Venus Retrograde : Insights into the dark side

In the annual cycle of planets through our chart, there are periods during which, from the perspective of earth, they appear to travel backwards.  These periods are called retrograde periods.  With the bridging and outer planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto these retrograde periods are uniform and last for approximately five months of the year.

In the case of the three inner planets, Mercury, Venus and Mars, the retrograde  pattern varies.  Mercury due to its proximity to earth travels retrograde three times a year, for approximately three weeks.  Since Mercury relates to communication, the unique way we perceive, process, digest and make sense of our experience these retrograde periods of Mercury are times when we may experience delays or checks on forward progress and are therefore forced inwards mentally,  to consider issues in greater depth, or drawn back to redress or complete projects, ideas, thoughts that may have been left incomplete or unfinished.  During Mercury retrograde periods our dream life may be more active and we experience either a forced or a voluntary slowing of all things mercurial.  The way we communicate comes into question and there retrograde periods are a good time to journal or question how well we are communicating and making sense of our experience.

With Venus and Mars the retrograde period does not occur every year.  Venus transits retrograde approximately every 19 months, and the retrograde period lasts for approximately six weeks.  Venus retrograde relates to our relationships, desires and values, our sense of self worth and by extension to the sense we have of being at home in our bodies and in alignment with our deepest feelings and desires. We are currently in a Venus Retrograde period.

The Mars force in our charts relate to our desire nature and the use of our will and purpose to achieve our goals, there is complimentary dance between these two energies, which have traditionally been shown to rule females and males, respectively.  However within each of us is the Venus and Mars force,  men have a feminine feeling side and woman a masculine side that needs to assert itself and be expressed in effective ways.  In our chart both Venus and Mars need to be in service to the Sun or our developing ego in order for us to experience a sense of psychological health and wellness within ourselves.    Difficulties with these aspects of our expression and wholeness may be shown by challenging aspect to Venus and Mars in our birth chart, the consciousness of which can help us grow in self awareness.

During Venus retrograde periods we get an insight into our close relationships, the way we exchange energy or give and well as into our current level of self love or self esteem.  We can gain a better view of ourselves during this period by observing how we relate to others and how we react to others in relationship.

According to Erin Sullivan there is an even deeper side to Venus.  She notes that in ancient mythology,  Venus mated with many Gods and underwent human experiences of suffering and loss in love.  At one time Venus was married to Hephastus, who in mythology represented an extremely primal and ugly aspect of being, this mating may show the necessity we have to become more conscious of shadow qualities of ourselves and others in relationship.

In Greek mythology Venus wed Aries (Mars) in a marriage of opposites since the balance of these two forces and health in their expression in our lives is necessary to a well rounded individuality.

In terms of our early development, Erin has noted that the Venus placement and inter-aspects in our chart show much about our experience of mother’s touch and handling, the capacity which she has to connect with us on a feeling sensate level .  Implied in our Venus placement are all the issues of mirroring and attunement.  When we look at the glyph for Venus it resembles a hand mirror.  Our mother is the earliest mirror in which we try to see ourselves, with varying degrees of success.

Venus also relates to the degree of conditional or unconditional acceptance of the baby’s body and being, its impulses, instincts and drives, by those around her.  Venus becomes encapsulated when the baby body is not loved and nurtured and in this case Venus will then warp itself to conform to environmental demands and expectations.

The Venus principle, as it develops within us, tells us when we are instinctively attracted or repelled by someone or something.   Thus Venus protects us.  It alerts us to desires and needs and responses that satisfy these needs.  It protects us against that which will harm or poison us.  It tells us “this is good for me, I love it, or this will destroy me and I must run.”

Our natal Mars placement might show how well we can act on these instincts.  Implied in the above is that Venus shows us much about our capacity to develop discrimination into and awareness into the outside world, our inner selves and the people around us.

Venus retrograde transits, depending on the aspect  transiting Venus makes in your chart may bring necessary periods of conflict, since in ancient astrology Venus was not only the Goddess of love, but also the Goddess of war. During Venus retrograde periods we go to war with old attitudes, senses and attitudes.  When Venus stations and turns retrograde for 40 or so days individually and globally we ruminate over love, values, creative expression and diplomacy issues.  We attempt to come more in touch with issues and feeling values on a “gut” level. 

According to Erin, the internal activity of Venus transiting retrograde may be impossible to externalize, and most certainly during the retrograde transit we will be questioning these issues deeply. In Mayan lore Venus underwent a sacrificial death, transformation and rebirth during her retrograde period.  When she emerged from the underworld of the Retrograde transit, that is when Venus turns direct again, she brings the fury of the demons with her and becomes a Goddess of War. 

In transit during Venus Retrograde periods something mysterious takes place, a reformulation of natural order and values.  The accompanying of demons is associated with the shadow Venus brings out in us when we cannot have what we love, value or desire.   This monster represents all we cannot bring out into the light of day, but which we do need to explore if we are going to grow in insight and awareness.

In Mayan myth,  Venus also becomes a male God during the retrograde period.  This imaginal and metaphoric metamorphosis symbolises the necessity of a retreat or inversion to experience wholeness and may also represent the need to flip over into our opposite, in order to integrate our shadow for a time.  The retrograde transit of Venus exposes the need to see aspects of oneself which are normally hidden from view – the shadow.  Values may be unearthed that are diametrically opposite to one normal consciously chosen values.

I have an intuition that the change of sex which Venus undergoes during the retrograde transit may also indicate in a symbolic way that a retrograde transit of Venus brings up Mars issues for us, since all our relationships show a dance of these seemingly opposite but complementary energies both within and without. 

Mars and Venus rule the polarized signs of Aries and Libra, respectively.  Polarities are essential to the growth of conscious awareness and the polarity of these two signs and energies brings up issues of individual self expression and expression through relationship, the polarity between the desire for self assertion and the need to meet, join and co-operate with others, the need to form and act from our own deep feeling values and needs polarising with the need to see things from other’s perspective and consider their feelings and needs, in addition, the need to speak up and express the self versus the need to exercise tact, discrimination and diplomacy. 

During this year’s retrograde transit of Venus in Capricorn we have a very unique situation in that later in the year Mars will be retrograding in the sign of Libra, which Venus rules, these two signs form a square to each other.  These transits are even more potent when we consider that for most of last year and most of this we are all under the influence of a powerful transformational square between Uranus and Pluto in Aries and Capricorn.  Both signs are on the first ray in the esoteric system and relate to right use of will in the service of the soul.  

This collective transit definitely speaks to us of the need to step more into our freedom of self expression, personal power and authentic self (Uranus in Aries) while undergoing the challenges of an old orders or structures which have outlived their usefulness in our lives and in the life of society breaking down (Pluto in Capricorn)

Retrograde periods of Venus also ask us to clarify our values and to differentiate our essential personal needs from those values and needs which have been imposed upon us through social and collective conditioning or parental and familial expectations.  During the retrograde period our feeling self goes into battle with our instincts bringing an added emotional charge to relationships. By recognising the emotional charge hidden in some issue we can realise what is truly important to us for our spiritual and emotional growth, both personally and as a collective.  Venus gives us an opportunity to detach or step back and re-evaluate our emotional reactions in a new light so we can take action to implement new structures in our lives which better serve our needs.

Venus Retrograde periods can have a reputation for being times when love is not so easily found outside of ourselves, and perhaps the frustrations of this desire lead us inward, since retrograde periods force our souls towards a necessary introspection, as well as an initiation of sorts on an inward level   A lot will depend also on what transits, if any, are being made to our natal Venus during this period by other planets. As these add into the mix other important themes and issues. 

At the deepest level Venus represents the Soul or True Self  attempting to incarnate or birth aspects of itself in and through matter.  The soul seeks to create or attract forms through which its essential vibration or qualities can express.  It is for this reason that Venus is associated with creativity and with relationship.  This process can either be encouraged or blocked by family and social conditioning processes.  Blockage of Venus leads to distortions in our ability to manifest creatively and enjoy and benefit from our intimate inter-personal relationships.  Old conditioning tapes play out in relationship, often based on earlier interaction patterns and can cloud our ability to be fully present to the realities of the current relationship which are forcing us to release these old patterns.

Venus is the higher feminine principle that can resolve all polarities and dualities into unity, if we can open our hearts and step out from behind old protective defences.  Venus rules the deeper feminine feeling function, which is not the same as emotion.  Feeling issues from our soul or deepest inner being, it relates to instinct and intuition and provides hints and clues, both to our soul’s deepest needs, as well as to desired avenues of expression which serve the Soul. Guided by the principle of Love we are in a stronger position to birth and act from our True Self. Consciously or unconsciously we strive to make known hidden qualities of the Soul or essential Self.  Where we are identified with the material world and seeking outside of ourselves for the love we never learned to recognise as given from within we often do this through making relationships with people or possessions in an unconscious or compulsive fashion.  When some person, quality or experience in the outside “moves“ us in deeply mysterious way or exerts a profound attraction upon us we have been moved by Venus, however we may also have been moved by what is familiar or familial (of the family) in order to resolve past issues around development of our Venus.

It has been noted above that Venus acts through attraction or repulsion.  What we are attracted to or repulsed by reveals something of our deeper feeling values which are instinctive to our being, rather than acquired or conditioned.  Processes of attraction and repulsion serve to awaken us to hidden qualities of our deeper Self which we need to integrate.  For this reason Venus could be associated in psychological and spiritual astrology with the concept of projection. 

Part of Carl Jung’s contribution to psychological understanding was to discover the importance of both the shadow and projection in relationships. He learned much about it through his own experiences.  Jung  recognised that the work to become more conscious of the nature of our psychological projections and shadow is essential if we are to awaken as individuals from the bonds of unconscious conditioning and grow in our capacity for insight and awareness

I attended a wonderful lecture by the Astrologer Melanie Reinhardt in London in 2005 on Venus Retrograde.  The theme of this lecture was “Keeping the Heart Open in Hell”.   In it she spoke about many of the above issues.  If the love we long for seems to be in short supply during the current Venus retrograde it may be a wake up call for us to shine the inner spot light on some of the pain and dark places within us and focus a compassionate mindfulness and consciousness on them.

It is interesting that in the past few weeks I’ve been drawn back towards mindfulness, to exploring the idea of unconditional friendliness towards my inner world. In her writing and talks Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, writes about the soft, sore spot that we have in our hearts that may be a result of wounds or pain we have suffered in the past, often in relationship.    Through meditation and compassionate awareness she shows we can develop the capacity to be with this soft spot and focus the love and attention we need on it, rather than spinning out our lashing out.  However even if we do lash out, particularly as Venus retrogrades and turns to station direct, being able to become conscious of our reaction patterns may be exactly what we need to do to draw our attention to that sore spot in the first place, so it is important to be patient with ourselves.  

For whatever we experience, can be used as the fuel to awaken and however old we are there is always a new day in which we can learn to give love and understanding to our selves.

Published by: emergingfromthedarknight

"The religious naturalist is provisioned with tales of natural emergence that are, to my mind, far more magical than traditional miracles. Emergence is inherent in everything that is alive, allowing our yearning for supernatural miracles to be subsumed by our joy in the countless miracles that surround us." Ursula Goodenough How to describe oneself? People are a mystery and there is so much more to us than just our particular experiences or occupations. I could write down a list of attributes and they still might not paint a complete picture pf Deborah Louise and in any case it would not be the full truth of me. I would say that my purpose here on Wordpress is to express some of my random experiences, thoughts and feelings, to share about my particular journey and explore some subjects dear to my heart, such as emotional recovery, healing and astrology while posting up some of the prose/poems which are an outgrowth of my labours with life, love and relationships. If anything I write touches you I would be so pleased to hear for the purpose of reaching out and expressung ourselves is hopefully to connect with each other and find where our souls meet.

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