Question: What is Love?
What is love? Since ancient times, the aspects of this multi-faceted emotion have been expressed through the many love gods and goddesses throughout the world.
Today, the major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) think in terms of 'one god', but in ancient times many gods and goddesses featured in religions of all cultures. Even the Roman Catholic Church still has a pantheon of saints, each responsible for a particular area of life. This is a remnant of the belief that the different deities and their powers were a reflection of mortal life and its aspects upon a higher scale.
The mythical lives of the gods and goddess dealt with mortal issues upon an immortal playing field; love, marriage, death, fertility, war, loss, argument, jealousy and so on, and so humanity learned about itself by observing the ways of the gods.
The diversity of love deities is a prime example of the mortal need to understand that there are different ways of caring; they demonstrate the various ways in which to love. Much of the mythology of love relates to fertility issues, but there are many famous romances among the gods and goddesses, such as the affair between the Greek Ares and Aphrodite.
Often among male gods, such as India's Shiva and the Celt's Cernunnos, love equates to great sexual prowess. The goddesses are more straightforward than their male counterpart.
Example of Gods and Goddesses of Love around are:
- Cernunnos: The Celtic god Cernunnos featured in many traditions: in England he was Herne the Hunter and Pan in Greece. He is the Horned God of Nature and Fertility. His horns revealed his masculine vitality and his ejaculation causes a transformative energy to rise up the spine, manifesting horns and bringing mystical power.
- Isis: Isis was the great Mother Goddess of Egypt and she also governed marriage and Life. She is often depicted suckling her child, Horus. Isis introduced marriage and when her husband Osiris was killed, she retrieved his body to restore him to life. Her tears were said to cause the annual Nile floods.
- Frey: The Scandinavian god Frey fell in love with the giantess Gerda at first sight. Such was his desire to marry her that he endured many tribulations. Only after a battle with the giants did he win her, but he lost his magic sword and, as a result, his god-like invincibility.
- Inanna/Ishtar/Astarte: Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of love and fertility, who, as queen of the land, made every king her bridegroom. She was also regarded as the source of the fertile Earth's life blood. Once a year Inanna descended into the Underworld, driven by a powerful love, to rescue her husband from his six-month-long sojourn there.
- Eros: Eros was the son of Aphrodite or the first god of creation. He fired his arrows indiscriminately at both mortals and gods, causing them to fall in love. This love god often taught a harsh lesson: the heart leads where sometimes the head would not wish to go.
- Shiva: The Hindu god Shiva was one of the three supreme deities as the destroyer. He was beautiful but fierce and possessed a withering glance. As Lord of the Dance, his divine steps relieved the suffering of humans when he performed in front of his beloved wife Parvati. Sexually, he was known as the Tantric master.
- Xochipilli: From the land of the Aztecs comes the God Xochipilli. He was the God of beauty, dance and fertility in Aztec mythology. He was the patron God of homosexuals and male prostitutes.