It strikes me that in some of my posts here, I may have used the term “god of.” As in “Ares is a god of war” or “Apollo is a god of healing.” That’s really not a good way to say it, nor is it wholly accurate, although it serves as a sort of descriptive shorthand.
If I say “Aphrodite is the goddess of love,” there is a certain amount of historical basis for that. But Aphrodite was never only a goddess of love. She was a goddess called on by sailors for protection at sea. She could defend a city. She had martial aspects and deadly aspects. She is, yes, a goddess of love, but that is not all she is.
Are the gods specialists? They are and they aren’t. They all have great power and they are all capable of amazing things. They do have what I tend to think of as “areas of interest.” Aphrodite is more interested in matters of love than, say, Athena. They are more important to her. If you have a relationship with Athena you can certainly ask her for help with your love life but her approach will be very different from that taken by Aphrodite, for whom love is a base of her power.
In my very early days as a polytheist, I really only knew one goddess, Aphrodite. At that time I also had two young daughters–so, when I would pray for their protection, it was to Aphrodite I prayed. (They are young adults now so clearly she kept an eye out. :))
These days I have a broader set of deity relationships, so if I had young children now, I might focus my prayers on their behalf toward Artemis. But I might not. I stand by the idea that–as a pagan–relationship with the gods is as important as custom.
Categories: Pagan Op Ed