Venus Retrograde And The Question Of Love
As we are now over a couple of weeks into the Venus retrograde (October 5 – November 16, 2018, with its “shadow” period from September 2 – December 17), retrogrades ask us to revisit certain themes aligned with the planet in question, it seems a good time to ask ourselves about how we think and feel about Love, including in its varying forms.
The Venus retrograde traditionally indicates the return of issues and people who represent(ed) whom we have loved and what we have valued. It deals, too, with how we see beauty, transcendence, and illumination – including what the Romantics considered the Sublime and how we embody or express this notion. It also asks us to assess the balance of feminine/masculine in ourselves, in people around us, and in the world so we can make adjustments as necessary when Venus goes direct.
This, too, is about seeking to understand who we most are at a fundamental level of emotion and identity, and how this affects our relationships with others. The caveat: this is usually a time, solely, for assessment, not necessarily action. Meditating deeply on these aspects and what most resonates about what we learn gives us a key to know what nuances are meant for the past, and which need action when it is time to move forward. When it comes to love – sometimes a tough subject, depending upon what has happened since the last Venus retrograde -understanding who we now are based, too, on whom we’ve been may be essential.
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The Classical Answer
The Greeks were famous for having delineated the different forms of love. For them, this was essential when it came to understanding the nuances of different kinds of relationships. Human emotion is fluid; it can be confusing, changeable, volatile, and can induce a sense of profound vulnerability. Love is arguably the most profound of these emotions and thought to carry the highest energy frequency, can sometimes be muddied by other, more “mundane” or “lower” vibrational emotions when it is not purely felt, when situations are changing, or when we are not clear on how we truly feel.
In their Classical tendency toward definitions to make things easier, or at least to have a fighting chance to understand how or what we might feel, they separated love into four forms: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē.
This form of love is what we most think of when we think of love that is “Divine” – it is the kind of love one has for God/Source/Spirit – whatever one chooses to call the Infinite. It addresses the love in the most profound of relationships, such as a parent for his or her children, or the purest love possible between the masculine and the feminine (whether within, between sexes, or those of the same sex). This is also the kind of love that mystics felt for God in all forms of mysticism–among every religion–when being at “one” with the Divine in a revelatory experience.
This is “sexual” love – eroticism, Divine sensuality – that feeling of aesthetic beauty turned physical. It is overwhelming, overtaking the senses, turning into an intense physicality. This carries its own truth. It is a sense that cannot be denied when felt or intellectualized into submission. It is, some mystics believe, the energy that finds its expression in matter–and why the physical can be extreme as an experience in both its positive and negative aspects. This is the kind of feeling Gnostics, for instance, in their dualist belief that matter was evil, and that the spirit was transcendent, and gnosis was the ultimate Divine expression, eschewed for its sense of being “unclean”. However, the Hermetic philosophers believed this is why we were here in a physical incarnation: to understand that energy made physical is just another expression of the Divine and something from which we can learn in our quest for Illumination.
Aristotle suggested this was the deep love between and among friends, community, and others for whom one feels profound respect on a human level; it expresses ultimate virtue, without crossing a certain line of intimacy. While this kind of love is also considered Divine, it is meant as a kind of overall love of humanity. This is the kind of love that humanists have or those who seek the balance, parity, and equality among all within an overall community. This suggests each of us is deeply important in our own, unique way, and the love we have for another human being on this level is about seeing every soul as an expression of the Divine, or Infinite.
This is love in its empathic, accepting form – more situational than general. This is the kind of love that is more dispassionate, in the sense of compassion for someone despite what they may do, the success they may or may not have in a certain endeavor, or in terms of tolerance when one’s actions or character is completely counter to our own sensibilities. When one has solely a basic form of empathy, one does not love in the same profound way one feels for a romantic partner, spouse, or a child, or even humanity as a whole; but for an individual or smaller group, including one with whom we do not agree. But if we can feel empathy or compassion, we still feel a form of love that accepts someone despite what we cannot understand.
Sometimes, such as during a retrograde, when much seems in flux, or even chaotic, it may help to be able to see things in terms of classification – making sense, or order, out of chaos on the microcosmic level of the self. But that doesn’t ever mitigate the underlying unity or flow of the whole on the level of the macrocosm – the level of the Universal, Divine, or Infinite. The bottom line: as we ask ourselves sometimes essential questions during a retrograde, or handle the return of issues that need resolution, we need to feel love and compassion, too, for ourselves, and our own path, as much as we may have – or even feel we should have – for others.
It is always all right to ask questions, and to feel out the answers, to see what resonates most deeply, at the very core of our being, so that we can understand the best way forward when the time comes. In terms of this Venus retrograde, have such compassion for what you find, and try to see it less as a time of chaos than as an opportunity for finding clarity, and the earnest empowerment such clarity can bring.
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