Taurus is Venus‘ first sign. The planet figures prominently in the religious mythologies of the Old World and the New World. We have only to look to the Bible to find them in both Old and New Testaments.
The following Biblical passage from Isaiah 14:12-15 is a paraphrase of a Canaanite scripture of the 7th century BC It was originally a dirge, a funeral hymn, to Shaher, or Venus, as it changes its phase from morning star to evening star:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!… For thou has said in thine heart, I will ascend to heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down ….
Venus rising before the Sun is the “Son of Morning,” the bright herald of dawn, the Angel of the Morning, or the Angel of the Lord (the Sun). Lucifer, meaning light-bringer, is the Latin name for the morning star phase of Venus. It is also called Phosphor, and as the evening star, Hesper. In its evening star phase it follows the “Lord,” to his nightly grave beyond the Western Sea, the horizon, and is lamented as the Fallen Angel.
Imagine the planet Venus at its greatest distance from the Sun (48 degrees), at its highest declination (26 or more degrees north), rising before dawn, near the summer solstice. It would look as though Venus was heading toward the pole star (‘the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north’), elevating itself far above its Lord. Hence, it became a metaphor for great pride or hubris (the only sin a human could commit in the eyes of the Greek gods in later times).
Pride, ego as the sense of having a separate existence apart from the Source and equal if not superior to it, is, according to Christian mythology, the thing that got Lucifer in trouble with God and caused the “war in heaven.” Lucifer became associated with the idea of Satan (Saturn), the force of darkness, ignorance, Maya (illusion/delusion), which turns us away from the true light of spirit and toward identification with the material plane. Satan (Saturn) is exalted in Lucifer’s (Venus’) sign, Libra. And the Biblical Satan was originally “the adversary,” the defense attorney, as it were, pleading the case for earthly life and the value of the five senses, in opposition to the divine call to return to spirit.
From the perspective of planet earth, Venus appears to rise before the Sun as morning star; actually its orbital position at that time is behind the Sun. This, too, is a metaphor; things are not as they appear to be.
The planet is associated with the ideas of attraction, gravity and magnetism. It represents the energy we might call “cosmic glue;” it is the force that causes cohesion of particles, or persons, into a solid mass. It creates the manifestation of gross matter, planets, minerals, and metals. It is the bio-psychological force that draws animals and humans together in herds and villages. It is the basic force for the foundation of civilization and culture.
Modern Western astrologers think of Venus as a feminine planet. For ancient peoples, and in India today, it is a masculine deity. Vedic astrologers call it Sukra (our word “sugar”), the teacher of the Demons, or those who suffer from egotistical delusions and must be seduced with sweetness back toward the Truth. Jupiter, or Guru, on the other hand, is the teacher of the gods, or those of a pure nature who are actively seeking Truth, for they can be taught it directly and straightforwardly.
The Mayans established their religion and rituals on the cycles of Venus. The ancient Venus worship hinted at in Isaiah was still very much alive among some of the peoples of the Western Hemisphere until the arrival of the Spanish explorers in the early 16th century. Venus was masculine to the Mayans; this third brightest body in the heavens was synonymous with the mythic Quetzaolcoatle, the plumed serpent, the divine man, knowledge, culture, art and ritual.
Mesoamerican astronomers began reckoning the cycle of Venus at its inferior conjunction with the Sun (Venus between earth and Sun). This occurs every 584 days, when Venus is closest to the earth and appears in retrograde motion. This occurs when Venus is ending its 263-day period as the evening star and beginning its equal length period as morning star. The interval between these two appearances is eight days, when Venus is invisible. This is a very sacred period, a time of transformation. When the morning star phase begins, Venus is depicted as a male god spearing his victims.
The Mayans considered the first appearance as morning star a dangerous omen, a time when people and things would be struck down. Bruce Scoffeld has noted that during and immediately after the inferior conjunction, about every 1.6 years, major news stories unfold that stress discredit or removal, impulsive decisions. These events are often triggered when the Moon passes over the part of the sky in which the Sun-Venus conjunction occurred. Several years ago these conjunctions correlated with the Soviet shooting down of Korean Airlines Flight # 007, the house arrest of Gorbachev and the explosion of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Venus made its inferior conjunction on November 2, 1994, at 10 degrees Scorpio. That coincided with the U.S. voters “striking down” a large number of Democrats from office.
The Mayans associated the morning star Venus with lusts, music and love. At the superior conjunction (Sun between Venus and earth), the divine man faces the consequences of his sins, and in the evening phase, he takes vows of purity to atone. Ancient Greco-Roman astrological texts clearly distinguished between the two phases, assigning masculine properties to Venus as the morning star.
In the New Testament, Revelations 2:28, 8:10-11, and 22:16 we find these interesting quotes: “And I will give him the morning star.” “And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp,… And the name of the star is called Wormwood.” [The word wormwood comes from Old English ‘wermod’ meaning “spirit mother;” the herb artemesia absinthium is sacred to the goddess; absinthe is made from it, and it gives the flavor to Vermouth.] “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David and the bright and morning star.”
It seems both Isaiah and the writer of Revelations equated the morning star Venus (Shaher) with enlightenment. Remember the Wise Men from the East following a “star?” The evening star Venus often symbolized a fall from grace. In Hebrew mythology, however, the morning star, Shaher, has a twin, the evening star, called Shalem, or peace. And in the gospel of St. John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”
And consider the symbol of Islam: the star and crescent, a Moon-Venus conjunction, the great goddess Isis or Ishtar. Maybe the scriptures are trying to tell us that the God of the Hebrews, Christians and Islam is really She!
It is important to notice the phase of Venus in an individual horoscope. In the morning phase, Venusian qualities are expressed in an extroverted way, and assertively. In its evening phase, the expression is relatively passive, though highly magnetic.
For example, Marilyn Monroe had Venus rising in Aries ahead of her Gemini Sun, while Elizabeth Taylor has it setting in Aries behind a Pisces Sun. Marilyn was driven to early fame and a tragic early burn-out. Elizabeth experienced fame at an even earlier age and is still mesmerizing the public and magnetizing huge wealth at age sixty-eight. When Venus is Angel of the Morning, the person may be dominated by desires and others may use him or manipulate him through those feelings. As the contrite Fallen Angel of evening, the solar qualities of will and intentionality tend to dominate, control and direct the Venusian impulses of the individuals. The person uses his or her charm and is less used by it.
Venus is not simply love, beauty and relationship harmony. There is a very yang, sometimes violent, facet to its energy. It is almost as though the planet carries an undertone of Martian/Plutonian energy along with it. Do not expect that a Venus transit will always bring a pleasant or happy occasion. One client experienced a Venus transit over her natal Moon as a deep emotional realization that her mother could not really ever love her, had not truly wanted her because the mother was jealous and resentful of the daughter who she perceived as a rival. Moon-Venus in combination in a natal chart often plays out the myth of Snow White and Wicked Queen.
Natal conjunctions of Venus with the outer planets give the potential capacity for unusual and unique artistic talents, but in interpersonal relationships this gives the unfortunate propensity for seeking magic and the divine in the all-too-human other person.
Venus/Neptune is the art of compassion; Venus/Uranus is the art of ecstasy, and Venus/Pluto is the art of metamorphosis.
Venus with Saturn, while it may delay things in love and romance, gives great artistic ability, as does Mars with Venus. AdoIf Hitler had a Venus retrograde conjunct Mars at 16 degrees Taurus in square aspect to Saturn in Leo. Frustrated artistic inclinations are exceedingly destructive!
Venus with Jupiter is “too much of a good thing,” like a double banana split.
Venus with Mercury gives a type of perception that synthesizes and synergizes data along with the process of analyzing it; the artist and the scientist are one.
Venus with the Moon gives a great hunger for the things represented by the sign in which it falls. For example, Moon/Venus in Gemini has a huge library, many periodical subscriptions and a love affair with a computer, or via one. Sun/Venus is always magnetically attractive, no matter what she or he may look like!
*Picture by Christina Balit
About the author:
Eleanor Buckwalter has studied, practiced and taught astrology in Los Altos, CA for more than twenty-five years, including three years with the late Richard Idemon, a psychological astrologer. Her primary astrological focus of interest is parent-child relationships and family dynamics.