The Role of Venus
In a Healing of the Heart
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Venus in the 4th chakra is about the possibility of relationship, and the experience of intimacy. In the 4th chakra, we are not alone – we are part of a web of relationships: with other human beings; and with the more-than-human world of plants, animals, mountains, rivers, clouds, stars, and every other possible feature of the natural world. Who we are in the 4th chakra, is to some extent, no longer defined by our own individuality. Yes, it is true that in the 4th chakra, our sense of uniqueness, of what our particular place is within the larger scheme of things is deepened. But within this deepening is the recognition that it is the larger scheme of things – this larger web of relationships – that to a large extent determines who we are and what our lives are all about.
This awareness of being part of a web of relationships is, as we just discussed, also an expression of Moon in the 4th chakra, but with Venus there is a different focus. With Venus, it is not so much a matter of belonging as it is of discovering who we are in relationship, as a relational self, and about engaging those who are in some way different than us. The Moon celebrates our commonality; Venus celebrates our differences. Vive la difference! is an expression of Venus in the 4th chakra.
In Tracking the Soul, I spoke about the 4th chakra as a soul space where three kinds of resonance take place. There is resonance by affinity – that is where we naturally gravitate to others that are like us in some way. This is where we do feel like a member of a tribe, and where we have a sense of sharing something in common with the other members of a tribe. So, there is this sense in which like attracts like, and Venus does participate to some extent in this process.
A former mentor of mine – born to Italian immigrants – used to say, “Make sure you marry someone from the neighborhood,” meaning that the best partner is probably someone who shares your basic values, worldview, and likes what you like. This creates a certain comfort of familiarity in relationship – that I call resonance by affinity – that is an important ingredient.
There is, however, also resonance by contrast – where we naturally gravitate to others that are fundamentally different than us in some way. This is where opposites attract. If our partners are identical twins to us – not that this ever happens in real life – but to the extent that it does, boredom sets in. Relationships are not just about being stuck in a comfortable and familar groove. They are also about discovering something new – about ourselves, and about our partners. Vive la difference! This is of course, where love makes the world go round.
Thirdly, there is what I call resonance by wounding. This is where – usually on an unconscious level – we gravitate toward people and/or situations in which our wounds are triggered and re-opened so we can address and hopefully heal them, where we can learn and grow, and where we have the opportunity to do our soul work, as painful as that can sometimes be. This is the kind of attraction that happens between the moth and the flame, and it is also part of the dynamic in the 4th chakra.
One of my spiritual teachers – Yogi Bhajan – used to say that marriage, or committed relationship, is the highest and hardest form of yoga there is. We think we are just falling in love with someone, and that love will last forever, but really, underneath it all, there is soul work to be done that we wouldn’t necessarily choose to do if we could have seen it coming ahead of time. This is, nonetheless, an essential part of any important relationship. Sometimes the soul work is about working together in relationship to create something that is more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes, it is about working through issues that are triggered by our partners. Without this dimension of an intimate relationship, over the long haul, for any soul that is consciously on a journey toward wholeness, something essential will seem to be missing.
All three kinds of resonance – by affinity, by contrast, and by wounding – are governed by Venus in the 4th chakra. Venus is, of course, also an important planet in the 2nd chakra, but here it functions somewhat more instinctually, and mostly through resonance by affinity. In the 2nd chakra, we generally gravitate toward that which gives us pleasure; where our natural preferences and predispositions govern our choices; and where we each seek the good life, whatever that means for us. Although relationships are a part of this dynamic in the 2nd chakra – especially in relation to sexuality – they are in many ways incidental to our desires for pleasure, enjoyment, and fulfillment in life. In the 2nd chakra, relationships tend to be more about self-gratification, and mutual pleasuring, rather than genuine intimacy.
When Venus functions as a 4th chakra planet, the whole process of attraction and relationship becomes more complex, as we all know all too well. Relationship – intimate and otherwise – are not just a matter of mutual pleasure. They also entail contrast, and wounding, and usually the strongest, most important relationships entail all three kinds of resonance. This gets complicated. So all of the issues that arise that can complicate the best of relationships are part of Venus’ domain in the 4th chakra. We have to work these things out. Yes, there is the good stuff, but there is also the work of two people aiding each other in their soul growth, and there is also the stuff we just don’t understand – the whole “men are from Mars; women are from Venus thing.”
When we learn how to be with another person – or for that matter, in relation to anything or any aspect of our life – where we are able to enjoy the things we enjoy; learn what there is to learn; and be at peace and in acceptance in relation to those radical differences that we just can’t comprehend, then Venus is functioning in the 4th chakra in a vibrant and healthy way, and the result is intimacy. Intimacy is the capacity to be fully present in relationship to another with loving, curious, tolerant, open-hearted attention.
Again, as with other sensitive planets in the 4th chakra, Venus’ capacity to function as a catalyst to intimacy depends upon the work of being able to enjoy life in the 2nd chakra, to relate to this world as though it were a wonderfully compelling place, beckoning to be explored. When we are in this frame of mind, we naturally enter into a deeper sense of relationship with the world, and with all the other life forms – human and more-than-human in it. And in this place of wonder, the heart opens, and we fall in love with the world, warts and all.
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