The Mythology of Venus
The mythology of Venus is ancient with roots in Neolithic Greece. She was called Eurynome, which means "wide wandering one". She was born of primal Chaos, dancing on the water. Eurynome transformed the North Wind into a serpent named Ophion. The serpent coiled himself around her, impregnated her and she gave birth to the Cosmic Egg. Ophion wrapped himself around the egg seven times and stayed until it hatched Creation.
As Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, she is rich in mythology, Homer wrote of her in his verses calling her the beautiful, golden goddess. Depending on the source, she was either the daughter of Zeus and Dione or she sprang from the foam of the sea. In early writings she was depicted as a soft, weak, unimposing goddess, but later she became a treacherous, spiteful goddess who exerted a destructive power over men.
Perhaps the most famous of her exploits were the events that led to the Trojan War. There was a contest to name the most beautiful of the goddesses. The choice was narrowed down to three: Juno, Pallas Athena and Aphrodite. Zeus was chosen to decide and intelligently declined, suggesting they ask a young shepherd, Paris, who he assured them, would be a fair judge. Paris was not asked to look upon the goddesses, but to choose the fairest by choosing which of their gifts he would accept. Juno offered to make him the ruler of Europe and Asia, Pallas Athena assured him he would lead the Trojans to victory over the Greeks and Aphrodite offered him the fairest woman in the world. He gave the golden apple of choice to Aphrodite and the goddess led him to Helen of Troy, the wife of Menelaus.
Adonis is another important figure in the mythology of Aphrodite. Smyrna, the daughter of King Cinyras of Cyprus, was rumored to be more beautiful than Aphrodite/Venus. Cinyras's wife bragged of her daughter's beauty and fired up the goddess's vengeful nature. Venus caused a spell to fall on Smyrna, who then fell in love with her own father, went to him while he was in a drunken stupor and became pregnant by him. When Cinyras found out what had happened, he pursued Smyrna to kill her and as he raised his sword to strike her, Aphrodite turned her into a myrrh tree. The tree was sliced in two and out fell Adonis.
Adonis was taken to Persephone (Queen of the Dead) to be raised and it turned out that both goddesses, Persephone and Aphrodite fell in love with Adonis and both wanted him for themselves. They asked the Muses to decide the fate of the situation and they declared that Adonis should spend one third of his time with Persephone, one third of his time with Aphrodite and one third of his time alone hunting in the hills. The dishonest side of Aphrodite emerged and she used her power to get Adonis to fall in love with her and stay with her rather than abide by the decision. In anger, Persephone told Aries/Mars and Aries disguised himself as a wild boar and challenged Adonis on the slopes of Mount Lebanon, where Adonis was gored to death in Aphrodite's sight. Aphrodite, still unwilling to let go of him, begged Zeus to intervene. He did and Adonis was allowed to spend one half of his time above ground and the other half in the underworld.
The story of Aphrodite/Venus is much like the story of the Sumerian goddess Ishtar, Queen of Love. She descended into the underworld to find the soul of her dead lover, Tammuz. As she journeys through the underworld, she is stripped of her glory by the guardians of Hell. When she comes before the Queen of the Dead, she is hung on a meat hook and left for dead. Eventually she is rescued by the will of the gods and made the Queen of Heaven.
The myth correlates to Venus as it travels through the heavens. As the morning star, Venus runs ahead to the sun as it goes through its earlier degrees of longitude. As it moves through superior conjunction with the Sun it becomes invisible (correlates to the underworld). Then Venus reappears as the Evening Star, moving through a later degree of zodiacal longitude than the sun.
The myth of Aphrodite/Venus and Adonis (Ishtar's Descent) is important because it represents a psychological process in a relationship. As the morning star, Venus is concerned with the love, the infatuation, rather than the relationship itself. These poeple, with prominent Venus tend to be impulsive and fall in love quickly. As we grow psychologically though the life experience process, maturity evolves. The evening star represents greater maturity. Maturity and the evening star are both more highly reflective. Maturity is more cautious and more aware of love's transformative process and in this state more able to keep a relationship together.
Venus (Aphrodite) was married to Vulcan (Hephaestus), the skilled artisan/craftsman who cared only for his work and possessed little capacity for holding up his end of a relationship. As a result of her being neglected by Vulcan, Venus looked for passion and physical love elsewhere and she found it with Mars (Aries). Mars adored Venus.
Venus is the planet of personal relationships, attitudes toward money, comforts and possessions and also determines sex appeal, creativity and social graces. Venus represents the woman's image of herself (the glyph is the hand held mirror) and in the man's chart it indicates the kind of woman he is attracted to.
A strong Venus bestows an eye for design and beauty, a knowledge of how to dress up and present yourself appealingly. Afflicted, Venus indicates a strong streak of conceitedness and lack of willpower.
As the goddess for love, Venus delighted in many sexual exploits. It must be remembered; however, that Venus and Mars were having an extramarital affair. Venus was not faithful to her lovers and she enjoyed the act of falling in love, but once a love relationship was established, the ability to maintain the relationship eluded her. The aspects Venus and Mars create between the charts of couples cannot be used to indicate marital stability. It is a gauge toward passion and attraction.
The desire for love, sex and relationships are the first social needs to emerge. It is Venus, the goddess of love, who is the guide to the deepest layers of the unconscious, the collective mind or world soul.
Venus also embodies the watery depths of deceit, as she lied to her lover to gain his attentions. When Venus appeared to Anchises she was dressed in red and anointed with oil and giving off a golden glow. She assured Anchises that she was a mortal woman.
As the traditional planet of Libra, the marriage sign, Venus is sometimes mistaken for the planet of love and marriage, but that really falls under the realm of Juno (Hera). In Libra, Venus is concerned with the interplay of opposites that exists in relationships. Venus is gentle and seeks the aggressive Mars. There is a tendency to seek out in the other person that which we feel we are lacking in character. Unfortunately, once we have that "opposite" attraction in a relationship, we immediately begin to work on changing that person. Stress and contention are a natural element in such relationships.
As the ruling planet of Taurus, Venus exudes raw sensuality, whose sole purpose is to enjoy the abundant earthiness of the physical world represented by nature and the body. Thus, she was sometimes known as Aphrodite Panderos, the patroness of common love. Prostitutes worshipped her as one of themselves under the name Aphrodite Porne or Aphrodite Hetaira.
Basically, Venus represents the principles of "I" of self-worth in Taurus, the "I" of "What do you think of me", in Libra.
Venus is easily the most beautiful of the goddesses, yet she needs constant validation. She is easily threatened by other beautiful women and exhibits a jealous, angry side. When mortals began talking about Psyche, whose beauty they said rivaled Aphrodite, the goddess condemned her to death. Psyche was rescued by Eros, Aphrodite's son. the Aphrodite/Eros/Psyche story is told in the Snow White fairy tale: Snow White is condemned to death by the queen when Snow White began to rival the queen for beauty. The handsome prince rescues her from death and they marry and live happily ever after. Eros and Psyche married and lived happily. Their union signifies the displacement of the mother as the most important female in a son's life with the elevation of the wife.
Venus is an intricate part of the natal chart. It is often said that it is almost impossible to understand the psyche of a woman. I suggest that if that is indeed true, then perhaps it only seems that way, because Venus is not an easily understood planet in the natal chart. With an understanding of Venus and Mars (coming in the next issue) it will be clearer why women are associated with Venus and men are associated with Mars.
Mythology: by Edith Hamilton Mythic
Astrology: Archtypal Powers in the Horoscope: by Ariel Guttman and Kenneth Johnson
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