The Transit of Venus


On Tuesday (Jun 5), Venus will align with the Sun, appearing as a traveling dot across the solar face, visible against the daytime sky.

Coming just two weeks after a spectacular solar eclipse, this event known commonly as a 'transit of Venus'—with Venus, rather than the Moon, as the Sun's eclipsing body—is much rarer (and, incidentally, just as dangerous to look at with the naked eye).

Though Venus conjoins the Sun every year by astrological degree, it is quite unusual for this conjunction to occur on an astronomical plane that creates a viewable phenomenon. The last transit of Venus occurred in 2004, but one will not happen again until 2117… presumably after nearly everyone alive today has ceased to occupy their earthly bodies. Due to her orbit, Venus transits are visible in pairs separated by eight years, in intervals that alternate somewhere between 105 and 122 years (by a pattern whose mechanics goes beyond my humble astronomy knowledge). The last pair of Venus transits, therefore, appeared in 1874 and 1882.

Because of both their infrequency and their visibility, transits of Venus have historically captured the popular imagination… and likewise have provided astronomers a valuable opportunity to advance their methods and collaboratively exchange knowledge. (I wrote about this in more detail during the '04 transit.) This go-around, thus, I was not surprised to spot the admittedly sensational headline on 'Scientists to Use Venus Transit to Hone Alien Planet Search Techniques'. At each prior transit, the breadth of human-being activity has grown ever more united in collective intelligence, so it logically follows (to me, at least) that, at some historical point, this increasing unity will expand to include other non-human forms of intelligent life.

This, of course, was likely part of what those wacky Mayans had in mind when they crafted a time-keeping system to track our solstice-cycles' alignments with the Galactic Center, that beacon in the night-sky which has long been mythically seen to connect us with the wider cosmos. The Mayans were sort of obsessed with Venus and her orbit, and, all those centuries ago, would've known (whether due to their technological achievements or, ahem, 'inherited' wisdom) about her 2012 transit across the Sun… one more factor which makes it no coincidence their Long Count calendar ends (and, we assume, begins again) this very year.

Historical conjecture is nice and all, but back in the here and now, we're left to ponder what such a unique astro-event might signify to us (for we are self-centered little devils, ain't we?), and how we might use its symbolic energies. For starters, let's situate this Venus transit within the astrological context we already know about: Venus is currently in the midst of her 6-week retrograde in Gemini. She has us actively engaged with questions about what is most valuable to us, in personal relationship and/or economic or aesthetic concern, by conjuring some morsels of rascally excitement and drama so we might consider flip-sides and alternative storylines.

The relative rarity of the visible-Venus-transit quality to all this leads me to conclude the specificity of whatever we're considering during this very special Venus retrograde has deeper, longer-lasting waves of resonance. How is this, then, a turning-point in who or what you're allying yourself with? Where is your behavior on the spectrum of compromise? Are you adequately balancing expressive authenticity-of-self with dynamic care-for-others? Which needs more, or less?

Venus's archetypal job is to bring us together, to join us with people and experiences that help us become better versions of ourselves due to the external influence. She is fundamentally feminine, receptive, a vessel for containing these influences from others—though no less powerful, and no greater a pushover, than any male energy. Yet, in our inarguably patriarchal society of today, we've collectively come to associate such joining-together as a form of weakness… typically preferring to define ourselves 'in opposition to' and proudly demand freedom from responsibility to anyone else. At this historical crisis-point we are observably reaching, is it any wonder that anti-Venus shadow groups are vocally demonizing the feminine through a recently-magnifying political 'war on women'? Polarizing separations are, by nature, unfertile; we procreate through integrative union.

At its highest, Gemini energy helps us find a basis for connection with those who may be quite unlike us in many areas. Though our common-ground may unite us over only one facet of our multidimensional personalities, it's a good start. And once we've established a rapport and begun a conversation with somebody from a vastly different world, beautiful interpenetrations of diverse worldviews are far likelier to occur.

This, of course, is how minds genuinely change: after there's first some heart connection based in compassionate understanding for another, and not by the divisive sword. Think about that the next time you move to villanize the 'other side', no matter the heinous offenses you perceive in their attitudes or behaviors. No matter your difference, you also share something in common with this illusory archetypal Enemy. They are your shadow, and vice versa. You require each other's existence to project the darkness outward.

Speaking of shadows, I've come to metaphorically conceive of the transit of Venus across the Sun's face as akin to how a child might shine a flashlight toward her contorted hand from a certain angle, projecting the shadow-image of a perky bunny or a terrifying alligator on her darkened bedroom wall. There is no actual scary monster or cartoonish pet in the room with her, just the gestures of her own creative ingenuity and a physical backdrop to hold it. From the Sun's perspective, Venus is conducting a similar performance: She casts her outline over our world, and we define this shadow with our imaginations. Regardless of how we interpret it, though, her shape occupies our earthly dimension for this singular uncommon moment.

I would like to believe, as many of my colleagues do, in the Venus transit as a potent injection of the Divine Feminine into our consciousness, a much-needed counterbalance to far too much masculine dominance over far too long a stretch of time… though just as many colleagues identify Venus transits with period of turbulent unrest, economic strife and war, in a poignant illustration of how these two 'sides' are really just shadow-halves of a larger indivisible whole, dependent on each other to survive. There's that Gemini theme again demanding our continuing attention, as Jupiter is soon to arrive there for a year-long visit (on June 11), with Venus to remain another two full months.

We need each other, in vital dialogue with one another, to come to know ourselves. We rely on the opportunities presented by those outside us. Not only would existence be dreary and dull in self-secluded isolation, but our very survival depends on others' good works—in eras of peace and prosperity, yes, but especially in times of famine or strife. To celebrate this final transit of Venus of our lifetimes from this most good-hearted awareness is to acknowledge, during this period of intensifying revolutionary pressure (courtesy of the Uranus-Pluto square, first exact later this month), what may really matter most is how we look out for each other… and anything we can do to deconstruct and rattle our rigid mindsets in furthering this intention, the more contented to share our planet with this wild mix of divergent souls we'll be.

One day before the transit of Venus, on Mon Jun 4, we experience a lunar eclipse full moon in Sagittarius and Neptune's station. Read more about these events here.

Further Information on The Transit of Venus:
Our Transit of Venus Coverage: A Compilation (Eric Francis's Planet Waves)
The Venus Transits: The Pentagonal Cycle of Venus (Nick Anthony Fiorenza's The Lunar Planner)
Venus Transits & Powerful Women (by Nancy R. Fenn, on Deborah Houlding's
Transit of Venus FAQ: Everything You Need to Know (