If you’ve been on Instagram at all since the end of summer, you’ve definitely seen the hashtag popping up: Everyone is talking about #VenusRetrograde. And with good reason—this cosmic event is one of the most intense of all astro-phases in 2018. Venus retrograde comes around approximately every 18 months, unlike the infamous Mercury retrograde, which happens three times a year—so the relative rarity of Venus retrograde phase can make it feel even more potent.
And because Venus reputedly rules the things that we tend to adore most in life—romance, pleasure, beauty, money, and relationships—it’s wise to pay close attention to its vagaries.
You’ve probably already started to notice a rash of significant celebrity breakups (Ariana and Pete, for starters). Think of these stories as archetypal evidence of what you should be paying attention to over the next few weeks and months.
So, what is a retrograde, anyway?
It’s when a planet appears to move backwards from the perspective of earth. Note that planets don’t really go backwards—it just looks like they’re reversing in their orbit, from our vantage point.
Energetically and symbolically, retrogrades indicate reversals, slowdowns, and breakdowns. And on the positive side: the ability to mend and repair. In the case of Venus retrograde, your heart can be mended if you’re willing to do the challenging inner work involved.
Your relationships may have started feeling super strange since early September, when the front-end shadow of the retrograde started.
Venus stationed retrograde at 10 degrees of Scorpio on October 5. It’ll slide back into Libra on Halloween, and finally turn direct again on November 16. All told, this journey through the underworld will take about 41-days. Yet your relationships may have started feeling super strange since early September, when the front-end shadow of the retrograde started. The back-end shadow lasts until mid-December, so even though you will no longer be in the thick of it by Thanksgiving, there could still be kinks to work out.
The Scorpio factor
Speaking of kinks, since this retrograde started in Scorpio, sex is the subject du jour. Scorpio is the sign of desire, transformation, secrets, and all things subversive. When Venus goes retrograde in Scorpio, we have to start with our erotic past: What sexual patterns are you still stuck in? Are you noticing any changes in your libido, your attraction to a current partner, or what you’d like to experiment with?
After Halloween until mid-November, Venus retreats back in Libra, its home sign, so more practical partnership issues may prevail. If you’re in a serious LTR, you might find yourself fighting about who’s going to wash the dishes, but you’ll really be talking about something much deeper and more central to the way you love each other—or fail to love each other properly.
When Venus goes retrograde in Scorpio, we have to start with our erotic past: What sexual patterns are you still stuck in?
Here’s a hint to figure out what to focus on right now: Think back to fall of 2010, the last time Venus retrograde was in Scorpio and Libra. Who were you crushing on, lusting after, dating or breaking up with?
Now that Venus is taking the same trip down Memory Lane, we get the chance to heal, repair, reverse, and rewrite the stories we told around that time. Reviewing your relational patterns from eight years ago—including how you showed up in partnerships—can be revealing and deeply healing.
But in the end, we’re really just in a relationship with ourselves. The people we fall for, project our emotions onto, or rage at because they’ve failed us? They show up to teach us how to wholly love ourselves. Venus retrograde in Scorpio and Libra is basically just one big inverted romantic fun-house mirror. The lovers that show up now have one purpose: to tear off the mask of self, and show you who you really are and what you really want.
Self-care for Venus retrograde
Since Scorpio is associated with the underworld, this phase can feel like a powerful initiation into the depths of your capital-S “Self”: who you are, what you value, and the unseen parts of you that are subjected to shame and self-editing.
This can be a whole lot less painful if you take it on as a self-care project instead of falling into the typical Venus retrograde traps, especially on the Scorpio side: jealousy, cheating, unhealthy temptations, stalking, and various forms of romantic revenge.
Sexual pleasure can be totally off the hook during this phase—but it’s important to aim for conscious connections, even if you’re having casual sex. And one big caveat: At no other time of the year is the temptation to have sex with your ex more intense.
At no other time of the year is the temptation to have sex with your ex more intense.
You may have already noticed that old lovers, crushes, boyfriends, and even one-time hookups have started sliding into your DMs and randomly liking your old Insta posts. This can be mega enticing, and it might be extremely challenging to hold back from trying again. Just know that your tryst may not last through your first Christmas party this year.
Also note that if you fall for someone new, you might end up wondering what exactly the hell you were thinking by the time you sit down with the fam for Thanksgiving. (And if not then, you’ll know by New Year’s Eve.) If you’ve already cycled through a hook-up and breakup, here’s a bonus: indulging in beauty rituals, especially those inspired by deep and dark feminine energy, can be entirely life-changing now. Pile on the rose essential oil, the rose quartz crystals, charcoal sheet masks, and geranium candles. (All these indulgences are associated with Libra and Scorpio.)
If you’ve already tipped the scales of love or gone over the edge with lust, don’t stress, because you’ve still got plenty of time to get back to your center. Despite all the pitfalls of Venus retrograde, it offers one of the best opportunities to tango with your own heart, and to lead —something we rarely get to do. We almost always look outside of ourselves for praise and admiration. Venus retrograde can teach you that unless you truly love yourself, no external approval matters.
Stefanie Iris Weiss, the author of Surviving Saturn’s Return: Overcoming the Most Tumultuous Time of Your Life, is an astrologer and freelance writer based in New York City.
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