About every 18 months, the planet Venus appears to stop in her progress across the zodiac and “back up” for forty days, a period known as “Venus retrograde.” While the effects of Mercury retrograde are pretty well known (click on the link to the right if they’re not known to you), fewer people are aware of what goes on when Venus retrogrades.
First, Venus rules (is associated with) love and relationship, partnerships of all kinds, our sense of beauty, and also our values and valuables. When she is retrograde these areas of life tend not to move forward, so, for example, it isn’t the best time to begin a new romantic relationship. Existing relationships generally aren’t adversely affected by Venus retrograde, but it wouldn’t be a great time to get engaged or married.
Venus retrograde is known as a time when we’re more likely to run into old friends and lovers, and also when we may find things of value which we had forgotten about or had lost. The common thread is becoming reaquainted with something or someone of value.
The general theme of Venus retrograde is the recognition of our values. This is a time to reconnect with our internal sense of what’s important to us, not to move forward and on to new things. That’s why it’s not an ideal time to begin a new relationship - we’re each being called to reconsider what it is we really want from partnership, and what we have to offer to someone else. While we’re in the process of “taking inventory” it’s naturally a little difficult to begin a new relationship.
Business partnerships are subject to the same general rule. Both partners have to come together with mutually agreed-upon goals and visions for how the business will work. During the time of reassessment, it’s hard to really be clear about these things.
The tendency to find old lovers works on a similar principle. As we move away from a relationship, we tend to view the other person through increasingly distorted lenses. We can turn a lost partner into an ideal lover or a horrible demon, even as they slowly pass out of our awareness. When Venus is retrograde, she’s calling for a more reasonable assessment of our past relationships, and we often need to see the actual person, and not our image of them, in order to do this.
The trip into the past and the delays placed on the present are two sides of the same coin, each urging us to consider what we really value. When you find something of value from the past, say for instance the ticket stub to a show or your high school yearbook, you re-experience the past, remembering what was important as a step in knowing what is important now.
Although moving forward with relationship is not necessarily indicated, it's a good time for a Relationship Consultation (there's even a special on while Venus is retrograde!) in order to help clarify romantic and other issues. I do relationship consultations with my colleague Margaret Gray, so you (and perhaps your partner) get two perspectives on your relationship.
While Venus retrograde is a poor time to get things assessed, it isn’t a problem to have things reassessed, if, for example, you think that the house you’re selling was undervalued by the first assessment.
Venus rules the arts, and her retrograde is not a great time to begin new artistic endeavors, and it is a particularly risky time to buy a work of art. The problem with creating art at this time is that we’re too busy considering our aesthetic sense to really make something new. Buying a work of art is a problem because it’s difficult to know the true value of it (the price), but also because what seems to be so appealing is likely to turn out to be less attractive to you after Venus goes direct.
Those who are ruled by Venus will be personally affected by her retrograde. These are people who have their ascendants in Taurus and Libra. In addition to all of the above (which goes for all of us), Venus-ruled people are likely to experience delays and a sense that moving ahead is difficult in all areas of their lives.
Those who have their sun or moon in Taurus or Libra will have a bit more to deal with on the retrograde, too. If your sun is in Taurus or Libra, you’re likely to reconsider your self-image and your life in general... it’s sort of an ego-assessment period. If your moon is in one of those signs, then the tendency is towards emotional reassessment, reevaluating your feelings and emotions, which is of course a very internal process.
(Of course, if you’re really into it, those who have Aries or Scorpio on the ascendant will have Taurus or Libra on the descendant, and they should have a more intense time in the area of reexamining relationships... but that’s getting beyond this general outline)
It’s worth mentioning that the forty days of the Venus retrograde cycle appear to show up in other places, although not at the time when Venus is actually retrograde. For example, there are forty days in the Christian Lenten season, leading up to Easter, and there are also forty days in the Muslim month of Ramadan, and I can’t help but notice that in the story of Noah, it rained for forty days, and the time of the Jews wandering the desert was forty years (what astrologers would call a “progressed Venus retrograde”).
All of these times are associated with purification and repentance. In this context, it’s interesting that after her retrograde Venus will no longer be the evening star but will emerge as the morning star, and this, in the old days of astrology, was thought to be a very ominous sign by some astrologers. Perhaps the forty days when Venus was retrograde was initially viewed as a time to prepare for her emergence as the morning star and the associated troubles.
While I doubt that there’s much to worry about when it comes to Venus as the Morning Star (there’s plenty to worry about, no doubt, but I’m not sure that’s on the list), Venus retrograde does deserve our attention.
Ever-mindful not to be a doom-and-gloom astrologer, I still have to caution about getting married or engaged during Venus retrograde, for all the reasons above. When Venus is moving backwards, there isn’t enough energy to launch a serious relationship step like marriage. It would, I suppose, be a fine time to get remarried.
Rather than seeing it as a six-week delay in the area of relationships, try to see it as a time for getting in touch with your own feelings about relationships. If you’re in an existing relationship, there will be some reappraisal going on, but that needn’t be viewed negatively. Even if you’re ruled by Venus, you might be able to appreciate the time to turn inwards and take some time off. It can be nice to let go for a while and just concentrate on yourself.
And, unlike Mercury retrograde, your cell phone probably won’t conk out.