The B*tch Is Back!
Okay, okay, maybe "b*tch" is a bit harsh to describe our fair Venus when she goes retrograde. (She would no doubt approve of our politically correct version of the word. ;-)
...Or is it too harsh?? We normally associate Venus with gentle love, peaceful balance and soothing pleasure. But when she turns retrograde, she can reveal hidden motives and "monsters" that are ordinarily obscured within her shadows. (Be sure to read the other articles about Venus to understand what this beautiful planet represents in astrology and mythology. See the links at right for specific articles.)
A retrograde planet means it looks like it's going backwards in the sky for a time, although this is physically based on an optical illusion. (For more about how this works, see the article Introduction to Retrogrades.)
When retrograde, a planet's energy can become turned in on itself. This doesn't mean it becomes invisible or undetectable – in fact, it can become much more intense for the person experiencing it! However, retrograde energy can be harder to bring out and utilize in the external world. It is more fragile and vulnerable out in the open air, as if it has no skin on. It can also be harder for the person to perceive and work with this energy objectively in themselves, since their experience of it is so subjective and close to their inner sense of self. That doesn't mean a retrograde planet is not used, but it may be difficult for the person to draw on that energy consciously, deliberately and easily.
When Venus is retrograde, her normally social and friendly nature can be come shy, withdrawn or quiet. There is a deeper sense of value in one's experiences which must be found without outer distractions or disruptions. Relationships can be turned inside-out, as the two people find they need to explore the hidden undercurrents of their relationship. When the hidden, suppressed, minimized or ignored dynamics finally come out, it can disrupt the status quo of the relationship – which may or may not be a bad thing!
Love and War
When Venus is retrograde, the Goddess of love, beauty, fairness and pleasure can show a side that is more like a Goddess of war, sabotage, pretence and compulsion. Hidden desire and hunger may surface, which can disrupt the balance of one's life. This can ultimately be for the better, since it is only by bringing these dynamics up to consciousness and awareness that they can be untangled, healed and re-integrated into the whole. Unfortunately, it can also create a lot of turmoil in the process, and there is no guarantee that a relationship will survive this transformation.
Relationships may undergo a lot of stress during the retrograde period, sometimes falling apart if the people can't come to more a workable agreement. Conversely, Venus retrograde can bring a new relationship into your life, especially if you've been resisting the allure of an intimate connection. Either way, retrograde Venus is tempting us to reconsider our approach to relationships. What's important to us? What (and who) we want, and why? And what we have to offer? In Venus's world of love, intimacy must ultimately be negotiated to determine where each person's boundaries are and whether we can (or can't or won't) meet each other's needs.
Under Venus retrograde, financial affairs might also require a fresh strategy in planning and budgeting, often brought on by a change in income or cash flow (which could be either an increase or decrease). Creative projects may need to be redone or approached from a different direction, as new inspiration is brought to the surface. Matters of diplomacy, harmony and social interaction could become unstable and require re-negotiation. On the other hand, the retrograde can also be a good time for negotiations, since the energy is already in a direction of reflection and exploration of the internal or unseen side of the situation.
Venus retrograde can be a time when the weak links in a relationship are strained and sometimes break. Issues that have been swept under the rug and avoided may surface and demand to be dealt with. Undercurrents of hostility or frustration can erupt into full-blown conflict. And if the relationship has been running on fumes or just hanging on by its fingernails, Venus retrograde could create a "make it or break it" situation. Lurking problems may have to be dealt with or choices made to bring the relationship to an end.
On the other hand, if two people have been going through a difficult time of struggling with problems, they could also find those problems "going underground" for a while and taking a rest. There may be a "ceasefire" of sorts, as Venus retrograde brings the individuals into the eye of the storm where they can revaluate and reconsider the issues.
It is not always possible to predict which way relationship problems might go – taking a breather or taking aim – but Venus retrograde will usually stir up the pot so that the usual habitual dynamics don't function in quite the same way for a while. If you are in a close relationship that is having serious problems, it can really help to consult an astrologer or counselor, to get a better understanding of what is happening. By gaining more awareness of the dynamics and shifting of energy, you are in a better position to make choices that are in your best interests and that move you toward growth and healing.
What's Worth It?
We may encounter a hidden side of our values and desires, during the retrograde. These need to be brought out in the open and eventually integrated back into our usual approach to the material world. the spending and investment of our money, time, energy and commitment. Values tell us what's important to us. They are the yardstick by which we determine whether something is "worth it." This could mean material worth (dollar value), or it could mean determining what we need to invest ourselves in to get the return we want on that investment.
Venus retrograde is a time when we may be forced to re-examine what we consider "worth it." We may be called upon to take stock of whether the activities, people and things in which we have invested our time, energy, commitment and money are giving us the rewards we thought we had bargained for. We might have to renegotiate under the retrograde to reach a better win-win arrangement. Or we might decide that our resources are better spent elsewhere.
Sensuality, pleasure and beauty are also areas that can get stirred up during Venus retrograde. We should always aim to be good to ourselves, but often with the pressure of everyday life we forget to put ourselves on our own priority list, or else we keep pushing our own needs aside. Venus retrograde can be a time when we have the opportunity (and perhaps the necessity) to slow down and pamper ourselves with some pleasurable "R&R" (rest and relaxation).
On the other hand, sometimes we slip too easily or too far into Venusian ways of coping (leisure, partying, food, spending, glamour, sex, intimacy, seduction, etc.) In this case we can easily overdo the luxuries and pleasures of life. Problems with addiction or overindulging in a substance or activity can become aggravated under Venus retrograde, since the pleasure principle is often at a higher volume than usual. However, the retrograde cycle can also become an opportunity to learn more about the ways that we use (or abuse) that pleasure principle – in either healing or destructive ways.
Evening Star, Morning Star
Venus is the third brightest light in the sky, after the Sun and Moon. It's very common to mistake Venus for a plane coming in for a landing, or to mistake a plane for Venus. It's no wonder the ancients dubbed her the Evening Star and the Morning Star, depending whether she was ahead of or behind the Sun (and therefore appearing after sunset or before sunrise). And with such a beautiful bright light, it's also no wonder the ancients associated this planet with deities of beauty. Venus' light is so bright that under optimal conditions, you can actually see a faint shadow from objects here on Earth from her light!
Venus goes retrograde about every year and a half, for about 6 weeks at a stretch. When Venus is near the retrograde station, she can be seen fairly high in the western sky for up to four hours after sunset, depending on the time of year and how close she is to the station. Venus becomes the "Evening Star" for several months before turning retrograde and for a mere couple of weeks after the retrograde station. During this time, she appears higher and higher in the darkening western sky.
Then Venus disappears for about two weeks, as she retrogrades across "our side" of the Sun. She then reappears progressively earlier, as the "Morning Star," before sunrise. She turns direct about a couple of weeks after becoming visible. We can still see Venus as the Morning Star for several months after the direct station.
For a few months at a time, when Venus is high in the morning or evening sky, Venus is the brightest light in the heavens, after the Sun and Moon. You can even see her in the night sky over a brightly lit city. Venus can be so bright that some people have wondered if they're really seeing a plane or even a UFO. Venus' light can even cast a faint shadow here on Earth, under optimal conditions. And if you have a really sharp eye or a telescope, you can make out the changing shapes that Venus takes on, not unlike the phases of the Moon.
The Retrograde Cycle in 2007
Venus is retrograde in the 2007 from July to August, and in the Shadow from June until October. Here are the important dates of the 2007 Venus retrograde cycle:
Past Retrograde Cycles
Here are some past Venus retrograde cycle dates (so you can go "Oh, so THAT'S what was going on then!" ;-) Links go to descriptions in the Low-Down on the Far-Out for that date.
Pre-Retrograde Shadow Phase
This phase lasts about a month. This is the first pass that Venus makes through the Shadow – the area of the Zodiac where it will go retrograde. During this phase, Venus starts bringing issues to the surface that will be worked on in greater depth throughout the cycle. Latent relationship issues may begin to arise. Financial areas that require adjustment and rebalancing could begin to make themselves known. Dormant needs for love, intimacy, closeness or partnership can begin to awaken, producing a sense of dissatisfaction, loneliness or new optimism about possibilities of change. (Read more about the Shadow.)
The Retrograde Station
This is when Venus changes direction and begins to (appear to) go backwards in the sky, which is retrograde motion. For up to a week before and after this date, Venus energy can become intense and very concentrated. If you've been experiencing relationship or financial concerns during the pre-retrograde Shadow, this may be a time when these issues really heat up. It can also be a time when you begin to see new solutions and potentials in these areas, although these developments will probably shift and change as the retrograde cycle unfolds. (Read more about Stations.)
Venus remains retrograde for about 6 weeks. During this time, you might have a change of heart about issues or possibilities that had appeared during the pre-retrograde Shadow. If you've been struggling with questions or concerns about Venus-related areas, you could find yourself seeing the situation from a totally different point of view.
If you've been teetering on the verge of breaking off a relationship or quitting a job or giving up on attempts to beautify your life in some way, you might feel tempted to throw in the towel completely. This may or may not be your wisest choice – only you are in a position to be honest with yourself enough to know if this temptation is a frustrated reaction or a final surrender to what your heart really feels. However, it's probably a good idea to walk that fine line between rash, extreme decisions and being paralyzed by indecision. Leave your options open, if possible, but do listen to what your heart is telling you and look for constructive ways to honour and support your true desires.
If you've been struggling to find new opportunities in Venus-related areas (like spending or earning, a new love interest, new creative inspiration, etc.), this can be a time when you have a rare opportunity to explore new possibilities. This can come about by being receptive and open to seeing things in a new way and reconsidering old assumptions about what your heart's desire "should" look like or be like. You might find that there has been something blocking your progress in these areas in the past, and Venus retrograde brings up this block, giving you a chance to learn about it and eventually shift it out of the way.
For example, you might realize that you are more afraid of intimacy and closeness than you had thought, which has been invisibly holding you back from sending out the right signals to potential lovers. Or, you might find that you have been secretly afraid that getting a better paying job might require that you sacrifice more of your time and freedom, or that you're afraid you won't be able to live up to the increased demands. I'm just suggesting these as possible examples, but there are many ways this might manifest in your life. Be alert and open to seeing this new information, especially while Venus is retrograde, which will help you know how to work with the energy most productively. (Read more about Retrogrades.)
The Direct Station
This is when Venus finishes the retrograde phase and turns to resume forward (direct) motion. Just like the retrograde station, you may notice an intensity or concentration of Venus-related energy in your life for up to a week before and after the station. The direct station can often be a time of release, when all the concentrated focus on change, growth and development during the retrograde phase now comes out to manifest. The dress rehearsal is over, the research is done, it's time to start applying what you've learned. This learning might be something you're consciously aware of, or it might be more like an intuitive sense of something having shifted or changed. Be open to it, in whatever form it might take. The direct station can be a time when you reach a decision about something you've been wrestling with, or when you start to see a situation in a new way that starts to make sense.
Venus remains in the Shadow area for about another month after the direct station. During this time, you are applying, integrating and moving forward, using the new information and changes that have occurred during the cycle up to now. If Venus retrograde has caused disruptions or disappointments in your life, this can be a time when healing starts to take place. Or, it might be a time when you can go back into the original problem and approach it from a new point of view, having explored other perspectives during the retrograde phase.
If Venus has brought new possibilities into your life, this phase can be a time when you must decide whether to continue to develop these potentials. If you do, this will begin a time of planting these new developmental seeds into your life so that they will continue to grow and thrive. On the other hand, you might have discovered that they don't work the way you thought they would. In this case, you're now in a position to let go of your old expectations, hopes or desires, which can clear the way for other possibilities to eventually come to you that will fit your needs better.
You might not even notice much movement of energy during this phase, since your path will be more obvious to you and you'll just be busy doing what needs to be done. If you keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, activities, perceptions and decisions throughout this retrograde cycle, you will probably see a pattern unfolding over the past 3½ months. It can be fascinating to read back and see how you really have been through a process of change, perhaps more than you realized.
Whether you are discovering new vistas in which to expand your heart's domain, or whether you find you must end a situation that is breaking your heart, or whether you are becoming aware of new depths and facets of your desires, creativity, love, beauty, resources and substance – Venus retrograde is a time that will leave you with a new perspective and new potential.
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© 2005 Wendy Guy, All rights reserved. This content may not be copied or used without the expressed permission of the author.