I’ve yet to encounter someone who isn’t familiar with Aphrodite. While Hekate is a lesser-known deity amongst non-practitioners, and Hera seems to be less popular with those who only somewhat follow the myths, Aphrodite seems to be a timeless classic that everyone knows and reveres. “The Birth of Venus,” while using her Roman name, is one of the most famous paintings in the world, alongside “Mona Lisa” and “The Scream.” Of course, it’s hardly a fair competition. With her being goddess of beauty, and her husband being god of artisans, would it even be possible for art depicting her to be less than top ten?
The goddess, as alluded to above, didn’t readily settle for second best in the esteem of others. The most notable example is in the case of Eros’ wife Psykhe. Aphrodite was always the most beautiful, of course. However, Psykhe gained some attention in the mortal world, almost to the point of worship. Aphrodite was jealous of this and sent Eros, her son and the original cupid, to strike Psykhe with loving madness for a horrible beast (to paraphrase). Eros fell in love with her, which only angered Aphrodite more. Much like Hera in the case of Hercules, Aphrodite sent Psykhe on supposedly impossible tasks, until such time as the girl was rescued by Eros. Aphrodite is a passionate goddess. She loves as strongly as she hates, and danced merrily at the wedding of Eros and Psykhe.
Aphrodite loves love, as evidenced by her many amours. She loved Ares, the lover to whom she bore Eros, but later took up Adonis as a lover, as well. She loves beauty, elegance, and grace, and strives to create and display it at all times. Her girdle reunites couples, her robe was made by the Kharites (minor goddesses of charm, beauty, etc.), even her chariot was decorated with complex designs forged in pure gold and drawn by doves. I often invoke her, not only when complaining about or thanking her for my relationship, but also alongside her husband Hephaestus. She imbues all of my work with love and beauty, and is invaluable in that way.
The one word of caution I would give is that it’s best not to ignore Aphrodite. She’s not afraid to curse, charm, abandon, or otherwise make a mess of people’s lives if she feels you need a lesson. Her lessons regard love and the related areas of life, so it’s best to work out your business with her than it is to try and go it alone just because you’re proud. You’ll be fighting against not only the tide, but everything that drives and controls it. Besides of which, she’s amazing to work with on just about anything, should you be willing to keep her happy.
A quick note, or at least something I’d like to expand upon: Aphrodite loves all things beautiful. For an offering, as she’s a celestial goddess, things you can burn are ideal. However, any offering that’s made up of something you love or something you find beautiful will mean more to her than something you burned because it’s her symbol. If you hate roses, or think they’re ugly, they’re the worst thing you could offer. If you love sculpture, and are positively awful at it, make her something anyways. She loves love, and anything imbued with it or has been made from the heart will please her. If you think fish are beautiful (I personally hate them, so this doesn’t apply to me), then buy some and either dedicate your cooking to her, or get a whole one and save the bones to burn on an altar for her. She loves beauty, even if everyone may not agree. If it’s beautiful to you, then it’s beautiful to her and makes a worthy offering. Love and beauty are personal to you. Don’t turn your practice with Aphrodite into something impersonal; it’s more of an insult than an honor.