Venus, the Descent of Inanna and the 7 Gates to the Underworld, or is it Upperworld?
by Agent 12 – Julija Simas
After her maximum elongation from the Sun, post retrograde, as a morning star , Venus begins the next stage of her evolutionary cycle. From the emergent phase of youth and the stability of her maximum elongation, shining bright as the morning Star, Venus is full of growing confidence and drive and has a mission ahead that seeks accomplishment, fulfilment and the next great Venusian experience. Venus quite naturally shows us how to attract what we want and desire.
Whilst studying the Venus cycle, I was always perplexed as to the story of Inanna’s descent into the underworld and her journey there through the 7 gates and how it related to the cycle of Venus. It was generally understood by astrologers that Venus would be in the underworld only when retrograde. Yet when retrograde Venus is only not visible in our skies for about 8-16 days as she moves between Earth and in front of the Sun from our perspective. I always wondered where were the 7 gates and how does this work, as the retrograde was and still is, often referred to as the Descent of Inanna into the underworld, yet something didn’t quite fit. How could this relate to a 7 gated journey? It seemed like there wasn’t enough time, with the whole retrograde being 40 days and 40 nights, yet the disappearance from our skies only up up to 16 days.. Further into my searching, I noticed that there is a period of time that Venus disappears from our skies for much longer, on her way to the outer conjunction with the Sun. This is when she is moving very fast and keeping pace with the Sun, therefore travelling with its light and invisible to us for more that 60 days. It seemed this could be a far greater journey than the one she takes when nearing the Earth and retrograde.
It was not long after that I came across this in a book Astrology a New Generation, where astrologer Cary Caton(see link below), retells the story of the Inanna’s descent into the underworld, reflecting the cycle of Venus and her journey through the 7 gates before she gets there. Gary writes that the journey to the underworld begins with the first waning Moon conjunction with Venus after her max elongation as the morning star, which takes seven months, one month per gate. It is a truly beautiful connection and one that helps us to connect further to the planet, Venus and connecting ourselves with her cycle throughout our lives. Shamanic astrologers use the 7 gates to begin after Venus brightest apparition as the morning star. The time between these two point is about 36 days.
The story of Innana’s descent into the underworld is a very old tale stemming from ancient Sumeria, a deep and powerful myth that is reflected by the journey of Venus toward her outer conjunction with the Sun. Physically during this journey she lowers in the sky each night after maximum elongation and also loosses brightness, appearing to descend from our perspective. The whole synodic cycle of Venus can be seen as a complete journey of 19 months and looked at in stages as the diagram below depicts. The pink lines denoting her conjunctions with the Sun and maximum elongation points. The shaded areas are when she is invisible to us. The black area is where she is heading now.
The story of the descent into the underworld goes a bit like this, although there a a few different yet similar versions. Innana is sent to a funeral in the underworld. In order to enter the underworld she must prepare herself, purify herself, by giving up one piece of her clothing or jewellery at each of the 7 gates she passes. She enters the underworld stripped bare, completely exposed, is then killed by her dark counterpart and sister Erishkigal (an analogy to our shadow selves) she is hung upside-down on a hook for 3 days and is resurrected by magical beings who sprinkle the bread and water of life 60 times to give her, her life back.
In order to ascend, back out of the underworld, she must also sacrifice something, in this case she chooses her husband who has taken the throne in her absence. She ascends again and at each 7 gates is given back the equivalent piece of clothing or jewels where she is then restored back to full brightness as the Evening Star after 7 Moon, months and 7 gates, climaxing at her maximum elongation as the evening star, reinstated as the Queen of the heavens at her brightest phase again. All this reflecting Venus growing in height and in brightness again in evening skies.
The story reflects the cycle of Venus as she begins her descent into the underworld, after the max elongation as morning star approx 72 days after her retrograde conjunction with Sun. The next 7 months of Venus Moon (waning Moon) conjunctions begin the descent of the Goddess into the underworld. The 7 subsequent Venus Moon conjunctions denote the 7 gates of preparation for the underworld, where at each gate she removes an item of clothing or jewellery. Entering the underworld when approx 10 degrees way from the superior conjunction which takes another month.
Here she is completely exposed, at this stage of her cycle Venus is in full bloom, so to speak, like the full Moon. As all other times during the cycle of Venus we see her as a gibbous shape or a crescent shape, and we never see her full. So the be full a a time when we can’t see her adds another depth to the story. To become full of oursleves, true, authentic, whole is a journey we go through alone. Here Venus is fully exposed to the Gods, stripped down to her bare bones, with nothing to hide behind and no-one protect her expect the real, true and the authentic self. This is her time away with the Gods, it’s a very private passage, away from mundane world, be it an underworld or an upperworld experience, it is nevertheless a passage of empowerment. It is a passage of letting go, transformation and renewal. At the retrograde phase 9.5 mths earlier we work toward readjustments in our lives and move to start afresh, at this stage, we deliver the goods and prove to ourselves we can do it and who we are as if we are making a pact with our inner god, guide, muse. So consider where you may be heading and the challenge ahead as we pass through these 7 gates.
Please note an 8th waning Moon conjunction occurs around the same time or very close to the superior conjunction, yet Venus is already in the underworld/upperworld, and invisible in our skies, yet could be considered like the 8th gate.
Contemplate yourself a each gate, what would you take off symbolically to reflect and accentuate your own journey. Perhaps something that you may wear as a shield, a mask, something that you feel maybe preventing you from being your true self , perhaps your make up, your clothes, your jewellery, a partner, any of those things/relationships, entanglements that Venus represents that add to our sense of self worth , self love and self value. The whole experience is about helping you define what is truly important and authentic. Remember that the journey is also an inner one, private, it is being witnessed only by the God’s and your shadow side, no one else. Although no doubt it will be reflected in your outer world as well.
It is helpful at this stage to consider, the next star point, Venus conjunct the Sun, is Jan 9th 2018, conjunct Pluto. Think back at what happened for you 8 years ago, Jan 2010 when this star point occurred last time, or 4 years ago in 2014 June, when Venus was making this point here, retrograde. It will give you an idea of what trail/experience you may need to relive, or re-visit, re experience. What astrological house of your chart does this occur for you, what area of life is being targeted by this next star point, you could see it as a star gate, a point we cross through in which life will never be the same again.
At each gate visualize the journey with your own symbols. What do you need to take off to reveal the most authentic you! What mask ? What may you be hiding behind? A false relationship, an unfulfilling job, something that is making you unhappy, preventing you to truly unfurl in life’s journey?
Contemplate the journey ahead with Venus as your guide. What goal are you moving toward, what mission, what area of life needs more fulfilment, work on it no until Jan 9th 2018. At each Moon /Venus conjunction let go of something, one thing at a time, as you move toward wholeness and the necessary cyclical transformation of personal growth and evolution.
Pick 7 symbols, your crown, your earrings, your necklace, your breastplate, your measuring rod, your loin cloth
Gate 7 – Her crown her godhood, her connection to heaven, the crown chakra.
Gate 6 – The small lapis beads earrings her sense of magic and ability to manifest, third eye.
Gate 5- Double strand of beads necklace, her rapture of illumination, her throat chakra.
Gate 4 – Breastplate called “Come, man, come” her emotional heart, her heart chakra.
Gate 3 – Golden hip girdle, her ego, her solar plexus.
Gate 2 – Lapis measuring rod in her hand, her will, at the level of her genitals.
Gate 1 – Garment of ladyship, breechcloth, her sex role, her root chakra.
The dates for the current descent 2017, and her conjunctions with the waning moon as morning star are:
Take the time to reflect on your journey forward and make time and space at every Venus Moon conjunction over the next 7 months, to contemplate and adjust your journey forward. The question is though is this a journey to the underworld, or to an upperworld? As Venus is moving to be furthest away from earth, she moves toward the heavenly realm, furthest away from us , a depiction of the land perhaps of the Gods, a place we visit alone, a personal journey, a personal quest. Her Venus represnets a search for a more divine aspect of herself, in ancient Greece known as the heavenly Venus she was known as Aphrodite Urania, as discussed here,, when closest to the Earth(and retrograde), Venus was known as Aphrodite Pandemos.
It is important to recreate this story to adapt it to your life and current experience. It could be a journey that’s more confronting for some than others, but either way it is a journey that must be taken and can be taken in context of what is emerging in one’s life. What would you like to deliver to the Gods, by Jan 9th 2018? Consider what needs perhaps to be let go of, a bad relationship, an unhealthy work place, perhaps it will be a delivery of a project, a personal goal. a career goal. Either way it is through this stage that Venus is strengthened, moving fast and on a mission to achieve and activate what was contemplated back during the retrograde in March 2017. As Venus’ journey always depicted a transformation, what will transform you as you enter this divine place?
You have some time and 7 gates to contemplate and remember Venus is a symbol of what we want in our lives and her movements show how we attract that into our lives. Pay attention!