1. Religion & Spirituality
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Deities of Love and Marriage

By

Throughout history, nearly all cultures have had gods and goddesses associated with love and marriage. Although a few are male -- Eros and Cupid come to mind -- most are female, because the institution of marriage has long been viewed as the domain of women. If you're doing a working relating to love, or if you wish to honor a particular deity as part of a marriage ceremony, these are some of the gods and goddesses associated with the very human emotion of love.
 

Aphrodite (Greek)

Image © Stuart Gregory/Getty Images

Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and sexuality, a job she took very seriously. She was married to Hephaistos, but also had a multitude of lovers -- one of her favorites was the warrior god Ares. A festival was held regularly to honor Aphrodite, appropriately called the Aphrodisiac. At her temple in Corinth, revelers often paid tribute to Aphrodite by having rambunctious sex with her priestesses. The temple was later destroyed by the Romans, and not rebuilt, but fertility rites appear to have continued in the area. Like many Greek gods, Aphrodite spent a lot of time meddling in the lives of humans -- particularly their love lives -- and was instrumental in the cause of the Trojan War.
 

Cupid (Roman)

Image © Getty Images

In ancient Rome, Cupid was the incarnation of Eros, the god of lust and desire. Eventually, though, he evolved into the image we have today of a chubby cherub, flitting about zapping people with his arrows. In particular, he enjoyed matching people up with odd partners, and this eventually ended up being his own undoing, when he fell in love with Psyche. Cupid was the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. He typically is seen on Valentine's Day cards and decorations, and is invoked as a god of pure love and innocence -- a far cry from his original form.
 

Eros (Greek)

Image © Getty Images

Although not specifically a god of love, Eros is often invoked as a god of lust and passion. This son of Aphrodite was a Greek god of lust and primal sexual desire. In fact, the word erotic comes from his name. He is personified in all kinds of love and lust -- heterosexual and homosexual -- and was worshipped at the center of a fertility cult that honored both Eros and Aphrodite together. During the classical Roman period, Eros evolved into Cupid, and became portrayed as the chubby cherub that still remains as a popular image today. He is typically shown blindfolded -- because, after all, love is blind -- and carrying a bow, with which he shot arrows at his intended targets.
 

Frigga (Norse)

Image © Getty Images

Frigga was the wife of the all-powerful Odin, and was considered a goddess of fertility and marriage within the Norse pantheon. Frigga is the only one besides Odin who is allowed to sit on his throne, Hlidskjalf, and she is known in some Norse tales as the Queen of Heaven. Today, many modern Norse Pagans honor Frigga as a goddess of both marriage and prophecy.
 

Hathor (Egyptian)

Image © Sylvester Adams/Getty Images

As the wife of the Sun God, Ra, Hathor is known in Egyptian legend as the patroness of wives. In most classical depictions, she is portrayed either as a cow goddess, or with a cow nearby -- it is her role as mother that is most often seen. However, in later periods, she was associated with fertility, love and passion.
 

Hera (Greek)

Image © Karl Weatherly/Getty Images

Hera was the Greek goddess of marriage, and as the wife of Zeus, Hera was the queen of all wives! Although Hera fell in love with Zeus (her brother) immediately, he isn't often faithful to her, so Hera spends a lot of time fighting off her husband's numerous lovers. Hera is centered around the hearth and home, and focuses on family relationships.
 

Juno (Roman)

Image © Getty Images

In ancient Rome, Juno was the goddess who watched over women and marriage. Although Juno's festival, the Matronalia, was actually celebrated in March, the month of June was named for her. It's a month for weddings and handfastings, so she is often honored at Litha, the time of the summer solstice. During the Matronalia, women received gifts from their husbands and daughters, and gave their female slaves the day off work.
 

Parvati (Hindu)

Image © Santoch Kochar/Getty Images

Parvati was the consort of the Hindu god Shiva, and is known as a goddess of love and devotion. She is one of many forms of Shakti, the all-powerful female force in the universe. Her union with Shiva taught him to embrace pleasure, and so in addition to being a destroyer god, Shiva is also a patron of the arts and dance. Parvati is an example of a female entity who has a profound effect on the male in her life, for without her, Shiva would not have been complete.
 

Venus (Roman)

Image © Getty Images

The Roman equivalent of Aphrodite, Venus was a goddess of love and beauty. Originally, she was associated with gardens and fruitfulness, but later took on all the aspects of Aphrodite from the Greek traditions. Similar to Aphrodite, Venus took a number of lovers, both mortal and divine. Venus is nearly always portrayed as young and lovely. The statue Aphrodite of Milos, better known as the Venus de Milo, depicts the goddess as classically beautiful, with womanly curves and a knowing smile.
 

Vesta (Roman)

Image © Hamish Blair/Getty Images

Although Vesta was actually a goddess of virginity, she was honored by Roman women along with Juno. Vesta's status as a virgin represented the purity and honor of Roman women at the time of their marriage, and so it was important to keep her in high regard. In addition to her role as virgin-in-chief, however, Vesta is also a guardian of the hearth and domesticity. Her eternal flame burned in many Roman villages. Her festival, the Vestalia, was celebrated each year in June.
 

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.