We bring Venus with us.Venus is not just the roman goddess of love. The FOV community has brought together people who work with many different love goddesses and gods or who work with love spiritually in a number of different ways. All those ways of interacting with love, both separately and together are part of what Venus signifies to members of the community. As an example for how this works, see the invocation of Venus in the ritual conducted at Beltane 2013.
So, some of us would say that if you're working with love in some form then you're already working with Venus. If you're comfortable with that name, then that's wonderful. If you don't view it that way, or would rather use another name or no name at all, that's also wonderful. Feel free to adapt what you learn here to your practice, changing the names or whatever else you need to change to make it work for you. We ask that you extend the same courtesy of adaptation for what you contribute.
Venus's PersonalityOn another level, goddesses have distinct personalities. When people have gotten together to discuss how they interact with Venus Empyrea , some similarities have arisen. Perhaps we've found a tribal goddess of love for some members of our tribe. Below we present some individuals' impressions. Please add your own thoughts.
Sam's Who is Venus Thread
There was a Fetlife discussion of who is Venus. The following essay by hartmans is taken from that thread. If you have an account there you can see the discussion here.
December 2011, there was an excellent Aphrodite and the Gods of Love exhibit at the Boston MFA. I'm not one for art museums normally, but my partner and I went to a galary talk on how the roman Venus differed from Aphrodite. It ended up being as much about Julio-Claudian politics as religion. Never the less it provides an excellent backdrop for me to talk about my explorations of Venus and what aspects of her I find myself drawn to.
One of the points that was made at FOV was the aspect of Venus they worked with was not Aphrodite or the Roman Venus, but some combination of a lot of goddesses. Also, she had evolved even over the small number of FOVs already. I found the explicit acknowledgment of the goddess evolving with her worshipers was one of the things that made me feel safe at FOV. I've felt that pouring power into a static ancient deity, either in the sense of lending belief, or opening yourself to influence, seems like an unwise thing to do from a magical standpoint. It certainly made me feel very uncomfortable. And so the FOV characterization of what they were doing felt safer to me than a lot of other things I've looked at. Since FOV, as I've thought a lot more about the interactions between deity and worshipers, I've come to believe that there is always evolution; deity is always reshaped and reinterpreted by us (and us by them). However, we are often also seeking something ever-lasting and constant in our quest for the divine. Resolving that paradox was something that was easier for me in a community that explicitly acknowledged the evolution of the goddess. And while it's no longer as important,
the explicit aspect of getting a group of people together with a goddess to guide change both in the people and in the goddess is something that really draws me to FOV.
So, I've been comparing my reactions to three goddesses: Aphrodite, the Roman Venus, and what we worked with at FOV (Venus Ignum if you will). I'm talking about what images and feelings come to mind when I think about each of these three aspects. I'm sure that other people who work with Aphrodite or Venus will think about things differently. I'm certainly not trying to say that there are inherent differences between aspects of Aphrodite/Venus and I'm especially not trying to say that one aspect is better than another. I'm simply sharing a tool I'm using to better learn and reach Venus.
When I read or think about Aphrodite I focus on raw beauty and sexual power and raw untempered emotions. Not just lust, although that's fairly dominant, but the love that is there is very raw, powerful and unmoderated. Aphrodite is the goddess that punishes Myrrha because Myrrha's mother thinks her daughter's beauty rivals Aphrodite. Aphrodite sends Troy into oblivion so she can be judged most fair by Paris. She cares not for the affects of her actions. Did Helen get a choice in all of this? At one level, yes, although Aphrodite had guaranteed that she would fall for Paris . She sleeps with whom she will. She is a force.
However she also understands the overpowering love in others. She gives Galatea to Pygmalion. She protects those she cares about; there are stories of her trying to protect both Adonis and Anchises. I'm drawn to her sexuality, lust and passionate love, and I find thinking about Aphrodite will be an important part of my growth. However, I find it very difficult and undesirable to work directly with this aspect. Balance is important to me, and for me one of the defining characteristics of this aspect is the raw unbalanced power of the emotions.
The talk at the MFA began with a discussion of Venus Victrix, Venus the Victorious. In this role Venus brought military victory to generals who took her as their patron. There was a statue that was an evolution of a previous Greek image. In the Greek statues, Aphrodite examines her beauty, gazing at herself in Ares's shield. In the Roman statue, Venus still has Mars's shield but is using it to draw power, writing the name of a victorious general on the shield. Venus Victrix has gained some balance over the Aphrodite aspect that comes to me. You can't win a war by expending uncontrolled emotion. Then we discussed Venus Genetrix (Venus the mother/ancestor), Venus in her guise as mother to Aeneas and ancestor of the Roman people. Yes, Ilium fell, but from its fall, a son of Venus begins a new people that lead to the new city of Rome. The circle closes: Rome conquers Greece. Venus acts as protector and as symbol of the fertility, desirability and beauty of Rome and her women. The sex is toned down, the raw emotions tempered by protecting her clan. Of course, the beauty, pride and arrogance are still there: the Julio-Claudians would have nothing less. (Well, I
actually have no idea how they looked.) There seems to be a lot more going on with this aspect of Venus; she's built a clan and indirectly a people. Many different forms of love are involved.
Now we come to my perceptions of the deity I interacted with at FOV and dwell on Venus Ignum. I still feel the influence of Venus Genetrix, a goddess that brought an empire into being and saw it whither and die. She's grown and has gained the wisdom to act as our guide in exploring love. While Venus Ignum understands the aspect of herself that destroys Myrrha for being a challenge to Aphrodite's beauty, she has the patience to help us overcome these selfish and destructive tendencies within ourselves when we are ready to ask for her help. The sexuality, diminished somewhat in the transition from Aphrodite to Venus, is back and celebrated through a progressive modern view. Consensual sex is sacred, whether it's alone with ourselves as we contemplate what we desire, two lovers together exploring themselves in private, or the same two lovers celebrating their love for themselves and Venus in circle at FOV. The community brings its experience with polyamory and kink to her love. Her relationships with her consorts may have far more depth viewed from this standpoint. She has been so many things, has experienced so many different forms of love, and is open to us
as we seek the portion of that love that is right for us. The gender and power dynamics gain a modern complexity. Venus Ignum is definitely at least a little gender-fucked. Yes, I see the paradox of the perfect female having confusing gender. However at least to me, in the songs we sing, in the discussions of Venus and her lover, are the inherent seeds of a complex gender view. Of course, from the people there, what else what you expect?
Venus Ignum is not tame. her support in love is offered freely, but we must choose whether that love is wise. The same goddess sanctifies the love that pulls someone from an abusive relationship towards something better as the love that draws someone to the next new person they meet even though it means abandoning their spouse and family. Venus Ignum would still support Paris in destroying his city for the sake of his love, although she would ask Helen and might even warn the lovers about the consequences of their actions. She's poly, although not above an affair from time to time. She understands faithfulness and the struggles we take to preserve love that strengthens us; those are sacred. However love is sacred in its own way even when it is destructive and ill-advised.
I want to stress that I'm not drawn to "destructive love." It's more that I realize no goddess is going to decide what's right for me; I'm responsible for the wisdom of my actions. If as I have done, I ask for her support in preserving my love, she's there to offer her support. However, I must figure out what to preserve, what to move past and what to embrace in the future.
Especially in the context of Venus Ignum I need to think more about Hephaestus (and in my head it's always Venus and Hephaestus never Venus and Vulcan; I bet there's a story there). The classic Aphrodite was frustrated with her marriage; it's not even clear there is any love there at all. However it seems that there's a lot more potential depth there with a modern interpretation. There was an amusing although serious and thought provoking conversation about how the sex life of Venus and Hephaestus differed from that between Venus and mars .
Well, that ended up being a lot longer than I expected. It was very useful to write. I started out planning to explain how I'd considered three different aspects of the goddess and which one I was drawn to. However by the time I was done I felt I actually had a much better understanding of all three aspects and how they all might play an important part in building a relationship with Venus. I think I'll always have a deeper connection with something looking like Venus Ignum; explicitly acknowledging the modern focus and the rest of the community work is something that does strongly appeal. Certainly the Venus name has stronger connections than Aphrodite, although I think that may have as much to do with the years of Latin I took as anything else. Also, this is all a starting point after a couple of months. I'm sure that as I continue to work with Venus/Aphrodite over the years, I'll look back and laugh at all of this.
Two years later though, this all seems reasonable and still forms the basis of how I think about Venus.