2012 Transit of Venus
Earlier this month, on the 5th of June, there was a Transit of Venus over the Sun. This once in a lifetime event involved being able to observe a comparatively tiny Venus pass in front of the body of the Sun. Millions viewed this rare event, either by using special equipment, or online through NASA’s webcast.
Many people have asked me what I believe the Transit of Venus signifies. My focus is on ancient astrology, so what do ancient texts say about transits of Venus, or any planet, over the surface of the Sun? I’m not aware of ancient astrological commentary on the phenomena. It is a type of “mundane” phenomena though, as in something that seems to have significance for general worldly events, such as political and cultural changes.
It basically seems to be a suped up version of “Cazimi”. Cazimi means a planet is “in the heart of the Sun”. It is when a planet is within a degree from the Sun (later authors made it within 16′ of the Sun). Cazimi was commented upon in ancient astrology.
My Take: Transit of Venus 2012 – Gay Marriage in US
I do actually have some very strong opinions myself about what the Venus Transit means. They tend to differ considerably from what I typically see ascribed to the transit in the astrological community. While my interpretation of the transit as a phenomena is not lifted directly from any ancient source, my interpretation of it is completely based in ancient principles and doctrines of interpretation.
I believe that the Venus Transit of 2012 pertains very strongly to the issue of gay marriage, especially in the U.S., and that it bodes well for major progress in that area in the near future.
Basis of Gay Marriage Interpretation
I base my interpretation of the Venus Transit on 4 main factors:
1. Venus – her natural significations
2. Cazimi – what it means to be empowered with the Sun
3. Venus-Mercury – the combination of these planets in partnership
4. 7th House for U.S. – for this year
Let’s discuss each one of these.
First, it should not be forgotten that the Transit of Venus is chiefly about Venus. Her main significations pertain to sexuality, love, union, marriage, pleasure, art, aesthetics, music, femininity, liquids, perfumes, and fatty fruits.
It is not uncommon to see predictions that pertain to weird new age spiritual things, financial cycles, wars, etc. based on her transit, as if matters of art, music, pleasure, sex, marriage, and all that other enjoyable stuff is just too marginal for us to find significant. I think this is quite misguided. There is significant importance to changes in the way we perceive and create beauty, make love, trends in music and fashion and art, sensual openness, partnership customs, and so forth. These are integral parts of human culture.
Therefore, when you think of the Venus transit, think of the goddess Venus, and Aphrodite, and that something important is brewing in the world of pleasure, beauty, and partnership.
Heart of the Sun
There is a distinction between a planet being strong when within a degree of the Sun as opposed to being weakened when under the Sun’s beams in Hellenistic astrology. The distinction first subtly appears in Paulus Alexandrinus (4th century CE, in Ch. 14). The distinction is actually lost in the Schmidt translation of Paulus but is correctly maintained in the Greenbaum translation. The distinction is not called “heart of the Sun” or cazimi by Paulus but is merely referred to in the following passage (Ch. 14, Greenbaum trans., 2001, p. 21):
And they become conjunct whenever they happen to be in the same degree as the Sun in the same zōidia, not being away from it by more or less than 59 minutes. And when more than that, the stars become weak and unprofitable in their specific outcomes, whenever any of them may be within 9 degrees distance of the Sun, whether they be in morning or evening rising.
Rhetorius compared the distinction to being in the heart of the Sun ( ~7th century CE, in Ch. 1, Holden trans., 2009, p. 4):
And the stars that are in the heart are said to be those that are conjoined partilely to the Sun, either in the same degree or an adjacent degree.
Early Medieval Cazimi
Medieval Persian and Arabic astrologers drawing on Rhetorius and/or Paulus continued to use the concept of cazimi within one degree. In the Jewish Persian astrologer Sahl’s “Fifty Judgments” (9th century CE) the concept still involved a full degree. It was a distinction of strength versus the weakness of being under the beams. For instance, Sahl thought it good if a malefic were under the beams because it would be weaker in its malefic significations (see Judgments 29 and 39).
However, later in the Perso-Arabic medieval period the concept of cazimi changed from being within a degree of the Sun to being within 16′ of the Sun. Why 16 minutes of a degree? 16 minutes are about one solar radii in arc length as observed from earth. In other words, 16′ is at the body of the Sun by longitude.
Al-Qabisi (10th century CE) even went so far as to say a planet should be within 16′ by both longitude and latitude. This amounts to a planet transiting at the actual body of the Sun as observed from earth. Such a planet is either in front of the Sun (a Transit of the Sun by Mercury or Venus) or behind it (as in the case of Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn). Therefore, an actual Transit of Venus is Venus cazimi in the strictest, later sense, as used by al-Qabisi. We might consider it a more powerful version of the foundational Hellenistic notion of being in the heart of the Sun (within 1 degree).
Venus on the Throne
Early definitions refer to power associated with being in the heart of the Sun. The Sun is the primary symbol of power, leadership, honors, and political office in ancient astrology. Therefore, the notion of greater power only when truly in the Sun’s “inner circle” becomes very naturally extended. In this vein, the famous Jewish scholar, astrologer, and traveling mystic, Abraham Ibn Ezra, in the 12th century likened a planet in cazimi to one sitting on the throne with the king (Book of Wisdom, Ch. 8, #98). While I don’t usually explore astrologers beyond 1,000 CE on this site, Ibn Ezra’s great analogy for cazimi is consistent with both the prior notions of power and natural solar significations.
I view the Venus transit as Venus assuming a role in leadership. She has special consul with the major players, the game changers. It is her time to wield some political power and bring about things she’d like to see.
Homosexuality in Ancient Astrology
I’ve done a lot of research into the ancient astrology of sexual orientation. It surprised me when I got into the Hellenistic and Persian material just how much material there was that pertained to sexual orientation. Some people get weird when discussing such literature, as if it’s taboo to have a symbolic language that might be able to describe various expressions of sexuality, but it’s an important part of the astrological language. The extent of such literature has actually put me in awe at the extent of astrological achievement in the Hellenistic era. Mainly because these are good significations, which when used properly are quite informative, in ways other systems of astrology had never been with this topic.
There are many indicators of homosexuality (and of various sorts of sexual appetites) in the literature. However, please don’t attempt to delineate sexuality based on a few stray indications. Some of the indications can mean many things, not just homosexuality.
This brings us to Venus-Mercury combinations. Venus-Mercury combinations show up in many indicators of homosexuality in ancient astrology. Interestingly, Venus-Mercury also pertains a great deal to theater, eloquent speech, and musical composition. Remember that Mercury signifies commerce, language, and generally complex things with lots of “exchange”. Hermes, the original astrological Mercury, was a god associated with hermaphrodites, and even more combinations of gender roles through his children. Mercury basically complicates through admixture and exchange. Venus with Mercury, brings in sexuality, partnership, and the arts, and thus is a natural and comfortable signifier for hermaphrodites, homosexuals, bisexuals, transvestite, transgender, and so forth. These are but some of the more sexually-oriented significations.
It is interesting how significations can bundle at times when Mercury-Venus is prominent and there are many similar indications with regards to sexuality. For instance, we may have gay and transgender people attracted to the theater, musical composition, aesthetics, and so forth.
They do not always bundle though. I have Venus and Mercury co-present in the same sign and I’m heterosexual. In my chart, one manifestation has been an attraction to the science of music and composition, as well as to poetry.
Ancient Astrologers on Venus-Mercury and Sexuality
In any case, below are some indications about sexuality involving Venus-Mercury in ancient texts.
Dorotheus (1st century CE, Carmen Astrologicum, Book II, Ch. 7 – repeated in Rhetorius and others):
- Venus in a house of Mercury (i.e. Gemini or Virgo) while Mercury is in a bad place (i.e. the 12th, 6th, 8th, or 2nd) is an indication of homosexuality.
- Lot of marriage (not Venus but Venus-like) with Mercury (Rhetorius has in a house of Mercury), with Mercury in a masculine (i.e. air or fire) sign in an angle (i.e. in the 1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th house), indicates homosexuality.
Abu’Ali (9th century CE, On the Judgements of Nativities):
- Venus and Mercury in each other’s domiciles, or Venus and Mercury together in a domicile of Saturn, indicates homosexuality.
Abu Bakr (9th century CE, On Nativities):
- Mercury and Venus together in the 7th house is an indication of homosexuality.
Umar al-Tabari (9th century CE, Three Books on Nativities):
- Mercury as the almuten (planet with the most rulership) over many of the marriage points, including Venus, Moon, 7th, and lot of marriage, is an indication of homosexuality.
As you can see one of the indications of Venus-Mercury combinations is homosexuality, and possibly LGBT-ness in a general sense.
Transit of Venus in Gemini with Mercury
The Venus Transit involved Venus in Gemini, a house of Mercury, and with Mercury in that house. Therefore, the cultural and political power wielded by Venus can pertain to poetry, music, artistic theory, but also to more complected forms of sexuality and partnership. The joining of Venus to the Sun was in the bound of Venus as well, which is sort of like her own room in Gemini, thus it echoes back to more prototypical or core Venusian significations, especially of sexuality and partnership.
House of Marriage, For a Little While
Many people contend that the chart of the U.S. has Sagittarius rising. If that were so, then Gemini would be the 7th house of the U.S. chart. As the 7th house of a political state it would have special relevance for marriage and partnership customs as they develop within the legal entity of that state. However, the U.S. chart is a matter of heated debate. Additionally, in the ancient world, the charts of political entities were not the key charts. Rather, the emphasis was on temporary charts for the location that pertained over specific periods of time.
The Key Mundane Charts
The important mundane charts for periods of time that were discussed by Abu Ma’shar and al-Qabisi were of two main types, those of equinoxes/solstices and those of lunations/eclipses. Most of the important charts are those of a Vernal Equinox preceding a great conjunction of Jupiter-Saturn. These great conjunctions occur every 20 years, but certain ones are particularly important, such as the first such conjunction in a new triplicity (i.e. element) which carries significations that apply to major changes over about 240 years. Even more significant is the first such conjunctions in Aries which carries significations that apply to major changes over about 960 years. You can read more about the hierarchy of these charts in my article on that matter.
Vernal Equinox 2012
What is particularly significant to us is that the chart signifying the major U.S. changes for 2012 has Sagittarius rising, and the exact Venus Transit to the center of the Sun from Washington, D.C. has Sagittarius rising. This means that the Venus Transit has a particular relevance for state matters of marriage and partnership this year and that this significance was reinforced at the actual transit.
Given the occurrence of the Venus Transit in the 7th house of the year for the U.S., we are given a clear indication that such events in Gemini take on a particular relevance for marriage in the U.S. Not only the Venus Transit but also the solar eclipse of May 20th, 2012 occurred in the sign of marriage for this year in the U.S.A.
Venus, planet of love, sexuality, partnership, and beauty, has attained some special significance this year in terms of political developments. Influence by Mercury, Venus inclines toward to complected sexuality, including LGBT. The place of her transit this year is one where she has access to the marriage and partnership customs of the country.
On a side note, the Venus Transit took place conjunct the star Rigel, which is a star in the foot of the hunter Orion. It is thought to have significance related to marching. Time to get that pride march together!
Paulus Alexandrinus & Olympiodorus. (2001). Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olypiodorus. (D. G. Greenbaum, Trans.). Reston, VA: Arhat.
Rhetorius of Egypt, & Teucer of Babylon. (2009). Rhetorius the Egyptian. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers.