Venus Retrograde – Venus’ Descent Into The Underworld
Venus goes retrograde less than any other planet, but when it does, it touches us to the core of our heart.
Venus retrograde is similar to a descent into the underworld: a part of us must die so that a new version of ourselves can emerge.
Did you know that Venus, our sister planet, is the 3rd brightest object in the sky, after the Sun and the Moon? Venus affects us deeply, and when it changes direction, our life changes too.
Venus retrograde is so much more significant because it happens only once every 1,5 years of 584 days. And Venus retrograde is nothing else but the beginning on a new Venus cycle.
Yes, just like Sun has a cycle (365 days, or a year), just like Moon has a cycle (29 days, or a lunar month), so does Venus.
What is spectacular about the Venus cycle is that it has two distinct phases: Venus rising as a morning star, and as an evening star.
For 9 months (btw, did you know that Venus cycle correlates to the human gestation?) Venus rises before the Sun. This is her morning star phase.
She then disappears from the sky for approximately 2 months. After 2 months, she rises again, this time as an evening star. After that Venus disappears again, this time for two weeks. A new Venus cycle starts, with Venus rising again as a morning star.
Complicated? Venus’ movement back and forth, before and after the Sun can seem confusing (it was confusing for our ancestors too, and some cultures believed that Venus was two different stars!).
When Venus transforms from an evening star to a morning star, she actually disappears from the sky. Venus goes retrograde.
The Rebirth Of Venus
Venus retrograde happens exactly at the end of a Venus cycle when Venus shifts from an evening star to a morning star.
Venus changes her clothes from an evening lady to a morning warrior.
When retrograde, Venus has to leave behind her beautiful evening gown and embrace the purity of nature. This is the rebirth of Venus.
Venus retrograde is nothing else but Venus’ rebirth.
The transformation is a complete metamorphosis. No wonder Venus retrograde completely turns our life upside down, too.
I know people who lock themselves in the house, refuse to go out, say no to invitations, don’t make any purchase, and don’t even go to the hairdresser when Venus is retrograde. But unless we understand that Venus retrograde is a necessary process of transformation, we will miss out greatly on opportunities to change ourselves and our lives for the better.
Venus is retrograde for 40 days. Many myths have been connected to the 40 days period: Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days. Moses and the ancient Hebrews wandered in the wilderness for 40 days. Buddha is said to have fasted and meditated for 40 days before reaching Samadhi.
But perhaps the most significant Venus retrograde myth is the Sumerian myth of Inanna’s descent into the underworld.
Venus And The Myth Of Inanna
Inanna is no one else but the Sumerian counterpart of Venus. Inanna was the Goddess of fertility and abundance and the most important deity of the times.
Her morning and evening phase where indicators of agricultural productivity. Food was the most important thing for our ancestors, food basically meant life. No wonder Inanna (Venus) played such an important role at the time.
The myth of Inanna’ descent into the underworld is nothing else but an allegory of Venus’ retrograde cycle.
- The myth starts with Inanna deciding to travel to the underworld to visit her sister Ereshkigal, the Goddess of the Underworld. To the Sumerians, Venus disappearing under the horizon meant Venus went to the Underworld
- Inanna passes through 7 gates to Underworld and she has to remove a piece of clothing or jewelry at each gate–> she needs to let go of her old identification of the self
- She finally arrives in the Underworld, but her sister decides to kill her –> this is the phase when Venus is conjunct the Sun and a new Venus cycle starts. To start anew, a part of us must die
- The goddess of the Underworld who strikes Inanna dead is nothing else but our shadow side, which we need to learn to integrate
- Emissaries from the Earth come to rescue Inanna and resurrect her. Inanna is resurrected and comes back to Earth –> this is the phase when Venus appears again in the sky, this time as a morning star.
- Inanna’s myth is the story of Venus retrograde when Venus ‘shapeshifts’ from Evening Star to the Morning Star.
- At the beginning of Venus retrograde, Venus appears to change her direction and starts moving backward
- Venus becomes invisible in the evening sky as she is approaching the conjunction with the Sun
- Mid-retrograde cycle Venus conjuncts the Sun and a new Venus cycle starts
- 7 days after the conjunction Venus appears again, this time in the morning sky
- And 10 days after her appearance, Venus finally starts to move forward again.
The Real Meaning Of Venus Retrograde
Two things are important to keep in mind about Venus retrograde:
- Venus changes from an evening star to a morning star–> Venus retrograde is about a metamorphosis from one state of being to another
- Venus starts a new cycle –> Venus retrograde will come with a new beginning in your life.
Venus retrograde and a new beginning? This can come as a surprise to you because you probably have a long list of things you should NOT do when Venus (or any other planet) is retrograde.
But now that you know that Venus actually starts a new cycle when retrograde, it makes sense it comes with new opportunities.
That’s not the case in the first half of Venus retrograde. The first 20 days of Venus retrograde are about letting go of the old, and NOT a time for new beginnings. This is when old lovers or unfinished things from the past come into your life – so that you can finally deal with them.
So yes, the first half of Venus retrograde is about letting go of something of value.
However, when we start the second half of Venus retrograde things take a completely different turn.
This is a little-known secret but exactly at the middle of the Venus retrograde (this will be October 26, 2018), when Venus is conjunct the Sun and closest to the Earth, this is the best time for a new beginning. This is when you have more free will than ever. In the heart of the Sun, you can manifest whatever your heart desires.
This is also a time of confusion. When Venus is conjunct the Sun, she is also invisible. Things may not be what they seem. But now, more than ever, it is important to listen to your heart. Even when the actual evidence may be missing, it’s important to listen to what your heart is trying to tell you.
This doesn’t mean you should make a big decision yet. It will take a few more days until Venus will appear in the sky again (on November 5th). This is when things will start to make more sense to you.
As you can see, there is so much more to Venus retrograde than ‘don’t start a new relationship now’ or ‘don’t make important decisions’. Venus retrograde will come with changes, that’s for sure, but the purpose of these changes is to make you a better person.
Let the heat of the Sun burn you, just like Venus throws herself into the arms of the Sun, just like Inanna is killed by her alter-ego, Ereshkigal.
If you do it, you will finally shed your old skin, and let go of whatever is no longer serving you.
And then, just like Venus is born again, this time in the morning sky, a new you will emerge.
At the time Venus is conjunct the Sun, she is as close to the Earth as she can be. This is the time to have an honest look at your core values and discover what you hold most dear.
Yes, Venus retrograde can initially come with a loss. You will have to let go of old values, relationships, or your attitude to these relationships. But if you do it, then your life will be completely transformed.
Venus Morning Star, Venus Evening Star
Venus retrograde is that part of the 19 months or 584-day Venus cycle when Venus changes from an evening star to a morning star.
Venus spends half of the cycle as a morning star and the other half of the cycle as an evening star.
These two faces of Venus correspond to the two signs Venus rules: Taurus and Libra.
Taurus has the characteristics of Venus as a morning star, and Libra has the characteristics of Venus as an evening star.
When Venus rises a morning star, before the Sun, she is straightforward, sensual, and keen to meet her needs and desires.
Venus morning star is about self-love – about learning how to love yourself for who you are, straight and simple.
You were born with Venus as a morning star if your Venus is before your Sun in your natal chart. EXAMPLE: If you are a Virgo, but your Venus is in Leo or Cancer, you are a Venus morning star. If you are a Virgo and your Venus is also in Virgo, Venus has to be before the Sun (e.g. Venus is at 10° Virgo, and Sun is at 20° Virgo).
When Venus rises as an evening star, she has learned about self-love. She is now is concerned with the love for another. That’s why she appears in the sky AFTER the Sun has set (which is a symbol for Libra).
Venus is now interested in others. You were born with Venus as an evening star if Venus is after your Sun in your natal chart. EXAMPLE: if you are a Virgo, but your Venus is in Libra or Scorpio, you are a Venus evening star. If you are a Virgo and your Venus is also in Virgo, Venus has to be after the Sun (e.g. Sun is at 10° Virgo, and Venus is at 20° Virgo).
We can see the two faces of Venus everywhere in nature, and in art.
Let’s take two famous painters who depicted Venus in their masterpieces.
Firstly, there is Titian, who captures the raw sensuality, materialism, the physical love of Taurus, or Venus as a morning star. Look at her, she oozes sensuality!
And then there is the famous’ Botticelli “the birth of Venus”. He focuses on the delicacy, beauty, perfection, and serenity that are Libra – or Venus evening star qualities.
Venus is depicted naked. She is naked just like Inanna was left naked when she arrived at the Underworld, got killed and then resurrected. Her nudity represents the essence of love, those values that never die, true love and beauty.
Venus is depicted naked. She is naked just like Inanna was left naked when she arrived in the Underworld, got killed and then resurrected. Her nudity represents the essence of love, those values that never die, true love and true beauty.
Venus: Self-Love And Selfless Love
We need both types of Venus in our life: self-love (Venus morning star) and selfless love (Venus evening star).
Your Venus natal phase tells you which type of love you were born to master in this lifetime.
Are you a Venus morning star? You then need to master self-love. You need to learn how to love yourself. Attention, narcissism is not self-love, it’s, in fact, a lack of self-love masked as self-love. True self-love does not need validation from the outside.
Are you a Venus evening star? You then need to master selfless love, the love for the other. This doesn’t mean you have to become a doormat and do whatever it takes to please the other. It simply means to love ‘the other’ for who they are.
No matter what your natal Venus phase is, Venus retrograde is a reminder that in order to fully embrace Venus, you need to explore both. You cannot love the other if you don’t love yourself. And what is self-love alone, if it cannot be shared with another?
Venus retrograde is a promise that just like Inanna rose from the dead, your heart can rise too, into more and more love, with every Venus retrograde cycle.
If you want examples of Venus retrograde plays out in real life read the Astro Butterfly blog post Venus Retrograde Stories