Colorized version of The Flammarion engraving

Sidereal Skies: The Venus-Eclipse Complex

By Henry Johnson, writing from Guadalupita, New Mexico

It has snowed on the mountains for the last two days— a powerful storm traveled from the northwest, covering the Sangre de Cristo peaks in white powder that glows blue in the nighttime. After a summer of devastating fires the snow is setting in, a set of early storms that make one wonder what winter will look like. As the last eclipse cycle wound across the sky I watched the mountains glowing red with fire, pillars of smoke like mushroom clouds rising high, while the moon glimmered like a smoldering coal and the Sun turned a dreadful red as it set into the purple smoke on the horizon.

I had been evacuated from my home for nearly forty days on the last lunar eclipse, as the biggest wildfire in New Mexico history raged through my town; the fire came through my backyard leaving an ashen burn scar; a bony forest of coal.

I was extremely sick. My body was flattened by illness. I couldn’t hold down fluids. I was staying in an old house that a friend of a friend was in the middle of gutting on the plains above the Mora Valley. The view from the cactus studded backyard was a cemetery that blinked with Christmas lights at night. I laid outside during the eclipse, my mind reeling in a fever dream as a shadow passed over the Moon. I don’t recommend lying beneath the shadow of an eclipse unless you are in the grips of a nightmare fever while your world is on fire.

The eclipse represented a turning point in the way the fire moved; after the eclipse cycle ended the fire conditions downturned. It also represented a turning point in my own life; after the eclipse ended (within twenty days) I was back in my home, adjusting to living in a disaster zone. I am now writing this in that space, six hours before the next eclipse which occurs at 7 degrees Libra.

I’ve been watching the sky living in a hyper rural environment outside of Taos, NM for the past six years and have studied Astrology through the observation of astronomical phenomena and the behavior of the earth around me. I study phenomena like fires and floods through an immediate astrological lens because I depend on them to understand the conditions that I live in, as that understanding is intimately connected with survival.

If all of our collective knowledge were to disappear at once I am confident that Astrology would emerge as one of the first threads of knowledge which would coalesce. Our relationship with the rhythms of the celestial bodies is an inherent feature in human consciousness and informs so much of our collective outlook beyond the strictly esoteric, as in the so-called “New Age”. The human intellect was formed by observing the phenomenon happening above our heads. Astrology works on multiple concurrent levels, with extremely vast and varied schools of thought which precipitate on every conceivable aspect of the practice and study of astronomical phenomena.

To look up at the night sky and observe what is occurring is a deeply transformative experience. Sidereal Astrology seeks to reconcile the relationship that humans have with what is apparently visible— meaning what can be observed with the immediate senses.

Fire season came on with an alarming intensity when Rahu, the north node, transited into Aries, ushering in the last eclipse cycle. Many traditions have further organized the Zodiac up into lunar houses/mansions, or asterisms, called Nakshatras in Vedic Astrology. Rahu is the head of the dragon. He is a malefic that has no body, and is only a head which consumes endlessly. He was out of Taurus, in Mars ruled Aries while still in Krittika, an asterism which bridges the two signs. It opposes Vishaka, another asterism that bridges a Venusian house (Libra) and a Martian house (Scorpio). Rahu and his other half, Ketu (the headless body of the dragon, whose head used to be Rahu before defenestration by Vishnu for stealing a drink of Soma from the table of the Gods without permission) is also a malefic. The two travel constantly retrograde, or backwards, across the sky, representing the points where eclipses happen.

Venus rules Taurus and Libra, two houses from the Sun and Moon ruled houses Leo and Cancer, bordered by Mercury and Mars, opposing Mars across both oppositions. Halloween falls during sidereal “Libra season”, the midway point between the Equinox and the Solstice. Venus Cazimi started on October 22nd, Saturn went direct in Capricorn on the 23rd, and the Eclipse happening on the 25th casted a shadow over most of western Europe, where a fuel crisis and multiple parliamentary shake-ups are mounting as winter quickly approaches, while tensions in Eastern Europe continue to increase.

Venus Cazimi happens when Venus and the Earth are on opposite sides of the Sun. This is a kind of eclipse, not lunar but rather planetary; Venus will re-emerge in a new form; she will become the Morning Star, the Luciferan light which will dominate the the horizon before Sun rise, the brightest light in the sky. For the last 250 days she was the Evening Star.

Hermes Trismegistus wrote “As above, so below”— occultations are meant to both demonstrate and to hide. Everything which is associated with the occult stems from the most essentially basic elements— in the way quantum particles are the essence of matter. There is a complexity to simplicity that is nearly inexpressible, and as we move forward in our collective consciousness these occultations are going to both be revealed and in turn more secrets will slowly emerge in their place. This is the nature of being, and it must first and foremost be taken into account as we journey into metaphysical realms of knowledge.

There is direct tension between the known and the unknown, the expressible and the inexpressible, the absolute and the immaterial.

The Astrological weather through the end of November is concentrated in Mars and Venus ruled houses, with Jupiter and Saturn stationed direct and domiciled in Pisces and Capricorn, respectively. A court-like Stellium is collecting in Libra and will be a complete unit on Halloween, with the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and Ketu occupying the house together. Mars sits at 1 degree Gemini and will go retrograde on October 30th, transiting backwards towards Venus-ruled Taurus.

The modernized, so-called “Western” Aphrodite is a goddess/entity has been stripped of the fullness of her power. Venus transcends the singular features of love and beauty and expands to represent borders, war, the human gestational cycle. She is legal justice, commerce, trade, she is both extractive and inductive. She traces a five pointed flower or star across the skies. She is Inanna and Ishtar. The Hellenic Aphrodite rose from the sea, a sister of the Titans. She is represented by the element Copper— she is the connectivity represented in the myriad alloys her element facilitates. Studying the direction that she moves in is essential to understanding her effects. Her cycle is the basis for much astrological and astronomical observation, the Venus solar transit of 1769 was followed by the Venus transit of 2012, a separation of 243 years.

The Lunar or Ketu aspect of this next eclipse is the closing of the cycle, which will be followed by an unfolding of its effects and a lead up to a new transit cycle. The next eclipse occurs on November 8th and will coincide with midterm elections in the United States and will be visible over North and South America, Northern and Eastern Europe, Asia, Australia, and the shores of Antarctica.

Each planet keeps its own time and organizes the events of human history into their own sets of logic. As a collective we are still reeling from transits that have been in play for weeks, months, decades, centuries. The Stellium in Libra will transit into Mars ruled Scorpio around the same time Mars transits back into Venus ruled Taurus, out of alignment with Rahu and Ketu, but still arranged along the Martian-Venusian axis. Jupiter will also begin moving retrograde through Pisces as Saturn continues his slow, direct path, Aquarius bound. This is his last stand in his native Capricorn for approximately the next 27-28 years. Another cycle rolling to a close, this one started on January 23rd 2020.

Astrology is like a roadmap of the questions of being. It conveys direction, it indicates conditions, and can at times provide granular information about the realities of time and the procession of “existence”, as in where one is within the stream of so-called time. What we have to contend with in the “now”. Venus and Mars have been inflamed by node occupation since September 22nd, 2020. Identifying how Venus and Mars are interacting in your chart helps to clarify how transits are going to affect you on a personal level. I threw myself into serious observational Astrology during the Grand Conjunction on December 20th, 2020. It is extremely dark where I live and I have a clear view of the sky. I live at almost 9,000 feet and spend a great deal of my time studying by watching the sky.

Just after midsummer this year I was in Marfa, TX watching Scorpio cross the midheaven late into the night. I was thinking about how Libra and Scorpio carry the Sun during the “dying period” of the year, but shine brightly over the Summer— they are clearest when the Northern hemisphere is hot, when the nights are short. They carry the Sun into its descent into the darkness. Our feelings about certain times of the year are important, as is what is happening in the here and now. I was in a state of shock on the high desert, still in a daze from the chaos that had preceded me a few mere weeks prior. I found grounding by watching the sky. In the time between eclipses I’ve been evacuated from fire, experienced devastating flooding. Now the snow has started early. Life continues.

Though life be feeble, life persists
Persists? Increases! Cries the pessimists

wrote Anthony Burgess in his poem Lord published on December 29, 1974, when Rahu and Ketu were beginning their transit through the Venus-Mars axis. Nodal transits occur every 18 years and the nodes stay within the Venus-Mars axis for nearly three years at a time, every nine years.

A holistic view of the magical potentials of the esoteric must involve that which is happening in the cosmos. Awareness and action are possible when there is a deep understanding of what underlays the collective “reality”. Astrology is meant to make you proactive in your life. It takes courage to follow celestial rhythms and trust in the long term procession of time.

I do not ascribe to a purely fatalistic reading of the planets, but of potentials. I think it is important to seek out where discord is possible and look for ways to re-route potential outcomes. It is also important to read the sky as one who belongs on this planet, and has the full rights of a citizen on this plane. It is holy to want the best for yourself and those around you. It is possible to live a beautiful life, even when times become disorienting.

Astrological intuition is built when the dual serpents, the esoteric and the scientific, are allowed to intertwine around the staff of knowledge. The scientific method is a basic instruction booklet for the development of intuition. The scientific method asks us to first observe, then question, do research, hypothesize answers, experiment, test the hypothesis against the results of the experiment, draw conclusions from such an experiment, and then report it. Esoteric knowledge, on the other hand, comes to the student in waves, initiations— without the esoteric revelation of gnosis unfolding over time science becomes base scientism, and a complete reliance on gnosis without examination is the purview of quacks, fanatics, and charlatans. Personal practice becomes essential. Learning astrology helps magical practices flourish.

Over the next month seek out your feelings surrounding where you are in the here and now, and where you have been. Self observation is a step on the road to developing astrological intuition. Astrological study is a long road. May it lead you to clear vistas and fertile ground.