The planets Venus & Jupiter conjoined tonight whilst I was watching. Here was my impression.
As I sit here, a glass of good wine in my hand, on my terrace under the bright Mediterranean sky, I can see but three objects in the sky. A full moon, Venus and Jupiter. There are no other stars, I cannot see the space station, all I can see are, around the horizon, bats fluttering near the old fashioned fluorescent street lamps in my village.
As it is, I stretch out in my comfy patio furniture, adjust my footrest and top up my wine glass. Hey, if the worse come to the worst I can always have a paracetamol and get rid of the hangover tomorrow…..
What if such a thing were not possible? What, if instead of my somewhat overly expensive patio furniture I was reclining on a mossy bank, just 400 years ago, staring into the sky? Unable to remove my hangover with a handy pill but instead doomed to suffer the agonising pain of a throbbing headache without even a fat rich English breakfast to calm the pulsations? I can trace my family 400 years back, I can look at a nicely printed family tree and say this, this person was my ancestor. Can I presume to imagine what my great*16 grandfather actually thought when in the same position as I was tonight?
Jupiter rules the sky tonight. The Moon is brilliant, but she always comes in play once every 28 days, and like a peacock on the lawn she soon dulls in significance. Jupiter, tonight, is showing his military prowess. He is the King that we assume him to be. Jupiter is sanguine, he is warm and moist in nature and encourages growth, he brings wealth prosperity peace and good fortune. He is the sign of the Law, of higher Education and of good administration. But do not be fooled into his good humours, for he is martial when provoked, the true sign of a king; just and merciful when worshipped, but vengeful and military when provoked. He spends a year in each Zodiac, a year courting each poor astral significance that falls within his power, and tonight he will mate with Venus, whilst the Moon stares on in this poor menage a trois.
Poor Venus. She flees from Jupiter, a lonely beauty whose power to provoke passion is echoed in the beauty of the Mediterranean daughters she has left behind in the modern era. She has been flirting for the last fortnight, a courtship watched with earnestness by us, but it is as ever a private and intricate courtship that nonetheless is carried out along the same beloved lines as always. Venus, as we know, is a flirt who skits constantly between the inner planets, dancing amongst the Signs of the Zodiac without ever being known to spend overly long with any suitor, always manipulating to ensure her aims are carried out. Until Jupiter arrives, on his 12th year of progression, and grasps her in his embrace and demands her attentions.
Poor Venus, for she is trapped in his attentions. She is Ruler of the second house of the Zodiac and all who enter must obey her whim, with the exception of Jupiter, for when he deigns enter her House he is the King and she but his Queen. If Mars is the Ruler of War then Jupiter is the King who commands Mars, and Venus is, if she did but recognise this and submit to his whim, his Queen.
This is finally a duodecad*. Jupiter has arrived.
And here, on Earth, a fox is crying. Bats are fluttering, and it is as if the powers that be had ordered it, for the flickering fluorescent street light suddenly cycles out and all is black on my patio. And in the skies above me, in the silence of the night, Jupiter and Venus mate for the first time in a dozen years. And all is silent.
And I imagine my ancestor. On his mossy bank, 400 years ago, shuddering at the thought of what the Gods are doing. For I believe that my ancestor would have been of the class of people who believed in divine rule, who obey the (protestant, England ah hem) Church yet still, in agreement with their Betters, followed the whims of the Astrologers.
Let us imagine John Dee** preparing his chart for Elizabeth R. What would he have said to Her Majesty on such a night? That Jupiter, sign of the elderly generation, the wisdom inherent in the old, the ruler and the wise old bird on a tree, was mating with Venus, the beautiful and wily young lady, the young woman with aristocratic upbringing but a gypsy heart, who takes all for a promise but rarely comes through unless it is in her interest, but who is unable to stand against her Master.
And all under the unbroken gaze of the Moon.
For tonight, with the King and Queen in congress under a black sky, magic flows and humanity must truly shape itself to the demands of its betters. A child conceived, or better, born on such a night will surely be a leader, for the very whim of the darkness urges the midwife to proclaim it so.
All is silent as the two planets engage. A silence that is absolute as the stars glaze over with glory, and the very Moon itself appears to blush and diminish in fury as she averts her eyes from the lovers.
A silence that is broken by a rubbish lorry coming past, nosily shuddering to stop and picking up the bins, its vibrations shaking the streetlight back into life. And I am back in the 21st century.
We no longer believe in such nonsense, with exception of the bumpf published in local newspapers which serve as a passing attraction to 16 year old unsure of their direction in this world. And that which we publish has morphed out of all recognition from what was recognised as truth just a few ancestors ago.
But make no mistake. If it is still a magical fleeting moment today, it had the power to entrance and entrap the most powerful of a few centuries ago – and we can never, never, overestimate the power of Romance in our ancestors of years ago.
*OK, 11.6years is what it takes for Jupiter to enter Venus’s house. I don’t know what you call 11,6 years so I went for a group of a 12 (duodecad).
**Dee lived in the 16th century but the family chart doesn’t go back that far. Stick with me.