Her retrograde is not like the other ones we come to dread.
She will not make your computer crash or delay your travel. She won't thwart your progress or sap your get-up-and-go. Some might even say they delight in the types of 'reversals' her apparent backwards motion delivers.
But to believe that benefic goddess-queen Venus doesn't cause her own set of problems during her periodic retrograde phasesthe latest one beginning on Tue May 15 and spanning six weeksis to misunderstand her bounteousness. Sometimes, she grants us blessings that tangle us up in trouble. She gives us everything we ask for, then reveals why we should've been more scrupulous with our wishes. She offers perfectly appealing alternatives to our usual choices, without fully showing us what might happen after we choose this other option. Before we utter the proverbial 'I do', we'd better think again about what we really want.
These second-thought considerations about our genuine affectionsfor another person or certain type of interpersonal relationship; for a particular financial setup, material good, flavor or design aestheticare what I see as the higher purpose of Venus retrogrades. Venus is the symbol of what we value, hold dear to us, and receive with grateful hearts. When she goes retrograde (every 1˝ years), we often face circumstances that lead us to reevaluate what makes our hearts happiest. Whether we're exposed to a new mode of experiencing pleasure or become reacquainted with a past joy that still stirs some emotional charge within, the encounter helps us notice where our existing situation has been lacking ripe appeal.
Or has it? Maybe we've just grown blasé and unappreciative. Maybe we merely need to make a few minor tweaks, inspired by what we're now glimpsing in that appetizing alternative, and we'll be better than ever. Should we invest in what we already have or should we call it a day and 'trade up' to something better suited to our tastes and proclivities?
It's challenging to get clear answers on these value-defining matters during the actual Venus retrograde. Simply asking such questionsand not lazily basing assumptions on what has pleased us in the pastis enough in the short term. Being open to the Venus-retrograde experiences that present themselves allows us a real-life laboratory in which to engage the questions.
Relationships are the zone where Venus retrograde is likeliest to work her rascally magic, as Venus represents the manner in which we come together with others, attracting them with our alluring best, compromising on behalf of a union and thus receiving its benefits. Over time, in all sorts of relationships, we often settle into habitual interpersonal dynamics. We misplace the spark. We get too used to holding our tongues or, conversely, criticizing the other person's every move. We wonder if this is all there is. Or if we've continued to repeat patterns in a string of failed relationships, or grown bitter with our seemingly permanent solitude, we see no way out. Our conditioning creates a repeating loop.
In all these cases, we expect no surprises, and get what we expect. Until, that is, Venus retrograde plays with our expectations.
In the relationship realm, Venus retrograde is notorious for bringing back old flames and/or other important people from the past with whom we have unfinished business. Do we finish this 'business' once and for all, or do we pick back up where we left off? This, of course, depends on where we are in our current life-spotand how it differs from that prior version, the one in which we were initially involved with this reappearing figure. This confrontation with our earlier self, in the form of a reconnection with somebody we used to know, accentuates just how far we've come. Can we see how decidedly we've outgrown 'em? Or is the time finally right to come back together?
Likewise, Venus retrograde will sometimes flash us a sparkling vision of an entirely other type of individual someone we might've previously looked right past but who now totally captures our attention, someone we never thought we'd be able to score but who now we can, someone who represents a quality that's been sadly absent from our life for too long but which we now find jarringly attractive. Are they who we think they are, or merely a mirage? Hard to tell for sure, in this Venus-retrograde light. For the moment, however, we cannot ignore the pull. It carries a powerful message.
Either scenario I've outlined can be both exhilarating and quite complicating, especially for those who are already committed to existing relationships. We may find we're suddenly approaching a crossroads, facing a choice. Who is 'right' for us? What are we craving? What do we want? Particularly if we've been treading a rough road with our current partner, the Venus-retrograde alternative can seem like divine rescue. Too hasty an escape, alas, and we may come to regret our decision once Venus goes direct again.
All this, by the way, is not limited to the romantic sphere: Just as often, we contend with such potent interpersonal dilemmas in friendships and professional relationships, with teammates and neighbors, and sometimes with complete strangers.
The added effect of Venus's current Gemini influence (which I've already written about here) definitely shouldn't be ignored, when it comes to interpreting the Venus-retrograde weeks ahead. Here come these beams from an alternative-reality relationship universe and in a sign with a knack for simultaneously juggling multiple possibilities (and personalities) to keep its curiosities quenched and attentions stimulated. Gemini appreciates a motley-crew grab-bag variety of people and experiences, and is able to cleverly shape-shift in order to meet each one on its terms. Problem is, we may only be seeing one face of a multi-faceted situation, based upon what most smoothly fits the context. And the problem only worsens when we slip into deceitful (or deceptive-by-omission) behavior to protect our asses from getting caught straddling the fence.
But how do you 'pick a side' when there are distinctive pros and cons to each? Gemini doesn't always like to pick; yet, when it refuses, its worst traits of superficiality and duplicitousness can come out. With Venus retrograde in Gemini, we're often moved to keep all the doors open as we explore our different options. As long as we're above-board that this is what's going on and make every effort to inform all involved parties, we avoid the ethical potholes.
Venus retrograde also impacts our economic dealings, as she is the planet who rules over money, our mutually-agreed-upon means for transmitting exchange-value. As such, we astrologers issue the standard warnings against making any significant purchases or investments while Venus is retrograde. Because we are so susceptible to alternative views on 'what is valuable to us', we may mistakenly feel we must have a certain something only to discover later (once Venus goes direct) that we really don't need such a fancy car or don't look good in that ridiculous fur-coat. Similarly, we might actually believe the apartment or house we're looking at is worth the premium price that the landlord or selling is asking until we find out, too late, that we overpaid.
Yet, I always like to throw in my own addition to this standard warning, which is the helpful reminder that everyone is under this same Venus-retrograde spell, both the buyer and the seller. And just as likely that we overestimate something's value and suffer buyer's regret, we might also stumble into an incredible deal, due to the other party majorly underestimating its worth. Depends on which side of the exchange you're on (and whether you're paying attention to the astrology), I guess.
The Gemini effect on the financial arena seems to suggest that, with a bit of purposeful chit-chat and a few choice words, an eager and skilled negotiator just might be able to swing good terms for their desired goal. One ought to take care, of course, not to say anything that stretches the truth beyond its legitimate bounds and to be sure to get the deal in writing, unambiguously so.
A final application of Venus-retrograde's energies: For all artists, aesthetes and creative types, Venus casts an all-important astrological influence over how appealing and/or attractive to others one's works end up being. Under Venus retrograde, therefore, we have an opportunity to experiment with different media, different styles and approaches, and qualities in ourselves we perhaps heretofore haven't properly expressed. Gemini as muse, meanwhile, asks if maybe we can accomplish two or more creative goals in a single effort or even fashion a full-on artistic alter-ego who is more comfortable exploring themes or emotions that the 'regular me' typically prefers not to. To get the most out of these experiments, it helps to be process-oriented. Your products may or may not turn out as you would've hoped, or you might not decide whether you like 'em until after Venus is direct. The experience could result in fundamental changes for your practice, or merely serve as a reinvigorating detour. Fun isn't the worst artistic motive in the world.
Venus begins her retrograde on May 15 at 24 Gemini. She returns to direct motion on June 27 at 7 Gemini. She clears the shadow of her retrograde at the end of July.