Today we are going to reflect a little bit more on Venus's opposition to Pluto. In particular, the connection between Venus and Pluto and family.
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Hey everyone, this is Acyuta-bhava from Nightlight Astrology, and today we are going to reflect a little bit more on Venus's opposition to Pluto. Venus just made the opposition, so it is just now separating from the aspect to Pluto. Pluto in Capricorn Venus in Cancer. But it's still a good time to take a look at it. Venus passing through the opposition to Pluto can be very instructive; it can learn a lot it can be a little bit painful. In particular, I want to talk about the connection between Venus and Pluto and family. I think that among the many possible significations of Venus and Cancer opposite Pluto and Capricorn; family is one of the ones that I have seen the most throughout my career; talking to clients, watching it pass through the opposition to Pluto every year since I've been an astrologer because Pluto has been in Capricorn since I've been an astrologer.
And it's true that often Venus will represent love or relationships or sexuality, and something about Venus opposing Pluto can suggest catharsis and change, transformation, healing, and death; the crucible of Venus opposite Pluto can certainly pertain to love, romance, and so forth. But oddly, Venus, opposite Pluto, time and time again, points to the myth, the mythology, or the fantasy of family loss, death processing, and the changing of Family Constellations, all very Venus in Cancer, opposite Pluto.
So in order to look at that today, rather than do my normal thing, which is maybe to break down a theme, look at some of the insights or lessons around, I'm actually going to read you an essay today. one of my favorite, and just let you think on it, and maybe I'll offer a few reflections at the end. And tell you how I think this essay pertains to Venus in Cancer opposite Pluto. So that's the agenda. The essay is literally called mythology as family. It's by James Hillman. And it comes from his book, A Blue Fire, which are basically these are selections of his writings that were edited by Thomas Moore, who is another famous author who wrote a book that I really love called Care of the Soul. Excuse me, let's bring it back. So before we read that, before we get into it, I'll show you in the real-time clock once more.
I should start by reminding you to like and subscribe and share your comments. That helps the channel to grow and helps more people to find it. You can always find a transcript of my daily talks on the website nightlightastrology.com. Next week, we'll be demoing our new programs. So long last, we'll be actually promoting, and the pre-registration sale for two new courses will begin; one is a 2023 Planet and Plant Moon circle. And the other one is a series of master classes. I'll be teaching one per quarter, four classes each of 16 classes on the year on four different advanced topics in ancient astrology. So look for those next week. All right, well, it is story hour. But I'm forgetting myself here. Let's take a look at the real-time clock first. So just in case, you need a reminder, here we go.
Here is Tuesday, August 9, and you can see that the opposition is just passing by. But it's still a very good time to be meditating on this either in the wake of things that have already happened or in the things that may still be in the process of playing out a little bit as we're just one degrees off from the opposition. So all right, I hope you guys enjoy this essay. Remember, this is just where I'm coming from. I feel like I need to issue this qualifier before I read it, which is to say I don't expect everyone to agree with every single thing that James Hillman thought or wrote or believed or, you know, whatever any more than I would expect anyone to agree with every single thing I say on my channel right? You are free thinkers, and I respect your ability to process this however you like. I just find this to be a very provocative and interesting essay on mythology as family, and I think I'm going to I'll tell you how I think it applies to Venus opposite Pluto at the end, but even just the essay. I feel like I could just read the essay itself and just like drop the mic, and if you just set this essay next to Venus opposite Pluto Venus in Cancer in particular, I think you'll get it, but okay.
We are born into a family, and, at the last, we rejoin its full
extension when gathered to the ancestors. Family grave, family altar,
family trust, family secrets, family pride.
Our names are family names, our physiognomies bear family
traits and our dreams never let us depart from home-father and
mother, brother and sister-from those faces and those rooms. Even
alone and only ourselves, we are also always part of them, partly
Where does family fit in the modern myth of individual independence? That myth says home is what you leave behind. Moving on means moving out. You can't go home again-unless after failure or divorce. Women want careers downtown, where the action is. Men long for something more, undefined, but most surely not more family. Marriages and family founding, especially foundings of large families, are more and more countered by separations, living apart, single-parent households, divorces. Generations divided; children in daycare; elders in Arizona. The place where one is most likely to be killed is at home, both perpetrator and victim, family members.
Yet family has been battered by more than these sociological
developments. It has taken an even worse beating from the notion
of development itself. Nothing has abused the family more than our
psychological theories of development, with their myth of individual
Family so goes the developmental tale, is only the beginning,
a necessary evil, which like all beginnings must be left behind. An
adult has grown up, declared his independence, and his life and
liberty are dedicated to the pursuit of his own happiness. In The United States, a newborn infant is believed to be so symbiotically
fused with its mother that every effort must be made to develop its
ability to separate, to stand on its own as early as it can. In Japan, a
newborn infant is believed to be so utterly alien that every effort
must be made to enfold it within the human community as early as
possible. Two opposed trajectories of development. Neither is right
or wrong. Both are living myths, myths because they are lived un-
consciously as truths and have long-term consequences.
Psychoanalysis has swallowed whole the myth of individual
development away from family. Everyone who buys an hour of
analysis buys into this myth called "strengthening the ego." The first
steps of any current treatment in mental hygiene (brain washing?)
uncover the family romance, as it is called, which, in the widest
sense, refers to the damaging fantasies arising from an individual's
relations within the family. Notice here the focus on the indepen- dent ego; the family represents merely the limits imposed by genetic
nature or environmental nurture, a restrictive influence on personal
growth. Other cultures would not imagine the individual over and
against family. Where other cultural myths dominate, an individual
is always perceived as a family member. Our myth, however, insists
that ego is strengthened and full personality achieved away from
familial ties and pressures.
Psychology has even invented secondary embellishments to
make its myth of individual independence more compelling. (Otherwise a person might naively suppose that the family pulls and pressures are what other cultures regard as filial bonds, kinship love, family pride, parental sacrifice.) Therefore, psychology has discovered an entire demonology within family: the irremediable envy of sibling rivalry between brothers and sisters, castration threats by fathers, disguised cannibalism by sons, devouring mothers and schizogenetic mothers, as well as omnipotent, amoral, polymorphously perverse children. These are only some of the denizens of the deeps in family life. Of course, therefore, maturing, coping and handling have come to mean freedom from family. And, of course psychology finds itself justified to go right into the home to exorcise by means of family therapy the creatures that its myth has created.
Is it too much to assert that the most devastating effect of
Western psychology is neither the reductive sexualization of the
mind nor the pseudoreligion of self-centeredness, but rather its deliberate rupture of the great chain of generations, which it has accomplished by means of its myth of individual development toward independence? Not honor your father and mother, but blame them and you will come out strong. . .
The overwrought, exhausting difficulties that consume family
life indicate that something important is going on. Any big emotion
signals value; the task is to discover the gold in the sludge. Let's see
what we can recover from [four] typically emotional moments in
During childhood, traits of personality are identified and one's identity begins to form partly in accordance with the perceptions of others. "Gilly's a real tomboy, a stringbean who only has time for animals." (Will Gilly ever marry? Will she become a lesbian or a veterinarian?) "Billy can't keep out of trouble. I can't trust him out of my sight." (Will Billy ever hold down a decent job? Might he end up in prison?) "Milly was the quietest baby, always smiling and such a charmer." (Will Milly stay home with her parents, keeping them happy, or get pregnant at fifteen?)
From these sorts of family fantasies two contradictory cliches
emerge: "No one knows you better than your family," and "My
family can't see me at all." The division of "goods" between Gilly,
Billy and Milly keeps them in family-determined roles that seem, as
time goes on, to be false identities. Was I really a tomboy or was I
only living out what my mother wanted to be herself? Am I really
a charmer or was I only placating my father?
Discovering whether these perceptions are true or false, that
illusion of finding a real identity independent of the family fantasy,
is far less rewarding than is the recognition that within the family
a personal myth begins to take shape, the myth that forms one's
identity. By identity here I mean identifiable reactions, habits, styles.
One finds oneself inside a myth, which is neither true nor false, but
simply the precondition for fitting one into the family drama as a
Moreover, if there are no pronounced family fantasies, the
drama doesn't work, and we flounder about in that strangely loveless
limbo that psychology calls an "identity crisis." Family love ex-
presses itself by means of these fantasies of "what I want you to
become" and "what I am proud of you for." These fantasies of
identity show that someone is noticing traits, habits, styles. Whether
a person lives into the myth or rebels against it, there must first be
Relatives and in-laws:
Most lives are spent among likes, similar budgets, similar age spreads, and gaps, similar tastes and vocabularies. The people whom we choose to be with do not truly force us beyond our usual psychological boundaries. In the family, however, just where you might expect to be with those most like you, you encounter instead a collection of the strangest folk! At any large family gathering there come together the most extraordinary behaviors and most incompatible opinions, yet all this is in the same clan.
Voltaire supposedly said, "Nothing human is alien to me."
Relatives and in-laws provide the opportunity of extending our
human understanding to what strikes us as alien, indeed. Where else,
how else would one ever spend an evening with a man from Orange
County who pays dues to the Klan, or with a math professor who
interprets signals from outer space, or a junkyard dealer who did
time in the state penitentiary. And the manners, the clothes, the
This is more than "alien," Voltaire. This is downright outland-
ish, freakish. Here we realize that large family affairs, rather than
being scenes of convention, are actually performances of high comedy, outrageously funny, which also serve to encourage one's own peculiarities.
After all, as an in-law and relative yourself, you too appear, and
are, rather freakish to the others. The attentiveness you pay to the
in-laws and relatives at such reunions works both ways, for rarely
are you yourself heard out so patiently, with such curiosity. Family
seems to evoke a profound curiosity in each of its members about the
others, especially the more distantly related or more peculiarly en-
twined. Gossip abounds; people spill the beans and try to catch up
on what has happened "since we last met"-a catching up that goes
beyond recording births and deaths. Shadows come rushing out of
the closet and join the party without moral opprobrium. A large
family reception receives, in magnificentia et gloria, all shadows; all
events, whether good news or bad, associated with family members,
are magnified and glorified, thereby extending the size of the family's
heart. The measure of a family's magnanimity is not what it gives
to charity but rather its capacity to shelter the shadows of its members. Charity begins at home. We each feel this heart extending when, for instance, a little pride arises over the naming as "best insurance salesman in the county" a seemingly unremarkable young man who is, nonetheless, married to your great niece...
The sign "Home Cooking" might still bring in some customers, but for many the family table was the place of trauma. Studies in family disorders accuse the evening meal of being the major focus of household tension. Here, at table, family fights over money, politics or morals are most likely to break out, and later eating patterns-the rhythms of chewing, swallowing, breathing and talking; the intermissions between silence and noise; the very notion of what constitutes "good" food-take on their definitive forms. Here, too, gross food disorders like anorexia and bulimia
often appear first. Whether the atmosphere at meals be boisterous and competitive, or chaotic with phoning and television, or gravely formalized, tension is always on the menu.
Tension at the start of a meal belongs with the instinct of appetite. Just go to the zoo at feeding time and watch the animals pace and snarl, or ask a good Italian waiter about getting the prima (first course) on the table quickly. Meals are meant to start fast and conclude in digestive leisure. Tension therefore belongs to the moment of sitting down at table, and not only for animal reasons. Tension arises as an unconscious recognition of the sacramental nature of this family act. Grace overtly acknowledges this sacramental tension, and so do all the many rituals that go with family meals: fixed places and dinner "on time," the rituals of clean hands, of setting places and clearing the table, and the endless attempts to mollify the tension with light music, dimmer lights, and rules concerning what is appropriate to talk about at table. All this elaborate etiquette, and every family will have some rituals even if utterly disguised as "just dig in," attempts to propitiate the archetypal forces that gather invisibly around the family meals and are ready to explode civilized conventions at the most innocuous provocation.
Going back home: Whether from prison camp after a war or just
taking the bus home for Thanksgiving, homecoming is fraught with
dreadful anticipation. Opening the front door releases overwhelm-
ing emotions-and also the counterforce of repression against
those emotions that so often characterizes the stifled atmosphere of
Here we must remember that going home is always going back
home. Returning is essentially a regressive act in keeping with an
essential function of family: to provide shelter for the regressive
needs of the soul. Everyone needs a place to crawl and lick his
wounds, a place to hide and be twelve years old, inept and needy.
The bar, the bed, the boardroom and the buddies do not meet the
gamut of needs, which always limp along behind the myth of inde-
pendent individuality. Something always remains undeveloped and
this piece needs to "go back home" as country-and-western lyrics
often enough affirm.
Going back may mean sleeping till two in the afternoon, or
taking refuge in the bathroom, crying with mom in the kitchen, or
just complaining as do the grandparents who fall ill during every visit. Going home, at whatever age, offers going back, regression.
And the fight against family during these return trips is therefore a
displacement of the fight against regression. We don't want to admit
the weaknesses in our characters and the hungers in our desires. We
don't want to admit that we have not "grown up," and so blame the
family both for bringing out our worst and then for not indulging
it enough. Meanwhile: that strange sense of consciousness ebbing
away, going down the family drain.
The debilitating energy loss strikes everyone alike as if a communal power outage. Everyone caught in repeating, and resisting, old patterns. Nothing changed, after all these years! No one can get out even for a walk to break the spell, the whole family sinking deeper into the upholstery (and television has little to do with it and may even be, in such moments, the household god who saves). These moments attest to the capacity of family for sharing-French anthropology used to speak of a participation mystique-in a common soul or psychic state, and for containing the regressive needs of the soul.
No one is at fault, no one is kicked out, and no one can be
helped. In the paralysis lies the profoundest source of acceptance.
Grandpa can go on grumbling, brother attacking the administration,
sister introvertedly attending her exacerbating eczema, and mother
go on covering up with solicitous busy-ness. Everyone goes down
the drain because family love allows family pathology, an immense
tolerance for the hopeless shadow in each, the shadow that we each
carry as permanent part of our baggage and that we unpack when
we go back home.
These [four] bad moments are symptomatic of what lies at the
root of family problems. Not the failure to "relate," not the break-
down of the old patriarchal model, not even the incurably freakish,
especially depressive, pathologies that make their home at home, but
rather the root lies in the archetypal nature of family itself. As an
archetypal reality, the experience of family feels so often "unreal"
because family is permeated through and through with eternal exaggerations, an impossible too-muchness or mythic dimension, which
is the stuff of the symptoms we suffer and also the stuff of much of
Western culture's stories, novels, and dramas. And this mythical
exaggeration is at work in even the most conventionalized, urban,
eat-and-run, unconnected, first-name parents, upward-mobile, areligious unit of consumers called family. Family is less a rational place than a mythical one, and the expectation of finding rational reality at home is precisely what makes us condemn it as "unreal." Attempts at unambiguous communication, reasonable discussion of problems
and structuring a new paradigm, all overlook the fundamentals at the
source of family life: the deep-seated and indestructible complexes
of the psyche; once called daimons, ghosts and ancestors-whose
place is in the home.
The notorious "nuclear" family of statistics, sermons and advertisements-two parents, two siblings, a family car and a pet-does not correspond with the Latin word from which family derives. "This famous word . .. is inseparable from the idea of land settlement, and is therefore essentially the house itself, with the persons living in it. .. . And thus the religion of the familia will be a religion of practical utility, of daily work, of struggle with perils.... It is not the worship of an idea of kinship."
Familia , familias to the Romans meant primarily "a house and
all belonging to it," "a household establishment, family servants,
domestics (not = family, i.e., wife and children) ." Neither parentage
nor descent, not even bloodkinship within the clan (for which the
Romans had the word gens) determined the use of the word family;
place did. By Romans, here, I mean the entire civilized Western
world and its language that lives on in our Latinate roots.
Because familia connoted a physical house and all belonging
to it as goods, fortune, inheritance, the more accurate part of the
fantasy of the American nuclear family may be the estate car and the
household pet. In fact, a domesticated animal was considered often
a familiar. Living together in familiarity as a psychoeconomic organism-such is the meaning of family. Even the Greek word oikonomia (from which come economy and economics) means household management or keeping house. The family is a function of the house, rather than vice versa, where house is the concrete container of multiple familiarities and intimacies, the domesticated (from domus = "house") world of belongings-what belongs to us and to what we belong-and where "belonging" also means what is fitting, appropriate and customary.
This etymological revelation suggests a far broader sense of
family, giving primary emphasis to the idea of a supportive psychic
system under the same roof, whether farm, kibbutz, or a condominium block. This broader sense includes the notions of service and participation, a membership investing in and benefiting from a larger
household. Filial piety and brotherly love seem irrelevant to this
household, yet it does include all the things belonging to an estate:
animals, goods and furnishings. Your family is your furniture in
more than a metaphoric sense. Little wonder that such bitterness can
erupt over dividing the family dishes after divorce or death; or that
dreams of the old family car can continue to haunt long after the car
itself was trashed.
Various gods and goddesses lived with the ancient family:
Vesta at the hearth (focus is the Latin word) who must be acknowl-
edged first and daily else the central bonding flame might go out;
Janus at the gates so that one remembered the different faces required
for inside and outside; the three different gods of the doorway (of
the door, the hinges and the threshold) who prevented bad spirits
from entering the domestic interior; the Lar or Lares who were the
ever present and remembered ghosts of the household's dead. (Food
fallen to the floor at a meal was at once taboo, belonging now to these
familiars of the underworld.) And there were the Penates, or the wee
ones of the cupboards, without whom Old Mother Hubbard might
find not even a bone. The ancient home gave plenty of place to the
invisibles that live in a family, propitiating and domesticating its
daimons, which it acknowledged as rightfully belonging.
Above all these was Juno (Hera in Greece) who presided like
a stately, powerful Roman matron over the psychic and material
well-being of the household. In Juno was combined instinct and
institution: marriage both as that coupling urge for permanent bond-
ing and as a societal stability. The regular order of life within the
household and within the bodies of the women in the household was
regulated by the calendar; the first day of each month, the calends,
was dedicated to Juno. Little houses made of clay were devotional
objects in her cult, and heroes of myth-and most great Greek
heroes were sent on their way because of Hera-were recognized as
such not only by their deeds but also by the trophies they brought
back home. Ulysses felt himself a failure because after a twenty-year
absence he arrived home unclothed and without spoils. His family,
by the way, included his old nurse and his old dog. Again, that em-
phasis upon ties beyond blood, and upon animals and things. . . .
The idea of family service, however, extends beyond the maintenance of its property, the heirlooms and records, keeping anniversaries and celebrations, beyond the daily labor devoted to the well-being of the household, those chores that belong to "homemakers." One also serves an invisible family, as if an archetypal force. With the passing of time a sense of its power grows within one's psyche, like the movements of its skeleton inside one's flesh, which keeps one in servitude to patterns entombed in our closest attitudes and habits. From this interior family we are never free. This service keeps us bonded to the ancestors. How we are able to live these habits and attitudes, and inherited propensities to specific diseases, our own morbidity, provides each person with an individual way of honoring "our fathers and our mothers."
I have been attempting to present family as supreme metaphor
for our life on earth because it presents that force of human attachment to a dwelling place, of domestication of the savage and the nomad, of honoring the invisible, the demonic and the dead, of making intimate and familiar and "owned" the persons, animals and things of this world, taking them home to the hearth, ourselves as long-term caretakers in bondage to our fate on earth, playing out the comedy of human continuity.
Wow, I love that. That essay, to me is so thought-provoking. So interesting. It is not the typical write-up on family. What I love about it is the way that he, time and time again, says, you know, we have a paradigm. And, you know, I honor this paradigm at work in my own life as a real one. And in the lives of my clients and students, my own family members that there is something about, you know, individuating away from the family, right, and healing family wounds, or family traumas, a lot of people listening to this probably have broken families and can't relate to aspects of the essay, because family may not even be a part of your life anymore.
But what I loved that he said is that even if your story has been one of separating and individuating, from whatever limits or constraints a family or parents or the environment tried to put on you, it is exactly that situation that somehow the grit against which we grind in order to work out our own mythology. And so family is this inevitable part of the psyche that, you know, it's really important to honor, when we say honor the ancestors, in a sense, what we can mean, even if we don't have ancestors that we feel are honorable, you know, what I mean? Is that it, whoever we becoming, that we feel is virtuous or good in contrast to where we've come? Could we couldn't have become that without the sludge of whatever that family darkness was.
And so, you know, we grow out of manure sometimes. And I think that's part of what he's saying, which is very Venus in Cancer, opposite Pluto, it can be painful, there can be things that are terrible, and awful and horrible and worth separating from an individuating from in a family. And yet, if we look at family as an archetypal reality, not just the literal trauma that I had to, like, evolve from or something like that, but then we can then see family as something beyond the moral good or bad that has been a part of our story. And we can see it as an archetypal function of the psyche that houses aspects, Shadow aspects of ourselves that have been absolutely vital to who we've become. So I love that part of the essay. But more than that, what I love is that he says family as an arc, not just the literal family. What he's doing is, throughout the whole essay, is just using all of the images and metaphors of family that are familiar to lots of us, right? And he's talking about that as a, as a psychic reality that we always go back to. And when you go back to it, there's a sense of being sucked into things that Oh, I thought I was past that, or I thought I was beyond that, or it feels regressive. He says the family is like the place for the regressive aspect of our own psyche. And he's saying that the regressive aspect of our own psyche is not good or bad. It just is something about family and roots and history and ancestry and the past. There's a regressive pull in all of that. As an archetypal force, it is always a part of we; we have to keep going back, just like the Tao says that every going out is followed by a return. And that return by nature is regressive.
And so this is why I remember I remember specifically in an Ayahuasca ceremony, I felt like I was cleansing the karmic past for my family, you know, and then it just felt like there was more and more and more and more. And I remember during one ceremony, I finally had this realization that this is an archetypal activity, the exploration of the past and family trauma, and so forth, and there's no getting to the bottom of it because it's more like family as the psychic reality. It's always there. It's changing and morphing. But anytime that there is some need to move forward and let go of the past, something like the family psychically appears, and we get pulled into it like a vortex, and we get pulled into it. And we may think, Oh, well, then I'm, you know, I've gone back in order to like, overcome.
But it's; actually, it's also the family itself is also a place that can hold and give space to what is always archetypally regressive about life. That there is something about life itself that we can call regressive or or that we can call, you know that we can place in some a word like return or going back home, something like that. And it going back home is sometimes it has the feeling of a homecoming or going home from the holidays. And it feels joyful. If you go home for the holidays for more than a couple of days, pretty soon you realize, you know, Ram Dass was right when he said, If you think you're enlightened, spend a week with your family.
What I just love the essay so much because it's sort of like saying, don't try to get rid of the past, the complex shadows, the history that is regressive. Because the more that you try to block it out, or redeem it once and for all, or get to the bottom of it, the more deeply you get sucked or pulled in by it. What you resist persists. And there's so that's why I think that's why there's this sense of going back to things, not just our family, but anything that we sort of need to go back to or need to return to something. And in returning, we often find something we missed, or we longed for. And then we realize, well, that was nice, but I have to set it down again and keep moving. Or we return to it and realize, oh, this was toxic. Why did I come back here? And then we go on, and we keep moving, but that's a psychic, eternal reality in return, and home and family. And when I think of Venus and Cancer opposite Pluto, I don't just think. I mean, there's one level at which you can think about Venus opposite Pluto as the transformation of family karma or dealing with some heavy elements around things like love, beauty, family, marriage, etc.
But I think it's also important to just step back and acknowledge that the Venus Pluto dynamics speaks to the need in the psyche for regression. Because regression is it can be a very, again, it can be a very positive thing; it can be a very, very difficult thing. Anyway, those are just a few extra thoughts that I have about that essay, which I really love. I think it's very interesting. What did you guys think of it? What do you like about it? I'd love to hear your reflections. And hopefully, that gives you some good things to think about in the wake of Venus opposing Pluto. I think there was there's a lot there to chew on. If you liked it, I highly recommend the book that it comes from, which is called A Blue Fire by James Hillman. It's a series of essays that he has on a lot of different topics, and that is just one essay. I mean, he's got family father, excuse me, Father, fathers and daughters, fathers and sons, mothers, mothers and sons, the child, etc.
Lots of different essays on family, among other things, too. Anyway, hope you guys enjoyed this today. Good food for thought. Don't forget to like and subscribe and share your comments and your own reflections. What really struck a bell or what stood out to you? What was thought-provoking about this essay? I'd love to hear from you guys. And don't forget you can get a transcript of my daily talks on the website nightlight astrology.com And that's what I've got for today. We'll see you again tomorrow. Bye, everyone.