In myth, Venus retrograde periods are cosmic magnifying glasses, amplifying our inherent values and intimate desires. We may be blindsided by the behaviour of our lover, pressed down by the weight of the frustrations, the drama of it all. We may have reached a crossroad where we wonder, as author, Elizabeth Gilbert once did, “do we want our belly pressed against this person’s belly forever—or not?”
In myth, Innana (Venus) is stripped of all her valued regalia and exquisite clothing. She enters the Underworld vulnerable and exposed. In modern times, the Underworld is a symbol of our own unconscious where we may encounter a truth that reverberates viscerally. The trial of these 40 days and 40 nights are a cosmic reminder for us to dissolve, discard, out-worn values and beliefs. To re-organise, re-examine, re-prioritise those things we value around a more truthful, authentic place that nestles at the hearth of our heart.
In astrology, Venus is about relationship. Retrograde cycles emphasise those areas in our lives where we unconsciously lead with our wound. Where we move through life like a somnambulist. Where we make Shadow choices that we draw from compulsive, unexamined cultural programming or adaptations to past trauma.
Psychology uses the language of self-empowerment, internalisation. In therapy, we may learn skills that help us leave behind the legacy of our old conditioning, surpass our constricted hurt lives, all by ourselves. And yet it is in relationship that we encounter our Shadow and our Light.
“It’s a tough, anti-relational world out there. Relationships between men and women have never been more difficult,” therapist Terry Real believes. “Close to half of couples getting married will divorce. And there are far too many couples who suffer in relationships that lack the passion and closeness we all deserve.”
These 40 days and 40 nights bring an opportunity to transform vicious cycles into charmed circles. The Archetype of Venus transcends gender and sexual preference. What your partner wants might not fit neatly into a heart-shaped cookie-cutter. As Venus magnifies and amplifies our most private and intimate relationships, do we dare ask ourselves, what do men want? Pretty much the same as woman—with all the subtle water—coloured nuances and dappled light. To to be fully seen. To be heard and validated. To be loved. Just as they are.
Blood-soaked centuries of patriarchal conditioning have programmed men and silenced women.
Writes Robert Bly, “many men numb themselves so they’re not expressive. If you’re too expressive in IBM, you get fired”.
Terry Real believes, “men are just doing what they have been programmed to do—work hard, try to be more involved in the family, try to be responsible and responsive—and feel that they will never get it right.”
Venus in her retrograde cycle invites us to slow down—our speech, our movements, our breath, the beat of our heart. To be present with ourselves, with our man, in a way that engages all the cells in our body and makes our heart expand like a Super Nova…
In A Plea to Women, John Wineland imagines that what all men want is—Less. “Our nervous systems can’t handle more. We love range. Especially in bed. We want the Divine Mother, the cock-worshipping whore. Find ways to playfully and lovingly bring that to us. Try to separate the tools that you use to succeed in business from the tools that you use in our relationship. We want more of your vulnerability, more of your fear, more of your pain, we don’t want to be told what book to read, what seminar to go to what therapist to see, we want to be told how painful it is for you when we don’t show up for you… we want you to find something in us every day that you trust implicitly…. because the thing we want the most is to feel that you trust us and that you would let us lead you anywhere and find some way to continually surrender.”
Now as Venus withdraws from the light of the Sun, she’s “in the dark”. A fragile, vulnerable, a faded version of her former splendour. Venus has the same eight phases as the Moon. As she aligns with the Sun, a mythic mating, a Venus new “moon”, an alchemical union with our soul-self. She reveals herself, resplendent and radiant once more, as Venus the morning star (March 24th,) offering clear vision, new revelation of our heart’s desire.
Two archetypal energy forces are activated in ourselves and globally as Venus moves between fiery Aries and watery Pisces these 40 days and 40 nights. In Aries, Venus hunts Mars. She’s the warrior, the activist, the persecutor, the feisty rebel. In relationship, tone down the volume. “Try to separate the tools that you use to succeed in business from the tools that you use in our relationship.”
In dreamy Pisces, she’s exulted, raised on high in love but also in escapism, delusion, illusion and fantasy. She may be the victim, the rescuer. She may search for the Mystical Lover in the vain hope of redemption. Use this symbolism to appraise your own relational style. “We want to be told how painful it is for you when we don’t show up for you…”
Philosopher, Lao Tzu once said, “being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
When Venus appears again as the Angel of the Dawn, dare to love generously, deeply, expansively, creatively. Bring forth the Divine Spark within you and blaze brightly out into the world.