Erotic Hindu goddesses comes in several varieties. The tantric types like Bhairavi are wrathful and Kali-like. The equivalent in the west is the Filia Diaboli or Devil's Daughter who is both angry and sexual. She is the quintessential teenage girl who has discovered that she is hot and does exactly what her parents don't want her to do, which includes smoking, drinking, and nights in motel rooms. With the same spirit of rebellion a man who practices the left-hand tantra eats forbidden foods and has sex with a yogini. But he must not “climax” because he can obtain siddhis or magical powers only by retaining the semen.
Rati, the Hindu equivalent of Aphrodite, is another kind of goddess altogether. She is not angry but is renowned for her devotion to her husband Kama Deva. But unlike the devotion of Lakshmi to Vishnu, Rati’s love is sexual. In my opinion she is invariably beautiful, but a common icon depicts her as a pregnant woman, which some men think is not beautiful.
The moral guardians of Hinduism claim that she is pregnant because she is a prostitute. In this regard she resembles the Canaanite Astarte who has a husband, Baal (Lord), but whose priestesses are Kadeyshim (Holy Women) or temple harlots. The Hindu equivalent of Kadeyshim are Deva Dasis (temple dancers and courtesans).
I believe that the image of the pregnant Rati is popular because it encapsulates a racial memory of her as a fertility goddess. Astarte too was a fertility goddess, which means that Aphrodite has fertility in her past. Astarte eventually became Aphrodite as her cultus moved northward. The intermediate stage was Atar Ateh or Atargatis, the divine mermaid of Syria whose image can be found on the Starbucks coffee cup. It would seem that coffee is her sacramental drink in the modern age. Aphrodite and Astarte are western forms of Ishtar and accordingly both are called the Great Whore of Babylon.
Rati has authorized the use of the mantra on the right side of the picture below for those who want to attune themselves to her in a simple, direct way---some of her other mantras are difficult to memorize and make use of apparently meaningless syllables that have occult significance. This mantra contains three of her names. The literal meaning of Rati is Pleasure, Mayavati means Daughter of Illusion or Daughter of Magic, and Kamani Maa means Mother of Desire.
The cosmic syllable Om is present because Rati is recognized as one of the first principles of divine manifestation---in this case she is the feminine aspect of the Desire or Kama that caused inert matter to evolve. Greek philosophy employs the god Eros for the same purpose. Apparently it takes Desire to do the heavy lifting, and Sex to get us past the amoeba stage.
This is my cell-phone wallpaper. After I wrote this article, I realized that the woman I chose is a perfect Rati.