Today may be April Fool’s Day, but it’s also a day sacred to Venus Verticordia, according to the School of the Seasons.
This Roman festival was consecrated to Venus Verticordia (the Heart-turner), “Goddess of Beauty, Mother of Love, Queen of Laugher, Mistress of the Grapes.” At the temple of Venus, women washed Her statue, replaced her golden necklace and other jewelry, and offered Her roses and other flowers. Women bathed in myrtle and scented water and wore crowns of myrtle. Ovid says Venus requested them to bathe beneath the green myrtle. English folklore says myrtle won’t grow unless planted by a woman.
Venus the Heart-turner, I like that . . . turning our hearts not only to erotic and flirtatious thoughts, but also to green and growing things. “Verticordia” (which seems like it ought to mean “green harmony”) reminds me of the word “veriditas” which, I believe, means the greening of the soul. Ah, here we go: Hildegard of Bingen “used viriditas as a synonym of blessing for fruitfulness and creativity,” according to Matthew Fox by way of Jean Shinoda Bolen in Crossing to Avalon. Very Venusian, this viriditas.
I found this painting of Venus Verticordia by Rossetti — it’s romantic and “foofy” and was apparently one of the only nudes Rossetti ever painted. Roses and honeysuckle and, of course, an apple. Within the apple, the five-pointed star of seeds sacred to Her. I’m looking forward to taking the train down to Portland to see the Pre-Raphaelite exhibit at the Portland Art Museum later this month. I wonder how many paintings of Venus I’ll see?