A Journey Through the Underworld: Venus Retrograde

 Every so often, one of the planets appears to go backwards in the sky. We call this process ‘retrograding’. We’ve all heard of Mercury retrograde periods, which happen 3-4 times a year. But all the planets (besides the Sun and Moon) go retrograde in their own time. Venus, the planet of love, relationships, harmony and values, goes retrograde today, October 5th until November 16th. 

What does this mean? 

Retrograde periods are a time to revisit, reassess and re-do. Each planet governs a specific part of life and retrogrades give us an opportunity to examine the foundations we’ve built around these parts of our life. Venus rules both Libra and Taurus, and her provinces are those of relationships and values. Anything to do with love, intimacy, resources and finance might be up for review. 

All Venus retrograde periods are intense, but in the signs of Scorpio and Libra this retrograde promises to be a doozy. Scorpio is associated with Pluto, King of the Underworld, and Venus in Scorpio will force us to deal with issues around sexuality, trauma, power, secrets and transformation. After she moves into Libra in early November, the work will shift to those of balance, fairness, equity and justice. 

Venus and Her Dance Partners

Venus retrograde isn’t the only thing happening in the sky. Jupiter, the planet of expansion and growth, is also in Scorpio. His journey through this part of the sky intensifies the current focus on our collective shadows.

Saturn and Pluto both recently completed retrogrades through the sign of Capricorn. Saturn and Pluto govern structures and power and in authority-centered Capricorn there’s been a lot of focus on the foundations of the culture we live in. 

It’s a lot to deal with, and throwing Venus into the mix will intensify the focus, but also make it personal. You can see this happening every day in the news. Although Venus went retrograde on October 5th, she’s been in her shadow period since early September. This is the time before a retrograde when the planet crosses the degree it will eventually retrograde back to, and the time after when it goes back over the ground it just covered. The shadowperiod ends when the planet reaches the degree at which it started the retrograde. Make sense? We get a run up to the retrograde when things loosen up to prepare for the shift, the actual retrograde period, and a recovery while we go back over old ground with a new perspective. 

Venus in Scorpio

This shadow period started on September 2nd, and you might have felt the tectonic shifts in the past few weeks. I’ve been seeing it in my personal life. The Kavanaugh hearings brought up all the bad memories and feelings of powerless that many women and marginalized people are experiencing right now. It wormed it’s way into my relationship. I started seeing Kavanaugh’s face every time I tried to be intimate with my partner. It created a slow explosion in my personal underworld, and I’ve been taking a hard look at my relationship to sexuality and power, and the ways I am out of balance with these energies in my personal life in either a power-over or power-less way. 

Venus also rules values, and through ruling values she deals with financial issues. I’ve had tense talks with my partner about our future as we plan for marriage, building a house and being self-employed. The issue isn’t between us; the real work is within myself as I confront (again) my deep issues of self-worth and bonding with another person. 

Scorpio is scary stuff, but this is good work. It’s good work we are doing collectively, as devastating as it is, and it’s good work to do personally. Scorpio work is shadow work. If the relationships in your life feel shaky or if money stuff is up, take a deep breath and remember that one symbol of Scorpio is the phoenix. The phoenix must be destroyed to rise above the ashes of her previous selves. We must go through the pain of confronting that which hurts us the most to be free of the past. 

How it might go

Venus retrograde starts off with a bang as she immediately enters a square with conflict-driven Mars that will intensify around the 10th and 11th. On the 15th, she conjuncts Mercury and you might find yourself entering some tense conversations with partners or friends (or that conservative uncle on FB) about these issues. Venus conjuncts the Sun on October 26th, and this could shine a welcome light on the dark journey. Soon after, she leaves Scorpio and enters Libra on November 1st, where she’ll stay until turning direct on November 16th.

In Libra, the focus will shift from shadow-work and trauma to issues of balance, equity and justice. This is already up for everyone, but it could be a time to take all we learned about ourselves during the first 3 weeks of Venus Rx and start to assess where to go next. Libra is the sign most concerned with relationship, and there might be some urge toward action on this front, especially as she conjuncts the emotional Moon on the 6th and trines action-oriented Mars on the 6th. 

Coming towards the end of the retrograde period, it might be best to wait to make any decisions until after the 16th. With all the focus on the darkest recesses of our psyches and hearts, projection onto those closest to us is a possibility. All will become clearer once Venus turns.

The aftermath

Venus will be in shadow until December 17th when she passes back over the place she began. This will be a time of picking up the pieces and seeing where we stand after the earthquakes. Whatever you go through during this retrograde period, know it is a microcosmic piece of the cultural shifts we’re all going through. Venus traversing through Scorpio and Libra takes those shifts and brings them inward. This time is an energetic intensification of the long process of Pluto in Capricorn when we work towards transforming a social order that isn’t working for most.

At its best, Capricorn is about sovereignty and internal authority. It is about social order, but not of any particular kind. Capitalism and patriarchy and white supremacy are the social order we live under now, but it can be transformed into something else. You might say that transformation is happening right now. It’s messy, and it’s scary, but it’s happening.*

The best way to be of service to the greater whole is to know yourself as deeply and truly as you can. Let whatever comes up for you now in the realm of Venus help in the transformation.

*Chani Nicholas and Jessica Lanyadoo are astrologers doing great work focused on advocacy and collective transformation.

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