If you plow through a yoga class—moving from pose to pose—without pausing to notice the effect of each shape—you miss the divine conversation occurring inside you.
It’s the same with astrology. If you drive from transit to transit—without stopping to observe the effect of these encounters—you miss the celestial conversations taking place within.
Astrologers rarely talk about the transits that just occurred—we’re always moving on to the next Big Thing. But pause with me—especially if you accepted my Venus Retrograde Challenge. Notice what occurred in these recent—potent—40 days, going from May 12, when Venus stationed retrograde, to June 24, when she stationed direct.
The six weeks when Venus is retrograde are an ancient interval of transformation. The planet literally transforms in our sky. She goes from Evening Star to Morning Star, disappearing in between.
According to the ancient Mesopotamians, the planet’s disappearance is when Ishtar—the supreme Goddess of love, fertility, war, and prosperity—visits her Dark Sister in the Underworld. After this, the Goddess emerges as the Morning Star, radiant with new potency, ready to conquer the world.
How was your experience? If you took my Challenge, here are five questions to help you investigate—and anchor—your journey.
Five Venus Retrograde Questions
The dates below won’t always coincide with your inner and outer experiences—but they help to hold the scaffolding for the ancient pattern.
- What were your intention(s) for the retrograde? Think back to May 12/13, the retrograde station.
- Where/how did you transform? In what way(s) did you change since the retrograde launched? Changes may be intended or unintended–unwelcome or divinely inspired. Measure your transformed self as the “you” that you were during the week of June 24, the direct station.
- During your 40-day passage, did you erupt with anger in any notable way? In particular, you might investigate the week Venus disappeared, around May 28.
- Did you have a bright moment of clarity? A new realization? Perhaps this occurred around June 3, when Venus was conjunct (or combust) the Sun.
- Currently do you possess a new spirit or resolve going forward? Venus as the Morning Star is a war goddess–she’s been “on the march” since June 9.
Venus Retrograde and the Great Cultural Awakening
Venus transformations are cyclical, occurring every 18 months. This archetypal pattern runs deep and there’s wide latitude for particulars. Individually and collectively, some retrogrades are more significant than others. If this retro was a relatively sleepy one for you, it’s still worth reviewing your experience. This will better position you to take advantage of the next retrograde, coming in less than two years.
The 2020 Venus retrograde was culturally spectacular. As it followed the archetypal pattern of descent and rebirth, it inspired the largest protest movement in US history. Seemingly overnight, the culture tipped its views on racial inequality and police brutality. Following is a brief astrological review of this remarkable transformation.
From Pre-Retrograde Shadow to Retrograde Station: April 9 to May 12
The pre-retrograde weeks ask the question: “What should we change?” Individually and collectively, the answer generally presents itself during these pre-shadow weeks.
Early April brought the Covid-19 lockdowns, which upset the automatic pilots under which many of us were running. One side effect of the new home time was a heart-opening for those who were suddenly able to garden, bake, and be with family. Our collective empathy swelled for the horrific fates of health care workers and the afflicted.
In May two news stories stole the attention of our newly awakened hearts. The killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor (these had actually occurred in February and March) now struck a collective nerve. Unlike so many similar stories that have erupted over the years and disappeared, these pierced the heart of a more empathetic nation. That began a gathering outrage–which set the stage for what came next.
Evening Star Venus disappears from the sky: May 25-May 28
Ishtar’s underworld journey officially begins. As an Upper World goddess, She’s encroaching on her Sister’s territory. The Dark belongs to Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld, who erupts with a thundering rage: How dare She enter my realm!
What has been in shadow—individually and collectively—now explodes into consciousness. On May 25, Darnella Frazier, a 17-year-old girl—perhaps an agent of the Goddess—challenges the cops arresting George Floyd and videos his horrific murder by blue-knee-on-the-neck.
Around the country mass protests erupt. “Black lives matter!” becomes a thunderous cry, roaring out from so many hearts. There is violence and looting too, which quickly settles into a sustained peaceful multi-cultural rage. On June 1 the National Guard and Park Police attack peaceful protestors in Washington DC with tear gas —so the president can awkwardly wave a Bible while standing in front of a church.
The Sun/Venus conjunction: June 3
The Sun/retro-Venus conjunction typically brings an important realization. The Sun is a Divine Masculine light; he brings issues into consciousness. There’s a moment of clarity. We lock in on some truth. And we generally know what needs to be done about it.
On June 3, significantly, several Divine Masculine avatars—former presidents and generals—break their silence. They speak out in support of the peaceful protests and against the current president’s autocratic tactics and threats. Perhaps the most stunning rebuke comes from Trump’s former Defense Secretary General James Mattis—who’d sworn he’d never speak against a sitting president—yet couldn’t remain silent any longer.
Venus emerges as Morning Star (June 9); stations direct (June 24); in post-retrograde shadow until July 24
The mass protests continue in June. They’re still going. Along with a heightened awareness of our country’s stubborn legacies of racial injustice. More reports surface of black lives lost at the hands of police. The outrage doesn’t go away. Corporations jump on the bandwagon–Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, the Confederate flag and some statues–gone. The NFL apologizes. By the time Venus emerges as the Morning Star, the momentum for change is solidly on the march.
In my experience, it’s this moment—Venus emerging as Morning Star–that’s even more significant than her direct station. That’s how it was for the Mesopotamians too. King Sargon took his cues from heaven. The appearance of the Morning Star was the sign to launch his armies. That was how he successfully conquered so many new territories, a feat unheard of at the time. He was the world’s very first emperor.
I’ve written before that I don’t pay too much attention to the post-retrograde shadow. I should be more precise. What I mean is I don’t pay attention to what astrologers typically say about this time. They tend to see all retrogrades as “backward periods” that can start causing trouble in the pre-shadow and continue causing trouble through the post-shadow. That gives us months to complain about Venus!
Of course I see Venus retrograde as being so much more than a backward time. In truth, the post-retrograde shadow is a kind of testing period. It tests whether your new resolve will last. You’ll have your answer by the time the post-shadow ends.
It doesn’t have to be life-changing to be spectacular
My own experience of this retrograde was definitely more mundane—though I’m grateful for it. Going in I wasn’t filled with a big desire. For a few years now I’ve been living the life of my dreams. So it was something small—a few guilty pleasures left over from winter that I should have eliminated already. For the retrograde I pledged: no more Trader Joe’s Sea Salt Brownies, nor that second daily slice of sourdough, nor my late afternoon macchiato.
Keeping these commitments was neither hard nor dramatic. I did erupt, like Ereshkigal, but it was over a client who had at the last-minute cancelled her first session three times. The situation itself was no big deal—but once I surrendered to the energy of the anger, it felt good to rage around my house a little. Anger rouses the spirit.
This is part of the formula: Ereshkigal’s tantrum releases energy in the subconscious. This freed-up power is what Ishtar will bring into the Upper World.
I hesitate to share my Sun/Venus moment of clarity. But it came in—like a resounding bell. I think it actually woke me up one morning! The sentence I heard was “I’m fat!”
Hah! I know women are far too terrorized by this sentence, but for me it was a welcome wake-up call. My body was getting away from me—there were a few more bad habits that needed correcting. In the week that Venus rose as the Morning Star, I made this shift. It was more comfortable than I could have imagined. That’s the benefit of clarity—it feeds the courage and strength. By the time Venus stationed direct, just two weeks later, my body had transformed. It was once again in what I consider good priestess shape.
You see—celestial encounters are always a pas-de-deux. You’re not in control. There’s what you want. Then there’s what the gods–or the situation–requires. My retrograde intention was much smaller than the transformation that actually occurred. That push to take it higher–that was the inspiration of Ishtar.
I was blessed to hear from a few of you about your Venus retrograde journeys. I look forward to sharing these stories in Part Two of this retro round up. Look for it at the upcoming Full Moon. In the meantime, I hope you explore your own experience. Did something major–or merely delightful–transform for you?
It’s always a great time to check in with your Venus.
Mooncircles offers a few great ways to do that.
You can start with this article, “Can’t relate to your Venus? This is for you!” You’ll find my take on Venus in each sign.
I highly recommend my Venus Unleashed report, personalized to your birth chart, and based on the delicious insights of many people who share your Venus placements.
For more on the Sun-Venus conjunction, go here: “The Underworld Journey: When Venus is Combust”
Performing the Venus Santeria Ritual–is always a good Venus gesture. Traditionally it’s performed on a Friday in May–but I’ve found that it works whenever you have a sincere desire to awaken the magic within your Venus.