Venus and the Freedom to Be Yourself
First, a brace of different ways to get my views on what July is bringing us and how we can align with it:
- My EDGE monthlies for each sign for the month of July are posted.
- I cover June’s astrology in expanded detail for each sign in the July Expanded Audio Horoscopes. These average about 13 minutes in length, they’re only $6.95 each and they come in MP3 format so you can download and listen as often as you want.
- I’ll be digging deeper into June’s historic Venus occultation and the healing potential Venus is bringing us as she returns to the occultation degree in mid-July on my monthly EDGE Astrology show. I’ll be pre-recording this month’s show – you can use the link in the previous sentence to catch it at the normal time slot (Wednesday, July 4 at 7p EST/6p CST/4p PST) or listen to it at your leisure here after the initial airing.
There’s a lot more flashy astrology going on this month than Venus simply retracing her retrograde route in forward motion through Gemini. But I’ve been exceptionally tuned in to this Venus transit since the June 5 occultation and, while it has turned out very differently than I might have expected it to, I believe this is one of the most extraordinary astrological windows of opportunity in our lifetimes. So I want to start here.
As I mentioned in last month’s forecast, the pair of Venus occultations that have happened eight years apart this century (the next Venus occultation doesn’t happen for another hundred years!) seems to carry a theme of the return of the Divine Feminine. Venus is generally considered to be one of the inherently “good” astrological archetypes. We expect prominent Venus transits to operate in a helpful way.
I mentioned last month that I see this second occultation as completing a circuit of healing that began at the previous occultation in June 2004. But I and many of my clients have been experiencing this Venus energy not as a sudden burst of happy enlightenment or miraculous instant healing but rather as a plunging into the depths of a lifelong pattern of struggle, unease, or self-sabotage.
What gives, Venus?!
I admit that I was shocked at the force with which the occultation hit me. Rather than feeling liberated and free of the past, I seemed to be forcibly driven down into the past, to the point of reliving some of the painful and challenging emotions that (I now recall) were prevalent for me in 2004. I plan to discuss this at greater length in my EDGE Astrology show for July (see link above) but let me just say that my initial experience of the occultation energy was shockingly difficult.
The current Venus transit falls in my solar 4th House – the roots of the chart and the place that talks about family patterns, emotional security and our ability to feel at home and safe in the world. I had just moved to a new house a week before the occultation and, even though I knew that the house backs up on the parking lot of a giant hospital, I was shocked to find that for several days in a row, the sound of traffic continually flowing past my back deck became the dominant feature of my experience.
This led to a diagnosis of a condition called misophonia – a hypersensitivity involving the auditory and limbic systems in the brain that makes me extremely sensitive to noises that other people can just block from their awareness. Now, I had known for many years that I was extremely sensitive. But, and this is the short version of events, coming to understand that I was not alone in suffering from this condition and beginning to understand the mechanism by which the brain basically experiences an allergic reaction to certain sounds gave me hope for the first time perhaps in my adult life that I could come to terms with the condition and find a treatment that would enable me to live a somewhat more normal life.
This wasn’t what I was expecting to see when I took my own advice in the June forecasts and looked back to what I was experiencing in 2004. But the connection quickly became obvious. In 2004 I had just moved to New Orleans at a very transitional time in my life. I was living hand to mouth as I studied astrology and I lived in a small apartment owned by an absentee landlord who occasionally – with very short warning – returned to spend a few days in the city, forcing me to find a couch to surf until the apartment was mine again. During that period, I never felt safe or “at home” (4th House). In fact, during the first six months of 2004 I lived in at least five different places in three different states. One apartment was situated below a large Indian family that lived life at top volume and rarely seemed to sleep; one apartment sat right next to a busy highway exit ramp; one featured housemates who tended to stay up almost around the clock playing music or watching TV at high volumes and entertaining lots of twenty-something friends and family members.
At the time, I tended to blame life for not taking care of me adequately, but looking back I can see clearly that life was reflecting back to me the psychological dis-ease that was the legacy of growing up in an extreme religious and emotionally abusive family environment. I grew up feeling I was under constant surveillance and living in constant fear of being punished if I failed to adhere to a standard of behavioral perfection that was unreachable.
Those of you who have been reading this column for the last eight years know that I’ve worked diligently and utilized many spiritual practices and perspectives to heal my psyche. And, with much of the psychological storm of the occultation behind me now, I can see just how much benefit that work has given me. But there were moments in June where it felt as if I had regressed to the same psychological state that characterized my life eight years ago. And that, my friends, was a very scary feeling indeed.
I’m a firm believer that one of the best spiritual practices we can cultivate is remembering to ask for help when we need it. So I asked for help and it showed up, in so many ways. (Thanks to my colleagues and readers who arrived “out of the blue” to offer sessions and compassion and wise counsel!) The upshot of all this – and I’ve been privileged to provide the same perspective for several clients in the last month – was that I was able to see the events of 2004 and the circumstances of 2012 not just as isolated mood states or character weaknesses to be overcome but as central facets of my soul lesson in this lifetime.
I’ve been blessed to understand that in order to be able to live with the extreme sensitivity that makes me such a good musician and a powerful healing channel for my clients I need to go deeper into self-love and self-acceptance than I ever thought possible. Using just the misophonia as an example, I saw how much my struggles with substance abuse and addiction were driven directly by a desire to escape from the psychological unease of living in a world I had always experienced as too loud and too intrusive. I remember in my twenties telling people that I drank to “kill the noise” but I never accepted that statement at face value. I felt guilty and ashamed of being “too sensitive” and (like a good Pisces) I just dreamed of escape. Living in a house in the woods. Striking it rich so I could live in an island villa where the boom cars couldn’t reach me. Becoming a monk and living in a remote monastery…
Meanwhile I felt guilty about drinking and smoking and all the other things I did to dull the noise of the world. And after I got sober I continued to feel guilty for the rage I felt on those days when the neighbor’s dog barked for hours on end or the boom cars rattled my windows several times an hour. It never fully dawned on me until the last three weeks that what I was actually doing was holding myself to the same standards of perfection that had so damaged me as a child.
So here I am, bruised and a little dazed, but actually holding out hope that I might be able to make this whole thing work in a way that doesn’t feel crippling or require me to live as a hermit. I realize that I have to practice what I preach at an even deeper level and learn to accept all of my feelings, not just the ones that fit neatly into the “love and light” category. And that rather than running away from the parts of me that “aren’t fit to print” I must continue to learn to honestly acknowledge them.
Acknowledging my “not so spiritual” thoughts and desires and feelings doesn’t mean I have to act them out, although some of them may need to be expressed. But denial of the soul and of the shadow only pushes the pain deeper.
And that, I think, is the particular genius of this Venus transit. As Venus returns through Gemini in direct motion (making an exact hit on the occultation degree of 15 Gemini on July 19) I believe the answers to at least one of our deepest, lifelong questions are becoming available. Gemini is the sign of the mind and of the inherent duality of the psyche, so in order to make ourselves available to the healing Venus wants to bring, we must be willing to look at “the Other” within the Self. As I wrote last month:
Those of us influenced by Eastern philosophy or New Age spirituality tend to think along the lines of duality = bad, but we would be better off recognizing it as a part of the human condition: not something to be denied or transcended, but something to be understood and integrated. [...] The trap of the egoic mind, though, is in convincing us to vilify or deny or run away from our weakness, our darkness, our shadow. What this eclipse gives us the opportunity to do is to see both of these sides more clearly. Each has something powerful to offer us, but we can only receive their gifts when we accept their existence within the soul.
Little did I know how prophetic those words would turn out to be for me. We live in a society where acknowledging our weakness and darkness (unless we’re doing it for money or fame on a reality show or in the blogosphere or to gain sympathy as a victim) is still a highly taboo behavior. But isn’t this the essence of the Divine Feminine, at least in one aspect? Where the pure masculine principle seeks to cut the whole into parts which can then be utilized, accented, sold or destroyed in order to serve a purpose, the feminine principle acknowledges the whole. Where the spirit (traditionally seen as male) seeks to transcend or perfect weakness, the soul (traditionally viewed as feminine) embraces all of experience.
To be whole we must find a way for soul and spirit to coexist as equal partners in the Journey. This is the work of a lifetime, perhaps of many lifetimes. It’s the essence of alchemical transmutation as expressed in the Emerald Tablet.
I believe that identifying the fundamental split in the mind and gaining the tools to integrate the rejected part(s) of the psyche back into the Self is the healing blessing of this Venus occultation. I noted last month that the Mayans paid particular attention to the cycles of Venus. Perhaps the biggest theme of 2012 that I see emerging in my own life and in the lives of dozens of clients this year is the need to drop all of the pretenses and hack the genetic, family, and social programs that keep us trapped in severely limited versions of the Self we long to become. I do believe that once we step into the Authentic Self – a place that is very scary for the ego, not to mention for those around us who have a vested interest in our containing to play a safe, predictable role – the Universe rises up beneath us to carry us to our destiny.
I’ll be back in a couple days to write about Mars’ move into Libra and the Capricorn Full Moon on Tuesday, July 3 that activates the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square. But I want you to consider that the greatest gift that 2012 is trying to bring us is the freedom to be who we really are. Stepping into your true Self may require you to stretch in ways that are not only profoundly uncomfortable but may require you to break some of the biggest taboos of your family and cultural heritage.
But how can we ride safely on this huge wave of change that is sweeping our world if we are clinging to the burdens of the past?