The following is an excerpt from the 2015 Astrological Almanac. This handy tome contains descriptions of every day, monthly summaries, an ephemeris, and more. Secure your copy today!
Venus Retrograde Basics
Venus goes retrograde approximately every year and a half. These retrogrades occur five times every eight years in approximately the same places, which, if mapped, form the five points of a pentagram. Over time, the points of the pentagram—the degrees which Venus retrogrades through—slowly move. If we looked at the cycle in an extremely sped up time frame, it would look like a starfish slowly inching forward, one arm at a time.
Thematically, every Venus retrograde highlights different issues, but they all share certain characteristics.
Venus’ retrograde is akin, in many ways, to the better known Mercury retrograde, but with some important differences. Mercury is the planet of communications, and thus when Mercury is retrograde, communications often go awry. Mercury’s retrograde also marks particularly key transmissions, the kind that take a little while to get right. Venus’ retrograde operates on the same principle, but instead of disordered mental energy, it is the emotions which descend into temporary chaos. Deeply felt contradictions surface, and the passions’ compass is set spinning. Yet, this confusion is a prelude to new connections, and perhaps more fundamentally, new ways of connecting.
When retrograde, Venus dwells in the same span of degrees for months at a time. The back and forth motion digs deep into the foundations of the patterns symbolized by each set of degrees, unearthing hidden layers of meaning.
As Venus makes her first pass over the shadowed degrees, energy retreats from the surface of pleasures, migrating back to the core. Patterns of desire and attachment become increasingly transparent as the planet edges toward her retrograde station.
The actual station is generally followed by an unsteady eruption of energy from the core, where deeply held feelings and emotional truths burble toward the surface, cracking the porcelain shell of existing patterns. These surges of emotional energy test existing patterns, highlighting their flaws as well as their excellences.
Venus’ direct station marks the third phase of the cycle, wherein there is a recommitment to patterns and people which have passed the retrograde test, and the creation of new ways of relating deemed necessary during the retrograde period. It is a rebirth on an emotional level. It is interesting to note that Shukra, the Hindu deity associated with Venus, is specifically characterized by his ability to bring the dead back to life.
Such resurrections are not always internal. Venus’ retrograde often brings old lovers back into people’s lives, undead shades of affections past. Although often mistaken for fated confirmations of eternal love, such meetings are often meant to bring about closure, an opportunity to snip those heartstrings left unwisely bound.
The Venus retrograde which sets the skies of the third quarter of 2015 afire begins in the very first degree of Virgo, but soon retrogrades back into Leo, in whose terrain the vast majority of the action will occur.
Though the 2015 installment of this retrograde has some unique properties, much insight can be gained by looking back at the previous times that Venus has retrograded through Leo. The cycle being relatively orderly, it is as simple as looking back every eight years. It is thus helpful to consider the third quarter of 2007, 1999, 1991, etc. for previous experiences with this cycle.
The timeline for this year’s installment is as follows. On June 21st, Venus enters the degrees she will later retrograde through. One July 25th, she stations retrograde, and then on September 6th stations direct. Finally, on October 9th, she exits the shadow of the retrograde. The most intense period is doubtless the time where Venus is actually retrograde, although the week leading up to the first station is often quite dramatic.
One feature of Venus’ retrogrades is that they see her spend an unusual amount of time in a given set of degrees. There is thus a tremendous emphasis on the themes of the sign where this occurs. Although Venus’ retrograde station occurs in the very first degree of Virgo, Venus will spend the vast majority of her retrograde cycle in Leo. It is thus worth the time to take a brief tour of the events and archetypes activated by Venus’ time in Leo.
As an inevitable result of the process of wringing out the heart, all of Venus’ retrogrades entail a certain degree of drama. This particular retrograde cycle, though, occurring almost entirely inside of Leo, should produce a number of exceptionally visible dramas. Leo is one of the most emotionally transparent and performative signs, and will thus demand that passions are not merely mulled over, but enacted with vim, vigor, and potentially—venom.
The retrograde’s location in the feline sign is one indicator that this will be a particularly dramatic retrograde, but there are others, as well. The bright planet makes a variety of theatrical aspects to other bodies over the course of her retrograde. The first week of August is especially likely to help bring storylines to a string of fevered climaxes.
In addition to saying that there will be drama, we can also make some reasonable guesses as to what they might entail.
Upon even a minimum of contemplation, Venus in Leo yields a variety of royal female images—powerful, visible, loving, and wrathful figures.
Venus’ retrograde through Leo is thus likely, on a cultural level, to highlight the issue of females in positions of leadership, as well as individual female leaders. In the United States, this will likely infuse the discussion of possible presidential candidates for the 2016 election. The lives of queens past are likely to weigh heavy on the collective.
On a personal level, people will wrestle with near-infinite variations on the image of the sovereign, loving, and wrathful feminine. Some may be drawn to it, others repelled. Some may seek to embody it while others will find their place in relationship to it. This psycho-spiritual complex intersects meaningfully with a variety of god forms and spirits. Lion-headed dakinis, feline Bast and Sekhmet, red Babalon and bright Amaterasu are all likely to make appearances.
When the signs of the zodiac are mapped onto the body, it is inevitably Leo which is said to correspond to the heart. Although Venus’ retrogrades always entail the exposure and reconsideration of relationship dynamics, this installment is likely to drive straight to the bloody, muscular core of matters.
Venus will seek the blazing center, the raw furnace of passions unmitigated by sober reflection and polite phrasing. It will entail the discovery of radical, raw interpersonal truths, and it is this gold mined from dark caverns upon which many of the stories’ trajectories will depend. The degree of intimacy a relationship can sustain is directly proportional to the level of honesty present therein.
Venus corresponds with the powers of attraction resident in each person, and Leo speaks to the images we project. Thus for many, Venus’ retrograde through Leo will bring a series of questions about the issue of self-presentation. A series of looks into Aphrodite’s mirror will reveal the array of internal images by which we identify ourselves, as well those that we project out into the world. A reckoning between what we see and what the world sees is thus inevitable. Venus’ actions always speak to relationships, and the relationship we have with ourselves is no exception.
In addition to her action upon the relationships we have with ourselves and those close to us, Venus’ work also speaks to collective relationships—the way that different populations and peoples relate to one another. Astrologer Nick Dagan Best’s research exhaustively demonstrates a powerful linkage between Venus’ Leo retrogrades and critical moments of race relations in the United States.