In the early morning, on Wednesday, August 14th, 2019, Venus aligned with the heart of the Sun – its exterior conjunction and the midpoint of its 19-month cycle that began on October 26, 2018, and will end on June 3, 2020. Thursday’s full moon opposes this conjunction, therefore extending the reach of this personal pivot into a larger collective story as Mercury emerges from its post-retrograde shadow, immediately colliding with Uranus and sparking a sudden revelation, or a brazen and bold message.
Moses Siregar recently wrote: “Astrologers might assign either sweet love and joy to Venus approaching the Sun, or the slow, painful burn of Venus’s “combustion” as she disappears into the starry furnace, takes a breath, then comes out the other side to a full moon… Whether you’ll experience the peace and love of Venus in the heart of the Sun on the 13th and 14th, or the intensity of Venus’s transition from morning to evening star, there’s a real good chance you’ll experience some of both…”
I lean more toward the“slow, painful burn” interpretation, especially with the conjunction occurring in a tight quincunx to Pluto. It’s not that sweet Venus blessings and opportunities won’t show up at this time, but accessing them will likely involve crossing a difficult threshold and some growing pains. For example, friends of mine just signed the final documents on the sale of their house and were handed a sizable cheque in return (Venus’ domain includes finances and material possessions). And yet the sale also represents a bittersweet goodbye to a structure that journeyed a few decades with their family.
Venus’ “combustion burn” began weeks ago, perhaps around the end of June as Venus slipped beneath the Sun’s beams, and then it burned with increased intensity within the past week as Venus and the Sun traveled within 2 degrees of each other.
The exact exterior conjunction takes place at 21 degrees Leo on August 14th. If you have any important points or planets around that degree or in aspect to it, you will surely be experiencing Venus’ transmutation with vivid precision.
There may be an important shift in your circumstances, your identity, and your relationships… that prompt you to turn inward to reflect on what (or who) you really want; what your soul truly desires. There could be an important opportunity presented – yet accompanied by barriers or insecurities that need to be addressed in order to access it.
A situation or an internal state may have become so intolerable that you are forced to reckon with the distance between your deepest values and priorities… and where the present moment has pulled you ashore.
In contrast to Venus’ interior conjunction that (arguably) marks the beginning of her cycle and is akin to the new moon phase, the exterior conjunction is somewhat comparable to the full moon phase of the lunar cycle. It is a moment of culmination, that also carries with it a provocative invitation to rise to a challenge, to complete a test, to re-align, to reconcile, to reconnect.
Venus’ exterior conjunction is a halfway re-assessment, a pivot, a choice point; it is where we renew our vows – to ourselves, to each other, and to the world.
Inanna, the ancient Sumerian goddess, is one of the many divine manifestations of Venus in human history, inspired by her fascinating dance across the sky.
While some connect Venus’ retrograde period to the Descent of Inanna (an ancient Sumerian poem), and Inanna’s eventual moment of death and rebirth, to the interior conjunction, I find the poem fits better with the current exterior conjunction, when Venus is the farthest distance away from us on the other side of the Sun (although really, the Descent of Inanna is a suitable literary psychopomp to guide us on both occasions).
Now, and in the few weeks prior and in those that follow, the Sun seemingly separates us from the planet of love, affection, relationships, connection, attraction, beauty, art, joy, pleasure, money, personal values, acceptance and self-worth… does that sound like a good time?
Not quite! Especially as Venus perfects a quincunx to Pluto, ruler of Hades, at the same time as she transmutes in the Sun’s fire.
In fact, if we draw a correlation between the Descent of Inanna poem and Venus’ disappearance behind the Sun (as a cosmic symbol of Inanna)… it is at this point in the story that “Inanna was turned into a corpse, A piece of rotting meat, And was hung from a hook on the wall”… for three days and three nights, until she is rescued from her sister’s underworld kingdom and resurrected.
So… it may not be a “good time” or an “easy time”, but the days around August 14th mark an important time. It is a significant turning point in Inanna’s story, in Venus’ cycle, and in the Venusian narrative playing out in our lives.
We may be required to work a little harder to reach across the distance, through the fire, toward her.
Rather than taking her qualities for granted, we will need to respectfully court Venus, attend to her calls with dedication, and honour her divine spark in each of us, and in each other.
In other words, we will need to be proactive and intentional with cultivating traits of compassion, acceptance and love for ourselves and others. We will need to become more creative about how we can imbue the world with beauty, art, pleasure and meaning. We will need to be courageous and lion-hearted, acting with vulnerability, authenticity, and humility, as we reset our direction in alignment with our internal compass and our values, when we realize where we may have gone astray.
The exterior conjunction requires work and effort.
Back in October 2018, Venus’ current cycle took its first breath in Scorpio. At that time, stewing in Scorpio’s turbulent waters, we may have been more aware of endings then beginnings, but nevertheless… there was a prayer for the future whispered over a coffin, there was a seed planted in the decay, there were threads of possibility that spread like plant tendrils across rolling hills of grief.
It is now that we renew the vows we made and honour the space of potentiality that entered our lives back in October.
As the mythic poem describes, Inanna was initially on route to the underworld to pay her respects and witness the funeral rites for her brother-in-law, the Bull of Heaven, whose death she was partially responsible for. As Queen of the Heavens, she arrogantly believed she could visit her older sister Erishkigal, Queen of the underworld (now a widow), and be exempt from the underworld’s laws that decree the gates to its kingdom are a one-way door.
Many modern interpretations of this myth perceive Inanna and Erishkigal not as two distinct entities, but as symbolizing both the conscious light and the unconscious shadow within us all. Inanna descends into the underworld and is gradually stripped of her pride and her egoic identity structures as she is forced to removed all her royal attire at each of the seven gates until she meets her death when she stands in front of “her sister”, Erishkigal.
It is an initiation.
It is only when Erishkigal’s grief and her child-birthing pains are witnessed and empathized with, that Inanna is freed – though not without certain conditions and sacrifices, of course.
A return to the pre-initiated, unawakened state, is always impossible. We are changed people when we emerge from an underworld journey.
Resonant with this mythic story arch, the current choice point of Venus’ exterior conjunction also presents us with an opportunity to remove our masks and our protective blinders to expose what we have been hiding from ourselves or from others.
The task of mask-removing is particularly important with this Sun-Venus cazimi occurring in the sign of Leo, whose shadow side typically involves some manifestation of the archetypal identity mask – the mask that portrays what we believe other people want to see. The mask that risks suppressing authenticity, hiding our true nature, and yet can make us “likable” and desirable.
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You may not guess it, but this is one of my favorite images in BEGIN AGAIN. It is meditative, haunting. It most closely represents how I feel, personally: 🌙 She crumples into a ball at the base of a tree; a seed ready for planting. Hanging from the tree are masks; they seem to taunt her from their position above her, spinning to look in all directions, watching. How do we choose our identity? Is it a conscious process or are we born with it? I seek to shift faces and identities, to naturally become a new person along my journey for each new phase of life. Those identities grow within; I am the seed, my masks sprouting as from my gut, internal, awakening. 🌙 “Identity: Unseeing” | self-portrait, 2019 | 36×36”, 1 of 2 at @joanneartmangallery 💛 🌙 #brookeshaden #identity #mask #surrealphotography #beginagain #unseen #fineart #fineartphotography
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The masks we have to choose from are infinite; the ways in which we hide ourselves extensive. Sometimes it isn’t easy to recognize when we are wearing a mask at all. We get used to the ill fit and the heaviness of it. We think that is the frame of view we are meant to have. We fit ourselves into masks that look more normal, more acceptable, that speak less and blend more. 🌙 Creating this image was a big undertaking, as were all of the images with replicated materials. To create a scene where the enormity of our identity surrounds us was important to the visual narrative of this series. I loved playing with scale in this series, especially with the masks. How big and heavy the faces we wear and let fall can feel. 🌙 "Identity: Identification", 16×16" ed. 1 of 3 hanging currently at @joanneartmangallery 🌙 #brookeshaden #identity #mask #surrealphotography #fineart #fineartphotography #limitededitionprints #selfportrait
Brooke Shaden writes:
“The masks we have to choose from are infinite; the ways in which we hide ourselves extensive. Sometimes it isn’t easy to recognize when we are wearing a mask at all. We get used to the ill fit and the heaviness of it. We think that is the frame of view we are meant to have. We fit ourselves into masks that look more normal, more acceptable, that speak less and blend more.” (~Brooke Shaden)
According to Adam Gainsburg’s interpretation of Venus’ cycle, it is when Venus is moving behind the Sun toward its exterior conjunction during the weeks of its Immersion Phase, that it is especially important that we keep nothing hidden from ourselves. We should immerse ourselves in all that we have previously suppressed.
Maintaining a clear connection with our inner truth is essential. It may feel like nothing is moving forward; we are stuck in inertia and everything is hopeless. And yet Gainsburg advises us to “stay the course until an opening appears”. This part of the cycle requires our fierce persistence and paradoxically, our soft surrender and un-masking.
The inward pull of Venus toward the center of the Sun, toward the core of our interior, is still taking place as I write. Gainsburg writes of the current Transmutation Phase (August 14 ~ October 1, 2019):
“Such intense light – as love – forces us to meet our dark self or opposite, everything we’re convinced that we aren’t [i.e., Erishkigal]. An invisible Venus forces us to see our Other inside ourselves… Venus will return, but at this point in her Journey, you’re meant to open and allow yourself to feel pulled apart, stretched or ‘ended’…
Working to transform your fear of losing what matters most to you may take you all the way to the other side of yourself, just as Venus is on the other side of the Sun. Your circuits can actually run more Love through them than you’ve probably allowed thus far…
It will feel like an insanely far reach to reconnect to parts of you, such as those parts that are afraid of expressing yourself creatively, being invisible or too visible, lapsing too easily into depression or rejecting genuine support. But just like Venus here at her fastest speed, you’re driven. It is up to you which road you’ll drive.” (~ Adam Gainsburg)
Throughout the Transmutation Phase, as we cross this week’s fiery threshold and are gradually pulled upward out of the underworld and back into connection with the living world, we are undergoing a process of self-reclamation.
“I seek to shift faces and identities, to naturally become a new person along my journey for each new phase of life. Those identities grow within; I am the seed, my masks sprouting as from my gut, internal, awakening.” ~ Brooke Shaden
The Full Moon in Aquarius on Thursday (Aug. 15), opposite this Venus-Sun cazimi, amplifies and illuminates this pivotal moment in this 19-month Venus story as we seek to reconnect with forgotten or suppressed parts of ourselves within the context of our Aquarian communities, and through the process of sharing our unique contributions with society and seeking to have their value recognized by others.
Some real life signs you may be encountering the initial symptoms of Venus’ immersion and transmutation (perhaps especially during the couple days/weeks prior to August 14th, 2019) include a heightened experience of…
- sadness, deep grieving
- thwarted desires, not getting what you really wanted
- unrequited love
- a sense of emptiness, like something is missing
- lack of passion; life feels grey, lacking spark and vitality
- creative blocks or a redirection of creative energies
- feeling like your unique gifts and talents are not being appreciated, or that they are undervalued in society/community
- questioning your personal values and priorities
- a realization that your actions are not aligned with your values, creating disillusionment or regret
- low self-worth and feeling unwanted, unattractive or undesirable
- self-doubt and insecurity about the ways in which you identify
- financial or resource-related stress, or $ shifts to adjust to
- missing or losing important possessions
- confusion between logic, reason… and gut instincts and intuition (between brain and heart)
- feelings of disconnection from oneself and others
- alienation, exclusion from self/others/world; loneliness, isolation
- literal distance via time or space from loved ones
- disagreement, resentment and conflict in relationship
- jealousy, envy, competition, possessiveness
- awareness of where there has been too much compromise, co-dependence & lack of reciprocity
- annoyance with superficiality in yourself and others
And yet still, there is an opportunity here.
Sometimes we don’t realize how much we love and desire something/someone… until we lose it/them. Sometimes we don’t realize what values are most important to us… until we are facing resistance and challenge. Sometimes we don’t see other creative and innovative potential and possibility… until a closed door forcefully redirects us.
Our current separation from Venus, our distance from her, is an opportunity, an invitation. A beckoning, to pursue her more intentionally.
The quincunx to Pluto in Capricorn provides some extra thorns along the path to be sure, as this aspect suggests we are reluctant to do the deconstruction, the pulling back of layers necessary to realign. There may be important truths we don’t want to expose or confront, or there could be structures and foundations we don’t want to dismantle or release.
Courageous Leo-like authenticity and honesty with ourselves and others – taking off our masks – may be required, in order to reclaim and address what is missing, congested, unresolved, or unintegrated. There is greater potential capacity in this cazimi moment to metabolize old Venusian pain, shadow and wounding, in order to transform.
This mid-week cosmic catalyst may decree that if you have been sitting on the fence of some issue, now is the time. The Sun’s light connecting with Venus brings illumination, clarity, energy and motivation to unite purposeful action with personal values and heart.
Love, desire, relationships, money, possessions, beauty, art, pleasure, self-worth, fairness and personal values are common Venus correlates, but check the topics of the houses ruled by Venus in your personal birth chart (the houses with Libra and Taurus on the cusp) for additional insight into what choice point or opportunity is being presented to you via Venus’ current identity-driven position in Leo’s house.
I’ve written about the Venus cycle previously, but to briefly summarize the larger picture here… when you play connect-the-dots in the zodiac wheel with Venus’ interior conjunctions (occurring every 19 months), you will find yourself drawing the shape of a 5-pointed star that completes itself every 8 years.
Venus then retraces this same star shape with another series of interior conjunctions with the Sun that predictably land only 2 degrees behind the last set of interior conjunctions.
The exterior conjunctions (such as this one) trace the same star shape within a couple degrees in the same sign every 8 years, but they offset the interior conjunctions by 4 years.
Therefore a Venus star point will get activated by either an interior or an exterior Venus conjunction every 4 years.
So, for example, exact on August 14, 2019, there was an exterior Venus conjunction at 21 degrees Leo. 4 years prior to that date on August 15th, 2015, there was an interior Venus conjunction at 22 degrees Leo. And 4 years prior, there was an exterior Venus conjunction at 23 degrees Leo on August 16th, 2011.
If you have some important points or planets around this region of the zodiac wheel, then you may be able to track significant life events that correlate with these days and the activation of the Leo star-point.
I sure can… this star point has been very potent and identity-redefining for me as someone with a late degree Leo rising.
August 2011: my dad was given a life-changing diagnosis that eventually took his life and profoundly changed my sense of identity and my relationship to him.
August 2015: I was trying to recover from my dad’s death a few weeks earlier, while frantically wrapping up a graduate thesis for its mid-August deadline – whose completion catapulted me into post-university-identity-crisis-land (and also filled me with incredible pride and joy for finishing something I never thought I could under those circumstances). It was the end (and the beginning) of a major life chapter in more ways than one.
August 2019: ??? We’ll see. It’s occurring just inside my 12th house and I find I am more aware of a 12th house event when one of the cosmic players crosses my ascendant and shares its secret and hidden conversation with me.
Looking ahead to the remainder of the current 19-month Venus cycle…. Venus will re-emerge from invisibility, from the beams of the Sun, as an evening star in early October 2019.
She will then will both complete and renew her cycle on June 3rd, 2020, with an interior conjunction at 13 degrees Gemini in the middle of her next retrograde period.
In astrology, Venus is sometimes overlooked and overshadowed by more dramatic, or seemingly more action-oriented or revealing placements. But Venus is not to be messed with or taken lightly! Her majesty’s magic will astound you with its precision, its patterns, and its 5-pointed beauty that has been marveled at for thousands of years.
As I was preparing this post a few days ago I pulled The Lovers Reversed, together with The Hermit Reversed. This pairing seemed so aptly descriptive of the midpoint of Venus’ cycle.
The Lovers, as the 6th card in the Major Arcana, follows The Hierophant – where we learn, where we are educated and where we are provided with keys of knowledge to open the doors that lie ahead. When we reach The Lovers we are standing – naked, vulnerable and innocent – at the threshold of adulthood and at the threshold of choices and decisions that will shape our life’s path.
The Garden of Eden symbology in the RWS deck, reminds us of the high stakes of the decisions we make, and the responsibility and burden of free will. With each choice we make along our path, doors open, and doors close. And we cannot go backwards in time. We must humbly walk out the consequences and outcomes of each decision we make, for better or worse, as we engage with the material world of time and space, motivated by the force of our desire.
When I see The Lovers Rx, standing naked in a Garden of Eden paradise, I first wonder, is ignorance bliss?
And yet it is poor stewardship of our capacities to remain unconscious of the impact of our choices – to deny that we have even have choice (such as Adam and Eve who pointed fingers and tried to scapegoat the blame for eating fruit from the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden).
Lilith (Adam’s “first wife” who lent her name to this blog), chose knowledge, empowerment, authenticity and freedom in the Garden of Eden myth – and simultaneously also chose the costs and sacrifices that came with acting on this heightened awareness and capacity.
As Venus is pulled away from us, as well as inward into the purifying, fiery heart of the Sun, we may want to ask how we can make better decisions in order to enter into right relationship with ourselves, with each other, and with this world?
How can we allow our desires to propel us toward a deeper, more fulfilling, and open-hearted vulnerable connection with life? Where have we unconsciously chosen “ignorance is bliss” and found ourselves making too many compromises along our path; disconnecting from the authentic truth within ourselves and others? Have we been too influenced by the opinions of others, or tried to offload responsibility and accountability for the choices we’ve made, on to others?
How can we re-balance and re-calibrate our relationship to the world by re-centering on our deepest values and truest core desires?
The solo wisdom path of The Hermit echos some of these themes in the provocation of its reversal. Are we learning and applying the wisdom we have gained from experience as we walk our path? Are we following our own unique life calling, or are we trying to imitate someone else’s journey? Are we avoiding connection with others, not taking responsibility for our autonomous contributions in relationship, or running away?
Is our tendency toward isolation and disconnection from ourselves/others reflective of escapism and rigid protectionism? Or are we indeed seeking deeper spiritual truth and understanding through bearing fully, the weight of our free will and by acknowledging the persistent beat of our desires that weave us unavoidably into the web of life through our engagement with it?
Can we honour the paradoxical mystery of freewill and autonomy within an interconnected, interdependent and ultimately nondualistic reality?
Perhaps The Hermit Rx and The Lovers Rx speak to the inner growth and maturation process involved in this Venus midpoint as we are challenged to accept responsibility for the unique life path that calls to us, while releasing a preoccupation with what others may think of us and navigating our relationship to all of life with authentic integrity.
Under the auspices of both The Lovers and The Hermit, as desire unites with spirit-led purpose in the cosmos, it may be time to renew our vows, whatever that may mean to you…