Exaltation of Venus
Venus ingresses into Pisces on 12 March 2016, the sign of her exaltation. The origins of the exaltation system are cloaked in mystery, with some believing they predate the rulership schemes of Hellenistic Astrology from the period of ancient Babylonian Astrology. A planet in its exaltation is able to purely express its essential quality, as exaltations for planets are in signs in which the domicile ruler is supportive of its significations. In the case of Venus, her exaltation is in Pisces, the inner home of Jupiter and its stabilizing presence which is in accord with the unifying nature of Venus. Venus signifies harmony, aesthetics, music, art, pleasure, and relationship, and is able to reconcile that which has been previously separated. In the inner, watery place of Pisces, Venus is able to express the full range of her boundless sensuality. As this current ingress occurs in between eclipses, the transit of Venus in Pisces can help harmonize what has been stirred up by the recent Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces.
The exaltations occur at the turning points of the seasons, with the exaltation of Jupiter being in the solstice sign of Cancer, the exaltation of Mars being in the solstice sign of Capricorn, the exaltation of Saturn being in the equinox sign of Libra, and the exaltation of the Sun being in the equinox sign of Aries. Venus has her exaltation in Pisces, the sign that transitions Winter into Spring in the northern hemisphere, Summer into Fall in the southern hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere, this is the time of bright petals and flowery pastels beginning to emerge again from the earth. As Robert Hand has taught, a planet being in its exaltation is not necessarily more beneficial, only that it has the support it needs to have its natural presence. It follows that this current transit of Venus will be potent for syncretizing meaning through the creation of art, and can foster healing in relationships.
There is a serendipitous connection between the myths of Venus and her exaltation being in Pisces, as one version of the Pisces story is that the two fish of the constellation are the transmuted forms of Venus and her divine son Cupid. Along the currents of the Euphrates River in ancient Mesopotamia, Venus and Cupid were fleeing in panic from the Typhon, the monstrous monster of all monsters and chaos unleashed by the Titans to destroy the usurping Olympians. As the ravenous jaws of the Typhon descended to devour Venus and Cupid, they leapt into the river currents, becoming slippery fish able to evade the brutish beast. This myth has been analyzed in connection to Pisces by many astrologers, including suggesting it reveals the escapist side of Pisces that chooses to blur reality in crisis. Essentially to me, it instead signifies the capacity of Pisces to turn inward into the depths of the unconscious, embrace the changing soulful nature of the material world, and regenerate and heal what has been fractured from within.
Pisces sextile Taurus
Another feature of the exaltations is that they form whole sign aspects to the domicile placement of the planet, sextiles for nocturnal planets and trines for diurnal planets. For example, the exaltation of Jupiter in Cancer is in trine to its home in Pisces. The exaltation of the Moon in Taurus is in sextile to its home in Cancer. The exaltation of Saturn in Libra is in trine to its home in Aquarius. The exaltation of Mars in Capricorn is in sextile to its home in Scorpio. The exaltation of the Sun in Aries is in trine to its home in Leo. With Venus, we find that her exaltation in Pisces is in sextile to her home in Taurus. Venus signifies our full range of bodily senses and allows us to receive pleasure in nature and our material surroundings. The sextile between Pisces and Taurus brings up a vital essence of Pisces that is misunderstood by many. It is common to hear people suggest that those with strong Pisces signatures prefer to live in a world of fantasy disconnected from the body, but this could not be more wrong. It is in fact essential for Pisces to feel the full sensual beauty of its inner visions in the body, on the skin and in the mundane movement through reality.
Venus is a magnetic force in astrology that brings elements together, attracts and binds us to what we feel in the depths of our Soul. The chemistry between Pisces and Taurus is potent and has been known since the time of the ancients: Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens, in Book One of his Anthologies, wrote that the sextile between Pisces and Taurus signifies that they are beholding signs, as Pisces beholds Taurus. Whereas Taurus is fixed and can be stubborn, however, Pisces is mutable and adaptable to change. While it is vital for Pisces to feel its soulful connections in the body, if not in ideal circumstances Pisces also holds the capacity to not only envision a reality in which it may behold its soulful desires, but also alter reality to bring about manifestation of its deeply felt values and connections. This is part of the magic between Taurus and Pisces and their ability to build forms together that satiate their deepest desires.
As Taurus is the inner home of Venus, the supportive sextile with Pisces supports an inner journey into our deepest recesses to discover our most authentic values and desires while Venus transits through Pisces. As Pisces is mutable and capable of losing a sense of boundaries in relationship, to access the richest potential of Venus in Pisces means activating a deep internal exploration of the Self, rather than losing touch with one’s own values through the dynamics of external relationships with others. This does not mean to avoid relationships with Venus in Pisces, but rather to open oneself to those relationships most aligned with our deeply felt sense of value, aesthetics, sensuality, and passion. Venus in Pisces in this way holds the capacity to foster relationships most resonant with the Soul.
Venus + Jupiter
Since Pisces being the exaltation of Venus means that her significations are supported by the ruler of Pisces, it follows that Jupiter as the ruler of Pisces buttresses the manifestations of Venus with great aplomb, accord, and pure pleasure. Pisces is the inwardly directed home of Jupiter, and in this watery place we gain access to inner knowing, wisdom, and vision. Pisces holds the resources Venus needs to take a dive into the unconscious and the inner world of dreams and visions, in order to reemerge with a regenerated sense of what we need to feel viscerally alive.
Crucially, the inner knowing of Jupiter that supports the exalted potential of Venus in Pisces relies upon the inner vision being sourced by the deep Self rather than from external conditioning influences. Without attuning to one’s authentic inner values, Venus in Pisces can live out the desires received through reading a favorite book, watching a moving film, listening to an inspirational teacher, or being attracted to the presence of a lover. By creating the space and time to go within and listen to one’s inner voice and calling, which sounds much easier than it actually is, Venus in Pisces can facilitate the formation of action, structures, alliances, friendships, and romances based upon the inner values and aesthetics of the Soul.
In the current transit of Venus through Pisces, we find Jupiter in Virgo, the sign of her Fall. Venus in Virgo being in Fall does not portend disaster for all things Venus, only that Virgo is a place of significations which are not as supportive to the natural essentiality of Venus as Pisces. This goes with the idea that the rational, intellectual, analytical side of Virgo is not as supportive of Venusian expression of sensuality as is the watery, emotional, and heart-centered realm of Pisces. Yet the Virgo ability to bridge body and mind in the moment holds resonance with the essence of Venus. This capacity of Virgo for discernment in the moment is the place of focus to find how to utilize Jupiter’s journey in Virgo to support the passage of Venus through Pisces. Grounding the inner knowing of Jupiter in the body, in the now, can help direct the pleasure principles of Venus toward what is most resonant for our Soul.
Venus will be in Pisces this time around from March 12 until April 5, 2016. The transits Venus will make in this current pass are not easy or lighthearted, however, and instead portend challenging tests and trials to overcome. At the same time, within these challenging aspects that Venus will form is also extraordinary potential for change and lifting oneself out of one’s previous circumstances into a regenerated reality. This is not a time for the escapist shadow of Pisces but rather the heart of the sign which is incredibly strong, resilient, and able to persist through the darkest of times.
Venus ingresses into Pisces on March 12 and immediately enters into a first quarter square with Mars in Sagittarius. As developed by Dane Rudhyar, first quarter squares signify a crisis in action and the need to build forms and structures to support the burgeoning new vision. In the case of Mars and Venus, in 2015 we experienced three conjunctions before this current cycle officially commenced: in February, in the end of August with Venus retrograde, and in the beginning of November. Now at the first quarter square between Mars and Venus, we can reflect upon the shifting of our desires signified by Mars and Venus in this three part movement.
Currently Mars in Sagittarius could be causing a separation, and if so then Venus in Pisces is in position to heal and harmonize the resultant fracturing. Mars in the first decan of Sagittarius is overzealous and heedless, desiring to speed off in a new direction. However, Mars is also now in range of its eventual retrograde station in April, and so the desires of Mars emerging now are also likely to shift. By attuning within, Venus in Pisces can help guide us in making the choices that align with our most authentic Soul desires.
After Venus in Pisces completes her square with Mars on March 14, she begins to apply to a conjunction with Neptune that will culminate on March 20. Neptune as the modern ruler of Pisces is interesting from the standpoint that Neptune is considered to be a higher octave of Venus in modern astrology, among other things signifying unconditional love. Though this is a different concept than exaltation, it is an interesting further connection between Venus and Pisces. The union of Venus with Neptune in Pisces is part of the build-up to the Lunar Eclipse in Libra on March 23, and this potent period in between eclipses we are passing through. Mark Jones beautifully captured the higher octave relationship between Venus and Neptune in his book The Soul Speaks:
Our true nature, exposed by the brilliance of real love, is found to comprise numerous core elements, of which joy, dedication to truth, wisdom, infinite love and gratitude are key. We realize then as these essential Soul states begin to unfold within us that the apparent loss that the ego projects onto the reality of the deep self is no real loss at all. In fact, what arises in place of what we believed was our self is an all-embracing inclusive presence; we feel cared for so completely that all previous notions of what constituted contentment or satisfaction are found to be mere shadows in comparison.
— Mark Jones, The Soul Speaks, (p. 130)
Occurring simultaneously with the Libra Lunar Eclipse and the union of Venus and Neptune in Pisces is the exact last quarter square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Virgo. This is the crisis in consciousness developed by Dane Rudhyar that signifies a crucial release of old attachments and beliefs in order to reorient toward the not fully formed developing vision. Venus in Pisces will oppose Jupiter in Virgo and form a square to Saturn in Sagittarius on March 25, two days after the Lunar Eclipse. There could be great pain and loss associated with the changes brought about by these simultaneous transits, a cherished inner dream that needs to be let go of. However, we can also draw upon the healing potential of Venus in Pisces to reconcile and harmonize what has been torn apart and fractured in the associated changes.
The very next day after these exact aspects between Venus with Jupiter and Saturn, Venus in Pisces will form an exact sextile with Pluto in Capricorn on March 26. If we can draw upon the inner discernment of Jupiter in Virgo and the capacity to structure vision of Saturn in Sagittarius, we can benefit from the sextile between Venus in Pisces and Pluto in Capricorn by restructuring the myriad elements of our life to harmonize with the changes occurring with our deeply felt inner desires.
At the end of March 2016, Venus in Pisces will also conjoin Chiron, as well as pass across the South Node of the Moon around the same time. The higher potential of these transits can bring about a great healing to all of the wounding relationship patterns we have been living out from our past, going all the way back to childhood. By going into our depths, exploring how our shadow has manifested in our process of becoming whole, we can gain golden insight into the underlying fabric of our Venusian patterns. From now through the rest of March 2016, including within the current liminal portal between eclipses, Venus in Pisces brings an opportunity to become more aware of how our unconscious communicates with our conscious awareness. As in the work of Carl Jung, we can explore and develop the relationship between unconscious contents and our consciousness, and the manner in which we project this inner relationship outward into our external relationships with the surrounding world.
Brennan, Chris. (2008). The Questionable Origins of the Exaltations in Astrology.
Jones, Mark. (2015). The Soul Speaks. Raven Dreams Press.