Venus Retrograde in Aries & Pisces

The steps I make all go backwards
while yours continue advancing
the arch of our alliances
has penetrated my nest
in all its colorful swagger
it’s taken a walk down my veins
and even the hardest of chains
that destiny uses to bind us
is like the finest of diamonds
that lights up my calm soul

What feeling can bring about
knowledge never could,
nor the clearest course of action
nor the grandest of all our thoughts.
Everything is changed by the moment
like an affable magician,
it sweetly steers us away
from bitterness and from violence
only love with its science
turns us into such innocence.

Love is a swirling whirlwind
of primal purity
even the wildest of animals
will whisper and trill its sweetness,
it stops pilgrims in their travels,
it liberates those imprisoned,
love, with the gentlest of touches,
turns the old (wo)man into a child
and only the most loving care
will turn bad into pure and sincere.

Chorus:
Gathering moss so the stone rolls
like a thick ivy on the wall
sprouting and sprouting so it grows
like tender moss covering stone
like tender moss on a stone ay sí sí sí.

— Violeta Parra, Volver a los 17 (translated by Heidi Fischbach)

Venus Retrograde in Aries

Aphrodite arose in sea foam following a violent revolution, born with eyes cerulean as the waves and body fully formed with fertility. She enchanted the eyes of onlookers with rapture and with each new step onto the earth created bright colored growth. The planet Venus in astrology has many significations we associate with the mythic Aphrodite, such as the pleasures of fresh fruit and flowers, copulation, love, union, art, aesthetics, perfumed scents, and the luxuries that bring us feelings of comfort and elegance. The glyph of Venus is the circle of Spirit atop the cross of Matter, symbolizing the living soul and spirit found in all elements of our surrounding material world, and the capacity of our Venusian natures to give us an experience of heaven on earth.  In The Picatrix the anonymous magical author wrote “Venus is the source of the power of flavor” (p. 134), and in modern astrology we link Venus with the inner values which describe our attractions and how we choose to fulfill them within our myriad relationships.

When Venus goes retrograde, she returns to her mythic origins connected with active rebellion. During the Venus retrograde phase, the nature of Venus shifts from seeking social harmony into a transitional space in which social norms can be loosened to allow for a deep reevaluation of how we are seeking to fulfill our needs. On a societal level, a realignment of power dynamics can occur within hierarchical structure as well as between the general populace and the ruling class.  Venus is of course not actually moving backwards during its retrograde phase, merely appearing to move backward through zodiac degree from our Earth bound perspective.  What is occurring is that Venus is orbiting in between our Earth and our Sun, as close in its orbit to Earth as it ever gets.  Perhaps it is the close proximity of Venus to Earth during her retrograde phase that makes it possible to shed old skin and liberate ourselves from old Venusian patterns in relationship.

Venus began her 2017 retrograde on March 4 in the home of Mars and exaltation of the Sun at 13°08′ Aries, and will end her retrograde in the exaltation of Venus and the home of Jupiter on April 15 at 26°54′ Pisces.  During the eight year synodic cycle of Venus, Venus goes retrograde five times, spending forty days each time in retrograde motion.  From 1961 through 2001, Venus was retrograde entirely in the sign of Aries, and beginning in 2009 Venus began to move into Pisces from Aries.  Venus will be retrograde in both Aries and Pisces from 2009 through 2057 every eight years.  Astrologer Nick Dagan Best has taught that during the 19th Century Venus went retrograde in the Venus signs of Taurus and Libra, while in the 20th Century Venus went retrograde in the Mars signs of Aries and Scorpio.

While Venus ultimately will station direct in Pisces, the build up to her retrograde motion as well as its first movement that leads to Venus being regenerated in the heart of the Sun occur with Venus in Aries. Venus is estranged in Aries due to it being the home of Mars, the planet that in our astrological tradition has held a place of symbolic polarity to the significations of Venus. Venus is not weak in Aries, and in fact has the strength of decan dignity in the final decan of Aries (20 – 30 degrees of Aries). Yet Venus inhabiting a Mars ruled sign leads her to look for Mars for guidance, and Mars is less about maintaining pleasing harmony and more about the sort of fiery passion that can enliven our deepest nature yet also cause separation or a test of mettle. Venus in Aries possesses a burning desire that can destroy all forms and patterns that had previously become crystallized within its hot ardor. Beauty and love can volatilize and destroy what was previously stable when falling under the torrential sway of Eros, and similarly Venus retrograde in Aries can dramatically reshape the landscape of our relational dynamics.

marlene-seven-cross-of-venus

The Cross Rose in the Garden of Venus (2016) by Marlene Seven Bremner

Venus retrograde creates a magical atmosphere that is highly structured, holding resonance with the golden mean found in the five petaled form of the rose and numerous forms of life. The Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite described her as “Crafty, from whom necessity [Ananke] first came,” and also noted that “The triple Fates [Moirai] are rule’d by thy decree.” Similarly, the synodic cycle of Venus is so consistent and regular that the retrograde phase of it’s cycle brings an air of destiny, fate, and necessity to events and encounters in our daily life. Venus only goes retrograde once every year and a half or so, five times in it’s eight year synodic cycle with the Sun- eight divided by five is 1.625 and so very close to the sacred 1.618 proportion associated with the golden mean. If you trace the points around the zodiac at which Venus stations during its eight year synodic cycle, each point forms a quintile 72 degree aspect, creating the image of a five pointed star when plotted on paper. As a result every eight years we experience a Venus retrograde in the same general area of the zodiac at generally the same time.  These are the most recent Venus retrograde phases in Aries:

  • March 6, 2009 SR at 15°27′ Aries and SD on April 17, 2009 at 29°11′ Pisces
  • March 9, 2001 SR at 17°43′ Aries and SD on April 20, 2001 at 1°27′ Aries
  • March 11, 1993 SR at 20°01′ Aries and SD on April 22, 1993 at 3°44′ Aries

The current Venus retrograde is especially catalytic as it is bound within the re-activation of the square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn by Jupiter in Libra.  Jupiter was retrograde in Libra when Venus stationed retrograde on March 4, having recently formed an exact opposition with Uranus in Aries.  The exact opposition between Jupiter and Uranus is one of the dominant archetypal themes in our collective this year, and the cycle between Jupiter and Uranus is known for coinciding with revolutions in politics (such as the American and French revolutions), science (Kepler and Galileo supporting the Copernican revolution; the development of quantum physics), the arts and all other fields of cultural exploration.  Jupiter in the outwardly directed home of Venus is looking to her for assistance, and with Venus co-present with Uranus in Aries for most of her retrograde period  there can be an acceleration of experimentation and innovation as well as heated conflict, discord, and outright warfare within our collective.

Venus first reached the degree and minute she will ultimately station direct at in Pisces (26°55′) on 30 January 2017, with Mars close by at two degrees of Aries.  During the month of February there was an epic build up to the retrograde with Venus burning brightly in the night sky as an Evening Star, getting closer and closer each night to Mars, also visible with its reddish hue against the black of night.  The passions of Venus and Mars together in the sky were further volatized by a Lunar Eclipse in Leo and a Solar Eclipse in Pisces that coincided with twists of fate bringing momentous change.  A lot of inspiration and excitement could have been experienced within these transits, with significant new shifts in relationships and projects launched.  Due to Venus and Mars separating during the transition into the Venus retrograde of March, however, there will be important inner work, reflection, and restructuring needed to be experienced before the full potential of the new endeavors of February will be fully realized.

When Venus stationed retrograde as a bright Evening Star on March 4, Mercury was conjoining Neptune in Pisces and Mars was separating from a conjunction with Uranus.  A couple days later, Mercury was purified and regenerated in the heart of the Sun in Pisces.  Altogether the transits surrounding the stationing retrograde of Venus in Aries brought extraordinary support for conception and envisioning groundbreaking and divinely inspired ideas, projects, and partnerships.  The empowering astrological climate also led to conflict among competing interests, for just as those in power attempted to consolidate holdings so did various protest moments find support to initiate bold and direct action to contest dominant powers.  Once Mars entered Taurus on March 9, the amplified martial energies became toned down somewhat with Mars inhabiting a sign with a more plodding and grounded rhythm.  Yet with Jupiter simultaneously moving retrograde away from an exact opposition with Uranus and toward an exact square with Pluto, the uproar of collective and personal conflicts and catharsis will continue.  On personal levels the best remedies will be to nurture oneself and loved ones and commit to inner work that clears out what is no longer serving one’s authentic path.

Vitally, it is during Venus retrograde that Venus shifts from being an Evening Star into becoming a Morning Star. Around March 18 or 19, Venus disappeared from the evening sky, becoming invisible in her underworld journey of falling into the heart of the Sun.  At the same time that Venus was making a disappearance in our night sky, Mercury was making an appearance and emerging again with a message as an Evening Star.  As Mercury united with Venus retrograde on March 18 and we then experienced the Aries Equinox on March 20 in which our Sun ascends across our celestial equator, we received a message of what to hold close to our hearts as we descended into a period of darkness in which Venus will not be visible to us until she emerges again as a Morning Star at the end of March.

okeeffe-red-flower-norton1

Red Flower (1919) Georgia O’Keeffe

Venus in the Heart of the Sun’s Exaltation

On March 25 we experience the moment in which Venus is exactly conjunct our Sun, orbiting in between our planet and our solar light.  Venus in the heart of the Sun is regenerated and in a place of power, seated on her fiery throne.  Aries is not only the home of Mars, it is also the exaltation of the Sun, and so the purification Venus will undergo while conjoining the Sun can burn away whatever needs to be shed from our past.  The Moon will be dark in Pisces and applying to a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon as Venus conjoins the Sun, bringing an additional layer of purification especially in terms of old emotional complexes and patterns.  This inner union of Venus with the Sun is especially visionary in nature and most resonant for those able to have solitary time to reflect in silence.  The nonessential will be burned off while the essential will be illuminated by spirit fire, revealing what makes our heart beat most brightly.

The square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn is especially activated at the time of Venus entering the heart of the Sun, as Mercury will be separating from an opposition with Jupiter and applying to a conjunction with Uranus, while Jupiter will be retrograde and applying closely to a square with Pluto in Capricorn.  Meanwhile Mars in Taurus will be in a supportive relationship with Neptune in Pisces.  These aspects signify immense change erupting in the world around us, and opportunities to find our resonant place amongst the shifting.  This is a moment to enter into the mystery, being open to what is revealed about our inner nature and feelings and how they have been manifesting externally in our relationships.  It does not mean that partnerships and other commitments need to be ended, but it does mean we may gain insight into ways in which we need to modify the way we have been engaging within relationships.  With Venus alchemized by our Sun, we can gain awareness for our purest passions and who or what deserves us to prioritize as storylines morph in coming months.

Venus will emerge again in the shifting hues of the predawn sky at the end of March, solidifying her phase as a Morning Star in April.  Venus will be retrograde as a Morning Star in Pisces until April 15, and though Pisces is known as a sign of compassion, as a retrograde Morning Star the emotional flow and psychic sensitivity of Pisces can be directed by Venus to expose relational dynamics with others we need to adjust and reveal however we have been feeling out of balance with our deep nature.  The following is a translation by Samuel Noah Kramer and Diane Wolkstein of ancient Sumerian text regarding Innana as “The Lady of the Morning,” in other words Venus as a Morning Star:

Honored Counselor, Ornament of Heaven, Joy of An!
When sweet sleep has ended in the bedchamber,
You appear like bright daylight.

When all the lands and the people of Sumer assemble,
Those sleeping on the roofs and those sleeping by the walls,
Whey they sing your praises, bringing their concerns to you,
You study their words.

You render a cruel judgment against the evildoer;
You destroy the wicked.
You look with kindly eyes on the straightforward;
You give that one your blessing.

My Lady looks in sweet wonder from heaven.
The people of Sumer parade before the holy Inanna.
Inanna, the Lady of the Morning, is radiant.
I sing your praises, holy Inanna.
The Lady of the Morning is radiant on the horizon.

— “The Lady of the Morning” from Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gates of Paradise (2015) by Marlene Seven Bremner

Venus Station Direct in Pisces

Venus stations direct in Pisces on April 15 while conjoining Chiron and in square to Saturn.   Venus stationing direct at the 27th degree of Pisces is notable, for 27 degrees of Pisces is the exact exaltation degree of Venus.  Though this a potent degree for Venus to be at a standstill on, her ability to fully experience the abundance of her exaltation degree is altered significantly by her being conjunct Chiron and in square with Saturn.  Venus contained by Chiron and Saturn is not an easy experience, but rather one that will require work and discipline while overcoming a challenge, separation, or solitude in one form or another.  Yet by facing reality honestly without denial the stationing of Venus in aspect to Chiron and Saturn can connect us directly to our inner authority and bring awareness to the values, relationships, and work we are willing to give everything for against all odds or obstacles.  Going deep within we can find healing of wounds in need of resolution, as what we need to let go of from the past can become dissolved and washed away by the waters of Pisces.

While Pisces is the exaltation of Venus, it is also the inner home of Jupiter which brings added importance to the transit of Jupiter in Libra during the final phase of the Venus retrograde.  Venus in Pisces and Jupiter in Libra are in mutual generosity, and though they do not form a major sign based aspect they will nonetheless be looking to each other for support.  This period will be a pivotal turning point in the transit of Jupiter in Libra, and we will be able to gain valuable insight into the issues in need of tending in order to maximize what we can develop and expand through our creativity and relationships.  Venus in a challenging and catalyzing aspect with Saturn will force awareness to where we need to strengthen boundaries and further develop structures that will ultimately bolster our ability to manifest what we have been gestating through inner visions and active imagination.

There are a number of transits surrounding the stationing direct of Venus in Pisces that further shape symbolic meaning.  Venus in Pisces will be forming a harmonious sextile with Mars and Ceres in Taurus, while the Sun will be in union with Uranus in Aries.  The Moon will be in Sagittarius aligned with the true node of Black Moon Lilith, while Pluto will be beginning to station retrograde in range of a conjunction with Juno in Capricorn.  Talents that have been dormant can become reactivated and released, bringing opportunities to take risks in expressing more of our wholeness and authenticity.  Where we have felt judged and persecuted in the past may now reveal hidden gifts ready to be unearthed and expressed with confident assertiveness.  Though difficult feelings may coincide with the stationing of Venus direct, they ultimately will help guide us toward realizations of what we truly need and desire in relationship with others.

Most significantly, Mercury will station retrograde at 4°50′ of Taurus less than a week before Venus stations direct, meaning that Mercury and Venus will essentially be motionless from April 10 through April 15.  As the Venus retrograde began with Mercury moving direct into the heart of the Sun, there is an obvious connection and message to be found in the intersection of Venus and Mercury synodic cycles during March, April, and May.  This means that as we are reevaluating how we find pleasure and form relationship we are also reorienting the manner in which we translate and communicate meaning and make sense of our perceptions.  It also means that there will be a lot more changes, twists, and turns coming our way following the stationing direct of Venus.  Venus will leave its retrograde shadow zone on May 18, 2017 when it crosses back over 13’08 Aries.   At this time Mercury will likewise be close to leaving its own retrograde shadow zone.  By the time  Venus and Mercury have had their way with us at the end of May, we will have experienced vital purification and regeneration that will have prepared us to receive and create greater fulfillment within our relationships.

References

Fishbach, Heidi. (2014). Volver a los 17. A translation.

Wolkstein, Diane and Kramer, Samuel Noah. (1983).  Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her stories and hymns from Sumer. Harper & Row.

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Virgo Full Moon

crow-in-flight-watanabe

Crow in Flight (1916) Watanabe Seitei

Full Moon in Virgo

Following an eruption of panoramic, polyphonic perceptual feelings, perspicacity returns in the form of a Virgo Full Moon in strong aspect with Mercury and Saturn.  The Moon’s journey from darkness to full light in the past couple weeks of this lunar cycle aligned with immense releases triggered by a solar eclipse, Venus stationing retrograde, and Mercury’s union with the Sun.  The Virgo Full Moon brings focus to the moment within the streams of change, centering awareness on how to integrate the heightened influx of released emotions and changes in circumstances and relationships.  Eclipses as well as Venus retrograde periods tend to be times of destiny in which new relationships emerge with fateful force while older relationships undergo necessary shifts or dissolution.  The light of the Virgo Full Moon will illuminate where concrete action needs to be taken to address developing issues as well as how to adjust and modify the boundaries and structures of our lives to effectively work with however our external and internal experiences have been changing.

wakashu on turtle

Youth on a Long-Tailed Turtle as Urashima Taro by Suzuki Harunobu (1725-1770)

Mercury in Pisces rules the Full Moon, separating from a square with Saturn in Sagittarius and a conjunction with Chiron.  Mercury began a new cycle with the Sun less than a week before the Full Moon and as a result has been purified and regenerated from passing through the fiery heart of our Sun.  However, Mercury remains combust and invisible due to its close proximity to the Sun, making it more difficult for Mercury in Pisces to sustain attention to detail.  Mercury in Pisces is also not known for rational discernment and thorough research to the extent Mercury enjoys in its home and exaltation of Virgo, yet does brings imaginative and intuitive gifts that can open vision to how to best navigate forward with current plans.  Mercury in Pisces has a psychic sense of underlying emotional dynamics and as a result the Full Moon will bring keen insight into one’s genuine feelings that previously may have been denied or blocked.

torr-white-cloud-light-house-private-collection

White Cloud (Lighthouse) by Helen Torr (circa 1932)

Saturn in Sagittarius forms a square to the Virgo Full Moon as well as Mercury and Chiron in Pisces, enforcing discipline to the visionary capacities of Mercury and Chiron in Pisces.  Mercury in Pisces inspires poetic leaps of thought and investigating questions seeking ultimate understanding, and its hard aspect to Saturn supports dedicated focus on tangible, practical action that will shift the musings of Mercury in Pisces from the inner realm of dreams into the external world of material manifestation.  Saturn in Sagittarius has a more far reaching vision than Saturn does in other signs, and its strong influence on the Virgo Full Moon will illuminate not only the path forward but the actions and steps needed to be taken immediately in order to ensure later success.  The square from Saturn to Mercury and Chiron will also bring alert to any areas of life that need attention, in particular due to consequences stemming from the shifts that have occurred in the recent period of eclipses.  Use the intuitive capacities of Mercury in Pisces to attune to any and all messages pointing toward where one needs to recalibrate priorities and focus.

okeeffe-horses-skull-lacma

Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose (1931) Georgia O’Keeffe

Venus in Aries is retrograde yet remains a burning, bright Evening Star at the time of the Virgo Full Moon.  Less than week after the Full Moon around March 18, however, Venus will descend at twilight into her invisible journey into the underworld where she will dive into the heart of our Sun for her rebirth.   Venus retrograde is finally beginning to gain movement backwards through zodiac degree at the Full Moon, and the initial shifts of passions and relational dynamics that have coincided with her stationing in mid Aries will now be obvious in the full light of the Mercurial lunation.  Venus in Aries is ardor, is embodiment of fiery passion circulating from head to toe, and the love and yearning of Venus in Aries demands outlets of expression.  If one is not currently in a relationship through which to luxuriate within the sensual delights of Venus, there are numerous other avenues available through which to sublimate her enflamed passions available while in the home of Mars and the exaltation of our Sun.  Art, creativity, pioneering explorations, and social activism are especially suitable mediums, but the important thing is to find places in life to freely express feelings rather than bottle them up and risk having them erupt in unfavorable circumstances.

An important shift that occurred as the Moon increased in light building up to the Full Moon was that Mars entered Taurus, as Mars is hosting Venus in his home of Aries.  As a result there is mutual generosity between Mars and Venus, as Venus is likewise hosting Mars in her home of Taurus.  Mars in Taurus forms a whole sign trine to the Full Moon in Virgo, and furthermore is applying to an exact trine with the North Node in Virgo and a sextile with the South Node in Pisces.  Venus is known as being estranged in Aries and Mars is also known as being estranged in Taurus, and so both planets are in signs in which they can express strength but in a way that can feel more out of control.  Mars does enjoy expressing itself through the sensual earth signs where it can ground its force into tangible actions in the material realm, and so its mutual generosity with Venus in Aries can likewise bridge unlocked Venusian passion into concrete growth.

10 pentacles

Virgo 3 Decan

The Virgo Full Moon occurs in the third face of Virgo that is associated with the 10 of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In tarot this image of a family enjoying the fruits of their labor and legacy is associated with wealth, both the accumulation of wealth as well as being able to sustain wealth through familial lineages or other legacies. The image also corresponds with the achievement of a stable, secure lifestyle affording one the possibility of enjoying material luxuries as well as the luxury of a contemplative lifestyle.  We likewise have our own lineages to draw from in the pursuit and gaining of wealth, in terms of the root meaning of wealth being about happiness, health, and well-being. This could connect with your blood relatives and ancestors or your soul tribe, those beings who are your kindred spirits and have provided you with inspiration and visionary meaning.

The third face of Virgo is ruled by Mercury, giving Mercury added emphasis at a Full Moon that also occurs in the domicile and exaltation of Mercury. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces took a Mercurial angle to this card by interpreting that “the pensive nature of the elder pictured on this card suggest that wealth is here posed as a question, to be riddled out. What, given the fate of all created things, is truly valuable?” (p. 151). Coppock ascribed the image of “The Sarcophagus” to the third face of Virgo, as being the third decan it is about the separation of spirit and matter from previous balance, revealing the ultimate value of the work as the final face of the three Earth signs of the zodiac:

In this face we ponder the ultimate result of material things. The limits of all created works are here considered. This decan thus has the power to break the pride of all created things by showing them their inevitable end . . . One gains the ability to look beyond the present, seeing consequences as clearly as actions. The ability to see unto the 7th generation is gained …

Escorted by wealth on one side and death on the other, the residents of this face cross the threshold into the tomb. Alone in the burial chamber with silent centuries, they dialogue with the corpse all will become about the value of all things. The importance of legacies becomes clear, for though all works face eventual decay, some endure for aeons . . .

In comprehending the ongoing cycle of generation and corruption, one is freed from fear, for most terrors are petty, and disappear when the shadow of inevitability falls across them. This discussion reveals the importance of things as they are- arising and receding- and deserving of love and attention.

–Austin Coppock from 36 Faces

Though not mentioned by Coppock in his deft portrayal of this decan, in the tables of the appendix he lists that the fragmentary Hellenistic text the 36 Airs ascribed the goddess Hestia to the third face of Virgo. Hestia is a sublime spirit guide to turn towards at the Full Moon, for she holds within her purified gaze the focus necessary to stay true to the quality of value essential to our vitality that we wish to invest into the work we perform in the world. Hestia is the devoted one with a far reaching legacy of sisterhood we can draw from, a spiritual lineage that across tumultuous centuries has sustained respect with every breath and action for the living force found throughout all of the natural world of creation. Hestia holds within her heart a moral compass impossible to manipulate or distract away from the path of love and service to all of creation.

Saturn in Sagittarius is residing at the same degree it will be inhabiting when Venus stations direct on April 15, and the Virgo Full Moon ruler Mercury is inhabiting the same degree of Pisces basically where both Chiron and Venus will be when Venus stations direct. As a result the Virgo Full Moon is not only illuminating the initial meaning of the Venus retrograde but also unveiling insight into how things will be taking shape in the months ahead. Within waves of shattering change, within the decomposition and death of the old and the hatching of the new, like Hestia may we open ourselves to the change of the moment through heart-centered focus on the eternal power of love and devotion.

References

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.