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Venus: Her Cycles, Symbols and Myths
by Anne Massey

Venus: Her Cycles, Symbols & Myths by Anne Massey, Llewellyn Publications, 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125-2989 USA, 2006. Paper—200 pp.—$17.95 (ISBN 978-0-7387-0991-8). Available from: www.llewellyn.com

Finnish-born astrologer Anne Massey’s book on Venus is part of Llewellyn’s Special Topics in Astrology series, and it is a wonderful addition to astrological literature. Venus: Her Cycles, Symbols & Myths is a careful assessment of the planet, with a unique emphasis on her intricate orbital cycles.

Because Venus’s orbit around the Sun is almost perfectly circular, her cycles are beautifully symmetrical. Venus takes eight years to complete her passage around the zodiac. She is conjunct the Sun at nine-month intervals, and every 18 months (i.e., every 584 days) she slows down and goes retrograde. The retrogrades occur in only five signs in any given century. The pattern of these degrees forms a five-pointed star, also called a pentagram. In the chapters, "The Beauty of Venus" and "The Sacred Geometry of Venus," Massey describes the symbolism of the rose, the number five, and the pentagram. She also explains the ideas of divine proportion and the golden mean and the elegant geometry of Venus’s path around the Sun.

The author’s appraisal of Venus’s motion includes discussion of the planet’s speed, synodic cycles, stations, implications as evening star or morning star, declination, rare occultations — which we had in 2004 and will have again in 2012 — and more.

Massey uses what I believe is original terminology — she calls Venus’s retrograde (i.e., inferior) conjunction with the Sun a "New Venus" and Venus’s direct (i.e., superior) conjunction with the Sun a "Full Venus." These descriptions take into account that the New Venus (moving slowest and closest to the Earth) begins the synodic cycle, whereas the Full Venus is farthest from the Earth, closest to the Sun, and moving at her fastest speed.

This book includes chapters on natal Venus retrograde, Venus in the houses and signs, key points about her aspects with other planets, a bit on the four main asteroids, and occasional references to Lilith. Although Venus "myths" are part of the title, Massey does not dwell on specific myths; rather, she loosely draws on the history and variety of Venus's different cultural stories, generally noting how her myths have changed over time. The author is attuned to the range of Venus’s expression in any particular horoscope. She writes: “What is the essence of Venus? What are her many guises? That questioning awakened a persistent chant within me: I am reborn in every woman.” Massey addresses Venus in the signs in two chapters (and from two points of view): "Charming Costumes" and "Venus in Love." Self-worth, values and money, romance and marriage are all part of Venus’s familiar symbolism, and the author mentions such motifs in her delineations. Massey’s keenest insight, however, is into Venus in her essence: “She is love and appreciation; she is beneficial energy with the capacity for wrath. Her essence resides in you, within you. She is perfect!”

Anne Massey is a lucid writer, and her book is an engaging read. Refreshingly, she doesn’t go overboard or become too literal in her interpretations, but allows readers to draw their own conclusions, particularly in the sections on Venus’s orbit. Throughout the work, Massey makes many points worthy of further contemplation and application by astrologers — for example, Venus and the Sun repeating the birth pattern every 40 years; Venus’s return in relation to the transiting Sun every eight years; her implications for fertility and when she is out of bounds; and the repetition of 5, 8, and 13 as part of her magic. The Appendices provide basic Astrological Data, Venus Cycles Data, New and Full Venus Listings, and Four Pentagrams that depict Venus’s pathway in graphic form. The data tables allow easy access to dates and degrees for quick reference to horoscopes.

There is much in this book to study and apply to our practice. Massey’s descriptions of Venus unfolding in beauty and balance are exquisite. I felt a bit closer to being a perfectly developing rose myself by the time I finished reading this book. Readers who are interested in awakening a deeper connection with the “Lovely Lady Venus” will certainly enjoy Anne Massey's book.

— reviewed by Mary Plumb


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