let there be light
* app contains references to gender dysphoria and alludes to Christian themes that may be uncomfortable (i.e. using religion to “straighten out” LGBT folks)
the goddess of beauty;
Millions of miles away from Earth, Venus is one of the brightest astral objects in the night sky, easily visible to the naked eye. Lighting up a darkened atmosphere, it’s difficult not to take notice of such a beautiful thing. Such an enchanting phenomenon entranced and excited those who looked upon it and could truly appreciate the sight they beheld.
You are nothing like your namesake -- neither in regards to the planet or the Roman goddess. You are taught that for you to be beautiful is to be wrong. You see light and beauty around you and some part of you desperately wishes that you could be beautiful, but instead, you are told that you are supposed to be aggressive and deflect the world around you. You are told you are to aspire to Mars, the god of war and strife. You are told you are supposed to be jagged and angry, an unrelenting flurry of optimal masculinity. You must be hell incarnate, but you cannot bring yourself to be this way.
You do not want the world to look at you in such a manner.
You want the world to look at you like the planet Venus: a bright being of beauty, comparable to the stars in the sky. Though you see light where others do not, they don’t seem to see any shred of light in you -- and honestly, you’re unsure of whether or not there is anything special about you. You want them to see you so fucking badly. You want them to see the real you. You want them to see softness and compassion, beauty and love. You want to be looked upon like you are a goddess with a nurturing touch and a loving nature, not a god who thrives off of conflict and maliciousness.
You want people to see you as a Venus, not a Mars.
You want them to see a light in you that you yourself cannot see. You want to feel like you know who you are because right now, you feel lost and alone and afraid. You shut yourself away from others, shying away nervously from conversation. You are unseen from the world. Invisible. You want everyone to see you and help you discover who you are meant to be, but instead, you are unmemorable and shoved out of the way, covering yourself up unintentionally.
Your parents know you are lost and confused, but they don’t do much to help you. They claim you need to seek Jesus in order to find yourself, spouting something about how God is the answer to every single one of your problems. “Faith will save you,” they say, and they shove a copy of the good book into your hands unceremoniously. You feel lied to by your parents: the Bible does nothing to reaffirm who you are. It only serves to keep telling you that you are wrong and that you are not supposed to be soft and you are not supposed to want to wear flowing dresses with flowers in your hair. You are supposed to be hard and you are supposed to wear suits and neckties.
Those ties have always felt more like nooses around your neck, like they’re a symbol of how you’re actually telling the world that you’ve willingly given up on discovering who you are meant to be in favor of who you are told to be. Every time you fix your tie, you feel like you’ve hanged yourself, over and over and over again, and you know that you’ll always have to do it again. You can’t make out why it makes you so uncomfortable, and nobody else can seem to help you either, so you simply have to deal with being unseen and continue as if nothing feels strange.
When holy words and praying in church every Sunday don’t do you any good, your parents take drastic measures: they send you to summer camp. The Summer Scouts gather around and sing songs about Jesus and put the fear of God into troubled youths, telling them that they must be good or they’ll be condemned to Hell for all of eternity. Good means conforming with expectations, good means boys must like girls and girls must like boys, and good means you have to keep putting on suits and to keep tightening that God-forsaken noose around your neck.
king of the gods;
It is no wonder that Jupiter takes on her namesake and acts as a leader to the ragtag trio known as Group West. When you, Jupiter, and Neptune are all grouped together, there is no one better to take over. You are too meek and cannot take initiative, and Neptune is too bitter and unwilling to put in the effort a leader needs to have. With no better options, Jupiter takes the reins while nobody else is willing to. There’s a storm brewing in her as big as the red storm swirling around the giant planet she shares a name with, and it leaves you in absolute awe of her.
She is lightning and thunder.
She is more than you’ll ever be.
She is strong, she is brave, and she carries herself in such a manner that forces you to look at her with starry eyes, but those same eyes covered in stars quickly turn green with envy. You’re jealous of her. You’re jealous that she is what you’re supposed to be. You’re jealous that she can take control, that she can lead the herd with no problem, that she’s so much better than you could hope to be. You’re jealous that she doesn’t let every insulting word thrown her way crawl into her head and torment her. You admire her and aspire to be like her. She’s so far removed from what you are, you can’t help but want to be more like her.
You’re shyness and constant fuck-ups followed by blubbering, weak-willed apologies. She takes initiative and doesn’t consistently screw up. You don’t like to compare yourself to her because it only makes you think of how much worse you are. You’re no good kid. You’re an awful kid who’s never quite fit in. But Jupiter? She’s the best of the three of you. She seems to think otherwise, but you strongly disagree with her personal assessment.
All the same, you feel like you can confide in her. You can talk to her about how you hate how the world isn’t fair with ease, and though she doesn’t get your point of view, you’re thankful for the extra pair of ears to listen to you. She makes you feel like you’re not just part of the background, but a part of the group. You’re a part of something more than yourself. Seen and heard -- but not to the extent that you want. You don’t quite get why you want so much more, and you’re not sure why it matters so much to you.
Sometimes, you wonder why Jupiter is even at camp. Then you notice the way her gaze lingers on Neptune for just a little too long and you remember why she’s stuck with the rest of you: she’s a princess who isn’t interested in princes. She doesn’t talk much about that part of herself -- you’re not so sure if she’s talked about it at all, actually -- but you gather it all on your own.
It’s because of the fact that none of you are quite “perfect” that the Bonfire Captain condemns Group West to meet the Devil in a cabin out in the woods. For hours, the three of you are going to be stuck there, forced to face your demons.
god of the sea;
Much like the crashing and splashing of the ocean waves, Neptune is a force to be reckoned with. Sometimes, the sea may seem calm, but quickly, it can become something dangerous and harmful, threatening to drown those in its path, like a sudden white squall. She’s like her planetary namesake: on the surface, she is an intense storm of raining ice and harsh winds, but underneath, she is balanced. She knows who she is.
She’s much like the sticky liquor she sneaks into the cabin: full of sweetness, yet oh so sour at the same time.
She relates with you on the level that you both know that you’re bad kids in the eyes of God. You both know deep down that there is no salvation in your path. There’s only penance. How you both handle this is very different: she fights back and wants everyone to show their cruel colors while you stay resigned and refrain from trying to make things worse. Out of the trio, you’re the one who stays easygoing, hoping that the group won’t crumble and fall apart if you give in to what makes you angry.
Neptune is always trying to push your buttons, and it’s especially obvious when you, her, and Jupiter are all stuck in that miserable, stuffy cabin. She’s always trying to get a rise out of you, but you’re tired of trying to live up to others’ expectations. You’re tired of living under scrutiny, tired of others thinking that you should be a certain way. You hate it. You know that she has good intentions in trying to make you mean: she wants you to accept that you’re angry, knowing that you can’t bottle up every little negative feeling bubbling inside of you. But you can’t bring yourself to intentionally lash out.
Too many people have hurt you before for you to deliberately act the same. Your mother says that humans simply hurt others when they’ve been hurt. You think that’s the dumbest thing anyone has ever said to you, frankly; everyone’s been hurt before. That doesn’t give them an excuse to do the same to others. The world is already cruel and unfair, and you don’t see any reason to add to that pain and despair plaguing the planet. Oftentimes, you’re unintentionally cruel. A thoughtless phrase hurts someone you care about, and immediately, you beat yourself up over it.
You cannot always be nice. Neptune makes it clear to you that you can’t get what you really want by simply being kindhearted. Sometimes, you have to be a little mean to make people notice you, to make them realize that you are someone of worth. She’s right, of course, but that’s easier said than done. She makes this abundantly clear to you as the night drags on into the early hours of the morning.
With everyone’s breath reeking of alcohol at two in the morning, you all decide to try to get a hold of God on the radio. Jupiter fiddles around with the radio to try to land on God’s station.
The three of you find someone very different instead.
You try to get in touch with God.
Instead, you meet the Devil.
The Devil is a complicated being. The Devil is ugly and monstrous and full of sin, or so you are told. You have to remember that before he was the Devil, he was Lucifer. He was once an angel allowed to freely roam Heaven so long as he obeyed God’s wishes. However, once he rebelled, once he chose his own path that nobody else had chosen for him, he was cast aside, thrown to Earth, acting as a trickster for mankind.
Though the Bible paints him as a horrid figure, the Devil is charismatic and knows exactly what man wants to hear. He speaks with a soft voice, smooth like the finest of silk, and it is said that with such a persuasive tongue he convinced Eve to take a bite of the forbidden fruit. In a way, he helped her discover a new part of herself -- and what was so wrong about that?
In the early hours of the morning, you think of the Devil and you think that it’s not so bad to be him. The Devil thought for himself. The Devil discovered who he was supposed to be. The Devil is sinful, but that’s okay. He has plenty of room for everyone to be sinners in his domain; God does not.
With a newfound confidence, you make an announcement:
“I am the Devil.”
You know who you are. The Bible labels you as a sinner and a rebel against God’s plans, but you are also so much more than that. You are Venus. You are a planet radiating the brightest light possible, you are a goddess, you are beautiful and soft. You are hair ties and ribbons, not neck ties and slacks. When Jupiter and Neptune look upon you, they finally see you for who you really are. You see yourself for who you are. At long last, you finally see that light that you have spent ages searching for, and it is as if you have finally shed yourself of a burden you have carried for far too long.
Neptune follows suit. She realizes she’s got a bit of the Devil in her as well, and she embraces this. That leaves Jupiter uncertain and afraid, unwilling to succumb to the thought that she’s a “bad kid” by accepting that the Devil is a part of her too. She thinks that to do so is ugly, that it’s awful, that it’s bad. With some serious effort, both you and Neptune convince her otherwise. You tell her it’s okay. You tell her that you’ll see her as an equal, not as an idealized version of herself. Neptune promises to help her too.
She accepts that she’s the Devil too.
And the three of you have never been happier than in that moment when you all finally realized who you are.