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Venus meets Mars in Aquarius or How Passion Overcomes Intellect

Astrology and psychology owe much to myth. Oral stories have been the carrier of wisdom in ancient times and their teachings reverberate today, with different language in our intuitive and scientific exploration of ourselves.


I chose to tell a story on this special day -  when the two planets associated with relationships in astrology, Venus and Mars, meet in the sky in the constellation of Aquarius. This story is about Merlin, King Arthur's adviser and friend. Merlin was known for his magical powers, he was wise in herbal healing, he could foresee the future and was a shape-shifter, able to appear in many different forms, such as an old man with a sickle, a young boy, a beggar and a shadow. He guarded his powers carefully and was never known to share either his wisdom or his bed with any woman.


One day, Merlin met a beautiful maiden. Her name was Nyneve and, although Merlin was by this time an old man, he fell desperately in love with her the moment he saw her. In order to impress her, he took the form of a handsome young man and dazzled her with his magician powers. Merlin was so preoccupied with making an impression, that he failed to notice that Nyneve did not return his feelings. Yet she promised to become his lover if he shared with her the secrets of his magic. He eagerly agreed, believing he had found a devoted disciple as well as a lover. However Nyneve, while learning all his spells she was withholding the passion, frustrating his desire. 


Merlin was able to see the future and when he realized that the end was near, he told King Arthur that he could do nothing to save himself. In his words "It is true that I know many things. Yet in the battle between knowledge and passion, knowledge never wins." Merlin's end comes when he teaches Nyneve those spells which can never be broken. In order to please her, he created a magical chamber above the sea and filled it with unbelievable wonders. He intended it to be a glorious setting in which they might finally consummate their love. Together, they walked through a secret passage in the rock and approached the chamber, hung with gold and lit by hundreds of scented candles. Merlin entered, but Nyneve lingered outside. Then she pronounced the words of a terrible spell that could never be broken, a spell she had learned from him. The door to the chamber closed, and Merlin was trapped inside forever.


I choose to tell this story now, because the sky lovers, Venus and Mars meet in Aquarius - an air sign whose dominant values are knowledge and intellect. Aquarius symbolizes the consciousness which is interested in knowing and understanding the laws by which the energies which stand behind life operate. Fixed, rational and logical, this type of energy focuses on organization. Merlin is a magician because he knows the right systems that create magic. He is not psychic, a Piscean archetype. His powers are his impressive intellect and knowledge of all spheres of life. And his undoing comes from his control over his gifts, he is guarding his spells until he falls in love. He finds his undoing in passion for another. 


Aquarius is known for his cool detachment and distaste for dramatic passions or emotional displays which so often form a part of personal relating. But underneath the cool mind lies a dependency of feeling which, although often unrecognized and unexpressed, is so potent that under the right circumstances can subdue the power of the intellect. Astrology teaches that no type is quite as prone to emotional excess as air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius), because when the airy individual's feelings take him over, they do so with a vengeance. His thoughts, once so crystalline and clear, are then dominated by his feelings.


As one of my favorite teachers, Liz Green wrote: "Rationality, and even intellectual brilliance, may not be an antidote to passionate love. Although we may need to reflect, we cannot silence our hearts – or our bodies – through the power of reason alone. In fact, attempting to use the rational mind as a defense against passion may make any individual particularly vulnerable to blindness in relationships."


And this might be the lesson we learn during these times - that when passion takes over, our minds and the principles and systems we live by, have no power. This is a potent time for relationships, especially romantic (Venus) and sexual (Mars). Now we may fall prey to our passions, sabotaging our own principles or worst, being blinded by them.

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