Venus — the planet associated with love, romance, beauty, money, material possessions and personal values — will be retrograde from March 4th until April 15th, 2017.
From an astrological perspective, retrogrades motivate us to review, revisit, refine and resolve challenges that are holding us back from progressing in the area related to the planet involved.
They may relate to unfinished business from past lives, or they may refer to repeating patterns in our present lifetimes. Either way, the presumption when that planet is Venus is that the challenges faced are love and relationship challenges.
This includes the entire spectrum of “relationships”: romantic, familial, social, etc.
Venus spends less time retrograde than any other planet: only approximately 41 days in its 584 day synodic cycle. The cycle itself starts either at the inferior conjunction (when Venus is exactly between the Earth and the Sun), the heliacal rising (the point where it first becomes visible on the Eastern horizon — about 10 days after the inferior conjunction), or the superior conjunction (when the Sun is between Venus and the Earth, about 216 days later).
No matter where the cycle starts though — and this is really just a matter of preference — it completes 5 of these in an 8-year period, concluding when it returns to its point of origin.
The inferior conjunction begins in the middle of the retrograde cycle, and is followed about 10 days later by its heliacal rising. This is the point where Venus is far enough away from its conjunction to the Sun to be visible as it rises before it. This is referred to as Venus Lucifer (the “Light Bearer”).
Sacred Geometry: Here’s what Venus’ synodic cycle looks like from a Sun-centered (heliocentric) perspective. The transits of Venus and the Earth — with Venus retrograding back each time it’s overtaken by the Earth — creates a stunning spirographic pattern that repeats itself indefinitely.
During its synodic cycle, Venus spends 263 days as a morning star; followed by about 50 days when it’s not visible at all (due to its proximity to the Sun). It then reappears in the evening sky for another 263 days and disappears again for the final 8 days before it rises heliacally and starts all over again.
Because Venus’s synodic period corresponds to the Earth’s orbital period at a ratio of 5:8, this cycle relates itself 5 times over a period of 8 years. This applies to your own natal Sun and Venus relationship as well. This is why — once every 8 years — you will have both as solar return and a Venus return on approximately the same day (around your birthday).
Here’s an animated You Tube version of this same geometrical phenomenon:
So what about people who were born with these placements? In general — and depending on the sign and house placement and the relationship between Venus and other planets — Venus retrograde natives tend to internalize Venusian principles. They may be late bloomers when it comes to love, or they might be shy and awkward in social situations, or they may feel like fish out of water when it comes to other people’s relationship expectations.
For those born with Venus in direct motion, expressing Venus functions — such as love, romantic interest, personal values and money — are naturally funneled through their natal sign and house placement. But for those born with Venus retrograde, those same functions go against the natural flow.
Venus retrograde people don’t naturally function within the parameters of status quo expectations. Those expectations can seem foreign to them. They may feel like they’re on the outside looking in when it comes to relationships. They may be uncomfortable flirting or expressing attraction or playing the social games that seem to come so naturally to others. This doesn’t mean they’re unlucky in love or incapable of conducting themselves in healthy and happy relationships. What it does mean though is that they internalize the natural Venus functions that are associated with their sign and house placements.
For example, Venus in Aries people tend to be naturally very passionate, dynamic and assertive when it comes to expressing romantic interest. But turn that energy around (via retrograde) and it’s more likely to manifest as shyness, uncertainty or doubt. Why? because the Venus in Aries function — all the confidence, courage and drive — becomes internalized. That energy is still there, but it’s less evident to those around them because it’s not expressed outwardly. It can manifest as insecurity, inferiority and problems with identity.
Venus Lucifer and Venus Hesperus: Because Venus never travels more than 48 ° from the Sun, it’s only visible within a few hours before sunrise or after sunset. You never see Venus (or Mercury, for the same reason) at midnight because of this. Although the morning star and evening star inclinations apply to everyone (not just those born with Venus retrograde), the retrograde adds another layer.
A morning star Venus — that is Venus rising ahead of the Sun in the early hours of the morning, is called Venus Lucifer. This is traditionally a more expressive, spontaneous and instinctual energy. It can refer to an “act first, worry about the consequences later” approach to love and relationship. Those born with Venus Lucifer tend to dive in head first and lead with their hearts.
An evening star Venus — that is Venus setting after the Sun in the hours just after dusk — is called Venus Hesperus. This is a more hesitant or cautious Venus; it can be seen as more soulful from the perspective of a more disciplined standpoint. Those born with Venus Hesperus tend to take things more slowly and consider the repercussions of their actions.
As far as Venus’ current position goes — it’s been visible as an evening star since last June, and will remain in the evening sky until around the 24th of March. Its superior conjunction to the Sun occurs then at 4 ° Aries.
As with all retrogrades, there are karmic implications. From a Universal perspective, retrogrades describe the challenges that are brought forward as opportunities to resolve past life issues. They force us to repeat, revisit, resolve and repair past mistakes. When that retrograde planet is Venus, those challenges are typically love and relationship oriented.
Famous people born with Venus Retrograde:
Venus Lucifer: Kathy Bates, Tom Hanks, Chrissie Hynde, Brigham Young, Courtney Love, Jodie Foster, Peter Gabriel, Audrey Hepburn, Louis C.K., Christine Keeler, Julio Iglesias, Cybill Shepperd, Jack Nicholson, Mark Spitz, Ringo Starr, Venus Williams, Elizabeth Banks, Christian Bale, Natalie Cole, Seth Green, Carole King, Amy Winehouse, Saddam Hussein, Amber Valletta, Stewart Granger, Ted Bundy, David Morrisey
Venus Hesperus: Sally Field, Charlie Chaplin, Muhammad Ali, Annie Besant, Bjorn Bjorg, Adolf Hitler, Kate Middleton, Chaka Khan, David Koresh, Peter Ustinov, Mila Kunis, Langston Hughes, Tom Jones, Courteney Cox, Charlize Theron, Ellen DeGeneres, Ted Turner, Adam Ant, Robert De Niro, Kate Moss, Patricia Neal, Mariah Carey, Graham Nash, Nancy Sinatra, Charles Lindbergh, Tallulah Bankhead, Harry Connick Jr., Winston Churchill, Debbie Allen, Billy Ocean, Carolyn Kennedy, Patrick Dempsey, Rainn Wilson
Let’s look at some of the important dates for this particular cycle:
First of all, well before Venus went retrograde, it crossed its “shadow point” (which is the degree that it will ultimately retrograde back to before it starts moving forward again) at 26° Pisces. This is less than a degree away from Venus’ exact degree of exaltation and occurred on January 30th. It will turn stationary direct at that point again on April 15th.
The shadow point of any retrograde can lengthen its duration — in this case from 6 weeks (the period Venus is actually retrograde) to almost 10 weeks. If you consider the shadow point ending at 26 ° (the degree at which it started its retrograde motion), then it completes its retrograde on April 15th — roughly 2-1/2 months from the originating shadow point degree. The actual retrograde occurs at 13° Aries on March 4th.
As the Sun moves forward and Venus moves backwards (zodiacally), they eventually pass one another. is occurs on March 24th at 4 ° Aries. This is the inferior conjunction between the Sun and Venus. Venus will move back into Pisces on April 2nd, and will station there and turn direct (at 26° Pisces) on April 15th. It won’t cross the 13th degree of Aries — the degree at which it first goes retrograde — again for another month (on May 18th). The last significant degree in this cycle is the degree at which Venus rises helically. This is 1° Aries (on March 31st).
So with all this in mind and with Venus on the verge of retrograding now, what can you expect from this cycle? Depending on your natal Venus (and other planets that may occupy the degrees outlined above, you can expect to be forced to go back and right some wrongs.
This will frequently manifest as someone coming back in from your past from your past circling back in, as an opportunity to either resolve past conflicts or tie up lose ends. Sometimes that “someone” is from a previous lifetime — and while the timing is not good at all for starting something new, these soul connections are so magnetic and compelling that they’re almost impossible to resist.
Some of the negative Venus retrograde attributes, such as jealousy, gluttony, pettiness and greed, are associated with the shadow side of Venus. Conflicts with family members (or female friends) arise and force you to deal with them — even though that often means there will be casualties. Family relationships are the most karmic of all.
Remember that Venus’ natural rotation is retrograde. This means that the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East on Venus. We can correlate that astrologically to the Venusian tendency to put relationships first and to want to seek out balance and harmony in relationship.
If you’d like to know where your natal Venus is, or where the current retrograde is transiting through your chart, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below. You can also calculate your own information using this nifty tool: free natal chart calculator (or go to astro.com) to check out some of the different natal chart calculators.
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A version of this article first appeared in December 2013 on the Ask the Astrologers website.
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