EROS, VENUS, APHRODITE AND THE DIVINE MASCULINE : VALENTINE’S DAY ASTROLOGY 2015

Valentines Day 2015

Blessings everyone! I know that not all of you celebrate Valentine’s Day, or recognize it as more than a massive earner for the greeting card companies. I still thought it’d be fun to look at the love-centric aspects of today’s skies, whilst (those of you who do) celebrate the day!

THE YOD OF LOVE AND THE DIVINE MASCULINE

Sun (25 Aquarius) sextile Cupido and Pholus (25 Sagittarius) – The Sun represents our waking Consciousness, our spiritual anchorpoint (so to speak) in experiencing and engaging with this reality. In Aquarius is focuses upon the expression of individual gifts, eccentricities, friendships and one’s role in larger groups or associations, particularly to do with altruism, humanitarianism, and other ideals. Cupido is a Uranian planet which acts as a combination of both Venus and Jupiter. Quoting Arlene Kramer, where “Venus means beauty, Cupido means art. Where Venus means love, Cupido means marriage… [it] is the planet of Togetherness”. It relates to the coming together of partnerships within a larger context, where the sum of two is celebrated by the whole. Pholus represents the energy of sudden awakenings, epiphanies, and realizations – it is linked with the energy of one who sees beyond/through the everyday.

The Sun sextiling Cupido at this time represents a harmonious possibility to find a meaningful love connection. It can just as well relate to the opening of your own Heart and Sacral Chakra, without the role of an external partner. With Cupido so close to the Galactic Center (26 Sagittarius), some of the most powerful lessons will will experience now relate with Love in all of its forms. A beautiful astrological aspect to encounter on a day commonly devoted to Love. Pholus’ energies intensify the energy of this sextile by facilitating a great awakening or realization of profound truth (almost out of the blue).

Those with placements at or near 25 Cancer will experience this as a profound Yod, or Karmic Finger of Fate/Destiny. In the skies, we do have asteroid Varuna at 26 Cancer, acting as the apex of the Yod. Varuna is a Dravidian deity who was later incorporated into the Vedic pantheon. He rules over the oceans, the seas and the Water element in general. He is linked with Serpent Energies (particularly that of Lord Vasuki) and rainfall in Nepal, representing a more fluid, water-based connection with Creative, Divine Masculine energy.

Morever, this Yod is activated by a conjunction between Crantor (26 Capricorn) and Siva (25 Capricorn). Crantor represents the cathartic release that a powerful emotional declaration can bring – be sure not to do this for purposes of manipulation, projection, etc. but rather to simply express what resides within you. Siva represents the power of the Divine Masculine Archetype, but specifically associated with the themes of Formlessness and Absolute Compassion. Together, opposing Varuna and forming the midpoint of the Sun/Pholus-Cupido sextile, these energies ask you to boldly speak your Truth.

This alignment opens us up to the more compassionate, tender aspects of Divine Masculine energy – transforming, in the process our abilities to recognize, give and receive love. It can be quite an emotional roller-coaster as old emotions are churned up to the surface for processing, but the result appears to be a major cleansing and re-balancing of energies, attitudes and ideas you may have about the Nature of Love.

EROS CONJUNCTS VENUS, URANIA, PSYCHE OPPOSES IRIS

According to Kim Falconer, Eros (now at 20 Pisces) “evokes passions that ignore lunar comfort, Venus sensuality or Mars desires. Eros is not about relationships that make us feel secure. It is not about getting our way or winning love. It is not about commitment or harmony. Eros describes something altogether different. It describes the nature of erotic love”. Venus (now at 21 Pisces) deals with the very nature of our material incarnation on this plane of reality, all things tangible, physical, sensual – including our most cherished relationships. It can also refer to a partner who expresses more of the ‘feminine’ aspect in the partnership, and one’s own embodiment of that aspect within the psyche. Urania (at 20 Pisces) is the Goddess Muse of Astrology and Astronomy. Psyche (at 21 Pisces) represents our ability to make meanings, weave narratives and live by/through the archetypes within them. Iris (20 Virgo) represents the Rainbow Messenger Goddess who alternatively shows us the way to be lost in the pursuit of an illusion (‘chasing rainbows), or the path – when taken with a measure of balance and groundedness – that allows us to find true satisfaction (i.e. the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow). Iris is also a cathartic force that is linked with the cleansing power of tears.

Taking all this together, we have a powerful combination in Pisces speaking to us of the nature of loving, compassionate detachment. We’re asked to deepen our engagement with relationships of all forms, especially the ones that (in a good way) take us out of our comfort zones. We’re asked to let the relationship, desire or love connection of interest to take us deep into our own hearts, and to truly let ourselves Open in Response. The metric of success in this context isn’t whether a relationship is successful or long-lasting, it’s how deeply it makes us open and feel into our own humanity, and – at a deeper layer of it- an appreciation of something sacred within ourselves – that we share with the rest of Creation.

Some of you will find astrology – or simply communing with the Cosmos – a potent way to navigate your Journey of Love at this time. You will also find the opportunity to break out of old, constricting roles and narratives and into new, uncharted Waters as part of your continued spiritual evolution.

The opposition with Iris basically cautions us against swimming too deeply in the waters of Spirit and asks us to turn back equally to the material manifestations or circumstances prompting these deep emotional engagements. We’re also cautioned to not get ‘too’ hung up on the minor details, and allow things to work out as they will.

I saved a juicy little tidbit for last: EROS (20 Taurus) SEXTILES APHRODITE (20 Pisces)

According to Jacob Schwartz, Aphrodite represents “procreativity through refined expressions of beauty, sex and fertility’. In any case, her energies are linked to the Goddesses Venus and Astarte (and undoubtedly many others). (from ‘The Astrology Book’)

This sextile bridges the powerful union-through-intimacy that Eros can bring (and the powerful Union-in-self that heartbreak from a failure to ‘merge with the Other’ can also initiate) – with the desire to merge physically and romantically in a pleasurable, life-affirming way. Those with placements at or near 20 Libra wil experience this as an electrifying Yod of Sensuality 🙂 The closest body to this point is Askalaphus at 19 Libra – it is the energy of the whistle-blower, one who reveals secrets. It indicates the exploration of previously unknown, potentially taboo subjects within the partnership context.

All in all, the energies of Love and Romance are strongly lit by two powerful Yods and key activations of bodies such as Eros, Venus, Aphrodite and so on. It is a powerful time for the Heart to open and experience Itself. Bear in mind that this can happen through intense pain (such as heartbreak) or joy. Whilst we are all celebrating and deepening/furthering the Feminine Principle, it is crucial to also work with the energies of the Divine Masculine – in general, but especially at this time. There is a tenderness, a softer, compassionate side to the Masculine that more and more are re-discovering now, and today is no exception.

It is my hope that find that Deeper Connection within – and, if appropriate – with the right partner.

Many Blessings to you All on this Valentine’s Day,

Priestess Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD
www.bairaveebalasubramaniam.com

Some Sources for Reference and Self-Study:
The Astrology Book: The Encyclopedia of Heavenly Influences By James R. Lewis
Eros – http://www.falconastrology.com/discovery.htm
Intro to the Uranian Planets –http://www.arlenekramer.net/uranian_eightplanets.asp

Images:
– Statuette Goddess Louvre AO20127.jpg – By Marie-Lan Nguyen (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
– Lord Shiva w. Headdress of Snakes at Thanjavur Art Gallery, by Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2010.

RECONCEPTUALIZING DEEPAVALI/DIWALI: MOVING PAST ‘THE DEATH OF THE ASURA’ TO RECOGNIZING THE EQUALITY OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS

Diya_necklace_Dipavali_Diwali_November_2013

What is Deepavali? When is it? Why is it celebrated? I’ll start with the When, and Weave in the What, the Why and the Who. The origins of Deepavali/Diwali are steeped in Hindu mythology and have been generally read as ‘the triumph of Light over Darkness’ often in a bloody form (as per myth). I’ll be showing you some artwork depicting scenes of that as well. I honestly wanted to write you a much more cuddlier piece, but I decided to go for a more authentic approach.

There are two different ways to calculate when Deepavali/Diwali is celebrated. One calculation places it on Chaturdasi day, the day before the New Moon (Amavasai/Amasya). And another places it on the New Moon itself. Because of this difference in interpretation, there are two separate dates given for the celebration of this festival, in accordance with regional customs: Oct 22nd and Oct 23rd 2014. According to http://publicholidays.in/diwali-deepavali/, 10 states in India celebrate it on October 22nd, whereas 23 states celebrate it on October 23rd.

As an astrologer I can see how both traditions differ, and I can also see the symbolism with each choice. October 22nd is Naraka Chaturdashi – the day that a demon known as Narakasura/Narakasuran was defeated. This is the rationale given for the celebration of Deepavali in the South. In the North, Diwali is celebrated to honor the day that Lord Rama (an avatar of Lord Mahavishnu) rescued his wife Lady Sita from the (Sri) Lankan (i.e. Tamil) ruler, the ten headed King Ravanan/Ravana.

King Ravanan was a powerful, intelligent, and wise king – an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, an accomplished musician and composer of the Shiva Tandava Strotam. Whilst all this is in the original text of the Ramayana – it’s almost completely forgotten in the way the Ramayana is remembered and re-enacted in ritual performances today.

இராவணன்_சிலை

[A statue of King Ravana in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka]

There are complex and deeply rooted racial divides that get projected onto this narrative, which is probably why it’s not as popular in the South of India, but more so in the North of India. What the ancients intended, I cannot say for sure without further research, but sadly, it has been taken in a divisive way.

How do I see it? Well… Unfortunately, the North-South divide is part of racial memory, and people do hold on it. Not everyone, but it’s not inconsequential either. Holding onto the past will serve no one, and it will certainly not serve those who are cast as ‘demons’ who are then vanquished.

If you look at the depiction of Narakasuran (the other ‘defeated asura’) in the New Indian Express (an Indian newspaper) below, you’ll see him depicted with a body that that is (stereotypically seen as) Southern Indian, particularly Tamil (i.e. the pot belly, dark skin, abundance of curly body hair) in contrast to his mother Satyabhama (visibly of a different body type, skin colour, etc.). The same stereotyping is present even in temples – have a look at the ‘asuras’ which the Gods and Goddesses destroy and vanquish and you’ll see what I mean. Those more familiar with Tamil traditions will notice ancient Gods such as Muniswaran/Sangili Karupan sharing similar characteristics.

There are visible exceptions as when Goddess Kali is shown in Her Beautiful Blackness as is Lord Krishna whose name literally means ‘The Dark One’. More often than not, they are shown in different hues.

Diwali-story1

[Racially stereotyped depiction of Narakasuran about to be shot by his mother Satyabhama]

What do I think of all this? Well, whilst I am a proud Tamil, I do incorporate aspects of the Vaishnavite tradition I am comfortable with and have also made pilgrimages to sacred sites in that tradition. In retrospect, I went to a Perumal (Krishna) temple just earlier today and prayed in the Spirit of Deepavali. Personally, I see these racial projections as collective wounds that are in need of healing and transcending, instead of furthering and deepening the hurt – a theme which I believe is integral to the ‘Festival of Lights’.

Having said that, let’s turn back to Narakasuran and why (especially in the South) his ‘defeat’ is celebrated as part of Deepavali/Diwali celebrations.

Narakasuran is a complex figure in Hindu mythology. He is the asura (demon) son of Varaha (the Boar Avatar of Lord Vishnu) and Bhumadevi (Earth Goddess). In one narrative, he is shown to be a a powerful being who sought to conquer all and who kidnapped and mistreated women. (There are some parallels with his portrayal and that of King Ravanan of Lanka).

At times his death/defeat comes at the hands of Lord Krishna, and at others, by the hand of his outraged mother, Satyabhama (an avatar of the Earth Goddess). Either way, it’s a bloody, graphic death. Lord Krishna’s discus (chakram) slices him in two, or his mother shoots him in the heart with an arrow. In the present day, effigies are built of Narakasuran, which are then burnt during Deepavali – to ritually enact the triumph of ‘Good’ over ‘Evil’.

Krishna_Cleaves_the_Demon_Narakasura_with_his_Discus

[Death by discus, cleaved in two]

Goddess_of_earth_gives_Aditi's_earrings_to_Krishna

[Death by discus, decapitation]

You might wonder why I’m showing you these images – but honestly – this event is what Deepavali celebrates. The Defeat of the Asura, be it Narakasuran or King Ravana.

Personally, the way asuras are depicted and written into Hindu mythology makes me question whether ‘demon’ (as is understood in the Western context) is a fair description of who they are and how they operate. Conquests and the abuse of power is just as present among the figures of deities in Hindu mythology. I prefer seeing ‘asura’ as code for ‘different’. Someone who was Othered on the basis of race, ethinicity, region, religion, or some other idea. But getting back to Narakasuran …

Other narratives associate Narakasuran with the Shaktha path, and in particular, the Sakthi Peeth known as Kamakyha (in Assam). Goddess Kamakyha represents the Yoni of Goddess Sakthi, and is sometimes interpreted as Goddess Kali herself. Her temple, in Assam venerates the Das Mahavidyas (Ten Mahavidyas) and is an important Tantric site. For three days, the river that runs near the temple turns red – it is a sacred site which venerates the Menstruation of the Goddess/The Earth. Navaratri and Manasa Devi (Serpent Goddess) worship is also conducted there. (Definitely on my Sacred Sites to Visit list).

Idol_at_Kamakhya_temple,_Guwahati,_Assam_02

In one myth, Narakasuran challenges Devi Kamakhya, seeking her hand. She, according to legend, sets him a task which is deemed impossible by the break of dawn – yet he nears its successful completion. Devi then chooses to grasp a cock (male chicken) in order for it crow [as its crowing indicates the coming of dawn], so that Narakasuran assumes that he has failed and abandons his nearly-completed feat. So, clearly a powerful being – and one whose reach in both cases transgresses some fundamental principle of Justice or Cosmic Order.

You can read this myth in many ways – and I choose to see it as an invitation to re-conceptualize the figure of Narakasuran. I suspect Tantra has a lot more to say about this figure and what he truly represents in our understanding of Self, Spirit and Spirituality.

Taking all this into account, Narakasuran no longer appears to comfortably sit in the ‘demon’/’evil’/bad’ category. The allegorical principle he represents appears to move beyond the straightforward idea of ‘victory of light over darkness’ as is usually attributed to Deepavali. It seems to be more about ‘knowing the balanced use of one’s power’ and the consequences of failing to do so.

This re-interpretation fits the astrological symbolism of the New Moon in Libra (in Indian [sidereal] astrology- those using the Western astrology would read it as Scorpio). Here, we are encouraged to set the seeds for a fairer, more just way of relating with others. We are called upon to seek Justice, Harmony, Grace and Fairness – and to understand the consequences of seeking to live in imbalanced ways.

Though I have always heard of Deepavali as ‘the festival of lights’ symbolized powerfully by the lone lamp gleaming in the darkness as a portrayal of Good vs. Evil – looking at it now, it seems to be about Balanced Coexistence. Light learns to accept and exist alongside its Absence, and in so doing, the Shadow is Accepted and Wholeness realized. It’s a process, and one we often forget the moment we pit one aspect of ourselves against another.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t defend yourselves if attacked, or seek justice – that’s a whole other thing.

But coming to Deepavali/Diwali – Why else have a festival about ‘Light’ at the time when the Moon is at its ‘Darkest’ if not to teach the principle of Balance and Equality of Light and Dark? On top of that – it’s a Solar Eclipse 🙂

Solar_eclipse_1999_4

Remember that the mythologies we venerate and assume to be true are thinly-veiled parables. And we each read those parables in different ways.

This is my interpretation of it – feel free to stick to what feels truest for you. Given my reading of this festival, the ‘slaying’ of Narakasuran or the Healing of the Shadow is represented by Naraka Chaturdashi (October 22nd). The point of Coexistence – Balance – Equality comes the day after, with the powerful Libra (Indian approach) / Scorpio (Western approach) Solar Eclipse (October 23rd/24th depending on time zone). I shall be celebrating on both days, and for a while afterwards, I expect 😀

The Eclipse is exact at 5:56 am, October 24 (GMT + 8). For reference, that’s 3.26 am Oct 24 for India (GMT + 5.5), 5:56 pm, October 23 in New York (GMT -4, EDT) and 7:56 am, October 24 IN Brisbane (GMT + 10).

This is a POWERFUL solar eclipse and one which makes a powerful aspect to Neptune Retrograde. More on that closer to the date.

Deepavali Greetings (Deepavali Nalvazhthukkal) to All

Priestess Bairavee Balasubramaniam, PhD

www.bairaveebalasubramaniam.com

Images:

Diya necklace Dipavali Diwali November 2013.jpg – By Ramnath Bhat (Flickr: Diya necklace) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

இராவணன் சிலை.jpg – By Rubanraj10 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image of Narakasura’s Defeat from: Narakasura Diwali Story by Reeja Radhakrishnan. New Indian Express, 9 November 2012 [online] http://www.newindianexpress.com/education/student/article1333576.ece

Krishna cleaves the demon Narakasura with his discus.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Goddess of Earth gives Aditi’s earrings to Krishna.jpg – By Ramanarayanadatta astri (http://archive.org/details/mahabharata01ramauoft) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Idol at Kamaykha Temple, Guwahati, Assam 02.jpg – By Subhashish Panigrahi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Navarathri! The Nine Nights of The Goddess!

800px-Durga_Puja_celebration

Navarathri meaning (nine nights) is a nine night-ten day festival dedicated to the various forms of Goddess Durga. Celebrated on a grand scale in parts of India and Nepal, Navarathri is one of the ritual highlights on the Hindu calendar. Devotees of the Mother typically fast, pray and house dolls of the Goddess in their homes. Large parades and festivals featuring beautiful larger-than-life sculptures of Her are paraded through the streets, flanked by throngs of devotees. It’s a beautiful, colourful and festive time!

There are several different Navarathri phases throughout the year, however, the (current) cycle held in the month of September/October is usually the biggest, grandest one of them all. Generally speaking, using the Vedic Calendar, the major Navaratri period begins the day after the New Moon in Virgo (Kanya ‘Virgin’ Raasi/Sign). (The Western calculation would view that as the New Moon in Libra just past). We call this the start of the month of Ashwin (in some Hindu calendars- there are various, and they don’t all align). The Tamils for instance, consider this the 9th day of the month of Protasi (Purataasi Maasam)

We’ve just begun celebrating Navarathri today (September 25th 2014), which will continue for nine nights and culminate on the 10th day (October 4th 2014)

On each day, a different aspect of the Goddess is venerated, each with Her own sacred symbolism, form and purpose. On the 10th day we celebrate Vijayadashami, also known as Dussehra (or Dasara) – on this day, all forms of the Goddess Unite as one. Twenty days from Vijayadashami, Hindus will celebrate Deepavali/Diwali. This corresponds with the night before the New Moon in Libra (Vedic Calendar) and falls on October 23rd, this year.

I interpret the energy of Virgo as the Rising Woman, the Self-Sufficient Priestess Nurturing Herself and Others. The celebration of Goddess during the Virgo New Moon is a powerful and logical association to make. As we (all) align ourselves to Her vibrations, through fasting, prayer and ritual we set powerful intentions for the next astrological cycle ahead – with the Full Moon in Pisces, six months from now (as per the Vedic calendar). Virgo is to Shakti as Pisces is to Shiva – in my understanding of the Two.

The celebration of Navarathri at this time paves the way to Deepavali/Diwali, the Festival of Lights (October 23rd 2014) – which I will write on, closer to the date.

Each day of Navaratri corresponds to a different aspect of The Goddess. There are multiple ways of conceptualizing these Nine Aspects, so there isn’t ‘One’ Narrative that defines the process. Also, the festival is celebrated differently across the various regions of India 🙂

My preferred interpretation of it is to break it down into three segments:

Days 1-3 are dedicated to the energies of Goddess Durga in her form of Mother/Warrior – Nurturer/Protector. (September 25-27 2014)

Days 4-6 are dedicated to the energies of Goddess Laxmi. She brings Grace, Abundance, Comfort, Harmony and Peace to the world in Material Form and in that sense shares many attributes with Goddess Venus. (September 28-30 2014)

Days 7-9 are dedicated to the energies of Goddess Saraswati. She brings Knowledge and Wisdom and is more associated with the Intellect and the Mind. (October 1-3 2014)

Day 10 is conceptualized in different ways (more details shared on October 4th!). It is said, that through the entire Navarathri period, the Goddess is engaged in battle with a fierce demon known as Mahishasura (the ‘Buffalo Demon’). On Vijayadachami  – literally meaning victory (vijaya) on the tenth day of the lunar month (dachami), she combines her 9 forms, and energies, into One and gains the strength to defeat him. This is why Goddess Durga is also known as Mahishasuramardini. You can hear a wonderful rendition of the Mahishasura mardini Strotam here:

 

In this conceptualization, I interpret the duration of the 9 days to correspond to the natural progression of the human chakra system. We begin with issues of tribal connection and survival in the first three days (defending the self from enemies and nurturing one’s family/tribe). We move on towards a wider understanding of material concerns, and a desire for comfort, attachment and pleasure in its many forms. We finally learn the wisdom of detachment and explore the higher faculties of Mind.

—  till we finally transcend that too — on the 10th day – Vijayadashami – The gifts of each chakra are combined, and the lessons of each integrated. We are finally able to overcome our perceived obstacles. This ‘victory’ is normally depicted as The Mother slaying the Buffalo Demon Mashisura, her eight arms poised at the climax of battle. Another narrative suggests that it was on this day that the gifts of the male gods combined to form the powerful goddess Durga – whom some accounts suggest as the Virgin.

(For those interested you might want to read my take on ‘Reclaiming the Virgin’ to get the fullest implications of using that term – and the astrological energy of Virgo associated with this 9 night, 10 day festival. http://wp.me/p4OUNS-5i )

Personally, I resonate more with this interpretation of how the Mother ‘defeats’ Mahishasura:  that it is not through battle/death, but through her sheer Loving, Powerful Presence for nothing untoward can exist in such Purity. I listened to this interpretation some time ago and will share the link with you when I chance upon it again. It took a while for it to sink it, but when it did – I couldn’t look at the narrative in quite the same way.

Putting it all together, I view these 9 days of prayer as a Pathway to Transcendence, within Material Form. The Rise of Virgo (Goddess / Priest/ess / Divine Feminine) as She Comes into Her Own Power – which includes of course, the same aspect of energy in men.

As we embody the Mother’s Love in Material Form, connecting all parts of our Being …. We learn that her Lessons of Strength and Power come .. at the end of the Day, through the Highest, Deepest, vibration of Cosmic Love.

 

Blessings to All. And Happy Navarathri.

Priestess Bairavee Balasubramaniam, PhD

www.bairaveebalasubramaniam.com

 

You can find out a lot more about this festival online. Astrological and spiritual interpretations are my own. unless otherwise stated.

Image Information: “Durga Puja celebration” by Dipankan001 – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Durga_Puja_celebration.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Durga_Puja_celebration.jpg