As I have been discussing with anyone who will listen, the 2012 Venus Transit is certainly the most significant astronomical and astrological event of the year. On June 5-6, 2012 Venus will make its rare transit across the face of the Sun appearing as a distinct black spot that is 1/32 of the diameter of the Sun. It will be large enough to see without the aid of a telescope. This phenomenon occurs in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits 8 years apart separated by long gaps of 122 years and 105 years. The periodicity is a reflection of the fact that the orbital periods of Earth and Venus are close to 8:13 resonances. After 243 years, the whole pattern of 152 conjunctions and 4 transits repeats almost exactly, with a discrepancy of only 0.5 days. Transits in June 2247 and 2255 be within degrees of the 2004 and 2012 transits and this repeated pattern will last for about half a millennium. Over centuries, a 0.5 day discrepancy will cause a slow shift in the positions of the transits, and eventually the pairs of transits will be replaced by two single transits in each 243-year cycle in 3089 (click here and here for more).
The last Venus transit occurred on June 8, 2004 in the sign of Taurus and the next pair of transits will occur over a century from now on 2117 Dec 11, 2117 and Dec 08, 2125 in the sign of Scorpio. Therefore, each Venus Transit pair alternates between its own sign of the bull (105) with 13 complete cycles and the Mars-ruled sign of the scorpion (122) with 15 complete cycles, each ushering in 100+ year periods that are influenced by these signs.
From the 1631 unexpected eruption of Vesuvius, to the 2004 magnitude 9.3 quake and tsunami that literally knocked the world off its axis, Venus transits have heralded global shifts in ages and consciousness. Loren Coleman's recent post, Venus Transits Sol and Introduces Prometheus, is a fascinating look at Venus transits in historical context and inspired me to look more deeply at these rare astronomical alignments from an astrological and a mythological point of view.
The History of Observing Venus Transits
Although many ancient cultures tracked the cycles of Venus, the first of the paired groups occurred in May of 1518 and 1526 (prior to that only single transits occurred each century). But this type of transit of the second planet across the face of the Sun was not theorized, or realized as a viewable phenomenon, until 1631, and not actually observed by human eyes until December of 1639.
|Horrock's 1639 Venus transit|
|Crabtree witnessing the 1639 Venus transit|
This first set of Venus transits occurred at 23-25 degrees Scorpio in the 18th nakshatra Jyeshtha located near the heart of the Scorpion and its red star Antares. Jyeshtha means "eldest" and this part of the night sky is is situated near the oldest section of our galaxy marking the entrance to the galactic center, and may even point to the great attractor. Some Vedic scholars believe that originally there were only 18 nakshtras and that Jyeshtha was final lunar mansion of the series. The stars of Jyeshtha are aligned with the mass of dark dust clouds of the Great Rift of the Milky Way.
This Dark Rift, or Serpent's mouth, is part of the 13th sign and constellation Ophiuchus, the serpent holder. (You may remember the media hype surrounding the 13th constellation back in January 2011. Click here for more. )
Kepler's beautiful drawing of the allegorical stars of Ophiuchus belies his fascination with this constellation which also happened to produce the last visible supernova, called Supernova 1604, or Kepler's Star, that was first observed on October 9, 1604, 27 years before the 1631 Venus transit.
Credit: Kepler's SNR from Chandra, Hubble, and Spitzer,
R. Sankrit and W. Blair (JHU) et al., ESA, NASA
1631 and 1639 in Scorpio, Jyeshtha
1761 and 1769 in Taurus, in Mrigashira and Rohini
1874 and 1882 in Scorpio, in Jyeshtha
2004 and 2012 in Taurus, in Mrigashira and Rohini
It has been said that the new star which the 17th century astronomers saw flaring up in their night sky was a stellar thunderbolt. This analogy is right on target as the deity most associated with the nakshatra Jyeshtha is Indra, the dragon slayer, whose weapon of choice is the thunderbolt! It is also associated with the Greek god Zeus, who ruled over mankind like the 17th century kings of Europe caring little for the common man. The arohana shakti of Jyeshtha gives the power to rise and conquer, and during this time we saw the European colonization of the Americas. Scorpionic Mars rules metals and the spoils of conquest brought South American gold and silver to build empires and weapons. And this lightning bolt of inspiration also gave rise to modern science, in particular natural sciences, in Europe. Mars is also an indicator of mechanics and energy and in 1676 the speed of light is first measured by Ole Romer followed in 1687 with Newton's laws of gravitation and motion. Moreover, the constellation Ophiuchus is also associated with the ancient healer Aesculepius, so it is no surprise that the birth of modern medicine also occurred at this time when technological advances in optics that viewed the heavens were turned towards the Earth, and the invention of the microscope revealed hidden worlds of microorganisms and bacteria -- the asuras that are managed by Venus. One might say that Supernova 1604 was the lightening bolt that influenced the sudden growth through the Fibonacci patterns of Venus Transits in Scorpio.
|Credit: John Flamstead (Atlas celeste, Paris, 1776, Ed. J. Fortin);|
The next Venus transit pairing occurred in 1761 and 1769 in its own sign of Taurus in two nakshatras, Mrigashira and Rohini, just like our current century's Venus Transits. Although Mrigashira is ruled by Mars, it is a gentle and peaceful nakshatra and its power is giving fulfillment, prinana shakti. Soma, the Moon god, who like his name is an embodiment of the divine nectar of bliss and enlightenment, rules this nakshatra. Rohini is marked by the great red star Aldebaran that makes up the eye of the bull in Taurus -- and is opposite the red star Antares in Jyeshtha. Aldebaran is one of the Royal Stars of Persia often called the "Watcher of the East," whereas Antares is called the "Watcher of the West." In the Vedic tradition, Aldebaran is believed to be the abode of Brahma, and when it lines up with our Sun (and Venus) we receive its many blessings. Rohini's shakti power is rohana shakti, growth -- as might be expressed in the Fibonacci sequence, phi, the sacred geometry of the pentagram that Venus draws in the heavens over the course of eight years. Thus a Venus transit in Rohini may herald a provocative shift in how energy is used to produce material and spiritual wealth.
The June 6, 1761, transit was observed from 120 locations around the Earth. As this illustration from France reveals it captured the attention and imagination of the public. In the same year Mikhail Lomonosov discovered that Venus had an atmosphere.
The 18th century transits also heralded the cultural and political shifts that preceded the American and French Revolutions which most Western astrologer's associate with the coinciding discovery of Uranus. Although Uranus was not officially discovered by Herschel in 1781, it had been observed as early as 1690 by John Flamsteed, who misinterpreted it as star and named it 34 Tauri because it was transiting the sign of Taurus -- the sign of the upcoming Venus transit. Even Herschel initially thought it was a comet. It was not until the 18th century transit of Venus in Taurus that the true nature of Uranus was revealed: by 1783 Herschel realized it was a planet. Uranus was indeed a new and unusual planet: it is the only known planet that rotates or spins on its side. Thus it is described by astrologers as "rebellious" and became a secondary ruler for Aquarius. Some also associate the rebellious and humanitarian spirit of Aquarius with the mythical figure Prometheus, whom we will discuss shortly.
Uranus was not the only "gas giant" discovery during this Venus transit period. Neptune -- considered in astrological circles as the higher octave of Venus -- was also found, or deduced, from changes observed in the orbit of Uranus in 1846. In fact, as I mentioned in a previous post, the two gas giants were in mutual exchange, a parivartana yoga, as they are today and will remain until 2017. Neptune's discovery coincided with national movements towards ideal society like the rise of communism and publication of The Communist Manifesto in 1848. Modern art movements sprung from a rejection of Realism and state-sanctioned definitions of art to the acceptance the individual suffering artist as romantic hero/god. Abstract and subtle art began to gain acceptance, especially when realism could be captured and easily reproduced in a new medium: the photograph -- first revealed around 1839.
The 19th century Venus transits occurred in 1874 and 1882 in the sign of Scorpio, again, heralding the industrial age and a new wave of scientific discovery. This time the transit was closely followed by the US Naval Observatory (USNO) which sent sent multiple teams to time the transit of Venus with the aid of photographic equipment. Even John Phillip Sousa composed a March in honor of this astronomical event.
The late 19th century was an era of invention from the light bulb, to telephones, and ultimately to the 20th century discovery of nuclear power: Jyeshtha's thunderbolt strikes again. But it was also the dawn of banking and big corporations; incredible advances in medicine including vaccines and penicillin; and traumatic shifts in culture and politics that allowed the rise of communism, socialism, fascism and capitalism. In 1875 the first civil rights act was passed in the U.S., declared unconstitutional in 1883 and finally later enacted in 1964. And just after the second transit in 1882, the Krakatoa volcano explodes in 1883 killing 36,417 people. The explosion is considered to be the loudest sound ever heard in modern history, with reports of it being heard nearly 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from its point of origin. Remember the previous Venus in transit in Scorpio heralded the eruption of Vesuvius in 1631.
Venus Transits in Taurus: 1761, 1769 and 2004, 2012
With this history in mind, let's examine some of the historical events of the previous Venus transit in Taurus, so that we may be able to foresee what this next pair may bring. The Venus transit of 1761 was much anticipated by astronomers of that era. As Stuart Clark points out:
The 1761 transit of Venus was a watershed moment in the history of astronomy. It was the first time astronomers would have the opportunity to measure accurately the size of the solar system. . . In scale and ambition, plans to record the transit of Venus were the 18th century equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider.
When legendary astronomer Edmund Halley predicted that these transits would occur in 1761 and 1769, he called upon astronomers to prepare and warned them not to squander the opportunity. However, in order to observe this rare phenomenon astronomers had to travel to distant spots around the world, sometimes under hostile conditions, to collect their data.
|Drawings of the 1769 transit of Venus by James Cook|
1761 was also the first year that sunspot data and solar maximum records were tracked. As I have discussed in previous posts, there may be a connection between influenza, solar flares and Venus cycles, there was the first known influenza in America outbreak of influenza 1761 during solar maximum. The current Venus Transit in Taurus is also occurring during a solar maximum period.
During the 18th century, the age of Enlightenment, which began under the first Venus transit in Scorpio, slowly lost its brightness as the people rose up against the elite establishment run by monarchies. This reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature and a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms marked the beginning of the Romantic Era. For the next 100 years Romanticism emphasized the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental. Whereas the Venus transit in Scorpio brought scientific discoveries, the Venus transit in Taurus heralded a return of the artist and importance of the artistic experience. The Romantic movement in the arts, literature, and music is characterized by a reaction against neoclassicism, and an exaltation of the common man, imagination and emotions, especially melancholy. Beginning with Goethe in 1772-1774, Romantic poets embraced the figure of Prometheus who was seen as the suffering champion of humanity – a symbol of freedom and a deliverer whose noble ambitions had incurred the wrath of the gods. Lord Byron made the Promethean myth a parable for the romantic imagination -- capturing the imagination in art or in life was comparable to stealing the sacred fire.
The myth of Prometheus was a popular one in Romantic music, such as Beethoven's The Creatures of Prometheus, and art, such as Thomas Cole's Prometheus.
The image of Prometheus as an outcast destined to a life of suffering at the hands of an uncomprehending public resonated strongly with the era's emergent understanding of the lot of artists -- exiles from society who nonetheless felt the emotional pain of their isolation.
So isn't interesting that as we conclude this upcoming Venus transit in Taurus, the science fiction film Prometheus is being released (preceded by the related film Alien vs. Predator during the 2004 transit). Could our hero be getting an upgrade for a new age?
The Promethean myth is Hellenistic in origin. According to one account, Prometheus and this brother Epimetheus, fashioned mankind out of mud and Athena blew in life (perhaps gnostic in origin?). The proud Titan became attached to his creation and less impressed with the Olympian gods who had banished the rest of his giant family to Tartarus.
|Athena blowing life into man|
In the ancient classic Theogony, Prometheus is described as a rebel Titan who challenges to Zeus's omniscience and omnipotence. In the trick at Mecone, a sacrificial meal marking the "settling of accounts" between mortals and immortals, Prometheus prepared two sacrifices, one sacrifice of beef hidden inside an ox's stomach (nourishment hidden inside a displeasing exterior), and the other bull's bones wrapped in glistening fat (something inedible hidden inside a pleasing exterior). Zeus saw through the deceit, and instead of punishing rebellious Titan, Zeus gave a warning. Prometheus was afraid that Zeus had no compassion for the mortals on the earth below, and he was right, as later Zeus ordered the creation of Pandora (the first woman) as a means to deliver misfortune into the house of man. I can't help but wonder if the Venus transit in the sign of the bull may trigger some of these Promethean themes, like the setting of accounts between men and the gods (ie.global bankers).
Despite Zeus' warning, Prometheus took pity on the primitive mortals and gave man all sorts of gifts: brickwork, woodworking, telling the seasons by the stars, numbers, the alphabet, yoked oxen, carriages, saddles, ships and sails. He also gave other gifts: healing drugs, prophesy, signs in the sky, the mining of precious metals, animal sacrifice and all art. But perhaps his most famous crime is stealing fire from Zeus (the thunderbolt god -- remember the last cycle was ruled by Jyeshtha) and giving it to mortals huddled in their dark caves. This gift of divine fire unleashed man's creativity, inventiveness, and productivity; but also gave rise to human hubris and caused great wars between human being. When Zeus realized the Titan's deception, he had Prometheus shackled to a rock high in the Caucasus mountains where an eagle devoured his liver each day. As Prometheus was immortal, his liver would grow back each night, only to be eaten by Zeus' bird day, after, day, after day. The long-suffering Prometheus was eventually unchained by Heracles, who shot the eagle with an arrow during his 10th Labor. All became immortalized in the stars as Aquila (the eagle), Sagitta (the Arrow) and the Kneeler (Heracles) -- next to -- wait for it -- Ophiuchus.
Thus the Promethean myth shows two consequences of unrestrained power (fire): creativity and innovation coupled with the potential for war and destruction. These two perspectives on technology and progress appear to shift under the influence of each Venus transit. Under the influence of Scorpio, Prometheus is bound by his hubris (ie. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a Modern Prometheus in which the monster, who calls himself 'the Adam of your Labors' is a perverted creation of the Promethean Dr. Frankenstein), and now under Taurus unbound with revolutionary intentions.
In Ridley Scott's highly anticipated 2012 film, Prometheus is the name of a spaceship whose crew is seeking the origins of humanity. According to the plot outline listed in wikipedia (***spoiler alert***):
In the distant past, the spacecraft of an advanced humanoid alien race arrives on Earth. One of the aliens consumes a dark liquid, causing its body to disintegrate and fall into a nearby waterfall—seeding Earth with the building blocks of life.
This seeding of the earth by extraterrestrials is a popular theme in modern science fiction and in many sub-cultures like the ancient alien theorists (AAT) of the UFO community. Many who believe in AAT also believe our ancient alien ancestors will return one day. Instead of waiting for our masters/saviors to return, Ridley Scott weaves a tale in which we go in search of them.
In 2089, archaeologist couple Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map among the remnants of several otherwise unconnected ancient cultures. They interpret this as evidence of humanity's forerunners.
This star map is the subject of a lot of speculation as it resembles ancient cave paintings of Lascaux.
Lascaux paintings also depict the Bull also connected with the Pleiades.
Check out the trailer which has a shot of the image inside of a cave (remember where Prometheus gave man fire).
The star formation in the movie does looks a lot like the Pleiades, which are an open star cluster located in the constellation of Taurus. Other than Orion and Sirius, the Pleiades are the stars most associated with our ancient ancestors.
In Hinduism, the Pleiades are considered the wives of the ancient seers who protected Murugan (Kartikeya) through his youth. To ancient Egyptians the seven stars were seven goddesses whom the dead had to encounter and by whom they had to be judged. And across the Atlantic, the Mesoamericans also created calendars that depict a Great Year cycle in which our solar system rotates around Alcyone, the central star of the Pleiades, every 24,000-26,000 years.
An unexpected connection to the Pleiades may be found in the megalithic structures of Neolithic Ireland. Ancient Celts used the acronychal rising of the Pleiades around the first of November to mark their month of mourning for dead friends. The Pleiades cluster not only marks the fall cross quarter on November 1st, Samhain on the Celtic calendar, but also the spring cross quarter on May 1st, called Beltane. The monoliths at Newgrange remind me of those found in the cave of the Engineers in Prometheus. And, as you may remember from my last post, the previous new moon and annular eclipse on May 20, 2012 was aligned with the Pleiades.
In Prometheus, the "Pleiadian" map leads to a distant moon LV-223 and by 2093 humans arrive and find their "Engineers," who it seems want to kill them. According to wiki the movie ends as the Prometheus is crashed into the Engineer's spaceship in order to stop it from returning to earth to destroy humanity. The survivors of the crew activate another Engineer ship to travel to its home world in an attempt to understand why they created humanity and now want to destroy it. Oh, the drama continues.
Although the world premier of Prometheus took place on May 31, 2012, at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square, London, it will not open in the U.S. until June 8, 2012 -- two days after the Venus transit in Taurus completes its pentagram. Just as the previous Venus transit pairs in Taurus inspired a great release of creativity and Promethean themes of artistic growth, so might this Venus transit in Taurus see new innovation and consciousness around material growth. Might astronomers find new gas giants and alien worlds by studying this Venus Transit (click here for more)? Might the Scorpionic war machine, toxic energy, and corrupt global banking systems crash as we shift towards reconciling the accounts of man and "gods"? Will Prometheus be unbound and inspire a new revolution for humanity? And what will be the consequences of his freedom?
An example of this type of unbound Promethean innovation might be the social network revolution led by Facebook. Just prior to the 2004 Venus transit, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook and thereby paved the way for social networking to inspire the Facebook revolution and Occupy Wall Street movements. By linking the worldwide communication technologies of the common man, Facebook has connected nearly a billion users and mapped their social relationships. Thus Mark Zuckerberg has passed the Promethean fire to the people to unite a world online; and with the recent Facebook public offering -- three days before an eclipse with planets transiting in Taurus including Jupiter transiting Zuckerberg's natal Sun that is aligned with the Pleiades -- he has invited them to take collective ownership. Although the Facebook IPO may not be the financial success that many had hoped for, it ironically illuminates the deceitful practices of Wall Street investors and the abuses of an outdated market system which many believe are destined to change under the influence of this Venus Transit.
So as the world witnesses Venus making her way across the face of the Sun, it will be super-charged with her passage. When the Sun engulfs the energies of a planet in Cazimi, it is said to imbue the planet with the intensely positive and life-giving energy through the Sun, which draws its energy from the shakti of the nakshatras that it transits: in this case Rohini. It is a moment of divine potential. Thus under the radiant light and blessings of Brahma, Venus will shift into the morning star, lucifer, the bringer of light -- a name also associated with Prometheus -- and lead us into the birth of a new era. Where will our brave Venus lead us? That remains to be seen, but one this is for sure, Venus, the bringer of light, promises a beautiful dawn.
Addendum: The first pair of Venus transits occurring at 8 year intervals began with the 1518/1526 pairing in May under the influence of Mrigashira -- the nakshatra associated with Soma -- and dancing. Within two months of the 1518 Venus transit a strange plague broke out in Strasbourg, Alcace -- the Dancing Plague of 1518. Numerous people took to dancing for days without rest, and, over the period of about one month, some of the people died from heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion. According to Wiki: The authorities encouraged more dancing, in part by opening two guildhalls and a grain market, and even constructing a wooden stage. They did this because they believed that the dancers would only recover if they danced continuously night and day. They even paid musicians to keep the afflicted moving. Some of the dancers were taken to a shrine where they sought a cure for their affliction.
|Engraving of Hendrik Hondius portrays three women affected by the plague. Work based on original drawing by Peter Brueghel, who supposedly witnessed a subsequent outbreak in 1564 in Flanders.|