I want to strip down to my soul, removing every layer of my false self to lie down naked at love's door. I want to open my heart so wide that it could be penetrated from inside out. I want to writhe and squirm in the discomfort of being fully seen in my darkest, most vulnerable state. I want to surrender to love itself and let it enter me through every crevice--my heart deep-throated with the affection and care it deserves.
"The most beautiful kind of naked is vulnerability." -Simi Fromen, poet
But I don’t, I have been a phony lover, stingy with my intimacy and devoted to hiding behind niceties and avoiding confrontation. This is a lesson in Venus, the intimacy we all crave so desperately on the other side of fear and avoidance. Life is lonely without intimacy—we feel disconnected from others and ourselves.
"We're lonely, but we're afraid of intimacy." - Sherry Turkle
The word intimacy comes from Latin initimum, meaning "innermost core." This work of unveiling to me seems like the entire spiritual practice of being human. It breaks my heart knowing that the most in love I have ever been with someone and I was still too afraid to lie down my heart. Unfortunately, most of us only cultivate intimacy in romantic partnership creating a dependency upon lovers for so many of our emotional needs. And ironically very few of us actually ever create intimacy there either. We may rely on physical intimacy as a substitute for the emotional depth and connection created by true intimacy (and by "we" of course I mean "me").
"The opposite of loneliness is not togetherness, but intimacy." - Richard Bach
I find myself avoiding intimacy and yet it is the thing I want most in the world. I've noticed there are many ways to avoid it, but here are some of mine:
- Talking or disassociating physically during uncomfortable moments instead of feeling my discomfort
- Over giving and not asking for what I want in reaction to the fear of receiving
- Avoiding confrontation and not telling someone when they hurt my feelings
- Using judgment to create distance when I what want more is to feel connected
- Valuing my independence and downplaying my desire for partnership
- Rushing through physical intimacy instead of slowing down for fear of being overwhelmed
- Dating many people, or only seeing someone for a short time to avoid intimacy developing
- Be interested in people who are unavailable emotionally and otherwise
How do we move more into intimacy in all our relationships?
- Being willing to be uncomfortable
- Saying things that may upset others (see Osho below)
- Staying present, listening without distraction
- Good self-care, learning to stand in your own power and speak your feelings
- Slowing down to feel discomfort
- Resisting the urge to constantly please others and bring focus back to ourselves
However, though the lists above are about how to cultivate intimacy with others, ultimately the question is "Why do we avoid intimacy?" While the answer may be different for everyone...I think it boils down to fear. Fear kills love and with it, intimacy. It takes true courage to trust yourself (and others) enough to feel safe and lean into the discomfort intimacy requires. Lack of intimacy is easy, people do it all the time. Sex and passion are easy, so are avoidance and fear. They are easy and also lonely and unfulfilling.
VENUS SYNODIC CYCLE
Just like us, Venus has her own cycles of being seen and hiding called her synodic cycle, or cycle of light. Every 1.6 years she moves through different positions in relationship to the moon and sun, and with it, her light and visibility changes for those of us on Earth.
Astronomically, Venus has three major phases in her synodic cycle:
• Morning star/Oriental position (~260 days, same as human gestation period)
• Conjunct the sun and invisible to Earth-beings (60-90 days)
• Evening star/Occidental position (~240 days)
Venus begins each cycle in the underworld in conjunction with the Sun (7-10 days), whichever sign she rises in and appears as morning star begins the new cycle lasting for a total of 1.6 years (~584 days). The moons in the image below correspond to conjunctions with the waning crescent moon.
Mythologically speaking each of these phases corresponds to a phase of the Sumerian goddess Inanna’s journey after rising as morning star (whichever sign sets the tone for the rest of the cycle):
- Descent as Morning Star
- Ascent as Evening Star
As Sylvia Brinton Perera notes in one of my favorites Descent into the Goddess, around the world there exist many myths about the decent of a goddess such as Japanese Izanami and more famous Greek Kore-Persephone (I wrote about her here). Inanna is the Sumerian queen of heaven and Earth and later variations from Akkadian are referred to with Ishtar.
Last July I wrote about her descent into the underworld and initiation into her shadow as she surrendered to her darkness. On her journey she is stopped each gate the goddess must remove a piece of her regalia/clothing, which symbolizes giving up her defenses and personas from the upperworld. In the underworld, they are of no use as our shadow we cannot hide. These gates are said to refer to different levels of consciousness or aspects of the feminine, according to mythologist and philosopher, Erich Neumann. Each gate has a large significance and instead of diving into each one, I will just make note of them below.
This Venusian striptease is the act of vulnerability and intimacy itself…to be willing to be seen in both our messiest/darkness and shiniest. All of us have the phases of Venus and Inanna’s journey away from and then into the light and darkness. We all go in and out of being seen, of spending time in our own depths--feeling exposed and then rising into power. This is the dance of the lover, Venus, Inanna in all of us.
Last month on July 13 Venus began her ascent from the underworld as she separated from the Sun into her own light. She ascends to her throne as ruler and queen and entered her first gate on August 3, 2016. Each gate she passed on her descent she passes through again and she receives something she had to leave behind, reclaiming a part of herself and her identity needed to return to the upper world.
Venus was conjunct the sun and invisible to us from April 30-July 13 of this year. (Thank you to Cayelin Castell and Emily Trinkaus for the dates and clothing articles associations.) Here are the important dates in this cycle, more on the archetypal nature of this Venus in Leo cycle soon:
-Heliacal Rise: August 21, 2015 Venus at 19 degrees Leo
-Descent: September 10, 2015-April 6, 2016
-Underworld: April 30-July 13, 2016
-Ascent: July 13-February 28, 2017
• August 3, 2016: Gate 1 - Regain Royal Robe
• September 3, 2016: Gate 2 - Bracelet
• October 3, 2016: Gate 3 - Ring of Power
• November 2, 2016: Gate 4 - Breast Plate
• December 3, 2016: Gate 5 - Necklace
• January 2, 2017: Gate 6 - Royal Staff
• January 31, 2017: Gate 7 - Crown
• February 28, 2017: Gate 8 - Life of Intent/Purpose
-Transition between cycles/Mini-underworld: March 18-31, 2017
-Heliacal rise: March 31, 2017 begins new cycle of Venus in Aries
ASCENT TO THE THRONE
Yesterday as Venus crossed the first gate of her ascent and return to the throne, I felt myself more and more ready to unveil as an act of surrender to love and greater intimacy. To honor the act of the emotional striptease as my spiritual practice. Venus and Inanna’s vulnerability in the sky was on view for all to see, her light going in and out as she regains intimacy with herself to then share with us as the morning and evening star.
I spent years dating men who were safe, who couldn't offer me the depth I wanted. Men I wasn't attracted to so that I wouldn't be hurt. Men whom I didn't like that much so that when it ended I wouldn't feel much. Truth is, I am ready to be seen, to step into discomfort, ready to have my heart burst open with connection and intimacy. To be a leader in a messy, vulnerable love revolution full of connection and radiant love. Most of all, to be a lover, to women, to men, to all who crave the intimacy we all yearn for so much. This is the lover's process…to unveil herself/himself for love over and over again despite fear or discomfort. To risk exposure and in doing so shine my own brilliant light in reverence to Venus herself.
"If it is frightening, let it be frightening, but go into it. The fear will disappear. The only way to drop fear is to go into the very thing of which you are afraid...as the fear disappears, you will be suprised that darkness is not that dark, it has its own luminosity...light is prose, darkness is poetry."-OSHO, Intimacy: Trusting Onself and the Other