MARCH 4TH – APRIL 15TH, 2017
13° ARIES – 26° PISCES
“There are inevitable moments of “evil fate” [in relationships] since the intimate one opens the deepest wounds, and lovers, thus, become enemies. And they are also beloved enemies, since the woundings create separations across which fresh passions leap. Often, when we are meant to develop psychologically, we find ourselves choosing an intimate who will rub our noses in our worst complexes for just that purpose.”
– Descent to the Goddess
A LITTLE HISTORY
Many of us are familiar with Venus’ sensual form, owing to the iconic, armless statue Venus de Milo; and thanks to a very famous book, we’ve been taught that ‘women are from Venus’ and can identify Venus’ symbol (♀).
In general, however, we are not as familiar with the long historical significance of Venus and how that has changed over time. Venus’ story stretches back much further into history than ancient Rome, and her origins were considerably more powerful and nuanced than simply being a passive vessel for sexual beauty and desire.
The astronomical significance of Venus was nearly equal to the Sun and the Moon; Mesopotamian tablets from 1650 B.C.E. etched with omina (omens) described the way she entered and exited periods of visibility in the sky. The journey of planet Venus, into the burning rays of the Sun and back out again, set into motion the creation of incredible myths based on an evolving female archetype who was both sexual and powerful – a woman unafraid to descend into the depths of the Underworld.
Perhaps the best known of these was Inanna, the almighty powerful Goddess from ancient Sumeria who held the ‘Tablets of Destiny’ and controlled the Universe. Inanna and her Babylonian cousin Ishtar were the goddesses of sexual love, fertility, battle, and warfare. The story of their descent into the Underworld correlated to the path of Venus as it moved behind the Sun; in this myth, Inanna/Ishtar is stripped bare, forced to face her deepest fears and vulnerabilities, dies and is reborn as the ‘Queen of Heaven.’
Inanna was fearless, raw and sexual. Quotes from epic poems involving Inanna include such plucky lines as ‘Plough my vulva, man of my heart‘ and possible references to her ladyhood as a ‘Boat of Heaven.’
Inanna influenced many ancient cultures, birthing a cascade of similarly feisty, dualistic deities: Ishtar (Akkadian/Babylonian), Ashtaroth/Astarte (Phoenician), Hathor (Egyptian), and Anahita (Persian), to name just a few. Over time, the more aggressive sides of these goddesses were culled in exchange for lighter and less challenging embodiments of beauty and sexual desire, normally grounded in the male gaze.
Venus as we know her now – the arbiter of love, connection, attraction, sex, beauty, art, desire, and fineries – became canonized in the Astrological system over 2,000 years. Aphrodite-cum-Venus would have to settle for love, beauty, and procreation; at her worst, she was vain, easily offended and had a wandering eye – but she was no Inanna.
This is the power of patriarchy. They took an indomitable female energy, fierce and fiery, and cleaved it down, further and further, until all that remained was love, sex, and beauty. Just as there is significance in Pallas-Athena’s birth from the top of Zeus’ head, and Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib bone, there is just as much potency in the fact that Aphrodite & Venus grew from the foam of a man’s penis.
The Venus de Milo is a perfect visual metaphor for where this one-dimensional version of femininity has led us: frozen, lifeless, impermeable expressions of female allure. There’s a striking sadness in Venus de Milo’s armless body that pings slightly too close to the bone – she is beautiful to look at but useless as a totem of feminine power.
I mention all of this now not to bore you with historical minutiae but to underline that behind the easy veneer of Venus, lies a long and troubled history about removing power and agency from Goddesses as a whole and women as individuals.
If Venus exists only to please and attract, we’re only getting one-half of what the mythology suggests we are owed. Where’s the war? Where’s the fight?
A simplistic view of this Venus retrograde may infer a need to review your relationship, but I suspect you’ve got a lot more to gain during this transit than just finding more ways to please your partner.
Maybe you can reclaim a bit of your own inner Inanna, that small flame inside of you that’s chomping at the bit for independence, lust, and control.
VENUS & VENUS RETROGRADE IN ASTROLOGY
In astrology, Venus is the principle of connection and attraction: she describes not only what or whom we are attracted to but the way in which we go about getting what we want, as well as what we value or deem of worth. Known as the ‘lesser benefic’, Venus is generally recognized as a zodiacal do-gooder and tends to bring ease or delight to the house of our chart where she is present as well as those that she rules (N.B. difficult aspects, signs, and houses notwithstanding!). The house of our natal Venus says something about how we meet our partners, or what areas of life act as a reoccurring theme throughout our partnerships. Sometimes it can also show us where or how we attract wealth.
When we move through a Venus retrograde transit, our sense of values are put through the fire. During these transits, we are forced into a deep, soulful review of what truly holds meaning to us. Just like Inanna, we must journey to the Underworld and confront the shadowy sister that lies within us and heed her counsel.
THE BENEFIT? POST-RETROGRADE, A RENEWED SENSE OF CONNECTION TO YOURSELF AND TO OTHERS, ALONGSIDE A MORE AUTHENTIC UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR NEEDS AND VALUES, AND HOW THOSE INTERSECT WITH YOUR WELL OF CREATIVE, SEXUAL ENERGY.
While Venus retrogrades stereotypically concern personal relationships, this heartfelt review of our values can occur in careers, friendships, creative projects, and more. It is not uncommon to have an old ex from the past come back onto the scene for closure (or rekindling).
The kinds of questions that come up during Venus Retrograde can be:
- Am I happy in this relationship?
- What is the value of me/my job/my talents/my desires/my partner/my friendships?
- What is [fill in the blank] worth? Have I given it too much, or too little, of my time and attention?
- Am I sexually or creatively filled in this area of life? Am I no longer ‘turned on’ by this area of my life?
The Venus retrograde is not an ideal period for Venusian topics: luxury shopping, decorating one’s home, plastic surgery, beauty treatments, starting a new relationship, getting married, et al. I’d never encourage you to put your life on hold, but you may find that post-Venus Retrograde you end up with ‘buyer’s remorse.’
You should always check the house of your chart where the Venus retrograde will occur to understand more about how this transit will directly affect you. This retrograde may feel more intense if it makes an aspect to your natal Venus, asteroid Juno, Sun, Moon, or the ruler of your 5th or 7th Houses. If you have other planets within the degrees of this retrograde (13° Aries to 26° Pisces), your retrograde experience will also involve the topical themes of that planet.
KEY DATES & ASPECTS OF THE 2017 VENUS RETROGRADE
Technically, the Venus retrograde starts March 4th and ends April 15th, 2017, covering the degrees between 13° of Aries and 26° of Pisces. The ‘shadow’ period lengthens the transit by several weeks either side, with Venus technically entering the shadow on January 30th, and leaving only after it has passed the 13th degree of Aries on May 19th.
Overall, this creates a window of influence from January 30th to May 19th…under normal circumstances.
BUT, THIS VENUS RETROGRADE ISN’T EXACTLY BUSINESS AS USUAL: IT ENDS ON A CONJUNCTION BETWEEN VENUS AND CHIRON (PAIN/WOUNDS/HEALING), CONTAINS TWO SATURN-VENUS SQUARES (LOVE MEETS LIMITS), AND A SQUARE BETWEEN VENUS AND ASTEROID JUNO, THE GODDESS OF MARRIAGE (DIFFICULTIES IN LOVE).
Looking just a few days before January 30th, which should be the start of our shadow period, we can see that there was a Venus-Chiron conjunction on January 25th and the first of three Venus-Saturn squares on January 26th. To me, this is the real start to the Venus retrograde, and we should look here for hints about what’s to be unraveled.
The last Venus in retrograde in Aries occurred March 6 – April 16th, 2009, so you may also want to look back at what occurred during that period.
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