THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF APHRODISIACS: Psychoactive Substances For Use In Sexual Practices

What Are Aphrodisiacs?

What spices do for food, aphrodisiacs do for sex and eroticism. The Greeks referred to those plants that stimulate the sexual appetite as Chores aphrodisia, or “the chorus of Aphrodite’s plants.” The Romans called them venerea, the “agents of Venus.” Aphrodisiaca were the agents of Aphrodite.

Venerea were the counterparts of her Roman sister Venus. The Great Goddess gave us humans countless numbers of plants and aphrodisiacs as gifts to stimulate and enhance love, lust, and passion, to intensify it to the level of mystical experience.

In the eighteenth century, Carl Linnaeus (known as the father of taxonomy) and other naturalists went to great pains to scientifically classify plants and animals. Because they were still familiar with the mythological references, they named various plants, mollusks, and other animals of the sea that resembled the human genitalia after the Greco-Roman love goddesses.

Any person who declares that the goddesses of love, whether Aphrodite, Venus, or Freya, are dead is declaring themselves dead as well. Anyone who is unable to acknowledge the tools they have given us is negating their own existence. We are all born of the love and ecstasy of our parents. We are their creations. Our parents are the love gods who gave us life and the ability to love.

There is no scientific definition for aphrodisiac or love potion. Nor is there a pharmacological or medical definition for either.

An aphrodisiac—like an entheogen—is defined by culture. The word aphrodisiac, which is derived from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, literally means “an agent of the love goddess.” Any substance that humans consider to be an aphrodisiac and take for that purpose is an aphrodisiac. For it is only the way it is handled and used, and the way it is cognitively understood, that makes a thing into a culturally defined entity.

Asking how an aphrodisiac “works” is not the right question. It is more appropriate to ask why a substance is classified as an aphrodisiac and used in that manner? The answers to this are many, and are rooted in cultural perspectives, cognitive structures, and the individuals’ interpretations of their experiences.

This encyclopedia is written from the cultural anthropological and ethnoscientific perspectives. Included in it are substances that have found cultural use as aphrodisiacs and love potions. Although questions as to how they work from a scientific perspective are secondary, the scientific information provided in this book does enrich the overall picture.

A substance can be an effective aphrodisiac because it promotes sexual potency or fertility, or because it produces an enjoyable state. There are several reasons why a love magic, love potion, philtrum, or tonic can be effective:

  • It is pharmacologically efficacious.
  •  It activates a cognitive structure (symbolically and linguistically).
  •  It exerts psychological effects through the power of suggestion.
  •  It stimulates the senses…..