Venus rises in the First Degree of Pisces this Sunday morning, quite early. I’m part of an email list for people interested in traditional astrology, and I often use the astrological elections (or windows of opportunity to work with the energies of given planets) as occasions for making art of various kinds. And I composed a poem for the occasion. The last few times I did this, I got a lot of thank-you notes and kudos from people on the list, and elsewhere… but I also heard some criticism, too — not for the badness of the poem, but for the delay in releasing it so that it could be useful on the morning of the election.
So. Here is the poem
Hymn for Venus Rising
At the Rising of Venus in the first degree of Pisces, 6 April 2014
Hymn for the Rising of Venus
composed for April 6, 2014 at the rising of Venus in the first degree of Pisces
Great Venus, Queen of amorous honors,
bird-headed and taloned, with comb in hand:
now we process with sistrums and banners
to sing your praises abroad in the land!
For benevolence and love both appear
in each heart where your eagle sight should gaze,
for there your favor turns with kindly eye.
Then cheer and good will both rise to draw near
whoever stands beneath your blessed rays —
and the shuttered heart shall presently fly
open to your light. Now at your rising,
we praise you, O Queen, perfumed with sweet rose,
adorned with jewels of rich devising,
gowned in silken wraps of pleated flows:
for you awaken heart-felt affection
arising, moistened, from the baths of grace,
and you rouse us to song and graceful dance.
Welcome us, Lady: give fair reception
to we who approach with suppliant face,
and grant us a dram of your elegance.
For well do you preside over leisure,
and call forth harmony from humming strings
when flutist and harper play for pleasure
or when a lover in his ardor sings
to his beloved under shining stars;
or when companions laugh and play in jest —
joyous friendship makes them tipsy like wine.
Queen Venus, heed this prayer with open ears,
favor us with your openness and trust,
even as we praise your glory divine!
So, there it is. I hope it proves useful to you. For reasons that I don’t understand, and may well be lost in the mists of history, the image of Venus as bird-headed with taloned bird feet is ancient; it appears in Picatrix, which is a medieval magical manuscript on the subject of astrological magic, for example. It may also appear in Babylonian and Assyrian art, although it is difficult to connect the flow of that ancient, ancient artwork to the medieval tradition. Cornelius Agrippa repeats the description from Picatrix.
One of the things that I like about composing this sort of poetry is that there’s a push from an external tradition to include knowledge and imagery and ideas into the rhyme scheme and meter that are not internal to me. The poem, while being my own work, is actually an extension of an existing (although in my not-very-knowledgeable eyes, apparently-much-fragmented) tradition. And there’s a power in that which is difficult to convey, while also conveying a deeply satisfying sense of writing for a larger audience extending forward and backward into time and space.