We know plenty about the Greek/ Roman mythology of Venus/ Aphrodite -the tempestuous and sometimes capricious goddess of love. We know, perhaps vaguely, the western astrology concept of Venus and its reigns on our intimacy and love relationships according to our horoscope signs and houses. And if you were paying attention to your social media feed, you might have noticed torturous posts hastagging the ever ominous #VenusRetrograde wreaking havoc in everyone’s love life. If your social media feed was anything like mine, you saw posts of break ups, weddings, anniversaries and reconciliation sprinkled with Single warriors relaying messages of Self-Love.
Well, I’m here to boggle your mind a bit about an Aztec and perhaps Mesoamerican-wide cosmology as it relates to Venus and yes, your love life. Bear with me and I’ll spare you the heavy dosage of mathematics.
In Aztec, Toltec, Mexica and otherwise Mesoamerican cosmology, the Venus archetype is our very own Quetzalcoatl. Yes, you may be aware of him as “the feathered serpent” if you ever took a Chicano Studies class and they may have informed you of a particular story, Ce Acatl Topotzin the great emperor who was non-violent in his military strategies and received only peaceful sacrifices in forms of song, dance, and art only to fall from grace by being tempted by sex and beauty to the point of sleeping with his sister and in his sobriety fled westward into the ocean. And yes, you may have heard that this is why the Mexicas accepted Hernan Cortes domain as he was thought to be the Quetzalcoatl incarnate.
Well, I’m here to say that while Ce Acatl Topitzin’s story may be true, in no way is he the Quetzalcoatl. It is more likely he was on the Quetzalcoatl path. In fact, that whole “Hernan Cortes was thought to be Quetzalcoatl” offers no weight in my book. Come on, Mexicas had an intricate sewage system while the French dumped their waists out their windows.. I’m not buying it. And on an entirely different blog, I may be tempted to go in on how that whole concept is inherently white supremacist and hegemonic. But that’s not the point of this post. So let’s brush that critique aside and pretend this is your first time hearing about Quetzalcoatl for a brief moment.
The nahuatl etemology of the word Quetzalcoatl is two words conjugated: Quetzalli meaning beautiful and coatl meaning serpent. To further elaborate quetzal is thought to be the bird which decorates the beautiful flag of Guatemala. And of course it is in Spanish. In nahuatl however, the Quetzal bird is quetzaltototl meaning beautiful bird. Just as stones such as opal is quetzaliztlipyolitli: quetzalli– the beautiful; iztli-stone; p– derived from ipan-within/embodying; yolohtli– heart. The pattern here is that nahuatl word quetzalli means beautiful and not feathered. You will find some glyphs depict Quetzalcoatl with feathers and others depict Quetzalcoatl masked as ehecatl the wind holding a serpent. The concept here is that the serpent is elevated from the earth into the wind transmuting into its higher self.
So, beautiful serpent is a concept that is not personified by one person or deity but rather a school of discipline in the arts that is inherently non-violent. This is the practice of transmuting vibrations as the serpent does into the higher self. This is the beauty way of mastering base emotions and working through them to create poetry, song, dance, visual art, sculptures and great pyramids.
What about Venus? The interesting this is that in the collective conscious most cultures understand the planet Venus affects our love relationships. This is still true for the Mexicas. In overcoming unhealthy attachments or detachments is a primer to tapping into our higher self, our path of the beautiful serpent. But wait, there’s more.
Mesoamerica had great scholars in astronomy, specifically the Mayas whose temples scholars mistake as sacrificial centers may have been the most advanced observatories of their time. The Dresden codex, one of seven of the surviving pre-colonial texts is basically a venus alamanac of dates that mark the cycles of Venus, the Moon and the Sun in its calendric systems –and arguably other planets as well. From this text, the surviving calendar systems have been reconstructed. And though I have no proof in arguing that the Mexica consulted with the Maya on these calendric changes being that towers of books that would have proved or refuted my humble speculation were burned and perhaps we may never know how these exchanges happened.
Nonetheless, Mexica counts of the Venus cycle are still found in stone, the commonly known “Aztec Calendar” also known as the Sun Stone or the Eagle Stone. The small abstract flower glyphs at the rim of the sculpture are actually counts of Venus cycles. One flower represents the five cycles of venus which as was observed by the Mexica and perhaps most ancient Mesoamericans, as a four petals with a circle in its center. The time that it takes for this cycle to complete is 8 years. And, I did say I would spare you the mathematics but what is important here is that there is an understanding of the 5 station changes within one cycle of Venus.
Back to Quetzalcoatl, there is something missing in terms of how we reach a state of transmutation. And the answer to that missing piece is that two major archetypes complete our experience before reaching this state, the first is light and the second is the darkness.
The Venus morning star is called Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli in Mexicayotl. Tlahuiz meaning yellow, cal as in calli or home; pan derived of ipan again within or embodying; tecuhtli refers to divinity or guardian of. This translates to Gaurdian of the house of light. As yellow represents brightness of the sun or the east region in Mexicayotl –the doorway where we enter into our earth walk. Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is displayed as having a defleshed face to represent the state of being in between the spirit realm and the human realm. He is also almost always depicted smiling. This archetype represents the innocence in the will to love and be open-hearted. This is a very youthful energy and if ever you let yourself fall in love without fear and in complete faith and trust then you know what Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli energy feels like -when Venus is Direct.
Xolotl is another story. Xolotl is depicted as a dog and sometimes as a salamander (axolotl) and other monstrous representations of things unknown to humans. Xolotl in essence is a shape shifter. This is wherein the Venus retrograde applies. The shadow energy of Venus that forces us to revisit wounds and failures so they may be assessed and transmuted. Xolotl in nahuatl translates to servant, which is arguable. Other sources translate the word as head. What is true about xolotl is that is a trickster of sorts with very honorable intentions. In a very prominent creation story, it is said that Xolotl shape shifted into a dog and assisted Quetzalcoatl as a guide into the underworld to steal bones in order to create humanity. So yes, Xolotl is shady. It does after all exist in the underworld and did steal but for a great cause and in partnership with Quetzalcoatl.
Quetzalcoatl then is a synthesis of these two human realities the light and the dark. To be able to access both capacities of divine innocence and survival instincts for the higher good. The path of the beautiful serpent is to understand the whole without judgment and without attachment. To understand the totality of humanity and rejoice in it through song, dance, and art is the ultimate expression of Quetzalcoatl energy.
If, Venus retrograde was tough on you. Please take this awareness with you. Know honoring what exists in the shadows is also part of the path of enlightenment and truest expression of love –that which is human in all its folly as well as perfect in its divinity. Accept all of yourself and that of the other. We are all learning on this path and yet it is our choice what we do with our stories –whether we choose be unaware of them and rejoice in innocence, suppress the stories in the shadows or be inspired by our story enough to create beauty out if it all.
Loving yourself in all your humanity is the ultimate expression of love. And in believing you are worthy of love as is, you just wont settle for anything less than your total worth -the good, the bad and the resilient. It is in this journey of self love where we can truly learn how to be of service to others and our earth mother.