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 for you in these recent—potent—40 days, going from December 19, when Venus stationed retrograde, to January 29, 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 December 19, the retrograde station.
- Where/how did you transform? In what way(s) have you changed 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 January 29, 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 January 2.
- Did you have a bright moment of clarity? A new realization? Perhaps this occurred around January 9, 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 January 15.
The Venus Retrograde Calendar
During her 40 days of transformation, Venus peels back the cultural and personal curtains to reveal what troubles her in the areas that she rules. Her big topics of course are love, money, and happiness. But among her concerns are also women’s issues, creativity, Nature, the arts, beauty, fashion, social etiquette and diplomacy.
At some point during every Venus retrograde, you can find yourself possessed by a certain Venus madness. An urgency to strike against your bad relationships with fierce precision. Or a lonely wringing-of-hands, unable to tolerate a lack of love. Perhaps you discovered profound forgiveness and healing. Maybe you got newly motivated. “I need more money! More beauty! More free time! More passion!” Perhaps somebody old in your life suddenly looked new.
During this transition from Evening to Morning Star, the planet Venus disappears from the sky. This mirrors the action of your inner Venus. Your Raw Feminine Force descends into your Psychic Underworld. There She identifies what’s missing from your life. The shiny thing that would make your days happier and more fun. Learning about this need is your most precious souvenir from the Underworld. This information has been buried in your subconscious, begging to be seen. Bringing it to consciousness is powerful and transformative. It means that now you can finally do something about it.
So then, what should you do? You have options. You can throw your Venus Revelation in a drawer, and by the time her post-retrograde shadow ends (March 1), you’ll be back into the familiar stream of your life, having forgotten what all the fuss was about. Or you can write about it, create treasure maps and post them on your wall. You can make important plans. Your Shining Retrograde Jewel is yours to act upon.
If Venus sent you a message, delight her by paying attention. Promise that going forward, you’ll honor her values. Vow in the weeks ahead to feel your Divine Feminine strength. Adorn yourself, feeling radiant and renewed. Step brightly, into a happier, more self-resonant zone.
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 better positions you to take advantage of the next retrograde, coming in less than two years.
From Pre-Retrograde Shadow to Retrograde Station: November 17 to December 19
The pre-retrograde weeks ask the question: “What should we change?” Individually and collectively, the answer generally presents itself during these pre-shadow weeks.
Evening Star Venus disappears from the sky: January 2 – 5
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!
The Sun/Venus conjunction: January 9
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.
Venus emerges as Morning Star (January 15); stations direct (January 29); in post-retrograde shadow until March 1
In my experience, it’s this moment—Venus emerging as Morning Star–that can be even more significant than her direct station. That’s how it was for the Mesopotamians. 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.
My Venus transformation: both wondrous and deeply sad
Going into this retrograde, I wrote what felt like a potent Invocation to Venus. In it I asked her to fill me with true and beautiful words to tell her story: how at the birth of astrology it was her magic that poured through all living things. I recited this prayer every morning. Because of the retrograde, I had no conscious plans for my rebooted book project. Yet the six weeks of Venus’ journey in the Underworld were super productive. Without a lot of effort on my part, as if the book were writing itself, titles, headings, structure, and a myriad of stories all poured in.
That was a happy surprise. But sorrow brought another. I did erupt one day, like Ereshkigal. It was triggered by my Boxer Sophia–whose name, oddly, I kept confusing with the name of my beloved Dalmatian from decades ago, “Venus.” As the planet Venus entered the Underworld, Sophia/Venus came down with something. For three mornings in a row, my living room was awash in dog shit. I was hoping her malady would settle itself in the usual 24 hours. But on the third morning, after I called the vet, I again began cleaning up her diarrhea. Then I lost it. I started screaming. “I’m tired of cleaning up shit! God dammit, I’m tired of cleaning up shit! Reeahhhrr!! Dammit!!! Dammit! I’m tired of cleaning up shit! Stop it!!”
My Boxer Sophia/Venus is usually so sensitive, she’ll run to the furthest corner of the house if a voice is raised. But that morning she sat there calmly, looking at me with an uncharacteristic empathy. It was as if she were witnessing me–as the naked Ishtar must do for Ereshkigal. It’s the necessary formula between these two sisters. Ereshkigal’s tantrum releases energy. This freed-up power is what will propel Ishtar back to the Upper World.
Of course it wasn’t about the dog shit. My heart had been heavy for days. I was upset about something much deeper. Bigger. And just as much out of my control. It came into focus a few days later, with the Sun/Venus conjunction. I’m reluctant to share my Moment of Clarity. But it came in—like a resounding bell. “We’re on the way to losing our democracy!” I heard a voice inside me say. In the pivotal year of the United State’s Pluto Return--the country I love so deeply–could very well turn toward autocracy! I did not want to see or hear this. But I took the message seriously. That was the passionate source of my 20-minute rant about cleaning up dog shit.
During the Venus Retrograde of 2020, it was George Floyd’s death on video that erupted a worldwide recognition that Black Lives Matter. Now, just one Venus cycle later, how things have changed. State legislatures around the country have enacted laws that say Black–and Latino–and college student–Votes Don’t Matter. Sigh. I await further instructions from Venus. In the meantime, I will keep reciting my Invocation. And I will forever keep honoring Her values.
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.