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The Ace of Cups*


Spirit- Immortality, Air- Poetry, Fire- Power, Earth- Beauty, Water- Passion

True love, in my experience, contains the qualities of Aphrodite's Star.  This talisman can be used for spells and visualizations, to conjure the love we seek, or to heal and strengthen a present relationship.  Include it in a love charm, along with the Love Stars of the Goddesses that follow... or build it into a special Aphrodite altar and ritual:

1) SPIRIT- Immortality
The love, first of all, operates on a soul level and there is an eternal aspect to the connection.  Temporal aspects such as proximity, roles, age, physical appearance and lifestyle may change over time, but the love remains and imprints the spirit permanently.  Such love connections will reappear from one lifetime to another, or will echo in new relationships.  Honoring the timelessness as well as the sacredness of this phenomenon is essential for preserving its benefits.

2) AIR- Poetry
True love is poetic.  Lovers may not think of themselves this way, but Aphrodite can turn them into poets overnight.  They may find themselves reading or writing poetry to their beloved.  On a deeper level they sense the poetry of the event of the love itself, though it may never be expressed openly.  Poetry is a principle of harmony, magic, meaning and wonder.  It is the flower of love.

3) FIRE- Power
Power has to do with influence, effectiveness, decision-making, and control.  Shared power and mutual empowerment are primary elements of true and lasting love.  Power imbalances, repression, and dominant/submissive patterns can destroy loving feelings.  But when power is flowing well it can be wonderfully enhancing and expanding for all concerned.  In part, a balance of power is maintained when lovers give and receive what they want and need, and when they act to make one another happy.  Balance is also maintained when independence and interdependence are both preserved.  This is the interface between the personal and the political in a relationship.  Whoever gives the least can have the most power.  Aphrodite demands freedom and equality, and Her energy will disappear if this principle is not honored.

4) EARTH- Beauty
True lovers see the beauty in one another.  Love brings out the spiritual beauty we all possess, regardless of age, shape or physical type.  Though our bodies may change and our personalities be flawed, love remembers the beauty in us.  When Psyche embarked on her quest for love (in the Greek Myth of Eros and Psyche), her final task was to seek the gift of beauty from Persephone in the underworld... the deep self, or spirit realm.  In undertaking this death-and-rebirth shaman journey, Psyche tapped into the source of beauty itself; the force of life which is love...

5) WATER- Passion
Passion is that wonderful, indescribable feeling that arises between true lovers.  Witches have always worshipped this force of pleasure and union, acknowledging the benefits of losing and regaining oneself in its purging flood.  It is the essence of Aphrodite Herself, cosmic energy, life force coursing through all the chakras.  It is sexual, mental, emotional and spiritual all at the same time.  The Kundalini serpent rising, the enveloping wave that brings longing, union, and ecstasy.  Passion is also the Muse, the inspiration that lovers experience that leads to revelation, revolution,  growth, and creative acts of all kinds.  The energy of passion ebbs and flows like any other natural wave.  To ensure its return requires an ability to dance in and out of ecstasy, to merge and re-emerge again and again.  Passion can kill or it can heal, and herein lies some of the discipline required of lovers if they are to sustain.

Spirit- Freedom, Air- Independence, Fire- Courage, Earth- Discipline, Water- Self-Love

Even with all the qualities of Her star intact, Aphrodite can still sweep us away.  Her powers alone may not be sufficient to keep our love intact.  Aphrodite needs the assistance of other Goddesses (or archetypes) and their qualities if we are to have wholeness and health in our loving.  The Goddess Diana gives us strength, self-reliance and selfhood.  Known as the Virgin Goddess from time immemorial, Her epithet tells us not that She is sexless, but that She is "Whole Unto Herself, belonging to no one else.  As intact Maiden She is a strong antidote to the merging powers of Aphrodite, reminding us that only when we can stand strongly alone can we stand strong together in relationship.  Diana knows how to risk, and to love and believe in Herself.  The qualities of Her Love Star are:

1) SPIRIT- Freedom
Diana does not accept cages, oppressions, or enslavements.  She steps beyond the traps and roles of patriarchy, does what she chooses and knows what she wants.  As a liberating symbol, Diana has been of primary importance in the women's movement of our time.  If a love relationship tends to push us into limiting roles or dependencies, Diana can be appealed to for help.

2) AIR- Independence
A free woman takes good care of herself, sets boundaries and speaks her own mind.  She enjoys her solitude and being on her own, making her own way in the world.  She thinks for herself, honors her ideas and feelings and creates her life as she chooses.

3) FIRE- Courage
A woman of Diana tries new things and takes chances.  She stands up for her needs and points of view, and stands up to her lover, if necessary, when problems or disagreements arise.  She fights fair, however, and stays true to her ethics and beliefs.  Diana can help us to stand alone if we must, when no one else perceives or understands what we know in our hearts to be true.

4) EARTH- Discipline
"It takes a lot of discipline to be a magician," says a dear friend of mine.  The Earth arm of the Pentagram is always the solidified or grounded part of the process, and discipline grounds the freedoms of Diana, making them strong and real.  This means keeping promises, telling the truth, working on the things we have committed to or taken responsibility for, developing our talents and our work in the world.

5) WATER- Self Love
To love another requires love of self.  As women living in a woman-hating culture, we are all wounded to some extent in this area.  Often we have a small child inside who has low self-esteem, who needs to be held and cuddled, and told that she is not abandoned, that she is wonderful.  Lovers can give this to one another, but also must develop it independently if the love is to survive.  A woman who loves herself knows that she is divine and lovable, worthy of respect and good treatment.  She takes pride in herself and celebrates her passages with reverence and joy.


Spirit- Respect, Air- Communication, Fire- Process, Earth- Honesty, Water- Compassion

Athene and Aphrodite have often been seen side by side in mythic icons, but in patriarchal times these two Goddesses, once good friends and sisters, have been forced into antipathy.  Athene, originally born parthenogenically of her mother Metis and adored by Amazons, was later declared by patriarchs to have been born fully grown out of Zeus' head, dressed in armor and ready for war.  In both cultures She has come to represent common sense, ethics, fair play, and reason, and is often seen in the tarot card of Justice, holding the Sword of Truth and the Scales of Balanced Karma.  But Her cool objectivity, meant to serve the powers of life and love, has become icy and heartless in the service of military states.  In the famous myth of Orestes, who killed his mother, Athene denounced the matriarchal order when She defended his matricide, turning Her back on the ways of the Goddess and women.  Her owl, once a sign of Her wisdom and flight into spiritual realms, was later said only a sign of doom and despair.

Aphrodite has also not escaped the corrupting overlay of recent mythic changes.  Once actually a triple Goddess, encompassing Maiden, Mother and Crone, She was equated with the Fates as Weaver, Spinner and Ender of destinies.  Her powers of Life and Love were understood in the deepest and noblest sense.  In patriarchy She has been made a slut, ruler of pornography and loveless sexuality.  Her influence that makes us fall in love has been stolen by Her son Cupid or Eros, often pictured as blind, and said to make fools of us all.

I have sat in many a women's circle where the image of Athene and Aphrodite side by side or back to back has been raised.  Reason and Passion in cooperation, partnership, mutuality, alliance.  Perhaps with such a value we could have a true healing revolution of matters of the heart.  And so, Athene's Star also appropriately joins our spell:

1) SPIRIT- Respect
I placed respect in the spirit arm of Athene's Star because true mutual regard is based on recognition of the divinity and worth of one's lover as a spiritual Being, as a sacred soul.  Whatever difficulties or disagreements may arise in a relationship, it pays to give the other the benefit of the doubt and treat her with kindness.  In times of discord it helps to remember that though one's lover may not be perfect or may make mistakes, she is still lovable.  Respect is built by the ways we love ourselves and one another, by maintaining integrity, by being true to one's inner knowing, and admitting one's mistakes.

2) AIR- Communication
Loving communication is connective and supportive of intimacy.  Actually, another Love Star is appropriate here, given to Iris, Goddess of Communication, who brings the messages of the divine.  (See Iris' Love Star in Library Cavelet #4)  Her Star's arms contain such qualities as good listening, speaking up, mirroring what one's lover has to say, thinking carefully about what is said, tuning in telepathically as well as verbally.  True lovers notice and respond to each other's words, body language, gestures and behaviour.  They participate in one another's experience with conversation, inquiry, interest, and openness.  Dialogue flows and is truthful, free, creative, and full of praise.  This communication is a kind of verbal congress or lovemaking that can be beautiful and enriching to the relationship.  Clear honest communication is especially important when problems arise.  Without it difficulties can fester beneath the surface, eventually erupting in irreparable damage to the loving connection.

3) FIRE- Process
Here is where the warrior aspect of Athene comes to the fore, and it helps to invoke Diana as well when lovers need to process conflicts or difficulties.  Diana brings courage, while Athene brings fair-mindedness.  Seeking counsel or mediation might be appropriate, though witches may find that magical invocation can be sufficient.  True and lasting lovers will usually develop their own processing tools.  Issues must be negotiated until everyone feels their power is flowing and needs are being honored on all sides.  (I recommend Marshall Rosenberg's "Nonviolent Communication" for wonderfully helpful processing tools.)

4) WATER- Compassion
The true justice of Athene is always tempered with mercy or compassion.  This is the ability to walk for a time in the other's shoes, to get a glimpse of what they experience and how they perceive and feel things.  Compassion enables us to understand and appreciate one another and to validate each other's points of view.  We also need compassion for ourselves, especially when we make mistakes.  This doesn't mean we are not responsible, but enables us to forgive, let go, and move on.


Spirit- Magic, Air- Naming, Fire- Facing the Dark Side, Earth- Death and Rebirth of Passion, Water- Solitude

The dark Love Star can help us get through what might be scary or painful parts of loving, and also prevent too much negativity from taking over and destroying the love.  Aphrodite has Her dark side, as many passionate lovers will attest.  While She can bestow incredible bliss and joy, She will aslo demand that all obstacles to that bliss must be removed, destroyed, or transformed.  If you are experiencing great pain in a love relationship, you may need to have a long talk with the dark Goddesses.  This is the true meaning of Kali's bloody dance, of Cerridwen's cauldron, of the Banshee's eerie cry across the moors.  Lovers who understand make offerings to these Goddesses because they know that in facing their deepest problems and fears they can achieve a deepening and strengthening of their love.  False love will ultimately be found out, and even the best of relationships may have to end in order for something better to occur.  The Crone side of Aphrodite will help us either to let go of what we must, or transform and take the relationship to a new level.  And so, when concocting our love spell, the dark Love Star of Hecate makes an essential addition:

1) SPIRIT- Magic
This is the transforming ritual we may need to perform to appease the Dark Goddesses.  It also applies to any magic we may choose; spells to heal, to strengthen, to affirm our love.  If you are dealing with abusiveness in a relationship, addiction, co-dependency and the like, the dark Star can be especially useful.  Ask Hecate to help, to show what is hidden, to guide and reveal the best way to proceed.  Call upon Her to help change what must be changed and replace it with true love and happiness.  Give Her offerings; light black candles, burn appropriate incenses and herbs, do a good deed in Her behalf, look honestly at yourself and see if there is something you need to change.

2) AIR- Naming
Witches know that Naming is always a primary step in banishing any unwanted phenomena.  In relationship magic as in any other spell work, this is the Air or Mental energy, the coalescing process that begins the spell, gives it form and sets it in motion.  Naming makes what was nebulous clear, reveals what was hidden, unmasks the true nature of what may have been deception or delusion.  (Divination tools such as tarot cards can be very useful here.)

3) FIRE- Facing the Dark Side or Transformation
Our negative behavior often has a positive root.  Jealousy springs from need, deception from protection, passivity from sensitivity and tenderness.  The Crone understands these things, and prayers to Her can help us to turn our negative manifestations back into helpful influences.  Banishing is never complete without replacing, and this is how the transformation is done.  When calling upon the dark Goddess for help in your loving, ask Her to help change what is hurtful or wrong into something wonderful and good.  See an image of that which you no longer want, see an image of its undoing or disappearance, and then see that with which it is to be replaced.  (For more writings on banishment see the Crone Cycle in my book, Ariadne's Thread.)

4) EARTH- Death and Rebirth of Passion
Powerful feelings have a cyclical nature and come and go like waves and seasons.  To have their return requires letting them recede for a time; to ensure their flow requires letting them go.  Death or change must happen for there to be a new birth.  Lovers' passions are like the moon, waxing, waning, and waxing once again.  Knowing this gives us endless faith in love's endurance, and helps especially when negative energies or barriers must be dealt with.

5) WATER- Solitude
The dark moon of the soul is necessary to our relationship process.  The time when we retreat into our deepest selves, taking time out to Name and Transform as well as rest.  The Dark Goddesses can give us strength for this part of the journey, as well as being more present to us at this time.  Self-nurturing solitude can be one of the most empowering and healing things a woman can claim.  In this time she can recharge her energies, meditate, pray, create and dream.  All of this strengthens her for the tasks of relating, giving her insight and clarity for the next cycle of merging.


The qualities of all these different Goddesses may seem to contradict one another at times.  How can one be strong in solitude like Diana or Hecate, while maintaining the closeness and connection of Aphrodite?  The solution is cyclical- understanding that each thing comes in its time, will pass and then return.  Love magic can help us to expand and include all parts of the cycle.

May we all be blessed with true love, true freedom, and true community.  Hail to Diana, Athene, Hecate, Iris, and Demeter!  Hail to Aphrodite, bringer of Beauty and Joy!

Blessed Be.

*Tarot card above "The Ace of Cups" From the Rider/Waite deck, illustrated by
Pamela Coleman Smith




Shekhinah Mountainwater is a long time Goddess-worker, muse and priestess.  She is a maker of magical music, a founding mother of the womanspirit movement, and author of Ariadne's Thread, now a classic in our community.  To learn more about her work and offerings come visit these caves here at Moonspell:



(You are in Library Cavelet #5, Further Lovestar Writings)







Dancing With Aphrodite Part 2      Dancing With Aphrodite Part 3

    A Spell For You                   Sapphic Pledge,Article Part 1