Venus and Jupiter – Bridging the Ideal and the Real

Blank CoverErin Sullivan

Bringing to reality our dreams and fantasies of the ideal is not always easy nor even possible. Coming to terms with this natural split in the human psyche is also difficult, but in this book, Erin Sullivan goes deeply into the character, mythological origins and astrological relationship of the two planets most closely associated with ideals, creativity, romance, ethics and social relationships.

In Venus we find the inherent duality of the experience, and this lies in the goddess Aphrodite’s own duality. In Jupiter she brings the larger, global perspective into the picture, showing how the sky-god Zeus can act as a tyrannical component within our own psyche, and also, how his wisdom is the result of internalizing the more feminine aspects of our archetypal story. Both sections have a delineation of Venus and Jupiter to the other planets. Good for all levels of knowledge from beginner to professional in astrology.

Review by Robin Heath: Astrological Journal, 1998

This is a wonderful book and holds together extremely well. It’s origins, like the other titles in the CPA armoury, stem from CPA seminar sessions held at Regent’s College. London. The Venus material (Part One: Venus Aphrodite – Dual Goddess) – was delivered on 27th February 1994, whilst the Jupiter session (Part Two: The Justice of Zeus and the Astrological Jupiter)took place on 13th June 1993. If the title of this latest CPA press offering suggests a saccharin and sickly look at the two great benefics, then the reader is due for a huge and pleasant surprise.

Erin Sullivan is one of our foremost astrologers, a woman of real depth and decades of experience as a practising astrologer. Although she is often jaunty and humorous in her approach, she always has access to a great depth of astrological wisdom and an often astonishing insight. She delivered a punchy and well received Charles Carter Memorial Lecture at the 1997 AA Conference together with workshop sessions. At this same conference one could pick up a background opinion of the view that psychological astrology had ‘peaked’ and now it was time to get back to the traditional astrology – the material of Messrs Zoller, Hand and company. Erin’s book shows this viewpoint to be entirely myopic, showing that the two are irrevocably linked and always have been; beginning her treatment of these two planets with one of the best presentations of their ancient mythic pedigrees I have yet had the pleasure to read. For those astrologers who think the mythic material boring or irrelevant to astrology, I strongly commend this short, punchy treatment by Erin Sullivan. It grounds the history of astrology from its mythic roots of ancient Babylon, calling at all stations west via Troy and Greece.

Venus and Jupiter are the largest visible objects in the sky, after the two luminaries, and, surprisingly, they have never been paired in quite the way Erin treats their astrology. More normally, Mars and Venus are wheeled out as the ‘sexy’ duad whilst Jupiter gets a rather dull blind date with Saturn. Erin begins with the ‘monomyth’ of Venus and immediately connects her readers with the magic of astrology in enabling a student to “become privy to information that is not readily available through any other medium”. So, right on page two, we are made aware of astrology’s value as a tool to understanding human mythology, philosophy and the roots of culture. The author takes us through a journey of exploration with Venus’s history – Chaos, Eros, Gaia, Ouranos, Aphrodite Urania and Aphrodite Pandemos. Erin equates this route as taking humans from the ideal to the specific; making valuable connections with the whole misunderstood process of creativity. Dotted within we get the nuggets of audience participation, where their providing of context information acts as the perfect foil for Erin’s experience of how the astrological symbols behave in mundane lives.

And so this book begins its main thrust, involving the reader in a true educational process which is also fun. Erin’s humour bursts out regularly in interactions with her audience, and this movbes the book along nicely and presents the heavy clogging ‘religious’ quality of many astrological texts. This reviewer found the treatment enchanting at times.

Venus does have something to do with our relationships, of course, and Erin takes this directly from the dual symbols of love as both healing and destructive. Erotic madness, erotomania and the direct consequences of possession by Eros are brought right within the modern stage as Erin looks at the manifestation of ‘stalking’ and the manner we deal with ‘possession’ by ‘the other’ with all its risks, dangers and sublime possibilities. A section on Love and Strife takes the reader right into the primordial scission and the big polarities of Heaven and Earth, Spirit and Matter. The modern portrayal of Eros as the wimpy anorak Cupid is used to demonstrate how far our modern culture is divorced from the depth inherent in Venus as a symbol.

From page 70 to page 125, planetary aspects to Venus are covered in depth. The astrological meat in the sandwich is generous and, once again, the audience’s rapport with the author makes for solid examples and remarkable insights. No cook-book listing can ever embrace the depth found here and this reviewer wouldn’t change a single word of Erin’s account of Uranus-Venus as an aspect – having lived it out for half a century.

Page 128 begins a look at Jupiter – the Great Benefic. Erin presents a soul-bearing aperatif by way of introduction to Jupiter/9th house issues. She then cites 500 BC as the time when the separation of nature and culture led to our present world and the need for the gods to change form, from which she sees conscience and moral order becoming linked to Zeus and Jupiter, the ‘moral arbiter’. She effectively mops up any confusion between shame and guilt during this run up to a potted history of Freud, Jung and the myriad souls who have contributed to our understanding of social and personal morality through myth.

Now the reader is entreated to an insightful look at the Zeus/Jupiter myths. The dionysian side of Jupiter is wheeled out via a shamanistic look at altered consciousness and transcendence. The moral hypocrisy angle is vividly portrayed with examples of US presidents (surely not?), then Erin deals with the travelling and exploring side, followed by Jupiter as saviour with the examples, Jim Jones, David Koresh and David Icke. It would have been nice to have included the charts (or at least footnoted the birth-data) along the way here in order to allow readers to weigh Jupiter against other factors.

The aspects of Jupiter to other planets on the natal chart completes this major work. Again, I wouldn’t change a word of Erin’s account of Jupiter-Mars or Jupiter-Uranus, aspects strong on my own natal chart, and each of these fifty pages contains material of considerable worth.

The older texts on Venus and Jupiter often treat their combination as an excessive, sickly affair. Such a judgement cannot be placed on Erin’s latest feast, which has to be essential reading for any serious student of astrology. This reviewer hasn’t had so much fun with an astrology book, nor gleaned so much for many a year.

© Copyright 1998 The Astrological Association of Great Britain

Review by Mary Plumb- The Mountain Astrologer, 1998

During her early mid-life years Erin Sullivan immersed herself in a study of classical myth, revivifying her thinking and her gifts to astrology. In this book she describes how her study was inspired by parallels she recognized between 5th century BCE Athens and our own time: “The culture at that time was separating so acutely from the gods of the times, and was so stressful, that there was then, as there is now, a renewed interest in the mythological past.” If you have relegated The Iliad or Virgil to some frozen pocket of your high school brain, treat yourself to Erin’s ideas on the ancient tales of Zeus and Aphrodite (the Greek names that became Venus and Jupiter to the Romans). The book is transcribed from two seminars – Venus Aphrodite: The Dual Goddess and The Justice of Zeus and the Astrological Jupiter – and she explores and brings back jewels of interpretation and relevance to the astrological glyphs.

A theme that also weaves throughout the present work is Erin’s interest in the way we think and the kinds of concerns that occupy our minds. Since the classical mind has formed the back bone of Western thinking, her understanding of the period allows her to capture the dichotomies and duality’s inherent in Western thought. She appreciates the necessity for “splitting” and has a question about contemporary ideas of “wholeness and integration”, which she feels is a nearly impossible-to-achieve ideal, and that the “horoscope shows us there might be some validity to being split off, or compartmentalized, or living out segments of the life at certain times because we can only be so many things at once.”

According to the early creation myth in Hesiod’s Theogony, Aphrodite was born of the severed genitals of Ouranos and the Sea of Cyprus, midwifed by Kronos (Saturn), after the split between Heaven (Ouranos) and Earth (Gaia). This is Aphrodite Urania. In a later story Aphrodite is described as the divine daughter of Zeus and Dione; she is known as Aphrodite Pandemos (“of the people”). Thus her dual archetypes – the heavenly and the earthly.

Along with telling facets of many versions of the myths, Erin reflects on the parallels between conflict and creativity, and between conflict and love – the domains of Eris (strife) and Eros (love). She considers Aphrodite’s relationship to Eros, a state where we experience “waiting to be quickened by Eros and facilitated to birth by Aphrodite.” The astrological Venus becomes “the primary conduit for the erotic impulse to live, to be something of value and worth.” Erin speaks of depression, inspiration, projection of the ideal and incubation of the creative seed (and much more) before describing Venus in aspect to the other planets. Here she excels at capturing a feeling for the planetary pairing; i.e., the passion and strife inherent in Venus/Mars aspects – Eris (strife) is Ares’s sister. In her discussion on the relationship between the Moon and Venus and she writes: “Mothering and seducing are really one – they are two sides of the same experience…..the dual aspect of the feminine function.” The split in Venus’s function is a theme throughout, the Uranian ideal and the Pandemic reality, each with a voice and need.

In the section on Jupiter, Erin has opened an appropriately grand window into Zeus’s world with a view of the strengths, paradoxes and subtleties therein. There are 60 pages on the background of mythology in the first section, including a synopsis of various ways that myths have been understood over time, leading into Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell’s ideas as myth as rites of passage, “reawakening individuals to their own power, sense of timing, and place in the world.” Freud and the myth of Oedipus; Zeus’s birth and reign, his fathering of Dionysos, his guardianship of travellers and states of transition (temenos) are subjects in Erin’s dialogue. She also investigates wisdom/dogma, shame/guilt, charisma and Zeus’s ability to confuse one with the state of at) before beginning the section on Jupiter in aspect to the other planets. Erin’s engagement with the Jupiter archetype is vivid in this workshop, and I (in the midst of a Jupiter return!) found it irresistible and wise.

Throughout the book, Erin offers Greek words and their etymology eg Chaos literally means “a gap, a ‘yawn,’ implying that there is something unbounded and open…” – and she dips in and out of many classical references. Audience participation is somewhat minimal, though always of interest as specific astrological comments are brought in. She easily moves from the abstract into chart configurations and questions from the participants.

I loved this book; it is wonderfully educational about questions of life, love and meaning and I highly recommend it to those curious about further insights into the nature of the benefics.

© Copyright 1998 The Mountain Astrologer

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