendered, it is an archetype alive in all of us with many gifts to share.
victoria's secret model and false feminine
The lover has many talents such as evoking beauty, love, playfulness, inspiration (the muse), creativity, and feeling deeply. She is a partner, a friend, a spouse, a team-builder, an intimate, an enthusiast, and a sensualist. Like all archetypes, she is in all of us and holds gifts of passion, gratitude, and appreciation. The lover in us reminds us to honor our sensuality with bubble baths, good food by candlelight, or enjoying beautiful art. In her elevated expression the lover reminds us of the vulnerability inherent in relating and intimacy. Though she has stunning gifts of beauty, they are equally matched by her shadow.
I used to be a shadow lover desiring attention from men to prove my worth. I directed my desire outwardly to please others and in doing so lost myself and my identity. She is devoid of autonomous meaning to herself as she attempts to earn worth through being what others want of her and can feel empty or ghost-like. I have overvalued materials goods and money and focused too much on pleasure. The shadow lover manipulates and gets what she wants using her powers of seduction (i.e. the Gold Digger) while doing whatever she can do become more and more physically and emotionally attractive.
Mythologically the lover is attributed to Venus or Aphrodite, the goddess of love, pleasure, and sensuality. Author and psychiatrist Jean Shinoda Bolen describes her as the alchemical goddess with a consciousness all of her own that is both both focused and receptive. Aphrodite energy makes someone feel focused and also magnetized to, it is seductive as it can create an impression of being enamored or fascinated when he/she is not.
In her myth she was born of a violent act when the testicles of Uranus were cut off by Cronos (leader of the titans) and tossed into the sea. The sea foam mixed with "seamen" and Aphrodite was born. Her emergence from the sea is one of the most famous images of the Renaissance in "The Birth of Venus" by Botticelli. Many gods wanted her hand in marriage, but unlike other goddesses, she got choose her mate. She chose Hephaetus though had love affairs with Aries (God of War), Hermes (Messenger of the Gods, but I think of him as pirate of sorts), and may mortal men.
Beyond Western/Greek culture, the lover has many names: Venus in Roman, Aphrodite in Greek mythology, Egypt was Isis or Hathor, Norse mythology is Freyja, Ishtar in Babylonia, Inanna in Mesopotamia. Her symbols are the mirror (to ourselves and also others), mourning doves, the rose, sea shells, the number 5 (pentagram and her rose orbit), swans, triangles, dophins, and bees.
In instances where sensuality or sexuality are degraded (such as Judeo-Christian, Muslim, and patriarchy), the evocation of the lover and Aphroditic woman becomes characterized as a whore and demonized. This is where our current society standards and the shadow lover intersect. Aphrodite wants to worshipped and wants a temple, without modern outlets for honoring the power of the feminine and sensuality we becomes infused unconsciously instead of honored specifically.
To me, the objectification of women and our own desire to be objectified arises from the lack of healthy Venusian expression. Our Aphroditic impulses have been relegated to the false feminine instead of elevated to her ideals of care and desire for love itself. As women we search for attention from men instead of cultivating intimacy with ourselves and other women as a way to connect with our essence. We value being desired over being kind and create a phony sense of value and worth. The shadow side of Aphrodite is mistrusted by women, and rightfully so as she desires what she wants more than intimacy with women. In her elevated side Aphrodite honors platonic and soul connections with women as much as she values her connections with sisters.
In honor of the lover, I would amend the quote by Ann Voskamp above instead to say "The world will say they will love you if you are beautiful--but the truth is you are beautiful because you ARE love." What the Earth needs more than anything is more of the lover, for people to be activists, healers, politicians, but first to be lovers.