Monday, 24 August 2009

The Primary Problem with Venus

I want to present a few thoughts on the nature of Venus, but I don't pretend that they are definitive. These ideas are supplemental to my lecture, God, the Universe and Everything which can be found at my web site as a video presentation.

The problem is that the nature of Venus is variously described as cold and moist, and/or hot and moist; Lilly states in Christian Astrology that Venus is both of Air and Water, both phlegmatic and sanguine (p73). (For a discussion of the humours, please refer to the Traditional Horary Course materials and Luis Ribeiro's article in The Tradition journal, both of which also refer to the application of the humours.) However, taking Lilly's statement that Venus has two pairs of primary qualities, and because this is difficult to apply in practice, I'll address the question of why or how this situation arises. I will not go into great detail here, and so interested readers are referred to my other articles and lectures for more information, but perhaps most appropriately the presentation mentioned above.

I have been lecturing on the philosophy and basis of astrology for some years now, and it is to those ideas that I now refer. Genesis I says, "In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth.", this describes a primary division and can be interpreted in a number of ways. However, the next lines state, "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep [water], and [then] the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." The imagery produced here is one of gender and generation, thus the masculine (active) Heaven and the feminine (receptive) Earth. So, for our purposes, the first or primary division of Creation was one of gender. When we talk about the primary qualities or natures of the planets, it is to this that we refer, otherwise it isn't primary. Thus, Venus is primarily feminine.

The next division, after the creation of Light, is of day and night, representative of time, and these are connected with the previous division of space, above and below. In my interpretation of Genesis I, these two divisions overlap and lead to the creation of the four elements by secondary division. The whole story is one of fertility through division, and through that we can deduce the source of the creation of benefics and malefics. The former corresponds to fertility and productivity, the latter to barrenness and destruction. Jupiter and Venus are designated as benefics because of their power of moderation, or fertility. The two qualities required for fertility are heat and moisture, thus Venus, as a benefic, can correspond to these qualities. However, primarily it is feminine and thus corresponds to coldness and moisture, and the qualities of the night, thus phlegmatic.

This is one way of explaining how it might be that Venus can be both Airy and Watery. In application, the context will be important, thus if you are searching for beneficence, the hot and moist natures are important; if you are looking for a primary quality, then coldness and moisture have priority. For example, when we are examining the planetary hour, we should look at Venus in its primary mode as cold and moist; its secondary nature as a benefic might be used in other applications, such as in the calculation of temperament. In the latter, because it provides a guide to balance or imbalance, productivity or non-productivity, we need to look at the planets and their positions as significant of one or the other. Thus, Venus would be dealt with as the lesser benefic, productive, fertile, and progressive and thus, sanguine.


  1. Dear Sue,

    Thank you very much for this important clarification. This double nature of Venus has, in my opinion, always been a very interesting point.
    To understand this problem better it might be useful to locate her position on the cabbalistic Tree of Life. Venus is attributed to Netzach, which is located at the bottom of the pillar of mercy, representing the force of the lower arc. What we have to keep in mind to solve our riddle is the fact that Netzach is concerned with the function of polarity. And it is exactly this polarity, this interplay between force and form that explains why Venus is of this double nature. A further exploration along the path reveals that, through Tiphareth, the pivotal Sephira, Mars can be reached which is located on the pillar of severity. He builds the second point of this important axis, which might be worth investigating. As Sue points out so beautifully in her presentation, the Sun (Tiphareth) is the centre around which everything revolves and again the glyph of the Tree of Life depicts this accurately.

  2. Dear Peter

    Thank you for your interesting thoughts, I'm glad that you've pointed out this link with the Tree of Life, it is an important one and needs to be made more often I think. Qabala is also a way of considering Venus's correspondence with Nature, but then Qabala is a way of considering the whole of astrology.

    Sue Ward

  3. Dear Sue,

    You are of course absolutely correct in pointing out the fact that Venus corresponds with nature. This is what was known to be the Green ray.
    Let us lift the veil a little bit further by pointing out that the lower Sephiroth are attributed to the 4 Elements and furthermore that the Magical Weapon corresponding to Netzach/Venus is the Lamp. A meditative emersion into these correspondences should enable us to gain a better understanding of the nature of Venus.

    Peter Stockinger


Please note that comments may not be published, but thank you for taking the time to respond.