I Met Venus in Ottawa

A view of the Gallery as we approached it. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

I’m sure most couples who plan a babymoon look to warmer climates for a romantic getaway.  Not us.  Weretoad and I looked north and went to Ottawa, Ontario.  We so enjoy that city, and being winter-tolerant folk to begin with, it just felt right. (Not to mention it’s only a couple hours away which meant it was more affordable than a more exotic locale!)  I really wanted to visit the National Gallery of Canada.  In past visits, we’ve checked out the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Museum of Civilizations,  and the Bytown Museum as part of a very fun Haunted Walk.  Visiting the gallery felt right for a babymoon since I can’t see us visiting one with the babe until he or she grows up a little.

The Gallery was massive.  It took us a few hours to get through it all.  Some of the pieces were so-so or unimpressive, but I feel that is more likely the larger the space to fill.  There were plenty of beautiful examples.  My favorite pieces were usually landscapes (including one by a favorite artist of mine – Thomas Cole), some examples from Monet and Picasso, and work by a Canadian named Lawren Harris.  I think my favorite overall exhibits contained examples of Inuit art, Indian sculptures (including a beautiful Ganesha), and this ridiculously fun art installment by Martin Creed.  He filled a room with twenty thousand black balloons for people to walk around in!  It made me feel all at once childlike and scared at the same time.  The balloons were usually over my head and I kept worrying I’d lose my husband!

My absolute favorite painting was from the German Renaissance by someone named Lucas (the Elder) Cranach.  Simply titled “Venus,” it is the typical portrait of the Goddess in nude.  What struck me about the piece was its simplicity.  The background is all black – it is simply the Roman Goddess of love and beauty, naked save a necklace and a bit of delicate, gauzy fabric.  While she is certainly beautiful by today’s standards, she is also not the supermodel of our times.  Her breasts are small and she has a bit of a double chin!  And yet…  she is such a strikingly beautiful figure despite that.   Normally, Venus is a Goddess I keep a wide berth of.  I don’t work with Roman deities to begin with, and her Greek counterpart’s lore makes me a little uncomfortable.  And yet this time, before the almost life-size image, I felt at ease, welcomed, and in a sort of fellowship.  She seemed to say, with her strong gaze and soft smile, “be confident for you are beautiful too!”  It is very easy to feel less than sexy when you’re bulging with baby weight, and I suffer from bouts of negative body-image to begin with.  I mentally thanked and praised her. I found a postcard version at the gift shop and bought it.  It’s now framed on my dresser to remind me of that confidence.

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

9 thoughts on “I Met Venus in Ottawa

  1. Originally, Venus was a vegetation Goddess and patroness of gardens and vineyards who had no original myths of Her own. It wasnt until later, under Greek influence, She was equated with Aphrodite and assumed many of Her aspects. It would only make sense then that She be equated with fertility and all that is beautiful – especially pregnant women 🙂 Have you read “The Body
    Sacred” by Dianne Sylvan? Its a very inspirational read and helped me during my post-partum phase.

    1. I know more about the Greek Gods than I do the Roman, so I’m very interested to learn about Venus’ association with vineyards. I actually looked her up and found out that there are several festivals for her in April, many of which involve “mundane” wine vs. Jupiter’s consecrated, ritual wine. Very interesting!

      I have not read that book, but I will add it to my wish list! Thank you!

    2. Also, it seems like wine deities are cropping up. First this, now a thread on ADF Discuss (or Celtic?) about Celtic wine deities. Someone out there is just trying to rub my sobriety in my face! LOL I will remember to toast Venus when I next can enjoy a cup of wine.

    1. A babymoon is a romantic getaway for an expecting couple, usually in the second trimester (when travel is considered safe). It’s a time to make love with abandon and spend alone time together before mobility (or medical concerns) become an issue and baby comes along and changes everything for several years.

  2. The ancestors of Europe and Siberia were big fans of the Venus:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Willendorf

    A lady big with baby was a hugely significant individual for ancient tribes whose integrity depended upon fertility and the continuation of the tribe where death was usually under 40 years of age and mortality rates were high. You would have been a welcome joy to them as yo would have been the manifestation also of the abundance of the land.

  3. when i was in Ottawa a couple years back now, i went to the Canadian Museum of Nature, it was awesome fun!!, Oh Ottawa how i miss they and the Canadian Pagans i meet there… mmmm

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