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of Psychological Complexes

by Dane Rudhyar

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Chapter Ten
Mars, Venus and the Emotional Life

The signs of the zodiac over which Mars and Venus have been given "rulership" in traditional astrology constitute a most significant indication of the meaning and direction of the two basic aspects of the emotional life of civilized man. One of these aspects refers to spring; the other, to autumn. Mars and Venus are said to rule the beginnings of both spring and autumn; that is, Aries-Taurus and Libra-Scorpio. But while Mars rules over the first sign and Venus over the second sign of spring, Venus rules over the first sign of autumn, Mars over the second. This reversal has a deep as well as very practical meaning. It reveals the difference between vernal life and autumnal life; the former originating in Martian impulsiveness, the latter characterized by the in-drawing power of Venus which establishes "magnetic fields" within which activities of one kind or another are integrated. The products of these activities are released through some new channels at some future springtime.
      The essential qualities of spring and fall are focused in the two equinoctial moments: the first point of Aries and Libra. The former is characterized by a Martian emergence from the "womb" of the collective life of humanity represented in symbolism by the sea, the place of emergence of life on our planet. The latter (the first degree of Libra) signifies the fixation in the until then separate personality of those traits and qualities which constitute the archetypal and immortal nature of every human being his divine Sonship. Libra begins thus the first stage in a process of transfiguration of the individual personality, at the end of which the latter becomes a perfect likeness of its Creator, the "God-Elohim" of the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible.(1)
      Martian emergence and Venusian transfiguration constitute the two poles of the unfoldment of the individual personality of man. Man's emotional life is polarized by these two trends or forces. He is urged to discover and realize his self as an emergent and separate individual person, structured by an ego whose "center of gravity" or focus of consciousness is the feeling, "I am I", this particular and unique person"; and he is urged also to recognize within his personality those essential or archetypal characteristics, at first latent and unconscious, which constitute the seed-pattern of his divinity a divinity which he holds in common with every man and which represents his likeness to the Creator God.
      Before a man can realize the meaning and recognize the image of this divinity-within that he has in common with every other man at the same level of individual unfoldment, he has to accept the fact that in him also there are many biological-psychological traits and features which are common to all men, and particularly to human beings who are his kin in race and culture. Thus "man's common humanity" must be recognized before "man's common divinity" is to be realized as a vital reality within before the Venusian birth of the Living God (the symbolical Christ-child) can take place within the heart and soul of the individual person.
      In Libra, the individual recognizes his social, cultural and spiritual kinship with other men; first with a particular community and culture, then with the whole of humanity. In Aries, on the other hand, man seeks to go forth into the wide world, intent above all upon proving his self to himself that is, upon projecting and expressing this individuality he feels stirring within him. Yet this individuality is still at its first stage of emergence from some kind of collective womb claiming its undivided allegiances a family, a tribe, a binding religion, an ancestral culture. Mars-ruled Aries represents a motion outward into space; Venus-ruled Libra, a motion inward toward some common reality. Mars is the first planet outside of the earth's orbit; thus a focus for all outward-going expression. Venus is the first planet inside of the earth's orbit; thus a focus for all attempts at reaching center. Mars is the gateway to outer space; Venus, the gateway to the Sun. Man's emotional life oscillates between the paths leading through these gates.
      This oscillation is a normal and spontaneous movement. It becomes abnormal when obstacles on these paths thwart, frustrate or deviate the flow of the energy of being and the realization of the outward and/or inward desires of the individual soul. Then tensions, cramped attitudes, fears and defeatism, and the ultimate result, a complex, develop. Back of this complex one should be able to trace characteristic peculiarities of innate mental attitudes, and, even more, of emotional functioning.
      Mars and Venus are the main astrological symbols and some astrologers would like to say, the determining factors-of the emotional life that is, of the way in which the reproductive energies of life and the desires of the individual soul operate, seeking expression and satisfaction. We said that these desires act in two basic directions: outward (Mars, as ruler of Aries) and inward (Venus, as ruler of Libra); but this obviously means little unless we grasp more fully the nature and substance of the desires themselves and their relationship to the functional urges of biological reproduction. This we may do if we realize that the drives or urges which operate characteristically in living organisms in early spring during the symbolical Aries phase of the zodiac can be defined by the term "germination." Aries is the symbol of all germinative processes; and this, not only at the biological, but also the psychological and even cosmological, levels. And germination presupposes a seed. It is the bursting forth of the substance of the seed, and the release of the energies contained therein substance and energies spreading outward according to some plan (or pattern of organic growth) mysteriously inherent in the seed.
      Science has shown that there is no generation of life "out of nothing." Even if an organism could be "materialized" without a normal process of germination from a seed or fecundated ovum, there would still be some kind of metaphysical seed as its foundation at the mental-spiritual leve an Image projected with occult power, a logos impregnated with divine creative energy. These too have to "germinate" before they can manifest concretely at the level of physical expression; and Mars is always the source of the germination power. This source is essentially desire whether we speak of the cosmic desire-to-be of spirit in answer to the need of matter for a new chance to become integrated in the likeness of God, of the desire of an animal for its mate, or of the desire of an individualized human soul for self-expression or for reintegration in some socially or spiritually encompassing community.
      In our astrology, the yearly cycle of the zodiac begins with the appearance of new life-forms; thus with the germination process in Aries. But the germination that begins the new cycle presupposes the seed that came at the apex of some preceding cycle and I should add, not always the immediately preceding one. Venus rules over all seed and seeding processes; but this Venus is surely not Venus as ruler of the "feminine" sign, Taurus (its "night house" in medieval terminology); a sign which gives substance to the process that began in Aries. It is autumnal Venus, ruler of the "masculine" sign, Libra the sign which sees, symbolically at least, the completion of the seeding process and the release (fall or harvest) of the seed from the plant, or from any other organic Whole at whatever level it be.
      It is said traditionally that "behind will stands desire"; i.e. that man can only exert his will in terms of what he desires. But one must go still further: man can only desire what he has learned (whether through education or through self discovery) to value.(2) Thus, the autumnal Venus rules the first and fundamental phase in the development of the sense of value. Culture and ethics in any human collectivity, individual character in any single person, proceed from such a sense of value. This sense unfolds through the period Libra to Pisces passively in kingdoms below man and in primitive man, actively in those men who have truly become individualized or, symbolically speaking, who have consciously become the "seeds" of their own future cycles. It is on the basis of these Venusian factors sense of value, seeds, etc. that the Martian germinative impulse operates in Aries. Autumnal Venus, thus, determines the character of being (whether at the level of the biological species, the social collective culture, or the conscious individual vision and purpose); vernal Mars, the desire and capacity for self-expression (be this self collective or individual), that is, for the actualization of character, vision, ideal, value in concrete living.
      In biologically productive sex (focused in Taurus) the essential actors are male and female seeds, spermatozoon and ovum. The desire is actually centered in the generative organs themselves. The desire is primarily of the endocrine glands, hormones and of seed, and only secondarily, superficially, or even not at all, of the conscious individual soul. On the other hand, where we deal with a personalized and conscious human expression of sex (thus with Scorpio), desire is fundamentally of the individual soul or at least of the organism-as-a-whole; and this desire is not essentially a desire for outward action (though there be muscular action and movement seemingly outward), but a desire for psychological communion and for the concrete expression of Venusian "value."
      In the majority of cases, sex is in civilized modern man the result of psychological, far more than biological, causes. It is a desire for human communion (and often an escape from individual selfhood and a sense of tragic isolation) far more than a desire for self-reproduction in a progeny whether the participants in the sexual act admit it or not.
      These facts should be fully taken into consideration if one is to orient himself in the mazes, complexities and frustrations of modern man's emotional life. The analytical psychologist sees the results of frustrations, fears or degenerative processes in the "body-mind" the total personality of his clients. His tendency naturally is to focus his attention upon the fact that psychic energy (the so-called "libido") has been dammed and repressed into the subconscious (Jung's "personal unconscious") where it turns corrosive or explosive thus the popular idea that if only this repressed libido were allowed to flow freely, all would be well. The careless vulgarization of Freud's approach to the problem fails obviously to take in consideration the fact that this Martian libido (the term simply means, in Latin, "desire") is itself but a result, not a cause. It is the outflow of something from somewhere. What must be discovered is not only what happened to the outflow (where and how it was dammed, why it dried up, etc.), but even more what occurred at its source, at what level this source is primarily located, and what type of factors operate at that level.
      This, the astrologer can do, at least in a general way, by considering first the natal Venus of the individual also progressions and transits referring to it then, his Mars; lastly by studying the relationship between these two planets as it exists in the natal chart and as it develops through progressions and transits. The natal positions themselves are to be seen as phases, of a particular cycle that began, before the person's birth, with the last conjunction of these two planets. In other words, no separate judgment on either Venus or Mars makes much sense insofar as a real understanding of a person's emotional life is concerned. The two planets are to be studied together and also in relation to the Saturn-Moon pair which always tend to crystallize into psychic entities (complexes) whatever disturbances there may be in the Venus-Mars coupling.
      I shall discuss presently the few basic astrological indications concerning the way in which the Venusian and Martian functions operate in a personality; but it seems necessary at first to establish more clearly the meaning of these functions and the original quality of their activity.
      Venus and Mars are the two planets immediately surrounding our Earth, and they symbolize indeed the most intimate factors in the personal life the immediacy and spontaneity of being, whether "being" is understood at the generic and biological level or in terms of individualized and psychological selfhood. If we consider Jupiter and Saturn, we have to deal with a type of human activity which is motivated by some kind of established relationship and which is meant to fit somewhere (Saturn) and to assimilate or overcome something (Jupiter) in order to fit better and more successfully. Saturn, as symbol of the Father image, represents the sense of security, because he who feels that he fits well in society is secure, and it is normally through the father's activities that the child finds himself placed in a particular relationship of class, wealth and occupation to society while he finds in his mother (Moon) an example (successful or not) of the ability to adjust oneself to this "place" defined by the Saturn-father. But what is this "oneself" that is to adjust itself to the social place, traditions and culture represented by Saturn? What is the individual child to start with? What makes a man act naturally and spontaneously the way he does, without any reference to place or function within an established group, simply because he is what he is?
      However much materialist thinkers may believe that heredity and environment condition utterly a man, few are those who will refuse to admit that there is in every human being an element of personal freedom and of pure spontaneity of being, however weak and ineffective. There is a realm in which man feels "I am I," and from which he seeks to move outward in sheer self-expression toward whatever appears to him good, valuable and fulfilling. This realm of intimate being is the realm of Venus and Mars. Venus establishes the character and essential quality of the intimate and direct realization of selfhood and value. Mars is the desire and ability to act it out, with no reference to any other factor except insofar as this factor helps or opposes the individual act. What should be called "the emotional life" is a twofold manifestation of this immediate sense of individual being and of the desire and effort to express it in acts.
      It should be clear that the emotional life thus defined operates at three levels. At the biological and generic level, the emotional life is a manifestation of organic being and glandular activity; it rests upon the harmonic or disharmonic condition (Venus) of the organs, glands, and systems of the body and this condition or state determines the possibility of release (Mars) of hormones, fluids, and also toxins within and outside of the organism.
      The same twofold operation is found at the social-cultural level with reference to the activity of collective feelings and collective ways of thinking, insofar as the collective factors are taken for granted and implicitly, unquestionably accepted as an integral and intimate part of one's self thus, insofar as the self is identified with them. For instance, the feeling of "original sin" and of the wickedness of human nature, the thought that men who are not baptized are heathens, are collective factors so intimately believed in by the typical Puritan, that they color the character and quality of the very sense of "I am I" (Venus) as well as the immediate spontaneous responses of the self to life (Mars).
      Then there is the level of the truly individual Soul, at which man realizes his intimate selfhood in terms of the values (Venus) he has discovered and chosen as his own, and acts accordingly as an individual (Mars).
      Venus and Mars can operate at all three levels in one particular individual. In many cases they do operate at these three levels simultaneously, and there may be conflicts between the values established at each level, because the personality is not well integrated that is, the values established at one level do not determine the total behavior of the personality, at least at any particular time. This shows how difficult it is to make a complete and reliable psychological picture of any individual's emotional life from a study of his birth chart; for, even if it be granted that the meaning of Mars and Venus (and related astrological factors) is well understood in their particular natal setup (plus progressions and transits), the difficulty remains of estimating at what level the personality is normally centered, at what level Mars and Venus operate usually and, what is more, operate under any particularly stressful life situation.
      On the other hand, the astrologer has this advantage over the ordinary psychologist that he can know the basic character of the Venus and Mars function at any level and under any circumstances. To know this does not give the astrologer the ability to predict accurately what the person will actually feel and do at any particular time-no one should ever forget this point! but it gives him the ability to understand more fully why and how the person feels and acts as he or she did, or is about to do. And such an ability in turn can become a foundation for wise judgment and helpful suggestions; which is all any astrologer should ever attempt to pass on to anyone asking for his help.

1 This creator is not to be confused with the "Lord-God," Jehovah or Yahveh, who makes his appearance only in the second chapter of Genesis and who "forms of the dust of the ground," but does not "create," man. The distinction is an essential one, without understanding which the real nature of man and of the evolution of the human personality can never be recognized. God-Elohim "creates" archetypal man, Christ-man; the Lord-God, Jehovah a tribal God fashions only physical or Adamic man. As the Christian mystics all pointed out, man must "die to Adam before he can be reborn in Christ." This rebirth begins at the symbolical fall equinox and it implies an equally symbolical "death," or sacrifice of the separative will of the ego.  Return

2 Some might claim that a man may desire what he knows is worthless; but in such a statement the man that desires and the man that knows are actually two different personalities, and the statement simply reveals the fact that there is an internal split in the individual. The part that desires the so-called worthless object or event actually feels it to be of great (though perhaps tragic and compulsive) value. He may know that, at some other time, other and perhaps contradictory goals or objects have seemed to him to have greater value, yet, as the act occurs, the value of the desired object toward which the act is directed must appear great and significant to whatever it is that directs the act.  Return

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1966 and 1976 by Dane Rudhyar
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