Music of the Spheres: Descent into the Underworld
Venus Retrograde in Leo, 7/25/15 - 9/6/15:
Venus is nearly trumping the Sun as the star player of the solar month of Leo this year. This is the time of the sun's strength, as it transits through its home sign of the lion. But this time, the sun shares its home with Jupiter, the planet almost big enough to be a star in its own right, and Venus as she executes her trickiest heavenly dance moves. Hence following our joy, opening our hearts, and expressing our creativity (the Leo imperatives) may involve more fumbling in the dark than usual.
Roughly every year and a half, Venus retrogrades for about six weeks. Generally, this indicates a time of RE-EVALUATION, often showing up most strongly in our finances and relationships. Venus teaches us about value, attraction, and compromise. She stations retrograde in the first degree of Virgo, and transits back through mid-Leo. The thrust of her lessons will help us transition from servitude to service, from heartless toil to devoted work.
Do you value your skills?
Are your skills in alignment with your values?
Does your work bring you joy? If not, what would bring more joy into your work?
Venus teaches us about relationship, but to get the most out of her teachings, understand that you exist in relationship to everyone and everything you encounter, including yourself. In all relationships you find troublesome, the first steps towards improvement are accurate awareness and compassion.
How do you relate with yourself?
How do you relate with money - yours, others' and money in general?
How do you relate with those you are close to? with strangers? with the "enemy"?
How do you relate with your work?
You may gain further insight into this summer's Venus retrograde by reviewing what was happening in your life and heart during these recent Venus retrogrades:
Venus' last retrograde was in Capricorn, from mid-December 2013 through January 2014.
Venus' last Virgo-Leo retrograde was from late July through eary September, 2007.
Venus' Summer Flings:
Venus makes the second of three conjunctions with Jupiter this year on 8/4/15. For insight into harnessing that beneficial energy, please review the section titled, "The Benefics Speak" in last month's Music of the Spheres.
Venus conjoins with Mercury on 8/6. As Mercury stimulates perceptive abilities, this is a good day to clarify in your own mind and communicate what you value, ideally but most likely not in that order. Venus and Mercury are the esoteric and traditional rulers of Gemini, respectively. Venus indicates how we take in the tactile, sensory input of our environment and the people and objects we find there. Mercury indicates what of that input we choose to pay attention to, what of that input we choose to ignore, and how we frame that input into a particular kind of story.
Are you engaging all of your senses?
How can you tell the story of your life in a more honest and loving way?
If your story is based in love and truth, what kind of outcome do you think that story leads to?
Venus, mother of Eros, the god of Desire:
Venus passes between the Sun and the Earth on 8/15. She is about as close as she can get to our planet in mid-August. We won't be able to see her then, but maybe we can feel her. Look for her absense in the night sky, long for her. Reach your arms out and try to touch Venus. Whisper to her. Tell her what you long for. She is close enough to hear you now, but she will not grant false wishes, so make sure you ask for your heart's truest longing.
What do you desire?
How can you shape yourself into a vessel that can attract and receive what you desire?
This 8/15/15 inferior conjunction is the bookend of Venus' superior conjunction on 10/25/14. Take a look at what was happening in your life and heart then for further insight.
Deep within the Roots of Myth:
The Babylonians associated the planet we call Venus with the goddess, Ishtar. Ishtar was (is, and forever will be) a complex character, associated not only with love and sexuality, but also with war - those things in which "all is fair." For reasons we mortals may never understand, she decided to journey to the underworld. The underworld is characteristically not a place one chooses as a vacation spot, but nonetheless, Ishtar made her way into the bowels of the earth, the land of the dead, the place of darkness and non-being. She was stripped of her finery as she passed through the gates that led to the underworld, and then she was killed.
Things went awry on the Earth with the death of Ishtar. Specifically, with the goddess of love dead, fornication ceased. No fornication = no procreation. No procreation = no food and no new generations. No food and no new generations = everyone and everything dies. Everything dead = no one to worship and amuse the gods.
The gods, who enjoy entertainment and accolades, had Ishtar revived, reclothed and retrieved from the land of death. She was set free on the condition that she find someone to take her place in the underworld. Being the goddess of love, she was rather fond of everyone, and it didn't feel right to her to send anyone she liked to that awful place. Once she returned home, however, she found her husband had not been mourning for her. Furious, she sent him to the underworld to take her place.
The question remains - why did Ishtar go into the underworld in the first place? Maybe all of this occurred simply because Ishtar followed her curiosity. Like Alice, she went down a rabbit hole and re-emerged forever transformed. But also, the world, too had changed in her absence. Or maybe it was just her perception of the world that had changed. Or maybe there is no difference between the world and our perception of the world. "Things are not what they seem to be, nor are they otherwise."
In any case, this story explains the planet, Venus' tricky maneuvers in the heavens, sometimes visible in the morning, sometimes in the evening, and sometimes altogether invisible. Venus is currently an evening star, but she will disappear (into the Underworld) in the sun's glare in mid-August as she travels between the sun and the earth, and by the end of August 2015 she will be a morning star.
This story also offers us further insight into the deeper meanings of this summer's retrograde. Myths are rich in metaphor. Finery are those things we cover ourselves with to make ourselves look a certain way, and to disguise our true nature. Death is the point of transformation, when we have cast off that which must die, but have not yet been reborn. Fornication is union with another, and the handing over of ourselves as a unique and separate being. Ishtar's husband represents both the ways we devalue ourselves and the relationships/positions in which we are devalued:
How are you being stripped of your finery these days?
What is dying in yourself and in your life now - relationships, activities, ways of being in the world, etc?
Are you taking time in solitude, experiencing your separateness, and through that, welcoming a greater sense of unity?
How can you banish your own perceptions and actions that devalue and negate your truth?
How can you either relinquish or shift any relationships or dynamics in which you are devalued?
Are there any relationships coming to a close for you now? How can you let them go with grace?
What is your curiosity drawing you into these days?
So much for my astrology writings being shorter and more to the point. If you're still reading, thanks for making it through this ether-tome. Next month's posting may come out a little earlier if I can manage it, and will cover Jupiter's entry into Virgo on 8/11. Jupiter spends about a year in each sign, so stay tuned for insight into your next leaps of faith.
Wishing you all depth and levity in equal measure,