Venus was originally the Italian goddess of fertile soil, the presiding spirit of the vegetable garden. She was a rustic garden goddess with a relatively minimal cult until the Romans identified her with Aphrodite. According to Roman legend, the Romans were descendents of Trojan refugees, the last survivors who escaped the burning city and fled to Italy, where they founded the city of Rome. These Trojans were led by Aeneas, whose survival was ensured by his mother, Greek goddess Aphrodite.
Julius Caesar traced his ancestry to one of Aeneas’ sons, Aphrodite’s grandson. He wished to honor his divine ancestress, but Aphrodite was a bit too foreign for Roman taste and too associated with the sea and lascivious rites. A homegrown Aphrodite was sought and found in the beautiful, fertile vegetable goddess Venus. Julius Caesar dedicated a magnificent temple to Venus Genetrix in the Roman Forum.
In addition to assuming Aphrodite’s traditional attributes and functions, Venus evolved into an ancestral goddess of the Roman elite, those who descended from Aeneas. Venus and Mars, ancestor of Romulus, founder of Rome, serve as the guardians of Rome.
• 1 April, feast of Venus the Heart Turner: female devotees seeking her blessings of happy love and romance bathe her statues and then garland them with flowers.
• 19 August: houses and gardens are dedicated to Venus, and her blessings are invoked; kitchen gardeners have an official vacation day.
See also: Aphrodite; Mars and the Glossary entry for Identification
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
About the Author
Born in New York City, Judika Illes is an independent scholar and has spent her life researching a broad spectrum of the magical arts, including astrology, mythology, the Kabbalah, Egyptian mysteries, and spiritual and healing traditions from all over the earth. Illes is the author of the Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells, Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, and Pure Magic. Visit the author online at www.judikailles.com.