Nothing like the Sun…

As Venus prepares to retrograde in Capricorn, I can’t help but think about what she and her retrograde signify in our larger American society. One manifestation of my recent thoughts on her comes from my studies in Islam. In Islamic thought, there’s the concept of Allah (G-d) as reflective of two principles: Tanzih and Tashbih. With the concept of Tanzih, everything in the Cosmos is unlike Allah as Allah is incomparable and transcendent. It’s the opposite of thinking that God is everything and everything is God. With the concept of Tashbih, everything relates or is like Allah in that Allah has those traits or is the source/embodiment of a trait that we express as well, like love or mercy. One interesting distinction is that Tanzih often emphasizes how Allah has distance from us through wrath or judgment. Tashbih relates more to the mercy and compassion of Allah.

If you’re curious about how Venus relates to race, racism or injustice, you might want to start here with Nick Dagan Best’s amazing correlation between Venus cycles and African American history. In that blog post, Nick does an amazing job of illustrating that the similitude function of Venus warps in American polity when it comes to race. It becomes a dissimilitude instead of a similitude. This dissimilitude between what’s perceived as Black & White is what’s at the heart of the unjust experiences of Black people. In fact, it was a few weeks before the last Venus retrograde in May 2012 that much of Black America was mobilized to bring George Zimmerman to justice for the murder of Trayvon Martin in late February of that year. And then he got off this year. I’m not in the position to debate the measure of justice Trayvon’s family received as I didn’t watch the case closely. However, it’s become apparent to many that the “Stand your ground” laws and practices are coming under question, like with the cases of  Marissa Alexander in Florida (again) and Renisha McBride in Detroit, MI. With the McBride case about to go to trial, I find it all too strong a parallel with what we were contending with during Venus’ last retrograde.

But what set me flowing about Venus retrograde as a manifestation of Tanzih or what’s incomparable is the rash of “blackface” shenanigans we had this past Fall. Here’s a piece from fellow writer Jamilah Lemieux about it.  But a thought occurred to me this year about blackface that hadn’t before: it would seem some White folks find being a Black person in costume incomparable to their own experience without wearing brown or black make-up. That’s bizarre since I’ve never donned any White make-up to be any number of White people I’ve been in my life.  It’s as if the color of a Black person’s skin becomes the only pathway to finding a shared point of humanity in “being” or looking like the person. This not only shows a paucity of imagination, but empathy as well. It’s as if for these folks, some of them even good hearted in wanting to pay tribute to some notable Black person, Blackness is a thing so incomparable to their own Whiteness, so tanzih in their own experience, that they can not enter the guise of someone else without painting themselves. That’s profoundly sad. It’s not even maddening for me anymore.

I’m pretty sure the answer is not just in telling folks to step out their “Tanzih” zone and reach for more Tashbih. I think we can find a more nuanced way to appreciate space for both. That’s what made me think of Shakespeare’s Love sonnet 130:

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

What’s beautiful about this sonnet is how Shakespeare expresses how we can have the idea of the incomparable yet find love and appreciation all the same without denigration. A love sonnet is naturally under the auspices of Venus. A Venus in Capricorn is an astrological marker for how Venus seeks to find and experience value in the world of competence and materialism. Taken together, I hope we experience events, whether it’s the McBride case or Alexander case, or, heaven forbid, something new, that help us bridge the gaps in our imagination and empathy. That we find more space for tashbih and reserve the space for the incomparable for Supreme values that borrow from the Divine, but can never embody wholly as humans. One of those values is not your skin color, though.

Happy Full Moon!

Here’s how the Venus retrograde may manifest for some by Sun, moon or rising sign this week:

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]

Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

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Venus & Saturn straighten out their wigs, finally. Learn more in the Zodiac Lounge…

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Venus Retrograde in Scorpio 2010: Before I let go…

The astrological Venus is the harmonizer. She’s the planet that establishes how you resonate with what or who is like you, as in affinity, and what (or who) you actually like. In myth, we know Venus as the goddess of lust, love and all things or creatures beautiful. In Taurus, one of her key signs of operation, she establishes how we resonate with the natural or material world. In Libra, she establishes how we resonate with each other. When she’s traveling through the signs of Mars, Aries and Scorpio, she often finds it hard to blend an impulse toward harmony and asserting herself passionately(as Mars likes to do). This is what has been happening as Venus has been in Scorpio for the last month. But when a planet goes retrograde, meaning she appears to travel backwards through the Zodiac, then she has some extra trouble.

Retrograde planets find it harder to function because they are journeying deep in our psyches. Rather than being upfront, with retrograde planets, nothing is as it seems or what has not been seen for awhile resurfaces. You might remember when I spoke about Mercury going retrograde recently, I talked about how that planet’s importance became exaggerated during the retrograde, highlighting our attachment to all things Mercurial.This also happens when Venus is retrograde, as she travels into the underworld of psyches.

So this is the time when we have to pay careful attention to our attachments, whether material or emotional. The power of this retrograde is even greater because it comes on the cusp of a New moon in Libra. If you’re starting a new relationship, then be attentive to the issues that surface as they may surface rather fast. If you recognize a pattern with this new person, chances are it’s not him or her. It’s something you’re not perceiving about yourself.

Likewise, if you’re holding on to old worn out things (like clothes, furniture, etc) or harmonizing with people who don’t match your identity or current sense of self, you may be either inspired (or pushed) to release those people or things. The pushing part may come in the form of losing some things or having disruptions or arguments with people who you normally get along with. Unlike Mercury, however, the problem may not be just one of communication, but something deeper: you may not resonate with each other at a core level.

It’s also true, since it’s a retrograde, that someone with whom you thought you didn’t resonate or only resonated with on a superficial level may become closer to you. For instance, a client of mine told me that her husband gave her a newly redone diamond-studded wedding band last night as a symbol of their re-commitment to each other. Last year this time they were on the rocks. So what’s lost can be found; what’s held too tightly can have its grip loosened; and what’s loosely held can be held tighter. The important thing is to keep your integrity at this time.

With Venus out of sorts in Scorpio, she is challenged to call forth the best in her nature rather than get down right treacherous and nasty, which could be easy to do now. (Remember: we’re going deep into our psyches now, so people, places and memories from the past surface as do all the possibly strong negative feelings surrounding them.) The key is to keep perspective, realizing what rock star Sting once sang is likely true: “If you love someone (or something), set them free.” As much as we put energy into loving someone, it doesn’t mean we own them or they owe us. Love freely given must also be freely received as well. When love given is not honored, then Venus uses the force of Scorpio to exact revenge, which is not her nature. She wants to redeem the past by making the present more than what it is. She can’t, however.

The force of Scorpio is best used, not for revenge, but for summoning from the depths to herself the one true aspect of her nature that she can control: her dignity. You can get angry when you’ve been violated, either in the past or present. You can get sad when hurt. But the best thing is to get up, dust yourself off, and move on. Going through hell and back, as Venus is symbolically doing with the retrograde, is really about the going forward AND then carrying the things you KNOW belong to you after going through hell and back–even if you don’t have much but just the skin on your back because,  at least, you KNOW that’s yours! Everything else?…let it go.