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VENUS - Queen of the Celestial Bees

The nearest to the earth within the earth's orbit, Venus symbolizes the "inward way", while Mars, guardian of the region which lies immediately beyond our planet's orbit, represents the "outward way". Being so close to us, these two planets stand in sharp relief as polar opposites. In the realm which they symbolize, polarity, the basic phenomenon of organic life, is particularly well defined. It is defined in terms of the behavior of the organism as a whole in relation to any and all types of experience. In any thing that lives there must be a reaching out toward experience and a response or reaction to experience. These two basic phases of all life are symbolized respectively by Mars and Venus, at whatever level the life operates.

The Moon provides the psychic energy required for the operation. Circling back and forth as she does between the realm of Mars and the realm of Venus, she feeds, as it were, the consciousness or ego; now in its Martian venturings, then in its Venusian reactions and evaluations. No planet of itself can be rightly considered as a real source of energy. It however gives direction, form and character to the relatively undifferentiated life-energy which streams directly from the Sun, and reflectively from the Moon. The visible Moon is the essential source of energy for the realm of Mars and Venus. Currents of solar radiations, not perceptible by means of our physical senses, energize the activities of the other planetary pairs. As these activities transcend the normal realm of our actual experiences, the "moons" which energize them are not concrete celestial bodies — at least, to us — but are conceived by us merely as cycles of solar activity. ( cf. The Astrology of Personality; pp. 302-309)

Our visible Moon, however, as a true satellite, distributes the vital forces of our body and psyche through the peripheral realm of our being; that realm which, surrounding as it does our concrete vehicle of experience — our body — has been called its "astral" matrix. The tides or pulsations which occur within this matrix control the intensity of our attention and interest in experiences; the intensity of our out-goings and home-returnings. The psychologist usually refers to these processes as our affective or emotional nature; or, if with behavioristic leanings, he analyzes the "stimulus-response arc". The theosophist speaks of the "astral body", the "psychic" nature, and so on. All these terms, and many others, are various designations for the most primordial life-processes of action and reaction to the outer world. These processes are the very substance of our world of actual experience.

On the other hand, processes such as relate to the Jupiter-Mercury function, or to still more remote phases of our being, are not concerned with "actual" experience, but with concepts, intuitions — factors which are transcendental, because they are not the immediate results of experience. They are derived from experience through an operation which is truly a kind of alchemical transmutation. Venus is the symbol of this process of refinement and abstraction, or extraction of essence. It is therefore the gate to the transcendental mind-realms, the path of the Universals: the Alchemist and the Initiator.

These names however refer to heights of consciousness which can never be fully and vitally understood unless the life-processes which they connote are studied in their more ordinary manifestations, and in terms of everyday experience. Thus we should trace the very first mode of operation of Venus in the most primary form of awareness, i.e., in what we called "sensation". A sensation is to be differentiated from a mere nerve-stimulus. A sound-wave strikes the ears; this produces a nerve-stimulus. Something in the outer world disturbs and stimulates a part of our organism. This disturbance is conveyed to the brain, there to be received by a most complex apparatus of perception. The sensation of sound is produced in the brain, not in the ears; and this sensation depends not only upon the condition of the ears but also upon that of certain parts of the brain. It depends to some extent upon previous sensations, upon what we may call organic memory, upon the physiological and psychological state of the whole organism at the moment the nerve-stimulus reaches the brain.

The gist of the matter is that sensation is not a simple fact, but the end-result of a process which, without our knowing, is conditioned by our entire organism. There may even be sensations which originate in the brain — witness such phenomena as those of clairaudience and certain types of clairvoyance; sensations, that is which may not be caused by any physical stimulus, but instead are due to the direct stirring up — in ways as yet mysterious — of the centers of sensation in the brain. These abnormal or supernormal sensations are also the end-results of a long process of synthesis which takes in the whole of the person's memory, psychological even more than physiological. For this reason the clairvoyant's or clairaudient's "seeing" or "hearing" is conditioned by his past mental experiences. This does not mean that he "sees" or "hears" imagined phantasms of his unconscious, but that whatever strikes his brain is not the only factor to be reckoned with — just as the image made upon the retina is not the only factor in the complex phenomenon of ordinary vision. We do not see with our eyes only, but also with the whole of our past experience. The way in which such past experience has been — or has not been — synthetized influences deeply all our sensations. It is actually a part of the sensations themselves.

What is true of sensations is even more evident in the case of emotions — of what the psychologist usually calls affects. To the mere sensation of pain corresponds at a more psychological level the emotion of grief. The ego has gone out, as it were, into the outer world with Martian eagerness, stirred by desire. The world hits back; the desire is unsatisfied. Grief is the result: an affect which manifests in, or is the result of, various organic changes (accelerated pulse, disturbed breathing, upset digestive processes, and glandular changes). Grief, despondency, and bitterness, characterize the end-results of a process which began with the Martian outgoing. They constitute physio-psychological modifications of the vital balance of the organism as a whole. Nay more, they are the quintessence or abstract of these modifications.

This word "quintessence" is worth studying, because more than any other perhaps it describes the life-processes symbolized by Venus, the universal and ubiquitous Alchemist. According to alchemical philosophy — be it Chinese or Chaldean or European — the life of the human organism, and in general of nature, is a combination of four principles, humors, temperaments or essences. To this, the modern theosophist adds that the number 4 is the keynote of the cycle of development of our Earth and of our present humanity. It is the number of the base of the pyramid.

The word "Pyramid" comes etymologically from the root "pyr" which signifies "fire". The pyramid is actually a symbol of the alchemical fire which extracts out of the four-fold base of nature the "quintessence"; that is, the fifth essence, or principle. This operation of extraction, and in another sense of abstraction, is that to which all the true types of alchemy refer. It may be considered at the mundane level, at which gold is sought for, or at any higher level, "Gold" — the quintessence — may mean the elixir of long life; or it may be, on the emotional plane, the purest form of love; or again, in the mental realm, the "pearl of significance". Spiritually speaking, it is the "Diamond Body" of the Chinese esotericists, the purest form of being produced by the mystic "circulation of the Light".

It is also the purest form of sensation: viz., the esthetic sensation, the perception and realization of the Beautiful. It is charm — the quintessence of personality, the "It" of the modern generations — always the result of a process of refining, of extraction of the subtle from the gross, of the spiritual from the material. Venus represents this process, in its myriad aspects and modes of operation, at any and all levels, from the lowest to the most divine. The process itself has been symbolized in countless ways. One of the most common symbols for it has been the pearl — that little sphere of beauty and loveliness born of irritation and pain in an ugly, almost formless mollusc of the sea depths. And, let us not forget, Venus-Aphrodite was seen arising from the foam of the sea, with pearls around her neck.

The sea always signifies the collective and undifferentiated universal life. Out of it is born, through rhythmic motion and cyclic growth (the foam of the waves), the individual. Similarly, out of the ocean of everyday experience meaning is generated. The "pearl of significance" is born out of the sufferings, the conflicts, the arguments and doubts which man experiences. Venus is born of the foam and is carried on a shell lined with mother-of-pearl; for significance presupposes dynamism and the churning of the inert sea-substance of our feelings, and as well, the formative power of the mind represented by the inverted and iridescent shell reflecting the glory of the heavens.

The individual arises from the collective and the racial by the same process following which significance arises from sensations, feelings and thoughts, and the abstract arises from the concrete. It is the same alchemical process of extraction of the quintessence, which has also been symbolized quite universally by the honey-making bees. The flower is already the apex of the plant; the coronation of the vegetable life. And in the flower nectar is distilled. This is the earthly alchemy. Out of the darkness of the humus and the soil, through the hidden, persistent, will-full effort of the dark roots, the flower is born. The more powerful the roots, the more numerous the blossoms. The solar Ray, which materialized itself earthward into or as the root, now ascends skyward to produce the flower. The sap becomes nectar — the ambrosia of the Greek gods, the amrita of Hindu deities. This is the transmutation of the gross into the subtle.

This subtle attracts winged denizens of the upper regions. The bees draw from the chalice-like flowers the nectar, and another alchemical transformation occurs. The nectar of the earth-grown flowers becomes the honey stored in the bee-hive. It is said in occult books that the bees came to the earth from Venus. And it is said also that Beings, whose names are many — Flames, Sons of Mind, Luciferian Spirits, Prometheus, Kumaras — descended from the radiant planet upon the Earth, at the dawn of conscious humankind. Then the Sons of God married the Daughters of Men. And the result was that mysterious "honey" gathered within the stone-hollows of the cities of the Earth — civilization. Every great city is potentially a hive — with its palaces, libraries, museums, institutes, even with its banks and office buildings and vast hotels. Civilization is distilled within all those, as honey is produced within the beehive.

Alas, what now is called "civilization" is only the shadowy and perverted — often poisonous — image of what is called at times the "living Civilization". Ancient and occult traditions say that such a "living Civilization" has been pulsating and radiating ever since the days of the earliest conscious man from a mysterious sacred City, named Shamballah. In this City lives the still more mysterious Personage, whom theosophists call Sanat Kumara, the Eternal Youth, the Great Initiator, the Seed of the mystic Tree, whose branches and leaves have been the great Sages, Prophets, Spiritual Leaders of all ages — and of today. This Being, Father-Mother of all that on earth belongs by spiritual birthright to the regions wherein dwells the Solar universal Light, may be called symbolically the "Queen of the celestial Bees". He-She is indeed the generator of all "mastery"; for while men, born of the earth, may become "masters", this they can do only inasmuch as they receive within their Soul-depths the "mastery" whose sacred form is "kept in Shamballah" — Venus-on-Earth.

Let everyone beware, however, lest he or she materialize such symbols, vital and actual though they may be. "Shamballah" is no earthly city to be found on the map — even if it has been said loosely to be located in the Gobi Desert. It is the "Hive of Flames" to which none may come save they be carried thither by the "celestial Bees". Ours is the task, humans born of this Earth, to produce as flowers the nectar that shall draw to us the "celestial Bees". This is our transmutation and our alchemy. From the roots of our earthly nature, deep in the pelvic regions, through the stem of our spine, the mystic sap of conscious life must rise, until it becomes within the hollow of the brain — the Ajna center of the Hindus — the spiritual nectar of a life well lived in terms of creative significance, of harmony that is love, and of beauty. Then shall come upon us the "winged Glory", and in proportion as we are able to offer to our celestial visitors nectar in the cup of our fulfillment, in such proportion shall we become invested with the "mastery" — the "Robe of Glory" of the Gnostics, the Sahasrara of the Hindus.

The graphic symbol of Venus is worth considering, inasmuch as it is the glyph of spirit-born man. The Egyptian knew it as the "Ansated Cross which is a circle or oval surmounting a T; that is, the head of man placed on top of the shoulders and the spinal column. The Venus symbol is essentially the same, except that it allows for a "neck" between the head and the shoulders; an important point, inasmuch as Venus is said to rule the sign Taurus, and thus, the neck. The importance of the matter increases as one considers that the neck is not only the seat of the vocal organs — the creative potency of the Word — but also contains the thyroid, a vital gland in the body which in fact controls the "alchemical" processes of the organism. It is known that the degree of operation of the thyroid can be measured by the degree of consumption of oxygen. This is the basis for the well-known "metabolism test" of endocrinology.

More generally still, the thyroid controls the speed and intensity of the process whereby the gross elements of the body (including the food taken in) are transmuted into the subtle energies of organic living. This transmutation is accomplished mostly through the use of oxygen, which the lungs send into the blood stream. This is what is called "oxidation". But there is a subtle form of oxidation which transforms physiological into psychological energies, and which is thus the very basis of all psychological processes, especially all thought-processes. For this reason, children born with extreme thyroid deficiency are congenital idiots. In them the Alchemist is missing. They live at the level of the brute. In other cases, the process of transmuting physiological energy into thought is so intense that the body is as it were robbed of its thyroid secretions by the mind, which requisitions all the available supply. Nervous exhaustion follows.

Thought itself comes under the rulership of Mercury; but the process by which the earth-forces are transmuted into solar energies, and body-substance into Soul-consciousness, should be referred to Venus. This process, viewed from a universal standpoint, is what occultists call the Path of Initiation; and the Great Initiator, Sanat Kumara, is therefore said to come from Venus, to give men the Fire of Mind. This is the Promethean gift. This is the Light of Dawn carried by Venus-Lucifer, star of the morning. Prometheus' liver was torn incessantly by a vulture — because the possession of Mind means the crucifixion of the nature of feeling represented by the liver; also because when the thyroid operates too much mindward, the liver suffers from the strain of carrying on the many functions necessary for food-metabolism.

Lucifer was hurled into the bottomless pit — because the possession of creative mind gives a kind of pride which is often man's perdition; not to mention a still deeper meaning, in which the "pit" symbolizes the pit of the stomach, the solar plexus, the gates of unconscious psychic energies. This latter meaning refers to the great test which sooner or later all individuals striving toward spiritual heights must face. It is a test of strength between the conscious ego and the great Unconscious. If the conscious ego is not steady enough in its structural development, it may be overcome or so intoxicated by the inrushing "primordial Images" of the Unconscious, by "gods" of various kinds, that it will lose its form and identity. The rational is then conquered by the irrational; the head-center by the solar plexus. The man becomes a tool of Powers which play irrationally through him.

On the other hand, if the conscious "I am" is able to assimilate the energies of the Unconscious, and thus to retain his own structural identity, he becomes a god-like man. Personal pride very often causes the failure. By overvaluing its own importance the ego makes itself unable to resist the shock of the irrational energies. Paranoia may then develop in one form or another; or else some type of mediumship or religious unbalance.

Venus is not necessarily the beneficent influence which astrology ordinarily considers it to be. Sanat inverted becomes Satan. If the bees are said to come from Venus, so also the ants. The destructive elements parallel the constructive. The bees feed on the nectar of the flower; the ants devour the wood, stem and leaves of the plant. The hives are built in the air; the ant-hills are dug into the earth. Wheat and corn also claim descent, in occult lore, from Venus; but man transforms the brain-building and energy-producing grain into alcohol. To the white Adept corresponds the black magician; to the up-pointing five-pointed star of the Initiator, the down-pointing star of the devil-worshipper — the Disintegrator.

In this star of Initiation, the heavenward point represents the organ of the spiritually creative, within the head. The proc ess of mental creation is based upon the activity of the thyroid — or "throat-center" — and flowers through the higher brain centers. This is Venusian creativeness at its psycho-mental level. But in the earth-conditioned man, the physiologically creative operates through sperm and ovum. At this level the creative energy is marshalled by Mars and becomes procreative energy. The creative principle is still the "Fifth Limb", but it pertains to the process of involution — to the descent of spirit into matter, which calls for the building of "bodies". This too is "alchemy" of a sort, but one which pertains to the realm of the earthly animal kingdom.

Truly human alchemy refers to the refining of Earth into Mercury through the power of Venus. And the "marriage" occurring in such alchemical operations is the union of the subtlest essence of the earth with the Venusian winged spirit, or archetype. As a symbol thereof we have the nuptial flight of the future queen bee, mating as high in the air as the bees can reach. The fecundation accomplished, the male falls dead — a sacrifice. Likewise, where Mars fecundates Venus at the high levels of man's consciousness, Mars gives his life joyfully that the Venus-seed may grow into the evergreen Tree of Wisdom, the Tree of Adepts and Christs.

This edition copyright © 2008 Michael R. Meyer
All Rights Reserved.

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