I don't pay much attention to the traditional astrological categories of exaltation, detriment, and fall for the planets2, because these placements often seem to operate in ways contrary to those teachings. However, pondering these categories seems to clarify the nature of Venus and its proper role in our lives. Venus is in exaltation in Pisces, in fall in Virgo, and in detriment in Scorpio and Aries.
2 These terms represent a traditional method of evaluating the strength of planets in various zodiac signs. Exaltation is the sign where a planet is supposedly at its best, and detriment is a sign where the planet is ill at ease. A planet is in detriment in the sign opposite the one it rules—e.g. Venus rules Libra and supposedly rules Taurus, and so Venus is in detriment in both Aries and Scorpio. A planet is in its fall in the sign where it is supposedly at its weakest or worst—the sign opposite the one where it is exalted.
While thinking about love relationships, which Venus rules, I got a flash of a couple slow dancing and could immediately see why Venus is exalted in Pisces, the sign of the dance. An intimate relationship such as marriage should be like a dance. One partner leads, but only nominally rather than in the sense of controlling. Each partner is keenly sensitive to the moves of the other and takes reciprocal action. There is flow, ease, rhythm, and grace to the relatedness. Each knows when to go backwards or yield, in what Rod Chase calls the strategic retreat of Pisces.
Later, I realized that this image is based on a rather old-fashioned idea. Both intimacy and dance have changed since the days of ballroom dancing. In modern dancing, partners do not lean on each other, and neither leads. Both improvise and "do their own thing" and may or may not reflect their partner's motions, depending on how it suits them.
There is freedom, equality, spontaneity, individuality, and creative self-expression in this type of dance—and in the kind of partnerships our society is now fostering. However, Venus (and Libra, which it rules) is concerned with balance. If two dancing partners or two people in a relationship become too involved in their own concerns, they can lose contact and head in totally different directions (as happens in so many relationships these days). So, the key again is to find the right balance between contact and self-expression.
Venus is in fall in Virgo, and many unappealing qualities have been attributed to Venus in that sign. The sixth house, which Virgo is related to, provides an image to understand why. The sixth house rules servants, among other things, and if you are a servant to your loved one or if your loved one is a servant to you, there is no equality in the relationship and it suffers. Virgo has also been associated with virginal chastity and even of prudishness, though in practice, Virgos can be very sensual once their standards are met.
Venus is in detriment in both Scorpio and Aries, again because the crucial factor of equality can easily be missing from such love relationships. An idea about the nature of Venus in Scorpio can be discovered in the traditional marriage ceremony. Marriage is supposedly related to Libra or the seventh house, but traditional marriage vows are extremely colored by Scorpio or the eighth house. The promise—which many modern couples omit from the marriage ceremony— "to have and to hold, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, until death do us part," is much like the eighth house.
In this view, the partner is regarded as property to be owned—and the laws of our society are still not completely free of the ancient concept that the wife cannot own and control her own property or her own life. If the loved one is owned and possessed, there is no equality, and Venus is in detriment. In our individualistic Aquarian age, many people are rejecting the old marriage vows and their implications and instead making up their own.
As for Venus in Aries, there is also no equality when relatedness is something done to or done for the other person, in the sense of dominating or intruding on the right of free choice or freedom to grow. Venus would indeed be in detriment in action-oriented Aries if it is a doing to kind of relatedness. This approach can be detrimental if the individual with this placement becomes so wrapped up in doing things that there is seldom a pause to be receptive to other people.
However, each planet in each sign has its positive and its negative expressions. For example, many humanitarians have Venus in Virgo—the love of service—and many healers have Venus in Scorpio—the healing power of love. Rather than criticizing or praising any planet in any particular sign, put each planet and each aspect in your chart to work in its most positive form. Astrology is not meant to be used to judge and condemn, but to uplift and enlighten. That is why Uranus, the planet of astrology, is exalted in Scorpio, the sign of regeneration.
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