Venus Rx + Merc Rx (+Jupiter Rx, Pluto Rx, and Saturn RX)

Part II: Regarding my last post, two friends asked: “…what are the traits of those retrogrades, how do they matter to me…?” I don’t know how much justice I can do to this topic, but here goes, K- & C-!

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Constellations. Howardena Pindell, 2015. 

(This is a LOT of words that only talk about astrology, current planetary aspects, and issues in astrology. I’ve peppered in pictures to try and cleanse the palate now and again.)

(I know… just look at that wall of text… I warned you… Before I go further into Venus, Jupiter, and Merc Rx, note that Saturn also went retrograde April 5. (Jupiter is already in retrograde until June 9.) On April 14 Venus comes out. Pluto goes in on April 20. That’s 5 planets going in, being in, or coming out of retrograde in April. It’s not completely uncommon, and none of these are inherently negative, it’s just… a lot. And, it might be a bit of a slog.

Like all things astrology, some planetary movements will be felt by some more than others, depending on which of our houses {in our natal charts} they are occurring in and which aspects they make to other planets. But with 5 planets in some state of retrograde, chances are most of us are going to be feeling at least some significant effects at one point or another.)

No matter what, a retrograde signals a time to slow and revisit our ways and behaviors, granting opportunities to learn, consider, and change, if we are willing to do the work. And of course what we do personally effects our community. We need only look at current headlines to see how much (and to what corrupted degree), some of us are threatened by being honest with ourselves and others, and accountable to our behavior.

Retrogrades can be considered opportunities which lead to self examination, and (ideally) to creating more integral behaviors. They can also be bumpy, vulnerable or emotionally sloppy rides, which is why they have a difficult reputation. They can confront us with our full-frame self reflections via situations, conversations, or nostalgia, putting our behaviors or beliefs on display for ourselves (and often others) to view.

We might use the oportunity to inch towards seeding, fostering, and tending what we want to welcome, even if it feels awkward, new, and we are bad at it; like speaking a foreign language really poorly. Alternately, there can also be a desire to fall out due to an unwillingness to be accountable, or due to avoidance or escapism. Retrogrades can see us make great strides, and then retreat for longer than usual to recoup.

The ways and behaviors we need to revisit, alter or eliminate can be illuminated via difficulty or opportunity at these times (along the lines of the specific retrograde planet’s character in a sign). The major way retrogrades will likely effect us is based on the houses in our natal charts that the specific planet retrogrades in (example below). The planet will provide the form of the retrograde, and the house will provide the theme.

As an example, think of the way we inherently resonate with some people we meet. It’s easy or oddly familiar to be around them, and we might share overlapping values. But with others, we might actually shut down or withdraw. They might not even be bad people, we just don’t share easy discourse or have a pleasing exchange of energy. This is what happens to the planets in signs; some are productive and at ease in some signs, and some are too opposite for anything good to really occur.

Of course, the planets don’t really move backwards. They *appear* to, from our limited vantage here on Earth. Thus, a way to think about retrogrades is as a window for viewing how others see us; how we appear to move and function and how that is reflected back at us. Additionally, retrogrades have shadow periods so even if a planet isn’t retrograde (if it soon will be or has just passed out of one), the effects can still be felt and experienced.

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Dorian Gray, Ivan Albright, 1943/44. Art Institute of Chicago. A cautionary tale of what happens if you don’t use your retrogrades well. (j/k!) 

To begin looking at a retrograde, the first thing I do is look at my natal chart and see where this retrograde will be happening for me. For instance, for the current Venus Retrograde, you’d look for Pisces and see which house that is for you. (You’ll need your birth time, as you can’t calculate your rising sign without it and rising sign is as important as Sun sign.) I prefer Sidereal Astrology because I experience more accuracy with it, but most people in this country use Tropical Western. Here are links to pull your natal chart in both. (MUCH more on this at the end…)

Tropical Natal Chart Generator: http://astro.cafeastrology.com/cgi-bin/astro/natal

Sidereal Natal Chart Generator: https://mystickphysick.com/home/sidereal-tools/

Venus Retrograde doesn’t get the press that Mercury Retrograde does. Venus retrogrades roughly every 18 months, much less often than Mercury. Venus Rx is a little harder to simplify with a meme or tweet, as what arises during its window has a lot to do with whom, and what we personally value.

Venus retrograde exposes us to ourselves, the parts of us usually hidden from our view along the lines of relationships, love, and prosperity. It might have us manifest traits of ourselves that are the opposite of who we normally are, which can be emotionally stressful, but it’s an opportunity to see some of our deepest workings. (Of note: Venus makes a square to Saturn all month, adding an extra layer of flavor to things. It’s a deeper conversation, but I’d be remiss not to mention it.)

Venus Rx might see close, old friends and lovers resurface, or the idea / memory of them. Things that needed to be tended long ago, might now reappear again, and in greater need of addressing. It’s not a good time to start a relationship or commit to one, rather a time to (as retrogrades inherently urge) take careful stock. Slow down. Make no decisions, just be.

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Think of retrogrades the way that Joan instructs above. Easy-peasy!

This Venus retrograde is currently in Pisces. Venus is exalted in Pisces, meaning it’s very happy there. If one chooses to, a lot could be altered, learned, and fostered for the better going forward, during this time. These two work together beautifully. (Venus comes out of retrograde April, 14. It moved into Aries during its retrograde, but it’s back in Pisces so for the sake of ease, I’m only talking about Pisces here.)

Once I know where this retrograde is happening in my own chart, I can be mindful that these areas might become running themes for the next while.

Examples of how this might be experienced: Depending on the individual’s natal house this is falling into, this retrograde could highlight work (10th house), friendships (11th house), or family relationships (house 3 & 4), with regard to romantic partners. Themes that might arise for consideration could be about how one’s work / friends / family affect our personal relationships, or if too much stock is placed in what friends or family think of our partner or private life. Do we let work or family or friendships foil us in love somehow and why do we allow that?

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Astrological houses, from astrostyle.com. Example: this Venus retrograde is currently in my 12th house – where Pisces is for me – (the house of death, intuition, fears & self-undoing, spirituality, dreaming, the unknown). It moved into Aries, which is my 1st house (the house of birth, self, outward appearance, how we encounter and appear to the world) for a while, but now it’s back in Pisces. 

One way to approach Venus retrograde might be to think of your behavior in (and approach to) relationships as an old closet stuffed full of things you’ve collected… things you have found or picked up over the years or things people gave to you (whether you wanted them or not) and it’s all just waiting to be sorted through, piece by piece. Our parents give us a lot, and our past partners, and lovers. Some of it might be of value, but it’s generally a time to mine what you have gained and experienced for learning and growth, and jettison the rest.

Venus is obviously the planet of love, art, sex, fertility, romance, and money (abundance) too, but more simply, it’s the planet of what we value. And: ‘what we value is a reflection of who we are, so what we love is a reflection of ourselves.’* So, what / whom do we love? What does the love that we have with another person feel and look like? What would it look like if it could physically manifest? What is its value? How do we honor that (or, do we even honor it)? How are we willing to be vulnerable and how do we treat those who are vulnerable with us?

Venus and Pisces are happy together. Pisces is sensitive — feeling and perceiving everything. It’s creative, generous, idealistic, and can also be escapist, spiritual, calm, emotional, deep. You can see how these two might get along.

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Let’s think of Venus as Beyonce (here depicting Oshun), and emo Kylo Ren as Pisces. J/k! Let’s literally use Adam Driver as Pisces, because from a viewer’s vantage, his characters tend to embody most of those descriptors of Pisces, good and bad.

(Here is where writing about astrology sucks because if you don’t seek or get consent to write about someone else {and who wants to ask for that?} you always have to write about yourself as the example and be like: “Hey, here are some of my failings for us all to gaze at! Neat, huh?”)

As I stated above, this retrograde has occurred in my 1st and 12th houses — the house of beginnings, the conscious, and reality, and the house of endings, subconscious, spirituality, and the unknown. So, it’s been a more significant retrograde for me. These are also the houses of self and body (how others see us), versus our deeply internal selves; who we are as spirit and matter. During this retrgrade I’ve been experiencing emotional solitude (even more), natural erosion of old situations, patterns, and relationships, and a new way of life actively unfolding. It’s been a period of considering what I want so that I understand what I’m fostering.

I’ve also spent a lot of time looking at my subconscious reactions and reflexes, and dismantling those which no longer benefit me or which actively undermine me. It’s a lot of previously vital and useful survival behaviors that I haven’t had cause to look at in a long time, and their usefulness has clearly atrophied. A lot of newness is occurring, but it requires laying to rest everything I can identify as obsolete, or refining its function into something useful now.

A perpetual challenge for me here (which found a spotlight during this cycle), is that I’m largely out of balance with others, and always have been, due (in part) to some of those highlighted themes — non verbal languages, subtext, messages, symbols, patterns, subconscious, dreaming — being central to who I am. I find few people that exist in this space as well. Or if they do, actively try to avoid or deny it, because it can be liminal and very vulnerable. It can become the deep end very quickly. It feels incredibly isolating and causes me to withhold myself. But finding similar people has always proved extremely difficult. I realize this is one challenge I’m being asked to look at, again.

Jupiter Retrograde Jupiter, the BIG planet of growth, truth, expansion, higher learning, spirituality, abstract thinking, honor, physicality, pets is currently retrograde in Libra. Libra, the sign of balance, harmony, and diplomacy, is idealistic, agile, congenial, and romantic. Jupiter is vexed by Libra. Since Jupiter expands and grows things immoderately, it can become diminished here due to Libra’s natural balance and measure. They both want progress, but Jupiter wants it now and Libra likes to have a plan before embarking. It can be a bit of a production to get things done here (and wobbliness can occur) but they can eventually get done extremely well and constructed solidly to last over time. It’s an amazing opportunity to go deep.

President Teddy Roosevelt
(Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)

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Let’s think of Jupiter as the school history book version of Teddy Roosevelt, and Grace Kelly’s Lisa Carol Fremont in “Rear Window” (♥) as Libra. They do things entirely differently, but they both like action and progress. They can get it done together, they might even have fun now and then, but they are both better suited to another situation.

So the way to consider this retrograde would be to look at your natal chart and see where Libra is, and in which house. By checking my chart, I see that Libra is my 7th house, the house of others: one-on-one relationships — lovers, intimate partners, spouses, business partners, or any relationship that has or could have an emotional or actual contract. So, yeah.

Think about that: Jupiter wants progress in my one-on-one relationships and is like: “GO DO THIS, YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU ARE BUILT FOR THISSS GOOOOO.” And, Libra is like: “Whooooa. Whoa. Balance, caution, you can’t see the whole picture, that person(s) or situation isn’t mutual, pay attention to your deeper instinct. Sit back. Stillness.”

I’m also heavily Jupiter-y (what even is that word?), in that I have three planets including my Sun, (and also Chiron) residing in the two signs ruled by Jupiter: Sag. and Pisces. I’m kind of a text book Jupiter-person, occupied by the idea of Truth, relentlessly learning, refining, making, exploring. I’m not content unless I’m pushing to further understand systems and cycles and expanding concepts. It’s no wonder Libra got a little clobbered here.

When I was looking at the year’s astrology in early 2017, I wrote on my calendar: “March – April – Keep your head down, do your work, heed instincts, no sudden movements.” Of course, I promptly forgot about that and let Jupiter Rx + Venus Rx throw me off, tripping an old interpersonal script. Not in a vacuum, with reason and a significant catalyst, but that kind of typifies a retrograde… I knew about it, prepared for it, but the response triggered was so ingrained and deep, that I didn’t catch it when it manifested. And that also typifies the possible benefits of retrogrades as I cited earlier: Learning (vibrantly) what is no longer needed and doesn’t serve us any longer.

I’m also seeing business partnerships morph and change rapidly. New partners arriving and existing partnerships taking on new forms. A lot is happening in this area and the wisest thing I can do is hang on and only live what’s directly in front of me, from a sat-back position, simply observing my head and my heart as they debate wisest courses, trying to keep me safe (my head) and trying to get my emotional needs met (heart).

Mercury Retrograde is one rarer astrological occurrence that affects everyone more or less the same way. That’s why we generally hear about it, because everyone is going to feel it. What we generally read about holds true: miscommunications, misunderstandings, mistakes, electronics fritzing, contracts dissolving, system crashes and freezes, travel delays. Merc. Rx happens 3-4 times per year for a few weeks (about every 5 months).

I think of Mercury retrograde as a test of our patience and reactions, offering a barometer for our current emotional capacities. On a bad day you might drop something and be irritated by it. On a better day it might not even phase you, it’s just something to pick up. Mercury retrograde can be kind of like one of those days where everything is off just enough — you spill coffee, close the car door on your coat, hit every stop light, your meetings all cancel or run over so your day is off, you are late getting somewhere and when you finally arrive it’s closed, etc. etc., except that Merc Rx lasts much longer than a day. It can cause kinks in our communications with others, sometimes completely missing one another’s intent, or overlooking or miscommunicating details.

For any retrograde, consider that our best teachers are always others, who reflect us back at ourselves. If you drop something and respond with irritation, someone seeing that might react, thus reflecting us and our response. This is what loved ones do for us (hopefully with care). If we have a bad day, they respond by listening, sympathizing, making our favorite foods, etc. And even people who are emotionally liminal or toxic can emotionally reflect us and pose important questions to be considered: How much bad behavior do we put up with from those close to us? Why? Why do we have trouble holding them accountable? What would we welcome into our life if we created and held healthy boundaries and sought only mutual, reciprocal relationships?

So that’s the score with retrogrades: Do. Your. Work. Be brave enough to change. Whatever that may be, but very often in the areas that are most uncomfortable for us, which is also the areas where our deepest hopes reside. And thus, where we often feel most exposed and vulnerable.

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And about Sidereal and Tropical Astrology Systems… (spoiler: there’s no 13th sign of the zodiac.)

Newspaper horoscopes use Western Tropical Astrology and only prompt you to read your Sun sign (the sign the Sun was in at the moment you were born). In my perfect world, everyone would know their Sidereal Sun and Rising Sign, and Moon, and they would read their Rising Sign, at the very least, in the paper. If you are only going to read 20 words about what the themes of your day could be, those words should be as precise as possible. (The idea of niblet, bite-sized astrology is bananas regardless, and I think one reason people pooh-pooh it, as newspaper astrologers are trying to cast the widest net, when astrology is all about precision.)

For the Tropical Zodiac, the signs are defined by the seasonal movement of the Sun. With Sidereal Zodiac, the signs are defined by the positions of the planets, stars and constellations. You’ll notice on a day when your newspaper astrologer says that the Sun is in Scorpio, NASA says it’s actually in Libra, and that’s because, it is in Libra. Tropical Western Astrology didn’t account for the fact that planets change their positions over time.

Sidereal Astrology accounts for where the position of the actual planets are at that moment. Tropical astrology is a valid system of coordinates, but uses a  method that is 25 degrees progressed from the position of the actual planets. For instance, you might read all over the place that the next Full Moon will be in Capricorn, when it will acually (based on physical position) be in Sagittarius. (FYI, Sidereal astrology is based on Vedic / Jyotish Astrology, also referred to as Hindu or Indian Astrology.)

Seems kind of bananas, right? Honestly, there are many schools of astrology, all base don different ways of identifying coordinates, these are just two. But, if you tell your buddy to go check their Sidereal Sun sign and they find out the Sun was actually in Virgo and not Libra at the time of their birth, that person is going to exclaim, “…I’m not a Libra!” even if they don’t put stock in astrology. This alone causes many people to not research further.

But even the most well known astrologer right now, (aside from Susan Miller), Chani Nicholas, uses Whole Sign Houses (borrowed from Vedic Astrology) and cites benefic and malefic planet placements, central to Vedic astrology.

What’s seemingly off putting about Sidereal astrology to passer-by looky-lous is the urban myth / recycled click bait of a 13th sign of the zodiac. This article below thoroughly debunks that assertion and clearly states why the idea is incorrect. Yet every few years, a couple of news outlets publish a story about how ‘there are 13 signs of the zodiac and surprise! you’re not an Aries,’ and people flip out. Understanding the Zodiac, and Why There are Really 12 Signs, Not 13.”

I find usefulness in both systems and some of my favorite astrologers use Tropical Western systems. But personally, I have been closely comparing both since late last year and find far more specific accuracy in Sidereal Astrology. That’s not to say what I learn and glean from Western Tropical isn’t useful, it just tends to be very hyperbolic.

And that’s one of the main disagreements between Sidereal / Vedic astrologers and Western Tropical. Sidereal systems look at things far more temperately; even “bad” aspects can have good benefits. Nothing is necessarily black or white. Everything exists on a spectrum. What we do about (and with) what we experience is key. We aren’t constantly at the whim of the planets, being bandied about like a forgotten yo-yo in a washing machine. We have tools for coping and individual strengths to draw upon, we just have to cite, emotionally invest in and utilize them.

Look at these two overviews for the extreme differences in tone and language:

Sidereal astrologer Phaedra Mitchell: April 2017 Forecast

Lena Stevens, presumably Western Tropical astrologer: April 2017 ~ INTENSITY

Retrogrades aren’t uncommon, but all of them piled on each other can produce some uncommon circumstances and situations, good and bad. How they will affect us depends entirely upon our specific natal charts and how planetary transits temporarily impact, shade, or illuminate our personal relationship to the world and those around us.

More links:

  • One of my favorite astrologers (Western Tropical) and always right on the money: Julie Demboski
  • Another favorite (Sidereal) and she has great FB full and new moon seminars: Phaedra Mitchell
  • I’m liking her right now, too. She seems fresh out of school and cites a lot of sources and scholastics. my sky pie
  • And for the sheer amount of information on the site, I use this often: Cafe Astrology

And a bit more:

*McEvers J., (1989), Planets, ‘Venus’, p. 129, Llewellyn Publications, St Paul, MN, USA