(A companion piece to ‘Meditations on Lilith’ which really needs to be read in conjunction with the ‘Retrogrades and Eclipses’ article)
At the moment (17th June 2012) Venus is doing very interesting things in our skies, especially when considered in the light of religious and spiritual traditions. Venus is applying to a conjunction with Jupiter (ruler of religion and philosophy) and a square to Neptune (ruler of mysticism and wider spirituality). However, these aspects do not perfect, instead she changes direction and heads back into a square with Chiron (ruler of nothing but priest king of the centaurs). Thinking about this, I find myself wondering about what this means in terms of both personal and communal spirituality. There are so many beautiful connections with mythology and ancient traditions and the story of what is happening in our skies at the moment it seemed worth while exploring in a little more detail.
There are many traditions that mention Venus as significant and their origins reach back into the mists of time. She certainly plays a prominent part of the creation myths of many peoples from the Japanese through the Aztecs to Aboriginal Australian stories. I mention in ‘the Venus Connection’ that the Mayan long count calendar, which ends this year, began some 5000 years ago. In the light of that kind of time span it is interesting to note that the oldest religious texts are the Pyramid texts of ancient Egypt but even they are only approximately 4500 years old so don’t reach back to the previous Mayan calendar epoch. Instead what remains that give us clues to the beliefs and practices reaching back that far in time are statues and myths in most of which Venus or her variations are extremely prominent and there is evidence is that goddess worship and matriarchal societies were most widespread.
Part of the Mayan myth also mentions handing over the running of the affairs of the world from the male god to the female goddess, that they swap with each count. Fascinating, then, that at this time of the end of one long count and the beginning of another we see a rare transit of Venus, coinciding with the eclipse cycle and in which the characters of Lilith, Chiron, Jupiter and Neptune are playing a significant part, alongside Venus. It’s like we can see the planets acting out an ancient dance in our skies which is not one of battle and oppositions and confrontation but a balancing and remembering of different qualities, all of which relate somehow to the spiritual in our human lives.
In the traditions from which Semitic religions and the Bible grew up there are tales of this dance and the remains of statues reaching back before 3000BC. It seems clear that back then goddess worship was the most widespread kind of spiritual practice. However, as I note in ‘Meditations on Lilith’ it seems that back in the mists of time different qualities became split off from one another, fragmenting our understanding and experience of the spiritual in our lives. The world became polarised and separated into ‘good and bad’. This can be seen in representations of the goddess; the image that is most often seen in articles etc about Lilith is also often used as an example of representations of Innana and Ishtar. It seems they could be one and the same, with origins in the ancient goddess Astarte who was both mother and sacred prostitute (note that the connotations we put on the term prostitute would not have applied then), it is only in the light of our current frameworks that we imagine they are different, but in that imagining we do deny the wholeness of our experience.
In ‘Facing the World with Soul’, Robert Sardello draws upon the myth of Sophia and notes how some Christian mystical traditions have separated the feminine into Mary Magdalene and Mary the Virgin – the one a whore who can have sex but cannot bear children, the other a pure woman who can have children but doesn’t have sex. The female or goddess spirit is separated. Yet right now, in the skies around us we see these different aspects or energetic qualities working together and we are able to look on and wonder whether this time shows the dawning of a remembrance of wholeness.
Add to this the point that in the beginning the Semitic religions (specifically Judaism and Christianity) didn’t have the concept of original sin – it was invented by Saint Augustine. So what, then, might have happened in the ‘Garden of Eden’? Surely not some issue to do with men, women, sexual relations, sin, shame and so on – human beings are said to have eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (dualism), tempted by the snake. Prior to that time, there is evidence that in the goddess cults of the past the tree of life is worshipped. Importantly, Venus in traditions across the world is often represented with or as a snake (the Rainbow Serpent of Australia, Quetzalcoatl in meso-America, the serpent in the Garden of Eden). The snake holds the secret of eternal life as he has eaten of the tree of life and sloughs his skin in order to be re-born. It is in the eating of the tree of knowledge that this secret is forgotten and the world splits into oppositions and dualisms. However, in a beautifully symbolic connection, in the Revelations of St John it is the Tree of Life that takes centre stage in the new world that dawns, with fruit for the ‘healing of all nations’. In another piece of graceful astrological symbolism we have just witnessed a solar eclipse on the fixed stars of the Pleiades, the seven stars, and seven stars are referred to as heralding the second coming (Revelations 1:16) and the dawning of the new world is one with the morning star (Revelation 22:16).
At this time of increasing violence and economic uncertainty surely some remembrance of wholeness is to be welcomed – definitely we could do with something to help with the healing of all nations. I find it rather beautiful that we are able to view the movements of the stars and planets in the heavens and they can remind us of this and encourage meditation on its meaning.
Just a couple of the web places I have come across when looking into this:
Fascinating page, part of Gnosis archives, with an extract of the Secret Revelation of St John and linking to other aspects of the Gnostic tradition.
Interesting piece which draws together Biblical myths with the goddess cults
Link to a guided meditation on Pistis Sophia