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The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus contains powerful symbolic representations of the Virgin archetype.  On the left we see Zephyr, the god of wind, carrying his sister, Chloris, who he abducted and married.  This incest may be a metaphor for making love with yourself or knowing yourself (I don’t think it is meant to be read literally).  These gods are blowing life into Venus and surrounding her with the beauty of nature in the form of flowers (Chloris has dominion over flowers) as if compelling her to allow her inner nature to flower.

On the right we see a woman dressed in the clothes of her culture.  The wind is blowing her, too, but she is fighting against it.  She is trying to cover up Venus’ nakedness and make her acceptable to society.  Her side of the painting is darker.

Venus is in the middle of these forces, standing on a shell which speaks to the ocean, a feminine symbol, and the emergence from a protected world.  Her face shows a pensiveness that indicates she is considering these influences on her and looking inside herself for the answers.  Her indecision is presented by her half effort to cover herself, the lack of concern on her face and the use of her own natural hair, rather than the cloth, to protect her modesty.  Her nakedness is a symbol of her true essence, stripped of traditional, social, or moral influences.  It is her Virgin state, untested and unproven and full of possibilities.