The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
transit of venus
The circulation of the lymph
Are figured in the drift of stars
T S Eliot, 'Burnt Norton'
The transit of Venus across the face of the sun that we experienced last night here in the northern hemisphere happens twice in a period of approximately 105 years. This current transit occurred eight years after the last one, and its subtle effects, in terms of the cosmos, will be strong for a couple of days, but continue to make themselves felt gently over a much longer period. It occurs at the time of a particularly potent full moon, in Sagittarius, with both the sun (as usual at a full moon) and Venus conjunct the sun in polarity to that.
Symbolically speaking, we could think of the sun as the intense penetrating vigour of the masculine principle, and also the ego, in the human psyche. The solar energy is an unambiguous force. The moon symbolically is the shadowy reflective receiver of light, and altogether more equivocal. This is a primary pair, Sol/Luna.
Venus, also a manifestation of the feminine principle, symbolically stands for the softer receptive qualities of the feminine aspects of the psyche, specifically manifest in love of harmony, beauty, the arts, relatedness and love itself. Think Aphrodite, her Greek counterpart. (We could say that her natural consort, Mars, or Ares, is the warrior aspect of the masculine principle.)
So what might a transit of Venus across the sun suggest, on a human level? Maybe it would symbolise a cosmic climate in which the full-on unavoidable blazing of the sun is tempered a little by a bringing to the fore of a gentler tenderer more 'feminine' way of being, where attention is paid not so much to the direction and quantity of light but to a softening of light shining on the more personal qualities of our connecting with others or another; paying attention to the dimmer switches, or to candlelight. It's clearly a tempering of full-on yangness with a little yin.
Archetypally speaking, a Venusian time is a time of partnership, relatedness, harmony and feeding the feeling nature with creativity, art, music, poetry, beauty. It's also about a quality of communication in which engagement is enjoyed for its own sake, where the natural flow of energy between lovers or friends is easy, is playful, is graceful.
Astrologer Jonathan Cainer points out that the last time this transit happened (I mean prior to the 1st one in 2004 this century) in the 1880s it coincided with the beginnings of suffrage. He suggests that this transit will also manifest in sociopolitical terms collectively, maybe in regard to the world's money markets. We do, after all, as he says, have a woman heading the IMF for the first time. Perhaps, he suggests, at last the more 'feminine' values of empathy and compassion, combined with the justice signified by Libra which is ruled by Venus, will start to emerge more strongly on the global stage, including in the world of finance.
However, as Venus is also transiting the sun retrograde, that is, apparently, from our perspective, backwards, at the moment, symbolically it may be that we recognise the need for the qualities above by the experience of their opposites or absence. Perhaps we need in our individual lives and also collectively to be prepared to revisit aspects of our lives in relationship, unfinished business in love partnerships and friendships, before we can finally let go of what we need to in order to move forward.
Such transits always symbolise the potential for transformation of consciousness: maybe not immediate, or blinding, but subtle and enduring. There is always a change following along in their wake, though it may only be in retrospect that we recognise that.
As this is the second in the linked pair of Venus transits, it might also be instructive to look back at what was happening in our lives eight years ago to see whether any (soft, Venusian) light might be shed on what is happening now.
I've just revisited that time in my personal memory – I was coming through a heartbreak and was experiencing a deep and turbulent sense of loss and darkness, which astrologically for me revolved around the archetype of Pluto – another story and not relevant in the same way this time. (I'll post below a poem I wrote at that transit). Later that year I had perhaps one of the happiest times in my life, as well as one of the most creative, with a complete change in circumstances for 6 months as a poet-in-residence in a beautiful place in Dorset. This marked a fresh and vibrant new direction for me (and my first full individual poetry collection was published as a result, and I started painting, and selling paintings, seriously then).
It remains to be seen, of course, whether collectively, in the wider world, we'll notice a subtle shift in world dynamics and political affairs.
Venus, by the way, performs a particularly exquisite dance around the earth, creating as she goes a beautiful five-pointed star shape in her eight-year orbit (eight years on earth is thirteen Venusian years – notice the Fibonacci sequence here! - and see The Golden Section, by Scott Olsen in Wooden Books for more on Fibonacci/phi/the golden ration).
Transit of Venus 2004
First the dark god rides –
something swelling and thickening
between me and the river,
a place of no-place, cloying, fetid.
Then a sicksweet stench slides
from by the dog-rosed hedgerow,
a flutter of darkness in my nostrils.
Branches like fractured limbs. Discs elide.
Pluto opposing. The Sun eclipsed.
When our mouths are stopped
with the mud of our pasts
we have to find another way to sing.
She then lends us wings,
bestows some loving-kindness.
I take off over this dark lake
resist its claws.
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