Venus is the cosmic balance making it possible to harmonise relational and social experiences.
First, we must distinguish between the nocturnal Venus of Taurus, provided with a formative trait, and the diurnal Venus domiciled in Libra, whose symbolism manifests in behavioural aspects. Considering the seasonal sequence of the zodiac, Venus – flanked by Martian impulsiveness – acts as a receptacle of creative power with its substance and its productive potential. In contrast, the period preceding the autumn equinox – during which the crops reach maturity – forms a Venus already attentive to the needs of the new seasonal phase. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite and Astarte, the Sumerian Ishtar, play this double role.
Myth and exegesis
According to the Hesiodic Theogony, Aphrodite was born from the foam (άfρóς) produced by the genitals of Uranus that Kronos Saturn had cut off and thrown into the sea. In the Homeric Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione (the Goddess), perhaps of a Titaness or even of an Oceanid. Plato, in his Symposium, asserts that these two origins refer to two distinct aspects, Aphrodite Urania (in her pure and celestial appearance) and Aphrodite Pandémia (in the sense of being close to all the people, and expert in the art of seduction and physical love). In the Hellenistic period, Aphrodite was associated with the Egyptian goddess Isis. She, over time, had many roles, as protector of the dead and the pharaoh, mother goddess, goddess of magic and wisdom, champion of the nations. The ancient Romans identified Aphrodite with Venus, originally the goddess of agriculture, vegetation, spring.
Astarte, the Hellenisation of Ashtoreth or Ishtar, was long revered in the Semitic area and Mediterranean cultures since the Bronze Age. It took many names and forms in different cultures starting, in the third millennium BC, with the Sumerian Inanna, the primordial goddess of the planet Venus; in Egypt, during the eighteenth dynasty, she was revered above all in her warrior guise, equated to the goddess Anat. Astarte was initially related to aspects related to fertility, sexuality and war; nevertheless, in the Greece of the Hellenistic period and in the Roman times, the tendency to merge the characters of Astarte with those of Aphrodite took hold. In particular, among the Romans, Venus, in addition to being the goddess of beauty, love, fertility, and seduction, became the protector of victories and military strategies under the name of Minerva, the Romanisation of the goddess Athena.
However, these necessarily sketchy notes on the myth of Venus highlight the two aspects of the symbolism closely linked to the nocturnal land diurnal home of the planet. In its nightly guise, the planet is related to Aphrodite Pandémia or the Egyptian Isis. She expresses the sense of nourishment that supports the coming of creative action in the form. It is almost a lunar image, with the difference that here the aspect of gestation does not prevail but that of mater-materia (mother-matter), of the substance that welcomes the creative spark of Mars, providing the substrate for the subsequent development of life. Venus is the archetypal model of the dialogue between seduction and attraction, from whom all those mechanisms bearing in the birth of new forms may result. In this role, the goddess appears almost as a chthonic deity due to her attributes linked to the Earth, from whose substance she can shape the structures that life uses for its natural manifestation.
The Venus diurnal aspect no longer unveils the sensual forms of the nocturnal side, but rather the desire to balance things through applying the law and the intellect (Mercury), originating the notion of beauty and harmony. Astarte, or Aphrodite Urania, completes this recognition process by neutralising opposites, making room for the new vital expressions resulting from this agreement. In myth, as in horoscope reading, this double role is never really separate, except for dialectical expediency. Coming back to Astarte’s theme, the normalisation of opposites has value both on an individual level and through the intimate feeling of affective reconciliation. Later on, this attitude expands in the social organism, giving origin to a corpus of rules and laws that maintain collective balance.
Even the association of the goddess with military victories has its raison d’être. To be maintained, the equipoise must undergo continuous fluctuations to adapt to changing circumstances and transformations of the worldly scenario. War, with the consequent rearrangement of forces, is perhaps the most extreme example of this. We observe that here the one-sided power of Mars does not come into play, aimed at “penetrating” the battlefield with the fury of the born fighter. Instead, we deal with reconstructing the social order according to the new dictates arousing due to the conflict.
The previously reported Hesiodic myth is often described in a psychological or analytical key as a castration process, loss of the sensual dimension and pain resulting from its renunciation. But of course, the myth, and the esoteric aspect that underlies it, has to go deeper into the revelation of the symbol. Retracing the tale from the origin, we see that Uranus – a name that identifies the celestial vault – generates the Titans in his union with Gaea, the Mother Earth. Later, he conceals them in the womb of the Earth for fear of being dethroned. Gaea manages to save Cronus, the Saturn of the Romans, who emasculates his father by throwing his genitals into the sea.
The rest of the story is known to us, but let’s see it from another perspective: why does Uranus fear its children? The Titan, according to the Greek etymology of the term (τιτανίων) is the one who strives, who “dilates”, who distorts the measure of the cosmic order, foreshadowing man’s detachment from the cosmos. Cronus-Saturn, the son who survived the fatherly ordeal, completes the separation by depriving Uranus of the creative power, castrating him, and sanctioning the rupture between Heaven and Earth. Aphrodite, originating from the foam of the sea, is the product of this separation. In the world about to be born, the goddess act as a patron balancing the parts of a divided cosmos. She is the mediator who holds together, however imperfectly, what once never was separate.
The double planetary domicile of Venus, like that of the remaining planets, creates a helpful distinction to clarify the sense of the heavenly and earthly appearance of the star. The planetary entity is unique, but we experience it in ways that resonate with higher or lower notes depending on the circumstances. Aphrodite Pandémia expresses the Venusian experience that comes closest to the instinct, the passive acceptance of an affective feeling or a sensual enjoyment arising spontaneously and towards which one gives oneself unreservedly. Aphrodite Urania is the “harmony of the spheres”, the awareness of earthly life that vibrates according to the cosmic principle. Consequently, it is reflected on the collective level of human experience, in the social order, in the laws that regulate coexistence, in art as the restitution of an objective datum mediated by intimate subjectivity. Indeed, the concept of beauty arises not from the thing itself but the inner awareness of an achieved harmony with the object appearing to the vision. We mean that a certain level of harmonisation between the human being and creation – a prelude to integration – is what we define as “beautiful”. That applies to any sphere of experience, regardless of culture or historical period, which at the most they limit themselves to setting the reference rules.
In the heliocentric astronomical reality, Venus expresses its significance inasmuch as the second planet inside the Earth’s orbit. Being “surrounded” by the Earth, Venus communicates its capability to welcome and distribute the material substance to model a homeostatic organic system, endowed with the balance necessary for the sustenance of interconnected vital functions. This tendency reveals itself also in the manifestation of affective, social and relational life, as a sort of “large organism” that attempts to coordinate individualities to restore a harmonious whole. As the first internal planet, Mercury is the faculty of rendering the sense of the solar impulse in a verbal form, of intervening between pure solar vitality and dualistic representation through the principle of communication. Venus is a mediator translating Mercury’s bonds into emotional impacts and reactions by modulating individual substances into forms that are adaptable to the environment or other particular substances. In other words, Venus is the balancing function of nature.
Venus Hesperus – Venus Lucifer
Another distinction is between Venus Hesperus (western star) and Venus Lucifer (bringer of light), the evening and morning star. In astrological terms, Venus Hesperus has an ecliptic longitude greater than the solar one, while in the case of Venus Lucifer, the planet has lower longitude than the Sun.
As rising before the Sun, Venus Lucifer involves a spontaneous, almost adolescent affection model; as Rudhyar states, it almost seems that the encounter with people and situations takes place in a tender atmosphere, with such an expectation that it appears one’s existence depends on them. In other words, there is an almost intuitive perception and a spontaneous ethical evaluation of relationships, a “feeling” that precedes the reasoning and the act.
With Venus Hesperus, on the contrary, one gains access to a judgment on the actions a posteriori, that is, the emotion generates the need for an aesthetic – almost juridical – evaluation of what happened. In a sense, this position reveals greater maturity in relationships. That do not represent an affectless tendency but rather the inclination to hide feelings or show them with difficulty.
Regarding Venus retrograde, Rudhyar considers that the planet, being a formative principle, in the retrograde phase, realises an opposition to organic and relational needs, almost a dominance of the ascetic spirit that fights temptations.
Aspects with the Sun
In addition to the conjunction, Venus can form two minor aspects, the semi-sextile and the semi-square, for maximum elongation of 47°. Naturally, in addition to the meanings of the aspect itself, one should also consider the morning or evening rising. For example, the Venus Lucifer semi-sextile to the Sun would strengthen the emotional spontaneity, while with Venus Hesperus, we would emphasise the evaluative aspects. The semi-square acts on the same dynamic qualities of spontaneity-evaluation but in a framework of moderate resistance or inhibition in the affective manifestation. The conjunction leads towards the search for harmony and perfect union or directs towards an artistic-aesthetic expression of existence, provided that there are no concurrent negative aspects.