Venus and Psyche
Venus and Psyche in the natal chart need to be studied in concert; the aspect situation in the birth horoscope between the planet that represents the goddess Venus and the body that represents the mortal Psyche (this according to Michael Munkasey’s work that designates Arcturus as the planet Psyche, not the commonly used asteroid) is an important indicator of both the balance of the internal energies of the anima and the possible archetypal relationships one might experience with other women. The following story illustrating the origins of the relationship of these famous figures of myth has many variations, depending upon the culture from which it’s drawn, but its essential meaning remains the same.
Venus (Aphrodite) had always assumed that her beauty was incapable of being surpassed; one day, though, she was shocked to hear that a mere mortal, the young woman Psyche, possessed a face and form that rivalled the goddess herself. Infuriated, Venus tasked her son Eros (also known as Amor or Cupid) with guiding Psyche’s romantic fate in a horrible direction: she instructed Eros to make Psyche fall in love with a hideous beast, which Venus believed would then make her repugnant to the rest of humanity. Eros went to Psyche, and while observing her, accidentally cut himself with one of his own magical arrows; instantly he fell deeply in love with the beautiful mortal.
Eros, being a god, devised a way to fulfill his passion and to avoid the wrath of his mother: he transported Psyche to a magnificent palace in a remote forest. The wind spoke to her and told her that she would have every luxury she could wish for, that her days were hers to spend as she pleased, and that the gods had chosen for her a wonderful husband, who would be everything she desired, but there was one condition: she was forbidden to look upon his face, or to ask him about his identity. He would visit her every night, and leave by daybreak. Now, this sounded good to Psyche, as, in carrying out his mother’s wishes, Eros had begun rumors that Psyche was doomed to a sad and loveless match to an ugly beast who would mar the reputation of the family, and so her parents, sisters, and the others of her village had begun to believe that she was something of a ‘bad luck charm.’ Psyche agreed to the conditions, and her idyllic married life with Eros began.
Eventually Psyche began to miss her family, so Eros agreed that she could bring her sisters to visit. The sisters had assumed that their lives were much better than Psyche’s, until they saw the circumstances that brought her every wish, and heard her speak of her happiness with her mysterious husband. She explained his absence during the day by saying that he hunted and only returned at dusk.The sisters had grown jealous, and suspected she was not being truthful. They frightened her, telling her of the rumors they’d heard that she was married to a deformed animal who would eventually tire of her and kill her. Though Psyche rejected their arguments in the moment, it wasn’t long before she broke the rule of darkness and took a lamp to bed with her. As Eros slept Psyche lit her lamp and looked at the face of her lover. She recognized him immediately–imagine her surprise when she saw the handsome countenance, the graceful white wings, and the quiver of magic arrows of a god! As she leaned above him, holding the lamp, a few drops of hot oil fell and awakened Eros. He cried out in pain, anger, and despair, and his shout made Venus able to find him. Psyche fainted, and their ‘perfect’ marriage was over.
Now this is all just preamble to the meeting of the two ‘forms’ of beauty, Psyche and Venus, which came when Psyche, in her loneliness for Eros, consulted an oracle who told her to plead directly with Venus to be reunited with her love. Venus, vain, self-absorbed, and rather impatient as a mother, had as punishment locked her son Eros in a dark room. Psyche took the oracle’s advice and went directly to Venus, to plead for forgiveness, and to petition the goddess to allow Psyche and Eros to be together. Venus, however, did not want to be appeased (note that this attitude is a common one among those who are jealous or envious, traits ruled by Venus–they want to disapprove, be angry, act punitively, so that there is nothing the object of their jealousy can do to change the situation. This is a hard fact to accept, and figures prominently in the reading of aspects between Psyche and Venus).
Venus implied that she might be amenable to forgiveness, if Psyche could perform the task assigned; naturally, Venus believed this was a feat impossible for a mortal to accomplish. Psyche was instructed to sort an enormous mound of many grains by kind in a single day. It was an impossible task for a mortal; but like any Being who has faith and trust in the Universe, Psyche prayed for assistance, and the birds, insects, and small animals of the fields came to her aid and sorted the many grains (this same pattern is echoed in the assitance received by the archetypal Snow White, another innocent whose inherent beauty draws the wrath of the one who feels beauty is her domain, the Queen, a.k.a. Venus). When Venus came at sunset and saw that her dictate had indeed been fulfilled, she was furious, and gave Psyche two more tasks, the first impossible, the second even more difficult!
Psyche was instructed to go where the rams with the golden fleece gathered, and to bring Venus as much wool as she could obtain. These rams were known to be very aggressive, and often killed humans with whom they came in contact (note here the very Martian nature attributed to the Aries symbol!) Psyche had no idea how she would get close enough to gather the wool, until she heard a voice on the wind, which told her to wait until the afternoon, when the rams would have spent their energy and would be at rest. She did, and on arriving at the clearing where the rams dozed she saw that much wool had been caught on the rough bushes as the rams charged each other; she gathered it easily and brought it to Venus, who was once again furious.
The final task was one that even innocent Psyche knew was dangerous; few who ventured into Hades/ the Underworld ever returned. Venus commanded she journey to Proserpina’s (or Persephone’s) lair and bring back some precious and rare aids to beauty that could only be found in the Depths. Again Psyche was given instruction by the voice in the wind as to how to accomplish this; she descended, then asked for and received a closed box, which she carried back to the surface. This is where Psyche, in manifesting some of Venus’ own traits (covetousness, enviousness, wanting ‘her share’) caused her own downfall (from another point of view, Psyche’s downfall was really just the vehicle for enormous change and oppotunity). Psyche decided to help herself to something from the box; when she opened it, it was empty but for a single, demonic creature that flew from the box and killed Psyche. At the very moment when this happened, Eros had succeeded in escaping from his ‘prison’ and witnessed Psyche’s end. Luckily, being a god, Eros had amazing powers and was able to revive his love; he then whisked her off to an audience with Jupiter (Zeus). He requested that Jupiter overrule his mother, Venus, and allow him to live with his love. Venus countered that Eros had disobeyed her every dictate; why, then, should he be rewarded?
Jupiter, who had an eye for the ladies himself, sided with Eros. He elevated Psyche to the rank of goddess, and did this by taking from Venus part of her domain and awarding it to Psyche. Though Venus was infuriated by this decision, there was no way to dispute the judgment of Jupiter, the supreme god, and thus Venus and Psyche now share territory that once was Venus’ alone. By the way, Psyche is the only mortal to have ever joined the ranks of the Olympians.
According to Michael Munkasey, Psyche has been in Libra since approximately 256 AD, and will remain there until 2416 AD, when it moves into Scorpio. Anyone born between (roughly) 1914 and 1984 will have Psyche at 23 degrees Libra (it moves at the approximate rate of 1 degree every 72 years). When you locate Psyche in your chart, you might want to consider that Psyche’s story is very much a story of choosing enlightenment, and the trials brought about by this choice lead to destruction of the old identity, followed by resurrection of a new, more powerful version of the Self. Apply this idea to the concepts linked to the energies (points, planets, and lights) that Psyche contacts for you.
Psyche and Venus in Aspect
So what does the story of Eros, Psyche and Venus tell us about an aspect between Psyche and Venus in the natal chart? First, aspect contact between the two means that many of the issues featured in the story will figure in the life experience: instances of jealousy, insecurity in relationships, possessions, or ‘territory,’ emotional or otherwise, attempts at inappropriate control exercised in others’ relationships (or over other females within one’s sphere), an insistence on knowledge of the partner within relationship (and this bringing the disapproval of another female), being an innocent who is punished for youth, appearance, or attention received, confusion of roles, or outright competition, with other females, distrust in the primary relationship sown by other females, being oblivious to the injury one causes to the security, vanity, or Self-image of another, the working out of power relationships with other females (usually with the assistance of a third party in authority), powerful faith in and access to harmonious assitance from the Universe, major changes in status (on the Venus side, the loss of total authority or power, on the Psyche side, elevation in status, ‘coming into one’s own’) and so on.
If Venus is strong in the chart (major rulerships, especially of the ASC or MC, many planetary placements in Libra and Taurus, many aspects, angular) one is likely to identify more strongly with the goddess side of the equation, though there are exceptions, such as when Venus also contacts Pluto in major aspect–this may suggest an identification with the particular task that required Psyche to venture to Hades, or could lead one in the direction of identification with a completely different figure, Persephone/ Prosperpina (and thus experiences in relationships with other females might be more along the lines of Persephone’s with Ceres).
If Psyche is the stronger influence (chiefly by angularity or many aspects), then you most likely identify more strongly with the qualities of innocence envied, betrayed, or mislead. Contacts to other energies will point out just where, and in what relationships, you might ‘play Psyche.’ (For those of you who own my ‘CHIRON’ book, pages 48-50 list the many possibilities by house placement that designate relationships in which an effect–such as an asteroid in that house–may manifest.)
Among the possibilities for meaning with Psyche in aspect are: female/ female conflict; personal power struggles centering on relationship; the inevitability of dual viewpoints emerging; radical trials that lead to abrupt changes in status; and bravery in outlook that leads to accomplishment of ‘the impossible.’ In my view, however, the function of Psyche is somewhat wider in scope: Psyche shows where, by following natural inclinations (like the curiosity that led to discovery of her husband’s identity) one is led on a testing journey that can end in discovery of one’s ultimate role. But, because of its very slow movement, Psyche derives its meaning in the natal chart from contact with other natal energies and by house placement–in the reality time-frame of a life, there are no Psyche transits! How Psyche will manifest is then heavily reliant on the character of the placements it contacts. For example, let’s say Psyche opposes natal Mars in Aries across the 1st/ 7th axis. Immediately we are alerted to Psyche’s presence in relationship, especially with the mate; with Mars in the 1st and Psyche in the 7th, we may see others as carrying our Psyche energies and freedoms–we may literally believe that others behave as Psyche. This could be seen as others having the courage to break the rules, and eventually gaining from it. This may look to us like a kind of ‘magic touch’ that we may not feel we have. It may also be a strong indicator that we feel others are expressing conflict with us (or with our position) just by being, a kind of ‘me against the world’ position. Let’s suppose that Mars makes no other aspects, and rules the 2nd; this points us to the importance of action and ego to Self-worth, and possibly to the importance of the financial state/ earning capacity as well. This could, in the negative, mean that conflict from others feels threatening to the Self-assessment or even the capacity to earn and prosper. How do we work with this? A possible answer is in expressing our Psyche through 7th house subjects such as Art, or in taking our Psyche ‘back’ from the province of others by adopting the role of Psyche in our primary relationship (as a loving and empowered Being in a relationship of equality).
There is a flavor of ‘Garden of Eden’ imagery in the Psyche myth that should be noted, as the Psyche position in the chart could reflect some prejudices against her ‘Eden’ counterpart, Eve. Psyche’s apple is the oil lamp (an obvious symbol of enlightenment); as well, when she is whisked off to the refuge in the forest where she lives in innocence/ ignorance of her husband’s identity, she exists in a state that is akin to Eve’s in the Garden. These and other similarities can, if we’re not conscious of it, lend the Psyche empowerment an element of shame (if we indentify with Psyche), or make that empowerment an object of anger and outrage (if we side with Venus)–”How dare she follow her impulses, ruin my Eden (and of course, Venus’ Eden was the province over which she ruled, before the advent of Psyche), and benefit from it!”
This material originally appeared on my blog at Yahoo360, and a version of this tale appears in conjunction with material on Eros in my book THE ASTROLOGY OF INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP, available, along with CHIRON IN THE NATAL CHART and JUNO IN THE NATAL CHART at Dog and Sunflower Press http://dogandsunflower.wordpress.com