Goodbye Venus Retrograde, Hello Venus Direct

William Blake, Venus and Anchises, 1889-1890. Venus falls in love with Anchises, who sired her son Aeneas, hero of the epic poem by Virgil The Aeneid

Many people are familiar with the phenomenon of Mercury Retrograde, but most don’t consider that astrologically, we take note of retrogrades of all the planets (except of course The Sun and The Moon, these do not retrograde). Venus is one of the brightest elements of our sky, appearing as the Morning or Evening Star, and moves around the Sun in 584 days, taking just over a year and a half to do her circuit through the zodiac. So what does Venus Retrograde mean for us anyway?

In mythology, Venus (or Aphrodite to the Greeks) is the goddess of love, sex, beauty, fertility, lust, luxury, passion and desire.  She was a fickle goddess, seeking pleasure above all, and was amoral when it came to the ideas of commitment and fidelity.  While married to Hephaestus, the god of fire, craftwork, metal work, blacksmithing, Venus was none too faithful, and frequently entertained suitors, most famously, Ares or Mars, Hermes (Mercury), Poseidon (Neptune) and Dionysus, the god of ecstasy, wine, fertility and madness.  

In our charts, Venus indicates where we find our pleasure, what we value, and how we focus on what brings us sensual and aesthetic fulfillment.  What is it that we desire?  What kind of art and designs appeal to us most?  What sort of fashion do we enjoy? What do we want most in a lover, what turns us on and motivates us sensually? Venus shows where we find beauty in our lives and where we strive to express it personally. Fulfilling material desires involves spending money, so Venus also shows us how we relate to money matters. While generally positive, Venus is also vain, and can be fickle in pursuit of desires (less so in a fixed sign like Taurus, Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius). She can be vindictive if not violent when scorned. Don’t be fooled into thinking this goddess is a soft touch.  Withhold what she desires most and watch the vengeance fly. Venus is one of the most important personal factors in our charts as it indicates the fundamentals of why we like what we like – from bubble gum to bed sheets, and everything in between.

We began 2022 with Venus Retrograde, an event which happens every 18 months. The planet entered retrograde on December 21, 2021 at 26º 29’ Capricorn, and turns direct on January 29, 2022 at 11º4’ Capricorn.  As this placement has been carrying a conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn, we’re feeling a very goal-oriented vibe, an unrelenting desire to obtain what we want how we want it, with a definite emphasis on luxury and power.  This placement is active in everyone’s chart, either by direct contact with personal points or through inhabiting whichever house contains Capricorn, so it’s worth looking up.* 

Venus of Willendorf, oolitic limestone, 25,000 years BP. Found in Willendorf, Austria by Johann Veran, August 7, 1908. An early rendition of the Goddess, likely a fertility fetish object, though her actual purpose remains a mystery. Another face of Venus to consider in her most primordial essence.

Heavy, almost overpowering desires are common with Venus/Pluto contacts, especially the hard aspects, and even more so when colored by Capricorn’s Saturnian vibe, bringing a tendency to brood, nurture obsessive desires, engage in compulsive spending, get caught up in overwhelming infatuations and the like.  When Venus turned Retrograde, as with any planetary retrograde cycle, the action of the planet was arrested, causing an internalization and reconsideration process to take effect.  So how does this play out?

In existing, stable  relationships, Venus Retrograde brings a period of distance as both partners turn into themselves to accommodate personal desires, wishes and pleasures.  Love is still there but a bit distant and quiet as each in the partnership focuses on their own thing.  In new, or casual relationships, on the other hand, can often see a change of heart, a cooling off period, a realization that what we had expected of the other is perhaps not the real deal. We come to see things differently, noticing that what we have before us is not what attracted us in the first place, and often end up with a classic case of buyer’s remorse.  This can either lead to a break, or at the very least a shift in how the relationship plays out. Things will change as necessary to protect Self’s best interests.

In either new or existing relationships, we are presented with a different facet of the other person than we had previously known.  It may be flattering, unflattering, off-putting, or a welcome realization, but any which way, there is a reconsideration that takes place during the duration of the retrograde period which thenceforth colors our perspective of that relationship. Established couples learn to do things a bit differently, honoring “the space in their togetherness.” People we thought we knew surprise us, and we find a different level of relating. Frequently, brand new relationships are scrutinized and found lacking, requiring change that can even mean a permanent break.

One thing to keep in mind with Venus and relationships in general is that a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean with a person.  We have relationships with our work, our hobbies, our ideas, our memories.  We have a relationship with ourselves, and it is this fact that can activate interesting Venus retrograde experiences.  Are you having a relationship with your old memories? How do you relate to yourself?  How do you have fun? What gives you pleasure?  What do you do to feel good about yourself?  Do you spend too much money, or do you tend to hold back on spending? These factors can change when we go through Venus Retrograde, sometimes permanently, as we find different ways of understanding our pleasure principle.

Venus Retrograde is not the time to make large, luxury expenditures like buying a car, house or apartment etc.  Also not a great time for going on a pleasure trip, as your natural desire to have fun feels inhibited.  And Venus Retrograde is really not a good time to get married, go on a first date or try to break into the dating scene.  Anything to do with pleasure, like gourmet dining, attending art galleries or museums, shopping for luxury items or fine clothing will feel off, like we can’t quite connect even though we feel we should.  We feel internal and quiet, with an underlying need to tamp down on extravagance.

When Venus turns direct, an opening occurs as once again we feel interested in reaching out and connecting.  We’ve done the reflection, considered how we approach relationships, desires, pleasure and money differently, and we feel a resolution to incorporate what we’ve learned as we consolidate changes in our behavior. Maybe we’ve figured out that we don’t want to talk to that guy down the hall anymore because he’s just not who we thought he was.  Maybe we’ve resolved to spend less money on frivolities, and realized that we’re just fine without constantly consuming. It could be that we decide to let bygones be bygones and try again with an old friend, eyes wide open.  Perhaps we once again feel like connecting with dear loved ones, and do something new together.  Or we finally decide to go ahead with that big ticket purchase, the new hairstyle, coat, pair of shoes etc. we’ve been considering for so long.  Whatever was stalling our desires resolves and we can move forward with ease.

Venus direct is the time to step out again with the understanding that your perspective and what you expect from relationships is just a bit more evolved than it was a few weeks ago. Venus turns direct on January 29, 2022 at 8:46 UT, at 11º4’ Capricorn and won’t be retrograde again until July 23, 2023 at 28°23’ Leo. The next time we will have Venus Retrograde in Capricorn will be eight years from now, December 16, 2029 – January 26, 2030, as Venus follows an eight year cycle of returning to the exact same place in the sky on the same date.

The Five Petals of Venus, or the Pentagram of Venus, a diagram reflecting the eight year cycle of Venus. Image Guy Ottewell. An interesting article on the Venus cycle.

*Visit Astrodienst for one of the world’s best astrology websites and run your chart if you haven’t already.

For detailed information on planetary events in 2022, visit here: Planetary Events 2022

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Bacchus, or St. John the Baptist”

From the Workshop of Leonardo da Vinci, “Bacchus (formerly known as St. John the Baptist)“, oil on canvas,
Italy, 1510-1515. At The Louvre

This work was originally an image of John the Baptist, but the overt sensuality of the piece was taken up (presumably by Da Vinci’s students) and the image was transformed to a depiction of the deity Bacchus, known in Greece as Dionysus. Bacchus is the Roman name for the god of wine, festivity, divine ecstasy, fertility and the harvest. Bacchus/Dionysus is the central figure of the cult of Orphism, along with his mother Persephone. The cult honors the concept of spiritual freedom unbound from the constraints of the flesh, particularly after death. This mythology is mirrored in the story of Christ’s resurrection and the promise of the Christian afterlife, as well as older Egyptian stories of Osiris.

The image below is da Vinci’s final version of “Saint John the Baptist”, 1513 – 1516, oil on walnut. Many of the same elements are present – the particular gesture of the right hand, finger pointing to an implied discovery, the androgyny, the animalistic elements of the fur and the overal sensual beauty of the figure and his environs. It is thought that this was the last painting created by da Vinci before his death in 1519.

Leonardo da Vinci, “Saint John the Baptist”, Italy, 1513 – 1516, oil on walnut

How Small We Are

Joachim Patinir, “Landscape with Charon Crossing the Styx”, oil on wood, Flemish, 1515-1524. At the Prado Museum.

Psychopomp Charon, ferryman of the dead, is depicted as a huge figure compared to the human soul he is transporting across the river Styx, which separates the land of the living from the underworld, Hades. How small we are compared to the gods!

Mythology: Frejya, Norse Goddess of Love, Wealth, War and Death

Johannes Gehrts, ‘Freyja’, illustration, 1901.

Freyja, the Norse goddess of love, wealth, fertility, war, wealth and beauty was one of the Vanir, the original, old gods associated with Earth magic, Nature, and seidr, or the art of seeing and shaping the future according to will, or sorcery. She is sister to Freyr, god of peace, prosperity, virility, all things pleasant and good. As one of the old gods, the Vanir, Freyja has deeply shamanic energies; her association with seidr indicates that she used her powers to see the future, and with her divine nature, shaped the course of events according to her divine judgement.

Freyja is said to have a chariot drawn by cats, named Bygul and Trjegul, and a magical cloak of falcon feathers, which she would lend to supplicants in need of extra protection, or her love and fertility magic. She commands the apple, birch, alder, rose and vervain, as well as amber, copper, moonstone and silver. Her day is Friday, she is associated with the astrological sign Cancer, and along with Odin, lord of the Æsir, the gods of power and force, she is a goddess of Death. According to the Poetic Edda, Freyja takes half of the souls of those who departed in battle, bringing them to her Folkvangr, fields of glory and celebration, the other half going to Odin, to celebrate eternity in his great hall in Valhalla.

14. ‘Battle-field the ninth, where Freyja arrays

the choice of seats in the hall;

from half the slain she makes her choice each day:

the other half Odin has.

Donn Philip Crane, “Freyja and Freyr”, illustration, America, 1920.

Freyja is featured throughout Northern European folklore and as mentioned above, is noted in the 13th century Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, as well as the Icelandic sagas. Freyja may be the same figure as Gullveig, a key participant in the Æsir-Vanir War, which led to the eventual creation of a new pantheon of Norse, uniting the old gods of the nature with the newer pantheon, the Æsir, who were the gods of force and wrath, such as Odin, Thor and Loki. This new pantheon was born through complex diplomacy, hostage-sharing, intermarriage and the generation of new bloodlines.

Freyja is known for her beauty, her fierce might, her keen intelligence and fertility. Over time, based on the motif of her becoming an honored hostage among the Æsir, it seems she was transformed from a direct and independent nature goddess, one of the old gods who existed during the time of the primordial giants, into a minor, sidelined female. Eventually she was depicted in the 14th century in the Sörla þáttr as a concubine of Odin, subservient to his power, her character depicted as lustful, tricky and greedy. Her femininity results in her ultimate diminishment, just another character in the dramatic poetry of the times, not unusual given that the sweep of Christian values throughout Northern Europe during this period would have been more or less complete, even if only officially.