Venus Retrograde – The Descent Into The Underworld

When Venus is retrograde, she disappears from the sky for a couple of weeks.

The disappearance marks Venus’ metamorphosis from an evening star (rising after sunset) to a morning star (rising before the Sun).

Metaphorically, 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.

One of the most significant Venus retrograde myths is the Sumerian myth of Inanna’s descent into the underworld.

Venus And The Myth Of Inanna

Inanna is the Sumerian counterpart of Venus. Inanna was the Goddess of fertility and abundance and the most important deity of the times.

The myth of Inanna’s 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
  • Ereshkigal, the goddess of the Underworld 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 Morning Star.

Two things are important to keep in mind about Venus retrograde:

  1. Venus changes from an evening star to a morning star–> Venus retrograde is a metamorphosis from one state of being to another
  2. Venus starts a new cycle –> Venus retrograde comes with a rebirth of the heart

Just like Venus is born again, this time in the morning sky, a new you will emerge.

Venus Retrograde And The Heroine’s Journey

If we compare Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey to Inanna’s heroine’s journey we notice some similarities. The Venus cycle is also about a descent into the Underworld followed by a return. But, unlike the hero, Inanna doesn’t venture into the open.

She goes into the metaphorical underworld. When Venus goes retrograde, it’s not the world we need to conquer, but ourselves.

Inanna, the queen of heaven and earth, and Ereshkigal, the queen of the dark underworld, comprise the two aspects of the female psyche. The journey to reintegration is not fought on the outside – but inside ourselves.

There is no dragon to kill, it’s our own shadow that we need to integrate, it’s our own dark side we need to show compassion to. It’s our own unexpressed feelings and desires that we need to honor.

Venus retrograde is a journey to our heart. But how do we find the way there?

We do what Inanna has done – we look inside. Inanna has spent 40 days on her journey to the underworld and back. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert to overcome his doubt. Buddha fasted and meditated for 40 days before reaching Samadhi.

What do all these journeys have in common? Reflection and introspection. When Venus is retrograde, we really want to take the time and make a commitment to look inside.

We could go on with our lives the same as before – and ignore the call – or we could make a conscious decision to go along with the cosmic flow and see where it takes us.

Venus retrograde will ask you to look deep inside your heart. Who knows what you may find? Love, sadness, joy, separation, forgiveness, or anger – the longing of your heart will eventually help you find a deeper intimacy with yourself.

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