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Friday, April 21, 2017

Bold Beauty


Venus favors the bold.”

Venus, the planet, was bold at dawn this morning—like the light of an 747 coming in for a landing, she lit up the eastern sky. Did you know that Venus formed at the same time as earth, is about the same size, made of the same material, and once had liquid water. It's atmosphere was thin, like the earth's. At some point in time, however, she experienced, according to Neil deGrasse Tyson, a “runaway greenhouse effect,” and now is 900 degrees, hot enough to melt lead, bone dry, and covered by clouds of sulfuric acid so thick they would be like trying to breathe underwater. Stephen Hawking warns, “Earth might one day soon resemble the planet Venus.”

The ancient Romans, of course, considered Venus the goddess of love. Lactantius, who lived in the 3rd century, told the story about when the Romans were occupied by the Gauls, besieged in their capital, they made engines from the hair of women. In gratitude, they dedicated a temple to the Bald Venus. Those Romans knew how to court their goddesses! Or as least, keep the peace.

I suppose the designation “love goddess” came about because of the beauty of Venus. She is a lovely light, and certainly Ovid was right, she does favor the bold. Timid people certainly have a harder time finding love. And she, herself, was also bold, both in love and in war. Though she had a loveless marriage, the goddess Venus gave birth to many children, both by other gods, and by mortals as well. According to myth, her children included: Timor (fear), Metus (terror), Concordia (harmony), Hermes (androgyny), Fortuna (luck/fate), Priapus (fertility), and the Cupids, (different aspects of love). Certainly, we all know the effects of falling in love—it scares us to death, and makes us slightly crazy.

You may be wondering what all this ancient Roman mythology has to do with modern spirituality. Well, I like to revisit the myths from time to time, to refresh my memory about the human condition. Those ancient peoples recognized the complexity of human behavior, and honored it. They had gods and goddesses for everything, every human condition, because they saw how complicated life is, and rather than turning their backs on the parts they did not like, they paid homage. They realized more than we that there's a time and place for everything, and all of it is sacred. I like that about the ancients—and, by the way, I take Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson very seriously. You should, too.

                                                                   In the Spirit,


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