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Venus Retrograde 2017: A Rite of Passage is a 40-Day Affair

Venus Retrograde 2017: A Rite of Passage is a 40-Day Affair

We could talk about Venus as the Goddess of Love, and we could talk about her upcoming retrograde period as a time of romantic reevaluation. But that wouldn’t even be half of the story.

If we’re going to be really straightforward about it, then yes, all of the things you already know about Venus apply. Venus is the planet of beauty, love, money, art, and aesthetics. So when Venus goes retrograde, any and all of these things could shift into a different gear (and probably a bumpy one, if we’re being real). Venus Retrograde isn’t quite the logistical inferno that Mercury Retrograde is, but it still deals with all those “re” words: reevaluation, reflection, reconsideration, and even reconciliation. Yep, it’s true: sometimes the ghosts of friends and lovers past show up on your doorstep during this period, and it might be worth your time to consider doling out a second chance — or a second reminder to yourself that you’re way over that nonsense.

More than anything, the overriding message of Venus Rx is “wait until all the facts are in.” It’s generally not considered a good time to get engaged, make any serious relationship commitments, do anything major to your appearance, or purchase any luxury, big-ticket items. Of course, rules are made to be broken, but yours truly can personally attest to a terrible DIY haircut committed during a Venus Retrograde, so make of that what you will.

On a deeper level, Venus is also about value: what we care about, what we prioritize, how we appraise other people and things, and especially how we appraise ourselves. Issues of self-worth are huge in this context, and it’s fair to say that what we ultimately do in the arena of love, friendship, money, or personal style will ultimately stem from these. It’s probably even more accurate to say that it’s your relationship to relationships that’s in the hot seat right now, and it always goes without saying that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.

Okay — now that we’ve covered the conventional wisdom aspect of Venus Retrograde, we can get a little technical and weird.

This retrograde will span 26 degrees Pisces to 13 degrees Aries, crossing over the extremely potent alpha/omega point of the zodiac. There are endings contained in beginnings here, and new potential contained in closure.

What’s more, Venus has a very different relationship to both of these signs. Relationship-oriented Venus is in detriment in individualistic Aries (which is another way of saying “uncomfortable” or “debilitated”), but egoless Pisces is the sign of its exaltation (or its “happy place”). We might find that this year’s Venus Retrograde is broken down into two distinct chapters: one spanning March 4 – April 3 during its backspin through Aries, and another from April 4-15, while it wraps up its retrograde in Pisces. To be clear, we’ve been in the shadow period since January 30, and we won’t be totally home-free until May 19. But if you haven’t sensed a foreshadowing already, think back to what was coming up for you in Spring 2009, or the last time Venus Retrograde was going down in Aries. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. I think Mark Twain said that.

Another thing that’s very interesting to think about: a Venus Retrograde period spans roughly 40 days. Where have we heard that one before? Maybe just about every seminal religious and spiritual text, cultural tradition, and post-modern self-help guide.

Forgive me if I can’t say any of these things definitively, because I’m definitely not a historian or religious studies expert, and I’ve actually been in the process of figuring this out for myself for the past few days (if any of you want to chime in and enlighten me further, be my guest!). But chances are pretty good that the connection between Venus and the number “40” in the New and Old Testaments is not an accident. Allegedly, some scholars think Jews, Muslims, and Christians fixated on the number 40 because Venus’ elliptical forms a pentagram every 8 years (8×5=40), and it returns to its starting point every 40 years, with a 40-day regression. The Egyptians were also hip to the fact that the Sun’s annual cycle could only be perfectly measured in 40-day cycles.

The “40-day” concept can be found in just about every kind of culture and discipline you can imagine: from Moses wandering the desert for 40 days, to the 40 days of Lent, to 40 days and nights of fasting in Jewish and Hindu traditions, to 40-day kundalini sadhanas, to the 40 philosophical days in traditional alchemy (of purification and purging), to the 40-day drying period in Egyptian mummification, to the 40-day biblical floods, to the 40-day mourning period observed by Russian Orthodox and Christian Filipinos, to the impersonation of the Aztec god Xipe Totec for 40 days prior to the sacrificial ritual — the list goes on. All of these things involve themes of purification, of existing in a state of energetic incubation in order to pass completely from one cycle to the next. Is it any small accident that the average pregnancy lasts 40 weeks from the time of a woman’s last period, or that 40 days is the commonly accepted length of time required for a new habit to set in?

Venus knows all about passing through cycles. Venus actually has two personalities: the warrior-like Morning Star and the more “traditionally” Venusian Evening Star. Because of the way Venus interacts with the Earth and Sun, it’s constantly moving on an elliptical that causes it to appear in the evening sky, disappear from view, then reappear in the morning sky (it’s actually referred to as “Lucifer” in this phase, which is Latin for “light-bearer.” Sort of gives new meaning to the phrase “Lucifer, son of the morning,” doesn’t it?). Venus begins this cycle when it makes its inferior conjunction to the Sun in the midst of its retrograde, which occurs once every year and a half or so. At this point, Venus is transitioning from its Evening Star phase into its Morning Star phase, though it dons an invisibility cloak for about a week in between.

If we’re not sugarcoating things, this moment has long been associated with dramatic, explosive, and sometimes violent news events, but it could also simply be a time when we emerge from our own incubation period, taking no prisoners or shit from anybody. In mythology, Venus (or Innana) is described as descending into the underworld as an Evening Star during the first part of the retrograde, experiencing a rebirth down below while she’s out of view, and then emerging anew as a Morning Star. This is especially rich when you consider that Venus will be in Aries — sign of the warrior — when it conjuncts the Sun, but it moves into Pisces at just around the time it becomes a Morning Star. Venus in Aries takes on the qualities of the Morning Star, and Venus in Pisces is an excellent analogy for the Evening Star. Except in this case, it’s almost as though they’re trading places. What should we make of that? Time will tell.

For now, feel free to decode and cherry pick this symbolism in a way that’s legible to you. You’ll probably have a different take on things by the time mid-April rolls around, but that’s the nature of committing to a process of change. Before a new variety of conditioning can leave its imprint on you, you must first decolonize the old.

For a detailed and personalized look into what’s going down in your chart right now, try your personal horoscope on for size.