Goddesses of love and sex appear in culture after culture around the ancient world. Sex as a means of worship is very common and even important in ancient cultures and polytheistic religions. In Greece and Rome she was Aphrodite and her Roman counterpart Venus. In Celtic regions there were several Goddesses associated with love, but in this post I will focus on the Irish Faerie Queen Aine. In Norse belief she was Freya, a Goddess of love, sex, war, and magic. Ancient Egypt, like the ancient Celts, had several Goddesses that were associated with love and sex, but I will be focusing on Isis, Bastet, and Sekhmet (Bast and Sekhmet are sometimes seen as two sides of the same Goddess).
In ancient cultures the worship of love, sexual congress, and beauty made life worth living. The most ancient Goddess associated with sex is the Sumerian Goddess Inanna (also known as Ishtar). She can be seen as being connected to most of the other Goddesses discussed in this post. The connection between love Goddesses across cultures is also mirrored in connections between Gods and Goddesses of all types. There is often a connection between Isis and Aphrodite and this connection was utilized by Cleopatra. Cleopatra was called the daughter of Isis, and she was the living embodiment of the goddess. Cleopatra was lover of Caesar who had chosen to claim descent from Venus (Aphrodite’s Roman counterpart). She also utilized Aphrodite by dressing as her in order to seduce Marc Antony aboard her barge (in what is arguably one of the most iconic historical seductions)!
The idea of worshipping and honoring love and sex makes a lot of sense. Sex is what makes life possible, after all without sexual congress all mammalian life would cease to exist! These love Goddesses hold a deep connection to certain elements and specific animals. Aphrodite and Venus have a deep connection to water, and animals like swans were sacred to them. Both Freya and Bastet have connections to cats as a sacred animal. Freya is connected mostly to the element fire.
Water and fire are generally elements deeply connected with sexuality. The idea of sexuality is often referred to in terms of fire, passion and fire being linked. Water is a feminine element and connected to the eternal life force. Water is where all life began, so water and sex together can help life continue to flourish.
Aine, the Irish Faerie Queen, helps to symbolize love and sex as being essential to life. Fertility of the body, mind, and land is what is necessary for life to continue. She was also symbolized by the fertility of the land, as she actually gave birth to wheat. Literally gave birth to it as if it were a baby! This Faerie Queen is a great example of a connection between love goddesses and harvest goddesses. Freya, of the Norse pantheon, also had a connection to fertility of the land in addition to her role as sex and love goddess!
The link to cats with goddesses and with sexuality is part of our cultural consciousness. Terms like sex kitten show that we see felines as a connection to the divine feminine sexuality! Freya, Bastet, and Sekhmet all are goddesses that symbolize this connection of cats and female sexuality. They along with the other goddesses discussed in this post are proponents of embracing and celebrating female sexual desires!
I hope you found this post interesting and enlightening! Let me know your thoughts and your favorite love deities in the comment section below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. I found the image on Wikipedia.
- Your Goddess Year by Skye Alexander
- Invoke the Goddess by Kala Trobe
- Blood and Roses: A Devotional for Aphrodite and Venus printed by Bibliotheca Alexandria
- Fire Jewel: A Devotional for Freyja compiled by Gefion Vanirdottir
- Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen