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Astro-Tarot Series

Part 6: Venus and the Two Paths

Elbert Benjamine

Looking to the Westward just after the sun had wearily dropped in slumber behind the evening rim of the earth, those of the ancient time saw a silvery white lamp hanging in the fast darkening sky. Sometimes it snuggled close to the horizon, as if it too had labored hard, and sought quick rest; and at other times it glowed and sparkled as if alive with merriment, far above that place of sleep. For some ten months it thus appeared, brighter even than Sirius, and more conspicuous than Jupiter, the planetary king. Venus thus was known as the Evening Star.

Then came a period of some ten months when its white radiance no longer shed soft blessings upon lovers who strolled arm in arm after the close of day. The sun no longer was followed in his declining by the fair and lovely Evening Star, but was preceded in his morning rising by one equally brilliant. It was of course the same attractive planet and this the astrologers of old well knew. But something had happened to it; it had fallen from grace, banished from the soft and charming vesper gardens, where peace and harmony gave beauty companionship.

It was known to these wise men of a day long past, as it is known to astrologers of the present time, that Venus in its influence over human life is the planet of least resistance. What it brings comes without effort, if it comes at all. The house of a birth chart occupied by it thus is said to map the department of life which most attracts gratuities. There is nothing strong, nothing violent, nothing forceful, about Venus, the planet of love. Wherever the affections lean, in that direction does the Venus person move. It therefore may exalt the soul, or under adversity lead it into vice. Through their affections, which this planet rules, many a man and many a woman are made or broken.

Its rule over love is not merely that for the opposite sex. Its strength and harmony in the birth chart show the success or failure of the affections in general; those where husband or wife are concerned, those relating to the offspring, those which have to do with friends, those involving the kindred, and of course those aroused through love affairs. That is, from the position and aspects of Venus in the chart of birth can be determined how much success in general the affections will have and how much loss; but to determine their satisfaction in reference to any one of the mentioned departments of life the house ruling it also must be taken into consideration. Thus a person with a good fifth house and a badly afflicted seventh would find little satisfaction for his affections through the marital partner but would, if his Venus was not too badly afflicted, find affectional joy in the companionship of his children.

There is a kind of vice which is malicious, which is planned well ahead, and then carried out with brutal determination. But it has nothing to do with fair Venus. When Venus falls into sin it is not because she plots to do so but because she is too weak to offer the required resistance. After all, it takes mental power to resist the attractions of the senses, and it requires intelligence to build up a love for those things which are high and pure, which are harmonious and healthful and which, could it but be perceived, yield a higher harvest of pleasure and happiness than the coarser joys of dissonance and sin.

But Venus has to do with feeling and not with intellect; a fact well portrayed, though limited as to its further explanation, by the brief hieroglyph used to denote the planet. The circle of spirit is superimposed on the cross of matter, indicating that, left uninfluenced, the trend is toward refinement and spirituality rather than toward the physical and gross. Yet no place in the emblem is the crescent to be found. Intellect plays no part in the promptings either of Venus or Mars. In so far as the energies of these two planets stimulate the thought-cells within the unconscious mind to action, those actions are directed by feeling alone.

And for that matter, as psychologists have been at great pains to prove, all action is prompted by feeling. Past feelings have conditioned all desires, and it is the release of the desire energy thus built into the thought-cells of the unconscious mind that determines the direction in which action will be taken. But this conditioned response, as the psychologists call it, may have been cultivated in such a manner that it is influenced by more remote considerations, such as require some intellect to apprehend. Or it may have been cultivated so that it responds merely to the immediate sensation with no consideration of ultimate pain to follow.

When it is said, as so often it is, that love is blind, this implies that the attributes of Venus tend to be little influenced by considerations far removed in time. It implies that which astrologers recognize, that Venus is the planet of least resistance, and therefore not through desire of iniquity, but through weakness, the thought-cells within the unconscious mind it maps open the individual to temptation.

At many points in his journey through life the individual is called upon to make a choice. Before him lies a parting of the way, such as is pictured in Major Arcanum 6. Virtue points to the path of rectitude, and vice brings to his attention the highway of sin. What his choice will be depends upon the things he has trained himself to love. If his feelings are more strongly and pleasantly stimulated by thoughts of debasing conduct he will follow down the left-hand path. But if his affections have been cultivated to find higher pleasures in noble actions and things refined he will turn up the highway to his right.

This function of feeling, and the power of love to mold the endeavors, was recognized by the masters of the past and properly associated with the most beautiful and the most brilliant planet in the sky. Its loveliness in the evening suggested to them that it was on the right-hand path which led to spirituality. Yet they had also witnessed the degrading process by which affections, misled in their object, took the left-hand downward leading path which ended in dissolution. And thus comes down to us the old Semitic myth, referred to in Isaiah 14:12, ‘How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer, son of the morning!’

Yes! It is true that the mental factors within the unconscious mind ruled by Venus may lead us to the heights or sink us in the depths. And to explain this and the retribution which inevitably befalls those who follow the path of vice, the ancient sages designed a symbolical pictograph, showing a man standing motionless at the angle formed by the conjunction of two roads. In indecision, his looks are fixed upon the ground and his arms are crossed upon his chest. Two women, one at his right, and the other at his left, each place a hand upon his shoulder, showing him one of two roads. The woman at his right is modestly clothed and has the sacred serpent, indicating enlightenment, at her brow. She thus personifies that virtue which so well was symbolized by Venus as the kind and affectionate Evening Star.

But the woman at his left wears less clothing and is crowned with the leaves of the grape, the fruit from which is pressed the accomplice of debauchery. She points to the left-hand road; she is vice, the temptress, the fallen woman, the one who loved not wisely, but too well, and who so appropriately was symbolized by the archangel fallen from heaven to become Lucifer, the Morning Star.

Truly enough, man is reached and most strongly tempted through appeals to his emotions. But the temptation of one is the fortitude of another. Things appeal in different strengths to those whose birth charts show diverse positions. That which tempts the Aries person most forcefully may be a matter of utter indifference to the person most strongly influenced by Cancer. Each sign has its own best quality and its own worst quality, has its own particular strength and weakness, that which most readily enables the person born under it to express the high attributes of his divine soul, or which with most difficulty resists the temptation of the animal soul to take possession.

Of course, as a matter of hard fact, a person has only one soul, which embraces all those experiences of the past that have registered in his astral body and have there built psycho-plasm and stellar-cells, and thus constitutes the organization of his unconscious mind. But some of the desires thus built by past experiences have been conditioned to release their energies, not in the direction beneficial to society as a whole, but at the expense of society to benefit the individual. These more primitive desires, existing as energies under tension within the unconscious mind, because they tend to express on the plane of life of the animal world, are said to belong to the animal soul.

But within the unconscious mind there are other desires, conditioned by later experiences, desires often times which derive their energy from a sublimation of the more primitive urges of the animal soul, which seek the welfare of society and are willing to sacrifice personal comfort and to undergo hardship to that end. These more socially beneficial desires, because they tend to express on the plane of life of the spiritual world, are said to belong to the divine soul.

This idea of man's good angel and his bad angel, each of which pulled him in the opposite direction, which we now know is in truth the power of desire energies within his unconscious mind thus pulling him, was prevalent in ancient tradition, as was also the inevitable punishment of each transgression that we now recognize as the operation of natural law. And thus to explain that each zodiacal sign has its own tendency to some special virtue and to some special vice, those who designed the tarot Arcanum called The Two Paths, placed above and back of the man being influenced by virtue and by vice, a flashing aureole of twelve rays, and in it the genie of justice, who draws his bow and directs toward vice the arrow of punishment.

The ancient teaching embodied in this Venus tarot card is very plainly pictured. Venus is the planet of feeling, and the outstanding psychologists of our day state that when all is analyzed man is led by his feeling alone. And the picture explains, for there are twelve rays to the aureole, that for each sign two easily traveled roads are open. These roads are not the same for different signs, but nevertheless there is a pulling for each in different directions. Yet, as shown by the genie of justice aiming the arrow at vice, if the individual follows the path which for his sign is the one of least resistance, misfortune surely will come to him.

Usually the two paths open to those under the influence of each sign are the expression of much the same essential attributes, except that in one they are used in such a manner that they are more highly advantageous to others, and thus ultimately also to the one expressing them. The best quality or the worst quality of a zodiacal sign often largely lies in where the emphasis is placed. Or an over-eagerness to express the characteristic quality right, may easily turn the expression from harmony and construction into discord and ruin.

Yet when an individual realizes the line of demarcation that divides the constructive and socially beneficial expression from that which is destructive and socially detrimental, this knowledge makes it far easier to choose the right-hand upward path, for as is suggested in the picture it requires no tremendous change in the basic energies within the individual whichever of the two roads he takes instead, it but requires a choice of the right direction along which those energies shall express.

Therefore, that what the ancients taught by Major Arcanum 6 may not remain in the vague and nebulous clouds of mere theory, let us consider briefly the two roads open to each of the signs:

Aries

The Aries person to be at his best requires the zest of competition. He feels the need of combat in some form, and ever strives for personal leadership. His enthusiasm often leads him to rush into controversy before he has had time to examine the justice of the matter. And at once he takes up arms in behalf of a cause he is very difficult to dissuade. The channel through which he most naturally strives to attain significance is that of leadership. In fact, we can say that Leadership is his best quality and indicates the proper path. In his zeal and enthusiasm, however, he easily may forsake this constructive road to unduly interfere in the affairs of others, then taking the way expressing his worst quality, officiousness.

Taurus

The Taurus person is steadfast in mind and in habit. He follows a certain routine in the performance of his tasks and very much dislikes to change his methods in any way. He is thorough in all he undertakes, given to perfecting the small details and cannot be hurried, pushed or frightened out of his rather deliberate pace. When his characteristic quality follows the destructive path it expresses as obstinacy. But if early in life he forms the habit of being steadfast toward truth and justice, so that this attitude becomes firmly entrenched, it then will not be difficult for him to give way in smaller things, that he may maintain his original purpose. Thus will he follow the proper path, which is that of stability.

Gemini

The Gemini person has a very active brain and is at his best when his intellect has full scope for work. He is restless and must constantly express himself in some way. Not only is he restless, but he can do so many things well that he will not endure disagreeable conditions in one occupation because he can always get work to do in another. In expressing along the constructive path he exhibits his best quality, which is versatility. Yet this quality, expressing along the adverse road, becomes changeableness. Not merely changing his point of view, but also changing his occupation so frequently he falls far short of success. To keep on the upward, right-hand road, he should realize that any task can be made worthy of all his ingenuity and talent and that instead of changing occupations he should change his methods in the one he has chosen.

Cancer

The Cancer person is exceptionally emotional and above all else craves sympathy. He becomes greatly upset on hearing unpleasant news or when he fancies he has been slighted. The fear of ridicule is torture to him and prevents him from asserting himself to advantage; yet when he has a friend or an idea or a purpose to cling to he does so with the utmost patience and perseverance. By absorbing the idea that people in general are sympathetic and friendly and that those who are otherwise are not worth bothering about, he can turn from the destructive path of touchiness, which is his worst quality, and take the constructive way of tenacity whereon his talent for finest expression lies.

Leo

The Leo person has great faith and trust in other people. And they usually respond to this faith by endeavoring to live up to his expectations. Yet he also tends to have a thirst for personal glory and craves a position of authority. When on the right hand path he does not demand of subordinates that which is impossible of fulfillment. And in all his contacts with them and with others he expresses his best quality, which is kindness. Yet if he takes the opposite path his desire for significance becomes overpowering and he feels he should have a position of importance even when in reality he is quite incapable of efficiently filling it. It is then impossible for him to realize that kindness may often best be expressed through work rather than through issuing orders and that the highest glory obtains to him who best serves. Thus he treads the obnoxious path of his worst quality, which is domination.

Virgo

The Virgo person loves to deal with facts rather than with theories. He inclines to statistics, and often is a walking encyclopedia of information. His powers of discrimination and his practicality instantly discern the flaws of other people and their plans. Thus is it easy for him to follow the roadway of his worst quality, which is destructive criticism. But if he takes the pains to realize that it requires just as keen discrimination to find the good points in people and things as to find those objectionable, he then turns up the path of his best expression, which is analysis.

Libra

The Libra person is a lover of perfection. He is courteous and kind and greatly craves understanding and companionship. As a rule he should not live an isolated life but follow his social inclinations. He is a lover of harmony and so dislikes to hurt another's feelings that he can seldom say no. Thus in his desire to give pleasure to them he may take the path of least resistance, forsaking virtue and honesty for the sake of his love of approbation. Yet if he realizes that he will be better liked by others in the long run if he manifests enough character to render a firm decision and to be uninfluenced by flattery he then turns on to the road of his best quality, which is affability.

Scorpio

The Scorpio person is very intense in his likes and dislikes, and whatever he finds to do he does with his whole might. Unlike Libra, he can be trusted to grapple with the most difficult and disagreeable tasks, in which he exercises his best quality, which is resourcefulness. Yet he early should learn to realize that his advantage is in concentrating his energies on the solution of his own problems and in overcoming the obstacles to his success, rather than in insisting upon the proper conduct of others. For he believes strongly in duty and often takes special pains to see that others fulfill all their obligations to society. In this he easily turns down the detrimental path of his worst quality, which is troublesomeness.

Sagittarius

The Sagittarius person can both give and take orders. He is naturally an executive, and in both thinking and deed goes straight to the mark, caring more for effectiveness than for elegance. His love of games and good fellowship makes it easy for him to follow the downward path of his worst quality, which is sportiveness. Yet when the attraction of good fellowship is permitted to express in the higher and more constructive manner and he finds a work in life so interesting to him that it becomes a game in which success is the hazard, he with equal ease turns up the road expressing his best quality, which is loyalty.

Capricorn

The Capricorn person is methodical and highly ambitious. He has a faculty for bringing together dissenting factions, for synthesis and economy. He is at his best and on the right road, when given responsibility and permitted to exercise the quality of diplomacy. He is a good manager but ever tends to keep an eye on his own advantage. Thus should he early realize that the greatest advantage a person can have is integrity of character and devotion to the welfare of others. Unless he gains this conception it is not difficult for him to turn down the highway of his worst quality, which is deception.

Aquarius

The Aquarius person understands human nature better than those born under any other sign. He knows just what to say and just what to do to produce a given effect upon those with whom he is associated. Merely for the sake of discussion he often will take the opposite side of an issue, thus following the road of his worst quality, which is argumentation. Yet because he knows so well how to influence people and has tendencies which are progressive, with equal facility he can turn up the bright trail of his best quality, which is altruism.

Pisces

The Pisces person is inclined to be plastic and thus much influenced by environment. He has high ideals and loves harmony. And because he is so sensitive to discords and to the thoughts of others he is inclined to magnify the importance of slight adversity or imagine adversity that never comes to pass; and thus he turns down the left-hand path expressing his worst quality, which is worry. Yet if he encourages a greater trust in Deity to handle the details of life and permits his feelings for the welfare of others to displace fear, he then turns up the right-hand road of his best quality, which is sympathy.

(This concludes part 7 of 23)

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