Friday 6 March 2009

Venus: Goddess of Gardens

Venus, best known as the Roman Goddess of Love, once presided over gardens and springtime. As my blog for the past few days has been mostly about gardening, I have picked Venus as The Bad Witch's Goddess of the Week.

The Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology says: "Venus... in the early days occupied a very modest position in the Roman pantheon. With Feronia and Flora she symbolised spring and fruitfulness."

This grew to include fruitfulness of humans as well as the green spaces around our homes. She later also became associated with love, as a Roman version of the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Although it is for love that she is best known today, gardeners have never forgotten their ancient patron deity.

In the 18th Century, a time when the most fashionable stately homes were decorated with statues from classical mythology, many gardeners built temples to Venus in English country house gardens.

There is a wonderful example in West Wycombe Park, which was built in 1753. This was the home of bad boy Sir Francis Dashwood, founder of notorious The Hellfire Club and rumoured to dabble in black magic, orgies and general hedonism. He certainly seems to have known how to throw a good party.

Whether pagans today want to throw wild parties or not, it is certainly appropriate to honour Venus in the garden - perhaps with a statue, a shrine, a rosebush - which is her sacred flower - or just a few words about love, fertility and springtime.

The Aphrodite Water Feature statue in the photograph is available through Amazon for £224.95.

Aphrodite Water Feature
The Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology,_15th_Baron_le_Despencer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Venus seems to keep coming up in my conversations of late--and here she is again! Interesting.

And I enjoyed learning about Dashwood and the Hellfire Club--does sound like a roaring good time, whatever the truth is!