The (Kind of Creepy) Birth of Venus

August 21, 2011

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In the second post of her three-part series on the myth of Saturn, guest blogger Isy Tifft, takes a look at what can happen to a flying penis when it hits the ocean waves. 

Alexandre Cabanel’s Birth of Venus (1875).
You can see why Napoleon III wanted this painting for himself.

In my first guest post, we saw Saturn, the youngest Titan, with extraordinary self-management and merciless timing, cut his criminal father away from his furious mother and win dominion over the gods. Let’s look a little more closely at what else happened, and how it relates to Saturn’s distinctive energy.

Saturn attacked his father Uranus for transgressing against nature on three counts.

  • First, his father’s rape of his mother was an abuse of sexuality, a core part of being.  
  • Second, Uranus had trapped and imprisoned his youngest children, a negation of his own seed, his stake in the future.  
  • Third and most importantly, Uranus had taken Earth’s fecundity – in her children – and buried it away from any chance of growth, flourishing and further procreation.

The rape of Gaia was considered by the ancient Greeks to be a marital issue, hating one’s children to be a personal one, but contravening the fecundity of Earth was a transgression against the essential nature of things.   

Uranus was doomed by his actions.

We left the story right after Saturn thought, planned, waited, then slashed open the gap between Earth and Sky, sending his father’s wedding tackle flying just at the critical moment.  The blood that spattered onto the Earth became giants, furies, ash-tree nymphs, and other mythical beings.

When Uranus’s (let’s not beat about the bush) falling penis, anointed by Earth’s body and full of sperm, fell into the sea – realm of Saturn’s older siblings Oceanus and Tethys – it caused a great foaming, agitation, and froth.  Aphrodite, later romanized to Venus Urania, was born from the froth and the waves, midwifed by fishes who swept her safely to shore.  (This is one of the Pisces origin myths and Venus is exalted in Pisces.)

Thus, Venus Urania has roughly five parents, and was born as a result of punishment/sacrifice for multiple transgressions against love, duty and care.  And she could have been born in no other way.

Venus’ very existence depended on Saturn doing everything exactly right, although that’s not why he did it.

The least deviation from his course would not only have meant disaster for himself, it would have meant that the Venus of heartfelt love, cherished children, and rational comfort could never have come into being… She was a natural outcome, as it were.

So, on a personal level,

Saturn requires the correct course, regardless of whether you relish the task or fear failure. But, when you do exactly what he calls for, the doors that seem to bar your way simply disappear. Moreover, the fertile opportunities this creates can provide the most unexpected, but perfectly logical, additional benefits.

In my next and last in this series, I’ll look at the dark side of Saturn, and what happens when he, too, transgresses against himself and his family.

For more of Isy’s writing on health, adaptation, science, and sailing…
* Health and Life with CRPS-1:
http://livinganyway.blogspot.com

* Cauterizing the Bleeding Edge: http://biowizardry.blogspot.com 

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guest blog, myths & fairytales, Saturn, Venus

12 comments

Christina said:

This post really set me thinking Isy. Thanks.

First of all, we are all under a Saturn-Uranus opposition across Libra-Aries. Saturn is, of course, in Venus’s sign – and he’s traditionally exalted there.

The two old enemies face off. In astrology, it’s useful to think of the face-off as a dynamically tense aspect, especially when Uranus is involved. And we can see all around us, that change is happening.

Where will the flying wedding tackle land this time I wonder…

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Anonymous said:

I think the picture you posted is from D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, an amazing illustrated primer on the myths for kids (obviously, they had to tone down some of the material!).

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Christina said:

thank you – I think that puts me in breach of copyright, so I’ll change it. It is gorgeous though – and the tenderest evocation I’ve found of that particular marriage.

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Storm Cestavani said:

I think this myth perfectly puts into perspective the problem of Urananian ideals once they become concrete reality. Once any of Uranus chilren (even his ideas) are born, they are no longer perfect, and as such are tainted in someway. Great great post!

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Isy Aweigh said:

“Where will the flying wedding tackle land this time I wonder…”

Excellent question, and one I can’t stop howling with laughter about.

Libya is riveting right now. I didn’t say — for the sake of space — that the specific fish (piscoids, really) who swept her to shore were Saturn’s illegitimate sons Aphros and Bathys, the horse-hooved ichthyocentaurs. Aphros subsequently went ashore at Carthage and became king there.

How nearly synchronous, in light of the current activity in nearby Libya! My eyes are glued to Tunisia next.

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Christina said:

I also find the story of Uranus’ rape of Gaia very powerful. Astrologically, Uranus is (among other things) technology, human-made stuff. So you see where this is taking me. A disrespectful exploitation of the Earth is going to make old Father Time mad.

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Anonymous said:

Amazing, super brilliant re-envisioning of Saturn!

Critical to add to is that Venus was the goddess of the sacred cosmic balance (her astrological glyph). “Kosmos” means “beauty” in Greek, and the goddess of beauty is properly understood as the goddess who balances all the cosmic energies into a coherent, aesthetic whole.

When she steps on the shores of Lydia, flowers pop up behind her every step (like the lotus behind the steps of the Buddha), suggesting that she was also the goddess of ‘flourishing’ (eudaimonia).

The perfectly timed actions of Saturn, then, are a critical initial act to secure the sacred cosmic balance of nature and lay a foundation for flourishing and thriving on Earth — about as far from his current mythology as I can conceive, but better fits his birth story. Another way to think of this is that human flourishing on Earth requires that we ‘give birth to’ our Saturn, activate our Saturn.

Again, truly fantastic revisioning of the Saturn mythology.

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Christina said:

@Anonymous – and a very useful additional bit of analysis from you if I may say so.

I wonder if what we are actually witnessing with this Cardinal Climax is exactly this rebalancing……

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latifa said:

Venus Kosmocrator resonates to “setting the universe in order” in the sense of creating harmony and beauty…from whence we get the word “cosmetic”..
she’s balanced on the waves, dancing on the foam, “afros”, and is named for that…the ephemeral nature of her cosmic dance is highlighted in her many Greek epithets…Aloha

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Jeanne said:

I prefer Botticelli’s Birth of Venus as illustration more than Cabanel’s revolting Victorian pornograph (which is not from d’Aulaire’s children’s book). See Wikipedia article on Botticelli’s 1476 painting, where it is illustrated. Isy’s posts are indeed a fascinating new take on mythological origins of storytelling.

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Christina said:

Oh no – Anonymous was quite right. I removed the illustration from D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths and replaced it with this.

Sorry you don’t like it. My surfer buddy tells me it is the very embodiment of a “perfect wave”.

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Laura Serena said:

Isy’s insights into Saturn and Venus seem quite brilliant to me. I particularly like the idea that the Goddess of Love could not have been born until all sorts of inappropriate, selfish actions had first been tried. Humans really do seem to go through a lot of trial and error in relationships before evolving the ability to actually love.

And Saturn as the judge of appropriate action, who causes trouble unless we are acting appropriately, seems quite true also.

I like the image, Christina. It is very wavelike indeed.

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