Venus, Queen of the sky, is at its brightest right now making this the opportune time to appreciate her beauty. Her brightness, dwarfed only by the moon, Venus reigns supreme in the night sky. Look to the east before sunrise and there you will find the planet of love and woman and all things beautiful.
Whether you believe in it or not a tangible femininity surfaces in one’s life, a sweet endearing softness that no doubt inspired the Romans to dedicate temples in her name. Venus the goddess of love has a legion of followers in the form of artists and writers, intent on capturing this elusive butterfly’s secret. Sandro Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ commissioned in the mid 1480s is still printed with as much fervour as it was when the ancient Greeks were sculpting Aphrodite, Venus de Milo, out of marble back in 100BC. There is good reason why Le Louvre has queues of people outside its door! The hottest day in Paris does not deter the hoards of culture vultures waiting their turn to digest some of the greatest art mankind has created. Worth getting into a sweat over, the armless Venus de Milo remains as beautiful as the day Alexandros of Antioch breathed life into her.
Far away from the centre of civilisation our works of art are still breathing, museums are mostly for dead people who made it out here alive into the African bush. The animals, the trees, the rivers; they are the living works of beauty and love that draw souls from across the globe to their side. In silence, in stillness and in utter awe they move in a veiled existence quietly, gently from place to place. To be here, with them, so close to an animal kingdom is to walk amongst angelic beings. The soft purple haze that surrounds their slow motion gaits adds to their mystery and unsurpassed beauty.
As mothers, as females we nurture and protect, an instinctive and natural response to new life. Ever present, we watch and take care of the young, we encircle them in a protective bubble of love. To see a baby elephant is to wait patiently, in a hushed whisper, watching as each member of the herd moves in a concerted effort around the youngest member of their family, guarding against harm at all cost. How similar we are, a group of women with children splashing in the cool waters of the Zambezi river on a hot October’s day, alongside a herd of elephant drinking and playing to their hearts content. Like us they draw strength from the water, much needed hydration on this parched noon, our bodies soaking up the droplets, respite from a relentless heat. Wallowing in the rapids us humans are amazed at these giants who so quietly arrived out of the sticks to join us in our revelry on the banks of the river.
Understanding one another we look across from one family group to the other, one with 2 legs and 2 arms, the other with 4 legs and one useful extraordinary trunk. Females united, for one fleeting moment. I, homo sapiens and you, matriarch of an elephant herd – we are one, suspended together in time. You bring me beauty, and fill my heart with love: daily, renewable feelings of peace and joy. And I, what do I give you and your kind? Do we fill you with fear and loathing? Do you watch us in wonder and excitement at the next time you will see us again? Or do you hope and long for a time and place when the two legged beast with his gun, and his axe, with his futile pen and words, will leave and be gone forever.
And you my friend, will walk as you once did, before we robbed you of your soul’s song when we took your ivory to make music. Before we stole your freedom to roam when we built our homes. And before we locked your babies in chains in the name of entertainment.
And yet, despite all of this, there you are. Surrounded by chaos, threatened by your very extinction, you are unmovable, unshakeable, impossibly serene, with eyes shining like Venus in a dusty uncertainty.
***A tribute to the 62 elephants poisoned with cyanide in Hwange national park this month***
Painting ‘The Birth of Venus’ by Sandro Botticelli