|Mars and Venus by Sandro Botticelli (c.1483)|
The god of war –- naked, defenceless, vulnerable – sleeps with his mouth half open, exhausted by lovemaking (we suppose), while Venus, the goddess of love, with not a hair out of place, fully clothed, regards him quite coolly, stroking his ankle with just the tip of her pinkie finger.
The lovers of myth are shown in the territory of the goddess; they are surrounded by a grove of myrtle, her sacred tree. The devilish little satyrs are her creatures.
Mars is unmanned. His “lance” and his helmet are playthings. The god sleeps so deeply that even a conch shell blown in his ear cannot wake him up. His exposed neck invites kisses, or perhaps an assassin’s knife*. She has destroyed all his defences.
Love conquers war.
But maybe Botticelli is saying more than that. He could be depicting an aspect between Venus and Mars Retrograde like the one coming up, because Mars is not just having a kip, he’s out cold. Venus does not look the slightest bit post-coital, she’s calculating as a Capricorn.
Readers of this blog will know that I think Botticelli — like any educated person in the court of Lorenzo de Medici — was well versed in astrological symbolism and used it in his painting sometimes. Click here to see how it works for Primavera.
|Yoko Ono (Libra Rising) John Lennon (Sun, Mars, NN in Libra)|
Mars, the planet of libido and vitality, will be in Venus’s sign Libra until July 26. Although Mars is said to be in “fall” here, you can also see why that’s not such a bad thing. There is a time when every warrior should put down his arms, and maybe spend some time in the arms of his lover. Love needs passion.
When the planet of war goes into the sign of peace, we get peace talks. Wherever Mars transits, there is action. This could be action for justice, for peace, for love, for co-operation. There have been plenty of wars started under this transit too, notably Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, so it’s no panacea, but on a personal level we can use this energy for good.
On March 1, Mars will turn retrograde and he won’t go forward until May 20. Now Mars does not go retrograde in the sign of relationships often – 1982, 1999, 2014, 2029 — that is around every 17 years. At this point Mars may well take a complete rest and go to sleep, like the god in Botticelli’s painting.
Each time he does so, his interactions with the goddess of love are different. This month she is in cool, controlled Capricorn, so Mars and Venus are at odds, squaring each other by sign.
But the two planets are also doing an odd sort of cha cha cha. While Mars is in Libra an extra long time this year, Venus is also in Capricorn an extra long time too. That means the square aspect between them, and the dynamism it brings, is also unusually prolonged. But it gets a little more complicated still, because they are in retrograde motion at different times.
In January, Venus is Rx, while Mars is direct and in March, the motion is reversed: Venus is direct, but Mars is Rx. It’s as if when one of them is ready, the other runs away. The lovers square each other exactly on January 16 and then again on March 2.
This highly energetic square, opening and closing like a bellows, fits in with the on-going Uranus-Pluto square. Pluto is also in Capricorn, while Uranus is Libra’s opposite sign Aries. With Jupiter in Cancer also involved, the emotional volume is set to full blast, and you can see that Jupiter is in aspect to both Mars and Venus this week.
We may all have to practice our dance steps in order to keep up.
*Some historian believe that the model for Mars is Giuliano de Medici, who was quattrocento Florence’s most eligible bachelor before being murdered by the Pazzi family in 1478 at the age of 25. If the date for this painting is approximately right, he would already have been dead for several years. Simonetta Vespucci, said to be the model for Venus and certainly an inspiration for Botticelli, would also have been long in her grave. They may, or may not, have been lovers. It was said that he was a great athlete and she was the most beautiful woman in Florence. Maybe Botticelli was imagining an afterlife as gods for them…