I spent most of the weekend contemplating and evoking Venus and Mars, who are conjunct today at 9º Taurus. Beautiful Venus, supremely at home in Taurus, bright in the pre-dawn sky, intimately cavorting with her paramour and consort, Mars. What a glorious suggestion in partnership is present for us in this planetary dance: pure desire and the appreciation of all that is beautiful become one, becomes obvious — we want what is beautiful to us. Our desire nature is melting into an experience of elegance and harmony, happiness is potentized, etc.
(If readers need a suggestion on applying the conjunction more personally, check your natal horoscope — whatever house system you use, I would also suggest looking at your whole sign houses — to find where this hopefully gentle and sweet, possibly tactile, renewed alchemy of Venus and Mars is most clearly taking place. You also might take note of the natal houses with Aries, Taurus, Libra, and Scorpio on the cusps.)
I’ve been thinking about the first “appearance” or heliacal rise of planets a lot lately thanks to the current early morning sky and Gary Caton’s superb blog from a few weeks ago. And I’m trying to understand how it is specifically calculated — thanks again to Gary for his patience with me on this.
Robert Blaschke and I did talk about this phenomenon as well and, with his wife Carol’s permission, I include a graphic that may be helpful here. As Robert used to say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
The exact heliacal rise of a planet (as recorded by the Babylonians) is an issue for modern astrologers. Atmospheric conditions and latitude are some of the factors that make a planet’s heliacal rise vary (and be difficult to calculate). Venus is the brightest, however, so her appearance as a morning star is often sooner than the commonly used 15 or so degrees of separation from the Sun.
There are some fine contemporary observers of the sky who are bringing this direct view into astrological practice again. Daniel Giamario, Gary Caton, and Adam Gainsburg are three whom I have talked to and whose work is readily available. (1)
The last heliacal rise of Venus, which sets a tone for this cycle, was in early November, when Venus appeared in the morning sky at about 3º Scorpio. She was in her retrograde phase and a few days past the inferior conjunction with the Sun on October 28 at 5º30’ Scorpio. Venus is now still a morning star and in her Lucifer phase, the bringer of light.
She now has been bringing her light with an undercurrent of Scorpio, Mars’ territory. It doesn’t take a great symbolic leap to see that some of the current Venus scandals in the public sphere are a reflection of the darker side of a detriment Venus in Scorpio. Misuse of power, sex, and money all are on display in the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn cases. Strauss-Kahn, natal Sun and Venus in Taurus, is (was?) one of the world’s most powerful bankers, and Arnold needs no introduction. (His website says, ”Stay tuned for my next move.”) (2)
I was considering these matters when I got a surprising phone call from an astrologer traveling through Ashland for the night. We quickly made arrangements for me to go see her. The traveler is Arielle Guttman, author of a new book, Venus Star Rising, A New Cosmology for the 21st Century.
Although we’ve spoken over the years, this was our first face-to-face “appearance.” We talked about many things, including her book, which I have scanned (it has lots of graphics), but not read yet.
I asked her if she was using Venus’s heliacal rise in determining what she calls the “Venus Star” at birth. She explained that because of that slightly irregular timing and her obvious connection to the notion of “cazimi,” that is, a planet at “the heart of the Sun,” the idea that she develops in the book is based on the inferior or superior conjunction of Venus before birth (the inferior is always the retrograde conjunction). In other words, the cycle does not begin with Venus’s observable appearance in the sky (i.e., the heliacal rise), but it begins with the cazimi, with Venus exactly in the heart of the Sun. (3)
Arielle spoke of this degree as being our deepest, most natural talents and gifts. (The cazimi, whether superior or inferior, occurs pre-natally, when we are in the womb.) It has a different quality than our natal Venus placement. She explained to me the essence of how she uses the point, and its implications were quite obvious to me immediately.
I look forward to reading her book and further conversations with its very insightful author.
As a personal aside, and a testament to a living astrology, we discovered that Arielle has natal Venus at 5º Leo; I have natal Venus at 4º Aquarius. The most recent cazimi of Venus was on October 28 at 5º30’ Scorpio; we met face-to-face for the first time as transiting Venus was at 9º Taurus (conjunct Mars, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article). Within this fixed cross formation of Venus, I thank Arielle for taking the time with me (which certainly helped this blog to manifest), and for all the continual and blessed unfolding that we astrologers are privileged to notice.
(2) A Shamanic View of Astrology: An Interview with Daniel Giamario by Mary Plumb, TMA Aug/Sept 2002. “Astrologer Daniel Giamario advocates an experiential approach to astrology that relies upon direct observation of the night sky. In this conversation, he discusses the background of Shamanic astrology, the synodic cycles of Venus and Mars, and the impact of the recent Saturn-Pluto opposition.”
Gary Caton’s Dream Astrologer and Adam Gainsburg’s Soulsign web sites, and Adam’s TMA blog’s on the Venus synodic cycle, A New Model for Full Planetary Phases: The Venus Journey. And, The Profound Opposition of Venus, Mars the Sun and the Moon.
(3) Deborah Houlding’s article, The Beauty of the Venus Cycle in TMA Feb/Mar 2010, considers the start of the Venus cycle to be the superior conjunction. What seems important to understand, is that Venus has an “enduring symmetry.” No matter where one considers the start of the Venus cycle (i.e, at heliacal rise, at the inferior conjunction or the superior conjunction), Venus will always make the five-pointed star in her eight-year journey with the Sun and the earth.
Please go to the link below for a graphic showing the perfect geometry, the enduring symmetry, of her orbit around the Sun:
If we could see from above the earth (located at the center of this diagram), the pattern looks like this:
(I believe that Neil Michelsen’s book, Tables of Planetary Phenomena, published by ACS in 1990, was the original source of this – and many other beautiful planetary mandalas.)
Mary Plumb is available for consultation and tutoring. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org