The Shelf Life of Love

“_________, wilt thou have this woman/man to be thy wedded wife/husband to live together after God’s ordi

nance in the Holy Estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her/him, in sickness and in


health, and forsaking all others keep thee only unto her/him, so long as ye both shall live (or for the next 5 or 10 years)? (“I will”)

Mars enters Gemini on Monday who immediately tussles with Venus, who is about to retrograde backward from Virgo into Leo on Wednesday. Seems to me, it’s as good a time as any to kick up some new ideas about love.

I attended a wedding this weekend in North Carolina. It was a southern affair, with all the trimmings – high tea for the ladies, golf for the gents and a reception on a river boat which sailed down the Cape Fear River. The ceremony was full service, held in a Methodist Church. The hip officiant dared to begin with a little number about Mr. Blackwell’s best dressed list, and when he named Paris Hilton in the Church Of Our Lord I just about fell out of my seat. The message was succinct: self-image doesn’t hold a candle to the Lord’s clothes. To be well-dressed, this couple should clothe themselves in the sacrament of marriage. And when the priest asked us, the congregation, to say “we will” to their wedding vows I was given pause. I will be there for the bride. I will clothe her in Love. But upholding the ’til death do they part’ thing…how did they just get me to agree to that? [Read more…]

Venus Retrograde, Defrocked

Who is this lusty lady? Do we really know her at all? As Venus moves retrograde in Virgo today (through September 8 )she begs our kindness and our modesty. But to really know her we must first defrock her. Yes, take off her clothes.

My college art teacher once distinguished the difference between nude and naked. Nude implies self-consciousness, the awareness of being looked at, being watched. And the nude model’s poses are rehearsed or posed, from that perspective. We’re trained at nude, in art, magazines, advertising as nude naughtily seduces us into thinking she’s naked. But she’s not. No, nude will always double check her reflection in the mirror, angling for someone else. Meanwhile, naked is naked. As in: the buff. There’s no best angle to get because there’s no trying to “get”. Experiencing naked is happening upon a sleeping beauty in the buff, or a diaper-less baby playing on the beach. We’re so exquisitely surprised when we stumble upon that moment, that accidental naked moment (or any naked moment for that matter) a spontaneous beauty takes our breath away. Stripped of self-awareness, our inhibitions lift and for a moment, we’re just human beings, being naked. When we escape nude, naked is a taste of pure freedom.

Oh, to experience the vulnerability of naked ouch, the criticism and judgment, (usually our own) to our blessed imperfections. We’ve got to be comfortable in our own skin. To brave our own naked reflection. Better run for the concealer and hide those sleep-deprived eyes girls! Retouch our color and pluck those grey hairs. To be brutally honest, Venus won’t travel anywhere without her make-up bag. Goddess knows what artifice can do for a woman…

Hmmm, to capture Venus naked, in her unawares – c’est possible? Surely, it’s not an easy task, although her retrograde motion means she’s unloading her old garb in preparation for a major makeover. Nude and naked, perhaps she’s a walking, talking paradox? The idyllic Venus, a Maxfield Parrish picture with wisps of clouds floating between sea and mountain scapes, a lovely lady with a flowing gown, swinging as a young buck leaning on a Roman column pops grapes and chocolate into her mouth clearly clashes with the reality of the planet, barren, waterless, with lethal levels of sulfuric acid. Ah, love hurts. We get it. Venus has a built in illusion clause, true to loves form, a degree in prettying up for the camera. She has that pesky habit of glamorizing her own self-image just a wee bit, a little air-brush over here, nip and tuck there. She allows us to keep our precious illusions until we’re ready to part with them, one by one…

Will the real Venus please stand up?

Here’s the skinny on our girl: Ancient civilizations feared Venus. When the Aztecs saw Venus rise with the Sun, they took to their houses in fright. “And when it [Venus] newly emerged, much fear came over them; all were frightened. Everywhere the outlets and openings of [houses] were closed up. It was said that perchance [the light] might bring a cause of sickness, something evil when it came to emerge.” The Mayans timed their wars to Venus’ cycle. They made sacrifices to her so she wouldn’t destroy valuables, or worse, steal the Sun, sending the world into eternal darkness. What made Venus – to whom astrology attributes the beloved concepts of relatedness, values, feelings, pleasure and love – so fearsome and wrathful? Is it a case of mistaken identity or a question of seeing what we want to see? (By the way, I call Venus a ‘she’ because she’s the only feminine planet in the solar system. We all know Love isn;t gender-identified)

Happy New Year, Venus!

The cycle of Venus is 584 days. Approximately 1½ calendar years equals one Venus year. As the planet travels through these 584 days, she elegantly patterns a five-fold star, or pentagram, tracing backward and forward to complete. At the inferior conjunction, she’s at her closest point to the Sun, initiating a new Venus life cycle AND at the superior conjunction, she’s furthest from the Sun, holding a balance for awareness. Right now in the retrograde cycle, we’re rounding the final lap of this past Venus year. When she meets with the Sun on August 17 she forms a sort of Venus New Moon. If you’ve moonwatched, you know that New Moons seed new cycles. So it goes for Venus. 7 days later in the morning sky (around August 22) we can see her rise with the Sun and it’s a whole new day for love! We’re starting anew in relationship, and the intentions we carry in our hearts we carry to the future. Yay! First, you know the story: darkness before light. In the 7 days before New Venus emerges from the underworld she appears her darkest. She’s invisible from the night sky and she’s not on holiday. She’s in the underworld. This lady’s going down.

Yes, underworld. Don’t let it scare you, dears. Like any story it’s symbolic, not literal. Sumeria has this wonderful myth of Innana or Ashtar, their personal Venus, aka goddess of sexuality, fertility AND warfare. According to legend, Innana could be found at the local pub bagging hot men OR picking a fight, not necessarily in that order. Innana had this dark sister named Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld, whose brother had died so she decided to pop on in for the funeral. Being Venus (ahem), she had to look the part so dressed in her finest jewelry, wearing lapis lazuli, mascara and even a wig. She just so happened to ask several Gods to search for her if she went missing, you know just in case something went wrong. Was she going down to start a war  or as an act of love toward her sister? The legend is unclear here, pointing to Venus’ uncertain motives. So down she goes passing 7 gates removing pieces of her costume, one by one. By the time she passes the final gate, she is stripped, naked before the Queen. Ereshkigal is openly hostile toward her worldly sister. After all, in Innana’s world of sex and war, death has no place. Without her fighting gear, naked Innana is vulnerable to attack. Ereshkigal kills her sister and grotesquely hangs her from a meat hook.

So when the Gods Enlil, Nanna and Enki were recruited to save our Venus, the first two refused to help, claiming it was her own selfish mess. (Ironically, Innana’s own husband Dumuzi was unmoved to action on his wife’s behalf. Myth makes the point that he was not wearing mourning clothes and was otherwise pleasantly enjoying life, his pleasures undisturbed by his wife’s death.) So Enki went down south to fetch Innana, expressed deep concern over what was troubling Ereshkigal and with heart-to-heart conversation, some food and drink, Ereshkigal revived Innana. With baggage: demons. The demons would follow her until they found someone to take her place. Those demons were hungry for those shadow-y qualities of Venus, laziness, vanity, pursuit of self-interest. Surely her husband Dumuzi was an easy replacement. Heck, I’d deem him a necessary sacrifice, too. But we don’t need to sacrifice our partner during this retrograde period, do we ladies? That would be an evolutionary step backwards…

Innana’s symbolic descent into the underworld begins at Venus retrograde. We’re stripped of our superficial values and asked for our deeper ones. What are they? Are we bound by vanity and self-protection, or is there a place for bare bones death and transformation? There’s no point in posturing or posing, as Innana tragically discovered. Her inauthenticity led to her demise and indirectly, her huband’s. So mightn’t we strip ourselves of our illusions now or be stripped of them later? What do we need to relinquish? Maybe we need to relinquish the illusion of life over death, or our disregard for the natural cycles, the ups and downs of relationship (it’s not always up is it). Can you stand before your lover, naked? Holding an image of perfection – that is, never letting your lover see you without make-up for example or only showing your best face instead of your true one creates false illusions and suffering. The dark needs light, nude needs naked.

There are certain things Western Astrology advises against during Venus retrograde times (see below) and maybe for good reason, but a healthier and more empowering perspective suggests we strip down to our skivvies in heart matters. Really. When we’re nude, we’re participating in an illusion. On a physical level, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to appear our best. Beauty is magical. How wonderful to celebrate, relish and delight beauty! Yet, on a psychological level, hasn’t vanity destroyed enough relationships and started too many wars (hmmm…not just the Trojan War)? How far do we go with preserving our self-image, our pursuit of pleasure and at what cost? Let’s face it, when we’re naked, we’re honest. We’re defenseless and vulnerable. But oh, so powerful. Think of Lady Godiva horseback, long hair whipping against her naked body. Her singular naked act freed England from oppression.

And that’s the naked truth.

Standard notes on retrograde Venus:
Don’t make a major relationship decision, to marry or break-up. Relationships make a 180 degree turn then correct at Venus’ direct
Avoid cosmetic surgery and beauty treatments
Don’t make big purchases
Social events may disappoint
Relationships require extra attention and care
Save your makeover until Venus moves direct
People pursue pleasure with more voracity and criticize other’s aesthetic
Extreme differences in taste appear
Money and personal values clash

Venus enters Leo, beautifully, boldly

When you stop putting yourself on the line, and you don’t touch your own heart, how do you expect to touch other people? Tori Amos, Venus in Leo Diva

People are emboldened in heart affairs during Venus in Leo’s passage. Dramatic gestures of love and appreciation fan the flames of passion and romance – and isn’t that what we’re all after? Courtship is more than a first date, or the honeymoon period of a romance, it’s the love of a lifetime. We want that in-love feeling all the time (Leos are notorious romantics)! What we want from our partners is nothing less than worship.

We want to be wooed and others want our wooing. How to woo? Heap the attention on your lovers, lavish them with luxury, affection, and every Leo’s wet dream: praise. Be the recipient of the wooing by unleashing your creativity, charisma and 1000% original flair. Leave an impression. As Venus in Leo fashion icon Coco Chanel said, A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. Develop a signature style, a trademark and work it, work it, work it. Coco also said, There have been several Duchesses of Westminster but there is only one Chanel! The mark of authenticity is Leos claim and in Venus’ realm of beauty, style, fashion, relatedness and love… only the fabulous need apply.

Here’s the ultimate diva clause: there’s only room for one beauty in this room. She needs her own spotlight to feel special. You don’t have a spot for her? Hmmm. Wonder how long you’ll last in her life. She ultimately carries her own, so has no problem attracting someone who will turn up the wattage on her already brilliant mega-watt smile. Her attention makes you feel special too, like you’ve passed through the velvet ropes and are now entering the VIP lounge. You feel worthy. You feel happy. You feel loved. And this evokes a huge applause, like fireworks in your heart. It’s the woo-woo…and wow! of her creative power. A gold colored aura emanates from her mighty heart, dazzling us with her fierce love and creative strength.

And now a word from our sponsor…
Feeling intimidated, judgmental, shy, guilty, or think astrology is a bunch of over-sensationalized celebrity crock? Woo-woo and wow, you smirk. Well, obviously your diva needs some of your attention. Where have you hidden her? Underneath a rock? A frumpy peasant skirt? A condescending attitude, judgmental criticism? Where’ your sense of fun? As the original purveyor of attitude: attitude is attractive. Have you ever seen a supermodel without it? Hello?) And now we return to our original programming…

And her heart – It takes two strong hearts to withstand that heat. You can impress others with your amazing strength, but without an equal, someone with gifts and bravado equally as fabulous as yours, the applause moves in one direction. Which is fine if you’re Madonna, but not so cool if you’re in the business of loving, related partnership. You want a relationship that’s dynamic, exciting and mutually supports the artistry and creative gifts of one another. And no matter how evolved you claim to be, how grown-up or ego-less, none of us, read: no one ever loses the need for recognition and applause. It’s a human thing, an unabashedly appropriate reward for our human labors of love. One person wants to see their work of art hanging in the Louvre, the other, a patent on their new drug, yet another, the paycheck that pays the gross worth of their talent. So the give and take is: one person applauds and the other is the audience. Here’s the script: I am your number one fan. I love, applaud and honor (your talent here). You are wealthy and luxurious in so many ways (list here). You are so fabulous, classy and original (other adjectives here) that you blow me away! Your creativity is so endless I can’t wait to see what you come up next! Then you switch places.

Venus is in Leo and love is in the making. What’s Leo love? It’s active appreciation for your unique strengths, and those of the people around you. Its loving yourself enough to let your creative seeds out of the closet and let them shine. Celebrate your creative strength and power, put your work of art on the line and you’ll be met with a warm reception. Showcase your talent. Take a creative risk. You may think someone else is better than you (Saturn in Leo). So what? You’re an original. And please, for the sake of those trembling Lions who are just coming out of the den for the first time, follow the golden rule of Leo: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all!