Venus & Her Lover: Why Gods & Goddesses?

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Venus & Her Lover: Why Gods & Goddesses?

Detail, "The Second Coming", by JG Bertrand, from The Pillow Book of Venus & Her Lover

by Becca Tzigany

“The first step to mystical realization is the leaving of such a defined god for an experience of transcendence, disengaging the ethnic from the elementary idea,  for any god who is not transparent to transcendence is an idol, and its worship is idolatry.:   [Emphasis his].

~  Joseph Campbell


Detail, “In Ganesha’s Cave”, by JG Bertrand. From The Pillow Book of Venus and Her Lover

Like the proverbial five blind men describing the elephant, religions describe the Divine.

 But the true “point” of religion is to point the way, so that the seeker transcends the directions/ suggestions.  Instead, religious people often get into dogma wars over whether the elephant is like a snake (the trunk), a rope (the tail), a fat, sharp spear (the tusk),  a wall (the side), or whatever partial truth they have discovered.                   



“The Blessing”, by JG Bertrand, from The Pillow Book of Venus & Her Lover

People, once they have had a direct experience with the Divine, find it very hard to become convinced that it is anything other than what they experienced.   Once you have seen Jesus on the cross or Yahweh in the burning bush, or been spoken to by an angel, or been transported by the ecstasy of a Sufi dance, or been infused with the presence of Tara, or commanded to act by Allah, or journeyed to the center of the Universe, or disappeared into the  great Nothingness … then no one can tell you that it is not so.   Direct experience is real.


… And partial, as it was for the blind men and the elephant.  We each have our  position and perspective which are absolutely individual and true.  If the Universe were an expanding balloon, as some physicists describe, with each of us standing on its surface in a different spot, then we each can describe what our piece of the territory feels, smells, sounds, tastes, and looks like.  Some of our descriptions of the Universe will be wildly different, and yet still accurate. So there’s no use trying to nail it down to just one.


In fact, it would be our duty to fully explore the territory within our reach, as the Universe may be operating based on what we report back, so that the Universe gets to better know itself, to become conscious of itself.  We each get to experience, describe, and – being emotional human beings – creatively embellish our maps of our territories.  But the maps are not the territories, and the territories are not the entire landscape.

By receiving and fully grasping one another’s views, we can expand our embrace of reality, which could come in very handy as we navigate our way through it.


Because of our different perspectives, we end up with opposites and

Detail, “Reality of Dreams”, by JG Bertrand

Detail, “Service for Two”, by JG Bertrand

contradictions.  After all, our spiritual school is organized as a Duality.  Some of us learn in a classroom of pleasure, and others in the classroom of suffering.   [Guess in which one Venus and Her Lover burns the midnight oil!].   So eternal truths will appear as koans of apparent contradiction.  It is in transcending the opposites that we can experience Unity, the whole elephant.


Let us be mindful about the descriptions we pronounce.  Yes, it’s a cold, cruel world … brimming with warmth and lovingkindness.   Life is full of trauma and anguish … and delectations and revelry.   Since adversity seems to grab most of the airtime, Venus and Her Lover heralds the power of pleasure.  With colors blaring and words cooing, the Tantric art entices us to sigh with relaxation and breathe in grace. They point us toward feeling divinity.


Creation results from the merging of polarities.  This universal principle plays out in Nature and most deliciously for us through sex.


Detail,  “The Enlightenment”, by JG Bertrand, from The Pillow Book of Venus & Her Lover

Detail, from “Song of Delight”, by JG Bertrand



Detail, “There’s No Place Like Home”, by JG Bertrand













Gods and goddesses are humanlike in appearance, and while no more concrete than ideas, can be universal in their archetypal resonance.  We can see ourselves in “them” and let “their” extraordinary virtues illuminate our lives, as long as we are seeing through  them  (that “transparency to transcendence”  that Joseph Campbell advises).


Aspiring to define the Divine may be a noble and necessary – but impossible –  task.  Given that the Infinite will never run out of facets to know, we can share with one another our diverse perspectives, for our mutual entertainment and camaraderie.  The more perspectives we can empathically hold, the broader our wisdom and compassion.   Venus and Her Lover is but one portal you can walk through to widen your own discovery.


If the looks of this doorway offend you, or repel you, or make you angry, then you have the option of turning on your heel and walking away.  Or you can walk through it to discover  what in it was pushing your buttons.


Everything in the Kosmos is neutral.  It just is.  It is us who judge things to be good or evil.  Depending on the context, we suffer apparent loss, or we create healing beauty.


Using the lens of deity mysticism, Venus and Her Lover invokes the Transcendental through art that beckons the beholder to experience the physical expressions of love.  With scores of paintings and thousands of words, this Tantric art project is our humble interpretation/ addition to the All That Is.   May some part of it  inspire you to have your own direct experience, in your own body and heart, with the inexhaustible, all-embracing, overwhelming Love that we sense is the power that keeps this whole Kosmic movie playing.  Love sparks and sustains the Universe spinning.

“Upon the Mount, Above the Clouds”, by JG Bertand, from The Pillow Book of Venus & Her Lover



Detail, “Synchrony”, by JG Bertrand, from The Pillow Book of Venus & Her Lover





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