Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Venus and Mars

As for the famous network of Vulcan, which inclosed Mars and Venus, and caused that inextinguishable laugh in heaven; since the gods themselves could not discern it, we shall not pry into it; Although why Vulcan bound them, Neptune loosed them, and Apollo should first discover them, might afford no vulgar mythology.

Thus does Sir Thomas Browne allude to the union of the goddess of love with the god of war and their subsequent entanglement, caught inflagrante delicto by Vulcan with his cunning network, in  the Discourse, The Garden of Cyrus. However, the Classical myth of Venus, the goddess of love, taming Mars, the god of war, was first elaborated upon by the Renaissance Hermetic scholars Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) and Pico della Mirandola (1463-94) as symbolic of the victory of love over war and the supremacy of Harmony over strife.

Indeed the planet Earth itself orbits between the planets Venus and Mars, symbolically intermediate between peace and war. The Classical myth was also a lesser representation of the coniunctio of the alchemists and more frequently alluded to as the union of  Sol et Luna, Sun and Moon, it was also alluded to as the astrological phenomenon of the Eclipse, an event which continues to exert a fascination upon humanity.

For the alchemist the uniting of the opposites was the primary objective of the 'Great Work' or magnum opus. And it's interesting to note in passing that C.G. Jung's deepest and final writing on alchemy is entitled Mysterium Coniunctionis (1955-56).

Paintings - Mars and Venus captured by Vulcan - Luca Giordano 1670's
Below- Mars and Venus united by Love - Paulo Veronese c.1578  
See Also - Vulcan 
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