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John S. Dawson - The Measure of Love

“Love knows no virtue, no profit; it loves and forgives and suffers everything, because it must. We cease to think, to feel, to will; we let ourselves be carried away by it, and ask not whither.” Venus in Furs, Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch

According to Goggle “What is love?” it is the most searched for phrase on its website. We talk about love as though it is a condition, but a condition we long to be in and yet when we are in love we sometimes wish we were not, such is the emotional pain and pleasure of its presence. It is a feeling that has defied definition by some of our greatest philosophical minds, some say due to the fact that no philosopher was ever in love. However, the ancient philosophers would associate the concept of love with the goddess Venus in just the same way we astrologers would associate the planet Venus with all things to do with love. Ancient philosophy held that all things were made from varying amounts of Earth, Air, Fire and Water all bound together with “Love.”(1) The concept therefore was that everything was made from five essential qualities or elements.

An interesting point about the planet Venus is that it makes a five-pointed star over an eightyear period as it orbits the Sun when viewed from Earth, at inferior conjunction in its retrograde phase.(2) Now five is regarded as a magical number, it’s a number that I like to call a “one step beyond number” (along with 7, 9 & 11). The number five takes us from the solid, fixed and structured number four to another “dimension.” The number Four is associated with the four “elements” Earth, Air, Fire and Water and as previously stated, these elements were bound together by “Love.” This “Love” was the fifth element, the unseen but essential “Quintessential” element. Five is associated with the five-pointed star (or pentagram) that represents Man. Ask any Pagan and they will tell you that each point is associated with each of the above “elements” only the concept of Spirit being substituted for Love.

Tying all this into astrology, a fifth of a circle is in astrological terms a Quintile (72 deg.) or a Bi- Quintile (144 deg.), it has the qualities of the hidden and the unseen but powerful. So, I suppose love would be a good description for it. Love is an emotion and like electricity it’s intangible, you can’t see it (Fire), smell it (Air), taste it (Water) or hold it (Earth), but as anybody held within its grip will tell you (Love or Electricity), you sure can feel it.

Quintile aspects can be difficult to immediately see or interpret in a chart and for me that is its true message. Like most astrologers I like to give planets, houses and signs key word, but I also give aspects key words. For the quintile I would use “hidden agendas,” a better term would be “hidden gifts,” but it is a gift you have to use with care, as here on Earth you can create your own heaven or your own hell. It is also an aspect that I believe has a magnetic sexual attractiveness about it. So look to see where the private/secret agendas or gifts are in your chart and what you would like the world to look like through your eyes.

“No lover, if he be of good faith, and sincere, will deny he would prefer to see his mistress dead than unfaithful.” - Marquis De Sade

Hidden gifts and sexual magnetism also fits in with the famous/infamous star Algol in the sign of Taurus and as you know, Venus rules Taurus. Now I have read little in astrological texts that is positive about Algol, but my Libra Moon cannot accept that anything is wholly bad or evil, or even entirely good, and a little research throws up the theme of healing and peace. Unfortunately, space does not allow me to fully describe in detail the theory behind my observation about Algol here. However, from my rather short research I thought it possible that from Algol we might have derived the word Algolagnia, e.g. to obtain sexual pleasure from pain. Does the physical pleasure or love of pain takes away or mask unseen mental anguish?

“Love is a sort of madness, I grant that, but a madness over which philosophy is entirely powerless; it is a disease to which man is exposed at all times, no matter at what age, and which cannot be cured, if he is attacked by it in old age.” - Giacomo Casanova

The planet Venus is also the most exact timekeeper in the solar system,(3) this being due to its almost perfectly circular orbit, unlike almost all other planets that have elliptical orbits. As you know, an ellipse has two points or “foci” and on a planetary scale one of the foci is positioned where the Sun is, the other foci is an invisible point in space, and the ancients called this point “love.” In the case of the orbit of our own Moon, one foci is at the common centre of gravity of the Earth/Moon system (the barycentre) and the other foci is called the Black Moon Lilith. Here we see the deep dark empty void of our psyche that requires to be filled, either through the collective or by a deep connection with another, it is the exact opposite of our ego.

Coming back to an astrological/astronomical level, when both foci are in the same place there is a balance of forces, a self-containment if you like, where outside influences or relationships have no effect nor are looked for. At its worst it can be self-adsorbing and selfish, but conversely this could be the highest magical state that shamans and followers of the Qabalah are attempting to attain.

“The Great Work is the uniting of opposites. It may mean the uniting of the soul with God, of the microcosm with the macrocosm, of the female with the male, of the ego with the non-ego— or what not.” - Aleister Crowley, Magick Without Tears

However, the pathway to those higher levels is via a balance of male and female energies. In the Qabalah, one follows a pathway that alternates between masculine and feminine spheres. It is only at the very top, when you have divested yourself of all vices, that masculine and feminine polarities have no meaning, as at that point they have fused together. This is why the hermaphrodite god Mercury was held above all others in Alchemy and magical workings.

In the film Agora, the pagan high priestess and mathematician, Hypatia, comes to the conclusion that a circle is actually a special ellipse, in that its two foci occupy the same position. This turns ordinary thinking on its head, as you would normally consider an ellipse to be an “abnormal” circle. If you ever want to draw the perfect heart – like the ones you see on valentines’ cards – simply draw two ellipses with their major axes at approximately 45 degrees to each other and their lower foci connected. From the outline you can then draw the perfect heart shape (See figure below).

Now this image is visually symbolic as points to the idea that when two people are in love they are connected at a deep hidden level.

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” Anais Nin

As previously mentioned, Venus maps out a five-pointed star in its orbit during its retrograde periods. For about the past 50-60 years these retrograde periods of about 42 days have been almost exclusively in Aries, Gemini, Leo, Virgo and Capricorn. None of these signs are particularly good for Venus, she being in detriment or her fall. You have to go back to the late 1940s before the sequence starts to creeps back into the signs she rules or are her exultation. Is this the reason why we see or read so little about love and romance these days? When was the last time you saw a film exclusively about love that was not also a tragedy that was not in colour? (I’ll ignore Grease!).



1. The ancients did not actually believe that everything was simply made of earth, air, fire and water, in fact one philosopher proposed the concept of “atoms’. What they did believe was that everything had a “quality’ that was the product of varying amounts of the above “elements’”. This concept was later taken up by the psychologists to try and quantify differing human personalities.

2. There is an interesting fact regarding the orbits of Venus and the Earth. Venus takes 224.700 days to orbit the Sun whilst the earth takes 365.256 days. Dividing one by the other you get the ratio 1.625. Strangely (or amazingly) this is almost exactly the number of the Golden Ratio (1.618) that the ancients were so enamoured with and used in the layout of their temples. It is a ratio that has also been observed in nature in a surprisingly wide variety of naturally occurring things. Also the structure of the pentagram itself follows golden ratio rules concerning the lengths of its sides.

3. The planet Neptune is also a very precise time-keeper having an almost exactly circular orbit. Most astrologers regard Neptune as the higher vibration of Venus in the same way that Uranus is regarded as the higher vibration of Mercury.


Planetary Cycles at a glance, Astrid Fallon, Fallon

Astro Graphics

The Secret Code, Riya Hemenway, Evergreen 2008

GmbH, Koln

Film: A Question Of Life And Death

Film: The Prince’s Bride

Film: Moulin Rouge

Film: Agora


John S. Dawson is a self-employed astrologer, author, tarot and rune reader living in St Annes, Lancashire, England. He is publicity officer for his local astrology group Northern Lights and gives regular talks on most aspects of astrology and has run his own astrological conferences in the UK. John has had numerous articles published in the AAUK, Lodge London and ISAR Journals, some being reprinted overseas.

One time ISAR VP for the UK he spent time on the AAUK council. His main interest is regards the possible political use that astrology played during the times of the Wars of the Roses (1455- 1487) and the English Civil War (1642-1651).

He is now preparing two books covering his research into these two eras. He will be attending the ISAR conference in Phoenix AZ, September 2014. He can be contacted via his website or