One doesn't have to be an astrologer to be aware
of the connection between Venus and the arts, beauty and love. One of
the more enduring and universally recognized examples of fine sculpture
is that of Venus, the most important Roman goddess.
The planet Venus was named in honor of this
Roman goddess, known as Aphrodite to the Greeks. In the Mesopotamian
era, this planet was associated with Ishtar, a goddess combining
elements of both erotic love and war according to the position of Venus
in the sky—morning (war) or evening (love).
During the rearrangement of cultural icons by
Roman emperors, Venus was retained as the favored goddess, but only
after "taming" her by giving her a male "mother" and
marrying her to a lame blacksmith. This effectively controlled her
femininity and sexuality in a society where patrilineal succession
required that a woman be the property of her husband. Thus a
“sanitized” Venus was launched upon her trajectory through the
centuries to follow.
Most astrological texts speak of harmony, beauty
and love in connection with Venus; the dark facets—her sexual power
and the destructive and combative attributes recognized in earlier
times—have been repressed. The concepts of security, relationship and
marriage have all been pasted on to a sugary Venus. Yet in nature,
ancient laws still apply; the fly respects the Venus Flytrap, a
stunningly beautiful but lethal flower, or ceases to exist.
The effect of repressed matriarchal sexual
customs and pleasures associated with Aphrodite/Venus eroticism is
frequently addressed by Jungian psychiatrist James Hillman as one of the
cultural ills that beset America today.
But let's let him speak for himself, from "Pink
Madness," an essay published in Archetypal
Sex (1995) which collects ideas from talks he gave in the early
“If you had been put in a closet
for hundreds of years by priests, philosophers and prudish women who
loved their religions more than their bodies, what would you do to let
mortals know that you are still vibrantly alive and well? And if you
were banned from actual life, except for occasional opportunities in
certain circles dedicated to you or at specified times or occupations,
finding no societal frame in which to fit into the literal realities of
medieval piety, reformational capitalism, iron-age industrialism,
ceremonial colonialism, scientific progressivism (as transformed into
therapeutic salvationalism)—if there simply was no dignified place for
you in the big literal world, what avenue would be left except
Sex education, sex talk shows, sex
help books, sex therapy, sex workshops—Aphrodite's pink ribbons wrap
our culture round. The billion-dollar porn industry is minor league
compared with the haunting sexual obsessions endemic in the culture at
The artist often brings the erotic side of Venus
out of the closet in a style that varies according to social tolerance.
Today the canvas with its imaginal hole through which obscene or
disagreeable images emerge to startle the viewer is commonplace.
Photography and even advertisements are erotically charged, and the
fractured imagery of modern art continues to batter the wall of
Early in the twentieth century, composers
created a "hole" in the scale, a missing piece that longs for
reintegration. Deconstruction, a word later coined by the literarti, was
broadly applied to musical assumptions and norms. Eventually every rule
of musical composition and expression was tested by disgruntled Venusian
Once these early iconoclasts broke with
tradition, music became a raging river of longing and protest. Its
connection to the sacred had been ruptured and, with the advent of
recording and broadcasting technology, used to serve secular ends.
Totalitarian regimes regulated the proletariat pulse with hypnotic tunes
and rhythms; protestors and resisters of every ilk warred against the
patriarchy with everything from folk songs to rap. And for those who
needed to find a port in the storm, "new age" and meditation
music brought harmony and unification in the midst of turmoil.
The arts attract spiritual warriors willing to
lead the assault on the bastion of outdated social principles and mores.
Twentieth century art, in all forms of expression, gives abundant
evidence of these changes. Bob Dylan spelled it out for us in "The Times they are A'changin" written in the early sixties. He
comments in his notes for Biography:
“This was definitely a song with a
purpose. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and for whom I wanted to
say it. I wanted to write a big song, some kind of theme song, you know,
with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic
The destructive side of Venus shows up again and
again in the artist's world, and it is not always the artist who takes
the sword in hand. Over the course of the twentieth century one after
another precious cultural treasure has been bombed, sacked, ransacked,
robbed, plundered by paid military personnel—quite a statement of the
demented warrior Venus running amuck, uncontrolled. On the individual
scale, sacred images have been savaged and defaced, slashed with knives,
splattered with paint, attacked with acid. Here, as with the epidemic of
pornography, Venus is being attacked, ravaged, ripped away; she is both
the attacker and the attacked..
So here, we come full cycle. It is by virtue of
the Roman icon management that the imaginal qualities of Venus were
contained in a sugary sweet armless female form. The dark side of Venus,
festering over the centuries, has reached the depths of horror over the
twentieth century. Three men willing to desecrate all that is sacred and
beautiful in the human for the sake of power—Adolph Hitler, Jim Jones,
Saddam Hussein—have natal horoscopes heavily charged with Venusian
symbolism. This is the repressed female mad with her erotic power over
The artist plays a key role in the ultimate
resolution of this Venusian dis-ease, in the recovery process following
the collapse of a social system which has developed beyond its natural
limits. We are at a critical stage individually and culturally where we
can ignore the transitional signs, the danger signals, only at the risk
of perdition. The patriarchy is crumbling. Evidence of repressed
Venusian energy exists at all levels, from child abuse to planetary
Perhaps the key here is that both the
matriarchal and patriarchal social systems are spent; the human
projection of femme fatale and warrior onto Venus has reached its
evolutionary limit and it's time to bury our cultural parents. Perhaps
God isn't out there, nor bearded and benevolent, nor big-breasted, nor
many-armed. Perhaps we need to look for God somewhere else.
Take a look at the accompanying geometric
representation of the planet Venus' trajectory over an eight year
period. This shows the unfathomable beauty of a Great Artist's hand at
work. Perhaps by meditating on this image, we can connect to a new
element of the Venusian principle: the rational harmony and natural
relationship so readily evident in all the rest of nature.
Illustration credit: “Movement and Rhythm of
the Stars” Joachim Schultz, copyright 1963, Florin Books. Fig. 97, pg.