Oshun Ibu Kole & the Transit of Venus

Tonight, as many of you know, the planet Venus transits the face of the sun in a rare and spectacular passage that has loads of folks reaching for welder's goggles in order to witness Her majestic procession across the evening sky.

There are some great astrological interpretations of the meaning of this transit online, such as the article over at http://www.astrobarry.com, so I'll leave those be for now. Suffice it to say there is much debate about what is meant by this transit. My favorite interpretation is that this transit brings the return of the divine feminine, the return of the Goddess to humanity.

Now, in my opinion, the Goddess never went away in the first place. She is the womb of every woman. She is the blood of each body that was ever born of a woman. She is all nature. She is time and space. She is All. There is no God that came and kicked Her out of human consciousness. That is impossible, for life has always and will always spring from the body of the Goddess. Humans just willfully chose, or were coerced, into turning away from Her, ignoring Her, and/or demoting Her in public religion. She was "phased out" of public consciousness, but remains in the subconscious, expressing Herself in ways that are visible to those who dare to look beyond the surface of spirit into the truth of spirit.

This cycling in and out of deities in belief systems is not rare or unique- it has always happened, even within historic Goddess cultures, where one Goddess might supplant another Goddess over time due to the shifting of seasons and the evolution of popular concerns. I see the movement of spiritual beliefs and religions as oscillations in the Void, without beginning or end. There will never NOT be a debate over the gender and nature of the divine, and when we accept this, we then can rise above the need for petty fighting. Those who choose to fight about "who is more powerful: my/your God or my/your Goddess" are pretty much wasting valuable time they could be spending communing with said divine engaged instead in an enactment of the tendencies that keep us furthest from the divine: willful and unnecessary conflict and territoriality.

So when I observe the transit of Venus, I don't see it as "The Goddess returning." I do see it, however, as the Goddess taking the time and effort to make Herself visible and known to us, reminding us of the great love that is offered by The Mother as well as The Father (since the masculine tends to get the majority of press in modern religions.)

When I was young, if my mother started to feel like we were not valuing all she did for us, she would "go on strike" for a few days, leaving us to fend for ourselves for walking to school instead of a cozy car ride, to eat PB & J instead of her lovingly prepared dinners, and to generally figure out for ourselves (and we did, fast) exactly how much we had taken for granted that she did (which was a lot.) I strongly encourage anyone reading this who feels taken for granted by her family to do this kind of thing. It is a very loving and swift way to teach an unforgettable lesson about the value of the layers of domestic tending that are often given consciously by Mothers, and are received unconsciously by partners and children. Whenever her strikes were over, we all stood a bit stronger on our own feet, expressed more gratitude toward her, and all was right with the world once more (until we began to slip back into unconscious patterns, as we so often do.)

This brings me to thinking about Oshun Ibu Kole, the Vulture Mother. There are several slight variations on this story as it is told to Initiates and in books. The following account is compiled from those, and I have added my own inspiration from Oshun to the mix.

Oshun was not always the Vulture Mother. She was the first female Orisha on Earth, along with several male Orishas. Often, the male Orishas would sit in council and debate, discuss, and otherwise form plans for trying to rule the Earth and the lives of humans. When Oshun, who represents the fresh waters, the divine flow of life, and the natural forces of procreation and birth, would try to contribute to these discussions, the men would dismiss her as though she was unimportant.

Sometimes, you don't know what you've got till it's gone.

Oshun retreated from the discussions rebuffed and insulted, and went to go off on her own. She was "on strike." The whole Earth suffered without her, and this suffering was compounded when Olodumare, the Supreme One, grew angry with the rumblings and bumblings of the male Orishas. The Earth grew dry and scorched. The people suffered and cried for help. The male Orishas attempted to appeal to Olodumare, but Olodumare's rage was so hot that the male Orishas could not get past the heat of the Sun in order to appeal to him directly. Finally, the male Orishas went to find Oshun to ask for her help. Maybe, as the cool, sweet, watery one, she could get through to Olodumare.

Well, Oshun had to think about it, because she was pretty put out at having been treated with such disregard, but because she was filled with love for her people, she did not want to see them suffer. So she shifted into her bird form, an elegant peacock with shimmering feathers, and began to fly up, up, up into the heavens to visit Olodumare. She flew higher and higher, and as she flew she began to get warm. Olodumare lives beyond the Sun, and the rays of the Sun started to singe Oshun. Her pretty head feathers were scorched off and her tail feathers burned as she traveled past the Sun. By the time she reached Olodumare, she appeared as the vulture, with naked head, blackened feathers, and singed tail. In a dry, raspy voice she announced herself and pled for the well-being of her people. Olodumare was so impressed that Oshun had given up her beauty in exchange for saving humanity that he gave her a special role as his messenger. He honored her request, and humanity and the Earth were saved.

It is important to note here that while some people call Oshun, "the African Aphrodite/Venus," I see her as a distinct entity all her own, unbound by white, western codes of understanding. However, astrologically, the comparison bears note because Oshun represents some of the same fundamental principles as the planet Venus: attraction, beauty, and pleasure. As Aphrodite/Venus is the sea of humanity and the ocean of life, Oshun is the river of time and the flow of the cosmos. Today, as I observe the transit of Venus, I hold my beloved Aphrodite in my heart, and the river of blood singing in my veins is Oshun.

Oshun brought the salvation of sacrifice and faith along with her cooling, healing rains to nourish the people and land once again. All was restored in beauty, and well, as all is always well when we listen to the messages of the righteous mothers, when we include the voice of the Goddess in our considerations, and when we are willing to honor and acknowledge the sacrifices and risks made and taken for the sake of love.

As Venus transits the Sun today, she asks us, "For what would you give up everything? For love? Money? What sacrifices are you willing to make? What risks are you willing to take in order to return this world to wholeness?"

When we follow the example of Oshun, we hold our power in reserve until the moment when it will truly make a difference, rather than flinging it around casually or lording it over anyone. When we follow the example of Oshun, we know when the time comes that it is right and good to give everything, to pitch ourselves even into the Sun for the sake of restoration of goodness. When we follow the example of Oshun, we trust that blessedness will manifest on the other side of turmoil, and that life will continue to float on in the river of time, whether we are there to see how it unfolds or not.

Today, as you observe the transit of Venus, allow Oshun into your heart. Apologize to yourself (or others) for the times when you failed to listen to your heart and its truth of goodness. Make commitments to be of service to the greater good. Allow the possibility of blessed goodness to rise again in the wake of whatever sacrifices you know you must make in order to regain balance.

Hail to the  Vulture Queen, Oshun who gave her beauty that we might survive!  Hail to the beauty that cannot be destroyed! Hail to the one who knows the heart of Olodumare! Hail to the Great Mother, who goes forth on our behalf courageously! Hail to the one who reminds us that the Divine Feminine is ever-watchful, arising when needed within each heart and in the world, for the sake of humanity!

Ashé Oshun! Ashé Oshun! Ashé Oshun! Ashé Oshun! Ashé Oshun!