The great importance which Central American civilizations attached to Venus and the Venusian cycle is well-known. In particular, both the Maya and the Aztecs used the planet to establish their calendars, as well as their cosmogony, both in any case being closely connected. The Aztecs computed Venusian years in groups of five, corresponding to eight solar years. Venus stood for Quetzalcoatl, who died in the west and was restored to life in the east. In this reincarnation, the Plumed-Serpent God was depicted as an archer, feared as the spreader of disease, or as the death-god, his face covered in a death’s-head mask. In this context, it must be remembered that this is one of the two aspects of the symbolic duality, death and rebirth, contained in the myth of Quetzalcoatl.
The movements of Venus, alternately rising in the east as the Morning Star and setting in the west as the Evening Star, have made it a basic symbol of death and rebirth. The two appearances of the planet, at either end of the day, explain why the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl may also be called ‘Precious Twin’.
The association of Venus with the Sun through the similarity of their daily transits, sometimes deifies the planet as the Sun’s messenger and an intermediary between the Sun and mankind. This is true of the Brazilian Ge Sherente Indians, who believe that the Sun has two messengers, Jupiter and Venus.
The Buryat regarded the planet as the guardian spirit of their horses. They made offerings to it in the Spring when they branded their foals, cutting the manes and tails of their horses. They also consecrated to it ‘live horses which were not to be used for common purposes thereafter’. This tribe of nomadic pastoralists regarded Venus as the heavenly shepherd leading his flocks or herds of stars. The people of the Yenisei considered Venus ‘the oldest star which guards all the others from harm’.
The ritual carrying-off of the Buryat bride was connected with the worship of Venus. In Yakut legend, she was a proud maiden who had the Pleiades as her lovers. The Kirghiz, like the original inhabitants of Asia Minor, believed that, as the Evening Star, Venus was daughter of the Moon.
The ancient Turks originally called Venus Arlig, the warrior, the man, then Star of Light (Lucifer) and later Tcholban (the Shining or Dazzling One).
Religious literature sometimes calls her ‘the raging lion’ or ‘the sky-gods’ lioness’. As goddess of love, also known as ‘she who loves pleasure and delight’, her worship was associated with temple prostitution. Her myth contains a descent into the Underworld, which would explain the initiatory significance of Venusian symbolism. A Babylonian king called her ‘she who at sunrise and sunset brings me good omens’. Bow and arrows, symbols of sublimation, are among her attributes. In Assyria, she was ‘Queen of Nineveh, she in whose lap sits Assurbanipal to suck from two of her breasts and to bury his head in two others’.
In astrology, the planet Venus embodies sympathetic attraction, emotion, love, sympathy, harmony and gentleness. It is the planet of art and of sensory appreciation, of pleasure and pleasant things and, in the Middle Ages, it was called ‘the Little Benefactor’. The sense of touch is one of its attributes, as well as all manifestations of the female nature, in luxury, fashion and personal adornment. Its Houses, that is, the signs of the Zodiac in which it is especially powerful - Taurus and Libra - are related respectively to the throat and breasts and to the curve of the hips, that is, with what is peculiar to the female figure.
From remote ages, Venus was the star of whispered confidences, and the chief of the heavenly beauties inspired lovers with the unalloyed impression which the gentle starlight leaves upon contemplative souls. Astrologers regard Venus as being partly linked to the emotions produced by physical attraction and love, which arise from that instinctive craving for physical contact which the baby has for its mother and which may develop into a sentimental altruism. The Venusian world of the human individual gathers into an emotional synergy of sensation, sensual feelings, instinctive attraction towards an object, intoxication, smiles, seduction, the exhilaration of pleasure, delight in the affinity and harmony of interchange and emotional community, as well as of those emotional states created by charm, beauty and grace. Furthermore, the goddess is presented at her most attractive in all mythologies and she is the only one whose advantages make her the rival of Aphrodite, patroness of marriage and consummate type of female beauty. Under her symbol, sheer pleasure in being alive rules the human heart in the Spring festival of sensual intoxication, as in the more spiritualized and refined pleasures of aesthetics. Her rule is that of tender kisses, of amorous longing and sensual encounter, of an appreciation of the beautiful, of gentleness, kindness and enjoyment as much as of loveliness. It is that of the peace of mind called happiness.