Monique Pommier © 1997
Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters, its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart. 
Mercury falls in Pisces. In Pisces, Venus is exalted. In the sign in which Mercury “falls,” having completed its task to disappear in the light of the Sun, Venus finds its exaltation: the unifying light of the soul irradiates reality.
As the veil that blinded Tobit is rent, his spiritual eye opens to the true face of the world — the inner face of reality that looms in the enlightened eye of the soul: “If you return to him from the bottom of your heart and soul, he exclaims, then he will return to you and will no longer hide His Face… A bright light will illumine all lands on earth… Jerusalem shall be built anew.” 
This event in the life of Tobit speaks to what biblical and esoteric teachings refer to as the second birth —”Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The “new Jerusalem” amidst “illumined lands” is a symbolic expression of this “kingdom of God”, which is the kingdom of soul, hidden behind humanity’s coarse mind and opaque heart.
The second birth is described by as “the moment where light flashes out and vision comes with increasing power.” The ajna center has “made a contact” with the head center, the “seer” with the “seen,” and the new “City” of the transfigured man begins to reflect the face of God.The unifying power of Venus (also known to rule the ajna center) is exalted. The mercurial, discriminative mind “falls” in the light that exalts the realization of union.
Esoterically, Venus is the planet of love as the substance of the soul, of beauty as its harmony, art as its talent, attraction as its grace, proportion and rhythm as its intelligence. It is the principle of “relatedness,” which is the expression of the soul of the world, the feminine aspect of Divinity.
Venus is the vibratory field of resonance between “this” and “that,” “me” and “you,” ego and soul, outer appearance and inner life, unit and universe. Bearing on its crest the latent spark of love, holding in its core the latent fire of soul, this vibrant substratum of reality can be perceived as a subtle, omnipresent awaitingness for mutual “relevance” to surge between indifferent parts or polarized dimensions of life. When resonance is kindled — whether between beings, or between ego and soul in a creative process or a moment of grace, it opens the way to the latent vibrancy and radiance of life.
We all have the familiar experience of witnessing such Venus occurrences when, for example, the relative soul indifference which underlies “socializing” (lesser Venus) finds itself kindled to genuine relatedness and soulful interest; or when artistic “activity” is stepped up to a heightened feeling state which confers a soulful quality to the work; or when a landscape of nature, catching soul in one’s deep response to its beauty, gathers the momentum and vibrancy of a life-filled entity.
The soul hidden in every world element awaits to catch light in the human soul and reveal an underlying “unanimity” of being.
The all-pervading, though as of yet quite latent field and flow of relatedness that Venus represents in the world-fabric is best essentialized in the symbol ∞, which evokes the structure of the Ajna center (ruled by Venus ), or in the symbol 8, the number of the Christ— the soul principle. The fact that we have made the former – ∞ – our symbol for infinity shows how the life of relationship which animates the universe is the substance of its (relative) infinity.
Venus exalted in Pisces — the Emerald Grail of the Labour of Evolution
Within a temple Hercules made offerings to Helius, the god of fire in the sun. For seven days he meditated, and then a favour was bestowed upon him. A golden chalice fell upon the ground before his feet. He knew within himself that this bright object would enable him to cross the seas…
If one holds the mind’s eye in the light of this seed-statement –“Venus is exalted in Pisces” – thoughts and images come, that give substance to what Venus’ “exaltation” in Pisces reveals about the energy of the planet (in other words, the intention “at work in” it, its “energos“) and its role in the consciousness (universal and individual).
Governing the center between the eyebrows, the Ajna center, Venus is associated with the emerald which, according to the hermetic tradition, fell from the forehead of Lucifer when the “Bearer-of-Light” fell from heaven. The Venusian character of the light–bearing emerald is also suggested by the name “Venus-Luciferus” given to the morning star. The angels carved the emerald into a vase, which became the chalice that the Christ used to consecrate wine as his blood. In this same vase, Joseph of Arimathea collected the blood of the crucified Christ. This “Holy Grail” was later carried across the seas to Britain, where it became the sign and elusive object of the medieval quests — the symbol of the redeeming presence of the Christ irradiating the earth and attracting knighted humans to the “castle of the soul.” Through this tradition, we begin to see how the Piscean theme of redemption and salvation is woven in the depths of Venus.
The Grail story of the Luciferian emerald is intriguingly reminiscent of the twelfth labour of Hercules – the Piscean labour  – in which a chalice occupies a similar central place and redeeming function. This last labour begins with a golden chalice falling from above in front of Hercules. Hercules embarks in the vessel and sails across the tossing seas to the “dark place where Great Illusion is enthroned.” He strikes the three-headed monster Geryon and endeavors to take his “red cattle” to “the Sacred City,” braving mountains and evil encounters, at times losing his way in search of errant wanderers. Having succeeded in this task, he offers the cattle – now gathered up in the golden Vessel – in sacrifice to Athena, the goddess of Wisdom. His Teacher then greets him with the following words: “Welcome O son of God who is also a son of man. The jewel of immortality is yours. By these labours have you overcome the human and put on the divine.”
The solar chalice, the instrument of this redemptive labour (Pisces), acts as a link (Venus) between the Divine fire of spirit (“the god of fire in the sun”), and the instinctual human “nature” it carries to the goddess of wisdom, or, symbolically, brings to grow and bear wisdom from within. The link between the divine fiery essence of the world and the light of wisdom to emerge from the human “kind,” is the soul nature. The soul is the instrument that ensures the gestation and birth of the divine in the human.
Both stories – of Hercules and Lucifer “the bearer of light”- hint at the origin (the solar realm “above”), the function (gathering as in a “chalice”), and the essence (wisdom) of the great Linker and solarizing agent of humankind — Venus. The golden cup that gathers and “uplifts” the herd “on the altar” of wisdom, is suggestive of the “ex-altation” of Venus inthe Piscean dimension of evolution. So is the emerald-Grail of Lucifer, which lifted on a cross, eons later, as the living chalice of the Christ, will lift the earth to the solar “father”, “the god of fire in the sun.”
Biblical sages (Tobit) and mythical heroes (Hercules or Grail knights) are led through their “labours” to a “sacred city” of Light. City of Wisdom (Athena), City of Peace (Jeru-salem) or Grail castle are filled with the same revelation of Light and realization of Life (or “immortality”).
In its biblical version, the “labour” of human evolution (“God said: in toil you shall eat… by the sweat of your face…”) originates with the fall of Lucifer’s emerald – an emerald of immortality (“The serpent said to the woman: you will not die“) – into new-born man. This Fall is the birth of man as a human being.
Man’s labours end, in the Greek version, with a similar “jewel of immortality,” presented to the one who completes his human journey in Pisces (His teacher says to Hercules: “The human labours ended, your cosmic task begins”). The same precious stone of “Life” glows at the Venusian source of the human labours and at their Piscean consummation.
Evolution brings about the unfoldment of a jewel of immortality latent from the beginning. The “fallen” gift of self-knowledge grows into the gift of wisdom, as the lesser nature is “offered” to the “immortal,” divine identity. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, is indeed “A-thanatos” — the one who does not die.
If we turn to other biblical visions of the beginnings and ends of the universal adventure, such as those offered in the contemplations of Solomon or John, we again encounter “Wisdom,” or an “emerald-like rainbow,” illumining the divine presence to which they bore witness, “around the throne of God.” Solomon contemplated this presence in the causes of the world, John in the “revelation” of its ends.
There in heaven, John describes in the Apocalypse, stood a throne, with one seated on the throne…and around the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald.” 
Solomon praises Wisdom as a being who shares the throne of God from the Beginning:
Give me the wisdom that sits by your throne… she who knows your works and was present when you made the world. Giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality, and immortality brings one near to God. 
The wisdom that infuses the beginnings and claims the ends of the world-labour inspires and guides the long journey from “beginning” to “end.” It is the timeless cause of all that was or seeks to be, and the essential Reason which “holds” in its logic (the soul substance of a Logos) the threads of evolution, beyond what man’s brain logic may perceive as random sequences.
Gathering “the human to the Divine,” the chalice of Hercules and the Grail of the Fisher King are the same holy jewel in which the reality of Venus and the mystery of Pisces appear to merge. Pisces sets aglow in the depths of Venus the symbol of a sacrificial vessel — a grail destined to bring the human nature back to its source through the seas of evolution.
Venus is the growing capacity of the “bright object” from the sun – the soul – to gather worlds to wisdom.
In the wonderful literality of the physical organism, we see how the “veins” of “Venus” ceaselessly “vessel the blood” back to the heart, in the same way that in the soul life, the red cattle or the fiery horses of the astral nature are harnessed, redirected and returned to the source — knighted to the service of the Grail or “brought to wisdom.”
This journey of “return” and redemption (Pisces) reveals the attractive, “irresistible” force of Wisdom which, from the “sacred City” of the soul world, slowly instructs the human consciousness, illumines its understanding (its capacity to “stand- under” it all, as a vessel indeed), and brings its instinctual nature – its “herd” – to “sacrifice itself”.
A Philo-sopher — Solomon
What Wisdom is, I will tell you…
in her is an intelligent spirit, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, clear, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, invulnerable, sure…all-powerful, overseeing all, she passes through all things by reason of her purity. 
Interestingly, the life of Solomon, “whose wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt,” is woven in the story of the Grail. It is also centered on the construction of a great Temple — to this day a central symbol for the Jewish soul.
In the filigree of the legend that connects Solomon with the Grail stream, and behind the wisdom he epitomized and externalized in his temple, is the story of the soul principle symbolized in the Grail and its castle, also set in a “holy land.” The soul is the inner “temple of God,” the temple of the monad.
The legend says that, on its mysterious journey from Lucifer’s emerald to the Christ’s chalice, the Grail found itself in the hands of the queen of Sheba, who brought it to Solomon. King Solomon thus pertains, symbolically, to the lineage of the Grail bearers or Grail-kings, from Noah and Melchisedek to the Christ. If Noah built and sailed an “arkful” of mankind through the waters of the flood, and if Melchisedech brought to Abraham a chalice of wine from the Mysteries of the Sun, it is for the wisdom of his heart (Venus) and the edification of a temple that Solomon remains most illustrious.
Famous for his wise judgment in daily human affairs, Solomon also had a profound knowledge of the world mysteries. Many pages of his “Book of Wisdom” convey his intimacy with Wisdom as a Being:
“All that is hidden, all that is plain, I have come to know, instructed by Wisdom who designed them all … the structure of the world and the properties of the elements… the cycles of the year and the positions of the stars, the natures of animals and the instincts of wild beasts, the powers of spirits and the thoughts of men, the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots… Yes, she is an initiate in the knowledge of God, making choice of the works he is to do … she it was I loved and searched for from my youth; I desired to take her for my bride, and I fell in love with her beauty…” I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light, because her radiance never cease. 
Solomon speaks here as the true philo-sopher, moved by the “love of Sophia,” the Wisdom of the world-soul, which reveals itself in the divine temple of the natural world — to the intuition of the individual soul.
Sophia is the being who holds the world in the profound, unfathomable cup of Reason — the Reason to Be of each and of the whole (“…wisdom, the active cause of all things”); the relationship between all things and beings which pervades the world with beauty and meaning. Wisdom “structures” the creation and instructs the evolution of consciousness. She “educates” (lit. “leads”) the human being to love and to know in his heart and to build her temple within himself.
Solomon’s heart wisdom typifies the Venus-Vessel, whose exalted function is to illumine the human path— in the redeeming (Pisces) Grail, the Herculean chalice, the temple of Jerusalem or the saving Ark of Noah:
When the earth was drowned, it was Wisdom who saved it, piloting the virtuous man on a paltry piece of wood… And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and people were saved by wisdom.”
The exaltation of Venus from light-bearer to light giver: the emerald as philosophical stone
Such was the power of the wisdom contained in the well named “Emerald Table,” said to enclose the science of the causes of all things and to guide the elaboration of “the precious stone”(Venus) — of matter infused with spirit; of human beingness illumined by soul consciousness and fired with spiritual power.
On this Tabula Smaragdina, Hermes had written the essence of the alchemical work, which finds its consummation in the “stone of the philosopher,” the jewel of “wisdom.” The emerald was regarded as the hermetic stone. On a par with incorruptible gold, it was to the precious stones what gold represents for metals. In a text entitled “On Primal Causes,“ Appollonios describes how the emerald emerges from a succession of colors associated with the alchemical stages. The initial red of the “natural” stone (reminiscent of the cattle gathered by Hercules) is brought to the ultimate “viriditas” – the green – which results from the fusion (Venus) of outer yellow and inner blue — a fusion analogous to the at-onement of appearance and essence, which is a signature of wisdom.
The frequent association, in medieval Christianity, of the Grail with the alchemical stone confirms the one archetype that inspires both: Venus. Both speak to a conjunction of the great opposites: “divine/ blood”, stone from heaven, “stone /of life.” Both share the power to confer youth and longevity, life and “immortality”.
So, through the “great Work” – the alchemical opus of human becoming, which the twelfth labour brings to completion – the light-bearing jewel is exalted into a life-giving jewel, able to return mortals to immortality and turn the “not-self” of the lunar nature into the sun of Self. Venus-Lucifer the “light-bearer” is exalted in Venus-the-Christ, the Life-giver. Extracted in Pisces, the stone is a “rejected stone”, often qualified by the alchemists as “worthless, thrown to the manure or trodden under foot by passers-by,” echoing words from the Scriptures applied to the Christ: “The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.”
In her book The legend of the Grail, Emma Jung speaks to what this alchemical jewel symbolizes in the life of the psyche. She sees in the Grail an image of what Jung called “the transcendent function” — “the function of the soul which, by producing unified symbols, elicits the synthesis of conscious and unconscious which allows the inner totality, the Self, to come into consciousness.”
What Pisces reveals, exalted in the transcending of duality which is the gift of the Piscean energy, is the function of Venus to draw and fuse the great dualities of matter and spirit, animal and divine nature, unconscious and conscious life — into self-illumined and life-giving wholes.
In this, Venus speaks not only to the reality of the soul, but also to its reflection in the “symbolic” activity and productions of the psyche. Symbols (individual or universal) may indeed be seen, from this perspective, as solar units in the mental field. In a symbol, heterogenous contents have been “thrown together” (sym-bolein), and their heterogeneity transcended through the unifying power which is the dynamic core of the psyche (Venus). With no origin or referent other than itself, the symbol is an “original” entity, whose significance cannot be exhausted by mental analysis. It carries a life of its own, pregnant with new potential. It at once shows and harbors, veiled in a self-generated form, the endlessly generative power of “the inner totality, the Self.”
The at-one-ing operation of Sophia, the soul chalice.
Venusian in this higher, exalted sense is the magnetic attraction at work in the “divine wisdoms” – the “theo-sophies” – that stand behind the religions and philosophies of the world as their hidden light and life. The “divine-Sophia,” however modestly “unveiled” in them, informs and illumines (Venus) the aspirational feelings of religions with an intelligent understanding of man, cosmos and evolution, while they also bring back to life her fallen emeralds embedded in the concrete edicts of dogmas or the intellectuality of theologies or philosophies.
Interestingly, Islamic theosophists typify the ascent of consciousness to the source of Life in the “mountain of Qaf” — a “psychocosmic” mountain of emerald. In some traditions, Corbin explains, the totality of the mountain is an emerald formation surrounding the world. In others, the emerald is a great rock at the summit —the “cornerstone”— of the celestial vault, which reverberates its color through the entire sphere. This image offers striking similarities with the emerald of Lucifer at the “bottom” of human consciousness, and the “cornerstone” of the Christ in its evolution.
Corbin points out the identity between the mountain of Qaf and that of Montsegur or Montsalvat, crowned with their mysterious castle beyond our maps — the castle of the Grail. Mont-salvat isa “mount of salvation” (PIsces). Crowned with grail and grail-like, it “supports” the esoteric voyage of the soul to the source of light that has illumined its path all along (Venus).
These mountains of the imaginative spiritual psyche resonate with the “mountain” of Eastern Theosophy — the cosmic mountain of levels of consciousness, which has its correspondence in the microcosmic etheric “mountain” of chakric spheres along which the human consciousness slowly ascends to the castle in the head. “The great final drama whereby the purely human being merges himself in divinity is enacted in the head of man.” At this summit of his being, the human meets and fuses with his immortal self. Hercules “puts on the divine.” The ajna centre, in which the purely human worlds of the personality have been gathered up and harmonized, makes contact with the head centre, and becomes the altar of Wisdom in the sacred city. The matured Parsifal reenters the Grail castle, purposeful and ready—as its king.
In a description that offers significant keys to the journey of consciousness underlying the “geographics” of various Traditions, A. Bailey explains that “when the energies, latent at the base of the spine, are carried to the head and brought to the centre between the eyebrows, the personality reaches its apotheosis and is “carried up into Heaven”…. and when the energies of the sacral centre, the source of physical sex life and interest, are sublimated and carried up to the throat centre, the aspirant passes through the veil [he becomes “Perce-val”/ Pierce-veil] and begins to create the pattern of things which will bring about eventually the new heavens and the new earth.”
This generic ascent helps to understand the “apotheosis” of our Judeo-Christian heroes by replacing it in its evolutionary context: Tobit steps through the veil of his mysterious blindness and comes to a new sight and vision of life; Perceval crosses the bridge into the place of wholeness (or “healing”)—the grail castle— after he has faced his inner Klingsor (his shadow-self) and Kundrie (his unintegrated feminine) in the fields of his sacral nature.
Tobit’s simple exclamation acquires a new metaphoric richness when experienced on the backdrop of this ascent and meeting with the immortal Self: “If you return to him from the bottom of your heart, he will return to you.” When the human psyche has been gathered (cattle and all) in a grail of patient understanding (Pisces) and raised to wisdom, when it has been, in other words, fired to its very core by the vibrant life of the soul, it becomes the cornerstone of the true Man — in whom the monad (“God”) “has returned” to dwell. As such, it begins to fulfill its grand function as keystone in the world edifice.
The Eastern mapping of human evolution continues: “When the energies of the solar plexus are equally transmuted and re-oriented, they are carried to the heart center and there is brought about as a result a realization of group consciousness, group love and group purpose which makes the aspirant a server of humanity and a fit associate of the Elder Brethren of the race.”
As the human being transmutes his nature and increasingly dwells “in the heart,” he indeed makes his way to the kingdom of souls, the esoteric castle of the planet — the spiritual “Hierarchy” of Elder Brethren.
In the Western, Egypto-Judeo-Greco-Arabic-medieval stream of Christian “theosophy” (the feminine “sister,” full of images and stories, of the Eastern theosophical “brother”), the knight or the initiate-to-be bathes in the “Source of Life” and receives the “sacrament of immortality.” The expression, which comes from the Zoroastrian Chaldean Oracles and the neoplatonists who meditated them, designates the event of initiation: “Initiation in man is the sacramentum of his apotheosis.” It echoes the event that crowned Hercules’ completion of his human labours — his entrance into the sacred City where he “puts on the divine” and receives the jewel of immortality. While Hercules becomes a cosmic worker, Parsifal enters the service of the Grail.
The whole spiritual ascent of the emerald mountain can be regarded (and so it was by the communities concerned) as a gradual “sacrament of immortality,” sealed by a major initiatory event.
It is striking to consider in this context the astrological fact of the hierarchical rulership of Capricorn by Venus. Esoterically, Capricorn speaks to the mountain of initiation and its ascent by the spiritually disciplined and determined individual. The fact that its “summit” (its spiritual dimension) is ruled by Venus offers an unambiguous signature to the context of symbolic hints we have been exploring (from emerald mountains to grail temples, from personality apotheosis in the centre between the eyebrows to a divine “source of Life”). It confirms the association of Venus with the summit of the theosophical mountain where the soul-infused individual passes the “gate of the Gods” (J) into the kingdom of souls, now identified with the eternally “Living one” within, the “jewel of immortality.” It confirms the association of Venus with the sacred city of Wisdom — wisdom being indeed a perfect blend of human and Divine, precisely what exudes from the personalized universality and heightened humanity that distinguishes the Initiate.
The mountain top of the human kingdom is a threshold between personal and universal, human and “divine” worlds — a Sinai where Moses meets “God”; a plane of being where the terrestrial self meets and merges with (“puts on”) his celestial self, his “Angel.” This event of re-union between personal and cosmic self, between exoteric and esoteric worlds, epitomizes the “uniting” principle that Venus represents.
What distinguishes theosophy from philosophy (at least what the term “philosophy” has come to refer to in modern times), is precisely the premise of oneness and the practice of “union” (Venus) which characterizes the theosophical wisdoms — the fundamental oneness of matter and spirit, and the gradual union, in the unfolding soul, of objective matters and their living spirit, of scientific understanding and inner experience; the vision of evolution (individual and universal) in term of phases and cycles of relation and alliance between spirit and matter.
Theosophia, the “divine-wisdom,” elicits an ongoing process of relating and unifying — not only of soul and form, but of the way of the heart and the way of the mind; of mysticism and occultism; of logical reasoning and intuitive spiritual perception; of understanding and action.
Theosophia, Corbin points out, is “the wisdom of the sage who combines the highest speculative (“philosophical”) knowledge and the deepest spiritual experience.”
The “theo-sophos,” the “sage of the divine Sophia,” is closer to the theurgos, the one who does the divine work – of building the “temple” – than to the theologos, the one who speaks about the divine. The theosophos is one who practices philosophia.
The task of “Theosophia,” sealed in the initiatory event at the top of the “mountain,” is that of exalted Venus — “to reunite but with no binding thread” the two Fishes (Pisces) (of one’s mortal and immortal nature) which, initially “bound together as the soul captive in form,” have seen their link severed by Pluto, the soul ruler of Pisces— that they might reunite in freedom, the freedom of mind and soul.
It is the intimate interpenetration of personal and universal, of mortal details and immortal principles, which is the real wisdom of man—soul wisdom. The soul is in fact the very principle of such a union of spirit and matter into human consciousness (which is the focus of Venus as spiritual ruler of Capricorn).
To approach it requires the working together of intelligence and love. The Sons of Mind, to be “raised up into glory“ (i.e. exalted) must learn to “love and truly reason” (which is the focus of Venus as soul ruler of Gemini).
The calyx of the Egoic flower (Venus): surrender and “sacrifice” (Pisces).
TheoSophia is the mountain of gradual re-union and at-onement of human and divine.
The Piscean journey to Wisdom illumines what exalts Venus  (as wisdom of the soul): to “save,” to “make whole,” to conjure up or restore “inner totality.” The vessel of the journey is a grail. The mountain is a “mount Salvat.” At-onement (Venus), the work of wisdom, is optimized and exalted in the attuning, inclusive, redeeming, atoning context of the Piscean energy. Pisces reveals the very “spirit” of Venus’ relating nature and what “in-spires” its harmonizing, uniting and unifying works: to sweep the all to its ultimate wholeness (Pisces).
We all know this work of Venus in the human psyche: from the sensual pleasure (Venus) and hint of “inner totality” that a bath or massage can provide, to the enhanced or restored wholeness felt in the loving presence of a friend; from the unifying metaphors born of the intuitive mind, to universal symbols which draw forth a unified (soulful) field of heart and mind, responsive to the spirit-life (the “totality”) captured in symbols; from the soul “pleasure” to give love, wisdom and beauty, to the joy found in “grail moments” of oneness.
At a more universal level, the Ageless Wisdom teachings refer to the central “uniting” and at-oning role played by Venus in our planetary and human evolution. According to H. P. Blavatsky and A. Bailey, humankind received from Venus the principle of mind and soul, the structure-seed-principle of “selfhood” that began to bind into self awareness and soul consciousness – homo sapiens – the animal like nature of an as of yet mindless humankind with its divine core.
The exaltation of Venus in Pisces’ labour of “Salvation” (in the etymological sense of returning a part to the totality it is in its Being) stands out most radically in this gift of Egoity that allowed humanity to begin its task of linking and reuniting nature and spirit within this new vessel of its “self”.
We saw how the chalice that fell from heaven at Hercules’ feet, following seven days of meditation and “offeringsto Helius, the god of fire in the sun,” echoed the Grail theme of the stone fallen from heaven. This theme of the Grail stone from heaven is a vibrant one in Islamic theosophy, which recounts that it was “deposited by a group of angels who brought it on the earth before flying away beyond the planets. These angels were too pure to stay on earth…” While this legend intimates a positive version of the “fall” of Lucifer and the Luciferian emerald, it also strikes by its similarity with the Western theosophical story of the Venus beings – whom H. P. Blavatsky and A. Bailey refer to precisely as “solar Angels” – who brought to humanity the germ of individual mind and self-awareness 21 million years ago. These highly evolved beings from Venus offered themselves, in sacrificial service to the earth, we are told, as the source of our Egoity and they continue to assist the unfolding by every human being of his/her Egoic or causal body. This body of our individuality (what we call “the soul”), set with the long hidden jewel of monadic life at its center, is the slowly unfolding Venus-germ, whose full flowering eventually crowns the ascent of the emerald mountain. The mountain top experience corresponds to the full blossoming of the Venusian seed of soul – the achievement of the philosopher stone – out of the soil and toil of many lives.
The “saving” grail to heaven is clearly a “sacrificial” grail from heaven. Salvation and sacrifice are intimately connected. In order to reunite and “save” what is separate, unconnected or unconscious, the “unifying” energy has to descend and extend itself from its essential source (the oneness of life) into the many parts and peripheries, so as to draw (the attractive force of Venus and the purpose of Hercules’ journey) the disjointed fragments of nature and existence to the one life (at their core); to lift or gather them into the being that moves in them, the being in whom they move — the being they are but don’t know themselves to be. In doing so, the “saving” force, Venus, the solar grail of mind and soul, “sacrifices” itself (its self) in what has no awareness of self, to slowly infuse it with the reconnecting and re-cognizing nature of “selfhood.”
Pisces illumines the exaltation through sacrifice and salvation of the precious stone of selfhood into the universalized love and wisdom of a human egoity deployed into the grail of service that its Venus nature destined it to be. The link between animal and soul kingdom which Venus established as incipient “self-awareness” in early man, is exalted into the universalized selfhood which is the great Work or labour of the human journey. This universalized selfhood is precisely referred to as the “jewel in the Egoic lotus”—the monadic radiance of individualized universality and humanized spirit which reveals itself in the center of the Egoic lotus of the fully actualized human being. Hercules has put on the divine.
The last labour of the man-made-God, Hercules, mirrors the labour of the God-made-man, the Christ. The last labour is the “ultimate” or synthetic one, the essence of them all: to lift and reunite nature with spirit, animality with divinity in the full blown radiance of a universalized humanity, and so “grail” humankind and “en-soul” evolution.
In his sacrificial incarnation, which brought the principle of love to our planetary evolution, Christ-the “son of God” epitomizes the next “grail from heaven.” His intervention lights up within the stone of the solar angel, which bore individual Egohood, the capacity to bear mankind‘s Egohood. Through the Christ, the self in each is potentially reunited to the Self in all and, in the dimension of love he has brought, realizes its “unanimity” (literally, its one soul).
With the coming of the solar angels (and of the manasic principle which brought together – as man – spiritual and instinctual nature), “man” became a human being. With the Christ, humanity becomes a “human being” — one Self, unified in the principle of love, mankind’s soul dimension, that he embodies and “deposits” in its midst.
The cornerstone of man’s evolution, the Venusian germ of mind and self, is superseded by the cornerstone of mankind’s evolution — the soul of humanity revealed in the Christ being, and actualized, exalted (“lifted up”) in his “sacrifice” (Pisces). “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.”
Venus as “manas,” the principle of self-awareness or cognition which operated the juncture of spirit and matter in what was to be “man” – a self cognizant, self lighted being – is lifted through the Christ to the heart of its nature — loving wisdom.
The wisdom of Solomon is exalted in the love of the Christ who, in sacrificing himself (his causal body, his “temple”) at the crucifixion, became the foundation stone of the new temple of earth. A. Bailey explains that he became the head of the spiritual hierarchy — the heart centre of the planet — “on account of his unique task of embodying for the first time in world history the love principle of divinity.” 
The “sacrament” of Venus— from sacrifice to wisdom
The “saving force” (Pisces) of Wisdom, which Solomon praised, and the redeeming force of Love that the Christ embodied, point to the great operation of the soul (Venus) that the human being experiences within and learns to practice without — until he is ready, having gathered himself to the cornerstone of his inner heaven, to be That: a saving force, a server of the grail.
The “sacrament” of immortality received by the Chaldean initiate, Hercules or Parsifal is an anointing into the temple of the soul. It is the “sacrament” of Venus — of “sacred Venus,” the hierarchical ruler of Capricorn — the consecration of the initiate on the mount of Capricorn. The seal of union – the seal of Venus – illumines his becoming one with the life of the soul and its purpose — world service (Capricorn); world saving (Pisces). It “sacredizes” the human being who has “made himself sacred” in the slow fire of ascent to the centre of love and light within. The jewel of Life “consecrates” Hercules — his labour delivers in him the “cosmic” self, the monad. “Sacer” means to make holy; this is what in truth happens to the initiate; he is “made holy”...
The exaltation of Venus through the labour of Pisces reveals the “sacred-making” reality of “sacrifice” — the essential meaning at the root of the word (sacer: holy; facere: to make).
The Venus-germ of mind (the unifying principle between monad and animal nature) was a gift — precious with the “sacrifice” of the solar Angels it represented, priceless for the individualization it brought about. Its sacrificial/ “sacredizing” essence is what slowly reappears in the Venus nature of the human being as the soul principle unfolds and “raises” its instrument, ultimately trans-figuring it—into soul.InVenus’ sacrificial essence lies its sacredizing power.
The Venus principle is a slow sacrament of at-onement in the psyche — as is Venus the planet (a sacred planet) in relation to our (non-sacred) earth. “The planet Venus is to the planet Earth what the higher Self is to the Personality.” A grail for our globe, Venus draws and lifts the earth to its light and wisdom.
When man is “saved” – that is “whole” – having received the “sacrament” of Venus, his mind is “made sacred” with the love and purposefulness of the soul, and wisdom is the natural expression of his unified being. “The intuition, the pure reason, complete knowledge illumined by the loving purpose of the divine Mind, takes the place [of the mind nature], and the initiate lives henceforth in the light of correct or straight knowledge, expressing itself in wisdom in all affairs.” 
Before he is “made holy” however… “before the soul can stand in the presence of the Master, its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart.”
The anointment of the feet (Pisces) precedes the ex-altation or “lifting up” of the Christ. It is also the last scene before Parsifal becomes king of the grail—server of the soul (Venus). The feet embody the discreet sacrificial ground of life. The anointment honors and blesses their selfless support of the walk up the mountain — selfless as the bottom of the cup of sacrifice which raises the world-saviour (Hercules or Christ) to his cosmic task — invisible as thesacrificial “sole” underlying the search for gratification, love, or beauty. This “sole” of sacrifice (Pisces) under the human experience of Venus is the invisible lining of “soul” that slowly exalts our various attachments and attractions into their higher octave of love or wisdom, as it brings us to “offer their blood” – the blood which purifies the feet of the soul – on the altar of “the living Self.”
This “soul lining” shows up under Venus’ attractive force of beauty and love in our lives when circum-stances (the mountain of emerald sur-rounding us), taking away what had been given (from objects of comfort to objects of love), force us up the path of ascent.
This lining, dark and painful as “sacrifice” usually understood, is golden and luminous as the “grail” it serves— if seen from the inner side of the cup of experience. The soul rejoices that it is building a new precious capacity to live beyond what it may be losing (Pluto is the esoteric ruler of Pisces). It is this sacrificial “capacity” which carves the human soul into a grail of Life. Pluto’s death blows to the personal life allow what does not die – Athanatos – to come to BE.
Taste (Venus) is prepared for the oil of the “sacrament” of soul — until the day when the bitter taste of sacrifice has become the savor of wisdom for the soul who, via sacrifice, has become what it was from the beginning — a gift. The “good taste” of Venus is ultimately wisdom —a notion hinted at in the root of the word “wisdom” itself (lat. sapientia) — sapere, to taste, to savour. The life of the soul is an acquired taste for “sacrifice.”
Sacrifice is the exoteric side of the “sacredizing” operation of Venus revealed in Pisces — to “make sacred”, or whole,the divided wills within one’s “self”: Hercules and his red cattle; spirit-man and animal-man; soul and personal selves. It is an operation of “healing,” a bringing of dis-ease to wholeness, of separateness to union. In the metaphoric space of the Grail quest, this translates into the mysterious “wound” of the Fisher king that Parsifal is destined to heal. Epitomized in this wound is the very space of the quest itself— that of a gap to be filled — between Parsifal the fool and Parsifal the Sage; between his first taste of the Grail castle and his final entrance as its king. When Parsifal, having “purified” his life, heals Amfortas and becomes the new custodian of the Grail, one wonders if it was not a fleeting vision of his own divided – dis-eased – self he had when he saw the “wounded” fisher-king at the onset of his quest, lying lame amidst his waste land, unable to perform his sacred work. Parsifal’s fortuitous coming upon the castle intimated the consummation to come — the deliberate, self-initiated return to the castle of the Self with the capacity to Be and give the abundant life he had witnessed during that first “grail” supper with the ailing “old king.”
Beyond the mountain top of the three worlds, the Venusian beings of the planetary hierarchy serve the grail. Their service is not experienced as “sacrificial,” but as the sacred joy of acting-being the soul foundation of love, harmony and goodness that sustains the gradual evocation and exaltation in humankind’s Venusian nature of the soul it is meant to reveal.
The dual notion embedded in the concept of sacrifice – sacrificing and sacredizing – is illustrated in the story of the solar angels by the fact that their coming in, says A. Bailey,”caused a paralleling event of even greater magnitude in their scheme, the Venus scheme…” and that “our scheme gave, in a mysterious manner,more than was received, though the gift was not of the same nature.”
The archetypal truth of the exaltation of Venus in Pisces culminates in the inspiring fact, suggested in this remark, that Venus and its beings experienced an even greater gift of exaltation or sacredizing as they offered them-selves, quite literally, in sacrificial deed for humankind and the earth.
According to A. Bailey’s presentation of the twelve hierarchies of Beings , the Human Hierarchy (the fourth) is named “the Initiates, Lords of Sacrifice,” while the Lunar Lords (the sixth) are called “Sacrificial Fires.” In between is the fifth — governed by Venus.  Interestingly in this context, its “units are called ‘The Hearts of Fiery Love’. They save through love…“
Equally resonant with our considerations on the exaltation of Venus is the comment that these Lives, who are also called the “Benign Uniters” (Venus) “are esoterically the ‘Saviours of the Race’ (Pisces) and from Them emanates that principle which lifts the lower aspect up to Heaven.” 
Venus — The gift of Self
That “sacrifice” be at the core of Venus invites thoughts about the relation between wisdom, love or beauty on one hand, and sacrifice on the other.
It suggests that sacrifice purifies the feet of Sophia (“before the soul can stand…“) and paves the road to the sacred City. The healing of Tobit reads as a metaphor for the “sacredizing” of the eye— the “making holy” of sight through the “sacrifice” of the physical eye.
How the sacrifice of some object or form of attachment opens a new space of wisdom and frees a new gradient of beauty is a characteristic experience of humankind. So is the sacredizing of the parents as they give of themselves to their children.
“Sacrifice” exalts love to its plenitude. The well-known words come to mind: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” In sacrifice, the essence of love is exalted: its life-giving power. The word of the Christ may well be read to say that the greatest aspect of love is the gift of Life it is. Love vitalizes and revitalizes existence. It opens springs in life’s most desolate corners. It is the irreplaceable “transferer” – or solar angel – of “Self.” It holds the secret of Life.
To human logic, it would seem that the Christ’s sacrifice, however admirable, was far from unique; many had done so before him and many did after. The key question, however, lies beyond the act itself — in the caliber of the life and consciousness engaged, “sacrificed.” Comparing the life that the sun gives and the life a human being can offer is a way to conceive the significance of a giving of its “Life” by a being of the magnitude of the Christ. What “caused” the Christ’s sacrifice was not anyone’s existence in particular or any country’s survival, nor was it a cause to defend or an ideal to save. It was the “cause” of Life itself — the “planting” of mankind’s “Self” – the principle of love – in its consciousness, and the igniting of the impulse of life givingness (Pisces) at the core of Love.
His sacrifice was the live teaching of the giving of Self (Pisces) that exalts the soul nature (Venus) because it fulfills the “point” (the “jewel”) of love and wisdom — to vivify life; to in-spirit denser worlds — through the sacrificial will which brings a Logos to in-carnate and serve as a grail of “salvation,” or the love by which man grants every thing its return to being.
Replacing the conspicuous offerings to transcendent, fear-inspiring deities practiced by many cultures, love became the discrete practice of “sacrifice,” revealing in this its core purpose — to make the world “sacred or holy,” that is totally alive — “to put on the divine.”
The exaltation in Pisces suggests that a supreme treasure and divine pleasure (Venus) is found in “sacrifice” (Pisces), and that self-giving may be the inconspicuous gold of life. If it is the supreme gift (exalted c), it is not because of a high generosity it might point to in the “sacrificing” one, nor does it suggest self-abnegation as precious per se; it is such for what it gives and releases; for the vibration of life and awakening of Self it frees in “donor” and “receiver,” the life it kindles and propagates like a fire through all matters of existence; for returning to its “immortality” whatever withering of life it may be which needs love to reinspire it with life; for exuding the magnetic life which enhances being. What makes “sacrifice” a gift is not its sacrificial face, but its “sacred-izing,” “whole making” power.
The exaltation in Pisces also invites to realize the dimension of sacrifice at work in the depths of relating. Relating ever calls to sacrifice some “old cattle” — the energies arrested in one’s patterns of reactions or protections (personal or national). Relationships confront us with our beliefs and points of “view” (or blindness), challenging our resistance to ebb out of the separate interests of the self and let the apparent “otherness” flow (∞). Relating releases the sacred ingredient of self-giving.
The sacrificial element which relatedness ceaselessly elicits from one life or group of lives towards another, from one kingdom for another, points to the “sacramental,” elevating and whole-making power of relationship. Relating is the central and on-going sacrament of life — the operation that slowly divinizes all levels of the universe. Relating with love is the ongoing act of consecration of the universe into a sacred City.
Venus-the chalice is the great vessel of the process and consummation of union. It hovers, “exalted,” above the entire Age of Pisces as the Grail of the Fisher-King — the sacrificial body of the Piscean King, the Christ, who out of the earth carved an immortal vessel – “This is my body” – to take the humanity of this Age through the slow learning of love.
Man’s capacity for “sacred” (as opposed to self-seeking) love raises relatedness (Venus) into a truly unifying operation, and Venus into the soul-bearer it is meant to be. Humanity finds in this the Vase with the capacity to draw it to its sacred reality, its Jerusalem of “Peace.” Soul-infused relating assembles the “precious stones” of the temple of Wisdom, which is a temple of com-union and un-animity (exalted c). Of this temple which is approaching the world-consciousness from the future, the Grail is a powerful symbol, one that emerged directly from the first and foundational enactment of what the word “communion” has now generally reduced to a religious ritual.
A philosopher of Sophia — Vladimir Soloviev
The being of the Sophia is intensely present in the spiritual background of the Russian culture: its religious devotion to Sophia-“the Wisdom of God” and the numerous churches built in her honor; its spiritual art of Icons or “Images”, whose discrete power kept alive in Christianity the presence of the archetypal Feminine; the refining appeal to the senses (Venus) of the rituals of sounds, lights, scents and symbolic gesture which accompany the orthodox liturgy; the rich harmonies of its music. All attest to the particular inclination of the Russian soul to approach the divine through a sense-felt experience of the uplifting power of beauty—the mediating presence of Venus-Sophia. Dostoyevski once called his country “the woman clothed with the sun.” The liturgy of the Russian church ends with the words: “Sanctify those who love the beauty of Thy house…” From Russia also come the words of Helena Roerich: “Beauty will save the world”.
In the light of the exaltation of Venus in Pisces, one may wonder about the mysterious wisdom sealed in this icon of the Sophia hovering above the Russian destiny, as if of a veiled recognition by its people of a deep silent way for the Russian soul to serve the world with its long suffering.
The philosophical tradition of pre-revolutionary Russia might be more properly called a philo-sophianic tradition. While there is a scarcity of purely abstract, theoretical thinkers, philosophical ideas and gifts of wisdom unfurl from the pages of Russia’s novels, poetry or theater. It is a wisdom of life, characterized by its embodiment (Venus) in the colorful, dramatic or inspirational substance of the human experience—sublimated into art. Russian philosophers tend to be moral and spiritual more than intellectual thinkers.
Such a philosopher was Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900), the author of The meaning of Love and Lectures on Godmanhood. His “philo-sophy” is imbued with his lifelong relation to Sophia— the “Eternal Friend” he encountered in several visionary events from early childhood on. He frequently visited the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Novgorod to study the Icon of Sophia, whom he described as
the most exalted, all-encompassing form, the living soul of Nature and cosmos, one with God from all Eternity and in the temporal process finding oneness with Him and uniting to Him everything that exists… the actual, pure, perfect mankind… Beyond any doubt, this is the true significance of this majestic Being.” 
In Sophia, Soloviev saw “the genuine essence of Christianity,” and he gave much thought to what threatens its advent. Experiences with dark forces towards the end of his life led him to ponder the figure of the Antichrist. He wondered how to depict this impersonal power he felt would be the cause of a great purge before the next step in the unification of humanity. Self-love would be the core element of the Antichrist’s character — at the antipode of the love epitomized in the Christ. His imagination of the Antichrist opens the full spectrum of Venus, between her real presence and her illusory face — between the appearances that she represents and the very Real she is.
The following passage, written at the time he published his story of the Antichrist (around 1900) illumines the exaltation of Venus in Pisces and of its octave variations:
The more perfect and intimate the revelation of true beauty which clothes the Godhead and by His power frees us from suffering and death, the narrower is the boundary separating it from its false image, from that illusory powerless beauty which merely continues the kingdom of suffering and death. But the end has been foretold: at last, the Eternal Beauty will bear fruit, and from her will come the salvation of the world, when her unreal images will have disappeared as did that sea-foam out of which Aphrodite was born. 
One finds also in this comment by Soloviev the expression of an historical intuition. For while Sophia clearly hovered above and around the approaching revolution, evoked by the aspirations and ideas of many, a false image soon showed its face from under the deceptive appearance of a similar ideal of equality and brotherhood: Bolshevism. In the same way, Soloviev’s Antichrist believes in the “Good”, in “an equality of general repletion,” in “peace and properity for all.”
Triggered though it may have been by the atmosphere of the time, there is in this imaginative reflection of the philosopher a larger contemplation of world history from the point of view of beauty and illusion — a contemplation of Venus — from her archetypal heights of liberating beauty to her lower refractions in the illusion-bearing foams of appearances.
Descending from the beauty of divine Reason to the allure of semblances, and ascending from glamour to truth-revealing love, is thus the long (or short) breath of Venus, who sacrifices herself in the dense illusions of forms to animate and beautify matter, and to draw consciousness from the unreal to the real through the growing wisdom which relatedness and the experience of love necessarily engender.
In Pisces, the mirages and deceptive allurings of Aphrodite are exalted  (Neptune is the exoteric ruler). Seduction of images, attraction of substances, dreams and deceptions, “spiritual voluptuousness” (in Soloviev’s words) and spiritual counterfeits “foam” around the self-love which initially fills Venus-Aphrodite and obscures Venus-Sophia. Motivated by the love of being loved, the unwise giving up and abnegation of self is but a self-deceptive “sacrifice.”
Also exalted in Pisces is the slow suffering of Aphrodite, as Sophia increasingly stirs within the heart through the deepening, eliminative and liberating power of Pluto (the esoteric ruler) which purges the “ignorance” of self-love, raises the small voice of the soul and catalyses its expression in beauty.
The “education” of the heart proceeds intensely in Pisces, for the gathering of the “cattle” gone astray, and the dissolving of the countless “conditions” of love call for empathy, mercy, reverence, gratitude. Unconditional love draws near in the sign of forgiveness and compassion, healing and redeeming. So does wisdom, the science of the heart — the knowing of what is, through the sensitivity and intelligence of love.
When pleasure and displeasure have ceased to arise, the one who loves thus knows, and the one who knows, loves the same.
Unifying mind and intelligent heart — Venus in Pisces
The solar Angel must have not only knowledge, but the energy of love likewise to enable him to perform the function of linking the higher three and the lower four… 
How the planet of love and beauty, Venus, may be associated with the fifth Ray of science and knowledge, and how a fifth Ray planet may be exalted in Pisces – whereas Pisces conveys the love-wisdom of the second Ray and the idealism of the sixth – become evocative facts of great beauty, reflecting the unitive reality of soul experience.
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthropo-Sophia, speaks abundantly of love as “the greatest power in the acquiring of knowledge” :
Perhaps the more strict scientists will not be able to accept the second faculty for acquiring knowledge which I have to describe. And yet, despite this, it is a real power for acquiring knowledge, though not as it appears in everyday life, but when it is developed. This is the power of love. 
Love and its creative sense of beauty are the way to the wisdom of healing:
If we are to treat a sick man, we must also be able to love the illness; one must be able to speak of a beautiful illness… we can then approach the totality of the object as a creative artist, not as an analytical scientist. 
Beauty is born of suffering :
Beauty develops out of pain, suffering, privation and illness. This may be a startling connection, but it is a fact. Even the appreciation of beauty develops in this way: There can be no beauty in the world without pain and suffering and illness. 
A. Bailey speaks to this as well:
The capacity to suffer holds the secret of beauty in manifestation, and its first expression can be seen in the creative perfection of certain phases of art for which man, and man alone, is responsible. No other kingdom in nature creates forms, produces colour and sounds in harmonious relation, except the human; all of this type of creative art is the result of aeons of conflict, pain and suffering. 
Love is the way to scientific knowledge:
We must learn to enter into, become one with every detail of plant-growth until in the end, in our soul, we become the plant. The plant becomes as dear to us as we are to ourselves. In the same way we can inwardly picture and live ourselves into the life of an animal, or the processes underlying the formation of a crystal. 
Such entering into every event of man or nature is the science and art of wisdom, who “passes through all things by virtue of her purity.” It is the power of spiritualized feeling (Venus/ Pisces) to perceive by communion and, by uniting lovingly with that into which it penetrates, to understand it in its wholeness.
The exaltation of Venus in Pisces is a statement about true science. It speaks to the ability A. Bailey describes, “to view all life with a sense of divine proportion (Venus/Pisces) and from the angle of spiritual mathematics, and (paradoxical as this may sound) with no sense of dualism.” True science is the direct “knowing” of soul that fills the mind grown loving enough “to pass through all things” and to let all things pass through it “by virtue of its purity.”
It is a statement about the “exalted” nature and purpose of art as the talent of the soul: to kindle “wholeness” by evoking the soul life buried in ordinary sense-perception (as do music or painting), concrete thinking (poetry) or functional movement (dance). An exaltation of the soul within all forms of existence, true art “makes sacred” the daily herd of human experience. It touches a mathematical order or unifying light at their core. It gives the Life hidden in life. As much as spiritual science is artistic, imaginative and intuitive, spiritual art is a science. It is an art that speaks to the soul because it has spread itself into the soul of things and returned with their rhythms, vibrancy of color, internal rapport or archetypal forms. In line with the exaltation of art in Pisces is the comment that “The superior creative function becomes possible in Pisces under the influence of aspiration and intuition.”
One can often see or experience in great works of art the offering of soul substance they are — an oblation of spiritualized, “sacredized” will. Sacrifice lives in the depths of art as it does in the depths of relatedness. Sculpted, painted, written or composed, man’s creations of soul are gifts of self that gather human worlds to an immortal essence, while contributing to the unfoldment of mankind’s soul.
Venus in Pisces: Van Gogh – Victor Hugo – Jesus-Christ
The last considerations are well exemplified in the works of two great artists, whose natal Venus was exalted in Pisces: Van Gogh (Venus conjunct Neptune and Midheaven in Pisces) and Victor Hugo (Venus conjunct Sun and Pluto in Pisces).
In Van Gogh’s short life, one can see quite clearly how the ebbing of the early tides of human loves, sufferings and aspirations allowed an increasing flow of the love that frees the essence of things within the heart. The aborted desire to help “save” the downtrodden of humanity translated into the intense quality of resonance with nature that pervades his later artistic work. His talent unfolded as an “exaltation” of places or elements of nature to a vividness that was the very life his capacity to feel gave them; and which made them, indeed, immortal. It saved from their expected fading into ordinary mortality the mythic dimension of a human being or the sacred character of his/her task.
The following quotes from Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo are eloquent on the themes of Venus in Pisces:
The “sacrifice” of self:
The pain of producing pictures will have taken my whole life from me…
The art of life — love:
The more I think, the more I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people…
The unitive consciousness of the soul:
I have a terrible lucidity at moments when nature is so beautiful. I am not conscious of myself anymore, and the pictures come home as in a dream.
I myself prefer studies, because in the real studies, there is something of life, and one who makes them does not think of himself but of nature.
In all nature I see expression and soul as it were. 
As to Victor Hugo, many themes and passages from his colossal works could be brought to illustrate this exaltation. As an example, there follows a small extract from his poem called “The Toad,” where an old tired donkey pulls its last energies to avoid crushing a toad half dead on the path, while children and adults laugh, ready for the last crush of the creature they have tortured in their play.
What do we know? Who knows the depth of things… this abject bruised ass… is more saintly than Socrates and greater than Plato. Philosopher, you search? O thinker, you ponder? Do you want to find the truth? Sink in unfathomable love! Whoever is kind sees clearly in the dark crossroad… Goodness, which illumines the face of the world… Goodness is the sublime link which relates in the dark… the great ignorant, the ass, to God, the great Sage” 
The major themes of exalted Venus are woven in this poem, even if only in this small extract: the “bruised” depths of wisdom; the divine knowing at work in compassion and mercy; the illumining “link” of the soul, between man’s animal (“ass”) and spiritual (“God”) nature; the saving force of true philosophy. Love, its kindness and goodness, is exalted as the simple and divine essence of Truth, the “saintly” element of true science.
Lastly, Kepler’s view that “at the moment of the Incarnation (of Jesus-Christ) all the planets were in conjunction in the sign Pisces… the constellation of the Messiah” resonates with the symbolism one would intuitively associate with the birth of the great “Fish” — Ichthus, the Christ 
It suggests a sublime revelation of Pisces’s exalted dispositor, Venus. The Christ is the living Grail. The being who “entered Jerusalem (the soul kingdom) upon the ass (of the personal nature),” is the world savior who incarnated not only to bring the message of love or show the way through the Gate of the “City,” but more profoundly to offer the vessel of reunion and communion, to become the chalice of solarized flesh and blood which would “pilot men on a paltry piece of wood.”
The Pisces House
The link between a sign and the planet exalted in it acts as a subtle influence and polarizing factor in the filigree of the house occupied or ruled by this sign in a chart. Awareness of this influence can activate one’s conscious participation in the process of heightening the expression of the planetary function exalted in the area of experience associated with that particular house.
The matters of the house occupied or ruled by Pisces for example provide opportunities for the exaltation of the Venus principle. Experiences in this area mean to teach us true and live philo-Sophia. They point to a labour meant to restore soulful connection with forlorn or degraded fringes of human experience (inwardly or outwardly) and to exalt their hidden value and beauty. From behind the scene in the Pisces house, Venus prompts one to harness the wisdom scattered in unconscious depths (dreams, imaginations, visions) or the grace lost to the twilight zones of madness, drugs, addictions, victimization and abuse. Venus seeks to evoke the redeeming and healing power of love; to teach the beautifying power of pain and sacrifice; to allow the suffering encountered in this house (internally or externally) to release its gems of wisdom and truth. This sensitive and vulnerable context of experience represents a most favorable soil for beauty and love, heart and soul to grow.
Venus hovers above the house of Pisces like a magnet, eager to gather and return a particular share of world-misery or world-mystery to its “immortality” — to turn into jewels of beauty or wisdom that which needs love to be extracted and exalted from the realms of pain, confusion or illusion.
The exaltation of Venus invites to regard the experiences encountered in the Pisces house as chalices from Venus and for Venus to grow and glow, for love to extract its note from the distressed corners of life and for beauty to shine through their despised appearances. As we come to recognize the vessels in which Venus prompts us to take the unreal to the real, the dis-eased to a new wholeness, we release the life trapped in these rejected aspects of existence (within as well as without); the beauty disfigured by ignorance — lack of soul. This house offers us the healing, “whole-making” opportunities that take us, and the worlds we engage, closer to the temple of wisdom.
There may be forms of self-deception to discern and dispel in this house; inner sufferings and renunciations meant to carve in us a greater capacity for love; or a slow “washing of the feet” that builds the secure foundation of truth in the heart.
This house is the school where we learn to love and cultivate the intelligence of the soul, understand the regenerative power of reverence, and act, think and respond intuitively as wisdom, “the intelligent and subtle spirit overseeing all” seeks to teach us. This is where we touch and tend the crux of the philosopher’s stone by reaching out, again and again, to the rejected stone.
Venus in a Chart
Finally, what does the placement of Venus in the individual chart suggest about our road map to the “altar” of Wisdom, or our task in her “seven-pillared mansion”?
The Venusian road leads from the alluring circle of self-gratification to the revelation of love as gift and “sacrifice” of self, and to the illumining and healing intelligence of love.
Venus is the subtle intelligence of attraction which allows us to recognize, however dimly, what we value— what we love— who we are. It is our talent, the divine “coin” of our true worth, long projected on outer “coins”, jewels, “valuables”; our “gift,” sought in coveted sources of pleasure, comfort, beauty; an ideal image (of Self) projected on lovers as “soulmates.”
By sign and aspects, Venus sheds light on our affective nature and relationship life – its dynamics and style; our rapport to material security, pleasure and gratification; esthetics and beauty.
The exoteric dispositor of Venus indicates the particular alluring in what we value and how we love that makes us “unwise”; our specific blindness; the Venus condition (as one speaks of a “heart condition”) suggesting how we may go astray from the ways of reason, love and beauty lighted by the soul.
As we evolve through life and lives from personality centeredness to soul focus, love becomes a faculty and a will — beyond the valued objects, persons and ideas which present their mediation to evoke it. Venus is in this regard an agent of liberation by virtue of the higher attraction of the soul that it symbolizes (Again, Pluto is the exalted dispositor of Venus).
The esoteric ruler of the sign in which Venus is placed indicates, insofar as its influence infuses the exoteric ruler, a specific loss of self-interest and a letting go of personality claims; it suggests the particular sacrificial process which would release Venus’ healing power and vivifying wisdom.
The three esoteric dispositors of Venus – that is the three esoteric rulers of the signs which Venus rules or is exalted in: Vulcan (Taurus), Uranus (Libra), Pluto (Pisces) – convey each a particular kind of spiritual will. By virtue of this Venusian will, which seeks by different means to bring the sound of union – the note of the soul – in the world, the human Grail is slowly carved, hammered and designed to best serve its purpose. With a measure of wisdom now glowing in the heart, the question is: what kind of beauty is one suited to release in the world; which pillar of wisdom can one collaborate to build through the creative forces of love?
As an example, Rudolf Steiner (Venus in Aquarius conjunct IC) did tremendous work to infuse the socio-cultural life (Aquarius) with living wisdom, initiating spiritually insightful approaches to education, medicine, art, agriculture and more. He also sought to lay out foundations for a social order based on “Anthropo-Sophia,” a spiritual science of the human being that he spent his life teaching (Jupiter) and grounding (Uranus) in various endeavors. Characteristically, communities built on this spiritual impulse work constantly at generating creative ways for the two principles of Aquarius – Uranus and Jupiter, individuality and group-consciousness – to find their rhythm and to grow in unity and mutual infusion. In The Temple Legend, Steiner says the following: “The Royal Art will in the future be a social art (Venus in Aquarius) … and it is this Royal Art which was inaugurated in the symbol of the Holy Grail…”
The Fall of Venus in Virgo
The exaltation of Venus in Pisces gains in full-rounded understanding from the complementary wisdom of the planet’s “fall in Virgo.” The fall of Venus in Virgo points to the “betrayal” of the unitive wisdom of God “into the hands” of human sense perception and brain logic—as the Son of God was “betrayed” to the shortsightedness of men.
Universal wisdom flows into the veins of creation and the phenomena of its “chained” body where it gets scrutinized and dissected. World mysteries are committed to dis-courses and dis-cussions. The synthetic reality of “all-encompassing Reason” is lost to analysis. Art searches for tools and techniques to sharpen its accuracy or its “sophis”tication. Science calculates, dissects, decomposes the bare bones of Venus:
The coffin of Isis-Sophia is spread in the sky: it is the modern sciences, especially astronomy and mathematics, which apply abstract laws to a space emptied of spirit. 
In Virgo, the Grail becomes a grave. This association, not infrequent in the medieval imaginations surrounding the Grail, harkens back to a symbolically significant fact. At the time of the actual Grail event, it was Joseph of Arimathea, who had provided the chalice of the last supper and the next day used it to collect the blood of the Christ, who also offered the grave in which he laid his dead body after the crucifixion. There is in this a simple and beautiful indication of the unity of the vase of life and the vase of death, the very fusion of which constitutes the reality of “sacrifice” as the “giving of life.” Joseph bears witness to this unity. His name in Hebrew means “the limit of God.”
In the world-grave of fallen Venus, love comes likewise under scrutiny and analysis. Appreciation is a complex operation of additions and subtractions. Science serves the needs of technology, and the reason of the heart is handed to the critical reasoning of the brain. Fallen Lucifer marries the daughter of man.
At the same time, it is easy to see how this sorting out and rationalization of divine reason is the wise “midnight” of Venus, and how Venus truly falls “in service”, when it falls in Virgo— in service to the ultimate glorification of Wisdom, when the cycle will be perfected.
The vase of death is a vase of transition to life. The world of “things,” the world-grave, the coffin of the “dead” or dormant Sophia, is the ground or the “limit” from which man builds his road to Being, the limit from which she, the world-soul crucified on the cross of matter, to use Plato’s image, may become alive again in the human consciousness, in the intelligent heart.
With Venus in Virgo, the “blessed ignorance” of man falls, he “knows better” than the glamorous foams, the hazy imaginations, the cloudy devotions, the indiscriminate compassion. Under Mercury’s exoteric rulership, the work of clear perceptiveness and delineated knowledge proceeds. Analysis and understanding of details is valued. Matter is penetrated and organized by interest and talent.
If understood properly, this is where the resumption of matter into Being has to begin: in the patient approach of physical facts and the earnest study of human nature; in the individualized interest and love for the details of creation and the phenomena of the world; in the wonder at the intricate beauty of matter and forms.
Only through the scientific tools and keen intellects fashioned under the esoteric rulership of Virgo (Moon veiling Vulcan) can the full discourse of the objective world of matter and forms become imbued with human “appreciation” (the Venusian force) and reintegrate its soul dimension. And only thus can the rich wisdom of nature, the “irresistible” reason of its fragmented facts, emerge in all its life-giving beauty within the human consciousness — the artistic, scientific, social or philosophical consciousness of humanity.
As the life of love increasingly animates man’s intelligence and science of the facts of world, it will reanimate and exalt the wisdom fallen and dormant in the visible world.
One must understand how Isis, the living divine Sophia, had to be lost, as Astrology developed into calculations, geometry, and mechanics. When from this vast grave, Imagination will resurrect, one will also understand that one has found the new Isis, the divine Sophia, indispensable to man if he wishes to make the force of the Christ fully living and luminous within himself… It is precisely with the help of the mathematical faculties, that one will understand the Imaginations.