LIFE

10 Gods Of Love From Around The World, Just In Time For Valentine’s Day!

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, many people’s thoughts are turning to love — that mysterious yet powerful force that’s inspired so much art, music, and literature throughout the millennia.

Today, love is typically personified — especially around February — as a modern interpretation of Cupid, a plump winged baby with a set of arrows trained on some unsuspecting mortals.

And maybe we think of the other major players from Greek and Roman tradition, like Aphrodite, also known as Venus. (Fun fact: She’s Cupid’s mom!)

But just as there are a multitude of cultures around the world, there are hundreds of personifications of love. These love gods have rich and fascinating histories, and while some might seem familiar, some have a very different take on love than you might expect!

After all, love touches us all, no matter where or when we live, and what kind of culture or background we come from. And it’s not just humans, either. There are many animals that mate for life, proving that finding that special someone isn’t just a human trait.

Check out some of our favorite guardians of love from all around the world, and see how their powers might affect you this Valentine’s Day!

Xochiquetzal

Xochiquetzal
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Xochiquetzal is the Aztec goddess of fertility, beauty, and female sexuality.

She protects pregnant women and young mothers, and she is often depicted as a beautiful young woman surrounded by plants, flowers, and butterflies.

The Aztecs considered marigolds to be sacred to her.

Aine

Aine
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

The Irish goddess of love and fertility, Áine also has power over the summer sun, and she’s capable of granting mortal men the power to rule — but she can also take that power away!

She’s represented by a red mare, and her powers of fertility also give her power over crops.

Oshun

Oshun
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

In the Ifá and Yoruba religions of West Africa, Oshun is an orisha, or a spirit, with powers over love, fertility, feminine sexuality, and fresh water.

She can be found watching over freshwater springs, and she especially loves honey.

Yue Lao

Yue Lao
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Yue Lao is the god of love and marriage in Chinese mythology.

He appears as an old man standing under the full moon, and he uses red thread, which is invisible to mortals, to bind fated lovers together.

As the legend goes, once two people are tied together by Yue Lao, nothing can keep them apart.

Hathor

Hathor
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Hathor is the goddess of love, joy, and motherhood in Ancient Egyptian mythology.

She would also be called upon to help women in childbirth. She’s known for her association with cows, and she’s often depicted with horns and wearing her turquoise necklace.

Albina

Albina
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Before the Romans, the Italian peninsula was home to the Etruscans, a somewhat mysterious culture who were known for their deep spirituality.

Their love goddess, Albina, was also the goddess of the dawn. She especially watched out for ill-fated lovers, protecting them from tragedy. She’s associated with a large, white sow.

Parvati

Parvati
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Parvati is the Hindi goddess of love, fertility, and devotion.

Like other Hindu deities, she can take on other forms to represent different things. But as Parvati, she’s the female counterpart of Shiva, and many stories have to do with their relationship, quarrels and all.

She also has a parrot, who symbolizes flirty chatter and good cheer.

Inanna

Inanna
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

While many love deities are kind and gentle, this powerful Sumerian goddess is a little… different.

That’s because besides being the goddess of love and fertility, she’s also the goddess of war.

Legends describe her as having many lovers, and Sumerian kings were “married” to her in special ceremonies to ensure prosperity.

But she was also described as being warlike, and she had a reputation for not treating her lovers very nicely.

Erzulie Freda and Erzulie Dantor

Erzulie Freda and Erzulie Dantor
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

In Vodou, the Erzulies are a family of feminine spirits who manifest in various ways. Two of the most well-known are Erzulie Dantor (left) and Erzulie Freda (right).

Erzulie Freda is the flirtatious goddess of love. With her love of jewelry, she can be a bit vain, but she’s also known for her compassion.

Erzulie Dantor is a protector of women and children from harm and seeks revenge on the men who would wrong them. She’s also associated with lesbian women.

Ziva

Ziva
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Živa is the Slavic goddess of fertility, but her role goes even deeper than that: Her name means “being” or “existing,” so she’s also the goddess of life itself.

Because she’s the goddess of life, she can be seen with leaves growing from her hair, and she’s often associated with apples and grapes, two major crops.

Let us know your favorite love god or goddess, or let us know about one we didn’t cover in the comments!

And be sure to SHARE these fantastic figures with your lovestruck friends!