Rob Tillett has been an astrologer for more than three decades. In previous incarnations a poet, musician, magician, healer, dramatist & composer, he is the editor and publisher of Astrology on the Web and has written many articles on this website.
Rob lives in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, on the east coast of Australia.
Everyone has heard of the cosmic slipups that seem to appear when Mercury is retrograde, but did you know that other planets can go retro too? Well, they can! And on October 8, 2010, Venus enters a rare retro phase in Scorpio, the sexiest sign of all, lasting until November 18th, when she she turns direct again. Now, read on...
At 07:06 UT (Universal Time) on Friday, October 8, 2010, Venus reaches her retrograde station at 13░ Scorpio 14', in preparation for a period of retrograde motion that will last until November 18, 2010, when she reaches her direct station at 27░ Libra 40'. At this time she halts and begins her return to direct motion through the zodiac.
Sensual Venus, the planetary ruler of Libra and Taurus, turns retrograde only once every eighteen months, but this year she turns just short of the conjunction with macho Mars in his Scorpion lair! This sexy mixture occurs not long after the New Moon as the Sun and Moon are rising in Libra, while Mercury and Saturn form a powerful and cerebral conjunction (also in Libra). Venus will be visible just after sunset, shining brightly as the Evening Star.
It's a massively powerful phase, activating important planetary aspects and awakening an unusual number of double stars as detailed later in the article. The effects of this retrograde period will continue to be felt until Dec 20, when Venus returns to the 14th degree of Scorpio, where she first made her station (this is called the "Shadow Period", which can be as intense as the actual retro phase!).
Fraught with Seriousness
Over these weeks even the most casual interactions tend to become fraught with seriousness, intended or not. Female relationships, partnership and other alliance, and joint ventures of any kind fit this pattern. Older or more mature people seem especially interesting. More structure and seriousness imposed on relationships can mean more stability and commitment. Relationships from the past may reappear. Artistic endeavours should become more focused and organized, though originality and imagination can suffer from the tendency to stick to tradition or whatever methods or patterns you know best. This is not the best time for beauty treatments, cosmetic surgery, or redecorating projects. Social gestures and diplomacy are likely to be self-serving.
A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. This traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth, with relation to other planets in our solar system. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way, due to this optical illusion. It's a bit like travelling on the road watching another car beside you: when the other car slows down, or you speed up, it looks as though the other car is moving backwards. Click here for some neat graphics and more on the science of retrograde planetary motion.
Venus does turn retrograde only once every eighteen months, but the effects of each period differ, according to the sign in which it happens (see box for Venus Retrograde 2010). Retrograde periods, although often problematic for us earthlings, are not particularly uncommon. Each planet retrogrades, except the Sun and Moon.
As a rule, retrograde planets indicate a period of seemingly inevitable or fated events that relate to their sphere of influence. They present us with a series of events over which we seem to have little or no control, relating especially to the sign in which the retrogradation occurs. Often, related issues from the past reappear and need to be dealt with.
The retrograde period is best seen as a cycle, beginning when Venus begins to slow to a halt before travelling backwards through the zodiac and ending when she returns to the point where she first paused. However, during the cycle, the planetary energy is most powerful (and more likely to generate critical events of universal importance) when Venus makes a station, appearing motionless in the heavens.
These stationary periods occur near the beginning of the cycle (when Venus first halts as she prepares to move backwards) and midway through the cycle when she slows to a stop before moving forward again. The "direct station" (when Venus halts before moving forward again) is the most powerful and can be used for maximum benefit.
What does Venus affect?
In general, Venus, the goddess of love, rules feelings and emotion, aesthetics and tastes, relationships, fashions and all forms of desire, money and wealth. Venus rules social attitudes and behaviour, along with aesthetic tastes and inclinations. She symbolises female relationships and social interactions at every level—and her placement also indicates our values. She governs romance, marriage and other partnerships, capacity for humour, and the pursuit of pleasure.
During a retrograde period the things Venus influences will be less apparent, or be of less concern to the world. Visual sensibilities are reduced. People dress with less flair and our colour sense tends to be muted. This is not the time to purchase clothes or jewellery, change one's make-up or hairstyle. Redecorating or refurbishing homes or business should also be avoided, though there is no reason why decisions that have been made earlier should not be allowed to come to fruition during this period.
With Venus retrograde, the pace of relationships slows down, so this is not the best time to get married or give big parties. Since Venus rules diplomacy, slowdowns in all sorts of negotiations can be expected, including industrial disputes, legal issues and diplomatic endeavours. Unresolved issues from the past will come forward and demand resolution.
It is a time when we are called upon to go back and take care of unfinished business, particularly to do with relationships, emotional and financial. Often we are forced to deal with deep feelings that have their origins in past events. They are activated on an inner level but are often difficult to express to ourselves or others while Venus is retrograde.
Click your sign to see how Venus Retrograde affects you!
Venus Retrograde in Scorpio
When Venus is retrograde, everyone's emotional state is more introspective and we tend to react emotionally to the issues and concerns that relate to the sign involved. With Venus retrograde in Scorpio, people with this sign prominent in their charts will be especially prone to such introspection. Scorpio is a Fixed Sign, so it also has a notable effect on those with the other Fixed Signs prominent in their charts. The Fixed Signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. Nevertheless, Venus does turn in a favoured segment of the zodiac, (the Terms of Jupiter), so we can reconsider our personal feelings and relationships with an eye to the opportunity to gain insight into one's own mode of relating, whether sexually, creatively, or financially.
Venus the love goddess also turns in auspicious conjunction with the Fixed Star Menkent, a variable double star in the shoulder of Centaurus, the Centaur. Menkent is of a like nature to Venus, though the constellation is said to give hard-heartedness, with an inclination to vengeance; it also gives a love of arms, strong passion, and an energetic nature. It may be connected with poisons, so watch out when the jealousy and vengeance of Scorpio is awakened! Venus in Scorpio is sensual, possessive and brooding, jealous to the point of being vindictive, yet intensely loyal in love. Since matters from the past tend to come forward during the retro phase, an old flame, or reminiscences of lost love, may reappear.
Jealousy is likely to rear its ugly head as intense passionate emotions are aroused, and we can expect undue attention both in the media and in personal life to the pleasures of the senses, particularly focused on outlandish luxury and indulgences. Excesses of sex and passion may lead to health complaints. This retro phase sparks jealous marital relations, an impulsive nature and the need to control relationships. Religious sentiments, when awakened, tend to be intense and fervid, so fanatics are likely to be, well, in the mood. Curiously, Venus turns retrograde in exact conjunction with the south node of Israel's chart, so some loss or financial karma along the lines of hardheartedness and desire for vengeance may be expected in the Middle East, despite the recent peace negotiations, which I first raised briefly in our article on the Equinox.
A Magnetic Attraction
Venus in Scorpio stimulates a magnetic attraction to the opposite sex, though in the retro phase a more fated or destined feel suffuses the atmosphere as we seek to fathom the depths of relationships. Romantic connections with their roots in the past will thrust themselves forward again for those whose charts are affected. The presence of Mars in Scorpio further deepens and intensifies this tendency. Mars and Venus are the planets of masculine and feminine attraction, of passion and desire; they have been in and out of conjunction for quite some weeks now, and indeed Venus turns retrograde in the conjunction but does not quite catch up to the passionate Warrior Lord again until the end of May 2011. This means that in effect the conjunction is astrologically active for almost nine months! Venus moderates the harshness of Mars, but Mars energises the sensuality and passionate desire of Venus, especially in Scorpio, the night-sign of Mars and the sign of the detriment of Venus. So if you've been feeling a little randy (or like blowing something up), blame it on the planets!
Mars is conjunct the South Scale, a malefic Fixed Star in the Scorpion's Southern Claw—renowned for making love as well as for grasping prey! Also denominated Zubenelgenubi, South Scale is another prominent double star, now known as the alpha star of the constellation, Libra (αlibrŠ). When in conjunction with Mars, it is said to bring bitter quarrels, entailing bloodshed or death. You might also like to know that when in conjunction with Venus (although prevented from culmination until Dec 23 by the retro phase) it is noted by Robson to be bad for marriage; it's also mentioned as marking sudden and secret death, wherein one may be poisoned thanks to the jealousy of someone of one's own sex. Uh, oh! There's that poison again!
The New Moon in Libra immediately preceding the retro station of Venus is ruled by Venus and Saturn, for Venus is the planetary ruler of Libra and Saturn is its exaltation ruler. Actually this is the first time in nearly 30 years that Saturn has been in Libra at the Equinox (some weeks before this phase, when the Sun enters Libra), so it's a period of generational importance. As the Sun and Moon combine in Libra to make the New Moon, Mercury and Saturn also conjoin in Libra, giving a powerful emphasis to the sign of the Scales this time around. This potent lunation is conjunct another double star, Algorab, a Behenian star in the wing of Corvus the Crow. Algorab is also rather vicious, portending scavenging, destructiveness, repulsiveness, malevolence, fiendishness and lying, suicide, greed and other injuries. Not one you'd like to bring home to meet your mother...
Saturn and Mercury together signify that information and methods that emerge—whether we need them or not—are of a practical nature. Ideas and information, and communications in general may be restricted or somehow limited. Our receptiveness to acquiring or understanding them may somehow be lacking, or prevented by forces outside our control (as this conjunction forms the pinnacle of a stressful T-square aspect in Cardinal signs). Contacts and travel during this period will tend to be related to business or for serious pursuits. Organization and preparation, or the lack of it, can become big issues—especially considering that this conjunction is right on the Fixed Star Vindemiatrix, a bright yellow star in the right arm of the Virgin. Vindemiatrix is notable for falsity, folly, disgrace, stealing, widowhood, depression, witch-hunts, mysticism—and the occult! In conjunction with Mercury and Saturn it generates loss through hasty action, writings and business, particularly speculation, though Saturn is usually on the side of the thoughtful businessman. It implies secret difficulties with the marriage partner—especially if the secret affairs promised by the whole configuration come to light!
Now this all sounds rather grim, as do most connections with the Fixed Stars, but there are some of them that have a truly beneficial influence. The most benefic of all is Spica, the fortunate bright star in the sheaf of wheat held by the Virgin. In the UT chart for Greenwich—the key chart for these considerations as Venus hits her retro station—Spica is rising conjunct the Ascendant and the Moon, which is also rising conjunct the Ascendant. This phenomenon proffers unbounded good fortune, happiness, ecclesiastical preferment, unexpected honour, or advancement beyond anyone's hopes or capacity. Gosh. Not so bad then. Irrespective of the mundane position (i.e. whether or not you are in Greenwich!), those who can take advantage of this auspicious paran are likely to find gain through inventions and success, wealth and honour from people who are kind, intellectual and most likely influential or in high office.
The New Moon is always the marker of a new start in its relevant field, so with Libra, the sign of artistic sensibility, relationships, balance and the law, we can expect great strides to be made, especially on the artistic or creative side. The Moon is in a promising trine aspect to imaginative Neptune and healing Chiron, which are both in fortunate conjunction with benefic Gienah in the constellation of the Swan (the mythic disguise of Jupiter). This star enables the fortunate to soar to great heights, but maintains the potential of sudden downfall. The Moon itself, as well as being in close conjunction with Spica, is also in the arms of Foramen, a marvellous but erratic star (like the Moon!) in the keel of the Argo, the ship captained by mythic hero Jason in his journey to recover the Golden Fleece. It offers prosperity and leadership, a divine teacher and creative power. The Lord of the Waves, the constellation Argo is also associated with Oannes, the mysterious human fish and greatest god of the ancient kingdom of Babylon. We should however remember that this star is reliably associated with riches through voyages and trade, but sadly, death by shipwreck and drowning.
So although there are some truly fortunate powers at work, there is still the potential for disintegration. The main issues most of us will have to deal with will be the jealous nature of the period, and the likelihood of an old flame flickering back to life. The retro phase in Scorpio ends on November 8, as Venus retrogrades back to her own sign, Libra, a much more favourable position.
Venus Retrograde in Libra
Although Venus turns retrograde in Scorpio (the sign of her detriment), she retrogrades into Libra, her day-sign, on November 8 at 03:07 UT. Venus, the lesser benefic, hits her direct station at 27░40' Libra on November 18, just as Jupiter, the greater benefic, also turns direct in Pisces, so this date marks the inception of a more fortunate phase, thank heavens. It is worth noting that intense Pluto, the Lord of the Underworld, has also just ended his retrograde phase, and Venus is much better placed in Libra, so some of the pressure is likely to dissipate, at least until she returns to Scorpio in direct motion through the zodiac on November 30th.
When Venus moves back into Libra on November 8, 2010, the tendency towards jealousy and vindictive behaviour is reduced, inclining the collective more to a purer, more refined affection, especially for those who have Cardinal Signs strong in their charts. Cardinal Signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. Relationships take on a certain intellectual objectivity, but the element of scheming is still present. Libra is the sign of the strategist, so can also be manipulative when it comes to selecting associates. In social situations as well as relationships, the deeper passions are less likely to surface. Flirting becomes more the norm in sexual interactions, but don't let that fool you!
This year Venus makes her direct station in conjunction with the behenian Fixed Star, Izar, once again a binary star, pale orange and bluish green, lying on the waistband of Bo÷tes the Ploughman (or "Bearwarden" as Manilius calls him, for he drives the Bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor around the pole star, Polaris). Bo÷tes is fond of wine (as Icarius, he was believed to be the one whom Dionysus first taught to make wine) and gives prosperity from work, strong desires, a tendency to excess, together with a liking for occultism. According to Robson, the Cabbalists associate him with the Hebrew letter Teth and the 9th Tarot Trump, "The Hermit". The good thing about the direct station is that it provides the ideal opportunity to make valuable decisions on relationships and interactions in general with regard to the direction you will take in the future – at least until the next Venus Retrograde in April 2012!
NOTE: The fixed stars form patterns in the heavens that are called constellations. Constellations are not the same as Signs of the Zodiac, though some of them bear the same names, because in times gone long by, the signs coincided with the constellations of the same name. This is because of the phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes, whereby the Vernal Point, which is always the first degree of the sign Aries in the Tropical Zodiac, moves slowly backwards with regard to the stars and constellations in the Sidereal Zodiac (thanks to the Earth's top-like "wobble" in its orbit). Argo, Bo÷tes, Centaurus, Corvus and Cygnus are important constellations, but not signs of the Zodiac.