The Ecstasy of Melancholia ~ October 2nd-8th, 2017

“Come again! sweet love doth now invite

Thy graces that refrain

To do me due delight,

To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die,

With thee again in sweetest sympathy…”

-Lyrics from John Dowland’s

Come Again! Sweet Love Doth Now Invite (1597)

This week, the Sun moves into the middle of Libra season, where the scales of justice find their balance through skillful methods of conversation and refined artistic expression. With the Sun and Mercury in Libra, most matters of interest are becoming elevated by human intellect, tempering impulsivity with etiquette and manners.  

Upon Libra’s scales, the dignity of the individual must find perfect balance with the value of the whole of humanity. Thus, you can think of Libra season as the time when the cultural tastes and philosophical preferences of Renaissance humanism are quite favored.

The Full Moon in Aries on Thursday will offer you a climactic moment to find better balance between your own individual needs and the needs of others. Knowing that the neither the individual nor the collective can be fully sacrificed, accept the challenge to create harmony where there might normally be conflict.

The sign of Libra is ruled by Venus, highlighting the necessity of her influence already. But since the majority of aspects this week involve Venus as she trines Pluto, conjuncts Mars, and squares Saturn, it is safe to say that all the important lessons during this time will be learned through the wisdom of beauty and love.

Since Venus is currently transiting the sign of Virgo, some of last season’s end-of-summer melancholy may reappear. But Venus does not wallow in melancholy. Instead she creates a special mood and aesthetic expression through which love, art and beauty can be appreciated. Virgo may not be Venus’ most joyous placement, but allowing your sensual and aesthetic appreciation to mature through subtle discernments and perceptions is what this is week is all about.

Come again! that I may cease to mourn

Through thy unkind disdain;


In keeping with Libra season’s evocation of the Renaissance, it would be wise to make a quick study of the popular rise of melancholy as a fashionable aesthetic in art and popular culture.

Though there was a great confluence of ideas and scholarship that brought the aesthetic of melancholia into fashion, it is the humanist philosopher, Marsilio Ficino who is often credited with catalyzing this movement through a revival of Platonic ideas. Ficino was highly regarded for his translations of Plato into Latin and thus his interpretations of Plato became hugely influential upon the cultural attitudes of the Renaissance.

For now left and forlorn

I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die

In deadly pain and endless misery.

For centuries prior, despite the many miracles and prophecies described in the Bible, the Church had come to hold largely negative views towards ecstatic states of consciousness. Extreme levels of despair, bliss or prophesy were often interpreted as demonic.

All the night my sleeps are full of dreams,

My eyes are full of streams.

So, as a theologian, Ficino was greatly uplifted and inspired by the writings of Plato which described the prophetic and poetic states as being “divine frenzies”. In this manner, human genius was once again exalted as being a gift from the divine. The whole Renaissance can be thought of as a grandiose exploration of such divine frenzies through which human genius is born, leading the the explosion of art, philosophy and science that we still marvel a today.

My heart takes no delight

To see the fruits and joys that some do find

And mark the storms are me assign’d.

In his interpretation of Plato’s divine frenzies, Ficino made an important distinction about the potential in some states of melancholy, which had been previously thought to be dark and demonic. To describe melancholy he said:

“[It is} a kind of illumination of the rational soul through which God draws the soul slipping down to the lower world back to the higher…”

Thus, Ficino proposed that melancholy’s darkness might include an ecstatic principle, where the light of divinity can be realized. It is in this manner that melancholy became associated with the mark of genius during the Renaissance. As a result, an entire art movement arose to express and perform melancholia as being an aspect of genius.

By the late 16th and early 17th centuries, melancholia was the highest fashion in art, music, literature and also became a popular form of aristocratic persona. 

Gentle Love, draw forth thy wounding dart,

Thou canst not pierce her heart;

Though Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the most iconic example of melancholy genius in literature, there is nothing more expressive of the melancholic aesthetic as a vehicle for genius than the music of John Dowland, whose motto was Semper Dowland, simper dolens. (“Always Dowland, always mourning”)

Out alas, my faith is ever true,

Yet will she never rue

Nor yield me any grace;

In Dowland’s music, the Libran principle of harmony can be experienced through the senses, where dark moods are balanced by the light of transcendent reflection.

As the premier composer of the Elizabethan court, John Dowland, used the art of melancholy to characterize the virtues of divine love and deeper spiritual yearnings. A lover’s sadness was considered to be the most thoughtful state of furor divinus, where electric genius radiates from just behind the dark clouds.

For I, that do approve

By sighs and tears more hot than are thy shafts

Did tempt while she for triumph laughs.

In Dowland’s song, Come Again, Sweet Love Doth Now Invite, the despair of a rejected lover is described through poetic sighs and innuendoes, where dying itself serves as a reference to sexual climax. In this song, the melancholy subject of death becomes a vehicle to describe a fervent desire for ecstatic union with divine love.

I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die

In deadly pain and endless misery.

So this week, as Venus in Virgo as the preeminent influence in the heavens, let the art of melancholia inspire you to find transcendent bliss and beauty in every moment, knowing that your darkest moods herald a breakthrough back into the light.

Monday/Tuesday: Sweet Love Doth Now Invite

The beginning the week feature an exact trine between Venus in Virgo and Pluto in Capricorn. This follows the recent trine between Mars and Pluto, which intensified your sense purpose and greatly increased your motivation to clear a path for success.

Whenever a planet is touched by Pluto, a smoldering intensification erupts. Thus, with the attractive powers of Venus magnified by Pluto, your ability to magnetize your desires towards you should increase. What is it that you need or want? The roads that Mars/Pluto may have opened last week can now be used to carry many just rewards and extra enjoyments your way.

Your desire for bodily pleasure and intimacy may also increase, making your attention towards any sexual or romantic relationship more valuable at this time. Harmonious aspects between Venus and Pluto often offer an opportunity to deepen the respect and trust you have for your closest companions. But the darker revelations in Pluto’s tides may also offer some unpleasant knowledge about who is unworthy of your time and attention. In the name of your future happiness, use the beginning of the week to assess your relationships, whether that means growing closer or severing ties.

Wednesday/Thursday: That I May Cease to Mourn

In the middle of the week, Venus and Mars will conjoin in Virgo. Though they have been hovering very near each other for some time now, this conjunction marks an ecstatic union of opposites that the season of Libra exalts in. Thus, this is a very creative and procreative energy, where love and war unify into a moment of bliss. You can use the power offered by the intimacy of Venus and Mars for anything that requires a delicate blend of hardness and softness.

On Thursday, there will be a Full Moon in Aries, opposing the conjunction between Sun and Mercury in Libra. It may be tempting for the art of debate to degrade into temperamental arguments under the Arian Moon. With the influence of Mercury and the trine between Venus, Mars and Pluto unearthing hidden desires and motivations, you may want to retreat from conflicts unless you are prepared to be prodded into confessing more than you normally would.

If you don’t wish to reveal hidden feelings and personal opinions, then retreat for the sake of peace. However, a confrontation and a confession may also be of great benefit to you if you have been ignoring your needs and desires for too long.

The ultimate purpose of the Full Moon in Aries is to find a balance that exalts the individual while upholding the order of society. Whatever role you are given in striking some accord between these two ideals should be taken with a graceful sense of responsibility.

Friday/Saturday/Sunday: Draw Forth Thy Wounding Dart

On Sunday, this week of Venusian influence concludes with Venus making a square to Saturn in Sagittarius, darkening the starry-eyed gaze of romance with melancholia. Saturn challenges Venus, adding impediments to her desires to experience love, beauty and bliss. Thus, at the end of the week you may be given some cause to be sad about the development of your love life, feeling blocked from the fullness of your creativity or prevented from enjoying sensual pleasure.

But rather than assuming that this brief condition portends negative outcomes, think of the weekend as your time to appreciate the divine frenzy that melancholy can offer. Let your frustration become thoughtfulness, your sadness become poetry, and your sense of isolation become meditation.

Like any passing storm, this darkness will dissolve into light, once again offering you the sense of harmony and poise that is the gift of Libra season.