how her eyes and tears
did lend and borrow!
Her eyes seen in the tears,
tears in her eye;
crystals, where they view'd
each other's sorrow,
Sorrow that friendly sighs sought still to dry;
But like a stormy day,
now wind, now rain,
Sighs dry her cheeks, tears
make them wet again.
iable passions throng
her constant woe,
As striving who should best become her grief;
entertain'd, each passion labours so,
That every present sorrow seemeth chief,
But none is best: then join they all together,
Like many clouds consulting for foul weather.
'In night,' quoth she, 'desire sees best of all.'
Name: The Moon - Venus and Adonis.
Astrology: Pisces, Moon, Cancer
Hebrew Letter: TZADDI
Text & Context: The Hebrew word tzaddi derives from tzod, meaning "to hunt, to capture". Tzaddi itself means "fish hook". Interesting both for the implication and the false cognate, tzaddi is formed from a bent nun - nun being the faithful servant, crowned. Tzaddi is said, then, to reflect the divine image. In kabbalistic terms, God is said to have created the universe in an act of tzimtzum - a constriction or contraction of Himself; had He not done so, everything would be God, overwhelmed by the totality of His imminence. From this perspective, the letter stands for "making oneself less that others may be more". God created, in part, that His creations might catch His light. In this way, tzaddi is the "bride" of aleph - aleph the Creator and tzaddi His redeeming reflection. The ordinal value 18 is the number of life, chai; its numerical value is 90 - the age of Sarah when she became pregnant with Isaac. Tzaddi's gematria value is that of the word la'lamed, 'to teach".
In Renaissance texts, meaning was not an island; rather, it existed in relationship between texts. Like glass, it consisted of two qualities: transparency and reflection. Allegory was the prevailing mode - "The chief ring-leader and captain of all other figures, either in the Poetical or oratory science" as The Art of English Poesie has it. Existent myth was enlisted to blur apparent boundaries between the world and the word, and in so doing, bring both into focus through the dialectic of the medium - in this case: poetry; or, in the case of the allegorical glass: the solid liquid of the pane.
In this spirit then, in may be worth adumbrating the meaning of Venus & Adonis in light of another mythology: Prometheus. For stealing the Olympian fire and giving it to man to further his agency, the supreme deity Zeus, in punishing Prometheus, effectively conceals what was indeed his own will and agency all along. Prometheus, it may be seen, is as the fallen angel Lucifer - both "light-bearer" and "prince of darkness". Each day, his liver is devoured by Zeus' heraldic emblem, the eagle. Each night, like a dream, his liver - the seat of dreams - grows anew. In this way, Prometheus lives that Zeus may partake of his liver, his life, his dreams.
In Shakespeare's poem, Venus is a bird of prey who devours what she would possess. Repeatedly, when Adonis would speak, his meaning likened to the bullet of a gun, Venus stops his mouth with hers, "murders, with a kiss." Oddly, for a mythical world devoid of financial concerns (and guns for that matter, unless his meaning be loaded and by gun he means canon), V&A repeatedly uses pay, interest, and debt as analogous to kisses and reciprocated love. Thwarted, Venus diversifies her interests, dividing Adonis in half, the hunter and the hunted; Ariel's air to Caliban's earth. The crescent crown or only partly illumined moon Venus weilds mirrors the boar's tusks. The boar's tusk and the groin of Adonis mirror the man's spear and the beast's flank; they are each other, "two Adons dead", misrecognized in the dark. The boar, "Whose downward eye still looketh for a grave, ne'er saw the beauteous livery" Adonis wore, while Venus
lifts the coffer-lids that close his eyes,
Where, lo, two lamps, burnt out, in darkness lies;
Two glasses, where herself herself beheld
A thousand times, and now no more reflect;
Their virtue lost, wherein they late excell'd,
And every beauty robb'd of his effect:
'Wonder of time,' quoth she, 'this is my spite,
That, thou being dead, the day should yet be light'
Shakespeare, thus far fairly adapting Ovid's tale, in the poem's last lines diverges from his source. Instead of staying at Adonis' side, Venus immures herself like a nun in the Cypriot city of Paphos. Earlier in Metamorphosis, Ovid has Paphos as the site where Pygmalion's desire for a female stone statue of his own making literally comes to life, thanks in equal parts to Venus and his desiring. Like Samuel Johnson kicking a stone and exclaiming "I refute it thus!", Shakespeare uses Ovid's tale to metamorphose Lacan's stone sculpture dreamed-up by man, "la femme n'existe pas", into a living breathing body.
As we saw in the Prometheus story, it is the deity's will - there Zeus, here Venus - that the mortal, unbeknownst to himself, in fact accomplishes.
Subtext: The Moon card is about that which is hidden, banished, buried. Yet it is a card of revelation - it basks in the sun's light and bathes us in its pale reflection, illuminating that which would otherwise be lost to us in the black veil of night.
The allegorical poem Venus & Adonis is where the author chose to publicly introduce us to the epithet Shakespeare. Ovid, banished by Caesar and central to Shakespeare's mythopoeia, is quoted on V&A's title page:
'Vilia miretur vulgus; mihi flavus Apollo
Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua.'
"Let the vulgar admire vulgar things; as for me, tawny-haired Apollo
fills my cups from the Castalian springs on Mt. Parnassus."
Three plays written by university students for university students in the 1590s, known collectively as the Parnassus plays, portray "Shake-speare" as a literary joke. One scene, mocking public ignorance, has an actor playing the actor William Kemp declare: "Few of the university pen plays well, they smell too much of that writer Ovid, and that writer Metamorphosis, and talk too much of Proserpina". The Parnassus of myth is home of the poetic muses and, perhaps more importantly, the site where disputes between poetry and law were argued and resolved by poets, their patrons, and Apollo himself. In a legal and political sense, this Ovidian couplet acts as the book's disclaimer, an apophasis which is itself reflection of the omitted couplet preceding it,
Cedant carminibus reges regumque triumphi,
Cedat et auriferi ripa benigna Tagi!
Let kings and the triumphs of kings yield to verse,
Let the bountiful banks of gold-bearing Tagus yield.
From before the first, then, the words unspoken - even as the sun with purple-colour'd face and Adons' purple tears - cap the intervening meaning
carmina morte carent: Poetry is absent from Death.
In the direct address to the 20 year old Earl of Southampton which follows, the author refers to V&A as "the first heir of my invention"; the poem is the heir, the invention is William Shakespeare.
Another invention of the author's sees Adonis opposed to love. He is callow, petulant, obtuse, and narcissistic, vividly recalling the Fair Youth of The Sonnets. Scholars have spent years of their lives looking for any connection between Shaksper of Stratford and the Earl of Southampton, and all in vain, because there is none. Instead, the connection exists between Southampton and the author, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. In the early 1590s, negotiations were ongoing between the younger Earl and his proposed marriage to the elder Earl's first born, Elizabeth. William Cecil was also involved, as it was his grand-daughter in question and Southampton had been Lord Burghley's ward, echoing de Vere's own history. But rather than marry, Southampton paid 5000 pounds to be clear of Elizabeth de Vere and joined up with another of Burghley's wards, the Earl of Essex. His right hand man in Ireland, like Patroclus to Essex's Achilles, Southampton was arrested along with his mentor during the Essex Rebellion. Later pardoned, Southampton became close friends with Henry de Vere, the 18th Earl of Oxford, and was briefly arrested at his father Edward de Vere's death.
Another of the author's inventions has Venus notably older than Adonis. Queen Elizabeth was routinely likened to the moon, Cynthia, Diana, Astraea, and the Virgin Mary, but as her reign wore on with no clear successor in sight, the Platonic tone of earlier love poetry became overtly carnal. That she was the Venus of the poem was widely acknowledged at the time. In his early 20s, Edward de Vere had shared a romantic involvement with Queen Elizabeth, then 40. The Earl of Oxford was widely associated with the boar - "the boar" was de Vere's nickname around court; the family name is derived from the Middle French verres, meaning boar; it is his family's heraldic symbol; it is Shakespeare's "shamanic animal" in the words of Ted Hughes; and in the words of John Lyly:
De Vere, whose fame and loyalty hath pierced
The Tuscan clime, and through the Belgike lands
By winged Fame for valour is rehearsed,
Like warlike Mars upon the hatches stands.
His tuskd boar 'gan foam for inward ire,
While Pallas filled his breast with warlike fire.
As we have seen, Venus stops Adons' words with her lips. In John Lyly's play Endymion, de Vere is the eponymous hero trapped in a silent sleep which can only be broken by the arrival of the moon and Cynthia's kiss. The Queen's thousand pound annuity to de Vere was such a kiss, sanctioning his propagandist work of the chronicles. To be released from wardship, de Vere was forced to pay the Queen for his livery; should he forfeit, the debt was doubled. The Queen, in recompense for his services, warranted his livelihood.
Here, in the first heir of Shakespeare's invention, when action is otherwise stymied, Venus and the narrator slip into the language of painting. The boar is an emblem, it authors itself; like the Queen, married to her people and so to her symbol, the heritage it heralds silencing those who oppose its peerage. Conversely, like mountain-climbers tied together, when the man dies, so too dies the heritage - “My name be buried where my body is” - Adonis and the boar. And yet, from the Pygmalion purple of the blood, fed by Venus' white Galatean milk, is born a new man - William Shakespeare, our ever-living poet - and a new heritage -
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time.
The poet's corpus is the flower of the Tudor Rose; Elizabeth the mother, de Vere the sire. Pygmalion not only sculpted the woman from stone and brought her to life with his willing, but was the brother of Elissa, known to us as Dido, founder of Carthage. In their homeland Tyre, near the Leontes river, birthplace of the colour purple, was the sacred temple site of Bal'bek. There, at what was known as Sun City, or Heliopolis, were worshiped 3 gods: Ba'al the bull god - head deity of the Canaanites, sometimes associated with the underworld's Beelzebub - his consort Ashtart - a combination of Venus and Astraea - and their son Adon.
In allegory, layers of meaning exist simultaneously, resonating between themselves. The publication of V&A coincided with the birth of de Vere's first male heir, Henry de Vere, Viscount Bulbeck and 18th Earl of Oxford. His given name - that of Southampton's - is not one traditionally given to progeny in the de Vere family. The boar it may be noted, is mentioned in the poem 17 times, finally goring Adonis in the groin - an unmistakable insinuation regarding sex and reproduction. Ovid's anemone becomes Shakespeare's meleagris, or the checkered fritillary, sometimes called the "Flower of Oxford". It is also known as the "narcissus lily" - Narcissus being a name and condition commonly used to describe Southampton. Further, creating a three-way entendre, we see in meleagris the genus name for turkey, recalling Elizabeth's name for Oxford: "Turk". One kind of meleagris is called a "Penelope hen", which may indicate that Penelope Riche, Essex's sister, boar some involvement in Shakespeare's first heir - an allegation openly made in the 1594 roman à clef poem, Willobie His Avisa.
Venus & Adonis and The Moon card, then, are at first sight an allegory of the sacred profaned and duly punished, as Prometheus stealing fire or Hippolytus spurning Aphrodite or Acteon observing Diana in her bath. Delving deeper reveals the action to be the symbiotic choreograph of a new dispensation, a variation of the Eleusinian Mysteries - Adonis being the seed within the poem, the poem itself Shakespeare's first heir released out into the open, his perennial verdure "a monument without a tomb, alive still while thy book doth live." The winter imprisonment endured and released in the Castilian spring. As the worm turns, d'iver to ver. The contraction - the contract - making the other more.
Intertext: Crowns 10 The Sonnets
*Note: This card has strong connections with the Virgin Queen card - it could be said we are brought into her cave and are now looking out. There, the dichotomous black and white trees - perhaps trees of good and evil, perhaps trees of life and death or family trees - echo the knights on the Burghley card; the shadows they cast adumbrate the shadows on the Moon card, cast by the boar and the hound. The harsh tones are muted and made mutable by the red and white fused within the Tudor Rose. This card, along with these 6 cards of the Majors, form a septet -
The MOON XVIII VENUS & ADONIS