Venus conjunct Spica
Evening, / you gather back / all that dazzling dawn has put asunder: / you gather a lamb / gather a kid / gather a child to its mother
of all stars the most beautiful
— Sappho fragments translated by Anne Carson
Venus has been glowing in the twilight of cooling Virgo sunsets recently with Spica, commonly known as one of the most beneficent fixed stars in astrology. On August 31 and September 1 the star of Aphrodite aligned by zodiacal degree as well as visually in the sky with Spica, the ear of wheat in the left hand of the Winged Goddess in the Virgo constellation (for a visual look at this Earthsky article). Spica has also been connected with images of lamps, pearls and other symbols of bringing knowledge like the wheat cultivating Ceres.
Venus was recently at maximum elongation as an Evening Star at her brightest and highest, and is now in process of descending each evening as she approaches stationing retrograde at 10º50′ Scorpio on October 5. After being retrograde for forty days and nights, on November 16 Venus will station direct at 25º14′ Libra, coming into close contact once again with Spica. In fact, Venus enters the “shadow zone” of her upcoming retrograde on September 2, meaning that Venus will begin moving through the zodiacal degrees she will eventually return to in November as part of her underworld, retrograde journey. Thus the communion of Venus with Spica is an initiation that takes us into the space of the regenerative Venus retrograde that will open October. Spica will hold its steady course in the meantime, awaiting the return of Venus at the end of her retrograde when they will unite at dawn as Morning Stars.
What meaning can we find with Spica marking the beginning and the end of the zodiacal terrain in which Venus will experience her 2018 retrograde journey? Known as Sunbala, Sunbale, Sumbela, Sumbalet, as well as Spica, the Spike of the Virgin, it has been said that the light of Spica which symbolizes the wheat held by the Winged Goddess is a source of cultivating knowledge and bountiful gifts. Bernadette Brady wrote that Spica brings “a gift of brilliance, an innate talent, skill or ability which is out of the ordinary,” a “symbol of knowledge and insight.” Brady wrote that the wheat sheaf symbolism of Spica “can be considered a symbol of her [the Goddess] gifts to humankind.”
Spica has the nature of Venus and Mars so is an ideal starry source of nourishment for Venus as we transition from a period of Mars retrograde into Venus retrograde. Periods of Mars and Venus being retrograde can be difficult due to increased levels of volatility and change, yet also can help put us in touch with core talents and gifts that demand engagement and expression. As Venus unites with Spica at sunset, we may sense the gift of a skill that wants to emerge from within us to be refined, developed, and honed over the next few months. Spica at the gateway of the upcoming Venus retrograde speaks to essential insight and knowledge available to be uncovered and integrated from now through November.
Venus conjoining Spica also marks the entry of Venus into her sidereal home of Libra, as Spica demarcates zero degrees of Libra in the sidereal zodiac favored by Indian astrologers. This means visually against the backdrop of the constellations, Venus is also now entering the space of the Libra constellation she calls home. In contrast to the perspective of the tropical zodiac which views Venus as moving from Scorpio back into Libra during the upcoming retrograde, in the sidereal zodiac Venus will spend the entirety of the retrograde within her home of Libra.
The Coptic people of Egypt named Spica as “Solitary,” likely due to it being relatively isolated from nearby stars [Constellation of Words]. Similarly, Spica is the star at the heart of the 14th Lunar Mansion known as Al Simak, “The Unarmed.” Donna Woodwell has ascribed the image of “The Harvest” to this mansion, writing that it is about “separating the wheat from the chaff,” overcoming fear in order to end, leave, or move on from relationships and circumstances that are not fulfilling or delivering what we need.
Chris Warnock in his Mansions of the Moon described the Al Simak mansion as being about breaking apart “restrictive or inappropriate bonds,” and that while we need to be “wary of the impulse to fight with those whose temperament is opposite to our own,” this mansion of Spica “might also indicate that we need to remove ourselves from an uncomfortable situation that goes against our nature.” The connection of both Venus and Mars to Spica is evident in these words, and this lunar mansion theme also resonates with the general meaning of Venus moving retrograde from Scorpio back into Libra.
Indian astrology for ages has placed Spica (“Star of Opportunity”) as the defining star of Chitra (“The Bright and Brilliant”), the 14th nakshatra which has been associated with a Bright Jewel or Pearl, making Spica a pearl of divine spirit within the heavens we have within. Dennis Harness in The Nakshatras explained Chitra also translates as a “painting or work of art” and “reflects the many, variegated colors seen in the radiance of a white star.” Chitra possesses Tvashtar, the Artificer, or Shaper, as its presiding divinity, he who is “the master of maya and magic.” Harness wrote that not only is Chitra “one of the most mystical nakshatras,” with “a deep spiritual depth,” it also also brings “sudden flashes of inspiration and the urge to realize one’s true self.”
Mars is the ruler of Spica’s nakshatra, and as Chitra has correspondences with serpents and female tigers, it signifies passion, seduction, charisma, and righteousness. Mars at the final degree of Capricorn will form a square aspect with Venus at the final degree of Libra on September 8, a day before a New Moon in Virgo. The square aspect has the nature of Mars, bringing about volatile change and opportunities for courageously rising to work at whatever needs to be done in a difficult situation. The gifts of Spica to be accessed from now through November as part of the Venus retrograde process will be hard won, penetrating self realizations that will guide strong effort bringing forth new talents.
Jupiter in the Scales
Experience shows us
Wealth unchaperoned / by Virtue is never / an innocuous neighbor
— Sappho fragment translated by Mary Barnard
Jupiter will be co-present in tropical Scorpio when Venus stations retrograde in tropical Scorpio in October, bringing its expansive, visionary influence to Venus moving retrograde in Scorpio through the rest of October. Visually in the night sky, Jupiter has been passing through the scales of the Libra constellation near Zuben Elegnubi, the alpha star of the constellation. In fact, Jupiter earlier in the year moved retrograde back through the scales and stationed direct in July near Zuben Elegnubi, and Jupiter is only now beginning to move away from the alpha star of the Scales. From an Egyptian cosmological view we could interpret this as Jupiter being weighed on the scales of Maat. With so many environmental and political crises occurring in global events, we’ve all been called to face a difficult reality and question how we are contributing and what we are capable of changing.
Bernadette Brady wrote that Zuben Elgenubi “symbolizes higher ideals . . . for in its meaning the prime motive is not personal gain but rather to benefit the group” and involvement in “social reform or social justice.” One of the two scales along with its twin Zuben Eschamali, in more ancient times Zuben Elgenubi was known as one of the two Claws of the Scorpion constellation. Jason Holley has spoken about Libra nature embodying both the Scales and the Claws, with Libra’s intrinsic spatial awareness of tension systems enabling the triggering of conflicts as well as effectively negotiating interpersonal dynamics. The rebellious nature of Venus retrograde combined with Jupiter in tropical Scorpio will be powerful allies for any movements centered around social justice.
Brady, Bernadette. (1998). Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars. Weiser.
Brady, Bernadette. (2008). Star and Planet Combinations. The Wessex Astrologer.
Carson, Anne. (2002). If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho. Vintage Books.
Harness, Dennis. (1999). The Nakshatras: Lunar Mansions of Vedic Astrology. Lotus Press.
Sappho a New Translation by Mary Barnard. (1958). University of California Press.
Spica. Constellation of Words.
Warnock, Christopher. (2010). Mansions of the Moon: A Lunar Zodiac for Astrology and Magic. Renaissance Astrology.