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Unconditional love is the love we’re all seeking, all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not, and in our ideal life, we’d be surrounded by it in every circumstance. But how often do we inspect the quality of the love we offer others? Often, we give it with expectations, assumptions, and qualifiers; and we may then ask, is it still really love? Yes, it is, it’s just that we may without realizing it hook needs of our own to loving someone else; ideally, we will in the course of a lifetime (or many!) learn to love purely, without those requirements or pre-conditions–but how?

Our expectations are often quite reasonable; for instance, we should expect to be treated well within an intimate relationship, as healthy Self-respect and Self-regard demand it. We run into a problem, though, when we say through our behavior, “I love him; he’s rude, arrogant, thoughtless, and cheats on me, but because I love him I must stay engaged in the relationship and try to change his behavior.”  This is based on the belief that everything would be fine if he would just conform to the mate’s expectations of treatment.We feel justified in demanding this because, well, we say we love him. But what we fail to realize is that love is beside the point; love can exist no matter the behaviors of any of the parties, it’s intimate relationship that’s where we must choose to be with those who treat us well–and we must do this by recognizing and accepting another’s behavior as it is, not as we think it should be.

Too often we are attracted to someone, draw closer, and then immediately begin to judge their attitudes and behavior. We feel that we can criticize and demand changes because we claim to love the individual–but what do we love if we don’t accept them as they are?

What we must learn not to do is tie our own willingness to love another to how they treat us, how they behave, or what they are out in the world; and we can only love another by seeing and accepting who they are. What I’m saying is this: we must learn to love without condition, even as we love ourselves enough not to continue in relationship with those who don’t love and respect us. It’s very simple: at the bottom of every successful and loving intimate relationship is a love for Oneself that says, “I love you no matter what; but to stay in intimate connection to me, you must continue to behave in a loving and respectful manner.” If the partner doesn’t treat us kindly, we can continue to love them, but we don’t need to remain in an intimate relationship with them–in fact, we cannot stay in intimate relationship with them if we love ourselves. Part of our weakness in loving both ourselves and others is to confuse the two, to believe that a love relationship exists even when our partner is behaving in an unloving way. It’s true that love may exist, but a loving relationship does not–and that is the heart of how we must choose our companions. It’s noble to continue to love someone who mistreats you–it isn’t noble in the least to remain open to, vulnerable to, and in intimate contact with someone who mistreats you. A truly loving attitude toward others is not based in how they treat us, but a relationship is.

One of the most mature and loving things we can do for ourselves is to recognize when we are in a close relationship where love and respect are not shown to us and to say, as Buddha is reported to have done when confronted on the path by an angry man, “I respectfully decline your gift of anger, and ask that you keep it for yourself.” You see, we may love someone, but just because they offer us something ugly or destructive doesn’t mean we must accept it. To subject ourselves to the unloving denigration of others is to treat ourselves in an unloving way–and if we don’t love ourselves, we don’t have love to give others–because we simply can’t give away what we don’t have, and if we don’t have a resource for ourselves, tangible or intangible, we are unable to share that resource with others. So, to remain in a relationship where we are treated badly is to be unable to love, since to continue involvement says we do not love ourselves, and so cannot truly love another.

Where do we find the conditions we might place on our love? In the state of Venus in the natal chart, of course, but also in the situation of the Sun, as this represents the Soul, the essence of the pure love known as life energy, and in the condition of Neptune, as representative of our ideals. The Moon, too, might give us useful clues, as significator of the feeling nature and the intuition, and the Moon, Venus, and Neptune elaborate on how we relate to others in intangible ways.

With these ideas in mind, let’s look at the chart of Clara Petacci, 29 years younger cousin and mistress of dictator Benito Mussolini, born 28 February 1912 at 10:15 AM Rome, Italy. Clara’s Venus sits on the Midheaven just minutes inside the 10th in Aquarius and conjunct ruler Uranus which sits in the 9th, making the love nature the most visible part of the Self, seen publicly and emblematic of the reputation, making it almost, unfortunately, Clara’s career. Being placed in Aquarius likely only confused the matter for her, as Aquarian Venus may mistake ideas for love, and values having modern attitudes toward relationship–and what could be more modern in tradition bound, early 20th century Catholic Italy than ‘free love’ (very Aquarian!) and status as an openly acknowledged mistress? clara-petacci

Her Venus rules the 1st and 6th, making it integral to the persona and to everyday interaction and activity. It trines Mars, ruler of the 12th, and here we have a suggestion that co-operation with the male energies in the life might be not only easy and comfortable, but an expression of love with origins in the subconscious (12th connection). The only other aspect for Venus is a semi-square to Juno, automatically linking Venusian subjects to personal empowerment as a woman. With so few contacts it may have been inevitable that Venus was able to express in only the handful of ways she knew how.

Her Moon is in Cancer in the 2nd, making for a sensitive and nurture-seeking and giving nature, the success of which likely was reflected in how she felt about and saw herself, a Moon expression more vulnerable than most to the emotional appeal of a mistress’ situation of caretaking and ‘special’ status. Her Sun is in Pisces conjunct Chiron in the 11th; this may have only reinforced the idea that she and her nature were the commodities she had to share with the world. It’s a hyper-sensitive combination and placement, to some extent dependent for identity security on feedback from friends and other allies, and likely imparting the feeling that she was very much synchronous with the Collective.

Her Neptune is, like the Moon, in Cancer, but in the 3rd, perhaps showing vulnerabilities in communication, and an idea that she may have felt connected to the Collective through thought and ideas–but it can also suggest she may have believed she knew what the Collective was thinking, and this is something she badly misjudged. At war’s end Clara Petacci suffered the same fate as her lover, shot, then the next day dragged through the streets, hung upside down, and mutliated by an angry mob, and I can’t help but wonder how shocked she must have been at the Collective she probably felt so much a part of, and which she was sure she understood, turning on her as all the things she valued through Venus came crashing down.

Clara Petacci clearly attached love to the world of concepts and ideas, to the subconscious, to animus energies in herpetacci-portrait life (and it appears she probably ceded her own animus to Mussolini, as well), and had a deep need to be loved and nurtured on both an individual and a larger, public level. Like all of us, she was looking for unconditional love and acceptance in the only ways she knew how. It’s rumored that in the last hours of her life she was offered the chance to go free, but she declined; and what kind of life would it have been for her if she had, having lost her Venusian status, the man who carried her animus, and her illusions about the nature of love and her role within the Collective? Clara confused her relationship with love itself, and in not sorting out the difference, would have suffered at the end of the war whether she’d gone on to live or ended her life as she did, at the hands of those for whom she was a symbol of the worst of Venus.

Please note, this article uses a Placidus chart for analysis. See my book on the astrology of intimate relationships at Dog and Sunflower Press http://dogandsunflower.wordpress.com