by Nan DeGrove

Venus

On August 15, just after the new moon in Leo on the 14th, Venus made her conjunction with the Sun, continuing the Venus cycle, which began last month when she turned retrograde and reached her maximum brightness and grandeur as the Evening Star, with Jupiter. Now Venus has vanished, rising and setting with the Sun, not to be seen again until she appears as the Morning Star at the end of this month. Venus will turn direct on September 5th and remains in regal Leo, sign of the golden heart, through October 8th.

This cycle of Venus relates to the mythic theme of the goddess traveling to the Underworld. It implies a time of introspection and renewal, and is especially evocative of feminine values — relatedness, inclusiveness, peacemaking, graciousness, courtesy, empathy, aesthetics — which are critical to the wellbeing, indeed survival, of women, men, children and all life. A retrograde planet may speak more through subconscious channels, such as messages and images that come through dreams and synchronistic encounters with nature or people. Venus, as goddess of love and beauty, is often met, as are all the old gods, through epiphany: the spontaneous appearance of a deity, a luminous moment, an unexpected gift, a visitation in a dream. As Venus is the ruling planet of both Taurus and Libra, those with these signs prominent are more attuned to the transit, and may be in need of rest and rebalancing of emotional and physical energy.

(Re) Birth of Venus

Could the great Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli ever have imagined his masterpiece, Birth of Venus, would be reproduced millions of times, commercialized, branded, bought and sold in infinite variations? His 15th-century Florentine milieu was a beauty worshipping culture, but, like our times, was riven with violence, political intrigue and religious fanaticism. As much as he painted the iconic Venus for a wealthy patron of his time, I feel he, perhaps unconsciously, painted it for the future, our time — a renaissance of the goddess.

Another version of the Birth of Venus was painted by the 19th century Symbolist painter, Odilon Redon

Another version of the Birth of Venus was painted by the 19th century Symbolist painter, Odilon Redon

Black Madonna of Montserrat

Black Madonna of Montserrat

The underworld transit of Venus evokes the mysterious Black Madonnas, whose altars, often in crypts beneath churches and cathedrals, are venerated throughout Europe. They are remnants of the pagan past whose temples and holy sites once stood on locations the early Christians chose. North America has the Virgin of Guadalupe, a dark madonna with a flourishing cult. Black Virgins are everywhere associated with healing, miracles and a subtle, subversive, subterranean stream of feminine power suppressed by orthodoxy.

Slowing Down

Retrograde Venus requires a slowing down in order to get our bearings ─ to know where we are, in time, in space, in the cycles of life. Late summer has a special mood, as the light changes and blossoms fall. Venus is sensual — this is a time to partake of her sacraments of beauty and pleasure.

“It goes too quick — too quick. If only one could sip slowly and relish every grain of every hour.” ─Virginia Woolf

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Nan De Grove is a gardener, painter and astrologer. She writes the monthly full-moon column for The Lore of the Garden, as well as other occasional contributions. She can be reached at ndegrove@aol.com.

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