The Path of Heart: Venus Retrograde 2017

Western buttercup in bloom; photo by Chad Woodward, February 2017.

Western buttercup in bloom; photo by Chad Woodward, February 2017.

Venus Retrograde in Aries/Pisces 2017

March 4-April 15, 2017

Venus turns retrograde on March 4, 2017 in tropical Aries. Venus will transit from 13 degrees of Aries to 26 degrees of Pisces this cycle. It turns direct on April 15 after 42 days of retrograde motion. These roughly 40 days of Venus retrograde are often quite significant for relationships and “matters of the heart”. The planet Venus correlates primarily with the bonding instinct. When she turns retrograde, many relationships undergo a notable transformation, but there is a lot more to it as you will soon learn. The Venus retrograde cycle runs on an eight year rhythm. She stations retrograde at five different points in the zodiac and returns to roughly the same locations every eight years (yes, she forms a near perfect pentagram in the sky). 

The Venus retrograde cycle correlates strongly with the development of situations that reach critical turning points every eight years. This particular cycle echoes back to March-April 2009. You may want to reflect on this past cycle to gain some understanding about what’s happening now. Relationships cover a lot of territories. We form relationships with people. That one is obvious. We can also form relationships to other sentient beings like plants, animals, and “higher entities”. Venus is associated with both Libra and Taurus. The Libra face of Venus deals with “bridge building” and rapport--the instinct to form connections between self and other. 

The Taurus face of Venus deals with the more interior dimension of Venus--what we place value upon in life and how we value and show love for ourselves. The goddess Venus/Aphrodite is the quintessential love goddess. In both her two faces, Venus deals with love for other beings and for ourselves. Venus is the brightest “star” in the sky. We know that Venus is not actually a star, but it’s radiant glow certainly gives it that illustrious, star-like appearance. Like Mercury, Venus is never too far away from the Sun (an actual star which is certainly brighter). Due to this fact, Venus can either be seen rising before the Sun or setting after the Sun. 

It is during these retrograde phases that Venus switches from evening (known as Venus Hesperias) to morning star (Venus Lucifer). At the midpoint of the Venus retrograde cycle (also known as New Venus), the Sun and Venus form what’s called an inferior conjunction where Venus is between the Earth and the Sun. After Venus slowly emerges from this conjunction, it will be seen rising before the Sun each morning until the superior conjunction (when Venus is on the far side of the Sun). These two conjunctions create a Sun, Venus, Earth alignment. During Venus retrograde, it is moving at its slowest, it’s closer to the Earth, and it spends several months in roughly one sign of the zodiac. 

To understand Venus retrograde, these fine details are important. Venus is the archetypal “heart”, not really the actual organ, but the “heart center”, like the heart chakra. It represents that place inside of us that seeks peace, love, understanding, common ground, and relational stability. We associate Venus with beautiful things and people, experiences that have this calming and sedative effect on the body. When you look at something beautiful, how do you feel? When you see someone incredibly attractive, where do you feel it? Beauty fills us with this warm fuzzy feeling in the heart center in the body. Culturally, we often talk about “following your heart”, listening to that place inside of you that is guided by blissful feelings. Mythologist Joseph Campbell summed it up in this catch phrase, “follow your bliss”. 

The pattern that Venus' cycle creates from our geocentric perspective. 

The pattern that Venus' cycle creates from our geocentric perspective. 

We don’t just experience life through the mind and ego. That is of course how we’re culturally conditioned to see the world--logically and rationally. Venus isn’t either of those things. Venus is that heart centered desire for something idyllic--something beyond reason and common sense. Venus wants everyone to get along and live a harmonious, blissful existence. It seeks to connect and with whomever it comes into contact with. While that’s not an entirely realistic goal, it does say a lot about what happens in our social interactions. Even in the most awkward of exchanges, there seems to be something inside of us that attempts to find common ground no matter what. Some of us are better at that than others. Usually, Venus is strong in these people’s charts. 

Venus is this bridge-building impulse within the psyche. When we have common ground, when we’re at peace with people in our lives, we can relax. We calm down. We don’t have to worry so much about where other people stand. When we look at a beautiful painting, sculpture, natural setting, or listen to breathtaking music, we equally feel this sense of calm and ease with the world. And when we slow down, when we relax and really listen, we can hear the heart. How do we follow the heart unless we can hear it? You can’t hear it if you’re up in your head all the time thinking about how you’re supposed to be following your heart. You need to stop, quiet down, and listen.

How do we learn about other people if we just talk about ourselves all of the time? We don’t. We have to shut up and listen to others. Venus also deals heavily with empathy--the ability to put yourself in someone else’s place to understand what they’re experiencing and where they’re coming from. So, when Venus is retrograde, the heart is louder! Venus is the closest to the earth when it’s retrograde. This is a time to slow down and get out of your head. Sometimes during these cycles we’re kind of forced to slow down by circumstances around us. Between the stations of Venus (when Venus stops and changes direction), Venus reaches its inferior conjunction with the Sun. It is engulfed by it; the heart undergoes this alchemical transformation. Venus is descending into the heart of the Sun to become reborn. 

When Venus is retrograde, all of these Venusian themes are much louder than usual. Our relationships (our ability to relate and bond with others) undergo a transformation. You may notice a lot of shifting dynamics within your interactions with other people. You may reevaluate all of your partnerships (friendships, professional, and marriage/intimate partnerships). You may notice certain shadows, flaws, and blind spots in others that you didn’t see before. You may focus heavily on such things within yourself. You may become preoccupied with beautiful things. You may discover or rediscover beauty in some new way in your life. You may also come closer to finding your own unique “heart path”--that thread through life that is guided by your bliss. There is a lot of reevaluating going on during Venus retrograde, shifting values and priorities.

You may heavily reevaluate yourself, what you’re worth and worthy of. That may deeply impact your relationships and how you connect with others. To get the most out of Venus retrograde, you need to go with the flow. Take some time to slow down your life and check in with your heart. What does it have to say? What does it need? Tend to and take care of this powerful place. Learn how to feed it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the saying goes. This is a time to discover what you find beautiful so that you can actively seek and attract it into your life. Give your heart what it needs during this time. Be gentle with yourself and the people you love.

This is an opportunity to go deeper, to see how far you can reach both inwardly and outwardly. When Venus is reborn, you will feel some new and expanded capacity for love. You can love a whole lot more, but only if you take the time to listen, slow down, and trust where your heart is leading you. It may defy logic. It’ll probably be a little uncomfortable, but if you choose the path of heart, you’ll really be living. You’ll know what it means to thrive. That is not something the mind knows how to do. Only the heart knows how to really feel life in its wholeness--to see beauty in both the joy and the pain. 

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