Mercury takes Venus by the Hand at New Moon: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

May 18, 2020

Watch Mercury this week in his role as escort of souls, leading Venus out of the night and back into the arms of the Sun, looking west after sunset as shown in this image from sky&telescope

There’s a New Moon on Friday this week, and on the same day, the planets Mercury and Venus will join one another in the same region of the sky, looking west after sunset.

Friday’s meeting of Mercury and Venus at New Moon is the exact opposite configuration they had two months ago, in late March, when the Moon came new and they were each at greatest elongation, or furthest away from the Sun as they can get~Mercury in the morning sky, and Venus in the evening sky.

In the two months since then, Venus has shined brightly into the night, like the goddess descending in so many myths and fairy tales. But now Venus has turned in her path, and is moving back toward the light of the Sun. We’ll see Venus in the evening sky for another week or so, but then she’ll change her evening gown for a morning frock and become our brilliant morning star for the rest of the year.

But Venus doesn’t go unescorted. Mercury is there, as psychopompos, as the one who leads all souls from this world to the next, and back again. So who is this goddess Venus now that she’s emerging from the dark?

We’ll let this poem from Rilke capture Mercury’s role in escorting her to an answer:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,then walks with us silently out of the night.These are the words we dimly hear:You, sent out beyond your recall,go to the limits of your longing.Embody me.Flare up like a flameand make big shadows I can move in.Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.Just keep going. No feeling is final.Don't let yourself lose me.Nearby is the country they call life.You will know it by its seriousness.Give me your hand.