Venus Bites Neptune: the Romanticizing of Pain & Suffering
Some lovers find pain fascinating, a bit sacred and even beautiful in romance and sexuality.
Such people — like former erotic cutter Angelina Jolie, the original masochist Leopold von Sacher Masoch, the ear-slicing Vincent Van Gogh, and myself — have strong Venus-Neptune aspects.
Any art with struggle, loss, tragedy and intense pain — whether emotional or physical in texture — I am drawn to.
My best romances have been tragic. It seems like that which is beautiful is made overwhelmingly so by the contrast of pain.
Can one know light without dark?
Painless people would be repulsed by this. Heretics! They do not understand.
I believe the strong mesh of Venus energy — which is romantic and idealistic– with Neptune, Pisces, or the 12th House, which deals in self-sacrifice, self-destruction, loss, and suffering, can lay a foundation for the native to not only enjoy, but idealize and romanticize pain.
Such Neptunian people see the beauty in pain, the way others cannot, particularly if they have exacerbating factors affecting this Venus-Neptune bond, like Grand Trines, stelliums, or contact with Jupiter. (I have Jupiter in a stellium with both these planets).
Besides the conjunction, the gentle harmony of the Venus-Neptune trine and sextile can yield this embrace of the pleasure-pain culture. Squares and oppositions — not so much.
That energy is so harsh and sometimes aggressive that it’s simply too violent. (there’s an example below).
S & M astrology: The Origin of Sadism and Masochism in Romance
This week — Jan. 27 — marks the birth anniversary of Leopold Sacher-Masoch, who is known for fashioning a private culture of erotic pain enjoyment. If you want to celebrate his birth, get some hickory and give your lover a playful swat.
Sacher-Masoch’s name gives us the area of eroticism know as masochism, which is based on the love of receiving of pain. He had his Venus (love) in the sign of Pisces (pain) in the first house (making this mesh of energy an intricate part of his personality). It was semi-sextile Neptune which was concentrated in the 12th house right next to his Sun (ego) and so his lust for romantic pain and hurting the self was magnified.
Neptunian people must suffer, and being in love is no exception.
Astrology of Van Gogh:Pisces, Pain and Paint
Vincent Van Gogh is known for the story of cutting off his ear lobe in agony over being deserted by a fellow painter Paul Gauguin for whom he was rumored to have had unrequited love. Before you say no they were just friends, do know there are stories that Van Gogh would stand over him and watch him sleep at night and that he stalked him when the bond was on the verge of break up. That he loved the charismatic Gauguin deeply in some capacity is not in dispute. That he wounded himself while heartbroken over their estrangement and while arguing with Gauguin is not in dispute. Van Gogh had both his love planet of Venus and Neptune in the sacrificial sign of Pisces. Venus was square Jupiter which recklessly expanded and likely rationalized the inclination toward self-sacrifice for love and it was conjunct Mars which give him the impetus to carry out the deed.
Because his Piscean Venus is in the 10th house on his Midheaven, I’m not surprised that it dominates his career image and lore. The story is inseparable from his life’s work as a painter.
Astrology of Angelina Jolie: Portrait of a former Cutter
Angelina Jolie, a former cutter, has her Venus in the 12th house , which is affiliated with Neptune. Venus is very much a part of her identity because it sits on her Ascendant. Being located on this external axis makes this conduit to pleasure-pain have physical impact (as the first house did for Von Sacher-Masoch and Mars did for Van Gogh). Anything on the Ascendant has a physical expression.
Angelina used to have sex with her ex husband Johnny Lee Miller using knives in bed. Her Pluto-Moon opposition and Neptune opposite her Sun are factors that exacerbate her emotional craving for pain.
I make no secrets that I’m a huge Angelina admirer.When I read about her predilections long ago, they thrilled me. As a Neptune-Venus girl, I understood them. I’ve never cut, but I am attracted to danger and I get the sensation and the theory behind cutting, thanks to an accident I had once. I was actually heartbroken one weekend with so much inner pain that was all the more overwhelming because I could not release and give concrete form to it. I was cleaning out my basement to take my mind off of things and brushed up against a glass table that had a broken edge. I gasped. As soon as the blood started running, there was the strange mix of physical pain with my emotional pain and a sense of euphoria — due to the body dispatching endorphins to the site of trauma.
It was beautiful frankly and in that moment, as the pain rushed out of my body to merge with the endorphins, I totally got it. And I knew that I would forever have the sight of blood and the sting of the cut, its lingering scar to tattoo the moment, to give concreteness to pain which before had been too abstract to process.
I do not advocate cutting, let me say. But I want to talk about it here for any Venus-Neptune types who may be confused by their longings. I think creating art is the best way to physically release and concretize dark emotions — although, yes, cutters, I understand it lacks the relish of actual physical pain.
Angelina Jolie is also remembered for wearing Billy Bob Thornton’s blood in a vial around her neck. People said she was crazy. No. They’re crazy, I thought. My Neptune-Venus link said if you love someone …why would you not want to pierce yourself (maybe pierce them!), shed blood for them, exchange it and hang it next to your heart as a symbol of undying love? (Venus-Neptune =love and idealized sacrifice)
Neither Angelina nor I have earth planets, so getting lost in such fantastical ideals and the world of Neptune is probably extra easy.
I’m glad she found some stability by turning to her Cancer Ascendant and exploring motherhood by adopting children. However, Venus still expresses its 12house influence on that axis. Is anyone surprised that she mothers orphans who’ve had their own traumas and pain. She’s made statements that she actually feels stronger sentiment toward those children than her own. People gasped at that. How could she say that! How could she dismiss Shiloh as a personality-less blob! I’m sure Angelina has always loved Shiloh, but unless the child has suffered she might not appease the innate pull of Angelina’s Venus toward the 12th house style of love. With the 12th house being the realm of the unconscious, I don’t think she even realizes she slighted Shiloh by expressing love in this way.
Since we mentioned Van Gogh, I might as well mention Gauguin’s related natal predicament. His natal Venus was also linked to Neptune in Pisces — but in an tense square. There was no romantic harmony like in the other examples I’ve mentioned. The square offered a sinister expression of love-pain combination that included straight violence. Not only did he abuse his wife, but his paintings are themed with glorified violence and abusive sexual encounters. Art and Love are all Venus and Neptune forces them to pay for love with suffering under the energy of the harsh square.
Author-Biographer Nancy Mowll Mathews wrote a book on Gauguin’s erotic life and had this to say about his blend of pain and love: “He did a wood carving which is usually translated into English as “be in love,” but it actually means “be a lover.” What’s happening is, the self-portrait — a creature — has his hand grasping the woman in a kind of gesture of forcefulness. It’s the ugliness and monstrousness of this relationship between the man and the woman that is violent, and yet the title, “Be a Lover and You Will Be Happy,” is even more perverse. It’s not what we think of being in love, all this useless romance. This is hardcore physical force. And ugliness.”
My question would be useless to whom? Ugly to whom? I think there are infinite types of alternative yet normal love styles and erotic styles. Gauguin also had a Pluto involvement (trine Neptune). And when Pluto is involved … to me the concoction of pleasure pain can shift to simply an orgy of power… an erotic lust for power which has nothing to do with the romantic ideal of suffering beautifully for love which this post is about.
Pluto doesn’t know beauty and idealism in the way that Venus does.
Astrology of Sadism: The Role of Pluto & Scorpio in Sadism in Sex and Love with Pain
Case in point: The Marquis de Sade. He is the antithesis of Masoch. I don’t think he romanticized pain and suffering. I think his was just about a lust for power. He was thrice vexed by Pluto: A Scorpio Ascendant, Pluto conjunct that Ascendant (trine his Neptune), and a Sun in the 8th house. There was no way he was going through life without sexualizing power or blending love and power play. That to me is a little different than sexualizing pain and suffering and treating them as lofty, sacred, tragic ideals.
I do not claim him among the cult of pain worshipers. He was perhaps a pain exploiter.
In Memory of Authentic Pleasure Pain Lovers
The culture of beautifying suffering has been pushed to such extreme limits today that it’s almost a mockery with no sense of delicacy or true appreciation. Because the romance has been removed from it in many cases, people make up for the vacuum of feeling with simply more extreme pain. Doesn’t really work. And many practitioners are poseurs who have no Venus-Neptune connection and are merely doing what they find to be cool, or rebellious, or defiant.
I still think artists depict pleasure of suffering best. And many artists have strong Pisces and Neptune energy and have fed what has emerged as “artists’ melacholy.” They sing of the daggars of romance & the Great Love that abandons them. Sometimes they abandon it. Over the years history traces how many artists have committed suicide after spells of love and it’s no surprise that Venus-Neptune energy occasionally leads them to climb to that frenzied climax. I have mentioned before that my first boyfriend committed suicide. I will disclose now that he was a Pisces musician with Neptune square Venus & trine Pluto (which was in opposition his Sun).
ⓒ Synthia Rose & Scorpioland, January 2009
© 2009 – 2017, Synthia L. Rose. All rights reserved.
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